America Just Can’t Make It Anymore.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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USA industrial economy

The statement in the title is not true, except that it is.

If you are a little confused stay with me and let me clarify.

The United States used to be the industrial power house of the world. Its industries generated unprecedented wealth for the country, creating the world’s first self-made billionaires and productive wealth creating jobs galore for everyone. The whole country prospered.

Today, however, the United States has become the world’s second biggest importer of goods. Worse than that, even though America still exports billions of dollars’ worth in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. This creates a trade deficit ($471 billion according to recent figures).

US Trade Deficit

So what are all these imports into the US?

Well, they include industrial machinery and equipment ($681 billion), automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($309 billion), miscellaneous private services, primarily financial services ($201 billion), cell phones ($90 billion), travel passenger services ($86 billion), pharmaceuticals ($84 billion), computers ($65 billion), chemicals ($61 billion), other transportation services ($59 billion), computer accessories ($57 billion), telecommunications equipment ($54 billion), royalties and license fees services ($42 billion), apparel ($49 billion), petroleum products ($48 billion), fuel oil ($44 billion), industrial supplies ($29 billion), U.S. Government service imports primarily defense ($25 billion), fish ($18 billion), fruit ($13 billion), and vegetables ($11 billion).

Cartoon imports

If you are a bit shell-shocked by all those figures let me phrase it a bit differently using as examples the types of goods you would tend to buy.

  • 100% (almost) of the shoes bought in the U.S. come from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico;
  • 90% of white goods (washers, fridges, etc.) and consumer electronics are imported;
  • 85% of household furniture is imported;
  • 80% of cars on U.S. roads come from Canada (31%), Japan (24%), Germany (16%) and Mexico (12%); and,
  • 65% of U.S. clothing is imported from China (37%), Vietnam (9.4%), Indonesia (7.2%) and Bangladesh (6.7%).

Probably the saddest part is that even things you thought were “American” are now actually made overseas and imported.

I remember while on a business trip to the US many, many years ago I bought a gift for the young son of a friend of mine. He was a big sports enthusiast so I reckoned that one of the most iconic symbols of sport from America would be a baseball. I bought one in Wal-Mart. It was marked with all the different holding positions for the various ways to throw a baseball (fast ball, curve ball and all that). The perfect gift.

I gave it to him on my return feeling ever so pleased with myself. The kid opened it, showed momentary delight, then looked up at me accusingly. “It says ‘Made in China'” he told me.

Baseball made in China

But it’s not only baseballs. Similar types of product that you would think are all-American, like Converse All Stars, Levi’s, Huffy bicycles, televisions, Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch, Radio Flyer wagons, Barbie dolls, and last but by no means least, most of those American flags just ain’t American no more.

modern monopoly board

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Apple, for example, doesn’t have to become the richest company in the world by manufacturing its products in China and storing its vast hoards of cash overseas.

Or does it?

Everything on the lists above could still be made in the US and surpluses exported to other countries. But the US government and its moronic bureaucrats are spending their time and our money thinking up new ways, not to help American businesses, but to add ever-increasing amounts of rules, regulations and bureaucracy on to American companies.

American businesses can no longer compete, because their own government has ensured that the deck is stacked against them.

In the mind of a bureaucrat losing a million productive wealth creating jobs, for example, in the automotive industry, and replacing them with a million more administrative jobs that cost the country money evens things out.

It doesn’t. Simple math will tell you that. Every time it happens things get worse and America gets poorer.

So America just can’t make it anymore, but not because China has stolen the jobs. It’s because the US government bureaucrats gave them away.

Put the blame where it should be.

StimulusBureaucrats

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Thinking Caps On Please – It’s Quiz Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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July is almost a week old and we haven’t had a quiz.

But we are about to rectify that right now.

Another twenty questions to wrap your brain around.

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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Quiz 9

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Q.  1.  What is the world’s biggest island?

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Q.  2.  In a speech on 5 March 1946 what did Winston Churchill say had descended over Europe?

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ ?

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Q.  4.  What is the official diameter of the center circle on a soccer pitch?

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Q.  5. What does the term ‘SAS’ refer to in terms of British Army Regiments?

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Q.  6.  What famous American painter and illustrator’s best-known works include the ‘Willie Gillis’ series, ‘Rosie the Riveter’, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, ‘Saying Grace’, and the ‘Four Freedoms’ series?

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Q.  7.  Where were the 2014 Winter Olympics held?

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Q.  8. Where will the 2016 Summer Olympics be held?

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Q.  9. Whose first novel was titled ‘Carrie’ ?

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Q. 10.  What was the name given to the prosperous peasants in Russia who were violently repressed by Stalin?

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Q. 11.  The famous ‘Stella Artois’ beer was originally brewed in which country?

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Q. 12.  After World War Two (WWII) ended into how many sectors was the city of Berlin divided? (A point for the correct answer and bonus points if you can correctly name the countries in charge of the sectors.)

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Q. 13.  What is the common name of the small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser?

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Q. 14.  In the well-known saying, what do ‘birds of a feather’ do?

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Q. 15.  What fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, tangerine and orange?

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Q. 16.  What is the name for the Eskimo people of Canada?

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Q. 17.  We all know to our cost about the recent ‘financial crisis’, but in what year was the infamous ‘Wall Street Crash’ ?

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Q. 18.  What are the two movies for which Jack Nicholson received the Best Actor Oscar?

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Q. 19.  What is ‘blood sausage’ better known as in places like the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador?

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Q. 20.  Who was ‘The Country Girl’ who after ‘High Noon’ went on to ‘Dial M for Murder’ and ‘To Catch a Thief’ before entering ‘High Society’ ?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1.  What is the world’s biggest island?

A.  1.  Greenland.

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Q.  2.  In a speech on 5 March 1946 what did Winston Churchill say had descended over Europe?

A.  2.  An Iron Curtain.

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ ?

 A.  3.  Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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Q.  4.  What is the official diameter of the center circle on a soccer pitch?

A.  4.  20 yards (18.3 metres).

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Q.  5. What does the term ‘SAS’ refer to in terms of British Army Regiments.

A.  5.  Special Air Service.

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Q.  6.  What famous American painter and illustrator’s best-known works include the ‘Willie Gillis’ series, ‘Rosie the Riveter’, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, ‘Saying Grace’, and the ‘Four Freedoms’ series

A.  6.  Norman Rockwell.

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Q.  7.  Where were the 2014 Winter Olympics held?

A.  7.  In Sochi, Russia.

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Q.  8. Where will the 2016 Summer Olympics be held?

A.  8.  The 2016 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Rio 2016, will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Q.  9. Whose first novel was titled ‘Carrie’ ?

A.  9.  Stephen King.

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Q. 10.  What was the name given to the prosperous peasants in Russia who were violently repressed by Stalin?

A. 10.  Kulaks.

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Q. 11.  The famous ‘Stella Artois’ beer was originally brewed in which country?

A. 11.  Belgium.

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Q. 12.  After World War Two (WWII) ended into how many sectors was the city of Berlin divided? (A point for the correct answer and bonus points if you can correctly name the countries in charge of the sectors.)

A. 12.  There were four sectors, American, British, French and Soviet.

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Q. 13.  What is the common name of the small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser?

A. 13.  It is called a ‘cookie’.

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Q. 14.  In the well known saying, what do ‘birds of a feather’ do?

A. 14.  They ‘flock together’.

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Q. 15.  What fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, tangerine and orange?

A. 15.  The ‘Ugli fruit’.

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Q. 16.  What is the name for the Eskimo people of Canada?

A. 16.  They are known as ‘Iniut’.

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Q. 17.  We all know to our cost about the recent ‘financial crisis’, but in what year was the infamous ‘Wall Street Crash’ ?

A. 17.  1929.

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Q. 18.  What are the two movies for which Jack Nicholson received the Best Actor Oscar?

A. 18.  They were ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘As Good As It Gets’.

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Q. 19.  What is ‘blood sausage’ better known as in places like the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador?

A. 19.  It is better known as ‘Black Pudding’.

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Q. 20.  Who was ‘The Country Girl’ who after ‘High Noon’ went on to ‘Dial M for Murder’ and ‘To Catch a Thief’ before entering ‘High Society’ ?

A. 20.  Grace Kelly.

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No More Quizzes – Not This June Anyway. (Except For This One!)

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to final fasab quiz for June 2015.

Half the year almost gone, but not before you get the chance to try out these questions.

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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Quiz 6

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Q.  1.  What was bought by the United States from France in 1803?

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Q.  2. ‘Black’, ‘Hooper’ and ‘Bewick’ are all types of what bird?

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Q.  3.  What city in South America is known as ‘The City Of The Kings’ ?

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Q.  4.  Very recently in the news for all the wrong reasons, what organization do the letters ‘FIFA’ represent?

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Q.  5.  Who was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953?

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Q.  6.   What did Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discover by accident on November 8 1895?

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Q.  7.  He was born in Illinois and died in Idaho and during his lifetime he published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. Who was he?

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Q.  8.  What name is given to calfskin, dressed and prepared for writing on?

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Q.  9.  Which sea is sometimes called the Euxine Sea?

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Q. 10.  What is the name given to the person who is appointed the chief lawyer of the U.S. government?

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Q. 11.  Name the famous Russian ballet dancer who changed the face of modern ballet?

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Q. 12.  Who invented the rabies vaccination?

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Q. 13.  Who is the current (2015) British Prime Minister?

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Q. 14. Big points opportunity. How many countries lie between Canada and Colombia? (A point for the correct number and a bonus point for each one you can name correctly.)

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Q. 15.  What fruit is ‘Calvados’ distilled from?

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Q. 16.  What is ‘Scooby’ short for in the name ‘Scooby Doo’ ?

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Q. 17.  What does ‘RADAR’ stand for?

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Q. 18.  In which French city was Joan of Arc put to death?

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Q. 19. What are the seven most popular sports in America? (A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if you can name them in the correct order.)

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Q. 20.  He was famous as ‘Dracula’, ‘Scaramanga’ and ‘Saruman’. Who was he?

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ANWERS

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Q.  1.  What was bought by the United States from France in 1803?

A.  1.  The Louisiana territory (828,000 square miles).

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Q.  2. ‘Black’, ‘Hooper’ and ‘Bewick’ are all types of what bird?

A.  2. Swans.

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Q.  3.  What city in South America is known as ‘The City Of The Kings’ ?

A.  3.  Lima, Peru. (Ciudad de los Reyes)

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Q.  4.  Very recently in the news for all the wrong reasons, what organization do the letters ‘FIFA’ represent?

A.  4.  The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer.

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Q.  5.  Who was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953?

A.  5.  Joseph Stalin.

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Q.  6.   What did Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discover by accident on November 8 1895?

A.  6.  X-rays.

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Q.  7.  He was born in Illinois and died in Idaho and during his lifetime he published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. Who was he?

A.  7.  Ernest Hemmingway.

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Q.  8.  What name is given to calfskin, dressed and prepared for writing on?

A.  8.  It is known as ‘Vellum’.

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Q.  9.  Which sea is sometimes called the Euxine Sea?

A.  9.  The Black Sea.

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Q. 10.  What is the name given to the person who is appointed the chief lawyer of the U.S. government?

A. 10.  He/she is known  as the ‘Attorney General’.

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Q. 11.  Name the famous Russian ballet dancer who changed the face of modern ballet?

A. 11.  Rudolf Nureyev.

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Q. 12.  Who invented the rabies vaccination?

A. 12.  Louis Pasteur.

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Q. 13.  Who is the current (2015) British Prime Minister?

A. 13.  David Cameron.

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Q. 14. Big points opportunity. How many countries lie between Canada and Colombia? (A point for the correct number and a bonus point for each one you can name correctly.)

A. 14.  There are 9 countries that lie between Canada and Colombia – they are The United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

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Q. 15.  What fruit is ‘Calvados’ distilled from?

A. 15.  Apples.

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Q. 16.  What is ‘Scooby’ short for in the name ‘Scooby Doo’ ?

A. 16.  Scoobert.

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Q. 17.  What does ‘RADAR’ stand for?

A. 17.  ‘RADAR’ stand for ‘Radio Detection and Ranging’.

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Q. 18.  In which French city was Joan of Arc put to death?

A. 18.  Rouen.

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Q. 19. What are the seven most popular sports in America? (A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if you can name them in the correct order.)

A. 19.  1.  American Football     2. Baseball     3. Basketball     4. Ice Hockey    5. Soccer    6. Tennis    and    7. Golf

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Q. 20.  He was famous as ‘Dracula’, ‘Scaramanga’ and ‘Saruman’. Who was he?

A. 20.  He was the wonderful actor Sir Christopher Lee.

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Hope You Know A Couple Of Fast Birds – It’s Quiz Time!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, today’s quiz questions include a couple about fast birds.

That and a lot more to test your knowledge.

But don’t worry, if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, however NO cheating please!

Enjoy and good luck.

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Quiz_button 02

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Q.  1.  What proportion of the items kept at the British Museum are actually on display?

            a) 1%            b) 10%            c) 20%            d) 30%

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Q.  2. What was the name of the world’s first supercomputer and in what year was it installed? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  3.  In what modern country was the Aztec empire based?

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Q.  4.  What is the only animal with four knees?

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Q.  5.  What town in Manitoba, Canada, and named after perhaps the most famous English politician of all time, is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”?

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Q.  6.  What word to describe a large group of islands that are located close together?

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Q.  7.  Robert Southey wrote what famous children’s story in 1834?

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Q.  8.  What country spans the greatest number of contiguous time zones, and how many? (You get a point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  9.  What is the fastest running bird in the world?

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Q. 10. What does the acronym ‘UNICEF’ stand for?

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Q. 11.  The names of how many countries in South America end in the letter ‘a’ ? (A point for the correct number and an additional point for each one you can name correctly.)

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Q. 12.  What was the middle name of the founder of the store chain J C Penney?

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Q. 13.  By ferry, approximately how long will it take you to reach Africa from Spain?

            a) 30 minutes          b)  1 hour          c) 90 minutes          d) 2 hours

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Q. 14.  What nationality is the toy company ‘Lego’ ?

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Q. 15.  What was the first sport to be pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

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Q. 16.  What is the world’s largest retail chain store?

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Q. 17.  In what country is the prime minister known by the  name ‘Taoiseach’ ?

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Q. 18.  What were the names of the Captains of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek – The Original Series and Star Trek – The Next Generation; and the actors who played them? (A point for each correct answer, so a total of four points up for grabs.)

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Q. 19.  What woman holds the all-time world record for the 100 meter dash?

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Q. 20.  How many ways did Paul Simon say there were to leave your lover?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1.  What proportion of the items kept at the British Museum are actually on display?

            a) 1%            b) 10%            c) 20%            d) 30%

A.  1.  The correct answer is a) 1%.

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Q.  2. What was the name of the world’s first supercomputer and in what year was it installed? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  2. It was called the Cray-1 (you get the point if you said ‘Cray’), and was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States in 1976 at a cost of $8.8 million.

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Q.  3.  In what modern country was the Aztec empire based?

A.  3.  Mexico.

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Q.  4.  What is the only animal with four knees?

A.  4.  The elephant.

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Q.  5.  What town in Manitoba, Canada, and named after perhaps the most famous English politician of all time, is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”?

A.  5.  It is the town of Churchill.

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Q.  6.  What word to describe a large group of islands that are located close together?

A.  6.  Archipelago.

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Q.  7.  Robert Southey wrote what famous children’s story in 1834?

A.  7.  “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

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Q.  8.  What country spans the greatest number of contiguous time zones, and how many? (You get a point for each correct answer.)

A.  8.  The correct answers are ‘Russia’ and it has ‘9’ time zones.

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Q.  9.  What is the fastest running bird in the world?

A.  9.  The fastest running bird is the Ostrich, which has been clocked at 97.5 kilometres per hour.

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Q. 10. What does the acronym ‘UNICEF’ stand for?

A. 10.  The United Nations Children’s Fund.

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Q. 11.  The names of how many countries in South America end in the letter ‘a’ ? (A point for the correct number and an additional point for each one you can name correctly.)

A. 11.  There are 6 countries whose names end with the letter ‘a’, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana and Venezuela.

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Q. 12.  What was the middle name of the founder of the store chain J C Penney?

A. 12.  The founder of JC Penny had the very appropriate middle name of ‘Cash’.

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Q. 13.  By ferry, approximately how long will it take you to reach Africa from Spain?

            a) 30 minutes          b)  1 hour          c) 90 minutes          d) 2 hours

A. 13.  The correct answer is a) 30 minutes, they’re closer than you think.

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Q. 14.  What nationality is the toy company ‘Lego’ ?

A. 14.  Danish.

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Q. 15.  What was the first sport to be pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

A. 15.  Baseball.

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Q. 16.  What is the world’s largest retail chain store?

A. 16.  Wal-Mart.

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Q. 17.  In what country is the prime minister known by the  name ‘Taoiseach’ ?

A. 17.  Ireland.

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Q. 18.  What were the names of the Captains of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek – The Original Series and Star Trek – The Next Generation; and the actors who played them? (A point for each correct answer, so a total of four points up for grabs.)

A. 18.  The correct answers are, Captain James T Kirk in the Original Series played by William Shatner, and Jean-Luc Picard in The Next Generation played by Patrick Stewart.

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Q. 19.  What woman holds the all-time world record for the 100 meter dash?

A. 19.  Florence Griffith-Joyner, aka “Flo-Jo” by her many fans, set the all-time world record in the 100-meter dash at 10.49 seconds set in 1988.

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Q. 20.  How many ways did Paul Simon say there were to leave your lover?

A. 20.  50.

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The Banksters Balls It Up Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the effect that low oil prices would have on the banks. (Click here if you want to read it.) and another the week before last about the reasons for the decline in the oil price (click here if you want to read that)

As they always do, the idiots that run these financial institutions saw something they thought was going to last forever and threw their money and their clients’ money at it without reason.

Nowhere was this type of recklessness more apparent than during the sub-prime fraud when the banksters lent money to people who clearly could not afford it and then sold on those loans as bogus ‘AAA’ securities to their wealthy customers and other buyers who mistakenly thought that the banks would not try to con them.

cartoon happy banker

Well the banks have done more or less the same today.

Banks have been lending hand over fist to oil companies and those who service the energy sector. They have lent billions of dollars that  –  now the oil price has plummeted  –  has no chance of being paid back. They have underwritten bonds, lent money on expensive fracking operations and even financed the speculative building of homes for oil workers.

It was good while it lasted. But it didn’t last long!

In the 1980s something similar happened when energy prices also slumped. Texas was particularly hard hit and many banks either collapsed or had to be rescued because of their bad loans to oil companies and to local real estate developers speculating on the oil boom.

It’s going to happen again.

The bankster’s greed and stupidity means that their banks are going to take another financial hit, they are going to lose more of their customers’ money. Time for another round of big bonuses, if the last disaster is anything to go by!

Obviously they have been too stupid to learn from the past. Not surprising really.

cartoon sad banker

But the big question is what will government do this time?

Has it learned anything?

Will the government let the banks suffer the consequences of their own stupidity, as they should have when the sub-prime catastrophe hit?

Or will they again use OUR money to bail the banks out, making some nonsense excuse that these companies “are too big to allow to go under”?

And we are talking about BIG banks. Wells Fargo, for example, a huge financial powerhouse, made approximately 15 percent of its investment banking revenue from the oil and gas industry during 2014. Another biggie, Citigroup, was much the same, with this sector accounting for around 12 percent.

And it’s not just in America that the pain is being felt this time.

In Canada, which largely avoided the worst of the sub-prime debacle, some of their leading banks could face an even sharper decline in revenues, so reliant is the whole country on the energy and resources sectors. One of Canada’s biggest banks, Scotiabank, derives approximately 35 percent of its investment banking revenue from oil and gas companies, according to 2014 figures.

wall_street_crooks

Then there’s Wall Street.

Usually they make loans like these and sell them off to unsuspecting investors, however, with the very public fall in oil prices that everyone knows about, firms that financed energy deals are now finding it harder to offload this debt.

As an example of their problems, according to a recent NYT report, Morgan Stanley, was among a group of banks that made $850 million of loans to Vine Oil and Gas, an affiliate of Blackstone, a private equity firm. They are still trying to sell on that debt, but no one is buying. Goldman Sachs and UBS led a $220 million loan last year to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy Express Energy Services. Not all that debt has been sold to other investors either so they are left holding that baby too.

That’s only loans to the oil companies and speculators. Some of the worst loans made by the banks have been to a multitude of companies that provide services to the oil industry. Some of these services companies, lured by the oil boom, are relatively new and/or small and probably under-capitalized so their debt burden can quickly drag them under when projected profits fail to materialize.

Naturally you can expect that the banksters will use all their lobbying and political power to make sure the government steps in again.

But the truth is the government really does not need to (they didn’t the last time either). The ‘to-big-to-fail’ banks may lose on their energy bets, but they will recoup a lot of that money from ordinary people like you and I.

Lower oil prices means that we need less cash to fill up our gas tanks or heat our homes, so the chances are we will feel a bit freer to use that credit card or maybe even take out a mortgage.

Of course, for the banksters that’s a slow way to riches. They want that business for sure, but they will also want the government to write off their other bad loans too.

Let’s see what happens this time.

collapsing bank sign

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Whose Bubble Will Burst First, The Banks Or The Bolsheviks?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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2014 oil price drop

As 2014 ended, the Russian Rouble was in free fall and so were crude oil prices. Both affected the Russian economy and not in a good way. From a position of great strength Vladimir Putin is now under pressure due to the combined effect of lower oil prices and the sanctions imposed by the west because of the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea.

In the West there have been two notable effects of the drop in oil.

One is good in so far as consumers have to spend a lot less to run their vehicles and heat their homes.

The other, however, is bad – for the banks (tee-hee-hee) although they will no doubt pass on their pain to us.

The reason the banks are in trouble (AGAIN) is because they have lent billions of dollars to fracking operations where oil explorers use expensive techniques to extract oil from underneath American and Canadian soil.

The drop in oil prices means that you can now buy oil on the open market for a lot less than it costs to extract it in the US and Canada.

Therefore the oil exploration companies that obtained these huge loans from the banks, and other money men on Wall St, have little or no chance currently of paying them back.

If the position continues through 2015 expect payment defaults and huge debts written off again by the banks.

Will the government step in (AGAIN) to bail them out by printing more money?

I don’t know. I hope not. It’s time these bankster idiots paid for their own mistakes instead of us having to continually foot the bill.

Don’t count on it though.

So whose bubble do you think will burst first, the banks or the Bolsheviks?

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FAREWELL 2014

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi folks,

Last day of this year and time for my recollections of 2014’s main events.

As always this is by no means meant to be a complete coverage of all the events that happened during 2014, just a personal blog post about some of the things I remember, and a few that I had forgotten until I started to compile this list.

I hope you enjoy.

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farewell 2014

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The Weather

We will start off with the weather since so many of us seem to be obsessed with it.

  • In the United States there were weather extremes. In California, for example, January was the warmest and driest on record in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Only four other Januaries since 1878 had been completely dry in Los Angeles until January 2014. Alaskans experienced their third warmest January in 96 years of record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

California drought 2014

  • In many parts of the Midwest, on the other hand, 2014 was the coldest winter since the late 1970s or early 1980s. And some southern states of the US became the victims of, firstly, winter storm Kronos which brought a rare blanket of snow as far south as Louisiana, and sleet as far south as Harlingen, Texas and Pensacola, Fla. in late January, and then, just days later, a second winter storm, Leon, hit many of the same areas causing commuter chaos in both Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Leon also spread ice and sleet to the Gulf Coast, including the Florida Panhandle, and the Low country of South Carolina.
  • And worse was on the way. Winter Storm Pax deposited an inch or more of ice in a swath from east-central Georgia into South Carolina, including Augusta, Ga. and Aiken, S.C. Pax was the second heaviest ice storm dating to 1947 in Wilmington, N.C. The accumulation of ice from Pax claimed the famed “Eisenhower tree” at the Augusta National Golf Club. Pax marked the first time since January 1940 that Columbia, S.C. saw snowfall for three straight days.

Winter Storm Pax Washington

  • In complete contrast, the week after Pax, Columbia, S.C. tied its all-time February high of 84 degrees. Augusta, Ga. warmed into the 80s two straight days on Feb. 19-20.
  • Elsewhere in the world, severe Atlantic winter storms took their toll on many parts of England which in 2014 experienced storms and rain not seen since the late 19th century.

Atlantic winter storms Cornwall England

  • In Tokyo, Japan, which usually averages only about 4 inches of snow each year, there were also severe snow storms. In February, snow blanketed the city with 11 inches of snow in less than a week, the heaviest snowfall in 45 years for Tokyo and in 60 years for the city of Kumagaya, northwest of Tokyo. The following weekend, parts of eastern Japan, including parts of the Tokyo metro area, received another round of snow. Some smaller communities were isolated by more than 3 feet of snow.
  • And in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported that more than 10 percent of Queensland and almost 15 percent of New South Wales experienced their record hottest day on Jan. 3. A second heat wave hit parts of southern Australia in mid-January, with temperatures peaking above 41 degrees Celsius (just under 106 degrees Fahrenheit) for four straight days from Jan. 14-17, and reaching a sizzling 43.9 degrees C (111 degrees F) on both Jan. 16 and 17.

australia heat wave 2014

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Business and Technology

  • In the world of business and technology 2014 was the year the Obama administration decided to stop inversion deals, where US companies bought foreign domiciled businesses and moved their profit centers to a much more tax friendly location.
  • In technology buys, one of the largest was Facebook’s purchase of smartphone application WhatsApp for $19 Billion.

14.02.19-Facebook-WhatsApp

  • In other sectors 2014 saw world oil price plunge to around $50 per barrel, good news for consumers, not so good for producers.
  • Under pressure from the fall in oil and gas prices, along with the economic sanctions imposed by the west because of the ongoing situation in the Ukraine, the Russian Ruble went into free fall in December.

APphoto_Russia Economy

  • Also in 2014, in March, the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling program was not scientific but commercial and refused to grant further permits.
  • With Quantitative Easing having been ended in the US (for the moment anyway) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans for a new $29 billion fresh stimulus, including subsidies and job-creating programs, to help pull the world’s third-largest economy out of recession.

Quantitative Easing cartoon

  • After their embarrassing foul up last Christmas, this year both FedEx and UPS managed to deliver more than 99 percent of express packages as promised on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, according to shipment tracker ShipMatrix.
  • South Korean prosecutors arrested a government official who allegedly leaked information about an investigation into former Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-ah, who forced a flight to return over a bag of macadamia nuts. Most of the rest of the world tends to think that the idiot executive should suffer the consequences of her stupidity, not the whistleblower.

korean-air-lines-macademia-nut-scandal Cho Hyun-ah

  • And finally, after their embarrassing hack attack and cringe-worthy capitulation to what amounted to a terrorist cyber attack which was rightly criticized publicly by President Obama, Sony finally decided to release its movie ‘The Interview’.

Rogan Franco The-Interview

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Conflicts, Wars & Terrorism

Unfortunately 2014 saw many conflicts and acts of terrorism.

  • In April an estimated 276 girls and women were abducted and held hostage from a school in Nigeria. The following month, Boko Haram militants killed approximately 300 people in a night attack on Gamboru Ngala and terrorists in Nigeria detonated bombs at Jos, killing 118 people.

Boko Haram militants killed approximately 300 people Gamboru Ngala

  • June saw the emergence of a Sunni militant group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’ (also known as the ‘ISIS’ or ‘ISIL’). It began an offensive throughout northern Iraq, with the aim of eventually capturing the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad and overthrowing the Shiite government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The group has been responsible for beheading of hundreds of people including several from the United States.

Sunni militant group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’

  • In July and August tensions between Israel and Hamas grew following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in July. Israel launched ‘Operation Protective Edge’ on the Palestinian Gaza Strip starting with numerous missile strikes, followed by a ground invasion a week later. In 7 weeks of fighting, 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed.
  • Also in July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 souls on board. There are conflicting claims as to who was responsible, some blaming pro Russian forces for a missile strike and others blaming Ukrainian forces.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

  • In August and September the United States military began an air campaign in northern Iraq to stem the influx of ISIS militants and the following month the United States and several Arab partners began an airstrike campaign in Syria.

Expect more on these stories during 2015.

Departures

During 2014 we said farewell to many well know people from various walks of life. Here is just my selection of those I remember.

From Literature

Sue Townsend

British novelist and playwright (b. 1946)

SueTownsend

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P. D. James

British writer and life peer

(b. 1920)

P. D. James

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From Movies & TV

Roger Lloyd-Pack

British actor

(b. 1944)

Roger Lloyd-Pack

.

Maximilian Schell

Austrian-Swiss actor

(b. 1930)

Maximilian Schell

.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

American actor

(b. 1967)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

.

Shirley Temple

American actress and diplomat

(b. 1928)

shirley_temple

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Sid Caesar

American actor

(b. 1922)

Sid Caesar

.

Harold Ramis

American film director,

writer, and actor

(b. 1944)

Harold Ramis

.

Mickey Rooney

American actor

(b. 1920)

Mickey Rooney

.

Bob Hoskins

British actor

(b. 1942)

Bob Hoskins

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Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

American actor

(b. 1918)

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

.

Rik Mayall

British comedian,

writer and actor

(b. 1958)

Rik Mayall

.

Casey Kasem

American radio host

and voice actor

(b. 1932)

Casey Kasem

.

Eli Wallach

American actor

(b. 1915)

Eli Wallach

.

Elaine Stritch

American actress and singer

(b. 1925)

Elaine Stritch

.

James Garner

American actor

(b. 1928)

James Garner

.

Menahem Golan

Israeli filmmaker

(b. 1929)

Menahem Golan

.

Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

.

Lauren Bacall

American actress

(b. 1924)

Lauren Bacall

.

Richard Attenborough

British actor and film director

(b. 1923)

Richard Attenborough

.

Joan Rivers

American comedian, actress,

and television host

(b. 1933)

Joan Rivers

.

Richard Kiel

American actor (b. 1939)

Richard Kiel

.

Polly Bergen

American actress

(b. 1930)

Polly Bergen

.

Ken Takakura

Japanese actor

(b. 1931)

Ken Takakura

.

Warren Clarke

English actor

(b. 1947)

Warren-Clarke

.

Glen A. Larson

American television producer

and writer

(b. 1937)

Glen A. Larson

.

Virna Lisi

Italian actress

(b. 1936)

Virna Lisi

.

Billie Whitelaw

English actress

(b. 1932)

Billie Whitelaw

.

Luise Rainer

Golden Age actress

“The Great Ziegfeld”

(b. 1910)

Luise Rainer with oscars

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From Music

Pete Seeger

American singer, songwriter,

musician, and activist

(b. 1919)

Pete Seeger

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Johnny Winter

American singer and guitarist

(b. 1944)

Johnny Winter

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Glenn Cornick

British bass guitarist

(b. 1947)

Glenn Cornick

.

Jack Bruce

British rock bassist

(b. 1943)

Jack Bruce

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Acker Bilk

British jazz clarinetist

(b. 1929)

Acker Bilk

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Joe Cocker

English singer

(b. 1944)

Joe Cocker

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From Politics

Zbigniew Messner

9th Prime Minister of the

People’s Republic of Poland

(b. 1929)

Zbigniew Messner

.

Ariel Sharon

11th Prime Minister of Israel

(b. 1928)

Ariel Sharon

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Tony Benn

British politician and diarist

(b. 1925)

Tony Benn

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Adolfo Suárez

138th Prime Minister of Spain

(b. 1932)

Adolfo Suárez

.

James R. Schlesinger

American economist and politician

(b. 1929)

James R. Schlesinger

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A. N. R. Robinson

3rd President of Trinidad and Tobago

(b. 1926)

A. N. R. Robinson

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Howard Baker

American politician and diplomat

(b. 1925)

Howard Baker

.

Eduard Shevardnadze

2nd President of Georgia

(b. 1928)

Eduard Shevardnadze

.

Albert Reynolds

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister)

(b. 1932)

Albert Reynolds

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Ian Paisley

British politician and

First Minister of Northern Ireland

(b. 1926)

Ian Paisley

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Nicholas Romanov

Prince of Russia

(b. 1922)

Nicholas Romanov

.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

41st President of Haiti

(b. 1951)

Jean-Claude Duvalier

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John Spencer-Churchill

11th Duke of Marlborough,

British peer and educator

(b. 1926)

John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough

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Gough Whitlam

21st Prime Minister of Australia

(b. 1916)

Gough Whitlam

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From Space Exploration

Valeri Kubasov

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1935)

Valeri Kubasov

.

Wubbo Ockels

Dutch astronaut and physicist

(b. 1946)

Wubbo Ockels

.

Henry Hartsfield

American colonel and astronaut

(b. 1933)

Henry Hartsfield

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Anatoly Berezovoy

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1942)

Anatoly Berezovoy

.

From Sport

Eusébio

Portuguese footballer

(b. 1942)

Eusébio

.

Mae Young

American professional wrestler

(b. 1923)

Mae Young

.

Louise Brough

American tennis player

(b. 1923)

Louise Brough

.

Tom Finney

English footballer

(b. 1922)

Tom Finney

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Nelson Frazier, Jr.

American professional wrestler

(b. 1971)

Nelson Frazier, Jr

.

Jimmy Ellis

American boxer

(b. 1940)

Jimmy_Ellis

.

Jack Brabham

Australian race car driver

(b. 1926)

Jack Brabham

.

Malcolm Glazer

American businessman,

owner of Manchester United

(b. 1928)

Malcolm Glazer

.

Valentin Mankin

Ukrainian sailor, Olympic triple champion

and silver medalist

(b. 1938)

Valentin Mankin

.

Fernandão

Brazilian footballer and manager

(b. 1978)

Fernandão

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Alfredo Di Stéfano

Argentine-Spanish footballer

(b. 1926)

Alfredo-Di-Stefano-Dies-at-Age-88

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Andriy Bal

Ukrainian football player and coach

(b. 1958)

Andriy Bal

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Björn Waldegård

Swedish rally driver

(b. 1943)

Björn Waldegård

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Andrea de Cesaris

Italian race car driver

(b. 1959)

Andrea de Cesaris

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Health

  • The big health scare of 2014 that dominated the headlines was the of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa in February, that initially infected over 19,000 people and killing at least 7,000, the most severe both in terms of numbers of infections and casualties.

ebola_map Africa

  • In other news, also in February, Belgium became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age.

Politics

  • On January 1, Latvia officially adopted the Euro as its currency and became the 18th member of the Eurozone.
  • In February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, replacing him with Oleksandr Turchynov, after days of civil unrest that left around 100 people dead in Kiev. The pro-Russian unrest lead to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and an insurgency in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

President Viktor Yanukovych

  • In March, Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela, severed diplomatic and political ties with Panama, accusing it of being involved in a conspiracy against the Venezuelan government.
  • Also in March, an emergency meeting, involving the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada temporarily suspended Russia from the G8.
  • In April, also in response to the Crimean crisis, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution temporarily stripping Russia of its voting rights; its rights to be represented in the Bureau of the Assembly, the PACE Presidential Committee, and the PACE Standing Committee; and its right to participate in election-observation missions.
  • The same month, United States President Barack Obama began new economic sanctions against Russia, targeting companies and individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin Obama

  • In May the Royal Thai Army overthrew the caretaker government of Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan after a failure to resolve the political unrest in Thailand.
  • Back in Europe, in June, King Juan Carlos I of Spain abdicated in favor of his son, who ascended the Spanish throne as King Felipe VI.
  • And the political year ended on a positive note, with U.S. President Barack Obama announcing the resumption of normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than half a century.

normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba

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Space

  • The major space event of 2014 happened in November when the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Philae probe successfully landed on Comet 67P, the first time in history that a spacecraft has landed on such an object.

Rosetta Philae

Sport

  • The two major world sporting events of 2014 were the XXII Olympic Winter Games, held in Sochi, Russia in February, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil, and won by Germany, during June and July.

world-cup-2014-champions-germany-trophy

  • In American sport the Super Bowl was won by the Seattle Seahawks, the MLB World Series  winners were the San Francisco Giants and in basketball the San Antonio Spurs came out on top.
  • Ice Hockey had three champions in 2014, Canada becoming Olympic champions, Russia world champions and in the NHL the Los Angeles Kings were the victors.
  • In tennis at the world famous Wimbledon Tournament in England Novak Djokovic became Men’s Singles Champion and Petra Kvitova Ladies Singles Champion, while the men’s and women’s winners of the US Open were Marin Čilić  and Serena Williams respectively.

novak-djokovic-with-wimbledon-crown

  • In Soccer, as noted above, Germany won the 2014 World Cup. The European Champions League winners were Real Madrid and the English Premiership was won by Manchester City.
  • The Formula 1 motor racing champion for 2014 was British driver Lewis Hamilton, who also picked up the award of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • In golf’s major championships, the Masters Tournament, held in April, was won by Bubba Watson by three strokes. It was his second Masters championship.
  • May saw the BMW PGA Championship where young Northern Ireland man Rory McIlroy birdied the 18th hole to win by one stroke over Irishman Shane Lowry, who also birdied the 18th hole.
  • In June, U.S. Open winner was Martin Kaymer who won by eight strokes to become the first German player to win the U.S. Open, and the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same year.
  • In July, the Open Championship Northern Ireland man Rory McIlroy, was on top again winning by two strokes over Rickie Fowler and Sergio García. It was his third career major championship, and his first Open Championship. With the win, he became the fourth player ever of 25 years old or under to have won at least three majors.
  • In August, McIlroy was back, winning the PGA Championship by one stroke over Phil Mickelson. He was having quite a year, it was his fourth career major and his second PGA Championship.PGA Champion Rory McIlroy
  • Then in September, in the Ryder Cup, Team Europe (also including McIlroy) defeated Team USA by a score of 16½ – 11½. It was the third consecutive Ryder Cup victory for Europe, and also Europe’s fifth consecutive home victory in the Ryder Cup.

Tragedies

  • In March Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappears over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. The aircraft is presumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.
  • In April Korean ferry MV Sewol capsized and sunk after an unmanageable cargo shift. More than 290 people were killed, mostly high school students.

south-korea-ferry MV Sewol

  • In May hundreds of workers were killed in mining accident in Turkey.
  • In July, Air Algérie Flight 5017 crashed in Mali, killing all 116 people on board.
  • And just a few days ago AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed, wreckage has been found off the coast of Indonesia’s Kalimantan coast.

indonesia-airplane AirAsia flight flight QZ8501 airport notice board