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YEAR END REVIEW 2014 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Barry Kowal   
Dec 23, 2014 at 05:23 PM


Hello Everyone!!!!  

   This is one of those group e-mails that are shot out at the last minute to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS or whatever you celebrate and a HAPPY NEW 2015!!! Sort of just realised that Christmas is this THURSDAY!! For those of you who are new to my mailing list I do this year-end review every year.I have been doing this for every year since 2004.These reviews are fairly lengthy so I reckon most of you probably don't even read it.

    Those of you who do thank you.This year like last year and the year before I have attached images that shaped 2014.Each one of these images will be addressed in my year-end review.Now I will begin the year-end review.A little different than how I normally start.Every year I start with the news and first discuss issues related to the USA and then I will discuss issues regarding other parts of the world. Well,this year I'll start with a couple of topics that mentions the the USA but the USA is not all inclusive.The topics look at several events

of the past year.So hold your breath now and let's begin by looking at what has transpired in this world that we live in over the past 365 days.






 Before we start discussing this topic you may want to go "you tube" and listen to the Beatles' song "Back In The USSR" at:

and play it in the background as you read.

 Of the Beatles it was mostly John Lennon who wrote songs that were cutting edge.However,Paul McCartney wrote "Back In The USSR" and he wasn't being facetious with the lyrics.

          Further,before I continue I may would like to quote you the words of my deceased Socioloy professor from university,who spent 20 years in the military."Pride and ignorance" go hand in hand.


  Now,to hegemony.To understand this let's go back to January 17,1961 while US President Dwight Eisenhower was giving his farewell speech to the US congress.John F. Kennedy would become president in three more days.Eisenhower spoke about a military-industrial complex.He was referring to the military and big business going to bed together which would cause wars being fought for wrong reasons.All weapons manufacturers were concerned about was profit.It didn't matter to them the collateral damage.

 Although the military-industrial complex had been created.During the cold war the USA was somewhat a decent country.This is because the USSR kept the USA in check.

  Then in the late 1980s the Soviet Union collapsed and the USA kicked Russia in the teeth and became the sole superpower.Since that time the USA goes around the world shitting and pissing on everybody just because they can.They USA has invaded Panama,Peru,Liberia,Iraq (3 times),Kuwait,Zaire,Sierra Leone,Bosnia and Herzegovina,Somalia,Macedonia,Haiti,Afghanistan,Sudan,East Timor,Serbia,Yemen,Pakistan,Mali,Libya and Syria.Since the collapse of the Soviet Union how many countries has Russia invaded?

  In 2012 when Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in Russia and said we will no longer have a unilateral world but a multi-lateral world.In June,2013 after Edward Snowden revealed the invasions of privacy being committed by the NSA in the USA he was granted asylum in Russia.The USA did not like this.Just last year Russia,along with China,Brazil,India and South Africa formed BRICS.An organization that was a rival to the US dominated IMF and World Bank.The USA did not like this either.They want to control the world and expect everyone to kiss their ass.

  September 11th,2001 may have been the best thing to happen for China.Before September 11th the USA was obsessed with bashing China.Demonizing nations (rather Orwellian) is a tactic the US uses to nations they feel that may stand in their way of world dominance.But after September 11,2001 the USA stopped focusing on China and became more focused on men with beards in the middle east.Then China went to South America and Africa and made many business deals.Now they are the most economically powerful country in the world.



 Ukraine has always been a divided country.The western part of Ukraine which is more agrarian wants closer ties with Europe while the industrial eastern Ukraine wants stronger ties with Russia. In the eastern part particularly in Donetsk and Luhansk there is oil.In November of 2013 the European Union tried to offer the Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych possible EU membership.It was a shitty deal.They would have been a member of the EU like Bulgaria is a member of the EU.So Yanukovych rejected the deal.Then Yanukovych tried to make a deal with Russia and Russia was willing to let the USA and the EU join in on the discussions. The USA rejected this.It's either my way or the highway was America's attitude.

     Although democratically elected Yanukovych was not very popular.He was up for re-election in 2015 and not likely to win.But the USA who claims to believe in democracy,although they support undemocratic countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel,only supports democratic elections when they like the outcome.So led by the CIA and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in February they stage a coup d'etat backed by a bunch of Nazis to overthrow the Yanukovych government.

   On Friday,November 21st,2014 an anti-nazi resolution was presented before the entire UN General Assembly.The resolution would condemn attempts to glorify Nazi ideology and to deny German Nazi war crimes,including the Holocaust.The resolution overwhelmingly passed.But the USA,Ukraine  and Canada voted against the resolution. You can read all about it at:

   Back to February of 2014. After the Yanukovych government is overthrown the people in Crimea and eastern Ukraine hated this.One of the reason was because the new government outlawed use of the Russian language. From 1783-1921 Crimea belonged to Russia.Then when the Soviet Union was formed Crimea and Russia were both part of the Soviet Union.In 1954 Soviet Union President Nikita Khrushchev who was Ukrainian made Crimea part of Ukraine.But both Ukraine,Russia and Crimea were all part of the Soviet Union.But then the Soviet Union collapses in 1991 and Crimea becomes part of the Ukraine,although the people in Crimea speak Russian (not Ukrainian) belong to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian navy maintains a base in Crimea.

  So the people of Crimea held a referendum and overwhelmingly voted to become part of Russia.

The USA and the west did not like this and condemned Russia.

  Many people in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk also did not like this and civil war broke out in this region.Russia did not have anything to do this.The last thing Russia wants is a civil war on it's doorstep,but the west was rather eager to blame Russia.

  The USA was then pushing for tough sanctions against Russia.But because the USA and Russia do very little trade any sanctions imposed by the USA would have minimal impact at best.To have sanctions with any teeth the USA needed Europe to impose them.However,Europe was rather reluctant.But on July 17th the USA figured out how to get Europe on board.




 On July 17th Malaysian airliner flight MH17 going from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is shot down over Ukraine. Before any investigators even arrived on the scene the USA was pointing it's finger at Russia.

  First of all,what would Russia stand to gain by shooting down this plane,while the USA stands to gain a lot if they get people to think that Russia was the culprit.

  Second,this plane was shot down over Ukraine not Russia.It was shot down over rebel occupied territory.But I seriously doubt that some drunken rebel in a field could shoot down a plane with an RPG flying at 30,000 feet above. Further,why would he want to do this.It would just force foreign elements to occupy their captured territory.Whoever shot down this plane had to have good technology and know what they were doing. Granted Russia has the capabilities.But so does Ukraine a fact the west totally ignores.Ukraine like Russia was at one time was part of the Soviet Union.So Ukraine has the same capabilities.Also,the Ukraine government is backed by the US.So they even have more high powered technology at their disposal than Russia.Further,while flying over Ukraine air space this plane was told to lower its altitude 2000 feet just minutes before it was shot down.

  Still further,the USA has a track record for such antics.In August of 1964 the USA made an American ship look like it was North Vietnamese and they had it fire on a US naval ship.This was used as a pretext for the Vietnamese War which resulted in 58,000 Americans and many more Vietnamese being killed.In 1979 the Afghan government was friendly with the USSR.The CIA recruited someone named "Osama Bin Laden" to stir up shit in Afghanistan.The Russian government planned to help the Afghan government but the US called it an act of Russian aggression and boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. In 2003 Colin Powell went before the UN showing photos claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.As we all later found out this was false.

  The USA will resort to any means to get their way.They shot down that plane killing 298 people. After that happened the USA was able to convince the Europeans that Russia was the culprit.Subsequently the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia.The primary objective of the USA was to cripple Russia first economically then militarily.With the sanctions and now with the lowering of oil prices (Russia receives much income from selling oil) and a devalued Rouble The USA is on its way to bringing Russia to it's knees.The issue is not just about the oil in Eastern Ukraine.The USA does not like anyone who stands up to them.They feel threatened.They expect everyone to bow down and kiss their ass.

  In October a study was conducted at prestigious Harvard University and the study concluded that the USA was a bigger threat to world peace than ISIS

  At Princeton another ivy league school,in April concluded the USA is no longer a democracy.

Most of the decision made are determined by a very few rich people not the masses.The USA is an oligarchy/Read about it at:

  When a soldier goes to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq he is not fighting for the United States of America. He is fighting for big banks,big corporations and the military-industrial complex.

This is a form of Nazism.

   As far as Russia goes.Russia has been under attack many times before.

   Now the economy has been weakened.But,Russia is also entering into new business deals with India,China And Turkey. When these deals reach fruition the Russian economy will boom again.

Putin predicts that within 2 years maximum the Russian economy will bounce back.I say less than that.Russia has many resources.Right now they have to rearrange their business partners.If Russia and China can make a deal to set up a bank or a monetary fund within a year to competeWith the IMF and World Bank you will hear the west cry "fowl".

    In October while giving a speech at the Valdai Inter

national Discussion Club in Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin talking about the Americans said "You break & blame others". We are not gonna change if not then prepare for chaos".

  Russia has withstood aggression before.They beat off Napoleon and Hitler.When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out the west imposed many sanctions on Russia. Subsequently,Russia emerged as a superpower.At that time Russia was a totalitarian empire.Now it is not.

   Russia has overcome adversity before and they will again.Bowing down and kissing the Americans nasty ass is not an option. When Russia re-emerges as a superpower again.The world will be a better place.



   Before I discuss the demise of the USA from within I'd like to go back to Russia.

    It looks like the cold war has been resurrected.This time Russia does not have a totalitarian regime.In the first cold war the USA presented itself to the world as the good guy.Now in the second cold war it has yet to pan out as to who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.The US still has Europe in it's pocket.But due to the sanctions (Putin will not be bullied and cave in to the west) Russia has looked to other areas.They have made business deals with China,India,Turkey,Brazil,Cuba & Argentina.

  But let's look a little closer.The US has the death penalty,Russia doesn't.Russia has free health care,the US doesn't.The USA professes democracy but yet the country's operations are dominated by business elites (it's an oligarchy),while supporting such oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Israel.The US makes up 5% of the world population but 25% of the people incarcerated in the world are incarcerated in the USA.The US spies on it;s citizens.The USA locks up people indefinitely (not just at Gitmo but to US citizens on mainland USA) without even being charged.The USA uses drones to murder innocent people around the world. The USA goes into foreign countries like Syria without the countries permission and starts dropping bombs.Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the USA has invaded Panama,Peru,Liberia,Iraq (3 times),Kuwait,Zaire,Sierra Leone,Bosnia and Herzegovina,Somalia,Macedonia,Haiti,Afghanistan,Sudan,East Timor,Serbia,Yemen,Pakistan,Mali,Libya and Syria.Since the collapse of the Soviet Union how many countries has Russia invaded?

  It will be interesting to see in the new cold war which countries will follow the USA and which will follow Russia.

  If the USA doesn't collapse from the outside it could collapse from within.The police have been written a blank check to do as they please with impunity.In January,in Orange County,California after being caught on video police were acquitted by a jury of the beating death of a homeless man.

   In New York City also in January the police beat up 84 year old Kang Wong for jaywalking.Also in New York City a police officer fondles Cecily McMillan a 25 year old graduate student.She responds by pushing him.She gets charged with assault,gets convicted and goes to prison.

  Not to mention in July when 43 year old Eric Garner (also from New York City) who gets strangled to death by police (after being caught on video) and the police don't even get charged.Likewise on August 9 in Fergusson,Missouri 18 year old Michael Brown is shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson and again the police officer is not charged.The list goes on and on.Studies have shown that every 28 hours in the USA a black man is shot to death by a white police officer.

  Along with police brutality,you have the US spying on it's citizens,people getting paid low salaries while executives of the same corporations get million dollar bonuses,the gap between rich and poor growing bigger and bigger,the average American is getting hammered.

   The USA was in a similar predicament in the 1930s.Then President FDR took a bunch of business tycoons into a room office and said "Look we have a problem,you have a lot of angry people. If something is not done like spreading out some of your wealth,we'll be in trouble".Half the tycoons ignored Roosevelt (Duponts tried to have FDR assassinated) the other half went along.It was enough to get America back on track.Will this happen now?



 One good channel to watch is RT.RT stands for Russian television.Now some flag waving American would probably dismiss the channel as propaganda.However,by making that accusation that accusation is propaganda.Granted,a Russian would call CNN and Fox News as American propaganda.So sometimes you have to read between the lines.You can start by looking at the news from the two countries.

    In August of 1964 the USA made an American ship look like it was North Vietnamese and they had it fire on a US naval ship.The US media backed the story being told by the US government.

This incident was used as a pretext for the Vietnamese War which resulted in 58,000 Americans and many more Vietnamese being killed.In 1979 the Afghan government was friendly with the USSR.The CIA recruited someone named "Osama Bin Laden" to stir up shit in Afghanistan.The Russian government planned to help the Afghan government but the US media called this an act of Russian aggression and got many western countries to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. In 2003 Colin Powell went before the UN showing photos claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.As we all later found out this was false.Further,during the Iraq War the US media was very supportive of the USA.

    More recently at the 2014 Olympics the US media was focused on the dirty toilets in the living quarters for athletes.

    When it comes to the western media when they discuss Edward Snowden,they focus on Snowden being a traitor but not on the information he revealed.

   In 2004 when the Beslan school massacre occurred in Russia.The western media identified the perpetrators as rebels and separatists but not terrorists.Although 385 people died and most of the victims were children.

    On RT they have programs where they have people with opposing views debate an issue.They have had people debate the Israel-Palestine issue where one person was pro-Israel and another was pro-Palestinian.On FOX News everything is one-sided.

   Just this past July when Israel was bombing Gaza RT would show photos of Israel bombing ambulances that were transporting bombing victims to the hospital.They also showed Israel bombing a school for the mentally retarded.You would never see this on US media.On western media the only thing they talk about is the US saying Israel has the right to defend itself.

  In other words, I give very little credence to western media.

  Further,RT has many Americans on the channel.81 year old native New Yorker Larry King who broadcasted on CNN from 1985 to 2010,now broadcasts on RT.

  An excellent program on RT is Cross-Talk with California born Peter Lavelle.Lavelle received a B.A. in International Economic Relations, an M.A. in European history and completed Ph.D. courses in Studies in European Economic History from the University of California,Davis. He was a Fulbright Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw,Poland.He has been living in Eastern Europe and Russia for over 25 years while working as a lecturer at the University of Warsaw.

  Another American on RT from the California bay area is Abby Martin.She is only 30 years old.But when she unleashes litany she can make the valleys shake. Martin grew up in Pleasanton,California,where she attended Amador Valley High School,graduating in 2002.She became interested in journalism when her old high school boyfriend enlisted in the military after the September 11 attacks in 2001."I didn't want him going to war,let alone fighting in one," she recalls."I began to critically ask 'What is really going on?'"By the time she was a sophomore at San Diego State University,she began questioning what she called the "selling" of the Iraq War by the media.She received an undergraduate degree in political science and minored in Spanish.

      In 2004,she campaigned for John Kerry's presidential campaign,but became disillusioned with the left-right paradigm,a concept proposing that societies have a tendency to divide themselves into ideological opposites.

    Before hosting her own show "Breaking The Set" on RT,she was for two years a correspondent for RT America.Martin is also an artist and activist and she helped found the citizen journalism website "Media Roots".She serves on the board of directors of the "Media Freedom Foundation",

which manages "Project Censored".Martin appeared in the documentary film "Project Censored The Movie:Ending the Reign of Junk Food News (2013)",and she co-directed "99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film".

  In 2013 RT became the first ones to get over one billion views on You tube.Just now in December 2014 RT became the first to get 2 billion views.



   In January an Oxfam study concluded that the 85 richest people in the

World have more wealth than 3.5 billion people in the world. The world's wealthiest people aren't known for travelling by bus,but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe, who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together,could squeeze onto a single double-decker.

      The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called 'global elite' is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday,January 20.It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth,as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population.

    The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn ($60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity,which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.

    Oxfam also argues that this is no accident either,saying growing inequality has been driven by a "power grab" by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favor.

    In the report,entitled Working For The Few, Oxfam warned that the fight against poverty cannot be won until wealth inequality has been tackled.

      "Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few,leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table," Byanyima said.

     Oxfam called on attendees at the World Economic Forum to take a personal pledge to tackle the problem by refraining from dodging taxes or using their wealth to seek political favors.

    As well as being morally dubious,economic inequality can also exacerbate other social problems such as gender inequality,Oxfam warned.Davos itself is also struggling in this area, with the number of female delegates actually dropping from 17% in 2013 to 15% this year.

    Polling for Oxfam's report found people in countries around the world-including two-thirds of those questioned in Britain-believe that the rich have too much influence over the direction their country is heading.

    Byanyima explains"In developed and developing countries alike we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates,the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children.

      "Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality,the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations.We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a 'winner takes all' windfall for the richest."

     The Oxfam report found that over the past few decades,the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favor on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority.Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.

     This "capture of opportunities" by the rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes has led to a situation where 70% of the world's population live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s and 1% of families own 46% of global wealth - almost $70tn.

    Opinion polls in Spain,Brazil,India,South Africa,the US,UK and Netherlands found that a majority in each country believe that wealthy people exert too much influence.Concern was strongest in Spain,followed by Brazil and India and least marked in the Netherlands.

  In the UK, some 67% agreed that "the rich have too much influence over where this country is headed" - 37% saying that they agreed "strongly" with the statement - against just 10% who disagreed, 2% of them strongly.

   The WEF's own Global Risks report recently identified widening income disparities as one of the biggest threats to the world community.

    Oxfam is calling on those gathered at WEF to pledge: to support progressive taxation and not dodge their own taxes; refrain from using their wealth to seek political favors that undermine the democratic will of their fellow citizens; make public all investments in companies and trusts for which they are the ultimate beneficial owners; challenge governments to use tax revenue to provide universal healthcare,education and social protection;demand a living wage in all companies they own or control; and challenge other members of the economic elite to join them in these pledges.




  The United States military veteran suicide epidemic is an ongoing phenomenon regarding a reported high rate of suicide among U.S. military veterans,in comparison to the general public.The United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010,which showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide per day or one every 65 minutes.The total number of suicides differs by age group;31% of these suicides were by veterans 49 and younger while 69% were by veterans aged 50 and older.



 The foremost torture investigator at the United Nations has expressed concern over worsening conditions in prisons throughout the US and hopes to visit California facilities,where in October a judge has granted state lawmakers more time to reduce overcrowding.

   Juan Mendez,the UN's special rapporteur on torture,met with The Los Angeles Times editorial board,where he called for greater oversight into the California prison system.The California Department of Corrections has long been the target of human rights groups for its policy of housing inmates in solitary confinement indefinitely.

    "We should have more justification" for putting inmates in isolation,Mendez said.While correctional officers are supposed to use solitary confinement as a last resort for delinquent prisoners,it has been commonly adopted as the preferred method of punishment.

   :We should put the burden on the state that this is the proper way to do things,and we should all be more skeptical," Mendez said.

     Mendez previously expressed interest in touring California prisons in May 2013.The request needs authorization from the US Department of Justice and California Governor Jerry Brown,yet Mendez said his requests have gone unacknowledged.US State Department spokeswoman told The Times that officials are "open to continuing to discuss" a visit from Mendez.

    "The conditions for visits to detention facilities in the United States are all determined on a case-by-case basis," spokeswoman Laura Seal said.

    Mendez said he would need the power to meet with any inmate he so chooses and would not accept an agreement granting him only partial access to a facility.He condemned any policy that keeps inmates in their cell for 22 hours a day and maintained that no mentally ill inmate should be locked up alone,an oft-voiced complaint from human rights groups.

     "Sometimes you negotiate all the way to the cell door," he said.

     The conditions in California were marked earlier this year by a 60-day hunger strike that reverberated throughout the state.Thousands of inmates refused their daily meals to protest the state's policy of isolating gang members for years - and sometimes decades.

    As many as 10,000 inmates are thought to be held in solitary confinement,also known as the Secure Housing Unit (SHU),raising the possibility that thousands of convicts will be released into the public with serious socialization issues or a mental illness not present when they were first put behind bars.

      Unfortunately,life within a prison's general population may only be a marginal improvement because of vast overcrowding.

     California prison facilities operated at 200 percent capacity for over a decade but authorities have slowly reduced that number after a federal judge deemed the conditions constituted "cruel and unusual punishment." The California Department of Corrections was operating at 143.8 percent of capacity as of September 2013. 

     Authorities have been slow in finding a way to reduce overcrowding,to the extent that a three-judge panel said in 2011 that the state would need to begin releasing thousands of inmates early.Over 1,000 prisoners were released early over the past year in preparation for the December 31,2013 deadline.Yet that date has since been moved back twice - first to January 27, 2014,then again to February 24,2014.

    Much of the problem lies with inadequate medical treatment,according to defense attorneys. 

    "Prisoners are getting injured and dying because of poor care," Don Specter, a long time defense lawyer who has spent years petitioning the state,told The Los Angeles Times. "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has never taken its obligation to provide basic healthcare seriously."



   Canada's middle class appears to be the richest in a new study of incomes in several big countries.

   The in-depth report published today in The New York Times in April,which looks at about 20 nations, indicates that Canadians have bumped Americans out of the top spot they have long held.

    "Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then," it adds.

   The New York Times backs up its findings saying they're based on 35 years of surveys and compiled by LIS,which runs the Luxembourg Income Study Database.The findings were also studied by LIS researchers, along with colleagues at a New York Times website, and outside economists.

    The findings show that median per-capita income in Canada,after tax,matched that of the Americans in 2010 at $18,700 (U.S.).However,as the report noted,it has probably increased since.

(As economics professor Anke Kessler of Simon Fraser University pointed out,the current numbers did not take into account countries that have traditionally been ahead of Canada,such as Norway,Switzerland and Luxembourg.Indeed,according to one of the researchers involved in the study,Luxembourg is higher.)"Because the total bounty produced by the American economy has not been growing substantially faster here in recent decades than in Canada or Western Europe,most American workers are left receiving meager raises, " the New York Times report says.

     "Finally, governments in Canada and Western Europe take more aggressive steps to raise the take-home pay of low-and middle-income households by redistributing income."

    Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns noted that commodity prices, and the Canadian dollar, were strong in 2010,and of course,the country had an exceptional rebound from the global recession compared to most other countries.

   "And, historically, of course, Canada's going to be up there,in any event," he said.

    Median income in Canada has climbed by 19.7 per cent since 2000,according to the New York Times report, matching the pace in Britain, ahead of Ireland,the Netherlands,Spain and Germany, and far ahead of the meagre 0.3 per cent in the United States.



 Fracking will take place below Britons' homes without their permission after ministers in September rejected 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass laws.

    The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly,time-consuming and disproportionate.

   There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners' permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.

    The government response to the consultation,published online on the eve of the parliamentary vote on military strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq,concluded: :Having carefully considered the consultation responses,we believe that the proposed policy remains the right approach to underground access and that no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution."

   New laws will now be passed giving automatic access for gas and oil development below 300m and a notification and compensation scheme will be run by the industry on a voluntary basis.

   "It is essential that we make the most of home-sourced energy and start exploring the natural energy supplies beneath our feet. As the cleanest fossil fuel shale gas provides a bridge to much greener future,"said a statement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. "By removing barriers to deep underground drilling access, we are speeding up oil and gas and deep geothermal energy exploration. "

    The Conservative energy minister, Matt Hancock, said: "These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas and geothermal resources, as we work towards a greener future ,and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so."

   "This is an important day for the future of energy supply in the UK," said Ken Cronin, chief executive of the industry's trade body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG). "Landowners on the surface will not notice this underground activity [usually a mile deep] and it will have no impact on their day-to-day lives."

   But Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: "This sham consultation exposes the government's disregard for the growing public concern about the major environmental and health risks of fracking.The decision to deny people the right to say no to fracking under their own homes is outrageous.It shows that ministers are putting the greed of oil and gas companies above the public interest in tackling climate change."

     Simon Clydesdale,from Greenpeace, said: "The roar of opposition to this arrogant policy is deafening,yet ministers are determined to blithely ignore what the overwhelming majority of the British public thinks and wants.There will be a hefty political price to pay for this massive sell-out to the narrow interests of the shale lobby."

   Friends of the Earth's Jane Thomas said: "This government seems hell-bent on fracking irrespective of widespread opposition.You'd think with a general election approaching politicians would listen to public opinion and get behind the popular energy solutions of cutting waste and backing renewables."

   The changes to the trespass laws were also criticized by Scotland's energy minister Fergus Ewing: "UK government proposals to remove the right of Scottish householders to object to drilling under their homes,without so much as debate in the Scottish parliament,flies in the face of Scotland's cautious,considered and evidence based approach on this issue.It is also fundamentally an issue affecting land ownership rights."

   In January,another controversial pro-fracking legal change was passed in the face of overwhelming public opposition.The change,which ditched the requirement to notify homes individually of future shale gas operations, was criticized by a Lords committee as having been rushed through without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

   Fracking companies will still need to obtain regulatory permissions, such as planning and environmental permits.

   Earlier in September,the planning committee of the South Downs National Park Authority voted unanimously to reject an application by Celtique Energie to undertake exploratory drilling as a precursor to fracking at Fernhurst in West Sussex.



      Staying in the UK.The Scottish independence referendum was a referendum on Scottish independence that took place in Scotland on September 18,2014.

      The independence referendum question,which voters answered with "Yes" or "No", was "Should Scotland be an independent country".The "No" side won,with 2,001,926 (55.3%) voting against independence and 1,617,989 (44.7%) voting in favor.The turnout of 84.6% was the highest recorded for an election or referendum in the United Kingdom since the introduction of universal suffrage.

   The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill,setting out the arrangements for this referendum, was passed by the Scottish Parliament in November 2013,following an agreement between the Scottish and the United Kingdom governments,and was enacted as the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013.To pass,the independence proposal required a simple majority.With some exceptions,all European Union (EU) or Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland aged 16 or over could vote,a total of almost 4.3 million people.

   Yes Scotland was the main campaign group for independence,while Better Together was the main campaign group in favor of maintaining the union.Many other campaign groups,political parties, businesses,newspapers and prominent individuals were also involved.Prominent issues raised by the Better Together campaign during the referendum included which currency an independent Scotland would use,public expenditure,EU membership and North Sea oil.



      The citizen participation process on the political future of Catalonia,was a non-binding vote on the political future of Catalonia that was held by the Government of Catalonia on November 9th,2014. While also known as the Catalan independence referendum,the vote was rebranded as a "participation process" by the Government of Catalonia,after a "non-referendum popular consultation" on the same topic and for the same date was suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain.

    The ballot consisted of two questions:"Do you want Catalonia to become a State"" and "Do you want this State to be independent"".The second question could only be answered by those who had answered Yes to the first one.The Catalan government indicated that 2,305,290 votes were cast overall,but did not provide a turnout percentage figure. Turnout estimates published by media outlets range between 37.0%  and 41.6%.80.8% of the cast votes supported the Yes-Yes option, 10.1% the Yes-No, 4.5% the No option.

    Holding a referendum about the "political future of Catalonia" in 2014 was one of the items of the governance agreement ratified by Artur Mas from Convergence and Union (CiU) and Oriol Junqueras from Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) on December 18,2012,that allowed Artur Mas to be voted in as President of the Generalitat of Catalonia for a second term.

    On September 19,2014, the Catalan parliament approved a call for a referendum on independence.Eight days later Artur Mas announced that the vote was to be held on November 9,2014.The same day the Spanish government announced that it would block the effort by appealing to the Spanish Constitutional Court.The Spanish Constitutional Court decided to hear the Spanish government case on September 29,2014 and provisionally suspended the vote.The Catalan Government subsequently announced the "temporary suspension" of the referendum campaign.

  On October 14,Artur Mas proposed a "process of citizen participation" as an alternative for the original referendum.The Spanish government announced that it would also block this effort by appealing to the Spanish Constitutional Court,which decided to hear the Spanish government case on November 4,2014 and provisionally suspended the vote.The Catalan Government,however,pushed forward with the vote in defiance of the Constitutional Court of Spain.



    Germany's national ethics council has called for an end to the criminalization of incest between siblings after examining the case of a man who had four children with his sister.

    Patrick Stuebing,who was adopted as an infant and met his sister in his 20s,has launched several appeals since being imprisoned for incest in 2008 and his lengthy legal battle has prompted widespread public debate.

    Sexual relations between siblings or between parents and their children are forbidden under section 173 of the German criminal code and offenders can face years in prison.

    But on September 24th,the German Ethics Council recommended the section be repealed,arguing that the risk of disability in children is not enough to warrant the law and de-criminalizing incest would not remove the huge social taboo around it.

   The chairman of the council,Christiane Woopen,was among the 14 members voting in favor of repealing section 173,while nine people voted for the ban to continue and two abstained.

   A statement released on Wednesday said:"Incest between siblings appears to be very rare in Western societies according to the available data but those affected describe how difficult their situation is in light of the threat of punishment.

    "They feel their fundamental freedoms have been violated and are forced into secrecy or to deny their love.

   "The Ethics Council has been told of cases where half-siblings did not grow up together and have only met in their adult lives."

   Such was the case with Mr Stuebing,who was adopted at a young age and traced his birth family in his early 20s.

   He and his sister Susan Karolewski,who were not brought up together,met for the first time when they were aged 24 and 16 respectively.

    He was convicted of incest in 2008 and spent three years in prison,failing an appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court in 2008 and to the European Court of Human Rights over his rights to a family life in 2012.

    Ms Karolewski was allowed to keep custody of their youngest child but the other three were taken into care.Two are disabled,although it is not known whether incest is the cause.

   In a statement outlining its recommendations,the Ethics Council said the law against incest "put couples in a tragic situation".

   "The majority of the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that it is not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo," it added.

   "In the case of consensual incest among adult siblings, neither the fear of negative consequences for the family,nor the possibility of the birth of children from such incestuous relationships can justify a criminal prohibition.

   "The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination has more weight in such cases than the abstract protection of the family.

    Members objecting to decriminalizing incest argued that it would weaken "ethically significant" family values that contribute towards personal development.

    A spokeswoman for Angela Merkel's CDU party,Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker,responded to the Ethics Council's vote saying that the abolition of the law against incest would give out the wrong signal.

   "Abolishing criminal punishment against incestuous actions within a family would go completely against protecting the undisturbed development of children," she told Deutsche Welle.

    The Ethics Council's recommendation only covered incest between siblings and members did not recommend decriminalizing sex between parents and children.



    Now to Africa.On Saturday,November 15th hundreds of women turned out on the streets of the Kenyan capital Nairobi to defend their right to wear what they choose after a woman was stripped and beaten for wearing a miniskirt.

   The attack,which took place the week before at a busy bus stop in Nairobi's Central Business District,involved dozens of men who surrounded the woman,tore off her clothes and forced her to the ground.

    Local media said the men,who are believed to have been ticket touts,had said the woman was "indecently dressed", and accused her of "tempting" them.

   A video of the incident later emerged online,showing the men calling the woman "Jezebel" as she cried for help.The footage has sparked debate in Kenya,with many Kenyans taking to social media to condemn the video,uniting under the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice.

    The Facebook group Kilimani Mums organised a "miniskirt protest" in central Nairobi to defend their right to wear what they choose.

   On their event page they wrote: "This morning we as Kilimani Mums met and decided that we shall hold a peaceful procession to Accra Road."

    "This is our chance to stand together as women and deliver a message to our country that sexual violence will not be tolerated."

    It is reported that over 200 people attended the march.

    Hours after the protest departed from Uhuru Park to where the attack took place on the Accra Road,reports began to circulate of clashes with the ticket touts.

   Kenya's Ghetto Radio reported that the men confronted protestors and argued they would "continue to strip women who are dressed skimpily."

   The victim of the attack remains anonymous.Police chief David Kimaiyo appealed to her to lodge an official complaint with police so that the incident can be investigated.

   Campaigners say that in Kenya's conservative society,women[s rights are often abused.A Kenyan petition titled "Violation against women will not be tolerated" hosted on the campaign website Avaaz has attracted over 4,000 signatures since it was launched last week.

 "It doesn't matter whether or not the woman was indecently dressed,after all what's the benchmark for what is considered decent" Furthermore,how did stripping her bare aid in enhancing her decency" wrote Winnie Kabintie,a correspondent for

   Proud to be a Kenyan woman today.People took it from a hashtag to a protest and thousands turned up. #MyDressMyChoice,muki (@Muki254) November 17, 2014.

     Some of the male protestors who attended today's demonstration were called "gay" for supporting the marching women,a sentiment echoed by various voices on Twitter,shining a light on attitudes towards homosexuality in the country.Same-sex acts are considered a crime,punishable with a jail sentence of up to 14 years and prejudice is widespread.: james wamathai (@uqweli) November 17, 2014

In February 2013,Namibia also attempted to ban miniskirts,leading to the arrest of 40 women after police claimed that revealing clothes "are not African."



 On November 22 members of Somalia's al-Shabab armed group have hijacked a bus in Kenya and killed 28 non-Muslims on board after singling them out from the rest of the passengers.

    Two police officers said that the bus traveling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers was hijacked 50km from the town of Mandera near Kenya's border with Somalia.

    The officers insisted on anonymity out of fear of reprisals and because of an order from Kenya's police chief that officers should not speak to the media.

      Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the dawn attack in a statement on that Saturday, saying it was revenge for raids carried out by Kenyan security forces on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa.Kenyan police said they found explosives and arrested more than 150 people in the mosque raids.

   "What happened in Mandera today we did in revenge for what the non-believer government has done to innocent Muslims," Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for the group, told Al Jazeera. 

   "They were attacked in places of worship and in their homes.They invaded the Muslim land fo Somalia ... It's our duty to take revenge."

    The interior ministry confirmed the attack,saying via its official Twitter handle: "Security agencies are in pursuit of the criminal gang.We'll give a comprehensive update once preliminary reports are out."

   A reporter for Kenya's Standard newspaper told Al Jazeera the attack happened at 5:45am local time.

   Quoting Mandera County Commissioner,journalist Boniface Mungeri said the attack was carried out by "about 100 gunmen who commandeered" the bus and forced the passengers out.

   Mungeri said the passengers were separated into groups according to their religion. Non-Muslims, the reporter said, were executed and Muslims were freed. The assailants attempted to take the bus but it got stuck in mud on the unpaved road.

   "We killed the non-believers," Rage told Al Jazeera, confirming that they had split people up. "We did not touch the Muslims because they're the ones we're fighting for.The Muslims in Mandera and the Muslims in Somalia are the same to us."

    Among those killed were two security officers and teachers who were travelling to their home towns on holiday.

   Mandera County Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba said on Twitter:"The inhumane butchering of innocent Kenyans by terrorist must get [a] very firm response from our national security team."

   Kenyan authorities have blamed al-Shabab for a wave of deadly attacks across the nation. Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 after raids on its coastal towns blamed on al-Shabab and has since seen a surge in lethal attacks.

   The Somali group has also been blamed for the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi,which killed 77 people.

  Somali government troops backed by AU forces are making progress in capturing the remaining al-Shabab strongholds,but the group has continued to carry out attacks in Somalia and the East Africa region.

   Al-Shabab was dealt a heavy blow following the death of their leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in early September in a US airstrike.Godane has since been replaced by Ahmed Omar, also known as Abu Ubeid.



   On the 14th of April 276 school girls were abducted from a school in Nigeria.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the children would be held until all imprisoned militants had been freed.

    Interior Minister Abba Moro rejected the deal,saying that it was "absurd" for a "terrorist group" to try to set conditions.

    It will come as a relief for the parents to see at least some of the kidnapped girls alive.A video shows 136 girls sitting on the floor, wearing hijabs and repeatedly citing the first verse of Koran,followed by the words:"Allah is the only God who should be worshipped and the Prophet Muhammad is the only messenger." This is a pronouncement of their conversion to Islam.

    The Boko Haram leader later says they have become "sisters of the militants" following their conversion. Next he goes on to say he may consider swapping the girls for imprisoned militants - but only those who have not converted.

    The interior minister has said "terrorists" cannot set conditions, but the government is likely to come under pressure to bow to the militants' demands to see at least some girls released.

    The BBC's John Simpson in the northern city of Maiduguri says Boko Haram's comments show signs that the group is willing to negotiate.

    Three of the girls-wearing full-length cloaks-are shown speaking in the 27-minute video,obtained by French news agency AFP.

    Two girls say they were Christian and have converted to Islam, while the other says she is Muslim.

    "These girls,these girls you occupy yourselves with... we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims," Abubakar Shekau says in the video.

    He said his offer to swap the girls for imprisoned militants only referred to the children who had not converted to Islam.

   It is thought the majority of the abducted girls are Christians,although there are a number of Muslims among them.

    A man who is related to three of the abducted girls said the video at first gave him hope,but then made him anxious and tearful.

   "Maybe they are converted into another religion by force, so it truly is a kind of terrifying situation," said the man, who did not want to be named.

   Some 136 girls are shown in the video, just under half of the 276 pupils abducted from their school in the northern state of Borno.

Our correspondent says this could mean those abducted had been split into smaller groups to help avoid detection.

   Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden", had previously said the girls should not have been at school and should get married instead.

   The militants have been engaged in a violent campaign against the Nigerian government since 2009.

   The government has faced heavy criticism of its response to the mass abduction.

   President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday that assistance from abroad had made him optimistic of finding the girls.

   The UK and US already have teams helping on the ground in Nigeria and an Israeli counter-terrorism team is also on its way to the country.

   It's been over 8 months and still no word on the girls whereabouts.



 Now to Asia. Narendra Damodardas Modi, born on September 17th.1950 is the 15th and current Prime Minister of India,in office since May 2014.Modi,a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),previously served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat state from 2001 to 2014.He is currently the Member of Parliament (MP) from Varanasi.

   Modi led the BJP in the 2014 general election,which resulted in an outright majority for the BJP in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian parliament)"the last time that any party had secured an outright majority in the Lok Sabha was in 1984.Since then,Modi has also been credited for the BJP's electoral victories in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra in October 2014.

     Modi is a Hindu Nationalist and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).He is a controversial figure both within India as well as internationally as his administration has been criticized for failing to act to prevent the 2002 Gujarat riots.Modi has been praised for his economic policies,which are credited with creating an environment for a high rate of economic growth in Gujarat.However,his administration has also been criticized for failing to make a significant positive impact upon the human development of the state.

    In September Modi visited Madison Square Garden in New York City and was treated like rock royalty as many spectators came to listen to him. He received a similar reception in November when he visited Sydney.



    The 2014 Hong Kong protests,also called the Umbrella Revolution, began in September when members of the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong protested outside the Hong Kong Government headquarters and occupied several major city intersections after China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) announced its decision on proposed electoral reform.In disallowing civil nominations,the NPCSC made it clear that a 1200-member nominating committee, in which the composition remains subject to a second round of consultation,would elect two to three electoral candidates with more than half of the votes before the general public could vote on them.

    The Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism began protesting outside the government headquarters on September 22,2014 against the NPCSC's decision.On the evening of September 26, several hundred demonstrators led by Joshua Wong breached a security barrier and entered the forecourt of the Central Government Complex (nicknamed "Civic Square"),which was once a public space that has been barred from public entry since July 2014.Officers cordoned off protesters within the courtyard and restricted their movement overnight,eventually removing them by force the next day.

    On September 28,the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement announced that they would begin their civil disobedience campaign immediately.Protesters blocked both east/west arterial routes in northern Hong Kong Island near Admiralty.Police tactics (including the use of tear gas) and attacks on protesters by opponents that included triad members,triggered more citizens to join the protests,occupying Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.The number of protesters peaked at more than 100,000.The government called for an end to the protests by setting a 'deadline' of October 6,but this was ignored by protesters, although they allowed government workers to enter offices that had previously been blocked.

   The state-run Chinese media claimed repeatedly that the West had played an "instigating" role in the protests and that "more people in Hong Kong are supporting the anti-Occupy Central movement,"and warned of "deaths and injuries and other grave consequences."In an opinion poll carried out by Chinese University of Hong Kong, only 36.1% of 802 people surveyed between 8-15 October accept NPCSC's decision but 55.6% are willing to accept if HKSAR Government would democratize the nominating committee during the 2nd phase of public consultation period.

   On October 23,the United Nations Human Rights Committee emphasized "the need to ensure universal suffrage,which means both the right to be elected as well as the right to vote." China's Foreign Ministry responded that China's policy on Hong Kong's elections had "unshakable legal status and effect."

  At the time of writing the Hong Kong situation is still in limbo.The protesters have ceased protesting for now but the protesters are rather admant that the fight will continue.



   On May 22,2014,the Royal Thai Armed Forces,led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha,Commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA),launched a coup d'etat against the caretaker government of Thailand, following six months of political crisis.The military established a junta called National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to govern the nation.

     After dissolving the government and the Senate,the NCPO vested the executive and legislative powers in its leader and ordered the judicial branch to operate under its directives.In addition,it partially repealed the 2007 constitution,declared martial law and curfew nationwide,banned political gatherings,arrested and detained politicians and anti-coup activists,imposed internet censorship and took control of the media.

      The NCPO issued an interim constitution granting itself amnesty and sweeping power.The NCPO also established a military dominated national legislature which later unanimously voted General Prayuth as a new prime minister of the country.




Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370)was a scheduled international passenger flight that disappeared on Saturday,March 8,2014,while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia to Beijing Capital International Airport,People's Republic of China.Air traffic control received the aircraft's last message at 01:20 MYT (17:20 UTC, March 7) when it was over the South China Sea,less than an hour after takeoff. It was last plotted by military radar at 02:15 over the Andaman Sea,320 kilometres (200 mi) northwest of Penang state in northwestern Malaysia.At 07:24, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reported the flight missing.The aircraft,a Boeing 777-200ER, was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations.A multinational search effort,which became the largest and most expensive in history,began in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, where the flight's signal was lost on secondary surveillance radar,and was soon extended to the Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea.The focus of the search shifted to the southern part of the Indian Ocean,west of Australia.An analysis of possible flight paths was conducted,identifying a 60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi) search area, approximately 2,000 km (1,200 mi) west of Perth,Western Australia.The underwater search of this area began on October 5,2014 and will last up to 12 months at a cost of A$60 million (approximately US$56 million or $41 million).There has been no confirmation of any flight debris,and no crash site has been found,resulting in many unofficial theories about its disappearance.Analysis of these communications by multiple agencies has concluded that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.On March 24,the Malaysian government,noting that the final location determined by the satellite communication was far from any possible landing sites,concluded that "flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

  At the time of writing no debri or bodies from MH370 have been found.     





   Juanita Moore (actress) -- Dead. Died January 1, 2014. Born October 19, 1914. Received Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Imitation of Life,and appeared the London production of A Raisin in the Sun. 

   Phil Everly (singer/songwriter) -- Dead. COPD. Died January 3, 2014. Born January 19, 1939. The younger Everly Brother,Phil wrote "When Will I Be Loved?" and "Cathy's Clown;" very influential over the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.

  Alicia Rhett (actress/artist) -- Dead. Died January 3, 2014. Born February 1, 1915. Played India Wilkes in Gone with the Wind,spent most of her life as a portrait artist. 

   Saul Zaentz (movie producer) -- Dead. Alzheimer's Disease. Died January 3, 2014. Born February 28, 1921.Won three Best Picture Oscars for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,Amadeus and The English Patient.

   Russell Johnson (actor) -- Dead. Died January 16, 2014. Born November 10,1924. Best-known as the Professor on Gilligan's,did Alaska Airlines ads.

   Dave Madden (comic) -- Dead. Congestive heart and kidney failure. Died January 16, 2014. Born December 12, 1933. The Partridge Family, Laugh-In.

      Ruth Robinson Duccini (actress) -- Dead. Died January 16, 2014. Born July 23, 1918. Last surviving actress to play a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, also appeared in Under the Rainbow.

    Hiroo Onoda (stubborn soldier/cattle farmer) -- Dead. Died January 16, 2014. Born March 19, 1922. Japanese soldier who continued to fight WWII in the jungles of the Phillippines until he finally agreed to surrender in 1974. 

    Pete Seeger (singer/songwriter/activist) -- Dead. Died January 27, 2014. Born May 3, 1919. Wrote songs like "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," founder of the group The Weavers, blacklisted during the '50s and '60s due to his political views, performed regularly in concert through his late 80s, marched for miles during an Occupy march in his 90s.

    Arthur Rankin (producer) -- Dead. Died January 30, 2014. Born July 17, 1924. With Jules Bass, produced classic cartoons like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn.

   Christopher Jones (actor) -- Dead. Cancer. Died January 31, 2014. Born August 18, 1941. Starred as the mysterious soldier in Ryan's Daughter, once married to Susan Strasberg. 



    Maximilian Schell (actor) -- Dead. Died February 1, 2014. Born December 8, 1930. Judgment at Nuremberg (for which he won an Oscar), Deep Impact, brother of Maria Schell. 

   Philip Seymour Hoffman (actor) -- Dead. Drug overdose. Died February 2, 2014. Born July 23, 1967. Brilliant actor who won an Oscar for Capote, died while Mockingjay was in production.    

    Shirley Temple Black (actress/stateswoman) -- Dead. Died February 10, 2014. Born April 23, 1928. Most famous child star of the '30s, starred in movies like Little Miss Marker and A Little Princess, first wife of John Agar, she went on to be an ambassador. 

    Sid Caesar (comedian/actor) -- Dead. Died February 12, 2014. Born September 8, 1922. Your Show of Shows, appeared on the NBC 75th Anniversary Show.

    Ralph Waite (actor) -- Dead. Died February 13,2014. Born June 22, 1928. John on The Waltons, Roots, Sunshine State, Booth's grandfather in Bones.

     Mary Grace Canfield (actress) -- Dead. Died February 15, 2014. Born September 3, 1924. Ralph, the carpenter, on Green Acres, appeared in dozens of other TV shows. 

     Christopher Malcolm (actor/director) -- Dead. Died February 15, 2014. Born Aubust 19, 1946. The original Brad in the first production of Rocky Horror Picture Show (later directed many productions of Rocky Horror and won a Tony for Best Broadway Revival), a pilot in The Empire Strikes Back but probably best-known as Justin in Absolutely Fabulous. 

    Garrick Utley (journalist/professor) -- Dead. Prostate cancer. Died February 20, 2014. Born November 19, 1939. NBC newscaster for many years, later worked for ABC and co-anchored 9/11 coverage for CNN, fluent in four languages, later taught journalism. 

     Harold Ramis (director/actor) -- Dead. Autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis Died February 24, 2014. Born November 21, 1944. Director who helped define comedy in the '80s and '90s with Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Analyze This.

    Jim Lange (game show host/DJ) -- Dead. Died February 25, 2014. Born August 15, 1933. Host of The Dating Game in the '60s.



    Sherwin B. Nuland (medical ethicist/writer) -- Dead. Died March 3, 2014. Born December 8, 1930. Won a National Book Award for How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter. 

   Geoff Edwards (game show host/TV host/actor) -- Dead. Pneumonia. Died March 5, 2014. Born February 13, 1931. Hosted many different game shows in the '80s (like Chain Reaction and Starcade) in the US and Canada. 

   Sheila MacRae (actress) -- Dead. Died March 6, 2014. Born September 24, 1920. The other Alice Kramden, mother of Meredith MacRae.

   Joe McGinniss (writer) -- Dead.Prostate cancer.Died March 10,2014.Born December 9,1942.The Selling of the President,Fatal Vision,The Last Brother,Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin.

    David Brenner (comic) -- Dead. Died March 15, 2014. Born February 4, 1936. Frequent guest host for Johnny Carson, guest on talk and variety shows.

   Clarissa Dickson Wright (cook, writer, bookstore owner, ex-lawyer) -- Dead. Died March 15, 2014 Born June 28, 1947. One of the Two Fat Ladies.

    Mitch Leigh (composer/director) -- Dead. Died March 16, 2014. Born January 30, 1928. Wrote the music for Man of La Mancha and for a very famous jingle - "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee."

   Lucius Shepard (writer) -- Dead. Died March 18, 2014. Born August 21, 1947. Brilliant short fiction writer who won a Nebula for "R&R" and a Hugo for "Barnacle Bill the Spacer." 

    Robert Strauss (political operative/ambassador) -- Dead. Died March 19, 2014. Born October 18, 1918. The last ambassador to the USSR, the first ambassador to the Russian Federation, chair of the Democratic party in the '70s.

      Patrick Joseph McGovern, Jr. (publisher/philanthropist) -- Dead. Died March 19, 2014. Born August 11, 1937. Founded IDG which published Computerworld and all those Dummies books, gave $350 million to MIT for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

  James Rebhorn (actor) -- Dead.Melanoma. Died March 21, 2014. Born September 1, 1948. Busy movie and TV actor who played Carrie's dad in Homeland.



   Mary Anderson (actress) -- Dead. Strokes. Died April 6, 2014. Born April 3, 1918. Lifeboat and played Maybell Merriweather in Gone with the Wind.

  Mickey Rooney (actor) -- Dead. Died April 6, 2014. Born September 23, 1920. One of the major stars of the late '30s and early '40s, frequently paired with Judy Garland, he worked well into his 90s, an ex-husband of Ava Gardner.

  Gabriel Garcia Marquez (author)-- Dead.Pneumonia.Died April 17,2014.Born March 6,1927.One Hundred Years of Solitude,Love in the Time of Cholera,won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

   Bob Hoskins (actor) -- Dead. Pneumonia/Parkinson's Disease. Died April 29, 2014. Born October 26, 1942. Eddie in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Long Good Friday, major theater actor in the UK during the 70s.



    Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (actor) -- Dead. Died May 2, 2014. Born November 30, 1918. The FBI, 77 Sunset Strip, father of Stephanie Zimbalist, son of violinist Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. and the soprano Alma Gluck. 

    Farley Mowat (writer/environmentalist) -- Dead. Died May 6, 2014. Born May 12, 1921. Wrote Never Cry Wolf and a number of nature-related books. 

    Nancy Malone (director/producer/actress) -- Dead. Pneumonia/leukemia. Died May 8, 2014. Born March 19, 1935. Won Emmys for acting (Naked City) and producing (Bob Hope: The First 90 Years), directed/produced many TV shows and movies, a founder of Women in Film in 1973.

   Roger Easton (engineer) -- Dead. Died May 8, 2014. Born April 30, 1921. A lead developer of Global Poisitioning System (GPS) while working for the Naval Research Laboratory, was awarded a National Medeal of Technology and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

    H. R. Giger (artist) -- Dead. Fall. Died May 12, 2014. Born February 5, 1940. Brilliant designer who earned an Oscar for his work on Alien.

   Mary Stewart (novelist) -- Dead. Died May 10, 2014. Born August 17, 1916. Best-selling novelist of The Crystal Cave.

   Gordon Willis (cinematographer) -- Dead. Died May 19, 2014. Born May 28, 1931. Cinemetographer for the Godfather movies, All the President's Men and most Woody Allen movies from Annie Hall through Purple Rose of Cairo/

   Maya Angelou (writer) -- Dead. Died May 28, 2014. Born April 4, 1928. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and many others; Inagural Poet for the first Bill Clinton inaguration; eloquent commentator on our time. 



    Ann B. Davis (actress/minister) -- Dead. Aftereffects of a fall. Died June 1, 2014. Born May 3, 1926. Best-known as Alice on The Brady Bunch.

   Jay Lake (writer) -- Dead. Colon cancer. Died June 1, 2014. Born June 6, 1964. Science fiction writer, winner of the 2004 Campbell Award, intense blogger on his cancer fight (frequently punctuated by Fuck Cancer, which all of us who knew him agree with), subject of the documentary Lakeside. 

    Ruby Dee (actress) -- Dead. Died June 11, 2014. Born October 27, 1922. A Raisin in the Sun, The Stand, married to Ossie Davis for over 50 years, very active in the civil rights movement. 

    Chuck Noll (coach) -- Dead. Died June 13, 2014. Born January 5, 1932. Coached the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl wins in the '70s. 

     Casey Kasem (radio host/writer) -- Dead. Lewy Body dementia. Died June 15, 2014. Born April 27, 1932. Voice actor on many cartoons, voiced Shaggy on most Scooby Doo incarnations, host of the long-running radio show "American Top 40," always signed off with "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."  

    Daniel Keyes (writer/professor) -- Dead. Died June 15, 2014. Born August 9, 1927. Award-winning writer of "Flowers for Algernon" (later adapted as the movie Charly) and The Minds of Billy Milligan.

    Stephanie Kwolek (chemist) -- Dead. Died June 18, 2014. Born July 31, 1923. She went to work for DuPont in 1946, developed Kevlar (later used in bullet-proof vests) and won the National Medal of Technology.

   Gerry Goffin (songwriter) -- Dead. Died June 19, 2014. Born February 11, 1939. Co-wrote "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Up on the Roof" with his first wife Carole King, went on to write songs like "Pleasant Valley Sunday."

    Steve Rossi (comic/singer) -- Dead. Cancer. Died June 22, 2014. Born May 25, 1928. Former stage partner of Marty Allen, hosted a Vegas-based radio show. 

    Eli Wallach (actor) -- Dead. Died June 24, 2014. Born December 7, 1915. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, married to Anne Jackson, won a Tony Award for The Rose Tatoo and an honorary Oscar for his long and varied career.

   Howard Baker (politician) -- Dead. Stroke. Died June 26, 2014. Born November 15, 1925. A Republican senator back in the days when Republicans had intelligence and would fight corruption in their own party - during the Watergate hearings, Baker kept famously saying "What did the president know and when did he know it?" 

       Meshach Taylor (actor) -- Dead. Died June 28, 2014. Born April 11, 1947. Designing Women. 

       Frank M. Robinson (writer) -- Dead. Died June 30, 2014. Born August 9, 1926. Co-author of The Glass Inferno (later combined with another novel to create The Towering Inferno); Robinson worked for Harvey Milk and appears (as a 30-year-older version of himself) in Milk. 

    Paul Mazursky (director) -- Dead. Died June 30, 2014. Born April 25, 1930. Directed Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice and An Unmarried Woman, created The Monkees, occasional actor, married for 63 years.

    Bob Hastings (actor) -- Dead. Prostate cancer. Died June 30, 2014. Born April 18, 1925. Probably best-known as Lt. Carpenter on McHale's Navy, he was in dozens of TV shows and spent much of the later part of his career doing voicework for animation, particularly Comissioner Gordon in various incarnations of Batman, married for 66 years, older brother of Don Hastings. 



    Rosemary Murphy (actress) -- Dead. Died July 5, 2014. Born January 13, 1927. Miss Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird, won an Emmy in the '70s for playing Sara Delano Roosevelt.

   Dickie Jones (cartoon voice/trick rider) -- Dead. After effectsof a fall Died July 7, 2014. Born February 25, 1927. Voiced Pinocchio as a child, later performed in Westerns.

   Eileen Ford (model manager) -- Dead. Died July 9, 2014. Born March 25, 1922. Manager of models like Lauren Hutton, Christie Brinkley and Brooke Sheilds. 

   Lorin Maazel (conductor) -- Dead. Pneumonia. Died July 14, 2014. Born March 6, 1930. Conducted for 75 years, starting at the age of 9 until his death, led many great orchestras worldwide (including the Pittsburgh Symphony and New York Philharmonic),started the Castleton Festival in Virginia.

    Elaine Stritch (actress) -- Dead. Died July 17, 2014. Born February 2, 1925. Many movie bit parts, starred in Company on Broadway, had an astounding one-woman show Elaine Stritch, At Liberty in 2001/2002, played Alec Baldwin's mother on 30 Rock.

   James Garner (actor) -- Dead. Died July 19, 2014. Born April 7, 1928. Eight Simple Rules, Maverick, two of the great double-takes of all time in Victor, Victoria, lots of TV, especially the Rockford Files.

   Bel Kaufman (teacher/writer) -- Dead. Died July 25, 2014 Born May 10, 1911. Wrote the classic book on teaching high school Up the Down Staircase, was the grandaughter of Sholem Aleichem.

    Margot Adler (journalist/writer) -- Dead. Died July 28, 2014. Born April 16, 1946. Longtime NPR correspondent, created the longtime radio show Hour of the Wolf, wrote the classic pagan books Drawing Down the Moon and Heretic's Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution. 

     James Shigeta (actor/singer) -- Dead. Died July 28, 2014. Born June 17, 1933. Born in Hawaii, he became a singing star in '50s Japan after winning the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, went on to star in Flower Drum Song and Die Hard, did a lot of TV. 



    Millie Zantow (recycling activist) -- Dead. Died August 3, 2014. Born February 13, 1923. In the early '80s, developed the 1-7 codes for plastic recycling now stamped on the bottom of most plastics.

   James Brady (activist/presidential press secretary) -- Dead. Died August 4, 2014 Born August 29, 1940. Worked in the Reagan administration until Reagan's would-be assassin shot him with a gun leaving him with a major brain injury; he and his wife Sarah became advocates for hand gun control by starting the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    Robin Williams (comic/actor) -- Dead. Suicide (asphyxiation) Died August 11, 2014. Born July 21, 1951. One of the fastest/funniest comics since the mid-70s (his interview on Inside the Actor's Studio was the funniest 2 hours of TV ever (the interview apparently went on for 5 hours)), he had impressive range and won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting; also wonderful in Awakenings, Insomnia, The Fisher King, active fundraiser for charities like Comic Relief, made a huge impression as Mork, struggled with depression/substance abuse for many years. Make memorial contributions to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, USO, Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Glide Memorial Church.

    Lauren Bacall (actress) -- Dead. Stroke. Died August 12, 2014. Born September 16, 1924. Key Largo, Designing Woman, wrote Lauren Bacall, by herself, married to Humphrey Bogart and, later, to Jason Robards.

   Don Pardo (NBC voice) -- Dead.Died August 18, 2014. Born February 22, 1918.Announcer for Saturday Night Live for 38 years (missed season 7),announcer for many game shows including Jeopardy back in the '60s and '70s, member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

Ameyo Stella Adadevoh (doctor) -- Dead. Ebola. Died August 19, 2014. Born October 27, 1956. Doctor with the wisdom to diagnose the first Ebola case in Nigeria and quarantine the patient against his will; as a result only 20 people got Ebola in Nigeria and only 8 died (including Dr. Adadevoh).

    Sir Richard Attenborough (director/actor) -- Dead. Died August 24, 2014 Born August 29, 1923. Directed Gandhi, starred in Jurassic Park.



    Joan Rivers (comic) -- Dead. Complications of a medical procedure. Died September 4, 2014. Born June 8, 1933. Was once a funny comic, first woman to host a late night show, but, sadly spent her last 20 years berating people about their clothing. 

   Richard Kiel (actor/writer) -- Dead. Following a broken leg. Died September 10, 2014. Born September 13, 1939. Jaws in two James Bond movies, starred in the Twilight Zone adapatation of "To Serve Man."

   Polly Bergen (actress/singer) -- Dead. Emphysema Died September 20, 2014. Born July 14, 1930. Starred in the original Cape Fear, Kisses for my Presdent), much TV including Desperate Housewives, won an Emmy in the '50s for playing Helen Morgan. 



      Paul Revere (performer) -- Dead. Cancer. Died October 4, 2014. Born January 7, 1938. Paul Revere and the Raiders founder, went on to tour as a singer for over 50 years, until three months before his death.

    Geoffrey Holder (director) -- Dead. Pneumonia. Died October 5, 2014. Born August 1, 1930. Broadway director, won direction and costume design Tonys for The Wiz, was widely-known as the "Uncola" pitchman for 7-Up in the '70s ("Ha-ha-ha....") 

    Jan Hooks (comic) -- Dead. Cancer. Died October 9, 2014. Born April 23, 1957. SNL in the '90s, part of the last great cast.

    Elizabeth Pena (actress) -- Dead. Heart attack/gastric bleeding/alcoholism. Died October 14, 2014. Born September 23, 1959. Voiced Mirage for The Incredibles, co-starred in Lone Star and Jacob's Ladder, co-starred in Matador when she died. 

    Ben Bradlee (editor) -- Dead. Dementia. Died October 21, 2014. Born August 26, 1921. Editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate years.

    Marcia Strassman (actress) -- Dead. Breast cancer. Died October 24, 2014. Born April 28, 1948. Welcome Back Kotter, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.



Brittany Maynard (Suicide six months after getting a terminal brain cancer diagnosis) -- Dead. Died November 1, 2014. Born November 19, 1984. Became an advocate for assisted suicide after getting a terminal cancer diagnosis and moving to Oregon.

   Tom Magliozzi (car guy) -- Dead. Alzheimer's Died November 3, 2014. Born June 28, 1937. An MIT grad who became a car mechanic, earned a Ph.d. in Marketing and fell into being an NPR star of Car Talk.

    Richard Schaal (actor) -- Dead. Died November 4, 2014. Born May 5, 1928. Once a member of Second City, he went on to do lots of bit parts, including Slaughterhouse Five, Phyllis and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, first husband of Valerie Harper.

    R. A. Montgomery (writer/publisher/educator) -- Dead. Died November 9, 2014. Born circa 1936. Educator who published and wrote many Choose Your Own Adventure books. 

    Carol Ann Susi ("Howard!") -- Dead. Cancer. Died November 11, 2014. Born February 2, 1952. Theater actress, bit part player on many TV shows, Kolchak's secretary on The Night Stalker, but best-"not seen" as Howard Wolowitz's mother on The Big Bang Theory.

   Mike Nichols (director) -- Dead. Died November 20, 2014. Born November 6, 1931. Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony-award-winning director, best-known for The Graduate, Working Girl, Primary Colors, directed the original production of Spamalot, married for the last 26 years of his life to journalist Diane Sawyer. Started off as the comic partner of Elaine May and was part of Second City.



   Ken Weatherwax (child actor/set builder) -- Dead. Died December 7, 2014. Born September 29, 1955. Pugsley on TV's The Addams Family, nephew of Ruby Keeler.

   Mary Ann Mobley (actress, singer) -- Dead. Breast Cancer. Died December 9, 2014. Born February 17, 1939. A former Miss America who went on to be a TV actress and a popular game show participant, married to Gary Collins for nearly 45 years.







The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games were a major international multi-sport event held in Sochi,Russia,in the tradition of the Winter Olympic Games.

  The Games were held from February 7-23 2014,with opening rounds in certain events held on the eve of the opening ceremony,February 6.2014.Both the Olympics and 2014 Winter Paralympics were organized by the Sochi Organizing Committee (SOC).Sochi was selected as the host city in July 2007, during the 119th IOC Session held in Guatemala City.It was the first Olympics in Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.The Soviet Union was the host nation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

     A total of 98 events in 15 winter sport disciplines were held during the Games. A number of new competitions' a total of 12 accounting for gender,were held during the Games,including biathlon mixed relay,women's ski jumping, mixed-team figure skating, mixed-team luge, half-pipe skiing,ski and snowboard slopestyle, and snowboard parallel slalom.The events were held around two clusters of new venues:an Olympic Park constructed in Sochi's Imeretinsky Valley on the coast of the Black Sea,with Fisht Olympic Stadium, and the Games' indoor venues located within walking distance,and snow events in the resort settlement of Krasnaya Polyana.

   In preparation,organizers focused on modernizing the telecommunications,electric power and transportation infrastructures of the region.While originally budgeted at US$12 billion,various factors caused the budget to expand to over US$51 billion,surpassing the estimated $44 billion cost of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as the most expensive Olympics in history.

    The lead-up to these Games was marked by several major controversies,including allegations that corruption among officials led to the aforementioned cost overruns,concerns for the safety of lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes and spectators due to the effects of recently passed legislation,protests by ethnic Circassian activists over the site of Sochi (where they believe a genocide took place) and threats by jihadist groups tied to the insurgency in the North Caucasus.However,following the closing ceremony,commentators evaluated Games to have been overall successful.



    The 2014 FIFA World Cup was the 20th FIFA World Cup,the tournament for the association football world championship,which took place at several venues across Brazil. Germany won the tournament and took its fourth title, its first since the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990,by defeating Argentina 1-0 in the final, the same result as the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final.

   The tournament began on June 12 with a group stage and concluded on July 13 with the championship match.It was the second time that Brazil hosted the competition,the first being in 1950.

   The national teams of 31 countries advanced through qualification competitions to participate with the host nation Brazil in the final tournament.A total of 64 matches were played in 12 cities across Brazil in either new or redeveloped stadiums.For the first time at a World Cup finals,match officials used goal-line technology,as well as vanishing foam for free kicks.

    All world champion teams since the first World Cup in 1930,Argentina,Brazil,England,France, Germany,Italy,Spain and Uruguay,qualified for this competition.The title holders,Spain,were eliminated at the group stage,along with previous winners England and Italy.Uruguay was eliminated in the Round of 16 and France was eliminated at the quarter-finals.Host and 2013 Confederations Cup winner Brazil lost to Germany in the first semi-final.By winning the final, Germany became the first European team to win a World Cup in the Americas.The result also marked the first time that sides from the same continent had won three tournaments in a row (following Italy in 2006 and Spain in 2010).

   As the winners,Germany qualified for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.During the 2014 FIFA World Cup,the FIFA Fan Fest in the host cities in Brazil received 5 million people,and the country received 1 million guests from 202 countries around the world.



   Super Bowl XLVIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos and National Football Conference (NFC) champion Seattle Seahawks to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2013 season.The Seahawks defeated the Broncos 43-8,the third largest point differential (35) in Super Bowl history and the largest since Super Bowl XXVII (1993).This became the first Super Bowl victory for the Seahawks and the fifth Super Bowl loss for the Broncos.The game was played on February 2,2014 at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford,New Jersey,the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a cold-weather city.

    For the first time since Super Bowl XLIV (2010),and just the second time in 20 seasons,the number one seed from each conference met in the league championship.The Seahawks posted a 13-3 record and were making their second Super Bowl appearance in 8 years.The Broncos were making their seventh Super bowl appearance after also posting a 13-3 record.The game also featured the league's top offense (Denver) against the top defense (Seattle),the first time this had occurred since Super Bowl XXXVII (2003).

   Seattle built a 22-0 halftime lead,and then a 36-0 advantage before allowing Denver's first score on the final play of the third quarter.The Seahawks defense scored a safety on the first play from scrimmage, the quickest score in Super Bowl history.They also became the first team in a Super Bowl to record a safety and touchdowns off both a kickoff return and an interception return.The Broncos were held to almost 30 points below their scoring average.Five-time NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Peyton Manning of Denver threw two interceptions in the first half.Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith,who returned one of those interceptions 69-yards for a touchdown,recovered a fumble and made nine tackles,was named Super Bowl MVP.

    The broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox was the most watched television program in U.S. history with 111.5 million viewers.The Super Bowl halftime show featuring Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers was the most watched ever with 115.3 million viewers.



 The 2014 World Series was the 110th edition of Major League Baseball's championship series, a best-of-seven playoff between the National League champion San Francisco Giants and the American League champion Kansas City Royals.

    The Royals had home field advantage for the series as a result of the American League's 5-3 victory in the All-Star Game.The Giants defeated the Royals,4 games to 3,to clinch their third World Series championship in a five-season span and their third overall since their move to San Francisco from New York.This was also the Giants' eighth World Series championship in franchise history overall.

    The Giants won Game 1 behind a strong pitching performance by Madison Bumgarner,while the Royals won Games 2 and 3, as their relief pitchers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis,and Greg Holland limited the Giants' hitters.The Giants won Games 4 and 5, as they scored 11 runs in Game 4 and Bumgarner threw a complete game shutout in Game 5 The Royals came back to win Game 6 as they scored 10 runs and shut out the Giants,forcing a Game 7.The Giants won Game 7,3-2,behind timely hits from Pablo Sandoval,Hunter Pence and the game-winning RBI by Michael Morse.Bumgarner pitched five strong shutout innings in relief to clinch the championship on two days' rest.



 The 2014 NBA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2013-14 season.The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs defeating the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals. Kawhi Leonard was named NBA Finals MVP.

    For the first time since 1984,the NBA Finals were played in a 2-2-1-1-1 format (the higher seed hosts Games 1, 2, 5, and 7,the lower seed hosts Games 3, 4 and 6).They were also the first playoffs overseen by Commissioner Adam Silver.

    The Spurs continued the longest active playoff streak in the NBA at 17 straight appearances.The Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards made their first playoff appearance since 2008,while the Charlotte Bobcats,in their final playoff appearance before renaming themselves the Hornets, returned after a four-year absence.All three teams from Texas made the playoffs for the first time since 2009.For the first time since 2005,the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks did not qualify for the playoffs in the same year.For the first time since 1994,the Lakers and Celtics missed the playoffs in the same season.In addition, this is the first time in NBA history that the Knicks,Celtics and Lakers missed the playoffs in the same year.The Denver Nuggets also missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

    The first 11 days of the playoffs saw at least one road team win on their opponent's home floor. That ended on April 30 with the Raptors,Spurs,and Rockets all winning at home against the Nets,Mavericks and Trail Blazers respectively.The 24 road wins is an NBA playoffs record in the First Round. In addition, the 2014 playoffs has also featured a record 8 first round games that went into overtime,including 4 straight between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder (Games 2-5),another NBA record.

   Five of the eight first round series were extended to game sevens.Three of the series, Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers,Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers,were played on May 3,which marked the first time ever in NBA history that three Game 7s were played on the same day.Two other game sevens were played on the following day,featuring Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors. The five game sevens in the first round already tied the record for the most number of game sevens in any NBA playoffs,set in the 1994 NBA Playoffs.However,the NBA only adopted a best-of-seven format for the first round beginning in the 2003 NBA Playoffs.The Hawks-Pacers series was the first series to force a Game 7, making this postseason the 15th consecutive postseason to have at least one Game 7.The 1999 NBA Playoffs were the last time a Game 7 wasn't played.

   This postseason and the previous year's postseason marked the first time since the 2000 and 2001 playoffs that both #5 seeds knocked out both #4 seeds in back-to-back years.

   After the 1974,1975,1983,1986,2001 and 2005 playoffs,this was the first postseason (and the seventh time since 1972,when the current playoff system was put in place) in which the top two seeds played in Conference Finals both in the East and the West.

    When they defeated Indiana on the road in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat set an NBA record by recording their 15th straight playoff series where they earned at least one road win.The Heat then extended the record to 16 straight road wins in playoff series by winning Game 2 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio.



    The 2014 Australian Football League Grand Final was an Australian rules football match that was contested by the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Football Club.The match was the 118th annual VFL/AFL Grand Final to be held since the match's inception in 1898 and was staged to determine the champions of the 2014 AFL season.Hawthorn defeated Sydney by 63 points to claim the club's second consecutive premiership and its twelfth premiership overall.

    The match was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG),on Saturday,September 27,with the game's first bounce at 2:30 pm. Welsh singer Tom Jones and English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran performed as pre-match entertainment.It was broadcast live across Australia on the Seven Network.




  There are sort of two number one singles in the USA for 2014. The week ending December 20,2014 Billboard Magazine (USA) revealed it's 100 best singles for 2014 from their HOT 100 and "Happy" by "Pharrell Williams" occupied the #1 position. But when  Billboard does its year end Chart it primarily includes only the charts of that year (in this case 2014) when calculating their chart. However when I compile a year-end chart (see my website you will see I compile a chart quite differently.I look at the peak week for a song.Then I look at the song's entire chart action (even if it charted in another year). And I do not have songs overlapping between years.Unless the song has been o ff the charts

for at least 6 months which is usually the case with many Xmas songs.So according to my calculations "Dark Horse" by "Katy Perry" was the #1 single for 2014 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Dark Horse" was released on September 17,2013. The race was extremely close between "Happy" and "Dark Horse".Later,I will talk about "Happy" but first I will talk about "Dark Horse".

    "Dark Horse" recorded by American singer Katy Perry also features rapper Juicy J.It was originally released on September 17, 2013,by Capitol Records as the first promotional single from Perry's fourth studio album "Prism".Three months later on December 17 it was released as the third official single.Both artists co-wrote the song with its producers,Max Martin,Cirkut, and Dr. Luke,alongside Sarah Hudson.It was conceived by Perry and Hudson during a writing session in Perry's hometown of Santa Barbara,California and Juicy J was later commissioned for a verse on the song.

    "Dark Horse" combines the genres of trap and hip hop,replicating what has been described as a "Southern rap-techno mashup".The track features a minimal production,with a "seductive" and "mature" tone to Perry's vocals,while Juicy J is featured on the song's intro and rapped bridge. Perry,in interviews,said she wanted the song to have a "witchy, spell-y kind of black magic-y idea",so she wrote it from the perspective of a witch warning a man not to fall in love with her because if he does,she will be his last.The song was part of a competition sponsored by Pepsi in which fans could vote via Twitter on whether they would prefer either "Dark Horse" or "Walking on Air" to be released as the first promotional single from "Prism".

   Upon release,"Dark Horse" received mixed to favorable reviews from contemporary music critics,who praised its experimentation with urban music and Perry's vocals but were less favorable on Juicy J's contribution to the song."Dark Horse" has been a commercial success, charting at number one in Canada,the Netherlands and of course the United States.It also reached the top ten in almost 20 countries including New Zealand,United Kingdom,Sweden and Venezuela as well as the Digital Songs chart of Billboard magazine.Perry first performed the song live at the 2013 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 20,2013.The song's first major television performance was at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2014."Dark Horse" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.The song has sold 7.9 million copies worldwide,becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time



 What was the number single for 2014 in Canada. According to the Billboard Canadian Hot 100,Billboard says like the USA it was "Happy" by "Pharrell Williams'.However like I previously said when Billboard does its year end chart it primarily includes only the charts of that year (in this case 2014) when calculating their chart. However when I compile a year-end chart (see my website you will see I compile a chart quite differently.I look at the peak week for a song.Then I look at the song's entire chart action (even if it charted in another year). And I do not have songs overlapping between years.Unless the song has been off the charts for at least 6 months which is usually the case with many Xmas songs.According to me

the #1 song for 2014 is "Counting Stars" by Colorado pop-rock group "OneRepublic" from their third studio album,Native (2013).The song was written by lead singer Ryan Tedder and produced by Tedder and Noel Zancanella.Musically,it is a pop song with strong elements of folk music.It was released as the album's third single on June 14,2013 in Austria,Germany and Switzerland.

     The song has been one of the band's most successful singles,reaching No. 1 in many countries including Canada and the United Kingdom,number two in the United States and top ten in 20 countries.

    The song's accompanying music video,directed by James Lees,features the band performing in the ground floor of a building (there are few basements in New Orleans) beneath an ongoing church congregation on the upper floor.



  "Happy" by 41 year old Virginia native (born April 5,1973 in Virginia Beach) "Pharrell Williams" was the #1 song for the  entire year of 2014 in both the UK and Australia.

    "Happy" was written, produced and performed by American singer and producer Pharrell Williams from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album.It also served as the lead single from Williams' second studio album, G I R L (2014). It was first released on November 21,2013, alongside a long-form music video.The song was reissued on December 16, 2013, by Back Lot Music under exclusive license to Columbia Records,a division of Sony Music.

    "Happy" is a midtempo soul song on which Williams' falsetto voice has been compared to Curtis Mayfield by critics.The song has been highly successful,peaking at number one in the United States (10 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100),United Kingdom,Canada,Ireland,Australia (12 weeks on ARIA) New Zealand and 19 other countries.It has sold over 6.4 million copies in the United States and over 1.65 million copies in the United Kingdom and has reached number one in the latter on a record three separate occasions.With worldwide sales of 10 million copies,it has become one of the best-selling singles of all time.It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost to "Let It Go" from Frozen.

    The music video for the song was nominated for Best Male Video and Video of the Year at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.



 Playboy's playmate of the year for 2014 was a Piscean born in Berlin,Germany,but raised in the US state of Virginia,.Her name is Kennedy Summers born on March 3, 1987.She was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for December 2013.She is an international model and medical student.Her centerfold was shot by Josh Ryan.

      Summers holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology,a Master Degree in Health Administration and stated after being selected as Playmate of the Year that she would use her prize money for tuition for medical school.She aspires to become a plastic surgeon and specialize in burn reconstruction.Not to mention the fact that she speaks three languages (English, French, and German).

  "As 2014's Playmate of the Year,my mission is to help Playboy thrive,as it always has,to break boundaries and carry us into the future," Summers said at a cocktail luncheon in her honor at the Playboy Mansion on May 16. "I couldn't be more excited!"

   The young model,who first appeared in Playboy as the December 2013 Playmate of the Month -- turned heads at the event in a floor-length white gown by Zhang JingJing Couture.She accessorized with a diamond bunny pendant by designer Pascal Mouawad.

      Per the press release,along with the Playmate of the Year title,Summers received $100,000, an Oris Artelier Date Diamonds watch,and a one-year lease on a MINI John Cooper Works Roadster. A T-shirt featuring outtakes from her June 2014 pictorial has also been created,and will be sold to benefit Wounded Wear,a charity close to Summers' heart. The organization provides free clothing to wounded warriors.



     So much for the world in 2014.As for my world I started 2014 living in Nakhon Sri Thammarat province in Thailand and I will end 2014 living in the same place.I spent every day of 2014 on Thailand soil.I am still a school teacher but now I live in a house.All of my 20,000 Cds,records and tapes,Plus my huge Playboy collection are now with me in my house.I will probably (unless I am kidnapped by the CIA) be in Thailand for almost all of 2015.I now have not been on US soil in over 5 years (I left the USA on September 15th,2009).If things go as I would like them to there is a good chance I may never see the USA again.I don't need the USA's war machine,I don't need their ghetto scenes.Their colored lights could hypnotize and sparkle someone else's eyes.

   I met some new and interesting people in 2014.I also managed to hook up with some people who I haven't seen in quite some time.It was a pleasure to have all of them being part of my life this year.

  As far as the future goes I plan to continue to teach and live in Thailand.For how much longer I do not know.I take life one day at a time.

  I have also not been busy writing my novel (book) about my travels.It is taking quite awhile because I have had many interruptions (i.e. working on my website I am quite busy teaching and working on my website.I might start working more diligently on my novel in about another 10 years.I am hoping for this book to be my bonanza.As Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones said back in 1967 "Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind".  

     Anyway,that is my year-end review for 2014.I hope you all had a cool year too and that you have lots of dreams to aim for in the next 12 months or so.Remember every second of your life you spend thinking of bad and negative thoughts is one second less your are spending thinking of good and positive thoughts and you don't get that one second back.So even if life does not deal you the cards you wanted just remember to keep on dancing and enjoying the party.Have a fantastic Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate (if you do celebrate a holiday) and I will e-mail you all individually when the time frame is not so narrow!! It's been great to have you all in my year and my life!!!!


         Joyeaux Noel,Feliz Navidad,Frohliches Weihnachten,Merry Christmas  et la prochain.

Last Updated ( Jun 20, 2019 at 08:46 PM )

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