Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, September 30, 2016



It may be hard to believe, but there is a politician out there who has offended MORE PEOPLE than DONALD TRUMP! His name is Rodrigo Duterte and he’s the newly elected president of the Philippines. As expected, our mailbox is jam-packed with questions about “Dingo.” So let’s get started…

Does he really want to kill all drug addicts? Frank, Frankfurt. Not only does Duterte demand the death penalty for any drug related offense, he also wants Filipinos to carry out the executions. Citizens will do so, vigilante-style with no arrests nor trials. “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do so would be too painful,” he explained. Worried about possible revenge or legal issues after you kill your neighbor? No worries. “Even if you kill 1,000 addicts, I will protect you…”

Did he really call Obama the “Son of a Whore”? Pete, Pittsburgh. Prior to the ASEAN Summit last month, Duterte got downright loony at a press conference in Manila. When asked about how he would reply to the US President when pressed on Filipino Human Rights violations, Rodrigo got riled up. Vowing not to be lectured, he instead said he would “Curse at Obama, that son of a whore!” WTF? For some reason, Barack cancelled their private meeting at the event…

How does he feel about the South China Sea dispute? Linda, Lima. The People’s Republic of China has been adding landfill to the Spratley Islands…their tiny colony close to coast of Luzon. The PRC is building military bases to bolster their presence in the region. However, the Chinese better be careful not to sail into the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone. If so, Duterte warned of a ‘bloody confrontation if they invade us. It will be the bones of our soldiers…and you can include mine.” Yep, that sounds about right if you fought a land war with the world’s largest standing army…

Why will he ride a jet-ski? Nancy, Naples This quote relates to the Spratly Islands dispute. When pressed on how he would react to a Chinese attack, Duterte unveiled his crazy strategy. First, he plans to have the Filipino Navy sail him to the disputed island. Then he will “ride a jet-ski and when I reach Spratly, I will erect the Filipino flag.” These are bold words, but skeptics wonder if China offered him a billion Yuan, he would cave in a second…

Does he have any good ideas? Bob, Boston
. Dingo believes that everyone in the Philippines shares his opinions. This includes not only his disdain for drug dealers but math teachers as well. “Drawing lines makes me dizzy,” Duterte explains. “Let’s remove Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus from our schools!” Not a bad idea. He also wants to ban Karaoke from bars after 10:00 pm. (Having heard my share of drunk singers butcher Mariah Carey classics, we like this!)

Finally, here's an idea for a Filipino President: Get some rights for the millions of your citizens who work in China. Something tells us they are not getting their fair share...

Saturday, September 24, 2016



An English government agency released a frightening report this week. It listed the most treacherous waterways in the world and provided warnings for overseas citizens. The report also listed the reasons for caution. The top fear on the Seven Seas remains piracy…the number of armed robberies on the oceans continues to rise. The second concern involves bodies of water with dangerous conditions; places with constant storms and swift currents. Finally, some waterways remain shrouded in mystery, with inexplicable incidents still occurring. Here are the top five most dangerous waterways:
#5. Bermuda Triangle. Surprisingly making the UK list was the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Stretching from the remote island of Bermuda to Miami, Florida and Puerto Rico, this mysterious section of the Atlantic continues to baffle logic. Planes, cargo ships and yachts seem to simply vanish. Scientists will tell you it has more to do with the powerful Gulf Stream, but no one can explain why so many more UFO’s appear here than anywhere else.
#4. Gulf of Guinea. Africa’s most populated coastline is found on the Atlantic shores between Nigeria and Ghana. Oil tankers leaving Port Harcourt have always been targeted, as angry locals see their best natural resource extracted and refined by foreign corporations while they remain shut out of the enormous profits. However, the last couple of years has seen piracy expand to other trading vessels. In fact, it has seen the largest increase in armed intrusions at sea of any place on earth.
#3. Drake Passage. In the Northern Hemisphere, not many ships ever sail above sixty degrees. There is little reason to ship to Iceland or across the Bering Strait. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, ocean freighters are constantly skirting this parallel when they round the tip of South America, Tiera del Fuego. Here, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current carries a staggering volume of water: 600 times larger than the Amazon River. That’s a lot of frozen water whisking your craft in the opposite direction.
#2. Straits of Aden. Featured prominently in the Tom Hanks’ movie Captain Philips, the pirates of the Somali coast are now common knowledge. This means more and more freighters are taking precautions against them, and the number of heists in the Straits of Aden is in decline. In fact, that they are now in the #2 spot. Nonetheless, they still do strike at will, raiding ginormous ocean tankers with audacious tactics that would make Billy the Kid proud.
#1. Straits of Malacca. Getting from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean isn’t as easy as it looks. The sprawling islands of Indonesia prove to be formidable barriers. This results in a narrow ‘choke point’ called the Straits of Malacca.  Named after the sultan who controlled them for centuries, it’s estimated that one sixth of all world trade passes through
here. While piracy has always been an issue here, it has skyrocketed in recent years. Many attribute this to the never-ending Sumatran wildfires, which engulf the strait in a permanent haze. This makes it easier for pirates to sail unnoticed.  

Friday, September 16, 2016



A surprise announcement from UEFA this week has soccer fans across Europe scratching their heads. The decision involves the seeding for the coveted Champions League. Traditionally, the top performing teams from each nation earn the bids to the illustrious tournament. However, UEFA wants certain clubs to receive automatic bids to enter, regardless of their records. Called ‘Guaranteed Group Stage Placement,’ the concept is angering many.

Why the frustration? The plan favors famous and established teams over smaller, less significant clubs. This favoritism makes it even harder for small teams to succeed. Take Leicester FC, for example. Earlier this year, they beat longshot odds to win the English Premier League. But the honeymoon did not last long. Their team has been gutted by richer franchises, who snapped up their best players. Although the new season is only four games old, the Foxes are already in sixteenth place.

Let’s look closer at the new seeding. Four nations (England, Germany, Italy and Spain) would instantly get four teams into the Champions League. These include Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea from England and German giants Bayern Munich and FC Köln . Italy will send AS Roma, Juventus and AC Milan, while Spain gets to send current champs Real Madrid and star-studded Barcelona. The reason? These teams being in wealthy fans to the seats and lucrative TV contracts to UEFA. Smaller clubs simply don’t garner this phenomenal interest.

But what really has lesser Euro soccer teams worried is the current trend towards larger, international leagues. Talks are underway for a European-wide league that would include the sixteen Guaranteed Group clubs mentioned above. While the national leagues would remain intact, it's feared their best clubs would no longer take part. Even more alarming are the plans for a Worldwide Soccer Super League. This would have teams from the USA, Argentina and Brazil. (Let's hope they invent a cure for jet-lag!) 

Finally, the addition of Asian teams would complete the new, global soccer league. Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG are the fastest-growing franchises in the game. They are being groomed for the big time with some stellar additions to their lineups. Chinese investors have recently made a splash in the sport, acquiring huge stakes in Manchester United, Athletico Madrid and Lyon. The cards are lining up: It seems only a matter of time before the soccer world expands to the global level. Let’s just hope the underdogs don’t get forgotten.

Thursday, September 8, 2016



Can you say awkward? The recent meeting between US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was truly bizarre. What could have been an opportunity to clarify and compromise quickly became a strange farce. See, Trump demanded a wall be built on the nation's shared 169-year border. NOW! Any attempt at debate by the Mexican President was futile. A forced press conference succeeded in showing how far apart the two nations have become over this touchy issue.

We here at the DUNER BLOG would like to remind everyone about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Signed by both nations in 1848, it sets the guidelines for the new international border. First off, it clearly states that the border should remain OPEN, with citizens of both nations allowed to cross at any time. In fact, for the next eighty years, the US / Mexico border could only be found only on maps. Anyone could wander back and forth. While you were subject to the law of each respective nation, you were free to work, earn money and buy property anywhere you pleased.

Aside from a misguided raid by Pancho Villa on Columbus, New Mexico in 1915, the international border has been a peaceful place. No more wars. Then, in 1924, the first official Border Patrol was established. The city of El Paso was the base for a large cavalry that roamed the deserts and prairies. Surprisingly, their aim was not to stop Mexicans from entering the US. Rather, the agency was on the patrol to catch American gangsters fleeing South. With Prohibition in full swing, there were many wanted men trying to do just that.

It really wasn't until the 1960's when things really began to change on the US / Mexican border. Activist Cesar Chavez shined light on the plight of the Bracero Workers. Millions of Mexican nationals were employed picking crops on the fields of California and Texas. This revelation lead to the regulation of the border in earnest. A fence was built and dozen offices were opened, checking passports and demanding work visas. While many Mexicans still crossed (legally, according to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) at non-patrolled areas, that number has decreased steadily. In fact, it's at a fifteen year low...a point President Pena Nieto brought up. Why the sudden fuss now, Senor Trump??

We here at the DUNER BLOG feel that International treaties MATTER. For example, the U.K. honored its centuries-old agreement to return Hong Kong to China. What Trump fails to recognize is the uniqueness of the US / Mexico relations. Prior to ceding five Western states to the USA back in 1848, Mexico demanded $15 million dollars and guaranteed land rights to Mexicans living in them. The US paid the money, but failed to protect the ranchero owners. It also re-negged on the Colorado River rights. Today, gringos drink up every drop before it hits the border. In summary, it's unfair to lump this complex situation in the same group as Europeans who entered through Ellis Island, like Trump's great grandfather did.