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    The UK-US Special Relationship Explored Through 5 Eras

    British Prime Minister Winston Churchill first used the term in 1946 with an aim to describe the exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, historical, and military relations between the two countries. In this article we explore the relationship through five eras of leadership.

    #5. Roosevelt & Churchill

    US President Franklin Roosevelt once told Churchill via telegraph, “It is great fun to be in the same decade with you.” The pair reportedly exchanged over 1,700 letters and cables between 1939 and 1945, no doubt discussing their mutual love of tobacco and strong drinks (Roosevelt made a very strong Martini).

    Credit: History.com | Roosevelt (L) and Churchill (R)

    It had long been Churchill’s aim “to get the Americans into the war,” or at the very least to obtain arms and supplies through the Lend-Lease Act which would increase military aid to Great Britain. The two laid the foundations for the U.N. Charter in Newfoundland, Canada in 1941 with the Atlantic Charter. Despite this, the US public, which at that point in history was notoriously isolationist, refused to support what seemed a foreign war.

    With Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbour, America entered into the fight and Churchill seized upon this incident by visiting Washington D.C. two weeks later — an impressive feat considering travel options at that time.

    Upon his arrival, he helped to co-ordinate a joint response and stayed for three weeks. Patrick Kinna, a former stenographer for Churchill, has said that the former Prime Minister was giving a dictation, while naked, after having emerged from the bath.

    There was a rat-a-tat-tat on the door, and Churchill swung the door open to President Roosevelt,” Churchill told Roosevelt: “You see, Mr. President, I have nothing to hide from you.

    #4. Eisenhower & Eden

    The special relationships fell to an especially low ebb during Anthony Eden’s short-lived career as Prime Minister when Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser seized a canal and nationalised it. That doesn’t sound like much, but the canal is question is the Suez Canal that links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

    Credit: Bodleian | Eisenhower (L) and Eden (R)

    This Suez Canal was incredibly important to Great Britain as it was a shortcut to the Gulf and, thus, oil. Great Britain, together with France and Israel, made a secret deal to jointly invade Egypt to liberate the Canal.

    Upon hearing the news, Eisenhower was reportedly livid, “I’ve just never seen great powers make such a complete mess and botch of things,” he said at the time.

    By blocking Great Britain from receiving a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization where various countries deposit money which can be called upon in precarious economic situations, Eisenhower ensured Great Britain could not get the emergency loans it required for the conflict. Eden finally fell to Eisenhower’s demands and armed forces were pulled out of the region just 21 days later. This entire incident is now know as the Suez Crisis.

    Eden resigned soon after due to ill health and Great Britain’s position as a superpower was lost, with the UK learning that American co-operation on the international stage was of paramount importance going forward.

    #3. Kennedy & Macmillan

    After the Suez crisis in which Great Britain’s position was lowered, President Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan formed a new bond and largely repaired the Anglo-American relationship (side note: the two were also distantly related).

    Credit: TWP | Kennedy (R) and Macmillan (L)

    Great Britain appointed a childhood friend of Kennedy’s as ambassador with the hope of forging a stronger and greater relationship. However, America still refused to budge and continued to act in its own interests.

    In the late 1950s, the UK started to look at a nuclear weapons programme for use on its ‘V’ series of warplanes. The United States had been developing the Skybolt Missile system (GAM-87) and allowed the UK to join the programme in 1960. Development continued until 1962, where after a series of test failures and minor disagreements, the US cancelled the programme.

    This led to the Skybolt Crisis which caused a severe strain on the relationship between the two nations. After a series of meetings, the Royal Navy gained Polaris missile technology for use on nuclear submarines. This, combined with Macmillan’s advice to Kennedy on a variety of topics, helped repair the relationship, which went back to a healthy footing.

    #2. Reagan & Thatcher

    US President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were famously close, building a relationship second only perhaps to Churchill and Roosevelt’s. Thatcher was the first leader to visit the White House after Reagan’s election win in 1981.

    Reagan (L) and Thatcher (R)

    Together, they presided over attempts to end the Cold War and launched historic, yet controversial, free-market reforms in the 1980s. Yet, as with prior examples, they had disagreements.

    Both disagreed over respective military actions. For the US, this was Argentina’s decision to invade a British territory in 1982 which resulted in the Falklands War – the British response enraged Reagan. For the UK, this was America’s invasion of Grenada – a former British Colony and member of the Commonwealth.

    However, There was great admiration between the two, where Reagan reportedly would remark “isn’t she wonderful” to advisers during phone calls. After Reagan’s death in 2004, Thatcher’s biographer states that she “draped herself across the casket at the ceremony in Washington Cathedral.”

    This was not play acting. She was devastated by his death, almost as much as she was by the death of her own husband.

    The two did continue to build on the relationship and strengthen it – similar ideology helped to cement an era of rapid change on the world stage.

    #1. Bush & Blair

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair was often termed George W. Bush’s “puppet” or “poodle” for his support during military action in Iraq and Afghanistan following the terror attack of 9/11.

    Blair (L) and Bush (R)

    Both held a fear of the threat of Islamic extremism, which meant that a close relationship was required. Despite different ideologies (Bush on the political Right and Blair on the political Left), the two built on the work of their predecessors, strengthening the special relationship. Blair wrote to Bush in 2002 saying “I will be with you, whatever.”

    Following the terror attack on New York on the 11th November, 2001, Tony Blair flew to Washington D.C. Within a couple of days in order to show solidarity with the American President and people. Sketchy British intelligence and the US-led invasion of Iraq soon followed and didn’t finish until 2011, although the current crisis in the Middle East is still ongoing.

    This new era of terror from an enemy of no home country saw the continuation of intertwining US and UK intelligence agencies and new levels of intelligence sharing (see: Edward Snowden and subsequent leaks).

    Tony Blair returned to the US in January of 2009 to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom issued by Bush, with Blair saying “I’ve never been a fair-weather friend. I like him. We had a strong relationship, and I don’t regret that relationship.”

    Interested in more fascinating history?

    You can listen to the Podcast series by Jack P. Taylor here or on iTunes (free) by clicking here.

    Additional content by Joseph Metcalfe

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    10 Photos of Women Fighter Pilots from Around the World

    #10. RAF Cadet (UK)

    #9. USAF Elmendorf Air Force Base (US)

    #8. USAF F-35 Pilot (US)

    #7. USAF A10 Pilot (US)

    #6. USAF WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) (US)

    #5. USAF F-16 Pilot (US)

    #4. Blue Angels Pilot (US)

    #3. Soviet Air Force Antonina Lebedeva (USSR/RU)

    #2. Czech Air Force Saab J-39 Pilot (CZ)

    #1. USAF F-16 Pilot (US)

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    Inside North Korea’s Pyongyang Metro system

    Opened in 1973, inaugurated in 1978, and completed in 1985, Pyongyang’s metro system is located 110 metres underground, making it one of the deepest metro systems in the world – and an ideal location as the city’s nuclear bunker. The trains are German Berlin D-types, having been purchased by North Korea after Germany’s move to scrap the carriages in 1999. Despite this, Pyongyang claims the trains were built in North Korea, however, German graffiti is clearly visible on a few of the carriages.

    Unlike the London Underground, metro stations in Pyongyang are not named after their geographical location, instead having names set to to communist themes: Comrade, Red Star, Glory, and Complete Victory are just a few. Here are ten photos taken from within the secretive regime’s metro system.

    Australian traveller Elliott Davies took photos whilst visiting the Asian hermit state in 2015. He claims he was part of the first group of foreigners to be granted access to all stations across both lines of the Pyongyang Metro. The journey down the escalator takes around four  minutes and is accompanied by one of North Korea’s many “revolutionary” anthems and the “noticeable silence” of fellow commuters.

    Photo: Elliott Davies This is Puhung Station, the terminus of the Chollima line. Before 2010, Puhung was one of only two metro stations foreign visitors were allowed into, even with mandatory guides. The other, Yonggwang Station, is just one stop ahead. Both stations are regarded as the most lavish and were the final two to be completed, likely the reason they’re chosen as showcase stations for tourism itineraries.
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    This is Puhung Station, the terminus of the Chollima line. Before 2010, Puhung was one of only two metro stations foreign visitors were allowed into, even with mandatory guides. The other, Yonggwang Station, is just one stop ahead. Both stations are regarded as the most lavish and were the final two to be completed, likely the reason they’re chosen as showcase stations for tourism itineraries. The mural to the back is entitled ‘The Great Leader Kim Il-Sung Among Workers’.

    Photo: Elliott Davies

    Centrepiece mosaics adorn each station with each station taking on a unique theme. There is also a central theme – Kim Il-Sung. Tongil Station, Chollima line.

    Photo: Elliott Davies

    Davies pictured at Kim Il-Sung and I at Kaeson Station. The statue pictured used to be a white marble portrayal of former leader, only being recast in the last decade. Kaeson translates to “Triumph,” a reference to an Arch of Triumph.

    Portraits of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il are present in every train carriage. By law, they’re framed thicker to the top, angling downwards to oversee those in any room they’re placed. Revolutionary anthems fill each carriage. Commuters don't speak or interact with one another.
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    Portraits of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il are present in every train carriage. By law, they’re framed thicker to the top, angling downwards to oversee those in any room they’re placed. Revolutionary anthems fill each carriage. Commuters don’t speak or interact with one another.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    “Here, I’m spotted and receiving a stern look from a KPA General as he lines up to buy a ticket just as any other citizen,” said Davies. In a vase near the attendant, you can spot both a decorative purple Kimilsungia and red Kimjongilia. “I’m unsure why the frosted glass hiding the attendants identity is necessar.” Yonggwang Station, Chollima line.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    “Out you go, U.S Military!” and “National Unification” are the translations. Bronze plaques depicting scenes of the Korean War, of national productivity, reunification or victory celebration are standard across most stations. Tongil Station, Chollima line.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    Shown above is the entrance to Konguk Station. “We were the first foreign visitors ever allowed into this station,” Davies claims. Foreign tour operators consistently try to extend the boundaries of traditional trips to Pyongyang. Before 2010, just two stations were open to the foreign visitors. Afterwards, it became five, then six, and now today foreign groups have access to nearly all stations. “Another foreign tour guide joined us purely to enter Konguk for the first time; they commemorated the event with polaroid pictures to take out and put in their office.”

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    The electronic board from the lesser-seen Hyoksin line. Both of these lines are located on the western side of Pyongyang, but due to a major accident that killed over one hundred workers in 1971, the tunnel was never completed.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    An example of the grandiose chandeliers inside many of the stations. According to Davies, the extravagance underground is designed to bring “affluence and luxury to the lives of even the lower working class,” serving as inspiration in pursuing national goals. Hwanggumbol, Hyoksin line.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    North Korea is a military-first state; expenditures, allocation of resources and national affairs are prioritised towards the interests of Korean People’s Army. The country is proud of having one of the largest active military forces on earth, with both men and women being conscripted into military service for 11 years – the longest of any country. Samhung Station, Hyoksin line.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    “We weren’t allowed to purchase anything or take photos. It looked just like the cheap Chinese trinket stalls found beyond North Korea, even selling tasteless mobile covers, specifically for the Chinese ZTE line of phones,” Davies stated. Knock-off sunglasses, fragrances, purses, and earphones were also available to “buy,” as were plastic water pistols, rubber ducks, and bubble blowers. Hwanggumbol Station.

    Photo: Elliott Davies
    Photo: Elliott Davies

    Pictures is a large-scale 360 degree diorama and flat artworks aimed at giving the viewer a ‘feel’ for the Kim Il-Sung-led construction of the Pyongyang Metro in 1973. This diorama exists in the Metro Museum, an entire museum dedicated purely to the opening of the Pyongyang Metro. Inside, there are glass-encased exhibits containing the chair Kim Il-Sung sat in while inspecting construction, the pen he used to sign papers, a microphone he spoke into, a reconstruction of the escalators and even a walk-through recreation of an entire tunnel section.

    Photos and exerts from Elliott Davies. You can view more of his work here.

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    16 Cleverly Combined Photos With Awesome Results

    Stephen McMennamy has spent the last few years combining photos of different subjects to create interesting results. Examples includes American football helmets and light-bulbs, or beards with broom bristles.

    Some have required little-to-no planning, with other combinations taking over a year to plan. Here are 16 of our favourites.

    #1. Cauliflower + Poodle

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    Everything about [this combination] reminds me of why I enjoy making these. The spontaneity in which it happened, the rapidly changing lighting conditions, the running around the hilly streets of Pacific Heights looking for cauliflower, the dead camera battery and lastly the post hill-climb asthma attack. There’s nothing like creating a photo that gets your blood pumping.

    Pacific Heights, San Francisco

    #2. goldfish + mouth

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    My daughter and I shot this over the weekend and unfortunately only one of the props survived the rigours of a food based photo shoot – RIP, cheese cracker.

    The goldfish was taken into the family home and named Steve, but disaster struck after the family cat, Samuel L. Catson, ate Steve after only two days.

    [W]hen I originally shot this I was relying solely on my cellular mobile telephone camera, so I felt like it not only needed a re-shoot, but the overall execution needed a refresh as well.

    #3. hammock + banana

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    From its inception as a crude “banana hammock” sketch to becoming a real live #combophoto, this one only took me about a year to finalize.

    The banana portion of this whole thing was relatively easy. the biggest thorn in my side was finding a suitable background (with proper tree spacing and what not). Once got that nailed down it ended up becoming a race between the 10 second timer on my camera and getting my butt up a hill (and in the hammock)… oh and looking relaxed. I only fell out of the twice.

    #4. paintbrush + spaghetti

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “This definitely wasn’t my favourite [photo combination] of 2016, but it was definitely the most interesting as far as social experiments go,” said Stephen McMennamy.

    “I did this on an absolute whim. I literally threw it together before work one morning. I do love how utterly random these things can come together sometimes.”

    #5. tree trunk + elephant trunk

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “I’ve been wanting to do something with an elephant for a while now, but two things happened with that, I never felt like I had a super solid idea and I don’t have access to elephants.

    “Cut to me in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving and I couldn’t help but notice how a lot of the palm trees grew low out the ground and every one of them looked like an elephant head… to me anyway. So that’s what rattled around in my head and it quickly led to me obsessing over how to find a way to combine the two.”

    #6. bridge + guitar

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “Getting this shot of the Brooklyn bridge [was] one of the more memorable experiences I’ve ever had. We surprised the kids with an aerial excursion over Manhattan and I can honestly say I’ve never seen my straight-faced daughter smile as much as she did that day.”

    #7. pineapple + grenade

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “In the spirit of repeating myself, I’m digging this one out of the archives from two years ago.”

    #8. popsicle + piece of wood

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “I shot this [photo] what seems like ages ages ago, but I ended up posting a version that had my youngest daughter taking a big bite out of the popsicle.”

    #9. toy car + real car

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “[My daughter] Isla, who’s six now, but was four at the time, worked with me on this one. She’s a performer and she did a damn good job capturing the essence of a disgruntled motorist.”

    #10. hammer + human

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    Part of the combination taken at The Home Depot.

    #11. hose + waterfall

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “I ventured out to Grotto Falls in the Great Smokey Mountains (Tennessee) for [the bottom half of this photo]. I then ventured out to the bushes in my front yard for the hose shot.

    “[The] modelling comes courtesy of my brother-in-law and youngest daughter.”

    #12. light-bulb + football helmet

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “[American] football is officially back!”

    #14. headphones + donuts

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “I have been on a [doughnut] bender as of late, so in keeping with said bender, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment and reminisce with this [combination photo] of yore.”

    #15. train tracks + zipper

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “For as long as I’ve been aware of rail tracks and zippers, I’ve always thought the two belonged together.”

    #16. crab + excavator

    Credit: Stephen McMennamy

    “[This is] one of my favourite [combination photos] from way back when.”

    For more from Stephen McMennamy, visit his Instagram here or tumblr here.

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    The EU’s wage disparity and why it’s causing Europe’s downfall

    The European Union’s fundamental Free Movement policy allows Europeans from any of the member states (most also apply to Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) to look for employment, work, reside, retire, and access healthcare and welfare in any EU country. According to the European Union’s website, those who may benefit of such a policy include “Jobseekers, EU nationals working in another EU country, EU nationals who return to their country of origin after having worked abroad,” and “Family members of the [preceding].”

    This causes two problems.

    The First Problem
    First, the notion of European “free movement” can not be seen as successful until wages are more-or-less equal in all member states. Before the admission of several Eastern Bloc countries, most European Union nations had a very similar level of pay. However, cracks started to appear in the EU’s idea in 2004. New member states, such as Poland, had, and still have, significantly lower minimum wages, or no law for a minimum wage. For example, based on a 40-hour work week, Poland has a minimum wage of €390 (£296) per month for 2016, whilst the United Kingdom equivalent is £1,072 (€1,408), and £1,152 (€1,513) for those over the age of 25.

    Another example of this is seen when comparing France and Bulgaria’s minimum wages. Both countries are treated as equal under the European Union, yet France’s minimum wage for 2016 is €1,466 per month, whilst Bulgaria’s is €214 per month. When the European Union makes it as easy as having an EU passport in order to move from Bulgaria to France, why would a person on minimum wage choose not to? After all, that person has the potential to nearly septuple (seven) their earnings.

    The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics shows that in 2015, 630,000 National Insurance numbers were issued for EU nationals. 297,000 people emigrated, bringing the total of new UK citizens to 270,000, the rest being from outside the EU. This goes far past the “13,000 people” estimate that was issued by Tony Blair’s Labour government. Indeed, in 2013, Professor Christian Dustmann, the man behind the report Labour used for the 13,000 figure, questioned whether any politicians read the report. He claims that his estimation was based on other EU countries not restricting access to their labour markets, something Germany did more-or-less instantly. In an interview with the BBC in March 2013, he said: “everybody expected other countries, in particular Germany, would likewise open up their labour markets.”

    The Second Problem
    Secondly, due to the Free Movement policy, there is no restriction on the type of job or qualifications an EU citizen may hold. This means 5,000 labourers from Eastern Bloc countries could come to the UK when what’s really needed is 5,000 doctors from India or outside of the EU. Each member state sets a target level for migration, and with the EU taking up ~65%, it means there’s not enough ‘slots’ for highly skills workers from outside of Europe.

    At least two-thirds of trusts and health boards in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service currently report that they are struggling to cope due to a chronic shortage of qualified staff.  Tens of thousands of new nurses and doctors are required to sustain the ever-growing and ageing population. Meanwhile, the situation in schools in not much better with the government missing recruitment targets for four years in a row. Over 28% of secondary-level physics lessons are now taught by teachers with no more than A-level qualifications, according to the National Audit Office. The Department of Education “has a weak understanding of the extent of local teacher supply shortages and whether they are being resolved,” the report said.

    According to the EU’s own figures, in 2013 the UK saw the highest levels of immigration in the EU. Over 526,000 immigrations were recorded; 201,000 from inside the EU, 248,000 from outside.

    So, while some may consider it to be a good thing that citizens from any EU country can live and work in any other EU country, there are two flaws that means no reasonable person can see the system being able to sustain itself in the long term. A chronic shortage of under-skilled workers means that those from poorer countries outside the EU, but with higher qualifications, may be losing out on the chance for a new life and to bring good skills.

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    Hero Teen Performs Heimlich Manoeuvre On Friend At School

    Ian Brown was eating lunch with friends on Wednesday at the Central High School cafeteria in La Crosse, Wisconsin, U.S., when his friend, Will Olson, suddenly started choking and signalling distress.

    Watch the video below

    At first Olson’s friends thought he was joking, but Brown noticed the Olson’s noticed a change of colour in the victim’s neck and face and realised something needed to be done. He performed the Heimlich manoeuvre “three or four times” and was able to successfully dislodge the item of food from the victim’s throat.

    Credit: GMA

    Olson was then taken to see Kim Mahlum, the school’s nurse, to check the airway and make sure it was clear.

    Brown claimed he learnt the manoeuvre during a police training programme, and this police confirmed this; “Brown learned the Heimlich manoeuvre as part of his first aid training as a Police Explorer with the City of La Crosse Police Department,” the official Facebook page of the police department stated.

    Credit: School District of La Crosse

    The La Crosse Police Department’s website states that the programme “offers young adults a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, competition, and other activities.  Additionally, the program promotes personal growth through character development, respect for the rule of law, physical fitness, good citizenship, and patriotism.”

    Law Enforcement Exploring provides classroom training in diverse topics such as first aid, community policing, investigations, conducting a traffic stop, and much more.

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    30 Fascinating Colourised World War I Photos


    #1. 370mm Howitzer

    Another 370mm railway gun near Region Oise. Taken 5 September 1917.

    #2. Hirtzbach Frontline

    French soldiers in a trench on the frontline in Hirtzbach on 16 June 1917.

    #3. Messines Mine Crater

    Surviving soldiers standing above a crater created by mines placed by British forces underneath German positions. The deepest point of the crater was 45 metres and over 10,000 men lost their lives in the blast. Taken near Messines in West Flanders on 7 June 1917.

    #4. French Doctors and Nurses in North France

    French doctors and nurses in front of Saint-Paul Hospital, Soissons, Aisne, Northern France.

    #5. French Solider eating lunch in Reims

    French soldier eating lunch in Reims, in North-Eastern France. Taken 1 April 1917.

    #6. Eglingen Trenches

    Solider placed at a lookout in Eglingen trenches. Taken 26 June 1917

    #7. Washing Clothes

    French soldiers washing their clothing whist guarding communications equipment.

    #8. Algerian Colonial Guard

    Algerian (colonial) guard. Taken Aisne, France in 1917.

    #9. Residents preparing for evacuation

    Horse and carriage carrying furniture pre-evacuation of Reims. Shortly after this, residents were evacuated and the Second Battle of Asine took place, resulting in a French defeat. Taken 4 May 1917.

    #10. French Machine gunner mid-battle

    Taken in the ruins during the Battle of Aisne on the Western Front during 1917.

    #11. Lunch break during battle

    French soldiers from the 370th Infrantry Regiment eating lunch during the first Battle of Aisne. Taken in 1917.

    #12. Abbey ruins after heavy artillery fire

    Taken in the ruins of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes abbey after heavy artillery fire.

    #13. View of Notre-Dame Cathedral

    Notre-Dame Cathedral can be seen in the background. Taken 3 April 1917.

    #14. 370mm Railway Gun

    A massive 370mm gun, transported by railway, covered in camouflage. Taken 5 September 1917.

    #15. Residents preparing to evacuate

    Taken at Rue de Talleyrand, Reims, France, 3 March 1917

    #16. Railway Line

    The area surrounding a railway line near Boezinge, not far from Ypres. Taken 10 September 1917.

    #17. Ambulances attend after heavy artillery fire

    Taken near Boezinge, near Ypres, 1917

    #18. French Military Cemetery

    French Military Cemetery on the hillside of Moosch, Alsace. This cemetery was reserved for members of the Mountain Infantry, an elite unite of the French Army.

    #19. Rosendail, near Dunkirk

    The result of more heavy artillery fire. Taken 11 September 1917.

    #20. Swiss Border Guards

    Taken from France, and showing Swiss Border Guards behind the fence. Haut-Rhin, 19 June 1917.

    #21. French Senegalese Colonial Soldiers

    Senegalese soldiers serving in the French Army eating their lunch in Saint-Ulrich, Alsace. Taken 16 June 1917.

    #22. French Border Guards

    French Border Guards watching the Swiss in Pfetterhouse, Alsace. Taken 19 June 1917.

    #23. French soldiers doing laundry

    French soldiers doing their laundry using a local fountain. Taken in Gildwiller, Haut-Rhin, Alsace on 21 June 1917.

    #24. Girl holding doll next to rifles

    A young girl playing with her doll whilst sitting next to a military knapsack and riffles. Taken in Reims, Northern France, 1917.

    #25. Doctor and Nurses at a Bourbourg hospital

    Doctor and Nurses at a Bourbourg hospital. Taken 1 September 1917.

    #26. South-East Asian worker

    A worker from Indochina doing military service for the French Army. Taken in Aisne 1917.

    #27. Checking defences

    A French Officer checking the defences around key positions. Taken in Soissons, 1917.

    #28. Senegalese Colonial Infantrymen

    Senegalese infantrymen resting in Saint-Ulrich. Taken 16 June 1917.

    #29. Border Guards

    Another border crossing, this time in Beurnevesin, shows Swiss (left) and French (right) guards watching one another.

    #30. French Colonial soldiers in Soissons

    Two colonial soldiers (unknown country) cooking food in Soissons, Aisne. Taken 1917.

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    25 Innocent Photos That Appear Perverted

    It’s possible to capture wonderful moments using a camera, but sometimes different perspectives or hidden meanings create a very different context. Here are 20 of our favourites from around the web.

    #1. Licence Plate

    #2. Climax

    #3. Eat out

    #4. Skiing

    #5. Two fingers

    #6. Where to find love?

    #7. Pigs

    #8. Selfie

    #9. Drinking

    #10. Vampires

    #11. Finger

    #12. Natural formation

    #13. Disney

    #14. Pillow

    #15. Othodox

    #16. Goatse

    #17. Football

    #18. Sesame Street

    #19. The news

    #20. Dog

    #21. Camping

    #22. Exercise

    #23. Dino

    #25. The Pink

    #25. Spider-man

    Which is your favourite?


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    This artist paints with GUNPOWDER then sets his work on fire

    Danny Shervin, an artist and fisherman from Wyoming, has a unique way of creating art – by painting fire-retardant wood with gunpowder and then setting his creations on fire.

    Watch the video below

    Credit: Danny Shervin

    Shervin was raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and found his passion for painting with gunpowder whilst in college at the University of Montana. He uses a combination of acrylic paint, gunpowder, and wood.

    Credit: Danny Shervin

    Each piece is a one-of-a-kind and takes hours of planning in order to get every detail correct. Once the initial painting process if complete, a match is taken to the creation and the image is burnt into the wood.

    Credit: Danny Shervin

    He is best known for his wildlife pieces and has been featured in the September/October 2015 issue of Mountain Living, as well as the Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole.


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    The fascinating history of the U.S. Presidents’ desks

    The Oval Office is a relatively recent feature of the White House, and a central part of the room is the desk. Here is a history of the desks, their users, a minor diversion into 19th Century naval history, and even a picture of Nicolas Cage.

    The room known as the Oval Office where the presidential desk sits was only added in 1909 by President William Howard Taft, yet Taft was only adding to a White House that had already been extensively refurbished by Roosevelt. Thus perhaps it was only fitting that the first desk in this new room in the White House shall be the desk named for man who had led the renovation of most of the building – the Theodore Roosevelt desk.

    Theodore Roosevelt sitting at his desk

    Made in 1903 using Mahogany, the desk is 90” (228cm) wide and is extraordinarily deep at 54” (138 cm) and was made by Boston-based furniture marker A. H. Davenport & Company, famous for the Davenport-style chair.

    President William Howard Taft was the first user of the desk in the Oval Office. Woodrow Wilson, Warren G Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover followed.

    The Theodore Roosevelt desk

    Yet during Hoover’s presidency, and perhaps a good metaphor for his time as President, the Oval Office caught on fire. The first incident stared in the attic of the White House at approximately 8pm on Christmas Eve 1929, but luckily the desk drawers were removed from the room quickly by a number of secretaries.

    George Akerson, appointed earlier that year as the White House’s first Press Secretary (under Hoover), draped the desk in a tarpaulin to prevent water damage from firefighters hoses.

    The Oval Office showing extensive fire damage

    While the desk remained largely unscathed by the fire, it was placed in storage by Hoover and replaced with the Hoover desk – part of a wider 17-piece office suite given to the White House by the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturers Association. Compared to Theodore Roosevelt’s desk, Hoover’s is only 82” (210cm) wide and 42” deep (110cm). It was designed by J. Stuart Clingman and constructed by The Robert W. Irwin company. Today, a set of four Clingman chairs will cost you over $4,000 (£3,000/€3,500).

    Hoover’s successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, would additionally use the desk for all of his 12 years in office – an odd choice considering his fifth cousin was Theodore Roosevelt.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Upon President Truman’s ascension into the Oval Office, the Hoover desk was shipped to what is now the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in the state of New York, where it remains to this day. It’s at this point where The Roosevelt Desk emerges from the darkness and retakes it place centre-stage in the Oval Office for Truman’s administration. It also survived the election of Eisenhower.

    Fun fact: Notice Truman’s “The buck stops here” desk sign – “the buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularised by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. It refers to the notion that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions (take note, Trump).

    President Truman using The Roosevelt desk

    And now we move onto the election of Kennedy, which brought the end of the Roosevelt desk’s time in the sun. It was removed from the Office and has not been chosen by a U.S. President since. In it’s place came the best named desk – the Resolute desk.

    It’s important to remember that the Kennedy’s were hugely instrumental in the redecoration of the White House following the Truman renovation. As part of this, Jackie Kennedy moved the Resolute desk into the Oval Office. The desk was a gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 and its history is the best of any office desk.

    President Obama sitting behind The Resolute Desk

    Here’s the diversion into 19th Century naval history we promised: The year is 1852, and a five-ship squadron, of which HMS Resolute was a part of, has been sent from Great Britain to search for lost explorer Sir John Franklin who was seeking the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic.

    After three years of searching for clues of Franklin’s whereabouts with little success, the crew of HMS Resolute instead found and rescued the crew of a ship separate to their own party – one from an earlier expedition to also find Franklin. However, this led to HMS Resolute becoming frozen in the ice but still seaworthy. In total, four of the five ships were abandoned on orders, with HMS Resolute being one of these abandoned four.

    18 months later, HMS Resolute was found hundreds of miles from where she was abandoned by American whaler James Buddington who split his crew between the ships and sailed them both back to New London in Connecticut. The British government waived all rights to the ship upon hearing of this development.

    HMS Resolute

    The ship arrived in America during a period of high-tensions between America and the U.K., in fact they were at the brink of a third war with diplomatic relations non-existent as America had closed the British embassies.

    Senator James Murray Mason proposed the American government buy the ship from James Buddington and refurbish her, to give to Great Britain as a present. A bill was written, passed, and signed into law by Franklin Piece which meant HMS Resolute was given a $40,000 refurbishment and then sailed to Britain.

    The engraving below is the presentation to Her Majesty Queen Victoria (in green). HMS Resolute stayed in British waters for 23 years, a symbol of friendship between these two great powers, until she was taken to a dock for disassembly in 1879.

    It was at this time Queen Victoria asked that four desks be made from her timbers: a small lady’s desk (given to the widow of Henry Grinnell, who played a large part in securing support for the refurbishment of HMS Resolute), two desks for the Queen herself (a small writing table currently on loan to National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth and a smaller writing table for her yacht), and the final desk and reason for this large segue – the Resolute desk which was given to President Hayes on November 23rd 1880.

    Her Majesty Queen Victoria visiting HMS Resolute

    An important note here for fans of the National Treasure films – while desks were made for both the President and the Queen from HMS Resolute, they are not twins. Sorry, Nicolas Cage.

    Walt Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films

    Back to Kennedy. Before JFK’s election win, the Resolute desk had lived in the White House for almost 80 years, yet it was (as mentioned earlier) Jackie who moved the desk into Oval Office for her husband, however, it’s occupancy was short-lived. With the assassination of JFK in 1963 came the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson who found the desk too small, thus he permitted the desk to go on a touring exhibition with the Kennedy Presidential Library after which it went on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

    Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Robert Knudsen

    The departure of the Resolute desk in 1963 means the arrival of our fourth desk: the Johnson desk. A desk so boring, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. For the record, there are Wikipedia pages for “List[s] of animals with fraudulent diplomas” and “Buttered cat paradox,” yet the desk of a President who signed the 1964 and 1968 Civil Rights Acts, appointed the first black Supreme Court Justice, and who created the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities does not get its own page.

    The desk was made by the Senate Wood Shop in the early 20th Century and was used by Johnson during his time in the Senate. Upon moving into the White House, he brought it with him. It currently resides in the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas and was not used again.

    The Johnson Desk

    Is the image below a photograph of the Nixon desk? No, it’s the Wilson desk named after President Woodrow Wilson, or maybe it was named after Vice President Henry Wilson. Actually, we have no idea who it is named after.

    Richard Nixon sitting behind “the Wilson desk”

    Allow us to explain. During his time as Vice President between 1897 and 1899, Garret Augustus Hobart purchased a number of pieces of furniture, including Persian rugs, a silk robe to match his office sofa cushions, and an 80” (203cm) by 58” (147cm) mahogany desk. This desk stayed in the office of the VP and was used by such future Presidents as Theodore Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, and Richard Nixon.

    President Nixon liked this desk as he believed it had been used by Woodrow Wilson during his time as President. Nixon referred to the desk as Woodrow Wilson’s hundreds of times to visitors, dignitaries, and in speeches including his famous “Silent majority” speech.

    Fifty years ago, in this room and at this very desk, President Woodrow Wilson spoke words which caught the imagination of a war-weary world.

    Fun fact: Five microphones were hidden in “the Wilson desk” which were a catalyst for the Watergate tapes, while the Resolute desk in Nixon’s other office in the Old Executive Office Building was also suspected of holding a number of microphones.

    With the election of Jimmy Carter, we change desks once more and now find the Resolute desk back in the Oval Office. “The Wilson desk” moved back to the Vice President’s Room in the Capitol building where it has been used by every Vice President from Walter Mondale to Joe Biden. We’re not sure which desk Pence is using, but it doesn’t look to be the same.

    Jimmy Carter using the Resolute desk

    With the election of George H. W. Bush to the Presidency, our sixth and final desk moves into the Oval Office. The Resolute desk moves out and the C&O desk, which was commissioned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway as a set of four desks for the company’s owners, moves in.

    It was donated to the White House sometime during the 1970s and used by Ford, Carter, and Reagan in the Oval Office’s study – a separate room and not the official desk of the Oval Office. George H. W. Bush started using the desk in his Vice President’s office in 1985 and, upon his inauguration, moved it into the Oval Office. Bush’ spokesperson at the time claimed he “got used to it, found it comfortable, [and] thought it was attractive.”

    The C&O desk

    With the end of his presidency, the C&O desk was removed from the Oval Office and the Resolute desk was quickly returned President Clinton. It’s remained in place since, having been used by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald J. Trump.

    George W. Bush using the Resolute desk
    Barack Obama using the Resolute desk
    Donald J. Trump using the Resolute desk

    Interested in more fascinating history?

    You can listen to the Podcast series by Jack P. Taylor here or on iTunes (free) by clicking here.


  • in ,

    The surreal artwork of Sait Mingü

    Turkish artist Sait Mingü’s latest exhibition recently opened at the mekân68 art gallery in Vienna, Austria. His combination of vibrancy and surrealism has caught the eye of a number of people over the years, enough so that he was able to leave his job as art director at advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi after six years of working for the famous agency.

    Image: Sait Mingü

    Mingü was born in 1977 in Istanbul, Turkey and graduated from the Mimar Sinan Universtiy of Fine Arts. Titled “Unpredictable Snapshots,” his latest exhibition opened on the 16th March.

    Image: Sait Mingü

    “Each picture has its own language. If I could convey this language in words, I would not paint but write,” Mingü stated upon opening the exhibition.

    Image: Sait Mingü

    Fascinated by the sea and the world beyond the first impression, Mingü shows a world of creatures, shapes and colours. The artwork shows a flying dog with balloons, a woman with legs standing in the air, women jumping up and men. Clear elements of water, air, earth and equilibrium are displayed.

    Image: Sait Mingü

    It’s not hard to see the inspiration for his art; a love of comic books and the digital world. This is reflected in his technique, where he combines painting and digital manipulation.

    Image: Sait Mingü

    Mingü’s use of strong contours and the intensity of emotions, which is aroused by colour, adds to the emotional impact. He describe his work as “blurs with the transparent, rhythmic lines of calmness and simplicity, meet[ing] with emptiness, loneliness, and existential anxiety.”

    Image: Sait Mingü

    The combination of his processes creates fleeting, beautiful and surreal snapshots that are freed from ordinary and routine life. The emphasis on fantasy and a love of nature are obvious.

    Image: Sait Mingü


    Image: Sait Mingü

    The exhibition can be found at Neustiftgasse 68/1, 1070 Vienna, Austria. More information is available here.

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