00h UTC; THURSDAY, 20 DECEMBER 2012: So much for the reckless misreading of the Mayan calendar as is causing some to believe Friday will be the End of the World when, in fact, such begins a new cycle in same: Out where Your Correspondent is based (as in the Minnwissippi region of southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin, know), a full-on Blizzard Warning has been posted to go into force and effect as this post goes up across Teh Innerwebz, with significant and measurable snowfall aggravated all the more by blowing and drifting as is expected to make the going rather difficult on the roads in these parts.

As well as an unlikely early start for the Christmas/New Year's schools break as many school districts, considering the treacherous conditions and drifting (especially in country areas as are more prone to bad road conditions) forcing some districts to cancel classes Thursday. Not to mention advice against travel of any kind, as roads could be blocked for an extended period before the plows go into action.

In any event, expect Your Correspondent to pretty much stay near his flat all this while.

As for another compelling reason why Fox News Channel can't be trusted, consider this rather short and at once succinct editorial from CapTimes.com out of Madison, WI:
The bumper stickers jokingly refer to Fox News as “Faux News.”

And the internal directives at Fox suggests they are right.

After the horrific shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut, Fox did not discuss the policy response that every other news network was exploring: gun control.


According to Politico, a Fox source says that programs on the network were given a directive to avoid the issue.

“We were expressly forbidden from discussing gun control," said the source.

No one minds that Fox is a conservative network.

But it would be appealing if Fox provided reality-based reports, as opposed to “Faux News.”
Need I say further?

Your Correspondent must be one to wonder if Ludditery in relation to ekonomesie vryheid met Amerikaanse eienskappe is what drives such blaming the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 as legalised abortion (and, to some extent, the Griswold v. Connecticut such of 1965 as lifted state bans on sale and distribution of contraceptives) for ongoing labour shortages stateside. That, and a closeted admiration for the likes of Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu vis-a-vis his twisted "pro-life" agenda which sought to Hasten the Final Achievement of Pure Socialism, the final stage in Marxism/Leninism.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," as the old expression has it--and in the case of two Greek soccer clubs in a local league around Larissa, to the north of Athens, they've had to turn to a brothel and an undertaking establishment for sponsorship to keep going. A BBC reporter elaborates further:
Their goalkeeping is competent, their teamwork solid but it is not their skills that make Voukefalas FC stand out on the pitch, it is their shirts - bright pink and emblazoned with the words "Villa Erotica".

In tough times, who else to turn to but the local brothel? For this amateur club in the central Greek city of Larissa, it was the last option available to save them from bankruptcy.

The team's coach, Yiannis Batziolas says there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that the game is full of far shadier sponsors.

"When you see that, in professional football, betting companies and alcohol are advertised, I think that's far more immoral," he says.

"In Greece, it's not peculiar to visit a sex house. I think most young people have been to these places because it is a human need.

"And I'm proud of the woman who owns this brothel, proud that she helps our dreams of playing football come true."

The woman in question is Madam Soula Alevridou who sits in the stands, proudly watching the team show off their tackling skills.

Petite, with cropped grey hair and dressed in a jacket and tie, she has built a reputation in the city as a wealthy businesswoman.

Telling myself there is a first time for everything, I pay a visit to her brothel on the outskirts of Larissa.

Inside the ordinary-looking building, the rooms are bathed in red light, with gold gilded mirrors on the scarlet walls. The decoration is suitably kitsch with purple velvet thrones and multi-coloured crystal lamps. The suite is even equipped with a jacuzzi and minibar.

In Alevridou's apartment within the Villa Erotica complex, I ask her how she came to support the team.

"It's because I love Greece and I like helping young people," she says.

"The authorities here don't give money for sports, for education or anything. So why shouldn't a poor football team come to me to help make ends meet?"

Her attempts at philanthropy have not always been accepted.

Recently she sent money to a school in the western Greek city of Patras to fund a much-needed photocopier but the cheque was returned.

"I just want Greece to move forward in these difficult times," she says.

"We all have to stand behind our country. This is a legal brothel and I want to help. Why can't I do it?"

Not everybody in Larissa sees it that way.

The local football union has lodged a formal protest, insisting that selling sex should be kept out of sport. It has ruled that for matches, the team must wear darker shirts, although they can still bear the brothel logo.

"It's not acceptable to promote prostitution," says the head of the union, Marios Spiratos.

"We know it's a part of life but we think it's not the right thing for young amateur athletes. Some of the players are under 18 years old."

In the next-door city of Trikala, the football authorities also have some concerns about the new patron.

The amateur team there sport black, not pink, and the logo is a cross - it is a funeral parlour that has given a new lease of life to Palaiopyrgos FC.

Because of objections from the local authorities, the large purple cross must be covered with masking tape for matches, although it frequently peels off and nobody complains.

"I like the outfit," says midfielder Haris Bakogiannis.

"The cross makes our opponents fear us - and nobody has ever worn something like it, so we're famous now."

The funeral business is a tiny little shop in the centre of the city, piled high with artificial flowers and Orthodox Christian icons.

The young undertaker, Christos Panagiotou, says the idea of sponsorship came up over late-night drinks with friends from the team.

"At first the players thought it was a joke, but now they've got used to it," he says.

So does the cross give them extra luck?

"So far, unfortunately not," he says.

"I hope the help from my business will save them from relegation. But it's sad that teams have to turn to us to support them - that we are going through this tragic situation in our country."

At an amateur and national level, Greek sport is indeed in dire straits. With funding slashed and barely any investment, athletes face a bleak future.

Just eight years ago, Greece hosted the Olympics and the national team were crowned the football champions of Europe.

Now facilities are falling into disrepair and teams are resorting to desperate measures to survive.

But at least in this region, two clubs have been spared, thanks to their unconventional new backers.

In this unusual story, perhaps both sides win. Local football is given a much-needed boost, while a little more custom is drummed up for the undertaker, and for the madam.
(Still, though, you could just imagine Digby O'Dell, "The Friendly Undertaker," sponsoring a Little League or Babe Ruth baseball team in the neighbourhood....)


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