Weekly insights into our crazy world.

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!

Let's look at a specific example: Fais Island. It's small: Only one square mile. The 200 people who live there belong to the Yap Nation State within the Federated States of Micronesia. Their calendar is marked for the exact date and time when the Air Force C-130 cargo plane flies overhead. It slows to 130 knots and then descends to 300 feet above. Finally, a carefully choreographed team waits for the precise time to push the boxes out of the back. "You do feel a kinship with these folks when you see them on the ground waving," explained USAF Commander Doug DeLeMater.

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.

Adding Japan makes the news item even more touching. Of course...in the world of geopolitical strategy...the US added Japan as a message to the overbearing Chinese Navy to stay out of Micronesia. But in today's already chaotic world, we here at the DUNER BLOG are viewing the additions to OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP as purely humanitarian in aim. Now if only we could get to one of these remote South Pacific Islands in time for Christmas...

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!

Who discovered the ship? Jim, Toronto.
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.

Does the treasure belong to Spain or Colombia? Karin, Essen.
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.

Doesn't this treasure belong to EVERYONE? Dimitry, Omsk
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.

#2. Penguins. You've seen them in your favorite documentary and in the lovable DreamsWorks cartoon...but penguins are even better in the wild. Apparently, the shorelines of the entire continent are teaming with the enormous birds. In fact, the Audubon Society estimates there are 3.79 million of them living in Antarctica. Try to spot all 17 species. The easiest are to find are the Emperor, Adelie and Royal penguins. But maybe you'll spot a Rock-hopper or a Chin-strapper! When you do, be sure to talk in a deep, Morgan Freeman voice.

#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.

#4. Museums.  Believe it or not, there are not one...but two...museums in Antarctica. The first one is on the Russian base. It's not easily accessible, as ALE doesn't have access to the Novolazarevskaya Base. However, the Fort Lockroy Museum is located on the Peninsula and can be reached by sea. In addition to interesting exhibits about the successful...and failed...Antarctic expeditions, it also houses the only Post Office on the continent. Unfortunately, we cannot find the proper address.

#5. Bars. If humans are going to colonize, they are going to bring booze and build taverns. Numerous makeshift pubs have been constructed on the research bases...but these are a little too much like 'The Swamp' on M*A*S*H. Nope, a savvy traveler like you will head directly to Vernadsky's. Back in 1996, some prime timber was shipped the the remote base to build a pier. Instead, the Ukrainians constructed a beautiful bar. Sip some homemade vodka and peruse the many old photos on the wall. Best yet: Since Antarctica is under no one's governmental jurisdiction, no laws apply!

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!

After the NOVEMBER OF DEATH, the Pope has reason to be angry. Let's review the tally. As everyone knows, 130 innocent people were murdered in Paris on November 13. The next day, 43 others were slaughtered in Beirut by suicide bombers. Not to forget the 224 dead in the bombed Russian passenger plane. An of course the 21 people shot by machine guns in the lobby of a luxury hotel in Mali. Let's face it: Francis is right: This is truly the most hateful month in a long time!

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.

Fortunately for all Christians, a Papal order has not been binding for 500 years or so. So, feel free to celebrate the Birth of Christ as you normally would. Just try to be more aware of the 'American Burden.' Our combination of crazy liberal rights with insane corporate greed results in wrath from other nations. Anyone who has traveled overseas knows this feeling. You never play Mortal Kombat video games, view hardcore porn or watch gory slasher movies. But...as an American...this is how the rest of the world defines you.

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.

FIFA responded by fining the Hong Kong Football Association. It's the first time any country has been disciplined for booing during their own National Anthem! What are the Hong Kongers so angry about? They believe the "One Country, Two Systems" plan is a complete failure. One of the reasons why the colony thrived was Hong Kong Basic Law. Drafted in London in 1912, it granted simple rights to the citizenry of the crown colony. While these were limited freedoms from a Western point of view, these actions were unprecedented in the Orient. People flocked to Hong Kong in hopes of living a free and more prosperous life.

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.

While Beijing will undoubtedly try to control the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers, we here at the DUNER BLOG know they will not succeed. The people of the island colony are truly unique. Although they speak Cantonese and look just like folks on the mainland, their souls are not Chinese. Like Singapore and Taiwan, they may be linked culturally to the People's Republic, but their hearts beat to the drum of the West. Oops! We forgot: The score of the match was China: 0. Hong Kong: 0. No winners!

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. 

#2. McDonald's. 1961. Designer: George Dexter. All children around the world know: When they see the 'Golden Arches' that means good food...and a toy...are coming. Yay! When Ray Kroc bought the chain, he hired George Dexter to dream up something special. He designed two enormous arches that would form an 'M,' visible for miles around...a must for a Drive-Thru.

#3 Coca-Cola. 1886. Designer: Frank Mason Robinson. There wasn't such a thing as a Graphic Designer back in the 1880's when the Coca-Cola Company first began bottling pop in Atlanta. The closest thing they had was the bookkeeper, Frank. When asked, he simply wrote the name in Spencerian Script typeface, as this was the standard practice for signage in the era. Sure looks different today!

#4. Mercedes-Benz. 1902. Designer: Gottlieb Daimler. In case you've wondered, Mercedes was a popular ladies' name first, and a name for a car second. Specifically, founder Gottlieb Daimler's daughter's name. He also designed the three pointed star to represent where a Mercedes can take you: Land, Sea and Air.

#5. Apple. 1970. Designer: Ronald Wayne. The founders of the tech giant felt their product was as revolutionary as the apple that fell on Issac Newton's head. The first design was deemed 'too cute; for Steve Jobs, so designer Ronald Wayne unveiled a much simpler design. The bite was added so people wouldn't confuse it with a cherry.

#6. Seven-Eleven. 1946. Designer: Fran Gianninoto. During the Depression, an entrepreneur in Dallas began selling eggs, milk and bread out of a makeshift ice house. He wanted folks to remember his long hours: 7am - 10 pm. Turns out people loved the convenience of being able to buy basic items any time. When he expanded, a designer used bright yet contrasting colors to grab attention...and a Slurpee.

#7. Google. 1998 Designer: Sergey Brin. Sometimes simplicity wins. Co-founder Brin selected a Sans-Serif Type face from a free, online design site. He then decided to spice it up by printing each letter in a primary color.

#8. Starbucks. 1971. Designer: Terry Heckler. In a Seattle antiques store, Terry Heckler stumbled across a Norse 16th century woodcut. It had a mermaid with a crown and a long tail. It was instantly selected as the new logo. Over the years, it has evolved a bit. Gone are the mermaid's bare chest and her crown has been simplified.

#9. Warner Brothers. 1923. Designer: Saul Bass.  This entertainment giant wanted a power logo with strength. The four brothers voted for a shield with the stylized 'WB' dominating the middle. It stood for quality entertainment in theaters, record turntables and television.

#10. NASA. 1958. Designer: James Modavelli. The big dreams of the Space Race are found in the future-moving NASA design. Approved by Eisenhower, then modified by Kennedy, it has graced the Apollo missions, the Space Shuttle and Station. It makes the top ten because its the only logo in space!

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.

At 43, is he the youngest Canadian Prime Minister ever? Nope. Although he lasted a mere nine months in office, Joe Clark was only forty years old when he assumed the office in 1979. While Justin may not be the youngest Canadian PM, he is definitely the most handsome. In fact, social media has been calling him the "Sexiest Leader on the Planet." We here at the DUNER BLOG still feel this title belongs to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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.

Where does he stand on the issues? Justin represents the left wing side of his Liberal Party well. He is Pro-Choice, Pro-Pot and promises to raise taxes on the rich. A solid Socialist, he supports Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in the US. On foreign policy, he believes in an isolationist approach, and has voiced opposition to Canadian involvement in recent NATO campaigns in the Ukraine and the Middle East.

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!!

You're asking: Just how bad are these fires? So far, 1000,000 individual blazes have scorched 4.2 million acres. But what makes these infernos so dangerous is the tropical habitat they burn. 52% of the area affected are Peat-lands. These moist swamps contain the largest amounts of carbon of any landscape on the planet. Gizmodo calls them; "A pollution bomb, smoldering through centuries-old soil carbon and spewing COand methane into the atmosphere at record rates." Yikes! Only the SuperFriends could solve this!

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!
How did it all start? Borneo and Sumatra (the world's third and sixth largest islands) have little government...but lots of natural resources. "It is the habit of locals to burn land in hope that new buds will grow" Major General Siburian explained. "It's passed down for generations. Unfortunately, this year, the spot fires have quickly spread." In addition to local farmers, these unregulated islands are a haven for shady, unregulated entrepreneurs. After the 'slash and burn,' cleared land is used for ranching and farming cash crops. As the general said, 2015 has been an abnormally dry year, and Indonesia has received much less rainfall than on average. Once all these fires start... Well, you know the rest.

While its easy to dismiss a forest fire on the Equator as completely unimportant to one's daily life, we here at the DUNER BLOG ask you to pause for a moment. Think about what future generations will ask when they read about people in the year 2015. 'Why didn't they send in the UN Fire Department?' they'll ponder. Everyone knows: As the population of the planet grows, natural resources become more and more important. Borneo and Sumatran rainforests and peatlands need our attention now. Until we get rescued by the SUPER FRIENDS, it's up to us!

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.

ISIS: Russian Enemy #1. Unlike the Ukraine, the foe in the Syrian War is truly evil. For the last two years, barbarians, posing as humans, have committed unspeakable atrocities. Beheading children, sexual slavery, roasting Roman ruins...the list of ISIS Crimes Against Humanity is horrendously long. While the rest of the world has sat around and watched, Putin is the only world leader to stand up and commit ground forces. Another Middle Eastern conflict is poison for a US President but an easy call for a Russian Czar.

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.

Terror Toyotas. The Russian army may be insane, but they've got a insidious counterpart to fight in this conflict. ISIS launches quick and deadly strikes using an ingenious military devise: A Toyota Pickup Truck. In fact, it seems most Mideast terrorist groups prefer the Hilux model. Although the Japanese car maker insists it doesn't knowingly sell to any banned organizations, we would like to remind you of a quote from a former spokesperson: "It shows the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: Durability and Reliability."

Syria's Future. We here at the DUNER BLOG applaud Russia for their participation in the Syrian War and salute their goal of demolishing the dreaded ISIS Nation. Obama likes the idea of another international power policing the Mideast and sparing him the political alienation of sponsoring another invasion. However, everyone is leery of the new alliance of Putin and Syrian Dictator Assad al-Bashir. Of the 250,000 civilians killed in the conflict so far, 90% have been killed by him and not ISIS. After the war, al-Bashir will continue his family's 50 year vice-grip on a once prosperous nation.

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.

While Algeria has the best odds of advancing, all eyes are focused on the newest member in the AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS tourney: South Sudan. As you'll remember from a previous blog, this landlocked nation declared independence in 2011, and is the youngest country on earth. It began well: South Sudan unveiled a fun flag, impressive coat of arms, national anthem, etc. But then the reality of establishing a new economy and delivering services to an already impoverished population proved vexing. Today, South Sudan has the highest score on the Fragile States Index, the lowest rate of female literacy and a GNP so small we can't find a font that tiny. In short, this nation ranks on the bottom of just about any list.

How bad is it in South Sudan? Juba...the world's newest national capital..was once a bustling port city on the banks of the White Nile River. Unfortunately, there is little cargo moving today. Since independence, internal strife has ripped the young nation of South Sudan apart. This means the few roads, bridges and docks have been blown up by one group or another. How short lived was the joy of independence? Everyone cheered on September 5, 2011, when the first baby was born in the new nation: An aptly named boy: Independent Moses Nunuh. Sadly, he died before his first birthday....a common fate in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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.

But the real story here isn't on the soccer pitch...it's the people in the stadium seats. The simple fact that 20,000 people packed into the crumbling old stadium in this struggling slum of a city is reason for hope and cheer. While it's easy to find fault in the much maligned FIFA...corrupt, racist and arrogant...We here at the DUNER BLOG give them respect. Let's face it: More nations take part in the International Soccer Tourney than nations present at the UN. Although the odds are phenomenally stacked against South Sudan, just showing up to play should count as a win!

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:

The Pope Doesn't Like Trump's Immigration Position. As the first Pope to ever address the US Congress, Francis encouraged our Senators and Representatives to re-think our approach to "illegal" immigration. He reminded us that...unless you're a Navajo...you too are a descendant of an immigrant. He urged Americans not to repeat the "sins and errors of the past" by turning people away. He even told Congress to heed to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others and you would have them do unto you." No report yet on whether any Senators were listening.

A Pope Can Shake Up Politics. Immediately following the Papal Address, the Speaker of the House, the most important person on Capitol Hill, abruptly resigned. Ohio Representative John Boehner wept during the entire speech. Immediately after it ended, he handed in his pink slip, saying that "Bringing the Pope (here) is my final act." In reality, most feel Tea Party divisions in the GOP are to blame...but nonetheless: The Pope can really make an impact on US Politics!

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."

Francis Is Not Afraid of Assassins. First of all, he drove around DC in a Fiat. C'mon! Those aluminium doors couldn't handle an arrow...much less a bullet. Then, he stopped to pose for selfies with fans at the 9/11 Memorial. Finally, he disobeyed orders and wandered into crowds in Philadelphia to shake hands and bless children and grandparents. (Let's face it: No one can resist the adorable Pope Baby!?)  It seems the papacy has a different view of security than other world leaders. John Paul II even forgave the jerk Turk who shot him in the arm!

Pope Francis Don't Like The Gays. Conservatives applauded the Pope when he met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Francis gave her rosaries and told her to "stay strong" during a 15 minute 'Meet and Greet" session at the Vatican Embassy in Washington. "I'm just a nobody" noted Davis "So it was really humbling he would want to meet me." Oh well, Francis!  Four out of Five DUNER BLOG Highlights is still pretty good.

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 Lunar Eclipse.  Lunar eclipses are totally better than their Solar counterparts. First of all, you can look at them without wearing any unsightly eye protection. Second, Lunar Eclipses take two hours...not two minutes...to occur. So you can be late to the party and still not miss the show.

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 Prophecy. Thirty years ago...when the last Blood Moon happened...humans did not have the Internet. Back then, if a non-denominational pastor from Texas spouted a bunch of nonsense about THE END OF THE WORLD, no one would listen. But since we do have the Internet today, we give this guy a lot more credence than he deserves. John Hagee cites Joel 2:31. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day the Lord comes." The preacher is convinced this ancient passage is a direct reference to Sunday's eclipse.

The Mormon Response. Never ones to miss out on a Doomsday Theory, a prominent Mormon author has also issued numerous warnings about Sunday's eclipse. Julie Rowe has written books warning followers to take heed of the harmful Blood Moon. She may be right. When flash floods killed 16 women and children over the weekend in Utah...a tragedy she predicted...many folks in Salt Lake are buying up emergency supplies for Sunday night.

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.

NASA's Statement.  OK, it's time for us to leave the world of superstition and legend behind and ask the experts about Sunday's Blood Moon.  Noah Petro, a lunar scientist at NASA (with a PhD) reassures us that this is just a fun astronomical event. "The only thing that will happen on Earth during an eclipse is that people with wake up with nick pain because they spent the night looking up" Maybe there will be DUNER BLOG next week after all!