OPINION

Things are not what they seem

In many things, the government, which is always ready to follow the direction of others, acts with immense frugality, slashing salaries, pensions and rights. But there is one area to which the government just can?t give enough money: When it decides on and orders the use of chemicals, there is simply no stopping it.

On Wednesday, June 29 alone, police launched 2,860 chemical bombs. Most were manufactured in Israel and the United States, many dated to 1979 and some had even expired, but no one really cares about that kind of minutiae.

This must be some kind of record; maybe the beleaguered Gaza Strip can outdo it. These 2,860 chemical bombs are at least 20 times more than the number normally used against the good (they tend to bear the brunt of it) and the bad on even the most eventful days.

On a regular eventful day, protesters are showered with 100 — maximum 150 — tear gas canisters. But June 29 was not a regular day. It was a day that was supposed to strike fear into the hearts of thousands and send them scurrying back to their homes and jobs, instead of prancing around public squares.

According to a police official, the force had received a tip-off that there were plans to storm Parliament. Where did they get this tip-off from? Elementary, my dear Watson: From the super-duper phone taps of the National Intelligence Service, of course. The mega-bug recorded the phrase ?Pame Voula? (?Let?s go to Voula,? in reference to the seaside suburb) in a hundred or so telephone conversations. The mysterious phrase was then turned over to the code crackers on shift, and they broke it. ?Pame Voula? they reasoned, must mean ?Pame Vouli? (?Let?s go to Parliament?) in the ancient Doric dialect. For a moment they probably did think that the hundreds talking about Voula were making plans to go to the beach, but they soon scrapped that idea because they were certain that something very nefarious was afoot.

From then on, it was all quite simple. Under the wise guidance of their chief, Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, also known as Chemical Chris, they decided to stomp down on the conspirators.

That is why parties of handpicked troops swooped down on the souvlaki shops of Monastiraki, which of course are nothing but well-disguised fronts for terrorists pretending to be grilling meat when they were in fact manufacturing Molotov cocktails wrapped in pita bread. That is why they bombarded the Syntagma, Acropolis, Panepistimio and Monastiraki metro stations with chemicals, to smoke out bands of conspirators. That is why they mercilessly beat old men and women who pretended to be representatives of the country?s aged population when they were, in fact, urban guerrillas in disguise.

That is why they launched 2,860 units of chemicals.

And now that the arsenal needs to be replenished, with imports from Israel, which has its own set of problems, we tied up ships bound for Gaza with humanitarian aid so that we can get them to knock the price down. After all, we don?t want our creditors to think that we won?t try to haggle for a better deal.