Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, December 16, 2016



Around the world, nations are lifting bans on once feared activities. In November, recreational marijuana became legal in seven US states. Alcohol can be now be purchased in supermarkets in Egypt and the U.A.E. And this week, the Japanese Parliament voted to lift a century-old ban on gambling. It makes you wonder. Soon, prostitution will be unionized and cocaine will be sold at football games.

Let's look at the changes in the staunchly conservative and traditional nation of Japan. Recently, numerous factors have the population worried about their financial future: A slumping auto industry.  An aging workforce. Fierce competition within Asia. Legislators knew they needed to find new ways to raise revenue. So members of parliament decided their constituents would be happy with the projected tax income gained from opening once-feared casinos across the country. NOTE: Twelve MPs did walk out in protest.

The truth is Japan already allows some forms of gambling. For example, wagering on horse racing is legal and the country does have a nationwide lottery. And then there are the Pachinko Parlors. This pinball based game involves hundreds of pin pong balls that noisily fall into winning and losing slots. Although technically a form of gambling, it somehow falls into a grey area of acceptance.

But let's face it: None of these petty industries will ever compare to the massive, Vegas-style casinos Japan is planning to open. The hope is to lure tourists away from the new wagering meccas of Macau and Singapore. For years, Japan has watched in envy as billions of tax dollars go to rivals, while they were shut out of the fun due to some outdated laws. 

In summary, Japan is currently attempting to re-brand the international image of the nation. Legalizing gambling fits right into the plan. With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, Tokyo wants to be seen as hip, fun and current. Not stodgy and dull. More like Dubai and less like Seoul. But we can hear the defining silence of Japan's elderly populace wondering what happened to their protected paradise. Someone needs to tell them that, in the year 2016, economic gain trumps traditional values. In short, if money can be made, no one cares about negative effects on society.

Friday, December 9, 2016


Guess which building is the ACTUAL embassy

Big news from West Africa this week. Officials in Ghana announced they uncovered a fake US embassy operating in the capital Accra. Although currently shut down, it has been open for the last ten years. In addition to selling stolen visas and passports, they also have issued fraudulent documents as well. While the US State Department has been slow to offer details, here’s the questions the DUNER BLOG can answer. 

The obvious first question is: How could something as large as an embassy operate without people noticing? Not interested in attracting attention, the office had very little signage on the outside of the building. In fact, no ‘drop-ins’ were allowed; only those with appointments were allowed inside. Basically, the ‘embassy’ recruited customers from outside Accra. Folks from rural parts of Ghana and neighboring Ivory Coast and Togo would apply and then come to the city for their scheduled meetings.

Next up: When the customers got inside, didn’t they question the legitimacy of the embassy? Once past the front door, the deception begins. Everything was made to look like an official US operation. The crime syndicate studied what other US embassies looked like and copied them to a ‘T.’ Upon arrival, a towering framed photo of President Obama hung on the wall. Actual State Department memos were plastered on bulletin boards. They even had up-to-date laptops and iPhones at each desk.

Finally, what about the staff workers themselves? Didn’t people notice the officers weren’t Dick and Jane from the good ol’ USA? To solve this problem, the Ghanaian Crime Syndicate enlisted the help of a Turkish gang. With the ambiguous ethnicity of Turks, they were able to fool ordinary Africans into thinking they were American staff. Another way the embassy appeared to be legit.

All in all, it was quite an elaborate and effective scheme. In fact, the only time people questioned the legitimacy of the satellite embassy was when they received the bill. Each visa issued cost US$6,000! Which takes us to the real issue in this blog: Some people are so desperate to enter the United States of America, they will give their life savings to do so. The State Department has yet to respond to reporters' questions about how many people managed to enter the USA from the faux embassy and whether they plan to deport any of them. What a mess!!

Saturday, December 3, 2016



With all the Regime Change going on in the world these days, it hard to keep track. That's why the DUNER BLOG is here! Today, we're traveling far to the North...to the Arctic Circle. Iceland to be exact. Yesterday, President Johannesson announced she will "hand the mandate to the Pirate Party to form a new government" to lead the island nation.

Pirate Party? Will it be Halloween every day in Iceland? Actually, the Pirate Party is part of a global movement based on 'Direct Democracy.' Their policies involve stamping out corruption and returning the act of governing back to the people. How? They want online polling to pass new laws...not a governing body. They want public ownership of all national resources. In short, they want to tear up the 72-year old Iceland Constitution and start over. "I would like everyone in Iceland to find their pirate within," explained leader Birgitta Jonsdottir. "The pirate represents change with a collective vision of the future."

Actually...pirates were horrific murders with a vision of only themselves...but we still like Birgitta's ideology. Back in Ancient Greece, Democracy meant listening to each and every Athenian (male) citizen before making any laws. Over time, this spirit has been diluted by elected representatives, members of parliament and electoral colleges. Yuck. These people can be impediments to progress. They get slowed down by tempting offers from special interest groups. This often results in corruption. But with Pirates in power, things will be different.

However...just like their namesakes...the Pirates in Iceland also get into trouble. Birgitta, the self-described 'Poetician,' got her start as a computer hacker. In fact, she collaborated with Julian Assange to expose the infamous 'Collateral Murder' video. This exposed US military atrocities during the Iraq War back in 2007. As a Member of Parliament, she offered Icelandic citizenship to Edward Snowden. But this year's 'Panama Papers' was her coup d'├ętat. They linked the Prime Minister to a tax evasion scheme. This enraged the nation, who responded at the ballot box.

Despite this surge, the Pirates still only account for 10 of the 63 seats in the Althing (Iceland's Parliament). The PM only asked Birgitta to form a coalition government after the two main parties failed to so in the allotted two month time frame which just expired. But the message being sent worldwide from Iceland is still clear. Across the globe, citizens are voting for "strange people" like Birgitta. "Normal people feel no one listens to them," she explained "they are marginalized and forgotten." We here at the DUNER BLOG agree. It's just difficult adjusting to Pirates and CEOs as Presidents...