Would You Buy An Expensive Lock If Someone Else Had The Key?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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encryption-lock

 

Apple and Google recently enabled full-device encryption by default on their mobile operating systems – and big brother doesn’t like it – not one bit. As always he talks about things like ‘National Security’, ‘terrorist threats’, etc., and that there will be total chaos in the streets if ordinary citizens are allowed their right to privacy.

Some of the stuff that has hit the media has been ridiculous and would be laughable except these idiots are actually intent on total control.

For example, the head of the FBI has issued dire warnings of children dying if ordinary people are allowed their privacy via encryption programs. The secretary of Homeland Security used the deaths of the 168 people killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as ‘proof’ that, while privacy was important, encryption should not be allowed to stymie US law enforcement.

Big Brother wants to stick his nose into EVERYTHING. Anything that makes that harder to do frustrates the hell out of him.

big brother is watching poster

 

So he continues with the stupid excuse that the necessity to snoop on law abiding people is because criminals and terrorists might use encryption tools as well.

It’s a bit like saying that no one should be allowed to drive a car because someone, somewhere, sometime, might get drunk and cause a fatal accident.

Then there’s the EnnEssEhh director who wants mandatory “front doors” to be built into all cryptographic technology used in the U.S., so that you can’t have secrets it can’t spy on. His idea is for all encrypted software and hardware used in the U.S. to have one encryption key for the user (you) and another that would be made available to the government bureaucrat spooks any time they wanted it.

This is complete nonsense. And they know it. But still they persist.

They have already got the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which removed the right of a purchaser to use their goods as they see fit. This legislation means that digital products continue to be the property of the seller – not (you) the buyer who paid for them. And it makes it illegal for buyers of digital goods to circumvent any features that allow snooping.

Going back to my car analogy, that is like a car dealer selling you a car on the condition that you never open the hood to see how it works, or perform your own modifications.

In practical terms this means that if you buy a new phone or computer, the manufacturer can have a spy device pre-installed in its hard components or its software and you would be forbidden by law from finding out about it or fixing it.

If Big Brother thinks he can enforce stupidity like this then he is even crazier than I think he is – and I think he is completely crazy already!

Big Brother can legislate all he wants, but we all know that the only people who will abide by these new laws will be the law abiding people. The criminals and terrorists will find ways round it, through it, over it, or under it.

It’s the same flawed logic as in the continued cry from liberals to take legally registered guns away from law abiding people so that only the criminals are armed.

Neighbor Wants Guns Banned

 

Then there is, not the probability – but the FACT – that if a government spook friendly encryption system was created, it would immediately be attacked by hackers – including hackers employed by foreign governments, some of them friends of the terrorists that the legislation is supposed to be there to defeat.

And what about the practical commercial aspect to it all? When you think about it, who in their right mind is going to pay good money for an encryptiuon system that they know can be broken?

Would you buy an expensive lock if someone else had the key?

I think not.

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Time For Some Crude Talk.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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$200 per barrel oil

It’s not so long ago that I was getting bombarded with emails about how great an investment oil would be.

At that time the predictions by those in the ‘know’, who really know nothing, was that oil would hit $200 per barrel – maybe much, much more!

Well, they almost got the number correct, except that oil actually hit $20 per barrel, not $200. As these things go it was a pretty good guess!!!

declining oil price

So why has the oil price declined and, although it has recovered a bit, why are the predictions for today’s low prices to hold long term?

The simple layman’s answer of course is that the oil price has declined because supply is greater than demand. When there is a surplus of a commodity the price falls and when it is scarce the price rises.

The supply of oil has increased relative to demand for a number of reasons.

The most obvious one is the vast reserves of oil found and now being recovered in the massive shale-oil fields in the United States of America and the tar-sands in Canada that have added more than 5 million barrels per day to domestic oil production since 2008. Able to produce more at home, North America has been able to reduce its demand for imported oil.

OPEC

The effect of this, of course, is that the OPEC countries have seen their annual revenues fall sharply during the same period. To try to rectify this fall in income, which they need to provide for their own citizens, they have been trying to replace lost revenue from North America by increasing production of their own oil supplies.

In other words, they have created even more over supply in the market, which helps to keep the oil price down.

Then there was the ISIS or ISIL terrorists in Iraq who had taken control of most of the oil fields and were dumping oil on the black market as fast as they could to help finance their war. Recently they’ve lost control of a lot of those oil fields so that part of the equation may no longer be in play to the same extent.

However, if there is a deal ever done with the Iranians and they are able to trade without restriction again, no doubt they will be adding their oil to the market glut which will also help to keep the market over-supplied and the price suppressed.

burning off gas at oil well

Then there is the increasing use of compressed natural gas or CNG. This is the natural gas that used to be burned off at the oil wells, but that is now collected, compressed into tanks and used to power vehicles and in drilling equipment, meaning less diesel is purchased.

Despite all these over-supply pressures, the thing that is keeping the oil price from collapsing completely is the continued demand from China. This is a good thing because a long-term collapse in the oil price, whilst it may make life a bit easier financially for many with decreased heating and fuel bills, also has detrimental secondary effects on some parts of the country where the oil industry provides a living for a great many people.

I haven’t had an email about investing in oil for a long time and I don’t expect them to start again soon. Now you know why.

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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

.

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

.

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

.

Eli Wallach

American actor

(b. 1915)

Eli Wallach

.

Elaine Stritch

American actress and singer

(b. 1925)

Elaine Stritch

.

James Garner

American actor

(b. 1928)

James Garner

.

Menahem Golan

Israeli filmmaker

(b. 1929)

Menahem Golan

.

Robin Williams

American actor and comedian

(b. 1951)

Robin Williams

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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

.

Polly Bergen

American actress

(b. 1930)

Polly Bergen

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Ken Takakura

Japanese actor

(b. 1931)

Ken Takakura

.

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

.

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

.

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

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From Sport

Eusébio

Portuguese footballer

(b. 1942)

Eusébio

.

Mae Young

American professional wrestler

(b. 1923)

Mae Young

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Louise Brough

American tennis player

(b. 1923)

Louise Brough

.

Tom Finney

English footballer

(b. 1922)

Tom Finney

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Nelson Frazier, Jr.

American professional wrestler

(b. 1971)

Nelson Frazier, Jr

.

Jimmy Ellis

American boxer

(b. 1940)

Jimmy_Ellis

.

Jack Brabham

Australian race car driver

(b. 1926)

Jack Brabham

.

Malcolm Glazer

American businessman,

owner of Manchester United

(b. 1928)

Malcolm Glazer

.

Valentin Mankin

Ukrainian sailor, Olympic triple champion

and silver medalist

(b. 1938)

Valentin Mankin

.

Fernandão

Brazilian footballer and manager

(b. 1978)

Fernandão

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Alfredo Di Stéfano

Argentine-Spanish footballer

(b. 1926)

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

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Andriy Bal

Ukrainian football player and coach

(b. 1958)

Andriy Bal

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Björn Waldegård

Swedish rally driver

(b. 1943)

Björn Waldegård

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Andrea de Cesaris

Italian race car driver

(b. 1959)

Andrea de Cesaris

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Health

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

ebola_map Africa

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

Politics

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

President Viktor Yanukovych

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

Putin Obama

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

normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba

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Space

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

Rosetta Philae

Sport

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

world-cup-2014-champions-germany-trophy

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

novak-djokovic-with-wimbledon-crown

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

Tragedies

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

south-korea-ferry MV Sewol

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

indonesia-airplane AirAsia flight flight QZ8501 airport notice board

 

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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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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Fasab’s Mammoth End Of The Year Quiz!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”  

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck, and enjoy.

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Fasab's Mammoth End Of Year Quiz 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Q. 28:  Who won the 2013 Daytona 500? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ANSWERS

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

A.  1:  Nelson Mandela

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

A.  2:  China.

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

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

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

A.  4:  Nairobi, Kenya.

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

A.  5:  Nokia.

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

A.  6:  Tokyo, Japan.

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

A.  7:  Detroit.

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

A.  8:  Margaret Thatcher.

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

A.  9:  Oklahoma.

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

A. 10:  Tumblr.

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

A. 11:  Bangladesh.

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

A. 12:  Boston.

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

A. 13:  Cyprus.

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

A. 14:  Russia.

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

A. 15:  Pope Benedict XVI.

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

A. 16:  Brazil.

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

A. 17:  Lionel Messi.

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

A. 18:  Australia.

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

A. 19:  Beijing, China.

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

A. 20:  Mars.

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

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

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

A. 22:  John Kerry.

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

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

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

A. 24:  In the US and Canada.

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

A. 25:  North Korea.

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

A. 26:  Brussels, Belgium.

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

A. 27:  Raúl Castro.

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Q. 28:  Who won the 2013 Daytona 500? 

A. 28:  Jimmie Johnson.

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

A. 29:  Willem-Alexander.

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

A. 30:  Apple.

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

A. 31:  Adam Scott.

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

A. 32:  The US Senate.

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

A. 33:  Sir Alex Ferguson.

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

A. 34:  Bill Gates.

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

A. 35:  Sweden, beating Switzerland.

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

A. 36:  Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

A. 37:  Justin Rose.

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

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

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

A. 39:  Cannes, France.

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

A. 40:  Tony Abbott.

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

A. 41:  Rafael Nadal, beating Novak Djokovic.

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

A. 42:  Japan.

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

A. 43:  Wal-Mart.

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

A. 44:  Washington DC.

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

A. 45:  Andy Murray,  beating Novak Djokovic.

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

A. 46:  Grand Theft Auto.

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

A. 47:  Alex Rodriquez.

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

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

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

A. 49:  Tiger Woods.

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

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

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The Uninformed Elect The Uninformed

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Another rant cunningly disguised as a Sunday Sermon.

Some people say we should be grateful we get told anything at all nowadays. We certainly can’t rely on our governments being honest with their people. In fact, as we have discovered recently, they would rather spy on us and gather secret dossiers on our activities. Much more reminiscent of Stalinist Russia than the Land Of The Free.

government hypocrisy and lies

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A big part of the problem is that in what passes for ‘democracy’ in Western nations, the people are told they have the power to elect whoever they think will be the best rulers, but they are not allowed the tools to do so effectively.

People are encouraged to vote party lines, rather than think about which candidate has the greatest ability.

ACME political poll - choose a party

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The Western media compounds the problem by drip feeding information to us on a “what THEY think WE need to know basis”. In doing so they censor and simplify, and more often than not sensationalize that information to the point of it being almost useless.

choice of candidates

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Naturally the politicians love it that way. An uninformed population makes uninformed decisions at election times, casting their votes for the candidate who has the nicest shirt or some other reason unrelated to political policy and philosophy.

That’s one of the reasons you got the government that is in power – so if you voted them in you did so without knowing all the facts – or maybe any of them! 

obama-agenda-in-one-cartoon1

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Not that there was much of an alternative. And it doesn’t matter what country you happen to live in either. Politicians worldwide, like bureaucrats, seem to be cut from the same cloth.

But that’s only part of the problem.

Bad enough that uninformed people make uninformed decisions and elect the wrong people. But worse is the fact that the people they elect are equally badly informed, their lack of knowledge becoming very clear quite quickly after they are elected.

Take America for example. Not the only culprit by any means, but the biggest one because of its size and the power and influence it wields throughout the world.

We all know that the economy is in a horrendous mess, with the administration seemingly clueless as to how to get us out of it. We’ve talked about that before and no doubt will do so again.

Obama economic advisors

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But if we were giving out grade marks for America, the ‘F’ minus with at least two exclamation marks would have to go to its understanding of foreign affairs. It’s not a case of ‘could do much better’ but more of a case of ‘couldn’t do much worse’.

Recent history is littered with foreign debacles. Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now North Korea, Syria, and Iran are just some of the places where America, and sometimes its allies such as Britain, have tried to interfere only to make things far worse.

To the insult of causing the needless deaths and horrific injuries to the brave souls who put themselves in harm’s way because of these political idiots, they add the bigger insult of trying to excuse their foreign ‘crusades’ by lying to their own people.

Saddam Hussein used to be a ‘friend’, even being granted the Keys to the City of Detroit because of his charitable gifts. Then a few months later they made up blatant lies about his having developed weapons of mass destruction and he became the arch demon of the Middle East. Saddam was no saint that’s for sure, he was an evil man, but he had no weapons of mass destruction and he had nothing to do with Al Quaeda or the  9/11 attack, yet the US Administration went gung-ho to invade Iraq and take him out. Result – a bigger potential threat for the future.

cartoon-Iraq_10th_Anniversary

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All the years Col. Gadaffi was supporting terrorist attacks in Israel and Britain and Ireland he wasn’t touched, apart from the odd cruise missile sent his way more for publicity than any lasting affect it had on him or his country. Then when he became an ‘ally’ in the war against terror he was killed, leaving behind a country in a complete mess and opening the way for radical groups to take over. Result – a bigger potential threat for the future.

obamas-libya-mess

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You could say exactly the same thing for Egypt or Syria or almost anywhere else where noses have been stuck in where they aren’t wanted.

Far from winning friends and influencing people, it’s almost as if America’s leaders want to create enemies and store up trouble for the future. Either this is a deliberate covert policy or it is the result of chronic stupidity.

Whatever the reason, it is costing the country far too much, both in terms of lives and money. Our politicians need to be told to get a grip on things in their own country before interfering in foreign lands where they clearly do not understand the damaging consequences of their ill-advised actions.  

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