Twitter Treasure

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Twitter logo transparent

Twitter is a good invention. It’s easy and fun. Much less demanding and intrusive than Facebook. So much so that many millions of people, from the famous to ordinary people like you and I, use it every day.

On the back of that success the Twitter company is doing very well. But recently it did even better when its shares jumped four per cent in a matter of minutes.

It all happened after a buyout story appeared on the internet that claimed that Twitter had received a significant offer. It started off, “Twitter is working closely with bankers after receiving an offer to be bought out for $31 billion…”

fake-twitter-story

Investors piled in. And not just the amateurs, lots of the ‘professional’ Wall Street guys too.

The trouble was, however, that the internet story was on a bogus web site and was completely fake. The site was called “bloomberg.market”. It was not “Bloomberg.com” the official name of the web presence for the Bloomberg financial organization.

“Bloomberg.market” was what they call a ‘mirror’ of the genuine “Bloomberg.com” website. Whoever designed “bloomberg.market” set it up to look like “Bloomberg.com”. They copied real headlines and linked them back to the real dot-com website. With one exception: the fake Twitter story, which was dressed up to look like a legitimate webpage.

The spike in the Twitter share price only lasted about 15 minutes before Bloomberg denounced the story as fake and the share price dropped back to its previous level. But 15 minutes is a long time in the world of finance and plenty of time for someone to profit substantially from the scam.

spike in the Twitter share price

No one yet knows who owns the dot-market domain – except the people who own it, of course –  but it was registered just days before the scam message, using a proxy service called “WhoisGuard”, based in Panama, that protects registrant details by offering its own address and contact numbers. But the details of “WhoisGuard” on its own website at “WhoisGuard.com” also appear to be fake, listing a telephone number that is disconnected. Emails to their contact address have not received a response either.

The significance of this incident is not that some greedy and stupid people lost money rushing to buy Twitter shares on the back of this fake announcement.

The problem is that so many new dot word domains have recently been allowed – hundreds of them in fact – that the whole internet is becoming bloated and confusing. And expensive.

If you are a company that wants to protect your online identity and integrity it could now cost you tens of thousands of dollars to cover all the permutations. Not many companies, even huge affairs like Bloomberg, will choose to do that.

That leaves the way wide open for cyber criminals to take advantage of gullible internet users.

I am certain they will.

Like the Twitter announcement, it’s just too good a deal to refuse.

online-scam_gullible-investor-cartoon

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The ‘F’ Word And More – It’s Fasab Fact Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Don’t be offended by the title.

An ‘F’ word here or there never hurt anyone.

So get stuck into the facts (that’s an ‘F’ word too!)

Enjoy.

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who is afraid of the 'F' word

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In 2011 approximately one third

of divorce filings in the US

contained the ‘F’ word,

yes, that’s the one

“facebook”.

(See, it wasn’t nearly

as bad as you thought.)

facebook divorce evidence

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HOT fact:

The temperature of the Earth’s core is

5500 degrees celsius (9900 degrees fahrenheit).

That is the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

temperature of the Earth's core

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Getting a silver medal in the Olympics

will make you feel worse than getting a bronze

(because you just missed the gold)

silver medal in the Olympics London 2012

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There is actually a beer brewed

from bananas in some countries

beer brewed from bananas

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Out of 44 Presidents of the United States,

32 have served in the military.

15 Presidents served in the Army/Army Reserve,

9 served in state militias,

6 served in the Navy/Naval Reserve

and 2 served in the Continental Army.

President Reagan Military Service

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Croatian Josip Belušic invented the speedometer.

(How about that for a fast fact?)

Josip Belušic

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Answering the call of nature is something

Europeans usually associate with the utmost privacy,

which is why American toilets,

with huge bottom and side gaps,

seem so weird to some foreigners.

American toilets

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The first webcam was actually created

to monitor a coffee pot at

the University of Cambridge.

first webcam

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Russian spies used to use hollow coins

to pass messages to each other in the US

and one of these coins made it into circulation.

One day a paperboy dropped the coin

and it split open revealing its coded contents.

The code baffled the FBI and CIA

until a Russian spy defected to the US

and interpreted the note.

It was a welcome message from Moscow

…and it was intended for him.

hollow coins to pass messages

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In Australia there is a river

called the ‘Never Never River’.

Never Never River

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The toaster in your kitchen

contains a more powerful computer

than the one used by NASA

to send astronauts to the moon.

It only had 64Kbyte of memory

and operated at 0.043MHz.

toaster

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After the release of the Top Gun movie in 1986,

the US Navy stated that the number of

young men who wanted to become Naval Aviators

went up by 500 percent.

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Gullibility test kit – send $19.99 now!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Gullible or not now is your chance to look at this week’s selection of word plays, better known as puns.

As usual they come with choice….

Enjoy or endure!!

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rofl

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I have four problems in life:

counting,

remembering

and counting.

 counting sesame street

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I was driving along the other day,

when a bloke stopped me and said,

“Your back mud flaps have fallen off.”

I said, “Can’t do much about it now,

I’ll just carry on rear guard less.”

 mud flaps

.

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Stable relationships

are for horses

 Stable relationships are for horses

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My friend told me that after years of doubt,

he is now convinced my wife is having an affair.

“We’ve gone and moved 250 miles away,” he told me.

“And we’ve still got the same window cleaner.”

 window cleaner

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It’s times like these, when I’m sat

in bed with my computer on my knee,

that I really wish I’d bought a laptop.

 computer

.

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I think I may have a shower.

Just checked, yes I do, it’s upstairs.

 a shower

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I just found $20 hanging from my ceiling.

It was a suicide note.

 $20 bill

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Exaggerations went up

by a million percent last year.

 sales chart

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If Einstein hadn’t come up with

the Theory of Relativity,

someone else would have.

It was only a matter of time.

 Einstein

.

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My cat is absolutely terrified

of thunder and lightening.

The pussy.

 lightning

.

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What part of my body is as long as your thigh,

contains over 120 muscles,

and is an anagram of “pensi”?

No, you’re completely wrong.

The correct answer is my spine.

 spine

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According to my facebook timeline,

I had no life before joining Facebook in 2012.

I believe it to be the other way around.

Facebook-Timeline-Evolution

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I Spy With Your Little ‘i’ – A Free And Open Internet?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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internet surveillance

When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.

Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.

Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.

The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.

It was a free and open internet.

world wide web

So how could it ever go wrong?

Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.

During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.

The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.

A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.

google for profit surveillance

Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.

Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.

Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

ennesssseh

Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.

If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.

This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.

Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.

prism

The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)

The list goes on and on.

After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.

The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.

IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.

Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.)

And so it continues.

Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.

The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.

No doubt there is worse to come.

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Were YOU Part Of The Secret Facebook Experiment?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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subliminal advertising

Many years ago subliminal advertising was banned by law because it manipulated how people thought – brainwashed them to a degree. Since then the practice has been frowned upon, but, with the popularity of social media, are some people, particularly in some government agencies, trying to secretly manipulate us again?

In January 2012, Facebook ran a secret experiment on 689,000 of its users.

The purpose of that experiment was to see if the company could change those peoples’ moods by altering their news feeds.

The scary thing is that it worked.

The study found that by manipulating the News Feeds displayed to 689,003 Facebook users, it could affect the content which those users posted to Facebook. More negative News Feeds led to more negative status messages, and more positive News Feeds led to more positive statuses.

This means, as the report on the experiment stated, “that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.” To put it another way, it is the manipulation of the herd, or zombie, mentality.

Facebook-apologizes-for-manipulating-emotions

Such mass manipulation is only possible now with the immediacy and vast scale of social networks such as Facebook. Now, because of the numbers of people involved, even minor manipulations in how they think can have far reaching consequences.

One of the groups funding the experiment was the US Army which flags up big question marks over their motives and over Facebook’s place as an independent commercial operation.

The fact that government agencies are experimenting as to how they can influence people online has been known for some time, but you have to search for the evidence because they never tell you what they are up to.

The mass surveillance that whistleblower Edward Snowden highlighted is only the first step in a more sinister process. The big question everyone should be asking is, once the government and its agencies have gathered all of that information on us, what are they going to use it for? There must be some end goal. You can be sure that just leaving terrabytes of data languishing in remote computer server farms is not it.

The most obvious use of that information is to manipulate people, which is essentially what the Facebook experiment tells us. Only the moronically naïve or dumb would think otherwise.

In the commercial online world where everyone is used to free services paid for by advertising, information can be used to manipulate consumers into becoming indirect paying customers by simply turning their private information into cash. The more personal, detailed and intimate the data on you is, the more valuable it is to the company collecting and selling it, either directly, or indirectly via targeted advertising especially for you. Yes, what you see when you go to a Google search page is not what I see!

Secret Facebook Experiment

In the world of government control, some of their spy agencies will collect information just for the bureaucratic hell of it. Don’t believe that the NSA, that Snowden highlighted, is the only government data-thief. It may well be the biggest and best funded, but there are many others busy snooping away. And not just in the USA, but in Britain, China, Russia, and many other powerful countries too.

These groups will justify their unwanted intrusions into our private lives by hanging a ‘national security’ sign on it, it’s the excuse they always use. To an extent that is true at the moment since they use information collected by these snooping techniques to smear the reputations of what are deemed to be ‘enemies of the state’. They used to do much the same via planted news reports and information given to friendly newspaper journalists to disseminate. At the moment ‘enemies of the state’ are terrorist groups, particularly Islamic terrorists like ISIS. But in the future, who knows?

Increasingly government agencies will use the manipulation of social media to influence the general population and thereby bring about outcomes that suit their needs.

George Orwell had the right idea about what would happen. His only problem was that he chose the wrong title for his book. By 1984 technology had not caught up with the aspirations of those who wish to exert such control.

Now it is almost here.

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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

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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

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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

.

.

From Music

Pete Seeger

American singer, songwriter,

musician, and activist

(b. 1919)

Pete Seeger

.

Johnny Winter

American singer and guitarist

(b. 1944)

Johnny Winter

.

Glenn Cornick

British bass guitarist

(b. 1947)

Glenn Cornick

.

Jack Bruce

British rock bassist

(b. 1943)

Jack Bruce

.

Acker Bilk

British jazz clarinetist

(b. 1929)

Acker Bilk

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Joe Cocker

English singer

(b. 1944)

Joe Cocker

.

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

.

Tony Benn

British politician and diarist

(b. 1925)

Tony Benn

.

Adolfo Suárez

138th Prime Minister of Spain

(b. 1932)

Adolfo Suárez

.

James R. Schlesinger

American economist and politician

(b. 1929)

James R. Schlesinger

.

A. N. R. Robinson

3rd President of Trinidad and Tobago

(b. 1926)

A. N. R. Robinson

.

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

.

Ian Paisley

British politician and

First Minister of Northern Ireland

(b. 1926)

Ian Paisley

.

Nicholas Romanov

Prince of Russia

(b. 1922)

Nicholas Romanov

.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

41st President of Haiti

(b. 1951)

Jean-Claude Duvalier

.

John Spencer-Churchill

11th Duke of Marlborough,

British peer and educator

(b. 1926)

John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough

.

Gough Whitlam

21st Prime Minister of Australia

(b. 1916)

Gough Whitlam

.

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

.

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

.

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