Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013



Normally, when you think of Boat People, you think of impoverished Cubans in makeshift rafts.  They attempt to cross the treacherous, shark-infested, 90-mile Florida Strait for a better life in the USA.  However, there are actually many different kinds of Boat People around the world.  Chinese Boat People hide in containers and endure two weeks on ocean freighters.  Algerians stowaway on Mediterranean sailboats bound for France.  Today, we here at the DUNER BLOG want to inform you of a new type of Boat People.  Today, we’ll look at the brave souls who attempt to cross the Gulf of Papua to immigrate south into Australia.

As in the US, the political party in power controls Australian policy towards immigration.  During Liberal John Howard’s decade in office, migrants were basically allowed in. But since Labor’s PM Kevin Rudd took over, restrictions have tightened.  Australians…like the rest of the world…are in an economic downturn.  Unemployment is rising, and the average Aussie doesn’t want coveted custodial jobs going to migrants who can’t even speak English.  Kevin Rudd bowed to the power of the opinion poll and gave in.  He agreed to refuse entry to any refugees sailing in from Papua New Guinea.

At a press conference last week in Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Papua New Guinean leader Peter O’Neill shook hands and ceremoniously signed the over-sized document with over-sized pens.  Let’s look at the terms of the agreement.  AUSTRALIA GETS:  A pledge from P.N.G. to establish a new system for illegal immigrants.  The migrants will now be herded up and placed in detention centers.  PAUPA NEW GUINEA GETS: Australian dollars.  Specifically, they will give nearly a billion dollars to build hospitals and universities.  Yea!  Everyone wins!
Sorry…but there are losers: The migrants themselves.  This last batch of 81 people were all from Iran.  Now they’ll spend their days in a detention facility on Manus Island.  A Human Rights activist described the conditions there as “decrepit…not even fit for a dog kennel.” Clearly, they won’t be allowed to emigrate to Australia.  They also won’t be allowed to live in isolated and hostile Papua New Guinea either.  Socially, it’s the least developed nation on earth…and everyone wants to keep it that way. See, anthropologists love Papua New Guinea.  It’s the last remaining place on the planet with true hunters & gatherers still in existence.  There are 841 different languages spoken on the island, which is more than the rest of the world combined! 

Not surprisingly, the agreement has been condemned by the UNHCR and Human Rights groups worldwide.  Papua New Guinean opposition leader Belden Namah called it "an agreement between two madmen."  He feels making a profit by detaining innocent migrant workers is wrong.  Namah continued: "O"Neill is making decisions like a chicken with no head." Although blunt, we are siding with him.  The DUNER BLOG is worried about people like Fatima Harouq.  She is an Iranian woman headed for the dismal camp on Manus Island.  Once there, she will live in a jail cell and be repeatedly raped by inmates and guards alike.  Meanwhile, two politicians in Canberra and Port Moresbury are currently enjoying a 6% jump in the opinion polls.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013



It’s been a while since we dipped into the DUNER’S BLOG mailbag.  Recently, we’ve been asked lots of questions about Neymar.  Never heard of him?  He’s a ridiculously-talented soccer superstar who was ranked the ‘Most Marketable Athlete on Earth’ by Sports Pro Magazine last month.  Neymar does it all: films, TV, music videos and comic books. We’ll start with the most obvious question:

Why do all Brazilian soccer stars have only one name? Neil, London.  It’s true: 18 of the 28 players on the national team have only one name.  Their strikers are Gilberto and Sandro.  Their forwards are Nilmar and Neymar.  (Our personal favorite is Kaká.)  To explain: Nicknames are extremely popular in Brazil.  Even former President Luiz Inacio da Silva demanded journalists call him 'Lula'.  Some say the nickname tradition is rooted in slavery; others say it’s based on class.  We think it’s just because most Brazilian names are just plain long.  Would you rather say ‘Pele’ or 'Edison Arentes Do Nascimento'?

What brands does Neymar endorse? Victoria, Paris.  An easier question is: What brands doesn’t Neymar endorse?  We counted thirteen major sponsorships, the largest being with Nike. The terms of his 11-year agreement weren’t released but it’s rumored in the $30 million range.  He also gets $2.4 million from Panasonic and $1.2 million from Red Bull.  However, what makes Neymar so special is his global appeal.  In Germany, he sells Volkswagens.  In France, it’s Tenys Pé Baruel.  He hawks phones in Japan and does commercials for Guaraná Beer back home in Brazil.

How many goals has Neymar scored so far? Ahmed, Dubai.  Not counting his goals in youth and junior leagues, Neymar has scored 92 goals in 163 games.  These include 54 for Santos, 38 for the Brazil National team and 4 goals in 4 games for his new squad, FC Barcelona.  This means if you go to see Neymar play in a stadium, you have a 59% chance of seeing him score a goal.  NOTE: Only Lionel Messi has a higher average at 68%.

Neymar's girlfriend is not ugly.
I heard Neymar can sing and dance. Is that true? Missy, Cincinnati.  In the land of Samba, Neymar is no slouch.  Last year, a You-Tube video of him dancing in the Santos locker-room garnered over a million hits.  (The song: Ai se eu te pego! ) Last month, he began starring on the popular Brazilian soap opera Amor á Vida .  (The character: Gusttavo Lima).  He’s also in a music video with the hip-hop duo Lucas & Marcelo.  And don't forget his comic book: The Adventures of Neymarzinho. 

Does he have a hot girlfriend? James, Berkeley.  Of course he does, James!  Her name is Bruna Marquezine.  Surprise!  She is an 18-year-old swimsuit model!  Bruna has made numerous appearances in another Brazilian novella, Mulheres Apaixonadas.  According to the tabloids, during the offseason, they love to go to Santorini, Ibiza and...of course...Rio de Janiero. 

Are the comparisons to Pele exaggerated? Antonella, Buenos Aires. Yes, they are completely inaccurate at this time.  Neymar is only 21 and is just beginning his professional career.  So, it is far too early to draw any comparisions to the King.  In fact, Neymar would have to score 100+ goals in every year until 2025 to eclipse Pele’s ungodly career total of 1,281!  But stay tuned: The World Cup in Brazil is only 12 months away.  We predict some big numbers from Neymar! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013



It all began last Wednesday when a Kenyan woman boarded a bus in Irvine, California.  (Yes…they have public buses in Orange County.  And…Yes…they stop to pick up black people.)  Anyhow, when she got on the coach, it became apparent to the other passengers that something was wrong with her.  She seemed frantic, twitchy and scared.  When approached, she told people...with a peculiar African accent...that she had escaped through the window of a nearby condo.  She had been held there, against her will, by her supervisor, a Princess from Saudi Arabia.  The confused and concerned passengers took her to the Irvine Police Station. 

Within hours, cops arrived at the condo. They arrested Princess Meshel Alayban, 42.  She is one of the wives of Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.  They have three children and have been living in a lavish four-condo unit in Irvine since May. In addition to the Kenyan lady, they had four others, all from the Philippines.  Yep...we know what you're thinking: These Saudi Royals are really slumming it.  That's barely one servant per prince! 

Let’s begin by examining the captive's story.  Last year, she went to an employment agency in Nairobi.  For $1,600 a month, she agreed to work a standard, 40 hours per week as a household servant in Saudi Arabia.  She needed extra money to pay her child’s medical bills.  However, when she arrived for her job, the arrangements changed.  Her employers seized her Kenyan passport, ripped up the contract and informed her of the new terms.  She would now work 16 hours, seven days a week and would be paid $220 a month.   Yikes! No wonder she ran away!

Not so fast!  Maybe it's a just a big misunderstanding.  The Saudi Arabian consulate thinks so.  They quickly paid her $5 million dollar (!) bail.  It's also no surprise that our princess also has a top-notch lawyer, Paul Meyer.  He claims the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.  This matter is simply a dispute over wages.  The truth will resolve this matter quickly,” he told the Orange County Register.  We here at the DUNER BLOG are hesitantly siding with the Princess.  We do have trouble believing any Saudi Royal needs to save cash by skimping on servant’s pay.

Today, Alayban is out of jail and awaiting her July 29th arraignment.  She has the dubious distinction of being the first person tried under California’s new Human Trafficking Law, which voters passed last November as Proposition #35.  If convicted, she’ll serve up to 12 years in prison.  This is not likely, as none of the five women have any evidence of physical abuse.  Stay Tuned!  NOTE: For our hundred or so readers in the Saudi Kingdom, we have some simple advice.  When you travel, leave your servants at home.  In short, the laws on the Arabian Peninsula are completely different than any other place on earth!       

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


No...That's not really the Queen!

If you’ve ever been to our SUPER BOWL PARTY, you know that we here at the DUNER BLOG love to wager.  We bet on everything.  We wager on the coin toss, the first TV commercial…heck, we even bet on which songs Beyoncé will sing at halftime.  (Bootylicious paid at 20-1!).  So it comes as no surprise we are all caught up in the frenzy engulfing Britain these days: Bets about the new royal baby have totaled over a million pounds so far.  Although we failed miserably predicting the name of the new Kanye / Kardashian tot, (North West?  Really?!?), here we are...at it again!

GENDER: OUR PREDICTION: GIRL.  Apparently no one knows the gender of the Royal Baby.  However, all of England seems convinced it will be a girl.  Why?  See…at an event in March…a fan in the crowd gave Kate a white teddy bear.  To which she replied: “Thanks, I’ll give it to my daught…” before cutting herself off.  While this may seem like speculative evidence to the rest of the world, to gamblers this is interpreted as fact.  We here at the DUNER BLOG agree: The Royal Baby will be a female.

NAME: OUR PREDICTION: VICTORIA (7-1).  Ladbroke’s fifth favorite name, following Alexandra (3/1), Elizabeth (5/1), Diana  & Charlotte (6/1).  The favored choice is Queen Elizabeth II’s middle name.  Otherwise, only Scottish King Alexanders have graced the throne, so we’ll remove this one.  Next up: Elizabeth & Diana.  We will toss these two out, simply because they are too obvious.  Charlotte is intriguing: It’s Pippa’s middle name and King George III’s wife’s name…but we feel it’s too pompous for today’s monarch.  We like Victoria.  As mentioned in an early blog (JUNE 7. LIST OF LONGEST REIGNING MONARCHS) every continent has something named after Queen Victoria.  Cities, waterfalls, straits, mounts, peaks…everywhere she goes, she’ll see her name.

HAIR COLOR: OUR PREDICTION: BROWN (3-1).  This wager comes down to simple genetics: Both parents have brown hair.  However, if you dream of a blond-haired, blue-eyed prince that will charm the world, the odds are 5-1.

BIRTHDATE: OUR PREDICTION: JULY 17 (9-1).  We recommend avoiding this bet.  The announced due date is Saturday, but for some reason, that date has fallen to 20-1.  Will Kate be late?

SUCKER BETS: The British have a national penchant for gambling, surpassed only by the Chinese.  Hence, there are a plethora of silly, sucker bets that we here at the DUNER BLOG suggest you avoid.  For example, Harry Potter fans who want the baby named Hermione get 100-1 odds. If you want to guess which tabloid will get the rights to the baby’s first photos, take the favorite, OK! Magazine, at 3-1.  It’s 50-1 that the baby will appear on Downton Abbey, and 100-1 it will be on X-Factor with Simon Cowell.

Computer generated Royal babies.
SAFE BET: We can’t wait for a healthy, happy baby!  We love you, Kate!   

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Birthday parties are dull.  They start with boring conversations that gives way to uninspired singing of a tired song.  "Happy Birthday...Dear Blah Blah...Happy Birthday To You!" Next, you eat sheet cake with too much icing.  Wash it down with overly sweet fruit punch while you watch your friend pretend to love her gifts.  "Ooh! Cute socks."  Oops...let's get back to our subject: Turkmenistan.  Desperate not to subject his guests to such a ghastly affair, the president of the desert nation, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, decided to spice things up.  So he spent $1.4 million to fly Jennifer Lopez to Ashkabat for a private concert for his 56th birthday gala. 

It all went quite smoothly.  A private jet whisked the diva and her entourage into the Central Asian nation.  A Cadillac Escalade then chauffeured Ms. Lopez to the resort town of Avaza.  After a quick Perrier bath, she slithered into her mini-skirt and hit the stage.  Organized by an oil company, the front row was packed with wealthy tycoons, crooked officials and muggy ministers.  To their delight, Jenny belted out her hits. She then went backstage and changed into the traditional Turkmen embroidered white gown.  Finally, she channeled her inner Marilyn Monroe and gave a sultry serenade to the President. "The very happiest of birthdays to you.." she cooed.  Done.

Imagine J-Lo's surprise when she returned home to the Bronx to a thunderstorm of bad publicity!  Believe it or not, it turns out this Gurbanguly Guy is a horrible tyrant.  In fact, Human Rights Watch calls Turkmenistan "one of the world's most repressive countries."  Poor Jenny is confused...those 'stan' countries are hard to tell apart.  When she performed last year at a wedding in neighboring Uzbekistan (for $1 million)...no one cared.  What's the big deal?  Well, according to Reporters Without Borders, Turkmenistan trails only North Korea in Press Freedom Conditions.  Sorry...Jenny...it is a 'big deal.'

This must have really hurt J-Lo.  Recently, she has been trying to reinvent herself as a caring humanitarian and not a spoiled diva.  She produced and starred in Bordertown, a gritty film about the violence inflicted to women in Ciudad Juarez.  She has been active in Amnesty International and volunteers frequently at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.  But today, her devotion and motivation is being questioned.  "Lopez obviously has the right to earn a living performing for the dictator of her choice and his circle of cronies, said Thor Halvorssen of A.I. "But Saturday's actions utterly destroy the humanitarian message she has cultivated."  Ouch! 

For the time being, Jennifer Lopez is busy doing damage control.  Her representative issued the following, trite statement: "Had there been knowledge of human rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended."  Hmm...it's really not that hard to find information about a world leader like Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.  Just do a Google Search like we do here at the DUNER BLOG, Jenny! And...if you're reading, J-Lo...how about donating that dirty cash to the Duner Blog Research Foundation?