Sacre Bleu! – Er, Make That Red White And Bleu!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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sacre bleu cartoon

There has been a lot of activity in France lately concerning the United States government spying on three French Presidents.

The current President of France even called an emergency meeting of the Conseil de la Défense, the country’s highest national security forum to discuss the emergence of documents that appear to implicate the US National Security Agency (NSA) – now who’da guessed that? –  spying on Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who ruled France from 1995 to 2012.

The documents further indicate that the NSA may have also targeted the personal communications of Francois Hollande, France’s current head of state.

The files were published by WikiLeaks, which described them as “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents”, detailing NSA spying operations against the French presidency, as well as espionage directed at several French government ministers and at France’s ambassador to the US.

French President Francois Hollande at meeting to discuss Wikileaks revelations

The documents include intelligence briefs, which detail the thoughts and diplomatic maneuvers by French presidents and other senior officials, on subjects such as the Greek economic crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and the United Nations.

This is further evidence of more disgraceful and arrogant behavior by US spy agencies.

The thing is, however, no one is surprised any more.

Since Edward Snowden’s revelations the world has come to expect illegal and bad behavior from Americans. It is as simple as that. And for the reputations of Americans it is as bad as that. Which is a great pity because these activities do not represent in any way the vast majority of the American people.

So, if they aren’t a surprise to anyone, will the latest revelations cause trouble between America and France? I think the undoubted answer is “Oui”, but only a “petit oui”.

As befits normal protocol in these kinds of things, the American ambassador to France was summoned for what was called ‘an official protest’, but little or nothing more happened apart from President Obama getting on the phone with the French President, groveling and apologizing and assuring him in no uncertain terms “that the US is no longer spying on France”.

No, I don’t believe him either, but there it is.

President Obama on phone

There was no need for America’s snooping. As with Germany, French and American intelligence agencies cooperate with each other regularly. They jointly monitor international issues of mutual concern, such as what is happening in Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Libya, and even the financial catastrophe that is Greece.

For now that will continue, but the road ahead looks bumpy.

Wikileaks has already made good on its promise that its “French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future”.

The latest release from the whistleblower website contains more documents that indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA), under orders from Washington, were tasked with collecting secret information not only about the economic policies of the French government and the country’s financial sector, but on export contracts by French companies.

In fact every French-registered company involved in negotiations for international projects or other sales contracts valued at over $200 million, like car makers Peugeot and Renault and financial institutions like BNP Paribas and the agricultural credit union, were also subjected to US government secret snooping.

Washington’s pathetic statements that none of this information is ever used to benefit American companies competing for international contracts rings mighty hollow with the French, and the rest of the world come to that.

This latest information is a lot more damning and may necessitate a much stronger response from the French – even if it is just to save face.

Like their attitude over the invasion of Iraq, I think any further reaction would include little or no cooperation in any future American interventions in the Middle East and maybe the use of a veto or two in the United Nations.

We might be at the start of a new meaning to the term “non” cooperation?

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This Quiz Is A Gas – Well The First Question Is.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi it’s quiz day again.

The usual mixture of subjects including geography, history, science and nature, so something for everyone perhaps.

And remember, as always, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz host

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Q.  1:  Which gas is the main element in the air that we breathe?

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Q.  2:  What is the link between the females of the following: Antelope, Deer, Hamster, Mouse, and Squirrel?

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Q.  3:  Every year around this time the President of the US pardons a turkey and it goes to a public farm called Frying Pan Park, Herndon, VA., to live out its days, but which President is believed to have been the first to start this annual tradition?

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Q.  4:  What do the terms ‘NASA’ and ‘ESA’ stand for? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  5:  What type of creature is a ‘gadwall’?

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Q.  6:  Who was the first American President of the United States?

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Q.  7:  Which physical property allows a needle to float on water?

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Q.  8:  Name the Capitals of the following countries. (A point for each correct answer.)

            a)  Australia         b)  Iceland         c)  Syria         d)  Uruguay         e)  Vietnam

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Q.  9:  And a related question, which country has three Capital cities? (A point for the correct answer and a bonus point for each one you name correctly.)

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Q. 10:  In what year did the first Macy’s Thanksgiving/Christmas parade take place?

            a)  1924            b)  1927            c)  1931            d)  1935

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Q. 11:  What is represented by the chemical symbol ‘Sn’?

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Q. 12:  In Roman Mythology, who was the messenger of the Gods?

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Q. 13:  When is the next leap year that will begin on a Friday?

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Q. 14:  What does a ‘dendrologist’ study?

            a)  Hair            b) Trees            c)  Teeth            d)  Plants

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Q. 15:  What two famous Shakespearean characters appear in the phonetic alphabet? (A point for each one you name correctly.)

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Q. 16:  Which is the largest planet in the solar system?

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Q. 17:  Which English scientist discovered Sodium, Potassium, Barium, Calcium, Magnesium, and designed a famous lamp?

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Q. 18:  Where would you find an ‘ISBN’ number?

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Q. 19:  Which city was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455?

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Q. 20:  Who was going like ‘a bat out of hell’ in the late 1970s?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  Which gas is the main element in the air that we breathe?

A.  1:  Nitrogen. (By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.039% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases.)

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Q.  2:  What is the link between the females of the following: Antelope, Deer, Hamster, Mouse, and Squirrel?

A.  2:  They are all called ‘Doe’.

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Q.  3:  Every year around this time the President of the US pardons a turkey and it goes to a public farm called Frying Pan Park, Herndon, VA., to live out its days, but which President is believed to have been the first to start this annual tradition?

A.  3:  President Harry Truman in 1947.

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Q.  4:  What do the terms ‘NASA’ and ‘ESA’ stand for? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  4:  NASA is the North American Space Agency and ESA is the European Space Agency.

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Q.  5:  What type of creature is a ‘gadwall’?

A.  5:  A duck.

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Q.  6:  Who was the first American President of the United States?

A.  6:  The first President of the United States, born in the United States after July 4th, 1776, and therefore American, was Martin Van Buren (born in 1782).

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Q.  7:  Which physical property allows a needle to float on water?

A.  7:  Surface tension.

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Q.  8:  Name the Capitals of the following countries. (A point for each correct answer.)

            a)  Australia         b)  Iceland         c)  Syria                d)  Uruguay         e)  Vietnam

A.  8:  The correct answers are

            a) Canberra         b) Reykjavík       c) Damascus        d) Montevideo        e) Hanoi

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Q.  9:  And a related question, which country has three Capital cities? (A point for the correct answer and a bonus point for each one you name correctly.)

A.  9:  South Africa – Pretoria (executive),  Bloemfontein (judicial) and Cape Town (legislative).

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Q. 10:  In what year did the first Macy’s Thanksgiving/Christmas parade take place?

            a)  1924            b)  1927            c)  1931            d)  1935

A. 10:  The correct answer is a) 1924.

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Q. 11:  What is represented by the chemical symbol ‘Sn’?

A. 11:  ‘Sn’ is the chemical symbol for Tin.

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Q. 12:  In Roman Mythology, who was the messenger of the Gods?

A. 12:  Mercury.

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Q. 13:  When is the next leap year that will begin on a Friday?

A. 13:  2016. (It’s easier than you think, any leap year starting on Friday, January 1, should be divisible by 28, such as 1932, 1960, 1988, or 2044.

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Q. 14:  What does a ‘dendrologist’ study?

            a)  Hair            b) Trees            c)  Teeth            d)  Plants

A. 14:  The correct answer is b)  trees.

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Q. 15:  What two famous Shakespearean characters appear in the phonetic alphabet? (A point for each one you name correctly.)

A. 15:  Romeo and Juliet.

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Q. 16:  Which is the largest planet in the solar system?

A. 16:  Jupiter.

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Q. 17:  Which English scientist discovered Sodium, Potassium, Barium, Calcium, Magnesium, and designed a famous lamp?

A. 17:  Sir Humphrey Davy.

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Q. 18:  Where would you find an ‘ISBN’ number?

A. 18:  On a book.

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Q. 19:  Which city was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455?

A. 19:  Rome.

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Q. 20:  Who was going like ‘a bat out of hell’ in the late 1970s?

A. 20:  Meat Loaf.

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Shock Headline – The President Agrees With Me!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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I’ve been saying it for a long time – and now the President of the United States agrees with me – he doesn’t know WTF he’s doing!

Obama on Syria - we don't have a strategy yet

I can’t say as I take much satisfaction from his admission though.

The US President is the most powerful man in the world and he has at his disposal the most powerful military organization in the world.

Yet he doesn’t know what to do with it, when to do it, or even who to aim it at!

A bit of it, belatedly and half-heartedly, is now pointing at ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Yes, you’re right, they are the very same Islamic terrorists he was funding for a while in Syria! He says he wasn’t, but in practice he was.

Confused?

You should be.

Because the Obama Administration certainly is!

Indeed Obama’s team of idiots have confused themselves to the degree that they don’t know what to do and are afraid to do it even if they did!

The situation is not being helped by the noise coming from the equally ill-informed politicians in the Republican camp either. Some cynics would say they are doing a lot of it with the November elections in mind!

Political Elephant and Donkey Cartoon

As I’ve said before on this blog, America has never been good at foreign policy. There are so many examples over the years to prove this beyond any and all doubt (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, now Syria). But this latest debacle could turn out to be foreign policy failure on a grand scale.

This is simply down to the fact that, even yet, the Obama administration clearly does not understand the severity of the problem. They haven’t managed to process the long term threat that a well armed, well supported and well funded group like ISIS can become.

Everyone – except the President and his people apparently – knows that these terrorists will not be content even if they are allowed to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in the Middle East. Their hatred of anything and everything in the West is total.

In fact, as we have seen in Iraq and Syria, their hatred even extends to fellow Muslims who they do not consider to be ‘militant enough’ and they have attacked and murdered them in just the same ways as they have attacked and murdered Christians.

In Syria, which is none of our business, the Obama team thought they wanted the Assad regime removed, and to get that done they thought they could support ISIS (or the anti-Assad fighters of whom ISIS were always destined to be a big part).

Now the US may well find itself on the same side as Assad in a fight against the terrorists. And that may be the crux of the US Administration’s problem. They made the wrong move, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, for all the wrong reasons and correcting the mistake will require a major volte face and sizeable portion of humble pie.

Are they big enough to swallow it?

We’ll see.   

humble-pie

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What A Flipping President – What A Flipping Mess!!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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President Obama said in June that he would be prepared to “take targeted and precise military action” in Iraq, whatever that meant.

But it’s taken him two months to make the decision. Two months during which Islamist militants have swept through northern and western Iraq and are now threatening Christians in that country with religious conversion or death.

indecisive Obama

So far its not only too little too late, but half-hearted to boot, with Obama saying that the step was being taken to defend US personnel in the city of Irbil and protect religious minorities facing what he called a “potential act of genocide” from the Islamic State, the extremist group most recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

There doesn’t seem much “potential” about from the reports I am reading.

convert or die

It’s as if the President’s Administration and his advisors didn’t see it coming!

This belated decision is yet another turning point in the Obama administration’s dreadfully badly thought out foreign policy, which has seen his ratings plummet, both at home and in the eyes of the world.

Even now his administration’s goals remain unclear. For example, is this latest move a tactical decision, or a simple reaction to the consequences of failing to act sooner, or is there a strategy behind it?

I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else knows, but I fear it is just the former. Sadly, a belated attempt to halt ISIS’s advance toward Irbil won’t be enough – and if I know that, why don’t Obama’s advisors?

Of course, on the other side of the political fence, rather predictably, some of the gung-ho Republicans, always spoiling for a fight (somewhere other than in the US), have quickly jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use this latest debacle to score political points against the President.

gung-ho GOPers

They have criticized Obama’s inaction in Syria and the failure to bolster moderate rebel forces there as contributing to ISIS’s growth. But hang on a moment GOPers, think it through before you speak (this will be new territory to most of them!). If the President had intervened (or rather, been allowed to intervene) in Syria he would have been intervening on the same side as ISIS, not against them.

Then we would have had an even more bewildering situation where US troops would have been fighting with ISIS (effectively) in Syria against Assad and at the same time fighting against ISIS in Iraq trying to stop their genocidal purge of the Christian community there.

It is this kind of utter confusion that has over the past few years greatly diminished America’s global influence and standing.

bush_wmd_cartoon.1

The mess that was left in Iraq after Bush’s invasion on the false premise (the lie) of WMDs, and Obama’s withdrawal of troops on the equally disingenuous premise (another lie) that they had brought peace to the country, is a disgrace.

And unfortunately it sends a message to the world that America is confused, indecisive, deceitful, short-sighted, blundering – in short all the things that you don’t want the world to think about you if you want to be taken seriously.

What a flipping mess!

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Lies, Deceit And Incompetence

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I was sounding off a bit in last week’s Sunday Sermon about the state of things in Iraq, a mess created by blundering American and British intervention in a situation they did not, and still do not understand.

Last week I concentrated on the fact that ISIS, the al Qaeda splinter group – big name, ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ – has now seized large parts of northern Iraq, with consequent freeing of prisoners, fleeing of frightened former residents of that area and even unconfirmed reports of ‘mass beheadings’. Other reports of mass executions of official Iraqi army personnel seem to have been confirmed.

Presumably there will be worse to come.

Slaughter in IRAQ

All in the name of an Islamic State?

Well, hold on, maybe not just that.

It turns out that as Iraq descends into what will probably be a bloody civil war, the ISIS-al Qaeda forces have taken time to raid Mosul’s central bank and relieve it of some 500 billion Iraqi dinars, worth approximately $425 million.

Mosul is not only the largest city in northern Iraq, it is an oil hub at the vital intersection of Syria, Iraq and Turkey, thus providing rich pickings for the terrorists.

They also reportedly stole additional $ millions from a number of other banks across Mosul and what has only been quantified as a “large quantity of gold bullion.”

Others towns and cities, like Saddam Hussein’s old home town Tikrit, have suffered a similar fate.

As a result of all this George Bush / Tony Bliar created disaster, the ISIS/al Qaeda chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a previously relatively unknown figure, is now the leader of perhaps the ‘world’s richest terror force’.

obama-funding-syrian-rebels-al-qaeda-benghazi

(Quick side note to President Obama – I’m sure he reads this blog 🙂

– Hi Barrack, you can stop using American taxpayers’ money

to fund these ISIS terrorists in Syria, they have enough money now.)

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In fact, to put the latest cash haul in perspective, at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US, Al-Qaeda had been working with an operating budget of around $30 million (source ‘Council on Foreign Relations’), so even allowing for inflation they are substantially richer today, and by definition have it in their power to do much more damage not just in the Middle East region, but worldwide.

As regional analyst Brown Moses succinctly put it on Twitter, this recent haul of ill gotten gains will “buy a whole lot of Jihad……For example, with $425 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.”

It might even do a lot more. ISIS has already attracted 12,000 militants from abroad, 3,000 of whom are from the West. With bought mercenaries on board things can only get worse.

Bush Blair whose Words of Mass Deception created needless death and destruction in Iraq

When Bush and Blair used Words of Mass Deception about Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass destruction as a bogus excuse to attack Iraq there were no terrorists and no terrorist threat from that country. Thanks to their lies, deceit and incompetence, there are now.

If this is an ‘improvement’ I can’t see it  –  can you?

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Obama Says Iraq’s Government Needs Help!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Now there’s a headline. Let’s repeat it…

Obama says Iraq’s government needs help!

Long live hypocrisy!

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Time for a Sunday Sermon I think!

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Iraqi flag

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I say hypocrisy for one simple reason, Obama  –  remember him, the man who was getting all the troops OUT of Iraq  –  wants to send them back in again because of the almighty mess that America, Britain and other western nations made blundering about in a country they didn’t understand.

It’s worse than that, of course, because Obama wants to send the troops back into Iraq to help stave off attacks by radical Islamists who have been making inroads in various parts of Iraq and are now threatening to close in on Baghdad itself.

This what he said, “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.”

But hang on a minute.

There’s that stench of hypocrisy again.

Are these not the very same terrorists who Obama is supporting financially and with arms shipments in Syria?

They may have different names in different countries but these terrorists collectively want to establish an Islamic state in the region that surpasses national boundaries and governments. And from there, who knows?

It really is that simple. But it seems American foreign policy is in its usual state – completely confused, completely devoid of logic and good sense.

The mess that has been left behind in Iraq is catastrophic.

The country has more or less disintegrated politically and militarily, with Islamic militants capturing the country’s second-largest city this week after soldiers scattered, leaving their uniforms and weapons behind. So much for the $15 billion Washington (i.e., the American taxpayer) has already provided in training, weapons and equipment to the Iraqi government!

The result of this capitulation is that at least half a million ordinary citizens are understandably fleeing as the terrorists gain ground.

America’s ‘re-intervention’ will start with air strikes, possible using drones. But the chances of that doing anything more than temporarily halting the terrorists are slight. Next will come increased supplies of arms and equipment for the ‘official’ Iraqi forces. And then ‘advisors’ will be sent in  –  they’re probably already there, their presence will just be officially acknowledged.

There was a strong indication of what will come after that, when White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “We are not contemplating ground troops, I want to be clear about that.”

I have seldom seen a clearer admission that the White House is actively considering sending ground troops back into Iraq!

SoS Kerry has been wheeled out again to tell the world that the situation presently is not just a threat to Iraq, but to the United States and the rest of the world. We all know that John. What we also know  –  and what you don’t  –  is that more blundering about in a situation you do not understand, more young American live sacrificed for nothing, and more brave souls maimed for life to satisfy political whims won’t make things any better.

Will common sense ever prevail? Sadly I very much doubt it. The lack of understanding exhibited by the politicians seems to span all parties.

The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

So there’s more stupidity on the way!

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Ethno-religious map of Iraq
Ethno-religious map of Iraq, courtesy of the Washington Post

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It Takes Guts To Go To Weight Watchers.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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And it takes guts to publish some of these word play jokes.

So strap yourselves in for another wicked selection.

Enjoy or endure!

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rofl

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My girlfriend keeps telling me that making

clothes based puns is really not funny.

Corset is!

corset

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My teacher asked the class,

“Can anybody name a sport that starts with a ‘T’?”

I said “Yes, golf.”

golf_tee

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My son asked me where the most

dangerous place on earth is.

I’m stuck between Iraq Kandahar place.

Iraq-Kandahar-Afghanistan signpost

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I was speaking to a man from Syria today and he said,

“In my country, bear fighting is the most popular sport.”

“That’s revolting.” I replied.

“No,” he said. “That’s our second most popular.”

Syrian revolutionaries

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Teacher: “In this box, I have a 10-foot snake.”

Sammy : “You can’t fool me, Teacher…

snakes don’t have feet.”

burmese-python

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A woman screamed, “No means no!” at me today.

I left soon after.

It was the shortest Spanish lesson I’d ever had.

Learn to speak Spanish

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I saved loads of cash on the new over-priced iPhone yesterday.

I didn’t buy one.

iphone

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A note left for a pianist from his wife

“Gone Chopin, have Liszt, Bach in a Minuet.”

pianist

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About to microwave some fruit.

Getting ready for a hot date.

dates

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I got arrested yesterday for stealing hay from a farmer.

I’ve been refused bale.

hay bale

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When my wife told me Scandinavian languages

don’t have the letter ‘R’ I immediately thought…

No way!

Norway sign

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I’ve often wondered why it is called ‘Mooning’

when you’re actually showing ‘Uranus’?

Uranus

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As a musician, I hate the key of E minor.

It gives me the E B G B s

DA-EGBDF

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I heard someone say that nothing rhymes with orange.

No it doesn’t!

annoying orange

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I used to live in a small town in Spain called Macarena.

But I don’t like to make a song and dance about it.

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