Forget The Cold War, The Summer Is Here

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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2nd cold war

The world breathed a great sigh of relief when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, but somehow we’re in the middle of another cold war that nobody wants or needs.

How did that happen?

As most things do, it all started with a huge mistake. That mistake was the West, particularly America, treating Russia like a defeated country after 1991, instead of the formidable nation that it still was despite the breakup of the USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev has acknowledged that fact.

Unfortunately Americans have no clue about foreign affairs and never have had. That, plus a ton of arrogance, led us to the Ukraine which America thought it could more or less capture as an ally to be slotted into NATO. They wanted a fully armed NATO nuclear arsenal on the Russian’s doorstep.

The Americans quite rightly didn’t like it when the Russians tried to do it to them in Cuba way back in the early 1960s, so what idiot thought that the Russians would like it when they did it to them?

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Whoever formulated the plan, it was heavily influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor during President Carter’s administration. His theory was that the only way to prevent Russia becoming a great power again was to remove the Ukraine from its sphere of influence.

Thus America initiated an eastward expansion of NATO, using the EU to present the Ukraine with a choice between Russia and Europe. Some Ukrainians, like those in the Crimea favored Russia and others in other parts wanted closer ties with the EU.

Like many other countries, the prospect of joining the EU is attractive to a significant proportion of Ukrainians. But the way America tried to bring it about was just a step too far. The Ukrainian President, who had been duly elected, was removed in what would have been called a “coup d’etat” had it happened elsewhere, or had Russia been the culprit.

That is why a lot of the tensions between the West and Russia is centered on the internal troubles within the Ukraine.

If one looks into the history of the Ukraine another significant part of the puzzle presents itself.

ukraine-map

In much the same way as stupid English bureaucrats redrew borders in the Middle East without any consideration for the people who lived there, (for example, the Kurds), which resulted in wars and upheaval ever since, when the Soviet Union broke apart somewhere in the region of 25 million Russians were left outside the borders of Russia. A lot of them were in the Crimea in the Ukraine.

But the Ukraine had only been independent for three years in its history (1917-20), after the collapse of the tsarist armies.

The post-December 1991 Ukraine was thus a composite entity, its western regions had belonged to Poland between WWI and WWII; its eastern regions were Orthodox and Russian-speaking; and its Black Sea coast had been Ottoman.

The Crimea had never been Ukrainian until Nikita Khrushchev decreed it should be in 1954.

Thus, for anyone with any degree of understanding of foreign affairs, the troubles now being suffered by the various peoples in the Ukraine were both predictable and avoidable.

But the stupid bureaucrats in power were not able to predict it and thus the mess became inevitable.

Ukraine crisis

Sadly the situation has now deteriorated into what amounts to a civil war in the Ukraine. On one side there is the Ukrainian army plus “volunteer battalions”, supported by the US and its allies, and on the other the “separatist” militias who draw their support mainly from Russian-speakers in the east, and who are supported by Russia.

Outside of what is happening in the Ukraine itself, the US and EU implemented severe sanctions against Russia which have hurt, but not nearly as much as they were supposed to. In turn Russia announced counter-sanctions on food and looked to emerging markets, particularly China, to diversify its foreign trade and industrial cooperation.

And so the Cold War part two has begun and shows little sign of ending just yet.

In fact it looks like the Ukraine will remain in a mess until it gets its act together and decides whether it wants to remain on friendly economic terms with its huge neighbor Russia, or whether it will settle for becoming subservient to the whims of the US, via some kind of economic agreement with the EU.

It has a third option, though, perhaps its best option, and that is not taking sides, but rather remaining on friendly terms with both East and West.

However, they may never get the chance to choose option three. In plain language, I don’t think that the people who arrange assassinations and coup d’etats will let them do that.

Meantime, summer or not, the chill continues.

snow in summer sun

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First Of June, First Quiz Of June.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Summer is beckoning but not before you try another fasab quiz.

Twenty more random questions to test your knowledge.

As usual if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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Quiz 07

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Q.  1:  How many leaves are there on a shamrock?

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Q.  2:  It is the name of a region in Western Europe, a unique language, a close fitting bodice and a common form of the ball game Pelota. What is it?

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Q.  3:  What nationality was the first person to reach the North Pole alone and on foot?

            a) Finnish          b) English          c) Norwegian          d) Swedish

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Q.  4:  Which mode of transport did Christopher Cockerell invent in the 1950’s?

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Q.  5:  What word links a herb or other small vegetable growth, the buildings, equipment, etc., of a company or an institution, or a shot in snooker where the cue ball hits a red ball which hits another red ball to make it go into a pocket?

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Q.  6:  What city in the United States of America is known as the “City of Oaks” because of the many oak trees that line the streets in the heart of the city.

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Q.  7:  What is a female bear called?

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Q.  8:  Gävleborg, Gotland and Uppsala are among the counties of which country?

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Q.  9:  In which Olympic sport are there ‘Normal Hill’ and ‘Large Hill’ events?

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Q. 10:  In Greek mythology who went in search of the ‘Golden Fleece’ ? (You get a point for the name of the leader, the name given to his followers and two bonus points for the name of their ship.)

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Q. 11:  What color originates from a famous 16th Century Italian painter and what color is it? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 12:  Which English city has more than 100 miles of canal?

            a) London            b) Birmingham            c) Manchester

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Q. 13:  Which empire ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries?

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Q. 14:  What writer created the famous Baker Street detective?

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Q. 15:  Which black and white bird has the scientific name ‘Pica pica’ ?

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Q. 16:  What is the name given to that part of the North Atlantic bounded by the Gulf Stream on the west, the North Atlantic Current on the north, the Canary Current on the east, and the North Equatorial Current on the south.

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Q. 17:  If you added together all the voting seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives, how many idiots could sit down?

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Q. 18:  Name the star of the movie ‘Taken’.

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Q. 19:  What company, still in existence, was at one time the largest landowner in the world, having 15% of the land in North America?

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Q. 20:  Finally a chance to beef up that points score. What were the eight original tokens used in the board game ‘Monopoly’ ?  (A point for each correct answer and two bonus points if you get all eight correct.)

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  How many leaves are there on a shamrock?

A.  1:  Three (3).

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Q.  2:  It is the name of a region in Western Europe, a unique language, a close fitting bodice and a common form of the ball game Pelota. What is it?

A.  2:  Basque.

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Q.  3:  What nationality was the first person to reach the North Pole alone and on foot?

            a) Finnish          b) English          c) Norwegian          d) Swedish

A.  3:  The correct answer is c) Norwegian. He was Børge Ousland and he walked there by himself in 1994.

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Q.  4:  Which mode of transport did Christopher Cockerell invent in the 1950’s?

A.  4:  The Hovercraft.

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Q.  5:  What word links a herb or other small vegetable growth, the buildings, equipment, etc., of a company or an institution, or a shot in snooker where the cue ball hits a red ball which hits another red ball to make it go into a pocket?

A.  5:  A ‘plant’.

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Q.  6:  What city in the United States of America is known as the “City of Oaks” because of the many oak trees that line the streets in the heart of the city.

A.  6:  Raleigh, North Carolina, is known as the “City of Oaks”.

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Q.  7:  What is a female bear called?

A.  7:  A ‘sow’.

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Q.  8:  Gävleborg, Gotland and Uppsala are among the counties of which country?

A.  8:  Sweden.

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Q.  9:  In which Olympic sport are there ‘Normal Hill’ and ‘Large Hill’ events?

A.  9:  Ski jumping.

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Q. 10:  In Greek mythology who went in search of the ‘Golden Fleece’ ? (You get a point for the name of the leader, the name given to his followers and two bonus points for the name of their ship.)

A. 10:  His name was ‘Jason’, his followers were the ‘Argonauts’, and the name of their ship (after which the followers were named) was the Argo.

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Q. 11:  What color originates from a famous 16th Century Italian painter and what color is it? (A point for each correct answer.)

A. 11:  Titian, a brownish-orange color.

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Q. 12:  Which English city has more than 100 miles of canal?

            a) London            b) Birmingham            c) Manchester

A. 12:  The correct answer is b) Birmingham.

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Q. 13:  Which empire ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries?

A. 13:  The Mughal Empire.

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Q. 14:  What writer created the famous Baker Street detective?

A. 14:  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his creation was Sherlock Holmes.

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Q. 15:  Which black and white bird has the scientific name ‘Pica pica’ ?

A. 15:  The (Common) Magpie.

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Q. 16:  What is the name given to that part of the North Atlantic bounded by the Gulf Stream on the west, the North Atlantic Current on the north, the Canary Current on the east, and the North Equatorial Current on the south.

A. 16:  It is called the Sargasso Sea.

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Q. 17:  If you added together all the voting seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives, how many idiots could sit down?

A. 17:  535 (100 + 435).

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Q. 18:  Name the star of the movie ‘Taken’.

A. 18:  Liam Neeson.

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Q. 19:  What company, still in existence, was at one time the largest landowner in the world, having 15% of the land in North America?

A. 19:  Hudson’s Bay Company.

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Q. 20:  Finally a chance to beef up that points score. What were the eight original tokens used in the board game ‘Monopoly’ ?  (A point for each correct answer and two bonus points if you get all eight correct.)

A. 20:  Wheelbarrow, Battleship, Racecar, Thimble, Old-style shoe (or boot), Scottie dog, Top hat, Iron.

original monopoly tokens

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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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Whose Bubble Will Burst First, The Banks Or The Bolsheviks?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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2014 oil price drop

As 2014 ended, the Russian Rouble was in free fall and so were crude oil prices. Both affected the Russian economy and not in a good way. From a position of great strength Vladimir Putin is now under pressure due to the combined effect of lower oil prices and the sanctions imposed by the west because of the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea.

In the West there have been two notable effects of the drop in oil.

One is good in so far as consumers have to spend a lot less to run their vehicles and heat their homes.

The other, however, is bad – for the banks (tee-hee-hee) although they will no doubt pass on their pain to us.

The reason the banks are in trouble (AGAIN) is because they have lent billions of dollars to fracking operations where oil explorers use expensive techniques to extract oil from underneath American and Canadian soil.

The drop in oil prices means that you can now buy oil on the open market for a lot less than it costs to extract it in the US and Canada.

Therefore the oil exploration companies that obtained these huge loans from the banks, and other money men on Wall St, have little or no chance currently of paying them back.

If the position continues through 2015 expect payment defaults and huge debts written off again by the banks.

Will the government step in (AGAIN) to bail them out by printing more money?

I don’t know. I hope not. It’s time these bankster idiots paid for their own mistakes instead of us having to continually foot the bill.

Don’t count on it though.

So whose bubble do you think will burst first, the banks or the Bolsheviks?

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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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So Come On America, Do Something Smart This Time.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I hate to have to say “I told you so” (actually I love it), but in last week’s Sunday Sermon I was on a well worn theme of mine, the blundering stupidity of American foreign policy – if you can even call it a policy. Particularly the current American lust for getting involved in the turmoil in the Ukraine. (If you want to recap, click here…)

Russia Ukraine map

I offered the theory that it was not unreasonable for a Russian leader like Putin not to want a fully nuclear armed Ukraine as anything other than an ally on his doorstep. And to try to clarify the position from his point of view I used the example of how America reacted (rightly) when the Russian leader of the 1960s, Khrushchev, tried to do the same thing in Cuba – right on America’s doorstep.

Well, I can’t take a great deal of credit for what happened next. It was an obvious consequence of American interference in Ukraine. Obvious to everyone that is except the morons in Washington.

Yes, Valdimir Putin paid a visit to Cuba this week.

Putin Castro

His message could not be clearer, again to everyone except the Congress, Senate, White House, State Department, and the rest. For their benefit rather than the readers’, Putin’s message is simple  –  if you want to **** in my back yard, then I can **** in yours too.

The Cuban economy is in dire straits. The Russians have already forgiven the substantial multi-$billion debt owed to them and will no doubt follow that up with a new infusion of money to help the country out.

The smart move for America would be to immediately end the now pointless economic embargo of Cuba (the desk drawers of the hypocrites in Washington are full of boxes Cuban cigars anyway!) and open up new friendlier relations. I think America would be surprised just how amenable the Cubans would be to better relations with them.

Box of Cuban Cigars

But they’d better act fast.

If they adopt their usual short-sighted warmongering posture, then Russia’s influence will only get stronger and its presence ever closer to American shores. I don’t think anybody wants that outcome.

So come on America, do something smart this time.

The world is watching!

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Another Quiz For Monday.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi, and welcome to another quiz for Monday.

A random mixture of general knowledge, history, geography, politics, sport, movies, etc., all designed to get you thinking.

As usual, if you get stuck, the answers can be found waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 8

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Q.  1:  Name the only boxer to knock out Mohammed Ali?

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Q.  2:  In what Clint Eastwood movie did Gene Hackman appear as the President of the United States?

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Q.  3:  When Steve Jobs set up the Apple computer company in 1976 who was his partner?

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Q.  4:  What phrase was used to describe the German empire under Hitler?

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Q.  5:  Which Shakespearean character, haunted by the ghost of his murdered father, shares his name with a small settlement of people?

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Q.  6:  Which group was made up of a cowboy, an Indian, a policeman, a biker, a GI and a builder?

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Q.  7:  Which war drama, first seen on British Television in October 1972, depicted life in a German castle used for prisoners of war?

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Q.  8:  Who murdered the well known singer Marvin Gay?

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Q.  9:  What is the Spanish word for ‘Conqueror’?

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Q. 10:  The term “Expletive Deleted” came into fashion as a result of the publication of the transcript of what?

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Q. 11:  Which notorious gang were involved in the famous gunfight against the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday at the O.K Corral?

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Q. 12:  How did David kill Goliath?

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Q. 13:  Which island volcano is west of Java, unless in the movie where it is east of Java, and erupted in 1883 causing 36,000 deaths?

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Q. 14:  Who published ‘Centuries’ in 1555, a book of rhyming prophesies going up to the year 3797?

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Q. 15:  The Clayton Bulwer Treaty signed in 1850 concerned the construction of what?

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Q. 16:  In which year was the first Afro-American elected to the US Congress?

            a) 1870,           b) 1906,           c) 1928           d) 1960

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Q. 17:  Who is the only US president to have never been elected?

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Q. 18:  Which company owned most of what is now called Canada in the early colonial days?

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Q. 19:  Which country has the world’s oldest flag?

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Q. 20:  Which famous actor sang ‘We Are Ready’ at the end of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  Name the only boxer to knock out Mohammed Ali?

A.  1:  Larry Holmes, in 1980.

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Q.  2:  In what Clint Eastwood movie did Gene Hackman appear as the President of the United States?

A.  2:  Absolute Power.

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Q.  3:  When Steve Jobs set up the Apple computer company in 1976 who was his partner?

A.  3:  Stephen Wozniak.

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Q.  4:  What phrase was used to describe the German empire under Hitler?

A.  4:  It was known as the ‘Third Reich’.

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Q.  5:  Which Shakespearean character, haunted by the ghost of his murdered father, shares his name with a small settlement of people?

A.  5:  Hamlet.

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Q.  6:  Which group was made up of a cowboy, an Indian, a policeman, a biker, a GI and a builder?

A.  6:  Village People.

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Q.  7:  Which war drama, first seen on British Television in October 1972, depicted life in a German castle used for prisoners of war?

A.  7:  Colditz.

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Q.  8:  Who murdered the well known singer Marvin Gay?

A.  8:  His father.

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Q.  9:  What is the Spanish word for ‘Conqueror’?

A.  9:  Conquistador.

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Q. 10:  The term “Expletive Deleted” came into fashion as a result of the publication of the transcript of what?

A. 10:  The Watergate Tapes.

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Q. 11:  Which notorious gang were involved in the famous gunfight against the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday at the O.K Corral?

A. 11:  The Clantons.

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Q. 12:  How did David kill Goliath?

A. 12:  With a stone from a sling.

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Q. 13:  Which island volcano is west of Java, unless in the movie where it is east of Java, and erupted in 1883 causing 36,000 deaths?

A. 13:  Krakatoa.

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Q. 14:  Who published ‘Centuries’ in 1555, a book of rhyming prophesies going up to the year 3797?

A. 14:  Nostradamus.

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Q. 15:  The Clayton Bulwer Treaty signed in 1850 concerned the construction of what?

A. 15:  Panama Canal.

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Q. 16:  In which year was the first Afro-American elected to the US Congress?

            a) 1870,           b) 1906,           c) 1928           d) 1960

A. 16:  a) 1870.

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Q. 17:  Who is the only US president to have never been elected?

A. 17:  Gerald Ford.

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Q. 18:  Which company owned most of what is now called Canada in the early colonial days?

A. 18:  The Hudson Bay Company.

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Q. 19:  Which country has the world’s oldest flag?

A. 19:  Denmark. (Maybe we should have a whip round and buy them a new one?)

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Q. 20:  Which famous actor sang ‘We Are Ready’ at the end of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games?

A. 20:  Jackie Chan.

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