Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, April 30, 2015



Things have been downright peculiar in New Zealand lately. Let's recap: Earlier this month, Kiwis celebrated Easter Sunday in their own, unique way: By killing bunnies. Yep, the 18th Annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt in Central Otago netted a record 14,799 rabbits. Then...earlier this week...another disturbing story came from the South Island. National Park officials announced the release of the deadly 1080 Poison and the successful culling of countless opossums, mice and other rodents. That's a lot of death for April!

Why so much anger towards little critters? Basically, modern-day New Zealanders are attempting to solve an age-old problem that has plagued the island nation for centuries. Ever since the first settlers arrived in 1769, they brought pests with them. Prior to this year, no mammals never inhabited the remote islands. ( OK! There are two tiny bat species, no native animals whatsoever!) Hence, the place was heaven for European rodents. With no cats and dogs for competition, they ate everything in sight.

Let's fast-forward a bit. Nowadays, the rodents on New Zealand have gone completely berserk. They are threatening a number of beloved indigenous bird species, which are found only in New Zealand. These include the Fairy Tern, the Kakapo, the Taiko and the White Heron. That's why Kiwis decided to release toxic poisons in their National Parks. It will kill the rodents but not the birds. It's hard to believe government and environmentalists signed off on such a crazy idea...But they did. All three national political parties, the Animal Health Board and...even the Maoris think it's a good idea to play God again with their habitat.

Which brings us to the massive Easter Bunny Hunt. If you're imaging hundreds of New Zealanders dressed like ELMER FUDD, you're not too far off! Here's the schedule: First, the hunters are grouped into 35 teams of six. They all have silly names like the Hair Raising Mutineers, Anti Pesto and the Cunculus Terminators. Then, they are randomly assigned plots of infested land to hunt. At the end of the day, dead bunnies are lined up in rows, and counted by officials. Finally, one lucky group is called the Winner!

While we aren't too sure about their methods, we here at the DUNER BLOG do applaud their effort. See, folks from one continent have ruined just about every other continent. In California, we are attempting to replace the eight million non-native Eucalyptus trees that have taken over every state park. Canadian Beavers are ruining Argentine rivers and destroying vast swaths of forests. Meanwhile, the South American Hyacinth continues to flourish in Africa's Lake Victoria. Trying to correct these mistakes isn't easy, but it must be done.

Friday, April 24, 2015



This week's blog comes to us fron high in the Hindu Kush Mountains. Specifically, the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The occasion? An official state visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping. While such meetings happen every day... THIS ONE was extra special. Fighter planes blazed through the sky, camels were decorated with extra tassels and every lamppost from the airport to the palace had Xi's smiling face attached to them. Yep.. This was no ordinary state visit.

Why all the pomp and circumstance? Well, you would be excited too.. If you were getting $46 billion dollars! Yep, China is pouring cash into neighboring Pakistan. Here's the agreement: The funds will go into specific projects designed to improve the country's crumbling infrastructure. For example, the Indus Highway (the main North / South artery) will be overhauled into a modern Interstate freeway. Other items include upgrading train lines, oil pipelines, electricity and even a Lahore subway!

Our readers are pondering: Has the People's Republic gone mad? What's in it for them? True, it is more than just a nice gesture. At the heart of the deal is the 100 mile international border between the two Asian giants. Here's you'll find fabled Kashmir (the region, not the Led Zeppelin song) and some of the highest mountain passes in the world. At a staggering 15,397 feet, the Khunjerab Pass connects Pakistan and China. Soon, a four-lane highway, high speed railways and oil and gas pipelines will be build, thus connecting Beijing to the Arabian Sea overland!

Whoops! We got ahead of ourselves. Today, the man-of-the-hour is definitely Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Basically, he raised $46 billion to rebuild the infrastructure of his population-challenged nation without raising taxes. However.. It does come with a catch. Although Chinese capital and corporations will fund and oversee matters, Pakistan still needs to provide manual labor and insure political stability in historically hostile areas. In addition to Kashmir, an insurgency in Baluchistan promises to disrupt construction.

For the time being,We here at the DUNER BLOG celebrate Pakistan and their new-found fortune. We are not alone. Even arch-rival India thinks a poor Pakistan is a bad idea. Insurgency breeds in the slums. The US has also supported the measure. After all, it is an aid program and not a military one. As usual, Chinese interests are centered on commerce. Finally, it is ironic that the Silk Road is back in the news. Marco Polo would be so proud..

Friday, April 17, 2015



Finally some GOOD NEWS from the Holy Land! Last Saturday, three very fabled people descended upon Jerusalem. Known the round the world, the family's pilgrimage ended in the Armenian Quarter old the Old City. It was here that the blessed Mother Kim Kardashian, her husband Kanye (Jeezus) West brought their sacred daughter to receive her baptismal rights. Finally, a shooting star flashed across the night sky. The star would forever be called the NORTH STAR after the blessed child.

Oops! We got a bit carried away. To re-cap: Why are Kimye in the Middle East? Well, as everyone knows, the world's most famous family has direct Armenian roots. Specifically, Kim' Kardashian's great-grandparents fled to the USA just months before the horrific Turkish genocide in 1915. In true rags-to-riches fashion, they have never stopped climbing the American social ladder. These days, the family is so wealthy, they decided to have their youngest member baptized in the holiest of Armenian churches as a spiritual pledge to their heritage.

We here at the DUNER BLOG also applaud Kim & Kanye for their choice to visit the Holy Land. It showed courage! See, 2015 is a bad year for tourism in Israel. The number of visitors to Jerusalem dipped 48% from last year, which is already at a 30-year low. Yet despite the conflict elsewhere in the Middle East, the Israeli capital is one of the few places on earth where Jews, Christians and Muslims all get along.

See, Jerusalem's Old Town is divided into four sects. The Jewish Quarter houses the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The Christan Quarter is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was crucified. The largest Quarter is the Muslim. Finally, there is the Armenian Quarter. The smallest and youngest. It dates from 400AD, when the mountainous Kingdom officially adopted Christianity. The four distinct groups all co-habituate the Old City together.

Back to the Armenian Quarter. At it's heart is the famed Cathedral St. James. This venerable building has survived over a thousand years of turbulent times. Violent crusades, voracious jihads, vicious aerial and suicide bombings have all come and gone. All the while, the cathedral has served as a vital link between Jerusalem and Armenia, 500 miles to the North.

We're not sure if Kim and Kanye know all this history, but we here at the DUNER BLOG wanted to point it out! We also encourage everyone to try to see the Middle East for its treasures. They are worth fighting for!