November 30, 2023


Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

How to hit back against Vladimir Putin and his country has been vexing politicians and top company bosses since the invasion of Ukraine began.

It took a while but now the big boys of the business world have taken action, with McDonald’s, Starbucks, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola all saying they will stop selling their products or close their premises in Russia. They were joined by Dutch brewing giant Heineken, whose CEO, the wonderfully-named Dolf van den Brink, hit out at Russia’s “unprovoked and completely unjustified attack” on Ukraine.

Putin is unlikely to be affected as he, according to state-run media, is a fan of eating tvorog (which is a bit like cottage cheese) and drinking raw quails eggs (just in case you were on the fence about him being a monster).

Rumors that the Russian leader’s old pal Donald Trump ordered all the excess Russian cheeseburgers to be airlifted to Mar-a-Lago were unconfirmed at the time of going to press.

Meanwhile in France, the restaurant La Maison de la Poutine said it had been the subject of insults and even death threats because the dish it sells has the same name as the Russian leader. It’s an easy mistake to make, of course, as a delicious mix of fries, cheese curds and gravy does bear a striking physical resemblance to the bare-chested, big-table-owning warmonger.

The diner in Quebec that claims to have invented the dish poutine has also weighed in. Laurent Proulx, co-owner of the Le Roy Jucep diner, said he had decided to temporarily remove the word “poutine” from its trademark and Facebook page as a stand against “Monsieur Poutine’s” aggression.

Rumors that Donald Trump ordered all boycotted fries, cheese and gravy to be airlifted to Mar-a-Lago were unconfirmed at the time of going to press.

Yet not everything in the world is bad. No, wait, it is. In Japan, a so-called killing stone believed to have contained an evil demon for almost 1,000 years has broken in two. Japanese legend has it that anyone who comes into contact with the rock will die.

Rumors that the evil demon saw the state of the world in 2022 and hid in another rock, pledging not to return for another 1,000 years were unconfirmed at the time of going to press.


“It was nice to see you, Nicolas, but you need to leave as the electronic tag on your ankle keeps beeping and it’s disturbing the other guests.”

Can you do better? Email or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“You can tell Putin that he’s not the only one with a huge table who stubbornly refuses to relinquish his former empire,” by Tom Morgan.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s Slot News Editor.


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