Friday, December 18, 2015
We here at the DUNER BLOG wanted to finish off the year 2015 on a positive note. So we looked all over the world to find a heartwarming story. We finally found a uplifting item from the remote Pacific nation of Micronesia. As you read this blog, OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP is already in full force. Spirited members of the US Air Force have temporarily converted their cargo into Santa's sleighs. Next, they fly to distant islands...slow down...and finally parachute down gifts to the folks below. Ten years ago, the Australian Air Force joined the mission. But this year... Japan will officially take part as well!
Here's how it all started: Back in 1952, an American Weather Reconnaissance Squadron was flying a mission along the Equator. They passed over Pohnpei, a member of the Federated States of Micronesia. When they flew over the atoll of Kapingamarangi, they noticed dozens of islanders waving and smiling at them on the beaches below. Since it was December, the airman gathered up some fun items on board, attached a parachute, and dropped them to the delight of all. Over the decades, the feel-good activity became an annual event. In fact, it's the longest running humanitarian airlift in the world!
Each year, the Air Force adds a new item to the box. This year, soccer balls will be included with the usual: Canned food, fishing nets, books, clothing, school supplies, rice, powdered milk and water. All toll, over 50,000 pounds of supplies will be distributed to 56 separate islands in Micronesia. (These are numbers Santa would be impressed with!) The airmen who get assigned the duty use it as training for future humanitarian and military air-drops, most notably in Afghanistan and Somalia.
Wishing you and yours a Happiest of Holidays! Cheers. DUNER
Friday, December 11, 2015
Nothing gets readers of the DUNER BLOG more excited than a buried treasure. So...when a 300 year old Spanish galleon still laden with billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, gems and jewelry was discovered off the Colombian coast....our inbox was jam packed. Let's get started!
Believe it or not, it seems the Royal Galleon de San Jose was discovered by the president of Colombia, Juan Miguel Santos. "We have found the San Jose galleon!" the proud politician tweeted. While it's hard to believe the 64-year-old diplomat donning scuba gear, the actual facts on exactly who deserves credit are unclear. In fact, a Colombian government spokesman refused to state even the precise location. Only that is was "off the coast from Cartagena."
Why was so much loot on one ship? Julius, Nairobi.
When Commodore Charles Wagner sank the San Juan in June of 1708, Europe was engulfed in the most complex conflict ever: The War of Spanish Succession. Desperate to crush Louis XIV, English warships relentlessly sacked all warships loyal to him and ally Philip of Anjou. Unfortunately, storming flagship galleons is always hit and miss. This time, the booty sank into a treacherous coral reef. Only 11 of the 600 sailors on board survived.
Finance Minister José Manuel García-Margallo issued a clear statement on Monday, declaring the San Jose galleon to be Spanish property. He cited a UN Convention that stipulated: "ownership belongs to the state where the ship was flagged." The San Jose flew the flag of Castille. Meanwhile, the Colombian government is making plans to construct a museum in the booming tourist destination of Cartagena to display the wares. Currently, representatives from both nations are in negotiations. We here at the DUNER BLOG predict a lengthy legal battle.
What's the deal with the US firm? Candace, Miami.
It's hard to believe something as enormous as a Royal Flagship Galleon could remain unnoticed for three centuries. So we do give big credence to the claims from the sea salvage company Sea Search Armada (SSA). They first found the wreck in 1981 as part of the organized search of all possible shorelines where shipwrecks can be found. They negotiated with Bogota: If the remains are ever excavated, SSA would receive 35% of the profit. Unfortunately, the 1980's meant that Cocaine Chaos would engulf Colombia. A new government took control and nullified all claims of the previous regime.
That's exactly how the UN feels, Dimitry! A spokesperson clearly explained that the 'remains of the San Jose fall under the definition of an Underwater Cultural Heritage Site." The body would love to see the whole world take part in what president Santos feels is "the greatest and biggest discoveries of submerged patrimony of all time." He's not exaggerating. Records from Spain show that this one ship might have been laden with the most money of any ship EVER!!!
Friday, December 4, 2015
This week's blog comes to us from the bottom of the world: Antarctica! Earlier this week, a Boeing 757 jet became the first commercial airliner EVER to land on the seventh continent. It was no easy task. See, you can't build an asphalt runway on permafrost. So a special 'Blue Ice' strip was carved out of the frozen surface. Then a special Loftleidir Icelandic Airways plane was specially altered. Finally, the experienced crew pulled off the landing. Truly a travel milestone! However...you're probably asking yourself...Why would anyone want to go to the South Pole in the first place? Well, here are Five Reasons:
#1. Bragging Rights. Most globe-trekkers like to boast about the places they have been. First, they list the continents. Usually Africa and Australia are the tough ones. But Antarctica? Aside from crazy cruise ships...who occasionally have good enough weather to reach the coastline...the only way to set foot on the distant land is through the ALE (Antarctica Logistics & Expeditions) Company. This adventure tour agency takes about 2,000 people annually for trips waaay down under. As a 50% partner in the 757 aircraft landing, ALE is hoping for a wave of 'Bucket Listers' to sign up soon.
#3. Icebergs. Globetrotters also like to brag about the various types of terrain they have traversed. But let's face it: Deserts, tropics, savanna...even glaciers...are easy to reach. They don't move! But icebergs are different. They float around the South Seas, clocking in at 10 knots per hour. They come in unexpected colors (green!) and in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
For the thousands of folks who packed into the Vatican's Basilica di Santa Maria last week, it was supposed to be a magical night. First, the Pope would give a special mass. Then, the crowd would exit to the piazza to the new Nativity scene. Finally, the holiday lights and decorations would suddenly brighten to every one's delight. Talk about a special moment! However, things are different this year. There's a new pope in town and he had a trick up his sleeve.
Rather than deliver the usual, humdrum...Blessed are those...type of sermon, Pope Francis changed the script. "The whole world is at war." the pontiff began "So this year, Christmas is just a charade." What? Maybe we lost something in translation. The Italian word in question is truccato. Which has a variety of meanings, like 'rigged' and 'falsify.' "There will be lights, parties, bright trees all decked out. Meanwhile, the world continues to wage war. The holiday is meaningless." Alright, it's true: The Pope just cancelled Christmas!
So should everyone really "not cover everything with tinsel and garlands and decorations" like the Pope said? Well, perhaps Francis' orders are a bit strict. But it certainly is time to look outside the box this holiday season. In addition to the above mentioned death toll, there are military conflicts being waged in retaliation. Whatever is left in Syria and Iraq is being destroyed. Migrants are flooding out, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Friday, November 20, 2015
It's been nearly 20 years since Hong Kong was formally ceded from the United Kingdom and became part of the People's Republic of China. Let's face it: This has not been a smooth transition. To summarize: First, the SARS "Bird Flu" epidemic instantly killed 300 people in 1997. A year later, the Asian Financial Crisis struck. People's fortunes disappeared overnight. The year 2003 saw mass pro-democracy demonstrations filling the streets. The Umbrella Revolution rocked Hong Kong last year, with some squares still being occupied today. In short, it has been a tension-fueled mess.
Yet none of these milestones compares to the events last week. During the World Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and Mainland China, unruly fans defied warnings from FIFA and the police. Instead, they launched a massive protest. They booed mercilessly during the introductions, waving banners and signs. Things got testy during the national anthem. Since Hong Kong didn't have a 'National Song' as a British colony, the Chinese inserted their own dreaded tune as the official Hong Kong anthem. When "March of the Volunteers" began to play, all 6,071 fans let loose.
Today, Hong Kongers straddle a tenuous line. On one side, they have a surging economy, based on the principles of free enterprise. When the People's Republic took over Hong Kong, they were hesitant to alter the finely-tuned economic machine and...for the most part...left it alone. On the other side, Hong Kongers have a giant, power-hungry nation in control of their politics. Unwilling to mess with successful corporations, they have instead concentrated on slowly taking away the personal freedoms that lured entrepreneurs to the colony in the first place.
Friday, November 13, 2015
The staff of the DUNER BLOG was on assignment in Eugene, Oregon last week. We learned that many people call Eugene 'The City that Nike Built." Everywhere you turn, you see the omnipresent Nike swoosh. It's not just running shoes either. It's on sports bras, the OU football jerseys and the impressive Event Center. All of which got us thinking...Which are the most recognizable logos in the world?
#1. Nike. Year: 1971. Designer: Carolyn Davidson. When a tiny Oregon sports importing company decided to diversify into sneakers, they hired a local graphic designer to dream up a logo. She says she was inspired by the Greek goddess of Victory, who embodies movement and speed. Unfortunately, poor Carolyn only received $35 for her revolutionary design.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Move over, Bieber! There's a new Justin in town. And...he's the new King of Canada. Meet JUSTIN TRUDEAU, the new Prime Minister. Monday's General Election is over and so is the 10 years of Conservative rule. Our mailbag is full, so let's get started.
Is Justin related to Pierre Trudeau? Mais Oui! Dad was a wildly popular Liberal Prime Minister from 1968 - 1984. As a French-speaking native of Quebec, he oversaw a tumultuous period in Canadian History. He managed to appease the secessionist movement through a series of bilingual changes to the constitution. However, he is best remembered by his love of Pop Culture. He dated Barbra Streisand and Margot Kidder. John Lennon quipped: "If all politicians were like Pierre Trudeau, there would be World Peace." His passing in 2000 inspired Justin's political aspirations.
Is Justin really qualified for the job? That's what the Tories have been claiming. Let's look at his resume. Politically, he has been a member of Parliament representing a Montreal neighborhood for six years. (The same as Obama). Prior to that, he has worked many different jobs. Justin was a High School teacher, a nightclub bouncer, snowboard instructor and bungee jump coach. However, the real problem was the Tory campaign of "Justin: Just Not Ready." The attack ads were demeaning and swung many voters to the Liberal camp.
What are 'Voies Ensoleillées? This French phrase translates as 'Sunny Ways' and became Justin's un-official campaign slogan. It refers to a phrase coined by PM Wilfrid Laurier 100 years ago. He believed in a cohesive Canada where French and English live together in sunlight forever. Justin was smart to invoke Laurier. As the longest serving PM, he is on the main Canadian bank note, the $5. We here at the DUNER BLOG salute Justin and his positive energy. We look forward to a Bieber / Trudeau duet in the near future!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Two years ago, the DUNER BLOG correctly predicted that the People's Republic of China would overtake the USA as the world's largest carbon-emitting nation on earth. We were correct. However, we are totally surprised to see a new entry at the #2 spot in the year 2015: Indonesia. No...the enormous island nation hasn't industrialized overnight...forest fires are raging out of control. They are spewing more pollution into the atmosphere than the American people do. Sure...the fires will eventually burn out or be extinguished by a tropical storm. Since there is zero chance of American driving less...Or China burning less coal...Indonesia's time as a Top Polluter Nation is short lived. But still worth noting!!
A state of emergency has been in effect for months on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. In the city on Banjarmasin, air pollution levels reached a staggering 2,300 PSA on the Pollutant Standards Index. This is a new all-time record! More than 140,000 people have been hospitalized for respiratory illness. But it's not just Indonesia that is getting hit. This atomic-like explosion has invaded the entire Southeast Asian atmosphere. In short, people in Singapore and Malaysia haven't seen the sun in three months. Marathons and concerts have been cancelled. Tourism has pummeled: Last week, seven hikers were burned alive.
|Singapore's Ferris Wheel doesn't look like much fun today!|
Thursday, October 15, 2015
There's a war going on in the Middle East!! But...since the USA ain't fighting...it is not getting much coverage on American News Networks. That's why the DUNER BLOG is here! Let's review recent events:
Ukrainian Invasion. Believe it or not, but our discussion starts in the Ukraine. Earlier this year, Russia did a masterful job of annexing the Eastern half of the nation. Here's how they did it: First, clandestine troops quietly crossed the border and staged coups in large cities. When the West found out and asked questions, Putin denied any knowledge of the "rebels and separatists." Then...all of a sudden...Russian tri-color flags began flying all over Crimea. While Putin's Defense Minister is more transparent about their actions in Syria, there is no denying their new found confidence.
Russian Volunteer Forces. While Russia boasts one of the planet's largest standing army, getting actual people to fight in far-off Syria has been challenging. Corruption keeps many able men from going. Others are told they are being transferred to a new base then... Surprise! Your plane just landed in Syria. Finally, meet the guys on the front line: The Volunteer Corps. For $100 a day, you leave your life as a soccer hooligan, receive an AK-47 and then play a real-life video game.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
It's hard to believe that countries are already playing qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup. But, it's true: Preliminary matches began over the weekend. The top teams then receive an invitation to the regional tournaments. And nowhere is the competition more fierce than in Africa. A whopping fifty-three teams vie for only five spots. Do the math: Only 9% of the nations get to advance to the BIG DANCE. This is the smallest percentage for any of the six FIFA Regions.
Nonetheless, the South Sudanese want to show the world they can accomplish one important thing: Making it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. First, they assembled a team and hired a coach from Korea, Lee Sung-Jea. He's managed to take the young, raw talent of the Lions and turn them into an organized unit. Last month, they won their first-ever competitive game, barely edging Equatorial Guinea 1-0. Atak Lual accounted for the lone goal. Yesterday...after a 24 hour rain delay...South Sudan played their first ever FIFA match and tied Mauritania 1-1. They must win or tie against Djibouti (easy) and Malawi (hard) to advance.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Pope Francis must be exhausted after his busy tour of the United States and thrilled to be back home in a normal Catholic country like Italy. See, Popes don't like visiting the USA...or as they call it 'The Un-Holy Land.' For the other 51 weeks this year, Francis will be telling the rest of the world reject American sins. He hates our pornography, doesn't care for our angry hip-hop and dislikes our high divorce rates. However, for one week, this is all put in the past and the Pope and the USA are forced to coexist. Let's review some things we learned from His Holiness in six whirlwind days:
Francis Won't Eat With Millionaires. Traditionally, after foreign dignitaries visit Washington DC, they elaborately dine with American politicians afterward. (Remember George HW Bush's infamous upchuck on the Japanese PM during a White House dinner?) Well, there will be no caviar and champagne for Pope Francis. He declined Nancy "Moneybags" Pelosi's luncheon offer and instead went to a Soup Kitchen for the homeless at St. Patrick's. Puzzled Diane "Fat Cat" Feinstein quipped: "I don't get it. I am so good at helping people I've made $75 million doing so."
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
As we all know, this will be the last DUNER BLOG ever. See, the world is slated to end on this coming Sunday, September 27th. Therefore, there will be no more human life, no more Internet, and no more DUNER BLOG. Confused? Well, let's sort this whole messy Blood Moon / Doomsday Prophecy thing out.
The Harvest Moon. This refers to the full moon nearest to the Autumnal Equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, the moon is at its closest point of the year to the earth, and is actually larger on the horizon than in months prior. Native Americans have been celebrating this event for centuries. Over time, American farmers incorporated the celestial oddity into their cultures as well.
The Blood Moon. This Sunday night, we will be treated to a Super-Moon Total Lunar Eclipse. This rare celestial event hasn't occurred in thirty years. When the Earth's shadow (umbra) combines with Rayleigh Scattering of sunlight, light beams produce a unique red hue. As they shine on the moon, a unique visual occurs, called a Blood Moon.
The Evidence. Hagee, Rowe and other so-called prophets have piled up an impressive list of natural disasters in the last week to prove their doomsday predictions are real. In addition to the flooding in Utah, there was a massive earthquake in Chile and inexplicable cloud formations in Costa Rica. Throw in the drought, the massive death of Saiga antelopes and beached whales...and it does really seem like the world is ending this week.