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New Year Relief

For those who have spent the past 7 days in a frenzy of head-scratching, Googling and fears of incipient Alzheimer’s, relief is at hand. Below, find the answers to last week’s quiz. Anyone scoring more than 5 might be proud of their capacity for memorizing trivia. Anyone with a score of more than 10 should give serious consideration to a drastic change of lifestyle.

1. A Nordic Leisure charter flight became the first foreign commercial flight since 1990 to land at Baghdad airport on 2 January.

2. Slovakia’s currency, the koruna, was replaced by the euro in January.

3. Christiano Ronaldo crashed his Ferrari in a tunnel under Manchester airport in January and was promptly named FIFA World Player of the Year. For football, not driving.

4. The parts of President Obama’s inauguration speech in January that talked about communism and silencing dissent were omitted from the version given by the Chinese media

5. In February a 28-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman were acquitted of committing an obscene act near a Delhi railway station. They had kissed. They were also married. To each other.

6. A British army officer in Afghanistan was put under arrest in February for leaking figures on civilian casualties to the Guardian.

7. Microsoft offered to pay a quarter of a million dollars in February for the identity of the creator of the Conficker worm.

8. Colombo was attacked in February by planes that, according to the government, the Tamil Tigers did not have.

9. The Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tennis match in Malmö in March had to be held behind closed doors because of fear of protests about Israel actions in Gaza.

10. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the oldest firm in Seattle, printed its last newspaper in March because of continued losses and a change in consumer preferences. It became an online newspaper.

11. A ‘guerrilla art’ painting of Prime Minister Brian Cowen on the toilet was displayed in the National Gallery of Ireland in March but removed after only 20 minutes. A second painting of a naked Cowen holding his underpants was also displayed and quickly removed from the Royal Hibernian Academy. Artist Conor Casby gave himself up but is not expected top face charges.

12. Canadian computer researchers claimed in March to have discovered an electronic spying network, GhostNet, based in China

13. The second season of the Indian Premier League twenty20 cricket competition clashed with the April Indian general elections. For security reasons it was relocated to South Africa. While it was being played there, South Africa itself held a general election.

14. The two remaining Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, dedicated their performance of Blackbird in New York at the beginning of April to Barack Obama. McCartney had written the song in 1968 as a reaction to the racial tensions in the US at that time.

15. The Bishop of Down and Dromore thought the souls of people in Northern Ireland would benefit from a Good Friday boycott of TV.

16. To prevent an outbreak of swine flu, the Egyptian decided in April to kill all pigs. Since pigs were raised exclusively by the Christian minority, this measure was thought to be not entirely a public health decision.

17. Jacob Zuma has been married 4 times (one wife committed suicide and he divorced another), has three further wives by customary law, and has allegedly fathered children by at least two more women. He was sworn in as president of South Africa in May. He and his supporters sing ‘Umshini Wami’ (Bring me my Machine Gun) at rallies. One name for it, I suppose.

18. In May, Roxana Saberi was jailed for 8 years for spying by Iran. Her sentence was reduced on appeal to 2 years suspended and she was released.

19. A chauffeur for Queen Elizabeth II lost his job in May for allowing undercover reporters from the News of the World to look at his employer’s cars and sit in her Bentley.

20. In May, Chen Fuchao, who said he had debts of two million yuan, threatened to commit suicide by jumping from the Haizhu bridge in Guangzhou, causing a 5-hour traffic jam. A passer-by, Lian Jiansheng, approached him, shook his hand, and then pushed him off for being ‘very selfish’. Chen fell only 10 metres onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion and was treated in hospital.

21. Yahoo and Twitter were banned in China on the June anniversary of the Tienanmen Square demonstrations.

22. Two thousand private colour photographs covering the last ten years of the life of Adolf Hitler were published for the first time in June. They had been taken by Hugo Jaeger, Hitler’s personal photographer, who buried them for 10 years after the end of World War, then kept them in a bank vault before selling them to Life magazine in 1965.

23. Bernard Madoff was sentenced in New York in June to 150 years, meaning he will be released when he is 222 years old

24. Real Madrid spent a world record of 94 million Euros in June to buy Christiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

25. Thousands of people in Russia were thrown out of work in July after casinos were declared illegal.

26. Shelley Sawer’s Facebook details about her family’s address and their children were quickly erased by the British government in July because her husband, Sir John Sawers, was about to become head of MI6.

27. Construction workers in South Africa ended a strike in July that had had football fans around the world worried. They were building the stadiums for the 2010 World Cup.

28. A Sudanese woman went on trial in July charged with public indecency for wearing trousers

29. Street fights broke out in Algiers in August about foreigners being given jobs at a time of high unemployment. The fights involved about one hundred Algerians and Chinese.

30. Scots became very upset about a report on haggis by historian Catherine Brown who said she had discovered references to the dish in the 1616 recipe book The English Hus-Wife by Gervase Markham, more than 100 years before the first reference to Scottish haggis.

31. The ‘We have more to offer’ election posters of German politician Vera Lengsfeld included pictures of herself and her party leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, both with deep cleavages. Diligent Prachatai quiz-checkers can verify this at http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/52171,people,news,berlin-or-bust-for-germa....

32. The number of articles in the English Wikipedia reached 3 million on the Internet on August 17 (including one on Harrison George).

33. Traffic in Samoa required a 2-day holiday in September to switch to driving on the left.

34. In September French police moved in to clear away the ‘jungle’, a makeshift encampment outside Calais for asylum seekers trying to get to the UK.

35. The ‘joke’ that President Obama was ‘suntanned’ was repeated by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who clearly needs a new script.

36. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was into the 90th minute of the allotted 15 minutes of his September UN speech, delivered as always in his local dialect, when his interpreter announced ‘I can’t take any more’ and walked out.

37. In October the Nobel Prize for economics was won by a woman for the first time since it was instituted 40 years ago. Elinor Ostrom shared it with Oliver Williamson.

38. An advertisement using a picture of Hitler with the caption ‘Hitler is not dead’ was the subject of a complaint in October by the German and Israeli embassies in Thailand.

39. 6-year-old Falcon Heene blabbed on his parents Richard and Mayumi when he came out of hiding in October and said ‘You said we did this for the show’. His parents had attempted a balloon hoax as a way of attaining celebrity.

40. Radovan Karadžić boycotted his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague in October, claiming that he needed 9 months to read 1.2 million pages of evidence.

41. Tens of thousands of people poured into the small town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in November to hear a lecture, condemned by China, by the Dalai Lama.

42. In November the mother of a UK soldier who was killed while on duty in Afghanistan rejected a handwritten letter of condolence as a ‘hastily scrawled insult’. It was written by (visually impaired) Gordon Brown.

43. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a formal apology in November to the ‘forgotten Australians’, children raised in institutions, some of them migrants from the UK.

44. A demonstration outside the French Embassy in Dublin and the recall of the Egyptian Ambassador from Algeria were both caused by the results of World Cup play-off matches.

45. According to a December letter from the Queen, the British Royal Family did not want paparazzi at private events at Christmas.

46. On 2 December, France, Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay were drawn together in Group A of the 2010 World Cup.

47. The Nepali cabinet discussed the country’s position ahead of the December Copenhagen climate change conference at a meeting on Mt Everest.

48. The 5-metre 40-kilogram ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign over the entrance to Auschwitz extermination camp was stolen in December and later found in 3 pieces.