With this week's release of over 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks flooded the media with revelations of Middle Eastern discontent, Russian corruption, and spying allegations. But some of the leaked cables' quirkier disclosures got lost in the shuffle. Here, six intriguing tales you may have missed:
1. U.S. unamused by "anti-American" Canadian TV series
An American diplomat in Canada lost his sense of humor over a hit TV show, "The Border." According to a leaked cable, political affairs officer Scott Bellard slammed the Canadian series for an inflated "level of anti-American melodrama" and plot lines that give viewers "their fill of nefarious American officials carrying out equally nefarious deeds." Bellard also decried Canada's "almost inherent... inferiority complex" when it comes to the U.S.
2. A riotous wedding in the North Caucasus
In diplomat Daniel A. Russell's "now-famous" account of an "elaborate" wedding in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan, Caspian politicians go drunken jet-skiing in the dark, "disjointed fragments" of cow carcasses are wheeled into rooms "day and night," and guests indulge in "stupendous" alcohol consumption "before, during and after" the ceremony itself. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov makes a cameo, dancing "clumsily" with a gold-plated automatic weapon "stuck down in the back of his jeans." The original cable deserves to be read in full.
3. Brazil's "paranoia" about the Amazon
Apparently, the leadership of Brazil fears that "shadowy foreign forces" are threatening the vast Amazon region of the country. U.S. Ambassador Clifford Sobel said a plan to beef up troops in the rain forest was devised to indulge "traditional Brazilian paranoia."
4. The lavish lifestyles of Kazakhstani politicians
The wealthy political elites of the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan live their lives on a "grand scale," reveals a cable from the U.S. Embassy there. The "eye-opening tale" involves an account of the country's prime minister "dancing alone and animatedly" in a chic nightclub, and the defense minister drinking himself into a stupor, "slouching in his chair and slurring all kinds of Russian participles" during an official meeting. The country's president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, apparently divides his time between "palaces" in the UAE, Turkey and Kazakhstan, and paid Elton John $1.5 million to sing at his son-in-law's birthday party. The president, adds a diplomat, "has a strong affinity for horses."
5. The many eccentricities of Colonel al-Qaddafi
The Libyan leader's "personality quirks" are the subject of a cable from diplomats in Tripoli. Among those highlighted: al-Qaddafi's reliance on a 38-year-old "voluptuous blonde" nurse from the Ukraine, with whom he may or may not be romantically entwined; his fear of flying over water; and his "intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors." He is apparently unable to "climb more than 35 steps." He travels everywhere with a Bedouin tent in which he receives visitors, which diplomats describe as "a non-verbal way of communicating that he is a man close to his cultural roots."
6. Blackwater sought to hunt pirates
The U.S. contractor Blackwater, controversially accused of killing civilians in Iraq, attempted to "go into the pirate-hunting business," says Lauren Frayer at Politics Daily. The company installed .50-caliber machine guns and a drone airplane on a U.S. ship, according to a leaked cable from the U.S. Embassy in the African Republic of Djibouti, prompting the ambassador to ask the State Department for "guidance on the appropriate level of engagement with Blackwater." The company's plan to clean up the high seas never came to fruition.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- California's epic drought
- 10 things you need to know today: September 20, 2014
- Peter Thiel, and the not-so-secret secret of innovative success
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
Subscribe to the Week