Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Tomorrow morning, when the banks open in Cyprus, there is going to be furious anger.  When customers access their accounts, they will notice their balances are smaller.  For the first time ever, a government has decided to solve financial problems by taking money from private citizens without their consent.  Why has Cyprus gone crazy?  C'mon, you know why!  To advert another financial crisis, that's why.   Simply put, the only money left on the Mediterranean island is cash in people's saving accounts.  Tomorrow morning, government officials are going into people's savings accounts and will remove funds.  This is soooo confusing.  My parents always told me:  Be smart and safe.  Put your money in a bank!

Alright..let's look at the specifics of the first ever Bank Bail-In.  It all starts with Angela Merkel, the Supreme Financial Commander of Europe.  She determined the exact amount of cash Cyprus needs to find to avoid bankruptcy: €10 billion.  The reach this sum, government officials divided this figure by the total amount in all saving accounts and came up with the following figures:  Accounts with a balance over €100,000 will have 9.9% of their cash seized.  People with smaller balances than this will have 6.75% taken.  This will instantly be injected back into the same banks to keep them from going bankrupt.

So you're asking yourself...why doesn't everyone in Cyprus simply withdrawl all their money before the government steals it?  Duh!  The government already thought about that.  For the last ten days, all banks, branches and ATMs have been shut down.  In addition, it is impossible to transfer or wire any money off the island.   Your next question:  Won't the people start burning buildings down when the government steals their money tomorrow?   Let's hope not.  However, to insure riots don't erupt tomorrow, extra police have been dispatched in all major cities.

However...believe it or not...the Cyprus government isn't overly concerned about anarchy engulfing the island.   Why?  Because the majority of the money in Cypriot Banks does not belong to Cypriot citizens.  Nope, it's estimated about 70% of the money deposited in Nicosia banks is actually  Rubles from Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.  Wealthy gangsters love off-shore banks for their lack of questions and friendly service.  Naturally, Angela Merkel knows this and is thus able to justify her unthinkable actions.  According to The Merk, if you deposited money in an obviously unsafe bank, it's time for you to be punished for being naive!

In summary, people worldwide will snicker at these silly events on a remote and forgotten island and go on with their day.  However, we here at the DUNER BLOG want you to stop and think for a minute.  There is a serious precedent being set tomorrow that cannot be tolerated.  Governments should never be allowed to tapper with private citizen's money.  The fact that the money is from Russian mobsters is immaterial.  Cyprus needs to be stopped before other governments start solving their financial crises the same way.   

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



You asked for it…You got it! People from all over the world want to meet the New Pope! We here at the DUNER BLOG has assembled ten vital statistics about everyone’s favorite New Kid on the Block, Francis the First.  Let's get started...

HIS NAME. We can’t find any information on why Mr. and Mrs. Bergoglio named him Jorge (George) although his middle name, Mario, is the same as his father. Jorge chose Francis as his papal name to honor St. Francis Assisi, founder of the Jesuits and one of the most venerated religious figures of all time. NOTE:  Our favorite saint's real name is Giovanni.  He was nicknamed him “Francis” as his father was away in France on business when he was born in 1161.

HIS SIGN. Jorge is a Sagittarius. According to celebrity astrologer Maria Shaw, people born on December 13th are are "charismatic and live life on the edge." He is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of expansion, which is an auspicious trait for a pope. Not surprisingly, Pope Francis shares his birthday with other outgoing and outspoken celebrities like TAYLOR SWIFT and JAMIE FOXX.

Pope Francis blessed a dog.  Kudos!
HIS TITLE. If you ever get to meet Jorge in person, be sure to address him properly with his 44-word official title:  "His Holiness Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God."

HIS ETHNICITY. Although his passport is Argentine, Jorge’s roots are solidly Italian. His father, Mario, was born in Piedmonte Region of Italy and speaks Italian as his primary language. While born in Argentina, Jorge’s mother Regina has solid Italian roots as well. Her parents are both from Genoa.

HIS  LANGUAGES.  Growing up, Italian was spoken in the Bergoglio household.  However, his father had mixed feelings towards his native land...he moved to Argentina to escape the rise of fascism...so he made sure his children were also fluent in Spanish.  Jorge spent years studying in Frankfurt and can speak German as well.  And...of course...he speaks Latin!

HIS POLITICS. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge was a powerful critic of the Argentine government. At a Government Day Mass in 2004, he angered then-president Nestor Kirchner with snide remarks. The president never attended another Bergoglio sermon again. Similarly, he has a tense relationship with current leader Cristina Kirshner. She has turned down his last 14 formal requests to meet. However, Jorge and Cristina do agree on one issue: The Falkland Islands. Jorge claims they were “usurped by the British."

HIS  FAMILY.  Jorge has four brothers and sisters.  Two are deceased, and his brother is quiet and keeps to himself.  However, his sister Maria Elena is alive and kicking.  She has a penchant for being a blabber-mouth.  Hours after the announcement, she told Buenos Aires TV news she had prayed he wouldn't be elected pope.  Can you say: "La Stupida?"

HIS VIEWS. As with most Catholics, Pope Francis’ views on social issues are overwhelmingly conservative. Jorge called abortion the “culture of death” and feels same-sex marriages are “the devil’s work.” In addition, he tried unsuccessfully to stop President Cristina’s free distribution of condoms.

HIS MANNER. St. Francis of Assisi shunned all wealth and detested greed. Likewise, Pope Francis has displayed an amazing sense of humility. As a priest, he routinely cooked meals for the parish. As archbishop, he famously took the Buenos Aires subway to work. As pope, he insists on carrying his own suitcase, eschewing Ritz Carleton staff’s ardent attempts to assist!

HIS MISTAKES.  During Argentina's "Dirty War" a dictatorship ruthlessly employed firing squads to silence opposition.  As a priest, Bergoglio neglected his parish's needs and refused to stand up to government authorities.  In 2008, he admitted his shortcomings and asked fellow clergy to "put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship."      

HIS FUTURE.  At age 76, it may seem his tenure as pope would be brief.  Au Contrare! Thanks to his healthy diet, his car-free commute and his constant exercise, Pope Francis has at least ten years of great pope-ing ahead.  HABEUM PAPEM!

NOTE: We here at the DUNER BLOG are currently investigating claims that Pope Francis is actually an imposter!  In reality, it's just NBA announcer JEFF VAN GUNDY in a white robe!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013



The DUNER BLOG staff loves sports.  So, we are thrilled about the return of baseball in a fortnight's time.  Hungry for silly sports stories, everyone salivated when we heard a new president was being added to the famed "Presidential Sprint" at Washington Nationals home games.  Sorry, for our international readers (and American's who don't follow ridiculous pop culture..) here's a quick definition.  During lulls in American sporting events, we have mascots entertain us with dances, skits and cheers.  The silliest such routine is the 'Presidental Sprint' in D.C.  Every fourth inning, twelve-foot-high goofy replicas of US Presidents race each other in foul territory. 

We here at the DUNER BLOG live for this sort of activity.  (We also love Milwaukee's Sausage Race and the Pittsburgh Pirogi Race).   Our only problem with the Presidential Sprint is: The four contestants are the same presidents that appear everywhere.  To review: George Washington, ($1, Quarter coin, Mt. Rushmore) Abe Lincoln, ($5, Penny, Mt. Rushmore), Tom Jefferson ($2, Nickel, Mt. Rushmore) and Teddy Roosevelt (Postage stamp, Mt. Rushmore, Night at the Museum movies).  So...when Nats team spokesman Clint Khoury announced a new president was joining the mascot crew...everyone assumed it would be another famous one...like Jackson, FDR or Kennedy.  However....imagine our amazement when we heard the new president was WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT!

Never heard of Taft?  For starters, the 27th President was our nation's largest. He weighed over 300 LBS (135 kg).  There's a legend about Tubby Taft getting stuck in the White House bathtub...but we'll stick to the important stuff.  In the 1908 election, Taft soudly defeated William Jennings Bryan.  Historians credit Teddy Roosevelt's endorsement for this victory, as the Republican Party was riding a crest of popularity.  In office, Taft's term was rather uneventful.  Domestically, he employed a conservative fiscal policy.  Internationally, he stayed out of Mexico's violent revolution.  His stand-offish relationship with the press hurt his re-election campaign in 1912, when he was defeated by Woodrow Wilson.  Hmm...not exactly a resume comparable with his peers in the Presidential Sprint!?!

So why choose lesser-known William Howard Taft over such heavy-weights as Monroe, Madison or Reagan?  Well...it turns out that Taft was the first president ever to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game.  It happened at Griffith Stadium in Washington DC on April 14, 1910.  While this is a logical explanation, we here at the DUNER BLOG know the truth.   Of the 530 sprints, Teddy Roosevelt has won only four times (.007%), thus ensuring him the title of 'fan favorite.' (Americans love the underdog).  Although once friends...over time...Teddy and Tubby became bitter enemies who shoved each other around.  Thus, the Washington Nationals organization is setting the stage for some crazy mascot hi jinks this season when Bill and Ted start slugging!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013



The blogging world came to a screeching halt yesterday at 4:25 PM.  That's the precise time when Venezuela's beloved leader officially passed away.  Love him...or hate him...there's no denying HUGO CHAVEZ was a blogger's dream.  As expected, the mailbox is jammed full of questions so let's get started..

Are more people celebrating or mourning his death?  Linda, Mexico.
Officially, most people are being polite and are mourning Hugo's passing.  Venezuela's allies in Latin America have all issued heartfelt statements.  The first president was Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega,  followed closely by Bolivia's Evo Morales.  Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, called for a moment of silence.  Likewise, state-run TV in Caracas showed non-stop coverage of the throngs of supporters, clad in red, gathering outside his palace.  However, if Twitter is any indication, everyone is cracking jokes about "El Commandante.".

Didn't Chavez once tell King Juan Carlos to 'Shut up'? James, Berkeley.
Sorry, James, but you got it turned around. The King of Spain told Hugo to "Shut up." At a Madrid summit in 2007, Chavez was rousting then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.  But Hugo went too far when he called him a "fascist."  (This word still carries a lot of weight in Spain and Italy.)  An obviously angered King then uttered his famous quip.  NOTE:  Most people in Venezuela wanted Hugo to shut up as well.  El Jefe was renowned for his 3-4 hour radio speeches...he would often reminisce about his impoverished childhood. (Yawn!)

Why was Chavez so obsessed with Simon Bolivar?  Hung, Vietnam.
After our heroes' humble beginnings in the mud hut, he joined the Venezuelan military.  As a private, he became enthralled with Simon Bolivar, A.K.A. the George Washington of South America.  Chavez loved his 18th century philosophy of a socialist world devoid of hunger.  In reverence, Hugo often makes speeches under his portrait.  When elected president in 1998, he began constructing a huge mausoleum for Bolivar's casket, because the old one wasn't big enough.  NOTE: Chavez's Anti-American stance was the polar opposite of his idol.  Bolivar loved the USA and sent his only son to study at the University of Virginia with Thomas Jefferson's nephew. 

I heard that Venezuela is the world's largest exporter of oil. Is that true? Helen, U.K.
No, dear, it's not true.  Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of petroleum, shipping some 11 million barrels every day.  Venezuela ranks 13th.  However, the South American nation leads the world in Proven Petroleum Reserves, which is actually much more important.  It's estimated one-fifth of earth's un-tapped oil lies beneath Venezuela's precious land.  (Hmm..Think the CIA is monitoring the transition of power to Vice President Nicolas Maduro?)

No word yet on whether the parrot is still alive.
Will Chavez's successor continue his anti-U.S. policies? Daniela, Brazil.
Yes.  Prior to announcing Hugo Chavez' death, the Venezuelan Government expelled two U.S. military aids, accusing them of espionage.  Then, they announced Hugo's passing.  Analysts see this as a clear message to the USA:  "We still hate you."  The best we can hope for is an unbiased and completely fair election, with opposition challenger Henrique Capriles narrowly defeating Chavez' hand-picked candidate Maduro.  Whomever wins the election, let's all hope he doesn't drink thirty cups of coffee every day like Hugo Chavez did.  That's enough to kill you!!!