Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire – Some Hot Facts!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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We’ll get to one of the biggest liars America has produced later.

But ahead of that have a look at another selection of fasab facts.

And…

Enjoy.

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cartoon leader of the leader of the free world

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There is a lake in Australia called Lake Hillier

that is a bright shade of pink.

Unlike with other similar lakes,

scientists are still not completely sure why.

Lake Hillier Australia

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Bill Nye the Science Guy

originally wanted to be an astronaut,

but NASA kept rejecting him.

Bill Nye the Science Guy

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In 476 AD the Western Roman Empire fell

and the Eastern Empire survived

as what we know today as the Byzantine Empire.

Byzantine Empire map

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Charlie Chaplin once lost a

Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest

Charlie Chaplin

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Although there have been emails floating about

for years containing many false facts about

Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy,

there were a few that are true and interesting.

Lincoln was elected to congress in 1846,

Kennedy in 1946.

Lincoln became president in 1860,

Kennedy in 1960 (though sworn in 1961).

And both were eventually shot in the head on a Friday.

Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

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Inca mail was delivered along their network of roads

by way of messengers who would hand mail off

to each other using a sort of relay system.

A bit like the Pony Express without the ponies!

Inca mail

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1% of the world’s population

eats at McDonalds every day.

McDonalds meal

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Named by a Japanese scientist after

a 3rd-century Japanese shaman queen, Himiko,

is a giant gas cloud and one of the largest

objects ever found in space.

With a length of about 55,000 light years,

the cloud is roughly the equivalent

mass of 40 billion Suns.

3rd-century Japanese shaman queen, Himiko

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The top ten feet of the oceans

holds the same amount of heat

as the entire atmosphere

ocean

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In the early 20th century, scientists thought

our nerves transmitted information electrically.

After a dream, Dr. Otto Loewi awoke during the night

and scribbled some thoughts on a paper.

Upon waking in the morning,

he realized  he had written about information

being transmitted chemically,

later proven to be true and

winning him the Nobel Prize in 1936.

Dr. Otto Loewi

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Justinian was the last emperor

to use the title ‘Caesar’.

Justinian

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A liar tends not to use contractions.

For example, “I didn’t do it”

statistically tends to be a more truthful

statement that “I did not do it”.

Remember Bill Clinton,

he didn’t say, “I didn’t do it”,

he said,

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

He lied.

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There Is Only One Batman In The World – Yes, It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, today is fact day on the fasab blog.

And apparently there is only one batman in the world.

That and other unusual offerings below.

Enjoy.

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fact 01

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In Germany you are not allowed

to run out of gas on the highway

 German autobahn traffic

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Although there are McDonald’s restaurants

in 119 countries,

40% of the total number are found in the US.

The only place in the continental US

that is more than 100 miles from a McDonald’s

is a desert in northwest Nevada.

 McDonald's sign Ruby Mountains Nevada

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The mayor of Batman city in southeastern Turkey

sued Warner Bros for using his city’s name

without permission.

“There is only one batman in the world”

he was quoted as saying.

 Batman

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The Museum of Non-Visible Art

sells art that only exists

in the imagination of the artist.

In 2011 a moron

– sorry, a woman –

bought one of their “non-visible”

art pieces for $10,000.

I wonder if she hung it on her imaginary wall

in her imaginary house???

 Empty-picture-frame Museum of Non-Visible Art

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In space,

about 10 billion light years distant,

there is an enormous water vapor cloud

that is estimated to hold up to 140 trillion times

the mass of water found in all Earth´s oceans.

 black-hole-quasar-water-cloud

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And still with space,

in typical bureaucrat fashion,

just in case life is found on some other planet,

NASA has an Office of Planetary Protection

already prepared.

 NASA Office of Planetary Protection

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The cardboard thingy that goes around

your coffee cup is called a ‘zarf’.

 zarfs

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The inventor of the diesel engine,

Rudolf Diesel,

committed suicide because he thought

his invention wouldn’t be successful.

 Rudolf Diesel

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Despite being the largest pre-Colombian American empire,

the Incas never developed a written language.

Thus there are no census records available

and estimates of the size of the Inca population has

varied widely from 4 million people to nearly 40 million.

 inca_man

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Karl Marx was once a correspondent

for the New York Daily Tribune.

 karl marx new york daily tribune

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Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination

just a few days before it happened.

He dreamt he could hear sad wailing in the White House

and, in getting up and trying to find it,

finally came upon a room with

mourners and his own corpse…

 Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination

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The first official fan-made music video

was Grégoire Pinard’s claymation video

of Placebo’s song “English Summer Rain”.

The band were so impressed that

they decided to make it official.

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Happy Meal Facts!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to happy meal day at the fasab blog.

So tuck in tso a few interesting facts.

But above all…

Enjoy.

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did you know4

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Every 14.5 hours a McDonald’s

opens somewhere in the world

 McDonald's

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Almost everything in space is unimaginably big

and the supergiant, as the name suggests, is no exception.

Supergiants are among the most massive and

most luminous stars, more massive and up to a

million times more luminous than the Sun.

 Big things in space

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In Ancient Egypt servants were covered in honey

to keep flies away from pharaoh

 honey

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Antarctica holds as much water in its ice

as the entire Atlantic Ocean

 Antarctica

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In spite of the fact that they

built over 30,000 km of road,

the Incas never developed

or discovered the wheel

 Inca roads

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2.5% of the American population perished

during the American Civil War

 American Civil War

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The Hope Diamond is estimated to be worth

$200-250 million and resides at the

Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

It is said to be cursed and supposedly causes

great misfortune and misery to whoever wears it.

One wearer was even said to have been

ripped apart by dogs, and another by a French mob.

 Hope Diamond

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Did you know that you can get ice cream in

Bacon, Garlic, Deep Fried Oyster

and Corn on the Cob flavors?

 ice creams

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In Denmark all drivers must

check under the car before starting it,

just to see if there is someone underneath

 drivers must check under the car

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The Constitution of the Confederate States of America

banned the slave trade, and when

the American Civil War started,

Confederate Robert E. Lee owned no slaves,

whereas Union general U.S. Grant did.

 U S Grant and Robert E Lee

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Apparently men buy more ties during harder times

to appear as though they’re working.

Tie width used to be a factor due to austerity measures

during past wars but these days economists mainly

just look at the number of ties being bought.

 ties

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Yellowstone in the USA was the

first national park on Earth.

President Ulysses S Grant declared

it a protected area in 1872.

Yellowstone National Park

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Don’t Beam Me Up Just Yet, Scotty!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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You will get what the title is all about later. Let’s just say for now I’ll still be buying my airplane tickets and enduring the rigors of airport security for a few years longer.

As for now it’s Fact Day so have a look at the current offerings.

Enjoy.

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did you know2

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In cold weather keeping your cell phone

as close to your body as you can,

or in the inside pocket of an insulated base layer

will help keep it warm and prolong battery life.

 warm cell phone case

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In the West women usually start shopping for baby things

as soon as they discover they’re pregnant

but in China a pregnant Chinese woman will avoid

getting a stroller before her baby is born because

according to Chinese tradition it’s considered

bad luck to have an empty stroller in the house

while you’re pregnant.

 stroller

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The world’s oldest-known formula for toothpaste

was created by the ancient Egyptians

who used crushed rock salt, mint, dried iris flowers,

and pepper and mixed them to create a cleaning powder.

Research suggests this ancient toothpaste was more

effective than formulas used as recently as a century ago,

although it did have the unfortunate side effect

of causing bleeding gums.

 toothpaste

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A scientific study has suggested that if you

are stressing over an important test or exam,

writing down your feelings on a piece of paper

before an exam will allow you to achieve higher scores.

 writing down your feelings on a piece of paper

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Contrary to many theories,

the tongue does not have specific receptor areas

for bitter, sour, salty, and sweet flavors.

In fact, there is a fifth taste (umami, for savory/meaty flavors)

and all zones of the tongue can sense all flavors.

 all zones of the tongue can sense all flavors

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After banning the Nobel Prize,

Adolf Hitler developed his own version

– the German National Prize for Art and Science.

Ferdinand Porsche was one of the awardees

for being the man behind the world’s first

hybrid car and for the Volkswagen Beetle.

 German National Prize for Art and Science

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In a statement he gave to the New York Times in 1909,

Nikola Tesla predicted that it would soon be possible

to transmit messages via personal devices.

Today, we have wireless communication devices

that we bring with us anywhere we go.

 Nikola Tesla

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A month after the USSR sent Sputnik 1 into space,

they sent Sputnik 2, which was the first spacecraft

to carry an animal (a dog named Laika) into space.

However, despite the Soviets initially claiming that

Laika had survived in orbit for a week,

decades later official Russian sources revealed

that Laika lived only a few hours

before dying from overheating.

Brave little doggie though.

 Laika

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During WWI “Hello Girls,” as American

soldiers called them, were American women

who served as telephone operators for

Pershing’s forces in Europe.

The women were fluent in French and English

and were specially trained by the American

Telephone and Telegraph Company.

In 1979, the U.S. Army finally gave war medals

and veteran benefits to the few Hello Girls who were still alive.

 WWI Hello Girls

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In its early days YouTube’s founders used

Craigslist to try to popularize the site

by offering $100 to attractive girls who would

post ten or more videos of themselves.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get a single response.

 craigslist logo

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The phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’

goes back to at least the mid-nineteenth century

as found in George Eliot’s ‘The Mill on the Floss’ (1860),

where Mr. Tulliver uses the phrase in discussing

Daniel Defoe’s ‘The History of the Devil’,

saying how it was beautifully bound.

Its general meaning today, of course, is that

we shouldn’t judge or make a decision about

someone or something based on a brief

impression or outward appearance.

Wise advice.

 Don’t judge a book by its cover

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Just as true champagne must hail from France,

tequila has Denomination of Origin,

meaning that it has to be produced in Mexico,

mainly in the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

The states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit,

and Tamaulipas are also acceptable.

 taquila bottles

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Located in the city of Taipei in Taiwan, the

D.S. Music Restaurant has nothing to do with music at all.

In fact, it is a bizarre hospital-themed restaurant

where waitresses are all dressed as nurses,

tables are made from metal hospital beds,

drinks are served in IV bottles and

walls are decorated with X-ray scans.

 D.S. Music Restaurant Taiwan

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Remember the teleporter Star Trek?

Well, it’s no longer science fiction because now

matter can be dissolved into particles, transported

and reassembled at another location.

However, it won’t be available for use on humans

in the near future because at the moment,

whilst it is indeed possible to scan every molecule

in the human body and reassemble it in another area,

according to Quantum physics, scanning and

reassembling changes the entire object.

You can’t make an exact copy.

So don’t beam me up just yet, Scotty!

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Trophies, Medals And Loads Of Points In Today’s Quiz.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes there are questions about trophies and medals in today’s quiz, but most importantly there are loads of points to be collected – if you get the answers correct, of course.

And remember, if you do get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz confused1

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Q.  1:  What is known as ‘The Eternal City’ ?

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Q.  2:  In which sport is the ‘Vince Lombardi Trophy’ awarded?

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Q.  3:  What acid accumulates in the muscles once the anaerobic threshold is passed when doing exercise?

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Q.  4:  Who surrendered to whom, where and when to formally mark the end of the American Civil War? (A point for each correct answer, so a maximum of four points available.)

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Q.  5:  In which country are the ‘Angel Falls’, the world’s highest waterfall?

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Q.  6:  Who was the ‘sea green incorruptible’ who lead the reign of Terror in the French Revolution?

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Q.  7:  What was the name of the first spacecraft was the first to reach the Moon’s immediate orbit, and the first to be placed in heliocentric orbit?

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Q.  8:  Which major spiral galaxy is the closest to the Milky Way?

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Q.  9:  What is an ‘ECG’ used to show and in this context what do the letters ‘E-C-G’ stand for? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 10:  Which alkane, chemical formula ‘CH4’, occurs naturally in oil wells, marshes and cow farts?

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Q. 11:  This Irish-born soldier and diplomat, was also one of the first graduates from Harvard, and had one of London’s most famous streets named after him, what was his name?

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Q. 12:  How high is the top of a badminton net above the court?

            a) 3 feet            b) 4 feet            c) 5 feet            d) 6 feet

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Q. 13:  Which lead character was the budding author in the ‘The Waltons’ ? (And a bonus point for each of the actors who played this character.)

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Q. 14:  What is the correct title for someone who shoes horses?

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Q. 15:  Who was a searcher, a quiet man and a shootist amongst other things?

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Q. 16:  Which garden is considered to be among the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ ?

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Q. 17:  What is another word for ‘lexicon’ ?

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Q. 18:  What American outlaw had a brother called Frank and was killed by a member of his own gang. (Bonus points if you correctly name each of the following, the gang and the man who killed him.)

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Q. 19:  Where would you find the abbreviation for the Japanese manufacturing company Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha?

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Q. 20:  Which movie actor was the most decorated American soldier in World War Two?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  What is known as ‘The Eternal City’ ?

A.  1:  Rome.

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Q.  2:  In which sport is the ‘Vince Lombardi Trophy’ awarded?

A.  2:  American Football.

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Q.  3:  What acid accumulates in the muscles once the anaerobic threshold is passed when doing exercise?

A.  3:  Lactic Acid.

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Q.  4:  Who surrendered to whom, where and when to formally mark the end of the American Civil War? (A point for each correct answer, so a maximum of four points available.)

A.  4:  General Robert E. Lee surrendered of his Confederate Army to Union Army  Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, at the Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

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Q.  5:  In which country are the ‘Angel Falls’, the world’s highest waterfall?

A.  5:  Venezuela.

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Q.  6:  Who was the ‘sea green incorruptible’ who lead the reign of Terror in the French Revolution?

A.  6:  Maximilien Robespierre. (You get the point for correctly giving the surname only.)

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Q.  7:  What was the name of the first spacecraft was the first to reach the Moon’s immediate orbit, and the first to be placed in heliocentric orbit?

A.  7:  It was the Soviet ‘Luna 1’.

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Q.  8:  Which major spiral galaxy is the closest to the Milky Way?

A.  8:  The Andromeda galaxy.

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Q.  9:  What is an ‘ECG’ used to show and in this context what do the letters ‘E-C-G’ stand for? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  9:  The ECG shows heart activity and rhythm and it stands for electrocardiogram.

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Q. 10:  Which alkane, chemical formula ‘CH4’, occurs naturally in oil wells, marshes and cow farts?

A. 10:  Methane.

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Q. 11:  This Irish-born soldier and diplomat, was also one of the first graduates from Harvard, and had one of London’s most famous streets named after him, what was his name?

A. 11:  His name was Sir George Downing, and Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister is named after him. (And, yes, you get the point if you just said ‘Downing’.)

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Q. 12:  How high is the top of a badminton net above the court?

            a) 3 feet            b) 4 feet            c) 5 feet            d) 6 feet

A. 12:  The correct answer is c) 5 feet.

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Q. 13:  Which lead character was the budding author in the ‘The Waltons’ ? (And a bonus point for each of the actors who played this character.)

A. 13:  Officially ‘John “John-Boy” Walton Jr.’ but you get the point for just ‘John-Boy’. He was played by Richard Thomas in the pilot and series seasons 1–5, as well as guest appearances in season 6 and in the three movie sequels; Robert Wightman played ‘John-Boy’ in seasons 8–9 and one movie sequel.

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Q. 14:  What is the correct title for someone who shoes horses?

A. 14:  A farrier.

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Q. 15:  Who was a searcher, a quiet man and a shootist amongst other things?

A. 15:  John Wayne.

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Q. 16:  Which garden is considered to be among the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ ?

A. 16:  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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Q. 17:  What is another word for ‘lexicon’ ?

A. 17:  Dictionary.

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Q. 18:  What American outlaw had a brother called Frank and  was killed by a member of his own gang. (A bonus point if you correctly name each of the following, the gang and the man who killed him.)

A. 18:  His name was Jesse James, and for your bonus points the gang was the ‘James-Younger Gang’ and the member who killed him was ‘Robert Ford’, who hoped to collect a reward on James’ head.

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Q. 19:  Where would you find the abbreviation for the Japanese manufacturing company Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha?

A. 19:  The abbreviation is obviously YKK and it can be found on almost every zipper in the world. Take a look at your zippers if you don’t believe me.

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Q. 20:  Which movie actor was the most decorated American soldier in World War Two?

A. 20:  Audie Murphy.  (For the record some of his decorations were the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Service Cross, Presidential Unit Citation and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart and Bronze and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Silver Star and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit, American Campaign Medal, European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, French Legion of Honor – Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de guerre with Silver Star, French Croix de guerre with Palm, French Liberation Medal, French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre, Belgian Croix de guerre with 1940 Palm.)

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The Quizzes March On!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The quizzes do March on and we are starting this month with a good mix of questions. Some you should get without too much difficulty and some you will have to think about for a while.

Oh yes, and one that I will be surprised if anyone gets the bonus points for. You’ll know it when you see it.

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

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 05

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Q.  1:  ‘Solidarity’ was an important Trade Union in which country in the 1980s?

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Q.  2:  In lawn bowls (and its indoor version), what is the target ball called?

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Q.  3:  Which creature lives on mulberry leaves?

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Q.  4:  In the USA what cities are known as the

 a) Big D?    b) Steel City?    c) City of Brotherly Love?    d) Emerald City?

(A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if get all four correct.)

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Q.  5:  In relation to power what is the equivalent of 746 watts?

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Q.  6:  What word denoted the new policy of openness adopted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the Soviet Union?

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Q.  7:  What well known pottery form takes its name from the Italian for “baked earth”?

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Q.  8:  How long did Rip Van Winkle sleep for?

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Q.  9:  What term is given to a piece of rock or metal from space that reaches the surface of the Earth?

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Q. 10:  The suffix ‘stan’ is Persian for ‘place of’ or ‘country’. The names of seven countries end in ‘stan’, what are they? (You get a point for each one you can name correctly and five (yes, 5) bonus points if get them all correct.) 

a) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan  

b)  _ _ _ _ _ _ stan       

c) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

d) _ _ _ _ stan      

e) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan      

f) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

g) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan

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Q. 11:  What color is the most-prized variety of jade?

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Q. 12:  Whose theorem uses a 3, 4, 5 triangle?

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Q. 13:  Piraeus serves as the port for which major city?

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Q. 14:  Which insects communicate with one another by dancing?

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Q. 15:  What was the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine?

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Q. 16:  What creature is an ophidiophobe afraid of?

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Q. 17:  In the US and the UK what is the name given to the government department responsible for formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies?

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Q. 18:  Which of the 12 Zodiac signs start with the letter ‘L’ ?

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Q. 19:  Which English politician, when told by Lady Nancy Astor that if he were her husband she’d put poison in his coffee, replied that if she were his wife he’d drink it?

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Q. 20:  What popular song originated as the jingle “Buy the World a Coke” in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola? (A bonus point is available if you can also correctly name the group.)

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  ‘Solidarity’ was an important Trade Union in which country in the 1980s?

A.  1:  Poland.

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Q.  2:  In lawn bowls (and its indoor version), what is the target ball called?

A.  2:  Jack.

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Q.  3:  Which creature lives on mulberry leaves?

A.  3:  The Silk worm.

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Q.  4:  In the USA what cities are known as the

    a) Big D?      b) Steel City?      c) City of Brotherly Love?      d) Emerald City?

(A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if get all four correct.)

A.  4:  The correct answers are   

a) The Big D = Dallas     

b) The Steel City = Pittsburgh       

c) The City of Brotherly Love = Philadelphia            

d) The Emerald City = Seattle

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Q.  5:  In relation to power what is the equivalent of 746 watts?

A.  5:  746 watts is the equivalent of 1 horse power.

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Q.  6:  What word denoted the new policy of openness adopted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the Soviet Union?

A.  6:  Glasnost.

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Q.  7:  What well known pottery form takes its name from the Italian for “baked earth”?

A.  7:  Terracotta.

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Q.  8:  How long did Rip Van Winkle sleep for?

A.  8:  Twenty years.

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Q.  9:  What term is given to a piece of rock or metal from space that reaches the surface of the Earth?

A.  9:  It is known as a ‘Meteorite’.

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Q. 10:  The suffix ‘stan’ is Persian for ‘place of’ or ‘country’. The names of seven countries end in ‘stan’, what are they? (You get a point for each one you can name correctly and seven (yes, 7) bonus points if get them all correct.) 

a) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan   

b)  _ _ _ _ _ _ stan        

c) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan  

d) _ _ _ _ stan      

e) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan      

f) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

g) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan

A. 10:  They are in alphabetical order, 

a)  Afghanistan    

b)  Kazakhstan    

c)  Kyrgyzstan   

d)  Pakistan    

e)  Tajikistan   

 f)  Turkmenistan    

g)  Uzbekistan

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Q. 11:  What color is the most-prized variety of jade?

A. 11:  Green.

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Q. 12:  Whose theorem uses a 3, 4, 5 triangle?

A. 12:  Pythagoras.

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Q. 13:  Piraeus serves as the port for which major city?

A. 13:  Athens.

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Q. 14:  Which insects communicate with one another by dancing?

A. 14:  Bees.

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Q. 15:  What was the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine?

A. 15:  It was called the ‘Nautilus’.

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Q. 16:  What creature is an ophidiophobe afraid of?

A. 16:  Snakes.

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Q. 17:  In the US and the UK what is the name given to the government department responsible for formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies?

A. 17:  Treasury.

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Q. 18:  Which of the 12 Zodiac signs start with the letter ‘L’ ?

A. 18:  They are Leo and Libra.

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Q. 19:  Which English politician, when told by Lady Nancy Astor that if he were her husband she’d put poison in his coffee, replied that if she were his wife he’d drink it?

A. 19:  Winston Churchill.

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Q. 20:  What popular song originated as the jingle “Buy the World a Coke” in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola? (A bonus point is available if you can also correctly name the group.)

A. 20:  “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) by The New Seekers.

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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

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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

.

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

.

Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

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Lauren Bacall

American actress

(b. 1924)

Lauren Bacall

.

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

.

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

.

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