Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014



The final results are not yet available, but exit polls have overwhelmingly concluded the PETRO POROSHENKO is the new President of the Ukraine.  His 58% means a majority has been reached, and there will not be a run-off.  Things have been very complicated in the Ukraine this year, so we here at the DUNER BLOG thought we'd try to straighten things out for our readers.  Let's open the mail!

Wasn't the DUNER BLOG supporting the opposition?  Lisa in Lima.  Guilty as charged.  But the only reason we love YULIA TYMOSCHENKO so much is her hair.  The intricacies of her braids is truly mesmerizing.  Admittedly, we know very little of her politics, but we admire her integrity.  Although she finished second place among 19 candidates, Yulia only accounted by 12.8% of the popular vote.  Rather than cry and demand a recount...she declared the outcome "democratic" and will not contest it.

What is NOVOROSSIYA? Ben in Boston. After the successful annexation of Crimea, Russia continued adding sections of Eastern Ukraine as well.  According to Putin, these Russian speaking provinces have voted to secede from Kiev and have formed a new nation.  It's called Novorossiya, or "New Russia."  The West does not recognize the state, and Poroshenko's first order of action is to visit this region.

How do Petro and Putin get along? Their names are similar!  Frank in Frankfurt.  We noticed that too, Frank!  We can't find any records of the two men going on vodka benders or hunting moose together...but we do have high hopes for a close friendship.  See, Petro is a pragmatist: "Russia is our neighbor.  Relations with them has been Ukraine's greatest importance for the last 200 years."  He has already initiated formal talks with the Russian Federation.

Why is Petro called the 'Chocolate King?' Jan in Jakarta. Prior to becoming President, Petro was a wildly successful businessman.  When the Iron Curtain was lifted over Ukraine in 1991, he shrewdly began negotiating with African nations to directly import cocoa beans.  Twenty years later, his Roshen Brand chocolate bar is the top seller in both Russia and the Ukraine.

How do Obama and the West feel about Petro? Kareena in Kolkata.  The US leaders called Poroshenko's victory "another important step to unify the country."  While the millions of world maps and atlases will still show Ukraine's borders as those drawn in 1991...in reality...they have changed.  It will take Obama awhile to realize this.  Thankfully, Petro and Putin already have and want to move forward to the future.  We wish the best for the Ukraine and hope the bread basket of Europe will reach new heights!

Thursday, May 22, 2014



Here is a story you might have missed:  Last week, the biggest election in the history of mankind took place.  OK...every national election in India sets this record...but this one is of particular interest.  See, the result was the largest landslide since 1984.  The winning BJP Party now has 332 of the 543 seats in Parliament. But..forget the numbers...the real story here is Narendra Modi. This charismatic new Prime Minister has taken the subcontinent by storm.  Let's cover five important topics:

Humble Childhood.  Born in 1950, Modi is the first Prime Minister not born during the British Empire. Although three years independent, India was still dreadfully poor, especially in rural Gujarat.  The son of a tea peddler, Nerndra went to work before he went to school.  At age 18, he married a fellow villager, as arranged by their parents five year prior.  (It didn't work out and they divorced.)

Modinomics.  Asia's third largest economy needs a boost.  The solution?  MODI-NOMICS.  It's a combination of market reforms, increased foreign investment and road and rail projects.  Sounds pretty slick, doesn't it?  It is.  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) modeled the program after American concepts.  In fact, the BJP is credited with launching India's first modern political campaign.  Modi flew 300,000 kilometers to attend 457 rallies.  In short, the media-savvy Modi ran circles around his opponent.

Gandhi is Gone.  The losing candidate we speak of is none other than RAHUL GANDHI.  The great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi (the founding father of India) barely managed to win his home seat of Amethi. Why such a poor showing?  Well, the irony of this election is the shift in political parties in India. Rahul enjoyed a posh, wealthy upbringing, despite his hardworking last name.  The truth is the Congress Party of India has lost touch with the poor people they used to represent.

Hindu Nationalism. Since the landslide victory, the Indian Stock Exchange has jumped a resounding six percent.  The Rupee broke the elusive 59 mark to the dollar for the first time in eleven years.  However, forgotten in all this pandemonium are Modi's links to the Rashtriya Swayamsvak Sangh (RSS).  This pro-Hindu paramilitary group is at odds with India's 120 million Muslims.  In 2002, religious riots killed 1,000 people in Gujarat.  As governor of the state, Modi did little to stop the bloodshed.  In response, the US refused to grant him a travel visa.  NOTE: Obama has since lifted the ban.

His Adorable Mother. Throughout the lengthy campaign, Modi often mentioned his impoverished upbringing.  While his father has since passed, his 95-year-old mother is very much alive.  She was the subject of many an interview and photo op.  Today, Indians have come to love the matriarch.  On Election Day, sweet Hiraben Modi rode a rickety old rickshaw to her polling place.  "The country will grow," she proclaimed.  "My blessings are here!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014



It was an incredulous scene over the weekend at the BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL.  The rich and famous left their mansions and came to protest.  First, Jay Leno showed up with the bullhorn.  Then, Ellen DeGeneres and Sharon Osborne arrived with angry picket signs.  Next...around noon...the CEO's showed up with food. Virgin boss Richard Branson brought coffee and Dreamworks head Jeffrey Katzenberg got donuts.

OKAY...we might have stretched the truth a little...but the anger is real.  See, the famed BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL has just been purchased by Dorchester Group.  This multinational chain is owned by Hassanal Bolkiah, the evil Sultan of Brunei.  Why are Hollywood celebs so mad at him?  Let's examine his three most audacious actions:

SHARIA LAW.  There are many versions of Sharia Law around the world, and very few have anything to do with the Koran.  In Brunei, it's a three-stage process.  On May First, all unmarried...yet pregnant...women were jailed.  The second phase begins in December.  Crimes like theft and robbery will be punished by flogging and severing of the limbs.  Finally...at the end of 2015...Sodomy and Adultery will become capital offenses.  (Death by stoning).  Since independence in 1980, it has always been illegal to say anything remotely negative about the Royal family.

THE HAREM.  What infuriates Jay Leno the most about the Sultan of Brunei is his amazing lack of integrity.  On one hand, he mandates antiquated, overly conservative laws in the name of Islam.  On the other hand, he maintains a private harem with dozens of beautiful women for his own pleasure.  It's like ABC's hit TV show The Bachelor, but with sex. Just ask Jillian Lauren, a former Miss USA contestant. She applied to be an escort, but the actual job was prostitution.  She described: "lavish parties every night. At these parties there was drinking (which was not legal), dancing, some fairly hilarious karaoke, and, most important, women—about 30 or 40 beauties from all over the world."  Hmm...  That doesn't sound very pious to me!

HIS MATERIALISM.  With vast petroleum reserves in a country the size of Delaware, the money pours into tiny Brunei.  Forbes ranks it as the 4th wealthiest nation (per capita).  But it comes with a twist: “With their money, they could have cured diseases." reported the magazine.  "But they have little interest in the rest of humanity.”  Here are some of the Sultan's prize possessions, according to the New York Post: He has the world's largest car collection, with some 9,000 cars (including two custom-made Mercedes-Benz firetrucks).  He owns 150 homes in 12 countries and has 17 private airplanes to reach them.  With 1,800 rooms, his palace, the Istana Nurul Iman, is the largest private building on earth.

See?  Ellen DeGeneres is mad for a reason.  Unfortunately, the picket lines at the BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL will only hurt low-income maids, and won't hurt the Sultan in the slightest.  Nonetheless, the point has been made.  Finally, you're asking yourself: Why don't the citizens of Brunei rise up against the Sultan?  Well...if you had free health care, free universities, no taxes and zero-interest loans...would you be mad?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



When PEOPLE MAGAZINE named Lupita Nyong'o their 'Most Beautiful Person' last week, it was merely another trophy on the shelf for the actress.  She put the plaque right next to her Oscar statuette, her Golden Globe gong and her BAFTA medal.  Not surprisingly, there has been tons of questions about the starlet in the DUNER BLOG mailbox, so let's get started.

Was Lupita born and raised in Africa? Dan in Denver. Although she was raised in Kenya, Lupita was actually born in Mexico City. Her father is a professor at the University of Nairobi and was on a three-year academic assignment.  As with many African peoples, the Luo name their children after events that occur on that day.  Since the hospital was near the Basilica of Guadalupe, she was named 'Lupita.'

Where did she go to school? Pete in Pittsburgh.  She went to High School at St. Mary's Prep School in Nairobi.  For college, she attended the Yale School of Drama.  There, she acted in a bunch of intense plays like Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.  However, during her stay in the US, she got hooked on film.  She was a stagehand for the 2007 move The Constant Gardener and loved the action.  NOTE: Lupita is fluent in Luo, Swahili, English and Spanish.

Didn't she act on TV before 12 Years A Slave? Mike in Miami.  Yes!  While her turn as Patty in the intense drama gained her worldwide fame, her first 'Big Time' roll was on TV in Kenya.  In the year 2008, she starred in the drama Shuga. It was a huge hit on the MTV Africa channel.  Her face was now known across the continent, as well as her amazing acting abilities.

Is Lupita single? Steve in Seattle. Yes!  The 31-year old celeb has never been married.  Since her breakthrough last year, though she's been linked to many a bachelor.  The most (in)famous is Jared Leto.  Since he was the winner for Best Supporting Actor, they seem like a natural couple.  So much so, Jared announced to reporters that Lupita is "My future wife."  Although they have been photographed together, we're not sure there is any legitimacy to his comments.  She has also been linked to rapper K'Naan.

Is Lupita the smartest woman to win People's Most Beautiful? Cindy in Cincy.  Absolutely!  We researched the IQ's of the previous twenty-one ladies who have won the prestigious award.  Then, we ranked them all.  At the bottom of the list: Kate Hudson, Beyonce, Kelly Bundy and Cindy Crawford.  In the middle are Julia Roberts, Gweneth Paltrow and J-Lo.  In fact, Ms. Lupita's only real competition came from Jodie Foster and Meg Ryan.

Here's to more Lupita Nyong'o movies!!