Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DEC 26 STATEHOOD FOR PUERTO RICO IN 2011?


DEC 26 STATEHOOD FOR PUERTO RICO IN 2011?

Recently, the US House of Representatives passed a bill you might have missed. It granted the territorial government of Puerto Rico the right to hold an election in 2011 to decide whether or not the island wants to become the 51st US state. Heard this one before? Well, this isn't the first time Puerto Ricans have gone to the polls on the subject. In 1967, 1993 and 1998, similar ballot measures failed, and the island remained a US territory. But nowadays, things are different. For the first time ever, a pro-statehood political party is in control of both the legislature AND the governor's office. Finally, it seems the people of Puerto Rico want to formally join the United States of America and lose their status as an 'unincorporated territory of the USA'...a very confusing term.

Confusing is a good word to describe Puerto Rico. Even the name itself is confusing. The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who named it after St. John the Baptist. However, traders and pirates refered to it as the 'rich port.' Somewhere along the way, the names for the city and the island got switched. So, today, the island is called 'Rich port' (Puerto Rico) and the city has Columbus' original name of 'St. John' (San Juan). How the island became a US territory is also confusing. After the Spanish-American War, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands were ceded from Spain to the USA. While Cuba and the Philippines would later become independent nations, tiny Guam and heavily populated Puerto Rico would forever be left in limbo. Are they a colony or a territory or a commonwealth...or...or...whatever.

The confusion continues. While the 150,000 people on Guam are fine being a forgotten island, the four million folks on Puerto Rico are not. Over the last 113 years, many attempts have been made to clarify their status as 'Americans.' In 1917, President Wilson signed legislation officially making all who live on the island US citizens. Twenty years later, they were included in the Social Security Program...and later in Medicare as well. However, Puerto Ricans are not required to pay Federal Income tax, and cannot vote for president. Nor do they have a representative in Congress. All of which is very confusing. Hopefully, next year's vote on statehood will help solidify the lush island's status. Until then, the DUNER BLOG has a fun quiz for you to take. Here are five true or false statement about Puerto Rico. Good luck!

1. Miss Puerto Rico competes in the Miss America Pageant.
2. You can shop at 7-11, Costco and Wal-Mart in Puerto Rico.
3. The island uses the US dollar as currency.
4. France has an embassy in San Juan.
5. US citizens need a passport to visit Puerto Rico.

ANSWERS:
1. False. Miss Puerto Rico competes in the Miss Universe Pageant, not Miss America.
2. True. Almost all American conglomerates are active on the island.
3. True. American dollars have been used since 1898.
4. False. As a territory, it can only have foreign consulates, not embassies.
5. False. US citizens do not need a passport to enter a US territory.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DEC 15 OPRAH INVADES AUSTRALIA


DEC 15 OPRAH INVADES AUSTRALIA

Earlier this year, TV talk-show queen OPRAH WINFREY made the announcement that, after 25 years on the air, this would be her last season. As someone who doesn't watch a lot of daytime TV, you might not realize how momentous this announcement is. Not only is the America's top celebrity, Oprah is also a world-wide phenomenon. Her show can be seen 145 countries around the globe. It is translated into fifty different languages. People everywhere love her unbounded enthusiasm and her over-the-top segments. So it came as no surprise that her FINAL season will be the biggest ever! This week, she took the show overseas to film a week's worth of episodes down under in Australia.

But...as we said...Oprah never does anything small. Her company, Harpo Entertainment, made a huge deal with the Australian Tourism Board. They shelled out $6 million dollars for the empress (and 302 audience members) to launch 'OPRAH'S AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE!' to the world. While many Aussies scoffed at the massive sums of public money going to an American diva, government ministers have assured taxpayers this is a wise investment. The fact is that since the amazing successful 2000 Sydney Olympics, the nation has seen its once lucrative tourism industry slide deeply during the recession. It costs over a thousand dollars for anyone to fly there, and it's not exactly cheap once you get there. The government hopes Oprah can make people forget this fact and make the world fall in love with Australia.

And she can! Let's review the first couple of days: It began with six thousand fans surrounding an elaborate stage at the famed Sydney Opera House (cleverly renamed the Sydney OPRAH House.) Oprah greeted the adoring fans with a bang. She said "Now I understand why you call Australia 'OZ,; 'cause we truly are at the end of the rainbow." Her first guest was none other than mega-hottie-actor RUSSEL CROWE, an afternoon talk show favorite. Next, an equally hunky Hugh Jackman tried to make an elaborate entrance via zip-line from high atop the Sydney Oprah House. Instead, he bumped his head, recovered with some Aussie chardonnay, and created some much-sought-after news headlines worldwide. She closed the show with a touching interview with the widow of 'Crocodile Hunter' STEVE IRWIN. A tearful Terri told Oprah how difficult her life has been since his sudden death after a mantra-ray speared his chest two years ago.

Next up for Oprah was a visit to the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge. To her surprise, the Aussies had put a hundred-foot-high 'O' erected on the side. Ten thousand red bulbs lit up to honor the queen. She'll also go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, hike half-way up the Outback's famed Ayers Rock and relax at posh resort near Melbourne. And escorting her along the way will be her 302 friends. "Life is so much better when you can share it." Oprah says!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DEC 8 TINY QATAR TO HOST HUGE WORLD CUP


DEC 8 TINY QATAR TO HOST HUGE WORLD CUP

The unthinkable happened in Geneva last week. You know the scene: Picture the ornate grand ballroom of the luxurious FOUR SEASONS HOTEL. Well-dressed representatives from around the world have gathered over four days to determine who will host two upcoming WORLD CUP SOCCER TOURNAMENTS, the world's biggest sporting event. There's a lot of discussion, collaboration and secrets amongst the 22 dignitaries, all conducted under the soft light of the crystal chandeliers. Finally, after many lavish meals and countless cocktails, a decision has been made. Sepp Blatter, the chairman of FIFA, strolls to the podium with the final announcement: The 2018 games will be held in: Russia! Wow! The crowd applauds. They're an outsider for sure..but, as the world's largest nation...it was not a complete surprise. Then, Sepp announced the host nation for the 2022 games: QATAR. The room is stunned!

Actually, some are stunned, some are giddy, but many are down-right angry. The US, who finished second in the voting, spent millions of dollars preparing a bid. After all, the 1994 event, hosted by the US, was the most profitable World Cup ever! Also upset was the UK. London has brand-new stadiums already built for the 2012 Olympics. The other nations alive in the last rounds of voting were also angry. The representatives from Spain/Portugal, Holland/Belgium, South Korea, Japan and Australia were aghast. But somehow, Qatar pulled off the ultimate upset. Or was it? As evidenced by the Olympic Selection Committees, the most qualified applicant doesn't always win. Or, as Sunil Gulati, the head of the US delegation put it: "It's politics, friendships, relationships, alliances, tactics. I'm not smart enough to figure out how all those played out in these two elections."

Indeed, the voting did leave many questions. Two delegates were removed prior to the final vote for unclear corruption allegations. Back-room politics are notorious in such gatherings, as evidenced by the US envoys who pleaded guilty to influencing the decision to host the 1994 Winter Olympics. It's also no coincidence that both Russia and Qatar are huge producers of oil and natural gas which gives them lots of pocket cash to throw around. The US team tried hard to match the influence of bribes and failed. Heck, they even brought BILL CLINTON to Geneva to drink and banter with the voters. But even 'Slick Willie' was no match for the 'shady sheik. ' Qatar's Swiss bank accounts had some serious cash withdrawals last week!

But the real question here is: How the hell is Qatar supposed to host the world's biggest sporting event? It's the size of Connecticut, has the population of Phoenix and is entirely covered by the unforgiving Arabian Desert. And the WOLRD CUP is held in the SUMMER! But, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar's ruler, managed to assure that his country will be ready. It plans to build stadiums with solar-powered air conditioning. (Never mind that the technology hasn't been invented just yet!). Everything will be with A/C: the player's village, exhibition centres and all restaurants, night-clubs, airports, hotels, etc. So no one will notice that the average temperature outside in July in Qatar is 104 degrees. Quipped Chuck Blazer, a FIFA rep: "I really don't see how you can air-condition an entire country."

But...while the world is abuzz about Qatar's sleazy corruption allegations...the INTERNET is abuzz with techies, excited about the future. You gotta admit, Qatar is pretty ambitious. They plan to spend $57 billion dollars (!) building the world's first zero-carbon-emission stadium. They sheik hired a Kansas City based architecture firm with big ideas. They began with the design of a Bedouin tent. Then they added the shape of the BIRD'S NEST stadium from the Beijing Olympics. Then, they took the technology used in Japan's SUKATOMO soccer stadium and housed it all under the retracting roof from Arizona's state-of-the-art football stadium in Glendale. I could start describing the plan for the air conditioning, but you're probably better off going to WIRED.COM...I really don't understand the technology.

I guess the main message from Geneva last week is: WATCH OUT FOR QATAR! This emirate means business! The state, like nearby Dubai, has lots of money and is willing to spend it. In the last couple of years, they purchased long-time British stand-bys like HARROD 'S DEPARTMENT STORE and BARCALAY'S BANK. Next up: Financial conquest of the USA. So far, they've only managed to buy MIRAMAX FILMS, so stay tuned. And remember, the 'Q' in Arabic is pronounced like 'KHA' only you use the back part of your throat...Think "CUT-TER." May Allah be with you!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

DEC 2 CHRISTMAS TREE CONTROVERSY IN BERLIN

DEC 2 CHRISTMAS TREE CONTROVERSY IN BERLIN

Ah...it's finally December! And what better way to start the holiday season than for everyone to gather at the town square for a CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING FESTIVAL. And no one knows how to do a Christmas trees quite like the Germans...after all they invented them! And one of the most famous tree-lighting events takes place in Charlottenberg, one of Berlin's oldest and quaintest neighborhoods. People huddled together at sunset on the cobblestone platz near the cathedral, anxiously awaiting the unveiling of the tree. But, to every one's horror, the usual stately fir was replaced by an odd modern-art monstrosity: A 90-foot high, 40-foot wide white balloon with a huge gold star on top. "IS NOTHING SACRED?" shocked Berliners screamed!

Duner's favorite German tabloid, Die Bild, quickly took up the story and has unleashed a fury of opinion. On one side, we have a modern viewpoint. Deforestation is a serious problem in Northern Europe. Even though rigorous reforms have saved huge amounts of forestland, man-made problems, like pollution and climate change, continue to threaten one of the world's oldest timberlands. And...as we all know...Germans LOVE to hike in the forests. So why do we really need to cut down a two-hundred year-old tree just for a holiday celebration? Germany prides itself on having the first major environmental political party back in 1980's (the Greens). Where is that progressive spirit now?

On the other side, we have the traditionalist Germans, who pride themselves on having the first Christmas tree. Uh-oh...sounds like it's time for another HISTORY LESSON!! (Don't you just love the Duner-blog?) As the legend goes...way back, around the year 700, the area around modern-day Berlin was still under the control of Norse Vikings. As always, they were at odds with the Catholics who refused to worship their gods. One daring priest, St. Bonafice, went to a Norse encampment and chopped down the sacred TREE OF THOR. He took the majestic fir back to his church and Christianity and fir trees have been linked since. However, it wasn't until seven hundred years later that the tree would specifically represent Christmas. In the 1500's, MARTIN LUTHER championed the Christmas tree as a protestant counterpart to the Catholic nativity scene.

Sorry...you know how I get when I start telling history lessons! Back to Berlin. Recently, the controversy has quelled. Sure, the tree...or balloon...is still gracing the square in Charlottenburg. But thankfully, there are dozens of other squares in the German capital that still have a magnificently decorated Tannenbaum to enjoy. Sure, you may have to go all the way to Potsdam, but at least all in Berlin can agree on one thing: Christmas is a time for everyone to enjoy, environmentalists, traditionalists, Norse Vikings and you!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nov 18 R.I.P. FOR THE SONY WALKMAN


Nov. 18 R.I.P. FOR THE SONY WALKMAN

Sad news out of Tokyo this week. After over thirty years of production, the SONY CASSETTE WALKMAN will no longer be manufactured. One of the most iconic devises ever produced, the Walkman was one of the more successful as well. Sony estimates some 200 million were sold all over the world during the last three decades. Sales hit an all-time high in 1984 when it was prominently featured in the movie Back to the Future. (Remember when McFly listened to it while skateboarding?) Anyhow, old school folks from around the world let out a collective sigh. After all, 2010 is a big year for Sony to be retiring treasured tech items. Earlier this year, the FLOPPY DISC was also laid to rest. What is happening to this world?

Techies everywhere were not the least bit surprised. To them, the Walkman's retirement was long overdue. First, no one listens to cassette tapes anymore. To them, tapes were already replaced twenty years ago by CDs. True, by 1990, portable CD players had pushed the Walkman lower on the shelves of Radio Shack. In the year 2000, i-pods and mp3 players were released. They were one twentieth the size of the Walkman yet could hold 100 times more music. Why would anyone carry around a half-pound tape player? Well, despite these advances in technology, still, many die-hard fans didn't care about the number of songs per ounce and continued to lug around their favorite toy.

Why did so many cling to their Walkmans? Well, let's go back to 1979, the initial year of the Walkman's release. It didn't sell very well at first--a mere 3,000 sold in the first month--but soon became the most sought-after device on the cool parts of planet earth. Prior to the walkman, recorded music was only enjoyed at home. People would buy LP records at the store and take them home. Everyone had large stereos with fancy turntables. Folks would play recorded music through speakers or large headphones and listen in the living room. Radios, on the other hand, were portable, but when it came to listening to what YOU wanted to hear, you were stuck at home.

The Walkman (originally called the SOUND-ABOUT...that didn't last long!) changed the way everyone listened to music. Now your living room was everywhere. You could take your Led Zeppelin album with you to the park, mall, on the bus...you were never without your music. This phenomeon, started by the little walkman, has turned into a global trend. Now it's weird to see someone who doesn't have a headphones in their ears...or worse yet...that stupid Star Trek toy: The dreaded BLUETOOTH! Thanks a lot AKIO MORITA and MASARU IBUKA! Our streets will never be quiet again!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NOV 9 NEW ERA IN USA / INDIA RELATIONSHIPS


NOV 9 NEW ERA IN USA / INDIA RELATIONSHIPS

Move over China, the USA has a new best friend. We love India now! What began as mere flirting has suddenly become an official romance. Yesterday, US President BARACK OBAMA and Indian Prime Minister MANMOHAN SINGH embraced on a podium in New Delhi. Their love will no longer be hidden, with shady corporate deals made in dive bars and cheap motels. Nope, as of today, they are in officially in love. And haven't you heard...how they rock each other's worlds? (Did anyone get my AVRIL LAVIGNE song reference? I hope not).

Anyhow, in a state visit to the Indian capital, Obama got a little carried away. In the THREE DAY whirlwind romance, Barack hugged the Prime Minister and then spoke to Parliament. He told them: "I want every Indian citizen know: We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, because we believe in the promise of India." (Wow! Does he realize there are a billion Indian citizens? That's a lot of shoulders!) Next, he'll be giving the other Pradeshis a little love. He'll go to Bangalore to visit a US owned company and dismiss all those 'Out-sorcing' claims. He'll go to Mumbai and denounce Islamic terrorism (always a good idea on Indian state visits.) And of course, he'll announce a lot of new trade deals. Talk about love!

But Obama's biggest bombshell on this visit involves an invitation. Barack wants INDIA on the UN Security Council. And not just in a rotating seat...No, Obama wants India to have a PERMANENT SEAT on the Security Council. This is really big news! Since the United Nations founding way back in 1945, there have been five..and only five...permanent seats on the top council. Naturally, given the date, these were the victors of World War II. Specifically the USA, USSR, UK, FRANCE and CHINA. There's been a name change or two, but these five have been in control of the UN for the past 65 years. They have veto power over another and never get anything done...but still...they are the five countries in charge. Period.

By officially backing India's bid to join the council, Barack has unleashed a Pandora's box. After all, he is proposing to re-write a world-wide constitution of nations that has been ratified by two hundred countries. Not surprisingly, a wave of jealously and fury has swept into the media around the world. It is especially angry in nations who dispute India's admission and their omission. (Come on...everyone wants to join the world's Big Boy Club and party like an international player!) Japan and Germany have the third and fourth largest economies...why aren't they in? Brazil is also mad...they're big and developing too! (I'm just curious...why does France get to KEEP their seat?) Big questions. No answers.

While it will likely take decades to change the UN Security Council, Obama is definitely giving India everything it could possibly hope for in a state visit: Trade Agreements, Photo Opportunities, Business Luncheons and Prime-Minister hugging. But don't be fooled by everything you see. As HARMEET pointed out, there is one group who is definitely not feeling the love: The SIKHS! Apparently, he had planned to visit the GOLDEN TEMPLE in the Punjab, but cancelled when he was informed he'd have to cover his head to enter. Worried about the triumphant TEA-PARTY at home, he figured he'd skip that one photo...after all, it would be the only photo most US newspapers would print anyhow.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NOV 1 HUGE PROTESTS IN TIBET: NO ONE CARES


NOV 1 HUGE PROTESTS IN TIBET: NO ONE CARES

Hey...didja hear about those San Francisco Giants? Yeah...they're about to win their first WORLD SERIES in 55 years? Of course you've heard! Well, it's everywhere in the news. Hey...didja hear about these nasty elections? Yeah...there's been more negative ads and speeches than a Klu Klux Klan meeting? Of course you've heard! It's everywhere in the news. Hey...didja hear about those vicious protests in Tibet? Yeah...the Chinese are at it again, beating up defenseless monks with batons again. Oh you MISSED THAT! Of course you did! It's no where in the news.

Sorry about the rant...this is MONDAY BOB after all...anyhow...here's what's happening in Tibet: The Han government in Beijing recently announced that the Tibetan language will no longer be taught in grammar schools in the 'autonomous' region of Tibet. Instead, all classes will be conducted solely in Mandarin. Currently, most elementary schools are conducted in Tibetan and High Schools are taught in Chinese. This makes sense since both languages are needed for adults to function in the region. Tibetan is the language of the people, while Chinese is the language of the government. But to eliminate the teaching of Tibetan at the age when language skills develop the most is an unsettling development in a long history of strife between China and Tibet. Thousands have taken to the streets in protest.

Did I say LONG HISTORY? Okay, I'll make it a SHORT HISTORY. Since the average elevation of Tibet is 16,000 feet (higher than any place in the 48 contiguous states), it has remained pretty isolated from the rest of the world. The only real colonization of the Tibetan people occurred two thousand years ago, when Buddhist monks first visited. Over time, a unique form of the religion evolved into a theocracy, which would be led by men called the DALLI LAMA. The only nation to ever try to conquer the 'rooftop of the world' was, of course, China. A peace treaty signed in 824 stayed largely in effect until 1900's, when a slow, methodical annexation began to take place. While the US was able to halt, or at least slow, Chinese military aims in Korea and Vietnam, Tibet was not so lucky and became part of the People's Republic.

But the recent action by Beijing has clearly gone too far, and the fragile relationship between the two immense cultures has once again become inflamed. “Language is the foundation of Tibetan culture and this recent attack reveals the Chinese governments’ sinister attempt to assimilate Tibetans into Chinese society,” said Tenzin Choedon, national director of Students for a Free Tibet. Indeed, this recent incursion is much less subtle than the last event, which involved the new, direct train service between Lhasa and the Western metropolises. Tibetans worried it would result in a flood of Chinese people, commerce and culture. Beijing replied that Tibet must be the only place in the world to protest government funded train service. We'll let this one play out some more.

Instead, let's get back to the schools. Tibetan is the language of preference for some eight million people. It's also one of the world's oldest known languages, with it's own unique alphabet, which was loosely borrowed from Sanskrit a couple thousand years ago. It was one of the first languages to employ rules of grammar, which impressed the British when they first arrived here 300 years ago. “It is the inalienable right of every Tibetan to learn in their own language. We call on governments around the world to press the Chinese government to respect Tibetan language rights,” said Tenzin Dorjee, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet. But, as usual, only RICHARD GERE and a handful of Berkeley hippies with "Free Tibet" bumper stickers will take notice.

Friday, October 22, 2010

OCT 21 WORLD'S LONGEST TUNNEL OPENS


OCT 21 WORLD'S LONGEST TUNNEL OPENS

Workers, engineers, politicans and truckers all cheered under a sky of fireworks in the Southern Swiss city of Bodio this week. They had just finished the final bore through dense Alpine limestone, completing a decade of exhausting work by 2,500 workers from just about every single European nation. When other nations are cutting down on grand, expensive projects, Switzerland was able to hold her head high, and claim a superlative in the engineering world: Earth's longest tunnel! Long live the Gotthard!

Not that it was cheap to build. All in all, it took TEN BILLION DOLLARS to construct. But we must remember, it was approved in a series of ballot measures and complicated referendums, which began back in 1988 when people had money. Opposition at first was overpowering. Since the population of Switzerland is only eight million, it meant that every man, woman and child would have to pony up $1,300 to build the darn tunnel. But, the Swiss are rich, and politicians united the nation with one, hard-to-dispute simple fact. Whether you live in a tiny hamlet or in a Lake Geneva downtown chalet, the tunnel is good for the environment. And no one wants diesel fuel in the bottled alpine water.

When the original GOTTHARD TUNNEL was built, in 1888, it too was the longest tunnel in the world. It connected Zurich to Milan and opened up the heart of Switzerland to the outside world. It was hailed as an engineering milestone. But, over the last 130 years, the highways between Switzerland and Italy became a lot more crowded. Something like 1.2 million trucks spew heaps of exhaust as the twist and churn up the steep Alpine slopes on each side. The new tunnel will cut train travel time by 1.5 hours between Zurich and Milan as travelers will be swept under the Alps at 153.4 miles per hour! Since 70% of Switzerland's cargo is moved by rail, this will eliminate tons of waste.

So, for the time being, the Swiss have trumped the Japanese, whose SEIKAN tunnel, built in 1988, connects HONSHU with HOKAIDDO, Japan's two largest islands. But is was close: The Gotthard is 35.4 miles to the Seikan's 33.5 miles. But don't worry: You can still take the old route, made famous by such Alpine explorers as HANNIBAL and DUNER. It is one my favorite train routes on earth and highly recommended, no matter how much exhaust it takes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OCT 13 IT'S GOOD TO BE A TRAPPED CHILEAN MINER


OCT 13 IT'S GOOD TO BE A TRAPPED CHILEAN MINER

If you haven't heard about the 33 trapped Chilean miners you must be stuck in an even deeper cave! But...since there is always one person who has no idea what I'm talking about...let's do a quick re-cap. Disaster struck the SAN JOSE MINE in the remote Andes mountains near Chile's ATACAMA DESERT. Shifting soils resulted an an underground avalanche some two thousand feet below the surface, trapping the workers underneath. For two weeks, there was no contact and the miners were feared dead. Then, using astounding SONAR technology, they were located. It took an army of engineers, but they were eventually rescued, surviving the longest known entrapment in history...a whopping 69 days!

It's true: There is something about being trapped in a bottomless pit, or a wishing well or a dragon's cave, that tugs at every one's heartstrings. Maybe it's a metaphor of endless despair. Or perhaps some deep fear we all have about being trapped, physically and mentally. But for whatever reason, everyone in the world was wondering what was going to happen to these 'troubled-thirty-three' miners. Hence, it came as no surprise that when the first miner appeared to see precious sunlight for the first time in three months, it quickly became one of the most watched items ever on the Internet.

And...if it is one of the most watched items on the Internet...everyone wants a piece of the action. So these miners, who three months ago were just 'Average Jos├ęs' who willing to risk their lives over $1,500 a month, are now worldwide celebrities. Don't believe me? Okay, upon arrival on the surface, they will need to wear sunglasses to protect their dilated pupils. So they will be given special, designer shades made and donated by an upscale Italian company and valued at $500 a pair. Next, they are handed checks, from dozens of companies around the world totalling $5,000 each. They can soothe their eardrums with new i-Pods signed by STEVE JOBS himself.

After a couple of days in hospital for checks and recovery, they will have to choose from a number of invitations. All 33 can go to a Greek Isle for two week's rest offered by a Greek travel consortium. SIR BOBBY CHALTON, the owner of famed soccer club MANCHESTER UNITED has invited the lads to a stay at OLD TRAFFLAR for front row seats at an upcoming match. (All the miners are big soccer fans!). One miner, EDISON PENA is a huge Elvis fan and requested his albums to pass the time. So it comes as no surprise the GRACELAND THEME PARK has invited him to Tennessee for a private tour.

Then, there are the gifts. The whole thing kind of feels like a game show. "Tell the audience what the trapped miners have won, Bob!" "Well, sure, Ted! In addition to the Greek and British holidays, our trapped miners will receive a year's worth of delicious Chilean wines, made from some of the oldest vines in the continent. They'll also enjoy the taste of SUSHI X, (a Japanese restaurant chain) who is giving each trapped miner a year's worth of FREE SUSHI. (Hope they don't deliver it all at once!). And then there's free beer, sodas and...of course...TURTLE WAX!"

Sorry, got carried away, just like FLO FROM PROGRESSIVE. Anyhow, perhaps the luckiest miner is VICTOR SEGOVIA, who from the first day forward, kept a written journal of the entire entrapment. As the only one to do so, this exclusive book has publishers salivating all across the world. Not to mention the TV interviews, exclusive tabloid reports and Internet chats. But my favorite has to be the endorsement offers. One is to plug drills and the other is for a sex aid vitamin. Hey...what were those guys doing down there???

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

OCT 5 OKTOBERFEST SETS CHICKEN EATING RECORD


OCT 5 OKTOBERFEST SETS CHICKEN EATING RECORD

Yesterday, the mightiest of German festivals, OKTOBERFEST, officially came to a close. And this year's fest set some pretty impressive accomplishments. As always, those meticulous Germans love to make annual announcements about each year's OKTOBERFEST. And, as always, the figures are amazingly accurate. In 2010, 66,436 hectolitres (what is that?) of beer were drank, 116,923 sausages were eaten...and...488,137 chickens were consumed. A NEW RECORD!

Having attended this esteemed event, I thought it might be helpful for DUNER to share some brief items about OKTOBERFEST. Read them, laugh at them, then file them away in a corner of your brain. Next time you're at a restaurant and some one's friend's boyfriend is visiting from Stuttgart and you end up stuck talking with him while waiting for your table, you can throw out some of these fascinating tidbits. Because...love it or hate it...EVERY GERMAN PERSON has an opinion on OKTOBERFEST. And...love it or hate it...EVERY GERMAN PERSON... absolutely believes that their opinion on the matter is, in fact, the correct one!

First thing: This year's OKTOBERFEST was an import milestone for the festival, as it marked the 200th anniversary of the initial event. Indeed, the exact date was October 12, 1810. At the time, there was no united "Germany," just an enormous patchwork of Royal Kingdoms, Church-owned Principalities and 'free' trading cities. One of largest such states was the proud Kingdom of Bavaria, where King Ludwig the First was about to be wed to Princess Therese of Saxony. To celebrate such a momentous event, two weeks worth of pre-wedding festivities were being held in the capital, Munich. On the 12th, to the delight of the citizenry, the two royals raced each other on horseback around a lush meadow. What a stupendous October fest!

Since everyone had such a great time, it was decided to repeat the two week celebration every October. In 1835 the first inaugural parade was held. The parade was led the Munchen Kindl, which were dozens of boys dressed by a local monastery. They would serve as the inspiration for the Munchkins in Frank Baum's novel THE WIZARD OF OZ. In 1880, electric lights were installed for the first time. And guess who screwed them in? ALBERT EINSTEIN, of course! He was twenty at the time and worked for his uncle's hardware store. But not all Oktoberfest times are good. The festival has been cancelled 23 times for wars. The longest such stoppage was for the Prussian war, which would eventually result in the end of the Bavarian Kingdom. And there was that awful time in 1854 when a nasty outbreak of cholera killed 4,000 people in Munich. No celebrating that year!

Finally, here are three personal DUNER OKTOBERFEST TIPS: 1. Eat the chicken. They will serve you an entire bird. Eat it all; you'll need the base in your stomach and it's easier to digest than sausage. 2. Watch out for the steins. These large glasses hold a liter of beer and weigh a hefty 1.3 kg (2.9 lbs). While thefts are down, stein assaults are up. 3. Avoid the meadow. Since 1960, the famous site of the horse races is now a grassy meadow. At night, it becomes a very shady place, with amazingly drunk people stumbling around in varying states of consciousness. Even though the bathroom line may be long, don't pee on the tree!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

SEPT 24 OHIO STATE MASCOT TACKLED: NATION REJOICES


SEPT 24 OHIO STATE MASCOT HURT: NATION REJOICES

Many sports fans across the world joined hands and celebrated what has to be one of the most celebrated events in sports history. Much bigger than JESSIE OWENS record race in the 100m at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. And much better than BILLIE JEAN KING's win in the 'Battle of the Sexes' tennis match in 1972. Heck, this even bigger than KOBE BRYANT and the LAKERS as the current back-to-back NBA CHAMPIONS. What is it, you ask? (Well, it's in the headline, dumb-ass! And the photo!) Someone finally got to beat the crap out of BRUTUS BUCKEYE the OHIO STATE MASCOT.

Sure, some people (like BIG JACK) argue that mascots are not an integral part of sports. "No cheerleader ever won a game" they'll point out. But sports aren't just about winning and losing. No, sports are about character; sports are about how you show yourself to the world. Don't believe me? Let's play word association. I say: basketball coach BOBBY KNIGHT. What did you first think about? His national championship at Indiana? Nope, it was him throwing a chair at official in the MIDDLE OF THE GAME. It was completely OUT of CHARACTER for a mature-grey-haired-leader to act like a tantrum-throwing-toddler.

The same goes for mascots. Love it, or hate it, when TOMMY TROJAN comes thundering out on a proud white stallion brandishing a flashy sword, USC already has an advantage on the playing field. The fans go nuts and feel invincible just by association. So do the players. But what about mascots which aren't fierce? What about mascots which are just plain embarrassing like BRUTUS BUCKEYE? We all know Ohio's state nickname is the same as the tree. But why make it the mascot of the football team as well? Anyhow, just like his rival, the STANFURD TREE, he is always on the top the lists of the dumbest mascots and everyone associated with college sports suffers.

What also makes the assault of Bucky even more stupendous what how it was carried out. Hero BRANDON HANNING has been banned from any contact with Ohio sports, and he doesn't care. He admits the entire thing was premeditated. "I tried out about a year ago and the only reason I tried out was so I could come up here to Ohio State and tackle Brutus." He studied the game tape to find the best possible time to pummel him. And, to the joy of sports fans everywhere, the most important moment finally happened. Thank you, BRANDON!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SEPT 14 CHIMPANZEE MASSACRE IN THE CONGO


SEPT 14 CHIMPANZEE MASSACRE IN THE CONGO

We here at the DUNER-BLOG worry about things that other people don't. We stay up late at night worrying about that postman in Calgary who was viciously attacked by a family of hawks on her remote route. (They even broke her bicycle helmet! But she's doing fine.) We're also concerned about the vulcanologist in Sumatra who is gravely ill after inhaling ash and fumes from the surprise eruption of Mt. Sinabung. (He too is recovering well!) So it comes as no surprise that everyone at the DUNER-BLOG is completely ENRAGED over the merciless slaughter of man's closest relatives in the Eastern Congo. WE NEED TO SAVE THE CHIMPS!!!

Sorry...I got a little carried away there...but we do have a serious problem brewing in Central Africa. The so-called "Democratic Republic of the Congo" is a gigantic nation with ginormous problems. The DRC ranks 12th in the world in size. With a whopping 71 million people, it now ranks 18th on the world population charts. On the other side, the Congo has the second lowest GDP per capital of all IMF nations. People earn about $200 a year. That doesn't leave a lot of money for good food. So people eat whatever they can. And the easiest thing to catch and eat is a chimpanzee. SOMEONE NEEDS TO HELP THE CHIMPS!!!

But aren't chimps protected? Sure, but a law is only good when it is enforced, which has never happened in the Congo. Uh-oh! It's time for another DUNER-BLOG HISTORY LESSON! Here we go: Until 1850, aside from a couple of crazy-ass English explorers, no white people ever ventured very deep into the jungles of Africa. Hence, much of the Congo lay unclaimed when BELGIUM arrived very late in the colonial free-for-all of the 1800's. They hired SIR HENRY STANLEY (Livingstone was busy) to explore the massive area and claim everything he saw for Belgium. He did an amazing job. The BELGIAN CONGO was now on the map. Let the plundering begin! For the next 50 years, King Leopold enslaved locals to produce rubber and mine for diamonds. When Zaire became independent in 1960, all 100,000 Europeans instantly fled. For the last 50 years, the DR Congo (the nation has changed its name six times) has wallowed in civil war and anarchy. SO THERE IS NO ONE THE HELP THE CHIMPS!!!

Indeed, and as poverty spreads, people become more and more desperate for food. In the outdoor markets, BUSH MEAT is becoming more and more common. Poachers venture into the plentiful rain forests with high-tech American-made rifles and pluck off the peaceful chimps like shooting practice. Just how bad is it? A researcher from the University of Amsterdam, CLEVE HICKS recently reported the the LONDON GUARDIAN about his startling discoveries in the Eastern Congo. Having made many trips over the past couple of decades to observe the primates, he couldn't help but notice an alarming increase in the number of orphaned chimps in the last year. He looked but found no bones or carcasses of corresponding adults. In search of an answer, he inquired in the local town and quickly found the answer. The fifty adult chimp carcasses were right there, behind the outdoor market. IT WAS TOO LATE TO HELP THE CHIMPS!!!

Hundreds of years from now, historians will look back at the year 2010 and wonder. In the year 1810 or 1910, it was understandable why poachers were allowed to drive certain animal species to extinction...science was still in its infancy. But in 2010, when everyone understood that EXTINCTION IS FOREVER, they still ignored vital signs and let the earth deteriorate. These historians will look at the news headlines on Sept. 14, 2010 and will understand why we let the Chimps die. LADY GAGA WON EIGHT MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

SEPT 9 FINALLY! PLAYBOY MAGAZINE FOR THE BLIND!


SEPT 9 FINALLY! PLAYBOY MAGAZINE FOR THE BLIND

All my life I've pondered a difficult question: How do blind people read PLAYBOY MAGAZINE? Sure, it's easy to get a Charles Dickens novel read to you on an audio tape. Or one could read the LA Times in braille. Both would be pretty similar to actually reading a book or looking at a newspaper. But PLAYBOY is all about the pages themselves. Sure, a blind person could hold the magazine...but it just wouldn't be the same!

Well, thanks to volunteers at the TAPING FOR THE BLIND FOUNDATION in Houston, folks can ...for the first time ever...get verbal descriptions of Playboy Magazine. A local DJ for a classic rock radio station named SUZI HANKS was approached about the project. She was happy to use her, deep, sultry voice for something other than announcing yet another classic from LED ZEPPELIN. And the results have been amazing. It's one of the most requested items from the foundation's catalog. But she denies trying to 'sex-up' her takes. Says Hanks: "I just read it, and I'm a woman. That's pretty much all the sexy."

She doesn't read the magazine cover-to-cover. She begins with the articles and the jokes. She also describes the cartoons and reads the phony 'letters to the editor.' But sooner or later, she gets to the centerfold. Okay, Okay, I'll give you a sampling:

"She's a Latina, brunette with dark, chocolate eyes. She has long curly brown hair. In the first photo, she is sitting in the ocean. She has a very large grin on her face, pink lipstick. She has a small tattoo right over the small of her back, over the dimple area, that appears to be some sort of tribal design. It is red. Her legs are kind of crossed. Behind her shoulder, down past her arm, you can see her breast peeking out. There are no tan lines at all. She is not wearing any nail polish or jewelry, or...anything!"

Ahem! When asked later why she mentioned the nail polish, Hanks replied: "Sometimes it's all they have on!"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

AUG 31 PITY POOR PAKISTAN--NO ONE LOVES YOU!


AUG 31 PITY POOR PAKISTAN--NO ONE LOVES YOU!

For those of you who just read my blog and get no other sources of news: There has been massive flooding in Pakistan. An "Act of God" has unleashed deluge after deluge on the country, destroying everything in its path. The statistics are staggering. The most rainfall in 80 years. 2,000 people dead. 1.4 million acres of farm land destroyed. Eight million people displaced. A fifth of the country is still underwater. Even TEN THOUSAND COWS HAVE DROWNED!!!

But...no matter how loudly we scream about the misery in Pakistan...NO ONE seems to care. Which is unlike other natural disasters. In fact, earlier this year I blogged about how impressive private American response was to the earthquake in Haiti. (Remember, even one of the JONAS BROTHERS went to Port-au-Prince to help?) Trust me, no one from the DisneyChannel hit series CAMP ROCK is flying to Karachi to help this crisis. Don't believe me? Let's check the statistics. So far, US relief agencies have raised $12 million dollars to help Pakistan. These same organizations donated $500 million to Haiti...some 40 times more!

Why the big disparity in aid? Well, let's face it, some countries just are popular and some are not. Everyone loves the JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM. No one loves terrorist camps in the TORA BORA MOUNTAINS. Everyone loves happy kids playing at DISNEYLAND. No one loves seeing brainwashed children chanting in fundamentalist Islamic MADRASAH SCHOOLS. Get my point? So when we get news that the cave where OSAMA BIN LADEN lives might be wrecked, we tend to celebrate instead of writing a check to OXFAM.

And it's not just Americans. Pakistan's neighbor INDIA hasn't sent much aid either. The two countries have severed relations after Pakistani nationals were convicted of killing 100 people in a downtown Mumbai hotel. And while other Islamic nations like Iran and Indonesia have 'observer status' in the ARAB LEAGUE, Pakistan's turbulent politics have ruined this relationship as well. The bottom line is: Pakistan has no friends.

However, SAMUEL WORTHINGTON of the charity InterAction disagrees with this notion. It's wrong to view a nation only through the eyes of skewed media. He reminds us that Pakistan's population is now at 170 million, making it the sixth largest nation on earth. More people live in Pakistan than in Russia, Japan or Mexico. Yet the whole nation "tends to be labeled through a very small subset of terrorists." Worthington asserts that the vast majority of Pakistani people, "Whether they are lawyers or farmers, they are just people who simply want to live in peace. Their story doesn't get told, but it needs to be told, especially when they're suffering."

Friday, August 20, 2010

AUG 20 CHINA OVERTAKES JAPAN AS #2 WORLD ECONOMY


AUG 20 CHINA OVERTAKES JAPAN AS #2 WORLD ECONOMY

It's been RUMORED to happen for years, but the official stats are now in: According to a Japanese government report, the nation's GNP growth grew a measly 0.4% in the last financial quarter. This puts the island nation's nominal GNP (a figure not adjusted for price and seasonal variations) at $1.286 trillion. China, who's quarterly growth was ten times of Japan's, now has a nominal GNP of $1.335 trillion. This means that for the FIRST TIME EVER China's economy is the second largest on earth!

Now this many seem trivial to some...but let's face it...this list doesn't change very often. The last time a nation in the top two spots switched was way back in 1968, when Japan nudged WEST GERMANY out of the #2 spot. And, unless Europe manages to merge into one country, it likely won't change for another 42 years either. How has this bombshell affected world economies? The Dow Jones fell 73 points. The French CAAC and German DAX stock markets also dropped sharply. The Japanese Nikkei naturally fell the most, hitting a thirteen-month low. Ouch!

While the Japanese mourn, the Chinese can celebrate. After all, China can truly now claim that the boisterous, robust nation is the main reason for the world's slow, but steady, climb out of massive recession. With 10% growth, it is indeed a global beacon. But, amongst the top five economies, China is definitely a black sheep. With an average personal income of just $3,600, it has a huge gap between rich and poor. China relies heavily on other nations purchasing their exports, which...as we all know...aren't always the best products. On the other hand, Japan is the world's largest producer of cars and technological products. When this sector sees slow growth, it is much more alarming to the world economic machine. It shows how demand, particularly in Asia, is cooling considerably.

Naoto Kan, Japan's prime minister, knows the heat is on. But he's trying to downplay it as mere statistical nonsense. Or, as Kyohei Morita, the chief economist as BARCLAY'S CAPITAL in Tokyo said: "We should be more concerned about per-capita GDP. This this just symbolic. It's nothing more than that." Let's hope he's right, or we'll all be driving some pretty cheap Chinese cars real soon!








Friday, August 13, 2010


AUG 13 BRITON FIRST MAN TO WALK ENTIRE AMAZON RIVER

Earlier this week, a 34 year old former English Army Captain named became the first known human to walk the entire length of the Amazon River. It took ED STAFFORD a total of 859 days (two-and-a-half years) to complete. But today, the tenacious man from Hallation, Leicestershire can boldly state that he has done something NO MAN HAS EVER DONE BEFORE. And...something no one will likely ever do again!

During the course of his journey from the tiny APURIMAC RIVER (the source of the Amazon, high in the Peruvian Andies) to the sandy beaches of the ATLANTIC OCEAN, Ed encountered obstacles that would baffle ordinary people. The Brazilian government has little control over the indigenous peoples who live in the heart of the world's largest rain forest. So in order to cross large patches of jungle, he had to negotiate with tribal chiefs for permission to walk across their lands. He soon learned that leaders communicated with other villages using short wave radios. It was wise to ask neighboring villages ahead of time to avoid conflict. However, once this planned backfired. A chief had replied "No gringo may walk on our soil" and really meant it. When he arrived, poor Ed was imprisoned in a cage for two days before things got worked out!

While PEOPLE were could be negotiated with, the AMINALS could not. As everyone knows, the largest carnivores in the world are found in the Amazon Basin. The most ferocious are the CAIMAN CROCODILES. The largest one Ed saw was a whopping EIGHTEEN FEET LONG. However, Ed blogged that they were not very interested in humans. Neither was another obvious foe, the giant ANACONDA snakes, who also eschewed eating British explorers. No, the worst natural enemy Ed had to face were the giant colonies of LEAF-CUTTER ANTS. These voracious insects have extremely sharp teeth. Within seconds, they could lacerate his legs or suddenly rip his tent to shreds. However, there was one enemy that Ed managed to turn the tables on: the mighty schools of man-eating PIRANHA FISH. Ed caught them, smoked them, and ate them with sea salt for dinner!

Although he raised the $100,000 to fund the expedition mostly through non-profit corporations, Ed insists he no left-wing-eco-warrior. He says he loves adventure and the thrill of exploration. But, through his blog, he does want to bring awareness to the real situation occurring in the rain forest. While he believes the average Amazon resident is acutely aware of the dangers of de-forestation, many renegade, corrupt tribal leaders are not. They operate in areas federal governments cannot reach and are to blame for much of the illegal logging. However, Ed 'keeps his fingers crossed' that the next generation of Amazon leaders will be 'more in tune with the delicate situation' and will work with outside help to best preserve the earth's largest producer of live-giving oxygen.

How does Mr. Stafford feel about his accomplishment? He said: "It's been an incredible journey with some amazing highs, but also some pretty horrendous lows as well. But I just couldn't consider giving in." Another question reporters asked: What's next? Stafford replied that he does indeed have another exploration planned, but he wouldn't divulge any secrets. He didn't want anyone else beating him to it!

NOTE: Watch Ed's videos and read his blogs at ManWalksTheAmazon.com

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

JULY 27 MOSCOW CRIPPLED BY HISTORIC HEATWAVE



JULY 27 MOSCOW CRIPPLED BY HISTORIC HEATWAVE

Bikinis and Speedos were all folks were wearing on the lawns of beautiful KOLOMENSHOYE PARK this week as record temperatures wrecked havoc in the Russian capital. While Muscovites know how to handle extreme cold better than anyone, they are completely baffled at how to combat extreme heat. Over fifty people have drowned in one week, as many attempt to swim without any prior experience. Shelves in electronic retailers are empty, as air-conditioners are now dominating the always thriving Moscow black market. Even the traditional 'changing-of-the-cavalry-guard' at Cathedral Square has been cancelled for the first time ever. Seems soldiers were passing out while marching in their traditional bright red wool coats.

Just how hot is it? Well, let's ask the experts. At 17:00 Moscow time (11:00 GMT) the principal meteorological station at the National Exhibition Center registered 98.06 degrees Farenheit, breaking the record of 1936 with the maximum temperature for July of 97.70 degrees. There's a chance of breaking the all-time record in Moscow of 98.24 degrees set back in 1920. (Wow! And I though GERMAN weathermen were detail-oriented!) And while my Mom in PHOENIX is reading this right now and saying: "98 degrees is cold," remember Ma, it never gets to 22 degrees BELOW ZERO in Arizona. (This year's lowest temperature in Moscow.)

Anyhow, with record TEMPERATURES comes record forest fires, so much of European Russia is now engulfed in flames. And...as you know...Russia is BIG! A state of emergency has been declared in 18 provinces as 26,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed. That's an area the size of PORTUGAL! (Told you Russia was BIG!) But don't worry, despite these loses, Russian authorities have announced that they will not be importing any grain. They have enough wheat stockpiled in reserves to withstand another German or French invasion...so a forest fire is no problem.

And finally, let's hear from the environmentalists. A GREENPEACE spokesperson in Moscow blamed humans for the meteorologic mess, noting that July 2010 has seen worldwide temperatures up 1.22 degrees from the average. Our friends at the principal meteorological station at the Central Exhibition Center refute this, noting curious trends. An unusually cold low pressure system northwest of the United Kingdom and a very dry high pressure system in the Mediterranean has brought hot African air to Central Europe resulting in the current situation.

Looks like the Kremlin is cooked!

Monday, July 19, 2010

JULY 19 WORLD'S OLDEST CHAMPAGNE FOUND


JULY 19 WORLD'S OLDEST CHAMPAGNE FOUND

Today's blog comes from an unlikely location; a barren spot 200 feet below the surface of the murky BALTIC SEA. Here, near the remote ALAND ISLANDS between the shores of Sweden and Finland, a team of divers were investigating a sunken vessel. To their delight, the boat turned out to be much older than expected. Just like in a million 'Popeye' cartoons or 'James Bond' movies, the curious divers pried apart the wooden hull and discovered a long forgotten cargo. Although most items had deteriorated beyond recognition, a number of cartons were perfectly intact. Once finally hauled to the surface, everyone was amazed to find they contained two dozen bottles of champagne!

The thirsty crew wasted no time in uncorking a bottle, as it was already perfectly chilled to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It was delicious! Or, as the diving crew captain CHRISTIAN EKSTROM put it: "It tasted fantastic. It was a sweet champagne, with a tobacco taste and oak, with overtones of yellow raisins." Once ashore, the precious cargo was taken away from the rowdy divers and examined by experts. It turns out the champagne hails from the CLIQUOT winery in Southwestern France, bottled around the year 1780. It was then shipped on a boat of unknown origin to St. Petersburg for the thirsty Russian aristocracy. The ship must have sank in one of the notorious storms that occasionally ravage the beastly Baltic. (NOTE: A French tabloid said it could be part of gift sent from French King LOUIS XVI to Russian czar PETER THE GREAT.)

So...you're asking...Is this REALLY the oldest bottles champagne on earth? Certainly, some French dude MUST have an older one. Nope! Prior to yesterday, the oldest champagne on earth was a 1825 bottle of PERRIER-JOULET. A new record has been set! And champagne enthusiasts have their mouths watering at the chance to taste it. But they'll have to wait. The bottles are now in a laboratory in France, where they are being examined. If the corks are reasonably intact, and the permanently cold Baltic waters served as a good enough wine cellar, the bottles will go up for sale.

Sorry, Schlaep. They are expected to cost $100,000 for EACH BOTTLE!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

JULY 15 PAUL THE OCTOPUS TO RETIRE


JULY 15 PAUL THE OCTOPUS TO RETIRE

Well, the WORLD CUP is over. And, after every major sporting event, there were winners and losers. On the field, SPAIN kicked ass and FRANCE sucked eggs. In the stands, MULTI-CULTURES reigned supreme while VUVUZELAS ruined eardrums. In the media, scores of knowledgeable ex-players, coaches and columnists were humbled by a most unlikely soccer expert: PAUL THE ORACLE OCTOPUS.

Just who is Paul and why is he so darn famous? Here's Paul's amazing story: Only two years of age, Paul was born in the polluted waters of the Mediterranean. One day, he met a marine biologist and was taken to an upscale aquarium in Northern Germany called the OBERHAUSEN SEA LIFE CENTRE. One of his many talents is strategically using the suction cups on his tentacles to open clear plastic boxes containing food, to the delight of adoring crowds young and old. An aquarium worker, delirious with WORLD CUP FEVER, came up with a plan. Before a match, he would place two boxes in the tank, each with the flag of an opponent on them. Paul would then choose one over the other, thus predicting the outcome of the game. To the amazement of the entire world, Paul managed to pick EIGHT straight winners, including the final match with SPAIN over HOLLAND.

As we said earlier, with major sporting events, there are winners and losers. The winners love Paul and the losers hate him...or PULPO PAUL...as he is called in Madrid. In fact, Prime Minister ZAPATERO has donned him honorary Spanish citizenship. He is found on Spanish flags, bumper stickers and T-shirts. Italians love him too. They have repeatedly noted that he was originally found in Italian waters off the island of Elba. They insist his name is PAOLO, not Paul. Unfortunately, the losers are being vicious to poor Paul. A chef in BUENOS AIRES blamed the poor octopus for the ugly Argentine loss to Germany. He went on TV and placed an effigy of beloved Paul in a large blender and pureed him to bits. A priest in HOLLAND warned worshippers not to believe 'evil oracle.' Bookies in London blamed him for the losses they incurred. Who knew an octopus could create so much worldwide controversy?

People in Germany are mixed on the subject of the Oracle Octopus. While they love him as a hero, they still are feeling the pain of coming up a game short. Let's review Paul's prognostications. His first projection was in a match that didn't involve DIE MANNSHAFT, Germany's national team. His next four prophecies were all German victories, which lead to his national spotlight. When he chose Spain over Germany in the semi-final, things got dicey for poor Paul, but he managed to redeem himself in the THIRD PLACE game, when he chose Germany over Uruguay. By the time the Final came around, everyone in the world wanted to know what he would choose. He correctly chose SPAIN and rose to the worldwide status he now enjoys.

So why retire now? Aquarium workers in Germany are concerned that all this fame has gone to Paul's cephlapod head. Indeed, record crowds gathered in OBERHAUSEN for the feedings and officials had trouble staffing the events. And Paul seemed to know it! On his last show, our friend spent FIFTEEN MINUTES, swimming around the plastic boxes, pretending to open one or another, as fans hooped and hollered each tentacle's move. (Who does Paul think he is? LEBRON JAMES?) Anyhow, it's always best to go out on top, so we'll just have to enjoy the fortunate times we all got to spend together. I'm just glad this didn't all take place in California...see...we're not so weird after all!

NOTE: For those of you who still can't get enough of Paul, he has his own theme song on YOU-TUBE by famous Internet songwriter PARRY GRIPP. Be prepared for such great lyrics as "He picks a winner/when he eats his dinner."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

JULY 7 THE SUPER-MODEL AND THE SUBPOENA


JULY 7 THE SUPER-MODEL AND THE SUBPOENA

People often ask me if I've read the latest JAMES PATTERSON crime novel or a STEIG LARSEN bestseller. I always respond the same way: I have no time for made-up-stories when the world presents so many actual, real-life events to read about. It's true, things that occur in the REAL WORLD are MUCH STRANGER THAN FICTION. And this week, the media brilliantly proved my point. A United Nations tribunal court in Holland slapped everyone's favorite super-model NAOMI CAMPBELL with a subpoena!

Those of us who follow the ridiculous day-to-day adventures of Ms. Campbell know she's often in trouble with the law. Usually, it's her infamous temper that gets her into trouble. Her last incident involved repeatedly striking a limo driver with a cell phone. (It was settled out of court). But this week's subpoena was different. Naomi is accused of possessing STOLEN BLOOD DIAMONDS from disgraced Liberian Dictator CHARLES TAYLOR.

Those of us who follow the ridiculous day-to-day adventures of Mr. Taylor know he's capable of just about anything. In fact, his life story would be a great 'made-for-TV' movie. Born and raised in Africa, Charles MacArthur Taylor went overseas and got a degree in Economics at Bentley College in Massachusetts. He returned to Liberia and became a finance minister. After embezzling a million dollars, he fled to the US only to be arrested. He escaped from a maximum-security prison by descending a 12-foot wall with a rope made from bed-sheets. Somehow, he made it to Libya. With Gaddafi's help, he returned to Liberia with a plan: Children would mine diamonds that he would sell for weapons. It worked splendidly! For six years he served as a corrupt president. Finally, under enormous pressure from US President George W. Bush, he fled in exile to (equally corrupt) Nigeria. When the pressure from the UN Courts finally got too great, he snuck out of his opulent seaside villa. However his luck had run out. Charles Taylor was apprehended in his Range Rover at the Cameroon border and taken to THE HAGUE for trial. He has been charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

So how did NAOMI CAMPBELL get involved? Years ago, when Charles Taylor was still accepted by the world community, he was in South Africa at a gala thrown by NELSON MANDELA. Our favorite super-model was also in attendance. It seems the dictator was so enthralled with Ms. Naomi's beauty that he arranged for her to receive one of his best BLOOD DIAMONDS as a token of his affections. Naomi insists she never received any such gifts. (In fact, when asked by a reporter, she broke his camera...just for good measure.) Anyhow, the prosecution in Holland is having a hard time tracking down any of Mr. Taylor's notorious diamonds. By subpoenaing Naomi, they hope the super-model will break down on the witness stand and give some hard evidence in the courtroom.

Will she crack? Will he plead? Stay tuned for more wacky adventures when the Naomi and Charles saga continues next month!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

JUNE 29 G-20 NATIONS PLAN WORLD CONQUEST


JUNE 29 G-20 NATIONS PLAN WORLD CONQUEST

Psst...Wanna know a secret? While the rest of the planet is glued to their TVs and I-PHONES watching WORLD CUP SOCCER, a select group of insanely wealthy and highly influential men and women are meeting in Toronto. They spend their days plotting their evil plans of financial domination of the world. They spend their nights negotiating treacherous alliances. Once sworn enemies now dine and dance together. All while the rest of the world is watching the world cup! Wake up, people! This isn't a JAMES BOND MOVIE...this is real!

Exaggeration? Hardly! Let's take a look at the 'combined fortunes' of the G-20 nations. Financially, they account for a whopping 85% of the world's Gross National Product (GNP). Physically, they have an enormous work force...an astounding 70% of the world's population live in G-20 nations. OK, but are this group really as sneaky as SPECTRE was in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME? Well, the G-20 does have no permanent chairperson. Nor any permanent staff. Host nations rotate around the world, with CANADA getting the nod this year. And just think of the pedigree around that table in Toronto! Not only is Obama, Medvedev, Berlusconi and Jintao there, but also their finance ministers, cabinet members, central bank governors and federal reserve chairman Ben Benacke as well.

And while no one is comparing a G-20 summit to historical events like the TREATY OF VERSAILLES or the CONGRESS OF VIENNA, some people around the world think we should. The finance minister of Norway, JONAS STORE, calls it "one of the greatest setbacks since World War II." While the UN was inclusive of all nations, the G-20 leaves out 169 other, smaller countries. Norway, not part of the European Currency Zone, is one such nation. Although Norway helps bankroll development programs for the WORLD BANK, it gets no say in the major discussions that take place at the G-20 summits. Instead, the self-appointed 'masters of the world' take care of everything for us.

But don't worry, the G-20 isn't completely evil. They do pick and chose which countries get to come and which ones don't. And despite the fact that IRAN has the world's 17th largest GNP, it doesn't get to come to the party. (Not yet, at least!) Anyhow, since this is the DUNER BLOG, here's the list of the twenty members in terms of national GNP:

1. USA
2. CHINA
3. JAPAN
4. INDIA
5. GERMANY
6. RUSSIA
7. U.K.
8. FRANCE
9. BRAZIL
10. ITALY
11. MEXICO
12. S. KOREA
13. CANADA
14. INDONESIA
15. TURKEY
16. AUSTRALIA
17. SAUDI ARABIA
18. ARGENTINA
19. S. AFRICA
20. EUROPEAN UNION

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

JUNE 23 WORLD CUP WINNERS AND WHINERS


JUNE 23 WORLD CUP WINNERS AND WHINERS

It was without doubt the most exciting moment of soccer I have ever witnessed. With only a handful of seconds left in a scoreless tie, it seemed the US team would once again be coming home early. With them would come the dream. The dream that someday, average American sports fans, like myself, would come to love the sport, thereby uniting the world in a TV commercial endorsement nirvana. But at the moment, it was Nil to Nil. I was watching a defensive quagmire until LANDON DONOVAN made US soccer history by scoring the winning goal!

Let's face it: The US may rule the world militarily, but in soccer we stink. This is only the eighth time the US has made it to the world cup. Our best finish (third place) was in the inaugural World Cup, way back in 1930. (So that doesn't count!) The next appearance, in 1950, featured the "Miracle on Grass" when the Yanks upset England 1-0. But we still didn't make the knockout round. Forty years would pass before another US World Cup appearance. And since 1990, the Americans haven't missed the tournament. Unfortunately, we've only mustered a miserable 4-12-2 record in six cups, reaching the quarterfinals only once. In summary, the US is a third-world soccer power. Yet that is all about to change. With Donovan's goal, the US WON Group C and now faces puny GHANA on Saturday. The US is the 2010 World Cup's 'Cinderella Story.'

Meanwhile, the 2010 World Cup's most pathetic team is...without question...FRANCE. Les Blues were a penalty kick away from the last championship, and did the ultimate in 1998 by winning the title AND hosting the tournament in the same year. But in 2010, the team didn't just lose, they crashed and burned. Not only did they lose to both Mexico and South Africa, but they experienced a barrage of negative in-fighting as both coach and players vented to a tabloid-hungry media. Striker Nicolas Anelfa was sent home, players refused to practice and the coach Raymond Domenech got fired. All within a week!

How is Paris handling this? Not well. France winger Florent Malouda apologized to his nation. "It's a complete disaster that we chose to express ourselves like this," he said. "We're really sorry for the French population and the French fans. That's not what we want to show." Star striker Thierry Henry will meet President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday to discuss the debacle. The sport-themed newspaper L'Equipe summed it up best, calling it "THE END OF THE WORLD." Que horrible! Stay tuned, readers, we've got plenty more WORLD CUP blogs ahead!

This just in: Algerian player slaps female reporter in the face after match:
http://www.sbnation.com/2010/6/23/1533117/algeria-slap-reporter-world-cup-us

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16 VUVUZELAS: THE HORNS THAT RUINED THE WORLD CUP


June 16 VUVUZELAS: THE HORNS THAT RUINED THE WORLD CUP

As you know, I have been anxiously awaiting the start of the WORLD CUP SOCCER TOURNAMENT for months. For me, it began last Friday at 8:30 am (Pacific Daylight Time), when I got into my car to drive to work. I tuned in the radio to get an update on the first game between MEXICO and host nation SOUTH AFRICA. Unfortunately, it seemed there was some odd static on AM1050, a local sports radio station. I tried to adjust the knob, only to realize it was digitally locked on. No matter how I tried, I couldn't seem to get rid of that odd buzzing sound. The next day, when I turned on the TV to catch the USA / ENGLAND match, there it was again! What could it be?

Like the other TWO BILLION people tuning into catch the BEST SPORTING EVENT EVER, my ears were being subject to the sound of the VUVUZELA horn. It's about three feet long, made of plastic, and emits only one note: B-flat. The word is Zulu for "making a vu-vu noise." For decades, it has been a favorite of South African fans, who have apparently purchased 99% of stadium seats. While THEY may be used to the monotonous instrument, the rest of the world is not. Visiting announcers are the most enraged. A WASHINGTON POST reporter called the sound a "deafening swarm of locusts" while the LONDON TIMES thought it sounded like "a goat on its way to slaughter."

But the VUVUZELA is proving to be more than an inconvenience. Players complain that the constant noise interferes with their ability to communicate with the coach and teammates. Portugal's CRISTIANO RONALDO (Google his photo, ladies. He's...like...fine!) said this and French striker PATRICE EVRA blamed the VUVUZELA for his team's poor performance. Worse yet, many feel the horns are a public safety issue. Organizers worry the 127 decibel noise (ten decibels louder than a referee's whistle) emitted by the horns would make it impossible for spectators to hear emergency announcements in the event of an evacuation.

The international soccer body, FIFA, heard the complaints and made a stand on the controversy. Spokesperson Sepp Blatter defended the VUVUZELA stating: "I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound. I don't see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?" So it looks like the VUVUZELA is here to stay. It just seems sad that such a historic event won't be remembered as a 'bridging of cultures' in a 'mis-understood continent.' Nope, it'll be remembered by a very annoying BBBBBBBUUUUUUUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

Oh...by the way...there is a new GIRL GROUP called 'Las Vuvuzelas.' Google their photo, guys. They're...like...totally hot!