Weekly insights into our crazy world.

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.