Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



History occurred at seven o'clock last night.  In Amsterdam, the Dutch monarch delivered a somber address on National TV. All across the Netherlands, citizens listened closely to their Queen as she made her brief but sudden announcement. Effective April 30th, (the Queen's Day holiday) she is abdicating.  Loved by many...hated by some...but respected by all...Queen Beatrix is a monarch no more.  Her tumultuous twenty-three year reign is officially over.  So...join us at the DUNER BLOG as we take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of a truly great world leader.

Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of Orange was born 75 years ago in Utrecht.  Her baptism a year later in The Hague was massive.  A horde of European dukes and duchesses cheered, as the Great Cathedral erupted in adoration.  Her godparent, King Leopold III of Belgium, stood next to her mother, Princess Juliana and her grandmother, the glorious Queen Wilhelmina.  Unfortunately, the fun would be short lived.   A year later, Princess Beatrix and the entire House of Orange were forced to flee in exile to London when Nazi Panzer forces overran the Low Countries.  Although the Dutch Monarchy was reinstated after war, things were different.  When Queen Wilhelmina died in 1948 and Queen Juliana took over the throne, the pomp and circumstance of the past was missing from the ceremonies. 

In the 1950's, things changed and a 'Golden Period' of prosperity followed.  In 1962 Rotterdam became the busiest port in the world, as products from a robust Central Europe were received and sent around the globe.  One such product was CLAUS VON AMSBERG, a German aristocrat who proposed to Princess Beatrix in 1965.  Their marriage set off a wave of anti-royal protests nationwide.  How could a Dutch princess marry a former Nazi?  "Raus Claus!" (Claus Out!) they shouted.  None of this mattered to Beatrix. Undeterred by the negative press, she instead ushered in a new, forgiving attitude towards Holland's domineering Eastern neighbor.  Over time, the anti-German fervor in the Netherlands waned.  By the time Prince Claus died in 2002, all was forgiven.   His sense of humor, compassion for the poor and 'common man' approachability to Dutch citizens won over the hearts and minds of a nation.

In 2009, Queen Beatrix again showed her toughness when she survived a horrific assassination attempt.  KARST TATES, a derranged anti-Monarchist, crashed his cheap Suzuki compact car into the Queen's motorcade.  Eight innocent people were killed but Beatrix survived.  Afterwards, she shocked the world with a compassionate speech, again emphasizing 'peace and harmony' over 'anger and distrust.'  Rather than demonize her killer, the assassin is currently serving a life sentence without parole and is receiving much needed psychiatric treatment. 

Finally, we here at the DUNER BLOG salute the Dutch Royal Family for having the wisdom to abdicate and let a more able leader take over the duties of the state.  Although still very healthy at age 75, Beatrix felt it was time for a "New Generation" to lead Holland.  (Are you listening...Queen Elizabeth II?  Put Wills and Kate on the throne NOW!)  Anyhow, Holland will soon have its first King in 123 years.  Prince Willem Alexander is a robust 45 years old and is married to a sexy Argentine.  No dates have been set for the coronation ceremonies in Amsterdam...but don't worry...the DUNER BLOG will keep you informed!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013



This may be hard to believe...but...every once in awhile...the DUNER BLOG makes a mistake.  For example, we're not too proud of our post: LANCE ARMSTRONG IS A HERO (Aug. 29).  We also blew it with MAYAN DOOMSDAY WILL HAPPEN (May 24).  Anyhow, events occurred in West Africa last week that you might have missed. They unfortunately discredit another post from last year: AZAWAD: THE NEWEST AFRICAN NATION? (March 28).  It seems troops from France invaded Mali and liberated the Northern Provinces, thus ending the reign of our new, renegade nation...and thus proving the DUNER BLOG wrong.  D'oh!

Oops! Way Too Much Information to digest in that opening paragraph.  Let's start with your most obvious question: France successfully invaded another nation?  No way!  Alright...let's put this silly American joke to rest.  Despite being invaded by Germany twice last century, overall the French have a pretty high success rate on the battlefields of the world.  Napoleon won 80% of his battles.  Only Britain colonized more territory.  Therefore, it came as no surprise when France came to the aid the Malian Army. The Air Force conducted a swift and effective operation, liberating a million square kilometers of territory.

Your next question: Did anyone other than the DUNER BLOG recognize the state of Azawad?  The answer is: No.  Not a single nation recognized Azawad as an independent nation.  It was also passed over by international organizations.  The United Nations, NATO and ECOWAS all issued vague statements of lament.  The African Union went as far as to denounce the revolutionaries, declaring the State of Azawad to be "null and of no value whatsoever."  Ouch!  It's true...the ragtag Tuaregs who liberated the region are a nomadic people who have never participated in any form of organized rule.  After ten months in Mali, they migrated east, following their livestock.

Next up: What's in the future for Azawad? This is the most difficult question to answer.  While the area has been cleared of the Jihadists (they're Niger's problem now!), the Malian Army has been hesitant to send in ground forces to reclaim the territory.  They say the region is littered with landmines, armed with tiny guerrilla groups and houses hostile civilians.  They're right!  France's military operations were largely from the air...they didn't want any troops to be killed.  The bottom line is no one wants to mess with a bunch of armed yahoo renegade terrorists living in the Sahara Desert. Currently, the plan is to wait for the African Union to assemble a force to reunite the nation.

Timbuktu in better times.
  The real problem here...as addressed in the earlier blog...is trying to enforce law within the imaginary lines in the sand that separate the "nations" of Africa.  The borders were haphazardly drawn by the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese and have no regard for the actual peoples who live there.  Mali will continue to stumble as a nation-state, as the Mande, Fula, Songhai and Tuareg all jostle amongst each other for power under the faux umbrella of a functioning country.  After all,  'Mali' is named after a medieval empire that collapsed in 1078 and hasn't really existed since.  For the time being, Timbuktu (the brief capital of Azawad) will return to being a place no one (but German tourists) care about.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Prince Amadeo

As our faithful readers know, we here at the DUNER BLOG have a special penchant for royalty. And...apparently...so do you!  See, our three blogs on last year's Royal Wedding in London received more pageviews than others.  To continue this trend and to honor every girl's dream of being swept off their feet by a handsome prince...here are our TOP SEVEN AVAILABLE ROYAL HUNKS: 

#7  Prince Amedeo of Belgium. This handsome young man is dripping in Royalty.  According to Wikipedia, he descends from the "Austrian, Belgian, Italian, French, Swedish, Danish, British, Portuguese, Spanish and German royal and imperial families." To accomplish such a feat, all eight of his great-grandparents were in Royal European houses. While debonair, cultured and sexy, he is seventh on our list because he is seventh in line to the Belgian throne...meaning you're not likely to become a queen if you marry him!  

Prince Andrea Casiraghi
#6  Prince Andrea Casiraghi of Monaco.  Unlike Amedeo, if you marry Prince Andrea you are guaranteed to be a Queen.  He's first in line to the throne.  And what a kingdom you'll have---We're talking Monte Carlo, baby!  However, the reason this prince is dropped to sixth on the list is his unstellar personality.  The Paris Paparazzi call him 'enfant terrible' for good reason.  He's broken off three wedding engagements, has a child out of wedlock and his French Driver's License is still revoked for going 200 km/hr on a Lyon Expressway.

Prince Philippos
#5  Prince Philippos of Greece.  In 1967, the Greek Monarchy was abolished by socialists.  Since then, the deposed Royal family has been forced to live in a variety of Roman palaces and Swiss chalets...which is where our prince was raised. Today, the sensitive 27-year-old avoids the limelight and is dedicated to a variety of social causes.  He earned our #5 spot by turning down a reality TV role on Britain's ITV network.  Smart, indeed!  No Royal Prince would dare join the ranks of Fergie and Snooki!

Prince Azim
 #4  Prince Azim of Brunei.  Unlike Philippos, hooking up with this jet-setter is going to be wild!  For the last dozen years, the oil-soaked multi-millionaire has shown he loves to party.  His 30th Birthday affair was the stuff of legends...attended by such A-list celebs as Mariah Carey, Sophia Loren and Joan Collins. Also, it would also be interesting to hear any details about his close friendship with the King of Pop Michael Jackson...legends abound about their misbehavior together.

Prince Adewale
#3  Prince Adewale of Nigeria.  The British hate to acknowledge it, but their empire failed to conquer many African Kingdoms.  Some...like the Sokoto Caliphate...are granted autonomy by the Nigerian Government.  Others...like the Yoruba Kingdom of Emure...exist only ceremonial title.  None of that stops us from loving Adewale, second in line to the Emuri throne.  Not only is he sexy, but he has 387 career tackles for the Chicago Bears.

Crown Prince of Dubai
#2  Crown Prince of Dubai.  Can you say Cha-Ching?  Marrying this prince will definitely get you bling.  See, the House of Al-Falasi technically owns all of the United Arab Emirates...which kinda means you'd own the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai!  But, if you marry this prince, you'd better be active.  This prince is an accomplished equestrian, scuba and skydiver.  He gets the #2 spot because he is the only royal bachelor who writes poetry.   

The Winner!!!
 #1  Prince Carl Phillip of Sweden.  At the end of the day, you're gonna have to go to bed with your prince.  This means......well...you know...he'd better be fine!  Without doubt, Prince Carl Philip is the handsomest prince on the list.  Right? Apparently, he is a talented graphic designer and is dedicated in lifetime service to his father King Carl XVI Gustaf...but does that really matter

NOTE: Prince Harry of Wales did not make our List of Royal Bachelors...Way too much baggage!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013



HAPPY NEW YEAR from your friends at the DUNER BLOG!  We're starting off 2013 with a great news item from Europe that you might have missed.  So let's get started!  One trend that will certainly continue in the New Year is anger towards the ultra-rich.  Often called the One Percent, the folks at the top of the financial pyramid are currently under a vicious attack.  Activists worldwide are demanding higher income taxes on their wealthiest citizens.  In socialist France, these taxes have become a reality.  On January First, the Super-Tax (now there's a scary term!) went into effect nationwide.  The tax calls for a 75% flat rate on every person's income that exceeds 1 million Euros. 

Naturally, the Super-Tax has enraged one of France's most famous (and richest) citizens, actor GERARD DEPARDIEU.  First of all, we here at the DUNER BLOG do believe movie stars are horribly overpaid.  For example, Ben Affleck gets $10 million a movie.  That's not right.  Sure, Depardieu is a gifted actor...but...does his body of work really justify his wealth at $200 million dollars?  While these are good questions indeed, we don't think The French Government should decide such matters. We also don't think any government should force a citizen to give more than half of his/her earnings to federal tax collectors.  To escape this injustice, Gerard Depardieu announced he was moving to Belgium where taxes are lower, around 55%.  He finally decided to leave Western Europe altogether and move to Russia, where taxes are very low...thus angering the entire nation of France.

And...as we all know...the Paris Papparzzi is really mean.  Last year...when Monsieur Depardieu's real estate agent put up his St. Germain de Pres mansion at a staggering $66 million dollars, tabloids called the actor a "Hollywood snob" and suggested he move to California.  Today, the press are having a field day covering Gerard's shenanigans.   The cartoonish actor appeared in Russia on Saturday, flanked by President Putin, proudly displaying his new Russian passport for reporters.  See, Russia has a flat 13% income tax rate for everyone.  But this isn't the reason for Depardieu's defection.  He claims it's his "admiration of Russian History and Artists."

You're asking yourself: Why does Putin care about a washed-up French actor? Well, Vladimir is horribly concerned about his image as a cool dude.  He hunts wild elk, has a black belt in judo and is often photographed without his shirt on.  When Putin heard about Depardieu's plight, he saw a great opportunity to show his cultural virality as well.  He dispatched aides to Paris and quickly arranged for the whole charade to unfold.  It culminated with the staged press conference on Sunday.  With the Caucaus Mountains in the background, the actor and the president exchanged handshakes and smiles.  As expected, it was the opening story on all state-run TV news channels across Russia.

While the story makes for witty blogs and great jokes, it isn't so funny back in Paris. In short, the French really hate the rich.  Everyone knows about their insane revolution when peasants rose up against Louis XVI and the rich.  Rather than imprision the wealthy, the Parisians devised grandoise execution machines.  Even today, extreme wealth is still frowned upon in France.  Current President FRANCOIS HOLLANDE declared; "I don't like the rich." on the campaign trail and got millions of votes.  To soothe nerves, most French are viewing the matter as another chapter in Depardieu's sad decline.  Recently, he was kicked off a flight in Ireland for peeing on an empty seat.  Last June, he was arrested for crashing a scooter in the Left Bank while drunk.  Sacre bleu!

Let's just hope Gerard spends the New Year making movies and staying out of the headlines!