Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: Monday Morning, 3:00 AM. Place: New Orleans. Scene: A fleet of black flat-bed trucks arrive at the Battle of Liberty Place. Out came dozens of masked men. Knowing their lives are in grave danger, snipers have been placed on rooftops of nearby buildings to protect them. After receiving the final OK from HQ, they begin their dangerous task: Removing a Confederate obelisk that has withstood 126 years of opposition.
By dawn, the massive marble icon was gone...without a single KKK shooter. Mayor Mitch Landrieu applauded the action. "It sends a clear and unequivocal message on diversity, inclusion and tolerance," he summarized. After the courts and City Council's tremendous resolution earlier this year, it's clearing time for Confederate monuments in the Crescent City. One obelisk down, three statues to go. Next up is the Beauregard Statue at the college. All four monuments date back to the 1800's. They have been accepted by locals as part of their history: good or bad. But suddenly, everything changed in 2017, and they became symbols of hate and had to be instantly removed.
Meanwhile, historians across the nation are left scratching their heads. The act of erasing and thus attempting to change the memories of the past is always risky business. Just ask the Senators of Ancient Rome. After killing Julius Caesar, they began dismantling his many monuments and statues, hoping to change public opinion. The process even had a title: Damnatio Memoriae or 'Condemnation of Memory.' It didn't work and Caesar remains relevant two thousand years later. However...this time...it will work. Everyone in New Orleans will forget about the Confederacy. It's as easy as removing a statue!
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Last Sunday was Easter. All across the world, Christians came together for one of their most important holidays. Pope Francis spoke at the Vatican. President Trump hid eggs in Washington DC. Filipinos nailed each other to crosses. However, there is one place where celebrations were definitely muted. Sadly, it's the same place where Jesus Christ spent his entire life: The Middle East.
Exactly two hundred years ago, a 17-year-old named Jesus first began preaching about a new faith. After his death, conversion began rapidly. By the year 200 AD, over two million people believed. In the Middle East, Christianity replaced Roman deities and pushed Zoroastrians into the desert. However, things changed dramatically in the 700's, with the coming of the Prophet Mohammed's first jihad. Almost everyone became Islamic. Christian populations plummeted at first, but stabilized after Sunnis became more tolerant. As expected, Christians settled in the more arid regions and had limited rights under the Caliphates.
Also not having much fun on Easter this year are the 1.4 million Christians living in Iraq. The Chaldean sect is unfortunately based in Mosul, an ISIS base city. They fled and for the last four years they have been living in refugee camps, awaiting word if they can return. Although Mosul was liberated from the evil group last month, Shi'ite forces are in control of the city today. Sadly, they are not as welcoming as the Sunnis of Saddam. Likewise, the Assyrian Orthodox was largely protected under Bashar al-Assad, but faced executions under ISIS and rebel groups.
Friday, April 14, 2017
For the second time this month, the Spanish Navy has crossed into British territorial waters. At question is an enormous patrol boat called the Infanta Cristina. The vessel has sailed past the centuries-old demarcation, separating Gibraltar from Spain. When asked for a motive for the incursion, Spain's foreign ministry quipped they didn't recognize the waters as belonging to Gibraltar and that their boat was on a routine patrol.
Readers are wondering: Why is Spain again trying to claim Gibraltar today? What world event is giving them another chance? The answer is Brexit! The logic is simple: By pulling out of the EU, Great Britain is also pulling out of all agreements, including the 300 year-old Treaty of Utrecht. Many in the UK scoff at this, reminding the EU of their constitutional duties to let people chose their sovereignty. In 2002, 98% of Gibraltarians voted to stay in the United Kingdom. Just ask Fabian Picardo, the colony's Chief Minister. "Unnecessary, unjustified and unacceptable," he clamored. "Spain's unusual obsession with Gibraltar must end!"
The conflict is a simple reminder of a rivalry that has never been forgotten. We've got the world's two largest colonial powers going at it again! Before we get carried away, let's get back to the treaty. At the time, Spain chose to retain Minorca, Majorca and Ibiza and ceded away Gibraltar. That was a smart move! Last year, over three million Brits flew there and spent wads of money. You're winning, Spain! It's time to back off. Just ask Argentina what will happen if you try to do anything militarily to a British colony!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
To see what defines a decade in American culture, it's best to turn to Pop Music. For example, the top selling musician in the 1950's was Elvis Presley. Meanwhile, the 1960's had the Beatles, while the 1970's had the BeeGees. All speak volumes about what average Americans valued in that period. Think about their hair, their message, rebellious attitude, colorful polyester pants, etc... You get the picture. So we here at the DUNER BLOG thought it would be interesting to see which pop musicians are tops in the new millennium. Using a simple formula, here are our findings:
#5. LADY GAGA. Album sales: 25,000,000, #1 Hits: 3. Born Stefani Germanotta in NYC's Upper West Side, this Italian spitfire attended numerous art academies as a teen. Then, Stefani spent five grueling years, releasing dozens of demos and trying a dozens of crazy costumes in hopes of making it big. Fortune smiled on her when she hooked up with producer Rob Fusari. He claims to have given her stage name after the Queen song Radio Ga Ga. In 2008, Just Dance was released, ushering in five solid years of hits. Although her third and fourth albums flopped, this year's Super Bowl Halftime Show reminded everyone of the Power of GaGa.