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

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Maximilian Schell

Austrian-Swiss actor

(b. 1930)

Maximilian Schell

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Philip Seymour Hoffman

American actor

(b. 1967)

Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Shirley Temple

American actress and diplomat

(b. 1928)

shirley_temple

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Sid Caesar

American actor

(b. 1922)

Sid Caesar

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Harold Ramis

American film director,

writer, and actor

(b. 1944)

Harold Ramis

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Mickey Rooney

American actor

(b. 1920)

Mickey Rooney

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Bob Hoskins

British actor

(b. 1942)

Bob Hoskins

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Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

American actor

(b. 1918)

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr

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Rik Mayall

British comedian,

writer and actor

(b. 1958)

Rik Mayall

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Casey Kasem

American radio host

and voice actor

(b. 1932)

Casey Kasem

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Eli Wallach

American actor

(b. 1915)

Eli Wallach

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Elaine Stritch

American actress and singer

(b. 1925)

Elaine Stritch

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James Garner

American actor

(b. 1928)

James Garner

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Menahem Golan

Israeli filmmaker

(b. 1929)

Menahem Golan

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Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

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Lauren Bacall

American actress

(b. 1924)

Lauren Bacall

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Richard Attenborough

British actor and film director

(b. 1923)

Richard Attenborough

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Joan Rivers

American comedian, actress,

and television host

(b. 1933)

Joan Rivers

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Richard Kiel

American actor (b. 1939)

Richard Kiel

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Polly Bergen

American actress

(b. 1930)

Polly Bergen

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Ken Takakura

Japanese actor

(b. 1931)

Ken Takakura

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Warren Clarke

English actor

(b. 1947)

Warren-Clarke

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Glen A. Larson

American television producer

and writer

(b. 1937)

Glen A. Larson

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Virna Lisi

Italian actress

(b. 1936)

Virna Lisi

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Billie Whitelaw

English actress

(b. 1932)

Billie Whitelaw

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Eduard Shevardnadze

2nd President of Georgia

(b. 1928)

Eduard Shevardnadze

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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

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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

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Wubbo Ockels

Dutch astronaut and physicist

(b. 1946)

Wubbo Ockels

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Henry Hartsfield

American colonel and astronaut

(b. 1933)

Henry Hartsfield

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Anatoly Berezovoy

Soviet cosmonaut

(b. 1942)

Anatoly Berezovoy

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From Sport

Eusébio

Portuguese footballer

(b. 1942)

Eusébio

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Mae Young

American professional wrestler

(b. 1923)

Mae Young

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Louise Brough

American tennis player

(b. 1923)

Louise Brough

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Tom Finney

English footballer

(b. 1922)

Tom Finney

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Nelson Frazier, Jr.

American professional wrestler

(b. 1971)

Nelson Frazier, Jr

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Jimmy Ellis

American boxer

(b. 1940)

Jimmy_Ellis

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Jack Brabham

Australian race car driver

(b. 1926)

Jack Brabham

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Malcolm Glazer

American businessman,

owner of Manchester United

(b. 1928)

Malcolm Glazer

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Valentin Mankin

Ukrainian sailor, Olympic triple champion

and silver medalist

(b. 1938)

Valentin Mankin

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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

 

What’s That Smell?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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hypocrite definition

Last week I wrote a post about the resurgence of the Cold War. I called it “Anyone Feel A Chill?” (click here if you would like to read it.)

But, politicians being politicians, they cannot even have a mock war like a Cold War without the stench of hypocrisy attached to it.

For example, the United States blames Russia for interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, as indeed it is currently doing. But at the same time it attaches no blame to itself for also interfering in the Ukraine’s internal affairs, which it also did – in the process helping to create the mess we now see on our TV screens.

ukraine protests

Now, not content with that, America has been coercing Europe to go along with it in imposing economic sanctions on Russia. And by and large Europe has meekly and unthinkingly followed the US lead.

It started with foodstuffs and freezing bank accounts and assets, which Putin has managed to shrug off without too much trouble.

Now they’ve upped the ante and imposed sanctions on Russia’s supply of energy which is it’s big wealth earner and which given time will no doubt hurt a bit. I say “a bit” because any long term shortfall in energy revenue from Europe will be more than made up for by energy hungry customers like China, India and the rest of Asia. China, for example, recently closed a $400 billion natural gas deal with the Russians.

As a matter of fact, with winter approaching, the sanction game may well end up hurting Europe a lot more that it does Russia.

hypocrisy meter

You see, the thing is, the energy sanctions imposed by the US and Europe are on the sale of oil and gas. These are the things that Europe desperately needs, but are things on which America does not rely on Russia for at all.

Wait a minute, there’s that smell again.

Worse than that, the US did not invoke sanctions on the sale of Russian nuclear fuel, which America does rely on Russia for, since it just happens to power 10% of all American homes.

Now do you smell it?

At the moment it looks like this Cold War is going to get very cold in Europe and very expensive as the cost of heating increases with the shortfall in supplies.

America will be fine though.

So will Russia.

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Fasab’s Mammoth End Of The Year Quiz!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”  

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If you are anything like me, sometimes you’ll have trouble remembering what you were doing yesterday, let alone what happened several months ago.

If so, this quiz should be a bit of a challenge.

There aren’t any difficult or trick questions. The answers are all events that happened during the year 2013 and all were reported widely at the time they happened on the television, radio, internet and newspapers.

Let’s see if you were paying attention and how much of it you can recall now.

As usual the answers can be found waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please, NO cheating!

Good luck, and enjoy.

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Fasab's Mammoth End Of Year Quiz 2013

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Q.  1:  What former resident of Robben Island died late this year?

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Q.  2:  What country landed a rover vehicle on the Moon in 2013? 

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Q.  3:  Who won the 2013 NBA Finals? (Bonus points for their opponents and for the score) 

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Q.  4:  In what country did terrorists attack a shopping mall killing 59 people and injuring 175? (Bonus point if you can also name the city.) 

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Q.  5:  What mobile phone company did Microsoft buy in 2013 for $7.2 billion? 

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Q.  6:  In 2013 what city had the winning bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games?

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Q.  7:  What major American city filed for bankruptcy during 2013? 

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Q.  8:  What former British Prime Minister died during 2013 at the age of 87? 

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Q.  9:  A huge tornado hit which American city in 2013 causing massive devastation? 

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Q. 10:  What internet social media company did Yahoo buy for $1.1 billion during 2013? 

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Q. 11:  A factory collapsed in which Asian country killing over 700 people? 

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Q. 12:  Terrorists attacked a marathon race in which city during 2013? 

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Q. 13:  2013 saw which country become the first to make plans to tax bank deposits?

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Q. 14:  In what country in 2013 did meteorites injured hundreds of people? 

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Q. 15:  What world leader announced a shock resignation during 2013? 

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Q. 16:  A fire in a nightclub killed about 230 people in what country?

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Q. 17:  Which soccer player won the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or for the third consecutive year? 

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Q. 18:  130 wildfires across the east coast of which country forced thousands to evacuate their homes? 

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Q. 19:  In 2013 which of the world’s major cities was declared to have air pollution levels that are hazardous to human health?

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Q. 20:  Calcium deposits were discovered on what planet by NASA’s Curiosity Rover?  

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Q. 21:  What country unveils plans to build the world’s largest wind farm near the site of a former nuclear reactor plant? 

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Q. 22:  Who succeeded Hillary Rodham Clinton as the United States Secretary of State during 2013? 

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Q. 23:  Who won Super Bowl XLVII? (Bonus points for their opponents and for the score.)  

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Q. 24:  Where did a massive blizzard result in 15 deaths, 5,300 cancelled flights, and loss of power for 900,000 people during 2013?  

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Q. 25:  Which country confirmed that it had successfully tested a nuclear device that could be weaponized and also declared war on its neighboring state?   

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Q. 26:  $50 million worth of diamonds were stolen in an armed robbery at an airport in which European city? 

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Q. 27:  Who was elected to a second term as the President of Cuba? 

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Q. 28:  Who won the 2013 Daytona 500? 

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Q. 29:  Who in 2013 became the first male Monarch of Netherlands in 123 years?  

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Q. 30:  In 2013 what company announced a $17 billion bond offering, the largest ever from a private company? 

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Q. 31:  Who won the 77th Golf Masters Championship?

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Q. 32:  What bunch of politicians passed a bill intending to enable the taxing of online sales? 

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Q. 33:  Who announced his retirement as Manchester United’s manager at the end of the 2012-2013 soccer season?

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Q. 34:  Who regained his position in 2013 as the world’s richest man with an estimated fortune of $72.7 Billion? 

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Q. 35:  What country won the 2013 World Ice Hockey Championship? (Bonus point if you know who they beat.)  

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Q. 36:  Which world leader announced his divorce with his wife on national TV in June 2013? 

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Q. 37:  Which golfer won the 113th US Open in 2013? 

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Q. 38:  Which Middle Eastern President is deposed in a military coup during 2013? 

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Q. 39:  €103 million of diamonds is stolen from the Carton Intercontinental Hotel in which well known festive French city?  

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Q. 40:  Who became Prime Minister of Australia in September 2013, after a Liberal-National Coalitions wins the election?  

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Q. 41:  Who won the 2013 US Tennis Open? 

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Q. 42:  What country switched off its last working nuclear reactor in 2013?

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Q. 43:  What was the largest company by revenue on the 2013 Fortune 500 list?    

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Q. 44:  12 people were killed after a gunman opens fire at a naval yard in what major American city? 

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Q. 45:  Who became the first British man to win a Wimbledon tennis title since 1936? 

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Q. 46:  What computer/console game became the fastest entertainment product to reach $1 billion in sales during 2013? 

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Q. 47:  Who set a new MLB record with 24 Grand Slam home runs for the New York Yankees? 

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Q. 48:  Who won a third term with their best result since 1990 in German Federal elections? (A point each for the name of the Party and it’s leader.)

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Q. 49:  Who is named PGA Tour’s player of the year for the 11th time? 

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Q. 50:  It was perhaps the biggest joke of the year and started in the United States on October 1st and ended on October 16th – what was it? 

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  What former resident of Robben Island died late this year?

A.  1:  Nelson Mandela

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Q.  2:  What country landed a rover vehicle on the Moon in 2013? 

A.  2:  China.

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Q.  3:  Who won the 2013 NBA Finals? (Bonus points for their opponents and for the score) 

A.  3:  Miami Heat, beating San Antonio Spurs 4-3.

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Q.  4:  In what country did terrorists attack a shopping mall killing 59 people and injuring 175? (Bonus point if you can also name the city.) 

A.  4:  Nairobi, Kenya.

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Q.  5:  What mobile phone company did Microsoft buy in 2013 for $7.2 billion? 

A.  5:  Nokia.

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Q.  6:  In 2013 what city had the winning bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games?

A.  6:  Tokyo, Japan.

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Q.  7:  What major American city filed for bankruptcy during 2013? 

A.  7:  Detroit.

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Q.  8:  What former British Prime Minister died during 2013 at the age of 87? 

A.  8:  Margaret Thatcher.

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Q.  9:  A huge tornado hits which American city causing massive devastation? 

A.  9:  Oklahoma.

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Q. 10:  What internet social media company did Yahoo buy for $1.1 billion during 2013? 

A. 10:  Tumblr.

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Q. 11:  A factory collapsed in which Asian country killing over 700 people? 

A. 11:  Bangladesh.

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Q. 12:  Terrorists attacked a marathon race in which city during 2013? 

A. 12:  Boston.

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Q. 13:  2013 saw which country become the first to make plans to tax bank deposits?

A. 13:  Cyprus.

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Q. 14:  In what country in 2013 did meteorites injured hundreds of people? 

A. 14:  Russia.

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Q. 15:  What world leader announced a shock resignation during 2013? 

A. 15:  Pope Benedict XVI.

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Q. 16:  A fire in a nightclub killed about 230 people in what country?

A. 16:  Brazil.

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Q. 17:  Which soccer player won the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or for the third consecutive year? 

A. 17:  Lionel Messi.

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Q. 18:  130 wildfires across the east coast of which country forced thousands to evacuate their homes? 

A. 18:  Australia.

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Q. 19:  In 2013 which of the world’s major cities was declared to have air pollution levels that are hazardous to human health?

A. 19:  Beijing, China.

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Q. 20:  Calcium deposits were discovered on what planet by NASA’s Curiosity Rover?  

A. 20:  Mars.

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Q. 21:  What country unveils plans to build the world’s largest wind farm near the site of a former nuclear reactor plant? 

A. 21:  Japan, near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

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Q. 22:  Who succeeded Hillary Rodham Clinton as the United States Secretary of State during 2013? 

A. 22:  John Kerry.

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Q. 23:  Who won Super Bowl XLVII? (Bonus points for their opponents and for the score.)  

A. 23:  The Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers by 34–31.

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Q. 24:  Where did a massive blizzard result in 15 deaths, 5,300 cancelled flights, and loss of power for 900,000 people during 2013?  

A. 24:  In the US and Canada.

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Q. 25:  Which country confirmed that it had successfully tested a nuclear device that could be weaponized and also declared war on its neighboring state?  

A. 25:  North Korea.

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Q. 26:  $50 million worth of diamonds were stolen in an armed robbery at an airport in which European city? 

A. 26:  Brussels, Belgium.

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Q. 27:  Who was elected to a second term as the President of Cuba? 

A. 27:  Raúl Castro.

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Q. 28:  Who won the 2013 Daytona 500? 

A. 28:  Jimmie Johnson.

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Q. 29:  Who in 2013 became the first male Monarch of Netherlands in 123 years?  

A. 29:  Willem-Alexander.

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Q. 30:  In 2013 what company announced a $17 billion bond offering, the largest ever from a private company? 

A. 30:  Apple.

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Q. 31:  Who won the 77th Golf Masters Championship?

A. 31:  Adam Scott.

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Q. 32:  What bunch of politicians passed a bill intending to enable the taxing of online sales? 

A. 32:  The US Senate.

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Q. 33:  Who announced his retirement as Manchester United’s manager at the end of the 2012-2013 soccer season?

A. 33:  Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Q. 34:  Who regained his position in 2013 as the world’s richest man with an estimated fortune of $72.7 Billion? 

A. 34:  Bill Gates.

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Q. 35:  What country won the 2013 World Ice Hockey Championship? (Bonus point if you know who they beat.)  

A. 35:  Sweden, beating Switzerland.

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Q. 36:  Which world leader announced his divorce with his wife on national TV in June 2013? 

A. 36:  Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Q. 37:  Which golfer won the 113th US Open in 2013? 

A. 37:  Justin Rose.

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Q. 38:  Which Middle Eastern President is deposed in a military coup during 2013? 

A. 38:  Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi.

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Q. 39:  €103 million of diamonds is stolen from the Carton Intercontinental Hotel in which well known festive French city?  

A. 39:  Cannes, France.

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Q. 40:  Who became Prime Minister of Australia in September 2013, after a Liberal-National Coalitions wins the election?  

A. 40:  Tony Abbott.

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Q. 41:  Who won the 2013 US Tennis Open? 

A. 41:  Rafael Nadal, beating Novak Djokovic.

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Q. 42:  What country switched off its last working nuclear reactor in 2013?

A. 42:  Japan.

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Q. 43:  What was the largest company by revenue on the 2013 Fortune 500 list?    

A. 43:  Wal-Mart.

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Q. 44:  12 people were killed after a gunman opens fire at a naval yard in what major American city? 

A. 44:  Washington DC.

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Q. 45:  Who became the first British man to win a Wimbledon tennis title since 1936? 

A. 45:  Andy Murray,  beating Novak Djokovic.

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Q. 46:  What computer/console game became the fastest entertainment product to reach $1 Billion in sales during 2013? 

A. 46:  Grand Theft Auto.

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Q. 47:  Who set a new MLB record with 24 Grand Slam home runs for the New York Yankees? 

A. 47:  Alex Rodriquez.

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Q. 48:  Who won a third term with their best result since 1990 in German Federal elections? (A point each for the name of the Party and it’s leader.)

A. 48:  The Christian Democrats, led by Angela Merkel.

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Q. 49:  Who is named PGA Tour’s player of the year for the 11th time? 

A. 49:  Tiger Woods.

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Q. 50:  It was perhaps the biggest joke of the year and started in the United States on October 1st and ended on October 16th – what was it? 

A. 50:  The Federal Government shutdown as a result of politicians squabbling over spending.

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There Comes A Time When Zero Tolerance Is The Only Option

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Time for another rant, now known as the Sunday Sermon.

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For many years there has been an influx of Muslims into Western countries like, for example, America and Britain. And for years these people arrived and set to work to provide a better life for their families, which was reason they chose our countries in the first place.

Sometimes we treated them with respect. At other times their treatment was not so welcoming. But the vast majority accepted things as they were and worked hard, with the result that they did make a better life for themselves.

However, now all of a sudden, because of the rants of a few demented and evil clerics who have corrupted the words of Allah and the meaning of the Koran, some Muslims are now offended by everything, including the very presence of the citizens of the countries they have chosen to come and live among.

How absurd is that?

Worse, however, is that we are supposed to pander to this nonsense and tippy toe around them afraid to do or say anything in case it will be distorted and manufactured into something offensive.

And if we don’t?

Well then they will cut our head’s off in the middle of a street and stand bragging about it afterwards.

That is exactly what happened in London this week when Drummer Lee Rigby, a British soldier, was first knocked down by a car driven by two blood-thirsty killers and then decapitated as he lay helpless on the street.  

murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby
murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby

On any scale of things that are offensive, it just doesn’t get any more offensive than that.

Yet we are supposed to tolerate the intolerable and excuse the inexcusable!

Let’s get real folks.

Some things are unacceptable in western society. And if you choose to live in western society then you live by our rules, not yours.

When I visit a Muslim country where, for example, drinking alcohol is forbidden, I don’t put on the pretense of being offended, I don’t whine about my rights being denied, in fact I don’t complain at all. I am in their country, those are their rules, and while I am there I am happy to respect them and abide by them.

Why is there no reciprocal respect any more?

And even more to the point, why is that reciprocal respect not demanded?

We have allowed our politicians to cloud the issue by blundering about in foreign lands. They say they are doing it to fight terrorism and protect us, but in reality it has much more to do with securing commodities and distracting us from much more serious economic problems they have created at home.

Politicians manipulate their people by creating ‘bogey men’ and fomenting fear where none should really exist. They do it, not for the benefit of their constituents, but for their own self promotion and their attempt to cling on to power. It happens in every country, east or west, north or south, and it has been happening for centuries.

And what is happening to elements of the Muslim population today is no different. In their case the manipulation is made slightly easier because the evil clerics are able to deceive their largely uneducated and ignorant followers with the promise of seventy virgins and a place in heaven if they either kill themselves or other innocent people – preferably both at the same time. Strange, if the reward is so great, that you never see the clerics themselves pushing to the front of the queue to participate!  

There is a horrible trend nowadays that standards must be allowed to come down to the lowest level. Exams in schools and degrees at universities have to be made easier and easier to pass, lest some be deemed not to have qualified. Everyone has to be treated as a potential terrorist at airports in case selective targeting of possible suspects be labeled as racial or ethnic profiling. And every effort has to be made try to understand and excuse the criminals in our society who prey on the law-abiding.

We have completely lost our way. And the only solution is to take a stand on these important issues. Try to be nice, and understanding, and liked by everyone and you doom yourself and your society. There comes a time when the proverbial line has to be drawn in the sand. And there comes a time when zero tolerance is the only option.

That time is now!

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I Told You They Were Coming!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Time for another Sunday Sermon, otherwise known as a rant!

 Foreclosure Notice Yellow Photo

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First it was Cyprus where the bankrupt government tried to steal money right out of people’s bank accounts. If you want to read that again click here and here.)

Then it was the turn of the greedy bureaucrats in Australia who decided to tax pensions TWICE, once when you put the money in and again when you tried to take it out! (For the original post click here.) 

Now in bankrupt Spain the politicians are at it, however, this time they aren’t proposing to steal some of the money in your bank account  –  oh no, this time they want to steal your entire home!

Yes, you read it right, the Spanish government has announced this past week that they want to seize homes that have been foreclosed on by banks and developers.

Not that I have any sympathy with the banksters, not by a long chalk! But theft is theft, and theft by governments is perhaps the most evil of all simply because the victims have little or no remedies available – other than pack up and go somewhere else.

se vende

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As usual the politicians and bureaucrats are trying to dress this theft up as something helpful. They say they will rent the confiscated foreclosed homes to Spanish families who will be allowed to live there rent-free for up to three years.

Sounds great, but as usual what these political morons have failed to do is think their policy through.

If they go ahead with this plan to steal homes the consequences will not be what they think.

First of all it will destroy what is left of the mortgage market in Spain because no one will want to make home loans on Spanish real estate if there is no viable foreclosure mechanism should things go wrong for the mortgagee.

Second, it will go a long way to killing off the buy-to-let sector, which is the thing that has been keeping the real estate market afloat in these financially strained times. Home sales, not just in Spain, but in many countries have been boosted considerably by cash rich investors picking up what they consider to be ‘bargain’ properties at a level that yields a decent return on their capital. Where will they get that return if the government kills the rental sector by renting out homes for free?

And third, it will also kill off the recent Spanish drive to attract foreign investors by offering residency to anyone who spends around $200,000 buying up the glut of Spanish property currently on its real estate market.   

If these things were happening in Zimbabwe or even Venezuela everyone would be calling it a disgrace. But it is happening in Europe and Australia and America. And it will get worse the more desperate the politicians and the bureaucrats become as they make the mess they created worse, not better.

Who on earth put idiots like these in charge?

It wasn’t you was it?

pointing_finger_clip_art_23483

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Significant Number Factoid Friday – Today The Number Is Fifty-Five 55

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Another numbers factoid today. This time the number is fifty-five, along with its various associations.

Enjoy.

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The Number Fifty-Five  55

 55

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In religion

  • The number 55 is used 2 times in the Bible.
  • The 55th word of the King James Version of the Bible’s Old Testament Genesis is “light”;
  • At the end of his Gospel, Saint John devotes 55 verses (chapter 20 and 21) to describe the resurrection and his appearances of the Christ which took place after his death.
  • The words throne and number are used 55 in the NT.
  • 55 is the representative number of the Virgin Mary. In the New Testament the name Mary is referred to 55 times (26 times by the word mother; 10 times by the word woman; and 19 times by the name of Mary).
  • Fifty-five years separate the Annunciation from the Assumption of the Virgin.

 

  • A rabbinical study enumerates 55 prophets, divided into 48 prophets and 7 prophetess. This list appears in the Comment of Rachi on Meguilla 14a.

 

  • Epsilon, E, is the 5th letter of the Greek alphabet, and Lambda, L, is the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet and the product of the 3rd & 5th prime numbers: 5 x 11 = 55 = EL
  • EL is an ancient Semitic title for God. In Assyrian-Babylonian mythology, the great trinity Anu (sky), Bel (light), and Ea (sea) emanated from EL. EL was used by the Phoenicians for the high-one. Elohim is the plural form of EL. The Hebrews associated EL or Elohim with a sun-deity absorbed by Yaw (Jah or Jehovah). In Hebrew poetry EL appears as First Cause, God, Mighty One, principle or beginning of all things.
  • In Cabala, EL is a name of Chesed, the 4th Sephira.
  • EL is Celtic for angel.  

 

  • 55 represent the Divine Person, according to Abellio.
  • 55 represent the limit of the humanity, according to E. Bindel.
  • 55 represent the total and complete man, symbolized by the two hands which join at the moment of the prayer to remake the unit in the form of ten, but being able also to express that under the form of 55, “addition in the senses of the divine wisdom” according to saint Martin.
  • The Bouriates knew 99 gods, divided into 55 goods and 44 bad. These two groups of gods would fight for a very long time between them.

In Mathematics

  • 55 is the sum of the first 10 numbers: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 55
  • 55 is the sum of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th triangular numbers: 3 + 6 + 10 + 15 + 21 = 55
  • 55 is the sum of the first 5 square numbers (also known as a square pyramidal number): 1 + 4 + 9 + 16 + 25 = 55
  • The sum of 5 odd heavenly numbers: 1+3+5+7+9 = 25; the sum of 5 even earthly numbers: 2+4+6+8+10 = 30; the sum of the heavenly & earthly series (I Ching): 25 + 30 = 55
  • Fifty-five is the 10th Fibonacci number and a triangular number (the sum of the numbers 1 to 10), it is the largest Fibonacci number to also be a triangular number.

Triangular 1-10

  • 55 is heptagonal number, and a centered nonagonal number.
  • In base 10, 55 is a Kaprekar number.
  • 55 is a semiprime, being the product of 5 and 11 and it is the 2nd member of the (5.q) semiprime family.
  • In Roman numeral 55 is written as LV
  • 55 in Binary is 00110111
  • In Pythagorean arithmetic, 2 is the first even number, 3 the first odd number. The even & odd tetractyes both radiate from the One, which is the source of all numbers. The sum of these two series is 55

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In Science

  • 55 is the Atomic Number of Cesium (Cs).
  • The cesium clock is used as a standard in measuring time. Its accuracy is one second in 30,000 years. The cesium atomic clock is based on the frequency corresponding to hyperfine structure transition in the atoms of cesium nuclides Cs-133.

ntp_time

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In space

  • Messier object M55, is a magnitude 7.0 globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius
Messier Object M55
Messier Object M55
  • The New General Catalogue object NGC 55, is a magnitude 7.9 barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Sculptor
  • On February 9, 1986, Halley’s Comet made its closest approach to the sun (perihelion) at a distance of only about 55 million miles.
  • The velocity of Halley’s comet at perihelion is 55 kilometers per second.

halleys-comet-1986

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In politics

  • 55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (1787) and 39 signed the United States Constitution.
  • Agitation and Propaganda against the State, also known as Constitution law 55, was a law in Communist Albania.
Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 1787
Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 1787

In Books, Music, Movies and TV

  • A song produced by Group X was called “Schfifty Five”.
  • 55 is the name of a song by British Indie Rock Band Kasabian. The song was released as a B side to Club Foot and was recorded live when the band performed at London’s Brixton Academy.
  • “I Can’t Drive 55”, is a song by Sammy Hagar
  • “Old 55” is the title of a song by Tom Waits and The Eagles
  • Cristian Vogel released an album in 2005 with the title “Station 55”
  • “Ol’ 55”, is an Australian rock band.
  • “Primer 55” is the name of an American band
  • “55 Cadillac”, is an album by Andrew W.K.

AndrewWK_55Cadillac 

  • “55 Days at Peking” is a film starring Charlton Heston and David Niven

55 Days At Peking

  • “55 Degrees North” (2004–2005) is a British TV series about a  London detective who moves to Newcastle after blowing the whistle on a corrupt colleague.
  • “Class of ’55”, is a TV comedy created by writer David Seltzer, and starring Alan Alda, John Archer, Sharon Cintron
  • “The Fall Of ’55”, a crime drama, written by Seth Randal, about an incident in late 1955 and early 1956, when the citizens of Boise, Idaho believed there was a menace in their midst. On Halloween, investigators arrested three men on charges of having sex with teenage boys. The investigators claimed the arrests were just the tip of the iceberg-they said hundreds of boys were being abused as part of a child sex ring. There was no such ring, but the result was a widespread investigation which some people consider a witch hunt. By the time the investigation ended, 16 men were charged. Countless other lives were also touched.In some cases, men implicated fled the area. At least one actually left the country. The investigation attracted attention in newspapers across the nation, including Time Magazine. The “Morals Drive” left scars which remain to this day.

the fall of '55 

  • José Saramago’s novel “The Cave” features the Center, a vast multistoried shopping mall whose catalog runs to 55 volumes of 1,500 pages each, an entertainment complex offering Disneyland versions of virtual reality, and apartments, a hospital, a crematory and administrative headquarters.

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In Transportation

  • Speed Limit
  • 55 was the highest speed limit allowed in the United States between 1974 and 1986 per the National Maximum Speed Law.

 55 speed limit sign

  • Yoshimura R-55 GP Style Slip-On Exhaust
  • The Yoshimura R-55 is a legendary exhaust building experience that gives the sportbike rider power in a lightweight, stylish package, using a tapered trapezoidal shape, finished off in either carbon fiber or stainless steel.

Yoshimura_R-55_GP_Style_Slip-On_Exhaust

  • The R-55 on the Kawasaki ZX-14R looks seamless and will weigh less than the ones that come stock.

 Kawasaki Ninja

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  • BMW K55
  • In 1991 BMW tuner Racing Dynamics of Italy produced a special version of the 8 Series dubbed the K55 Sport Coupe. The K55 5.5 Coupe was based on the 850i, powered by the 5.0-liter M70 that was stroked to 5.5 liters, new valves, camshafts lifters and intakes along with extrude honed heads. The one US version engine producing 475 bhp (354 kW; 482 PS) and the Euro version producing 401 bhp (299 kW).
  • 40 K55s were produced for the Euro market and one in the US.
  • In addition to engine modifications, The K55 offered a variety of body, suspensions, rear end options.

BMW k-55 

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  • Mercedes-Benz S-55
  • The S-Class is a series of luxury sedans produced by German automaker Mercedes-Benz, a division of German company Daimler AG.
  • The classification was officially introduced in 1972 with the W116 S-Class, which succeeded previous Mercedes-Benz models dating to the mid-1950s.
  • The S-Class has served as the flagship model for Mercedes for over fifty years in its various incarnations and has debuted many of the company’s latest innovations, including drivetrain technologies, interior features, and safety systems (such as the first seatbelt pre-tensioners).
  • The S-Class has ranked as the world’s best-selling luxury sedan

 mercedes-benz-s55

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  • Mercedes Benz G55 AMG
  • The G-Wagen, or Gelandewagen as it is officially named, started out as a complete off roading machine. Mercedes-Benz built it for the German armed forces and as with any military vehicle, it was designed to take on the harshest of terrain and remain rather trouble free.
  • A civilian version was introduced a couple years after the G-Class first made its debut, and it too displayed the same level of ruggedness and ‘go anywhere’ ability.
  • The G Wagen has been around since the 70s and though it has received upgrades over the years, it still remains the ultimate off roading machine that is sought after by anyone and everyone who wishes to tour the world, go lion spotting in the Savannah or drive up Mount Everest!
  • The G-Wagen’s reliability has grown to legendary heights and it commands an imposing presence as it drives by.
  • There is no doubting the fan following garnered by the G Wagen over the years and in order to cater to the growing demand, Mercedes-Benz has toyed with the vehicle to make it more exciting and usher in a level of performance and sheer ludicrousness through their AMG subsidiary.
  • The latest incarnation of the G Wagen is the G55 AMG. Considered to be the most powerful G Class vehicle yet, it boasts of having performance figures that one would normally find associated with sportscars and it can still handle the rough.
Hamann_Typhoon_Mercedes_Benz_G55_AMG_4
Photo showing the Hamann Typhoon enhanced version of the Mercedes Benz G55 AMG

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  • Mitsubishi Jeep J55
  • In 1950 the Japanese wanted a prototype 4X4 trucks and other vehicles and in response by January 1951 Toyota had produced a prototype. Toyota based their design on the Bantam vehicle that had seen military action in Malaysia. At the time there were many Jeeps being driven in Japan and the Jeep came to be the symbol of the 4X4. For this reason Toyota called it’s prototype the Toyota Jeep. These became the FJ40 that Americans found to be a rugged and reliable off road vehicle.
  • However, largely unknown to those in North America, there was another strong contender to the legend, the Mitsubishi Jeep. Their design was based on the Willys Jeep, the vehicle ultimately selected for procurement by the National Police Reserve Forces, and in 1953 Mitsubishi secured the rights to build the Willys under their own name. Thus the Mitsubishi Jeep was born.
  • In the USA the Willys was built till 1965 but in Japan Mitsubishi had a good thing going so they kept the line in production till 1998.

Mitsubishi_Jeep_J-55 

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In militaria

  • HMS Suffolk (55)
  • HMS Suffolk (55) was a Royal Navy County class heavy cruiser and part of the Kent subclass. She was launched on 16 March 1926, and commissioned on 25 June 1928.
  • Like her sister ships, Suffolk served on the China Station until the outbreak of WWII when she returned to Europe and patrolled the Denmark Straits.
  • In April 1940 Suffolk participated in the Norwegian Campaign and arrived at Tórshavn to commence the British pre-emptive occupation of the Faroe Islands. On 14 April 1940 Suffolk sank the German tanker Skagerrak northwest of Bodø, Norway.
  • On 17 April 1940, Suffolk and four destroyers, HMS Kipling, HMS Juno, HMS Janus and HMS Hereward, were sent to bombard the airfield at Sola, Norway. The operation had little effect and the retaliation from German bombers severely damaged the aft of the ship, forcing her to return to Scapa Flow.
  • Suffolk was out of action from April 1940 until February 1941 while she was repaired at the Clyde.
  • During May 1941, as part of the 4th Cruiser Squadron, Suffolk was involved in the Battle of the Denmark Strait and the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck. Suffolk had engaged the battleship twice during the battle, making several salvoes on her. Using her radar, Suffolk was able to track the Bismarck through the Denmark Strait and maintained contact long enough for other units to vector into Bismarck’s path.
  • After repairs Suffolk served with the Home Fleet in Arctic waters until the end of 1942, then underwent a refit between December 1942 and April 1943. On completion of this the ship was ordered to the Eastern Fleet, operating in the Indian Ocean until the end of the war.
  • Suffolk was scrapped on 24 June 1948.

hms_suffolk_55 

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  • HMS Finisterre (D55)
  • HMS Finisterre (D55) was a Battle-class destroyer of the Royal Navy (RN). She was named after one of the battles of Cape Finisterre. Launched on the 22 June 1944 and commissioned on 11 September 1945.
  • She first joined the Home Fleet upon her commissioning. After duties in the Far East, Finisterre returned to the UK via the Mediterranean. In January 1950, she took part in the rescue attempt of the submarine HMS Truculent, which had sunk after colliding with a Swedish merchant ship Divina in the Thames Estuary. The collision had resulted in the loss of 64 of those on board. The following year Finisterre became the Gunnery Training Ship, based at Whale Island, Portsmouth as part of HMS Excellent.
  • In 1953, Finisterre took part in the 1953 Coronation Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The following year Finisterre was placed in Reserve. After her sister-ship HMS Hogue collided with an Indian cruiser in 1959, Finisterre replaced her in the 1st Destroyer Squadron, based in the Far East. She was one of a number of Royal Navy ships stationed off Kuwait to keep the peace as the country gained its independence in 1961.
  • In 1965 she was sold for scrap.

 hms_finesterre r 55

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  • USS Aludra (AF-55)
  • The USS Aludra (AF-55) was an Alstede-class stores ship acquired by the U.S. Navy and tasked to carry stores, refrigerated items, and equipment to ships in the fleet, and to remote stations and staging areas.
  • Originally ordered as refrigerated cargo ship “SS Matchless” she was launched on 14 October 1944 and delivered to the United States Lines under a bare boat charter on 23 March 1945.
  • She operated in the Pacific Ocean during the final months of the war and during the first four years following Japan’s capitulation and then laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet berthing area at Bay Minette, Alabama.
  • She was reactivated in November 1950, as the result of an expansion of the Fleet to meet its greatly increased responsibilities because of the United Nations decision to oppose communist aggression in Korea. Renamed Aludra on 16 January 1951, she was assigned to Service Squadron 3, Service Force, Pacific Fleet and took up the tasks of supporting Task Force (TF) 77 in strikes along the east coast of Korea and TF 72 in patrols in the East China Sea and off Formosa.
  • Ending her first deployment to the western Pacific, she returned to San Francisco, California, on 4 May 1953. Thereafter, for more than 16 years, she alternated operations on the west coast of the United States with tours in the Far East resupplying ships serving in the Orient. Among the highlights of her service was her participation in Operation Passage to Freedom, the evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese refugees from communist-controlled areas of Vietnam after that country had been partitioned in 1954.
  • The ship again visited Vietnamese waters in March 1965 and, for a bit over three and one-half years thereafter, devoted most of her efforts to supporting American warships fighting aggression there. She left that war-torn country for the last time on 19 April 1969 and headed—via Sasebo, Japan—for home.
  • Aludra was decommissioned on 12 September 1969 and withdrawn from the reserve fleet on 19 January 1977 for stripping by the Navy prior to sale. She was purchased from MARAD by Sea World Processors Inc., for non-transportation use, 16 November 1977 and delivered, 16 February 1978. In 1981 she was burned and scuttled.

USS_Aludra_(AF-55) 

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  • USS Valcour (AVP-55)
  • USS Valcour (AVP-55), later AGF-1, was commissioned on 5 July 1946 as a seaplane tender from 1946 to 1965 and as a flagship from 1965 to 1973. She was the last of the 35 Barnegat-class ships to commission.
  • Valcour was designated as flagship for the Commander, Middle Eastern Force (ComMidEastFor) and served in the Middle East from 5 September 1950 to 15 March 1951.
  • On the morning of 14 May 1951, two months after she returned to Norfolk from her second Middle East tour, Valcour suffered a steering casualty and power failure and collided with another vessel. An intense fire broke out aboard Valcour causing the commanding officer, Captain Eugene Tatom, to order abandon ship. Eleven men died, 16 more were injured and another 25 were listed as “missing”, later to be confirmed as dead.
  • After an extensive overhaul and improvements, and from 1952–1965 she rotated yearly between the United States and the Middle East.
  • In January 1972 Valcour was for inactivationand  was decommissioned on 15 January 1973. On 1 May 1977, the U.S. Navy sold Valcour for scrapping.

 USS Valcour AVP-55

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  • Kh-55 (missile family)
  • The Kh-55 is a Soviet/Russian air-launched cruise missile, designed by MKB Raduga. It has a range of up to 3,000 km (1,620 nmi) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads. Kh-55 is launched exclusively from bomber aircraft and has spawned a number of conventionally armed variants mainly for tactical use, such as the Kh-65SE and Kh-SD, but only the Kh-101 and Kh-555 appear to have made it into service. Contrary to popular belief, the Kh-55 was not the basis of the submarine- and ground-launched RK-55 Granat (SS-N-21 ‘Sampson’ and SSC-X-4 ‘Slingshot’).
  • A Kh-55 production unit was delivered to Shanghai in 1995 and appears to have been used to produce a similar weapon for China.

Kh-55 Cruise Missile

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  • RK-55 Granat
  • The Novator RK-55 Granat was a Soviet land-based cruise missile with a nuclear warhead.
  • It was about to enter service in 1987 when such weapons were banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  • A version launched from submarine torpedo tubes, the S-10 Granat (SS-N-21 ‘Sampson’;GRAU:3M10), has apparently been converted to carry conventional warheads and continues in service to this day.
  • The RK-55 is very similar to the air-launched Kh-55 (AS-15 ‘Kent’) but the Kh-55 has a drop-down turbofan engine[3] and was designed by MKB Raduga. Both have formed the basis of post-Cold-War missiles, in particular the 3M-54 Klub (SS-N-27 ‘Sizzler’) which has a supersonic approach phase.

 RK55 Granat

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  • 55th Fighter Squadron
  • The 55th Fighter Squadron was originally organized as the 55th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas. By November 1917 the squadron was deployed to Issoudun, France. It was demobilized on 6 March 1919, following the end of WWI, but was reactivated in November 1930, at Mather Field, California.
  • At the beginning of World War II, the 55th continued to train aviators for squadrons in Europe and the Pacific. In May 1942, it was redesignated a fighter squadron and operated from several locations in the United States.
  • The 55th was deployed in Europe in August 1943, operating from RAF Wittering, England, and flew 175 combat missions. With the rest of the 20th Fighter Group, the 55th flew daily strafing, long-range-patrol and bomber-escort missions. In June, they provided air cover during the massive allied invasion of Normandy.
  • The 55th also performed escort and fighter-bomber missions supporting the Allied advance through Central Europe and the Rhineland. In December 1945, they took part in the Battle of the Bulge, escorting bombers to the battle area.
  • The 55th was demobilized on 18 October 1945, after the end of WWII, but was reactivated on 29 July 1946, at Biggs Field, Texas.
  • The 55th entered the jet age in February 1948, with the F-84G Thunderjet. In January 1950, and was redesignated the 55th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The squadron returned to England at RAF Wethersfield in June 1952, where it was redesignated the 55th Tactical Fighter Squadron and then moved to RAF Upper Heyford in June 1970. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the 55th participated in countless North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. exercises and operations, which directly contributed to containment of Soviet threats to Europe.
  • In January 1991, elements of the 55th deployed to Turkey during Operation Desert Storm. They flew more than 144 sorties, amassing 415 combat hours without a loss. These missions neutralized key facilities throughout northern Iraq and helped to liberate Kuwait and stabilize the region. The squadron was inactivated in December 1993.
  • It was transferred and reactivated on 1 January 1994, to its present home, Shaw Air Force Base, flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II. In July 1996, the squadron transferred its aircraft to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, and stood down.
  • In July 1997, the 55th made history when it stood up as a combat-ready F-16CJ squadron in only 60 days. It has since made numerous deployments to Southwest Asia, continuing to contain the Iraqi threat. In the meantime, the squadron has earned awards and recognition, including the David C. Schilling Award in 1999 and 2000, as well as the Air Force Association Citation of Honor.
  • In the summer of 2000, the 55th deployed to Southwest Asia for Operation Northern Watch. It followed that deployment with Operation Southern Watch in the fall of 2001, and in the winter of 2002, deployed again in support of Operation Northern Watch. Most recently the 55th deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in late 2008.

55th_Fighter_Squadron

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  • Lockheed Martin X-55
  • The Lockheed Martin X-55 Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA) is an experimental twin jet engined transport aircraft intended to demonstrate new cargo-carrier capabilities using advanced composites. It is a project of the United States Air Force’s Air Force Research Laboratory, and was built by the international aerospace company Lockheed Martin, at its Advanced Development Programs (Skunk Works) facility in Palmdale, California.

.Lockheed_Martin_X-55_ACCA_001

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  • The T-55 tank
  • The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of medium tanks that were designed in the Soviet Union. The first T-54 prototype appeared in March 1945, just as the Second World War ended. The T-54 entered full production in 1947 and became the main tank for armored units of the Soviet Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and others. T-54s and T-55s were involved in many of the world’s armed conflicts during the late 20th and early 21st century.
  • The T-54/55 series eventually became the most-produced tank in history. Estimated production numbers for the series range from 86,000 to 100,000. They were replaced by the T-62, T-64, T-72, T-80, and T-90 in the Soviet and Russian Armies, but remain in use by up to 50 other armies worldwide, some having received sophisticated retrofitting.
  • Soviet tanks never directly faced their NATO Cold War adversaries in Europe. However, the T-54/55’s first appearance in the West in 1960 spurred the United States to develop the M60 Patton.

t55 tank

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  • K55 SPG Self-Propelled Gun
  • Since 1985 when it entered service, and until recently, when it has been replaced by the more miodern K9 Thunder platform, the South Korean Army relied on the K55.
  • It was a localized development of the US military’s M109A2 Paladin SPG family, license-produced by Samsung Techwin / Samsung Aerospace Industries (SSA).
  • Over 1,100 (1,180) of the type were procured by the South Korean government, supplying the Army with a long range, heavy hitter capable of lobbing conventional, chemical and nuclear shells at any potential enemies – namely North Korea.
  • The 25-ton K55 borrowed much from the American M109 including its conventional design consisting of an armored tracked chassis and boxy turret superstructure. The vehicle is crewed by six personnel and primary armament is a 155mm main gun of 30 caliber length. Defense is through 1 x 12.7mm K6 heavy machine gun. Power is served through a Detroit Diesel 8V-71T turbocharged, diesel-fueled engine of 450 horsepower. Maximum road speed across ideal surfaces is 56 kmh. The main gun can supply a rate-of-fire of 4 shots per minute while targeting is through manual means. A full ammunition load aboard the K55 is 36 projectiles.
  • The K55 entered a modernization program in 1994, producing the K55A1 designation.
  • The newer 47-ton K9 Thunder formally entered service in 1999 and is crewed by five personnel, carried 48 projectiles and features a rate-of-fire of 6 shots per minute with manual or automatic targeting. Additionally, the powerplant provides road speeds of up to 66 kph.

K55_155mm_self-propelled_howitzer_tracked_armoured_vehicle_South_Korea_Korean_army_001

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Other stuff

  • 55 is the code for international direct dial phone calls to Brazil
  • 55 gallon is a standard size for a drum container
  • Gazeta 55, an Albanian newspaper
  • An Emerald wedding anniversary celebrates 55 years.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress was assigned Lot #55 at the Christie’s Auction on October 27, 1999.  It sold for a record price for a dress— $1,267,500. 

Marilyn Monroe birthday dress

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Are These Dumb Politicians And Bureaucrats Trying To Make America A Better Place Or Just Trying To Destroy It!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I talked before about the bureaucrat’s insatiable desire to make things more difficult, awkward and expensive for legitimate businesses in America and Europe. That’s all they know how to do. I’ve also said before that introducing ever more taxes and regulations on bricks & mortar businesses would not be enough. They would have to try to destroy businesses operating online as well.

Well that latter attempt at destroying what is left of American entrepreneurship moved up another notch this week when the US Senate passed the “Marketplace Fairness Act”.

online sales tax cartoon

 

I’ll come back to that in a moment, but the title of this latest piece of needless bureaucratic interference illustrates perfectly once again the deceitfulness of the politicians and bureaucrats.

The “Marketplace Fairness Act” is not about “fairness”. It is not about leveling the playing field between those businesses operating online and those on the proverbial “High Street”. Anyone who tells you that is lying. (Really, a politician lying? Whatever next?)

fairness

 

Like all similar legislation, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” is about control; about making life more difficult for people who want to do business; and, not least, about trying to extort the last penny out of your pocket in the form of taxes.

I say “your” pocket, because at the end of the day businesses have to pass their increased costs on to the final consumer and that my friends is us!

Yes, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” has just been passed by the US Senate. As these things do, it still has to pass through the House of Representatives as well, and it will, if not on the first attempt on subsequent ones. Have you ever seen a stupid bad law that wasn’t pushed through by fair means or foul?

What the “Marketplace Fairness Act” does is to impose sales taxes for business transactions or sales done online. In other words, when you buy something from an online retailer, or a retailer with an online facility, you will be subject to the addition of a sales tax.

In the simplest terms, for you, the consumer, this Bill means that your bills will be bigger – you will have to pay more! For the business operating online it means more bureaucracy, more forms to fill out, more tax filings to be done – in short more hassle.

But for the government it means more money to be squandered on another war or on the next idiotic idea that Washington can think of.

Internet_Sales_Tax

 

And another unfairness that the Marketplace Fairness Act will create is that online businesses operating outside the United States will be laughing their tax free socks off.

You see this law will not – cannot – apply to foreign companies who do business online and sell to US-based consumers.

Why? Because the US authorities have no practical way to enforce it, and because businesses in foreign countries couldn’t care less about enforcing it, nor will their governments.

Do you seriously think for one moment that either businesses or governments in, for example, China, or India, or even Mexico are going to waste their time collecting sales tax for Uncle Sam?

So if I was setting up an online business would I still do it in America? I think you know the answer.

You could be forgiven for asking whether these dumb politicians and bureaucrats are really trying to make America a better place or just trying to destroy it!

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