Thursday, February 28, 2013

SC clears media, finds lawyer guilty of indirect contempt in Fortun disbarment case
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court has cleared several journalists and news organizations of charges of indirect contempt filed against them by criminal lawyer Sigfrid Fortun for reporting on the disbarment case brought against him by Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and four other complainants.

However, the high court found lawyer Prima Jesusa Quinsayas, who filed the disbarment case, guilty and fined her P20,000 for violating Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, which governs the confidentiality of such proceedings.
(Click here to read the complete decision)

The tribunal said that, “as a lawyer and an officer of the court, Atty. Quinsayas is familiar with the confidential nature of disbarment proceedings. However, instead of preserving its confidentiality, Atty. Quinsayas disseminated copies of the disbarment complaint against petitioner (Fortun) to members of the media, which act constitutes contempt of court.”

At the same time, the high court stressed that Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court “is not a restriction on the freedom of the press. If there is a legitimate public interest, media is not prohibited from making a fair, true, and accurate news report of a disbarment complaint.”

Fortun is one of the lead defense lawyers for members of the Ampatuan clan accused of planning and carrying out the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao province, in which 58 persons, including 32 journalists, were killed.

Mangudadatu and the other complainants in the disbarment case lost relatives in the massacre.

Quinsayas is one of the private prosecutors in the multiple murder case filed against the suspects in the massacre. She is also counsel of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, whose directors were accused with her of allegedly distributing copies of the disbarment complaint.

In his complaint, Fortun alleged that the media reports and discussions on the disbarment case were meant to “malign his personal and professional reputation” and to “fuel hatred, contempt and scorn” for him and his client, principal accused Andal Ampatuan Jr.

In clearing reporters and executives of news organizations ABS-CBN, GMA News Online,, and The Philippine Star, the high court said the disbarment complaint against Fortun “is itself a matter of public concern considering that it arose from the Maguindanao Massacre case. The interest of the public is not on petitioner himself but primarily on his involvement and participation as defense counsel in the Maguindanao Massacre case. Indeed, the allegations in the disbarment complaint relate to petitioners supposed actions involving the Maguindanao Massacre case.”

It acknowledged that the massacre case “is a very high-profile” one, thus, “it is understandable that any matter related to the Maguindanao massacre is considered a matter of public interest and that the personalities involved, including petitioner, are considered as public figure(s).”

In clearing the complainants in the disbarment case and the FFFJ directors, the tribunal said Quinsayas acted alone in disseminating and discussing the disbarment complaint against Fortun.

The South China Sea: “Lake Beijing”

By James R. Holmes 
The Diplomat
Chinese-NavyWhat is a “lake” in maritime strategy? Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe published an op-ed in Project Syndicate last week maintaining that Chinese power is increasingly transfiguring the South China Sea into “Lake Beijing.” That sounds ominous. To counteract China’s primacy in southern waters, argues Abe, Japan must augment its combat and police capabilities while forging a “diamond” with the United States, Australia, and India to defend the commons in East and South Asia. That sounds like a multinational lake presided over by the region’s leading liberal republics. Presumably the European equivalent would be NATO trusteeship over the Mediterranean Sea.
The idea of a lake has a long provenance. Many moons ago, while researching Alfred Thayer Mahan’s influence in Imperial Germany, I stumbled across a 1907 issue of National Geographic that exuded triumphalism. The normally staid magazine ran a map showing American flags scattered all across the Pacific basin, from Hawaii to the Philippine Islands. The flags depicted the islands wrested from Spain in 1898. The caption proudly proclaimed that the Pacific Ocean was—and would remain—“an American Ocean.” And so it was. Writing a century later, pundit Robert Kaplan maintained that the Pacific has been “a veritable American naval lake” since World War II.
By no means is the United States the first seagoing state to declare this or that body of water its own. In the 1950s Indian sea-power proponent K. B. Vaidya declared that the “Indian Ocean must become an Indian Lake” guarded by forward-deployed eastern, southern, and western fleets. A vibrant oceangoing navy would work some alchemy, transforming inward-looking India into the “supreme and undisputed” master of regional waters.
But again, what precisely do sea-power enthusiasts mean when they deem some expanse a lake belonging to some seafaring nation? A lake must have geographic, military, and political components. Geography provides the arena within which nations play out their destinies. Strength, as Clausewitz defines it, is a product of force and resolve.
Let’s break the concept down. First, designating a compact or enclosed sea a national lake is one thing. Declaring de facto supremacy over the world’s largest ocean, as National Geographic did on America’s behalf, borders on hubris. Boundless ambition begets strategic overextension and all of the maladies it entails. That’s what Walter Lippmann meant when he accused interwar American administrations of “monstrous imprudence” for letting Asia-Pacific commitments outstrip naval means.
Second, claiming a lake means commanding the waters within in the Mahanian sense. Mahan famously portrayed maritime command as amassing “overbearing power” to drive enemy fleets from vital waters in wartime. Peacetime command means fielding a force able to overawe and overshadow rival fleets—opening up vistas for deterrence, coercion, and confident naval diplomacy of all varieties. That’s a high standard to meet. And the bigger the lake, the higher the standard.
And third, there’s the question of political resolve or, more accurately, political intentions. For what purpose does a seafaring nation claim a lake for itself? There’s no obvious general rule implicit within the concept. Power is a neutral thing. A nautical suzerain can be benign and self-denying, as I believe the United States has been since 1945 and India will be once it consummates its naval project. Few stay up nights worrying about the U.S. or Indian naval juggernauts’ trampling their interests.
But power can be abused. That seems to be Prime Minister Abe’s message vis-à-vis China. Abe frets that Beijing will misuse its naval might within Lake Beijing, to the detriment of Japan and other seagoing nations. It cannot be trusted to use its power responsibly. Chinese leaders have done little to allay such concerns. Just the opposite.
The concept of a lake isn’t a bad yardstick for measuring Chinese sea power. Is Beijing indeed intent on primacy in the South China Sea and other expanses, to the extent of seeing them as Chinese lakes? Does it possess sufficient naval and military power to make itself the master of the waters within? How large a margin of superiority can the PLA amass in the face of regional competitors? And to what uses would Beijing put its marine primacy once achieved?
Food for thought.

Was it old age or the New Age that caused Pope Benedict to resign?

By William M. Esposo 
The Philippine Star 
Pope-Benedict-XVI.8In announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI said: “In today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the ship of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
We have to admire Pope Benedict XVI for knowing when to relinquish power and privilege for the sake of the big mission. His era was one of the most challenged with a series of sexual abuse scandals, financial embarrassments including expose of a 100% Vatican owned company that was producing porn. In a way, more than old age, it may have been the enormous burdens of our New Age that really caused the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI shall turn over a Catholic Church in turmoil and in decline. The Philippine Catholic Church is in the same crisis. The recent writings of Jesuits Fr. Joel Tabora and Fr. Joaquin Bernas about the mistakes of the Catholic Church in confronting the RH Bill had been very popularly received on Facebook and were shared because these captured what majority of Filipinos felt about the bullying tactics of several Catholic Bishops, priests and nuns who have gone rabid over the RH Bill issue.
“People have been leaving the Catholic Church. People are about to leave the Church. It is time, I think, for Mahar Mangahas to take out his social survey tools to help us understand what is happening.” Fr. Tabora wrote in his February 7 blog posting titled The Catholic Church: Between the Sublime and the Ridiculous. Mahar Mangahas is the research guru of the SWS (Social Weather Station) to whom we run to get the social trends.
Fr. Tabora added: “People are tired of lousy homilies that ramble in inanities that begin and never end, and never end because they should never have begun. People are tired of being preached at, of being treated as if they were younger than adolescents, of being lectured, of being scolded, of being dictated upon. People are tired of obstinate claims to absolute truth, when the thinking world continues to seek truth. People are tired of being told how to think, when they can think for themselves, and how to choose, when they can choose for themselves, and how to have sex when they can have sex for themselves.”
He continued: “People are tired of the reproductive health (RH) discussion, debate, disaster, debacle. All right, they are willing to receive a clear statement of the teaching of the Church on this matter, and they understand that the hierarchy is serious about conveying its message, and that there are lay persons very passionate about making sure that that message gets conveyed. But hey, was it really necessary to devote the whole of Advent to it, including all of Simbang Gabi, and for Christmas fare, was it really so necessary to talk about Reproductive Health and the Virgin Birth through Conception by the Holy Spirit? And when New Year’s came, was it really so necessary to preach on Reproductive Health and Child Circumcision?”
The Roman Catholic Church has been experiencing sharp decline in numbers all over the world and it’s wrong to assign the cause to sexual abuse scandals. The sexual abuse scandals merely accelerated what is already in the woodwork — decay, rot, arrogance of narrow-minded clerics and a growing detachment from the reality of peoples’ lives.
The Week editorial of April 30, 2010 had this to say: “It’s “the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history,” says the National Catholic Reporter. Worldwide, the Roman Catholic Church now has 1.1 billion members, compared with 1.5 billion Muslims and 593 million Protestants. In the US, all the major denominations have seen their numbers decline in recent years, but the Catholic Church has taken the biggest hit. Since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics have left the church for every one who has converted, according to a 2009 Pew study. In 2008 alone, Catholic membership declined by 400,000. More than 1,000 parishes have closed since 1995, and the number of priests has fallen from about 49,000 to 40,000 during that same period. Some 3,400 Catholic parishes in the US now lack a resident priest. “Catholicism is in decline across America,” says sociologist David Carlin.”
In Europe, the editorial added: “The situation there is even more dire, especially in the most historically devout countries. In 1991, 84 percent of the Irish population attended Mass at least once a week. Today the weekly attendance figure is less than 50 percent. In Spain, 81 percent of the population identifies itself as Catholic, but two-thirds say they seldom or never attend services. And the priest shortage is acute — in England and Wales, the church ordained only 16 clergy members in all of 2009.”
My February 3 “Where’s Jesus Christ” column elicited many responses that reflect this declining affinity and respect for the Catholic Church. Again, the loss of faith in the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church didn’t just result from the RH Bill issue. The RH Bill merely provided the trigger for expressing what’s already in many Catholic hearts and minds.
Over here, some leaders of the Catholic Church have crossed the line between church and state and are said to be actively campaigning for the downfall of President Benigno S. Aquino II (P-Noy) — the person they blame for the passage of the RH Bill. There’s a Jesuit, a nuisance more than a threat, that’s been actively meeting with military men, and reportedly agitating them. The Jesuit community, my source of information, doesn’t sanction this Jesuit’s activities. The Jesuits are generally supportive of P-Noy’s brand of good governance that targets inclusive growth and meaningful reforms.
The more the Catholic Church leaders here dabble into politics, especially when they seek the ouster of one of the best presidents this country has had, all the more they’re seen with dirty hands and are perceived as Pharisees. Times have changed. Peoples’ needs have changed. Sadly, some Catholic Church leaders are still in medieval mindset mode.
In a world where the pace of technology is dizzying, there’s an avalanche of new ideas and concepts — admittedly not all of them good. The Catholic Church couldn’t relate to its flock in this modern era unless it discards their medieval mindset and retrace their footsteps from Vatican II.
In Vatican II lies the Catholic Church’s redemption. The Pope’s resignation could be the opportunity to reform and attune the Church to the New Age.
* * *
Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

At Pentagon, ‘pivot to Asia’ becomes ‘shift to Africa’

By Craig Whitlock 
The Washington Post
US-military-presence-in-AfricaIn his first term, President Obama instructed the Pentagon to pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia. Instead, the U.S. military finds itself drawn into a string of messy wars in another, much poorer part of the world: Africa.
Over the past two years, the Pentagon has become embroiled in conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Mali and central Africa. Meantime, the Air Force is setting up a fourth African drone base, while Navy warships are increasing their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa.
In scope and expense, the U.S. military involvement in Africa still barely registers when compared with its presence in Asia, let alone the Middle East or Afghanistan. On any given day, there are only about 5,000 U.S. troops scattered across all of Africa, while 28,000 are stationed in South Korea alone.
But it is becoming more common for the Pentagon to deploy troops to parts of Africa that many Americans would be hard-pressed to locate on a map, such as Djibouti, the Central African Republic and now the West African country of Niger, where the U.S. military is planning a base for Predator drones.
Pentagon officials say their expanded involvement in Africa is necessary to combat the spread of al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and Somalia and other guerrillas such as Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. And while U.S. military leaders have sought to downplay their rudimentary network of bases on the continent, there are signs that they are planning for a much more robust presence.
In a written statement provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who is poised to become the next leader of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, estimated that the U.S. military needs to increase its intelligence-gathering and spying missions in Africa by nearly 15-fold.
“I believe additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are necessary to protect American interests and assist our close allies and partners,” he wrote in the statement, which was released Thursday during his confirmation hearing. ”The recent crises in North Africa demonstrate the volatility of the African security environment.”
Rodriguez said the Africa Command needs additional drones, other surveillance aircraft and more satellite imagery adding that it currently receives only half of its “stated need” for North Africa and only 7 percent of its total “requirements” for the entire continent.
When U.S. military officials created the Africa Command in 2007, they insisted they did not have plans to create bases or move troops to the continent. Since then, however, the Pentagon has gradually assembled a network of small staging bases, including drone installations in Ethi­o­pia and the Seychelles, and a forward operating base for special operations forces in Kenya.
The Pentagon has also expanded operations and construction at the only permanent U.S. base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which serves as a hub for counterterrorism missions in Somalia and Yemen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Solaire, world’s ‘best’ casino

Razon said that he wanted to scare the daylights out of the best gaming places in the world, including those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Razon said that he wanted to scare the daylights out of the best gaming places in the world, including those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Solaire, the first casino in Entertainment City, will open on March 16 at exactly 2.28 pm. That may well be the first indication that the casino will cater mainly to Chinese high rollers.
The exact time of 2.28 pm may have been suggested by Chinese experts in feng shui, the Chinese art of balancing energies in a given space to ensure health and good fortune to those who will use it.
Enrique K. Razon, principal owner of Solaire, threw modesty to the four winds when he said that he has hired 38 international chefs, who he said are “the best in the world.”
He knew that the restaurants of Solaire will have a mark-up of only one per cent over cost. Peanuts of a business! Solaire, like the rest of the casinos in the world, does not expect to make much money offering the best food, a good part of which is in fact served free in the suites or gaming tables of high rollers.
Razon confided to Malaya Business Insight in a chance interview that he wanted to scare the daylights out of the best gaming places in the world, including those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
His ambition is to compete with Macau, which reported revenues of $37 billion in 2012. Macau, an autonomous region of China, is just across the border with the mainland and only a three-hour plane ride from Beijing. Macau teems with Mandarin-speaking people who make Chinese high rollers extremely comfortable. The Chinese high rollers would need about 14 hours to fly to Las Vegas and about 16 hours to fly to Atlantic City. On the other hand, it would take only about three hours to fly from Beijing to Manila.
But none of the casinos in that former Portuguese territory has 38 chefs from France, the UK, the United States, Spain and from prosperous Oriental cities.
There is one in the Philippines. That is Solaire of Razon who, at slightly over 50 years old, is one of the biggest port operators in the world, managing close to 40 piers abroad apart from several in the Philippines.
By the time the $1.2 billion Solaire complex is completed next year, it will have 2,000 rooms with enough suites for high rollers who will be flown to the Philippines in chartered big birds at the casino’s expense.
Razon said Solaire will have 1,200 slot machines. Worldwide, casinos get more than 50 percent of their income from these machines. For the high rollers, there are 294 gaming tables. About 80 per cent of them is for baccarat.
In obvious appreciation of the fact that an estimated 30 per cent of average revenues of casinos in the world is coughed up by the Chinese, Razon has hired 120 dealers straight from China.
He said the high rollers from that country feel more comfortable burning their money or making some with Mandarin-speaking Chinese from their homeland. He pointed out that the Mandarin language is one of the biggest attractions of Macau in getting the high rollers from China.
There are gaming suites, about 40 square meters in floor area. These are, Razon said, for those who want to be alone with the card dealer. Other suites have three or four tables. They are at least 100 square meters in floor area. These are, Razon said, for those who want peace and quiet but not necessarily alone.
Razon invited nearly all of the world’s biggest junket operators to have a look-see of the design and appurtenances of the casino building.
More than 10 of them have signed yearly renewable contracts to fly to Solaire the biggest gamblers in the world. Razon said seven of the exclusive gaming rooms have already been contracted.
Razon would not talk about revenues Solaire expects to make. It was Cristino “Bong” Naguiat, chairman and executive of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., which licenses private casinos in the country, who said that Solaire will make at least $10 billion in revenue by the end of the next four years in 2017.
“High rollers will come by the planeloads when Solaire opens,” Naguiat earlier told Malaya Business Insight. “Solaire,” he said, “is the best casino in the world.”
Razon has brought back home around 450 young Filipino men and women working in casinos and hotels in Macau and Singapore. He pirated several CEOs of casinos in Las Vegas and Macau.
It has long been noted in the gaming business that the Chinese high rollers prefer to be with fellow Orientals, particularly Mandarin-speaking Chinese. Solaire has them in Mandarin-speaking Chinese Filipinos. Yet he hired a few Chinese citizens to make sure everything goes well with the Chinese high rollers who have been committed to come and play in Solaire by the so-called junket operators.
Because Solaire was designed almost exclusively for high-end gamblers, Razon made sure they are provided with maximum security. He has hired more than 100 security men, most of whom are newly-retired policemen in the intelligence service of the PNP. Some are in uniform for visibility.
The plainclothes men will be assigned to the group of high rollers.
Razon has observed how the casinos in the United States are run. Nearly all of them have exclusive rooms for high rollers. But the gaming areas teem with people – some Filipinos, some Hispanics, who loaf until the early hours of the morning, pan in hand, practically begging for “balato” (a pittance of a share in the winnings but these chisellers have no way of knowing which gambler lost a fortune and who made a pile).
“Sorry for them,” Razon said. ‘’They will not be allowed in Solaire.” In fact, he said, sneakers and shorts are not allowed either.
Malaya Business Insight saw some of the furniture, like chairs. They are of the highest quality imported from the United States.
The minimum bets, even in slot machines, are higher than in any casino in the Philippines. This is one small way of giving Solaire the reputation of being world class.

‘Reshoring’: Why Manufacturing Jobs are Coming Back to America

China’s not as cheap as it used to be…

By Martin Hutchinson
THE MANUFACTURING renaissance in the United States is not just a fantasy, writes Martin Hutchinson for Money Morning.
It is actually happening. Jobs that had been outsourced to China and elsewhere really are returning to the United States. Believe it or not, this “reshoring” already has reversed the long, steady decline of manufacturing jobs in the US.
In fact, since 2010 America has added roughly 500,000 manufacturing jobs, an increase of 4.3%.
The economic and investment implications of this reversal are considerable to say the least.
With the disadvantages to manufacturing overseas growing each year, it’s no wonder reshoring is beginning to become a major trend.
One of the drivers is cost, especially as it relates to “cheap Chinese labor.” As it turns out it’s not that cheap anymore.
According to an HSBC study quoted in the Financial Times, real wages in China’s coastal areas have risen 350% in the last 11 years. Demographics are only accelerating the trend toward higher wages.
Last year, China’s working age population fell for the first time, by 3.5 million to 937.5 million.
That means the endless supply of young workers from farms in China’s rural areas is drying up, pushing China’s wages up even further. Already, the country’s balance of payments surplus has disappeared, and China’s manufacturing costs, adjusted for productivity, have increased from 20% of US costs to some 50%.
That still gives China an advantage in direct labor costs, but the additional costs of international sourcing must also be considered. When transportation, duties, supply chain risks, and other costs are fully accounted for, the cost savings of manufacturing in China begins to diminish.
In any case, unless there’s a major downturn in China, its overall competitiveness is likely to continue to decrease.
Of course, the more excitable commentators like to claim that China’s cost increases alone will push manufacturing back to the US But the truth is that’s nonsense.
Here’s why.
There are many other low-wage emerging market countries with decent political and economic stability, all of which have had their competitiveness enhanced by the same Internet and mobile telephony that has pushed Chinese outsourcing ahead.
As such it only follows that the return to US manufacturing from rising Chinese costs alone would be modest. But there’s another factor involved here-and this one is home grown.
The second thing bringing manufacturing back to the US is the rise of fracking techniques for the immense US shale gas deposits. That’s different than the oil shale fracking which is unlikely to affect US competitiveness much, because oil can be transported fairly readily (though in the short term excess production from Canadian tar sands has made oil much cheaper there).
However, gas is expensive to transport without an infrastructure of pipelines, which don’t exist in most places. With the arrival of shale gas fracking, the United States now has a substantial energy cost advantage for applications which can efficiently use gas to supply energy for local plants–especially those near these shale gas formations.
Finally, in the long run a third US cost advantage may reappear. It is the cost of capital.
With the world’s most advanced and developed capital markets, the US has traditionally had the lowest cost of capital- combining the lowest cost of debt with the greatest ease of raising equity for medium-sized companies.
Unfortunately, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke have lost this U.S advantage. By making money easy to get at cheap rates, they have driven the banking system and international investors to invest in emerging markets, lowering their cost of capital artificially.
Whereas previously their cheap labor was offset by expensive capital, today their labor is still cheap, while their capital is also a little more expensive than in the US For instance, when the near-bankrupt, impoverished socialist Bolivia can borrow $1 billion for 10 years at less than 5%, the US capital cost advantage has effectively disappeared.
Of course, with some countries it’s not coming back.
China has $3 trillion in foreign reserves and a very high savings rate. Under those circumstances it’s going to get all the capital it needs at a cheap price.
But lesser countries, like Vietnam, India and most of Africa, will find capital expensive again once US monetary policy has stopped creating money artificially. That will increase the cost advantage of US manufacturing, at least in some cases.
Of course, who knows when Bernankeism will finally end. My guess is that a crisis will precipitate a return to sanity, but of course emerging markets will suffer in that crisis, as they did in 2008.
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Martin Hutchinson, 13 Feb ’13

Gifts from Eykis

By Alex P. Vidal
“Reality is not a concept; reality is my daily life.” — J. KRISHNAMURTI
Gifts-from-EykisThere is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way!
“This is the message of all my gifts. If you haven’t figured out this secret, happiness will always elude you,” Eykis, a citizen from Uranus, told a peaceful and life-loving Earthling in an exchange encounter.
“Remember,” Eykis added, “you all have such an advantage here on Earth. Your reality permits you to live in total harmony with your world…Why not take these gifts, apply them, and just attempt to experience a new reality?”
Dr. Wayne Dyer, the number one bestselling author of such reality-based, life-changing books as Your Erroneous Zones, Pulling Your Own Strings, and the Sky’s the Limit, tells us in a parable format, about an Earthling’s journey into space to find a new world, only to find a mirror image of his own.
He fell in love with a woman from that other world. His inner voice, his deepest impulse, told him to bring her back to Earth. When she came, she brought gifts. He thrilled with inner excitement. Her precious gifts could mean no-limit happiness for all.
“Throughout history storytelling has been a significant avenue of communication,” Dyer wrote in the book that dwells about the story of self-discovery. “From Aesop’s Fables and biblical parables to Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and many additional ancient and modern sources, we can learn readily by stepping aside to the position of objective observer.
“There the sting of criticism is not so painful. The action and resulting consequences happened to the fox or bird or prodigal son. Yet with very little effort we see how the truth and universal essence belong to us all. We are moved to new perceptions, emotions, and behavior through these ‘fictional’ examples.”
Dyer said science and technology have brought us forward into a grand new world with greater possibilities than ever. “But in many way our attitudes and feelings have not evolved equally,” he stressed. “We are less equipped to deal with the opportunities presented today because we drag along some unhelpful beliefs and misperceptions of the realities of our world.”
He asked: “What would be the reactions of an intelligent visitor from another planet to our complex systems here on Earth? How would we view that visitor’s culture? Can we compare favorably? Are we ready to accept an objective view?”
Meanwhile, the Earthling asked Eykis: “You mentioned something about secrets in our earlier discussions, Eykis. Do you want these secrets to remain clouded over, or are you willing to share them here on film with us?”
“I’d be happy to share my observations with you,” retorted Eykis. “But first I would like to say that the only reason I refer to what follows as ‘secrets’ is that they appear to have eluded so many of you here on Earth.
Originally I call them secrets because I thought no one knew them. I’ve since discovered that all these so-called secrets are available to everyone on Earth, and have been as long as you’ve had recorded history. I will still refer to them as secrets, however, because their actual use continues to remain obscure.”
The secrets of the universe, according to Eykis, are:
1. We must learn to cultivate our own garden.
2. The kingdom of heaven is within.
3. Everything in the universe is exactly as it should be.
4. It’s never too late to have a have a happy childhood.
5. Where I go, there I am!
6. Keep it simple.
7. These are the good old days.
8. You are perfect.

Concerns about mammoth complex in Boracay

By Ellen Tordesillas
Boracay. From Korea News Online
Boracay. From Korea News Online
It’s only February and we are now feeling the beginning of summer.
It’s now time to look for budget offers from airlines and out-of-town hotels.
Boracay is a logical destination for us because our place in Antique is just three hours away by bus to the popular island.
A recent Facebook post by the peripatetic Teddy Montelibano on Boracay on the plan of San Miguel Corporation to develop Boracay makes it compelling for us enjoy Boracay now.
Teddy’s post was from the FB page of the province of Aklan boasting of the “Country’s biggest hotel and coliseum to rise at Boracay Airport Complex.”
The project which had no less than President Aquino as guest when the renovated Caticlan airport was inaugurated in June last year is to be undertaken by TransAire Development Holdings Corp., a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp.
The official release said: “Once the Boracay Airport complex spanning Caticlan and Nabas in Aklan becomes fully operational over the next few years, some of its structures will set Philippine records for sheer size. And for environmental friendliness.
Boracay in 2015
Boracay in 2015
“The most imposing structure in this $300 million airport complex will be its mammoth 5,000 room budget-hotel. When completed, this hotel will be the largest budget hotel in the Philippines. It will also be the largest hotel in the country, and probably in all of Southeast Asia…
“Room rates at the budget-hotel are expected to range from P1,000 to P2,000 per night. The rates compare favorably to budget room rates on Boracay and are, therefore, clearly affordable for inbound tourists.
The budget-hotel is intended to help decongest Boracay, which will be flooded with about a million tourists this year and probably up to three million in the next few years…
“The planned dome-shaped convention center will be able to seat up to 25,000 persons, or 10,000 more persons that the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City in Metro Manila. It will become both the country’s largest convention center and its biggest indoor arena.
“The new terminal building will be the ‘greenest’ terminal building in the Philippines. Its large windows will allow the free flow of fresh air throughout the building thereby reducing the need for massive air conditioning.
“It will derive part of its electricity from solar panels; will install a rainwater collection system and will have its own wastewater treatment plant.”
I seriously doubt the viability of 5,000-room budget hotel in Caticlan where one has to take a ferry boat to go to beach. But that’s Ramon Ang’s concern.
I’m more concerned about the impact of thousands more tourists in an already over-burdened and much-abused island.
Writer Clinton Palanca did his math and gave us a scary scenario of Boracay if that behemoth of a hotel project succeeds: “ If the 5000 rooms are filled with two persons each, that’s 10,000 people plus those staying at hotels in Boracay. White Beach is 3.5 kilometers long. If these people did nothing but sit on the beach, they would be two deep in a space half a meter wide per person.”
Teddy Montelibano painted a scarier picture: “They’d all have breakfast in Caticlan then go across Boracay and, like meerkats in the Life of Pi, cover the entire length of White Beach, from north to south.”
The project is expected to be completed in 2015. We have only two years to enjoy what remains of the once- splendid Boracay.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fishermen caught out by politics of South China Sea

By Tomas Etzler, for CNN
Efren Forones (center) and his fellow fishermen embark on the 38-hour trip to fishing grounds around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Efren Forones (center) and his fellow fishermen embark on the 38-hour trip to fishing grounds around the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Efren Forones (center) and his fellow fishermen embark on the 38-hour trip to fishing grounds around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Efren Forones (center) and his fellow fishermen embark on the 38-hour trip to fishing grounds around the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Luzon, Philippines (CNN) — A year ago, a fisherman Efren Forones came back from fishing trips with up to three and half tons of fish. In return he was able to buy 15 to 20 kilos of rice for his family every month and was planning to send at least one of his six children to college.
Not any more.
He now returns with just 400 kilos of catch at best, meaning he can only afford one to two kilos of rice a month, while school for his children is an expensive luxury and out of the question.
The reason? He says he can longer fish in the fertile waters around Scarborough Shoal.
It's a tough life with the men working, eating and sleeping on these rickety boats hundreds of miles from home.
It’s a tough life with the men working, eating and sleeping on these rickety boats hundreds of miles from home.
A cluster of uninhabitable sand banks and small rocks set in a shallow azure water lagoon about 130 miles (200 km) west from the Philippine island of Luzon, Scarborough Shoal is one of a number of territories at the center of an international dispute in the South China Sea.
Both the Philippines and China lay claim to it.
Like many of his fellow fisherman from the Philippines island of Luzon, Forones does not catch what he needs to in order to survive.
Like many of his fellow fisherman from the Philippines island of Luzon, Forones does not catch what he needs to in order to survive.
Tense standoff
The long-term tensions between the two nations escalated last April during a one-month stand off between the two nations, after Manila accused Chinese boats of fishing illegally in the area. When a Philippines navy vessel inspected the boats it found “large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks” inside one of the boats, according to the Philippine government. Manila then reported that two Chinese surveillance ships had taken up position at the mouth of the lagoon, blocking the way to the fishing boats and “preventing the arrest” of the fishermen. The vessels stretched a cable across the mouth of the lagoon, which also prevented Filipino fishermen from going there, according to the Philippines coast guard.
With many fishermen struggling to make ends meet, their families in modest communities such as Masinloc suffer.
With many fishermen struggling to make ends meet, their families in modest communities such as Masinloc suffer.
Earlier this year, the Philippine government took its feud with China to a United Nations tribunal, a move that Beijing has rejected. In an article on state-run CCTV last month, China pointed to a code of conduct it signed in 2002, known as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, with fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It said the declaration expected that relevant disputes be solved through friendly talks and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.
Like many small towns on Luzon, Masinloc is almost completely dependent on the fishing industry, according to the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Like many small towns on Luzon, Masinloc is almost completely dependent on the fishing industry, according to the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
That brings little comfort to the struggling fishermen in communities in west Luzon, the nearest region to Scarborough Shoal — also known as Panatag Shoal here or Huangyan Island to the Chinese. One of them is Masinloc, a municipality of 40,000 people, which relies on the seas for almost 80% of its income, according to the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. It says thousands of fishermen have lost their regular jobs as catches decline.
Forones is one of them.
Many families are having to consider leaving the region to search for a better life.
Many families are having to consider leaving the region to search for a better life.
The 52 year old has been fishing in the waters off Masinloc for 22 years. He lives with his family in a traditional bamboo house mounted on pillars above the sea. His youngest daughter is four years old. Forones does not own a boat but used to be hired as a fisherman and paid a minimum of $85 dollars for a trip. Nobody is hiring now. He has tried to rent boats on his own and fish with his neighbors, but the little catch they bring back barely covers the rental fee and fuel.
And this is what it's all about: A team of lawmakers plant a Philippines flag on a tiny rock at the Scarborough Shoal on May 17 last year.
And this is what it’s all about: A team of lawmakers plant a Philippines flag on a tiny rock at the Scarborough Shoal on May 17 last year.
He says the Shoal is the most important fishing ground in this region. “They (the Chinese) shoo us away, will not allow Filipinos to come near the area,” he says. “They are the only ones that can fish there, not us. We lost Scarborough and it is hard. We earn nothing.”
Beijing is unwavering in its claims. As recently as last month, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported that Chinese surveillance vessels were carrying out regular missions in the South China Sea.
The Xinhua report cited Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, as saying that China would continue the patrols “to secure the nation’s maritime rights and interests” in areas it claims as its territorial waters [...]

Nitpicking on jobs and PCOS machines

By William M. Esposo 
The Philippine Star 
PCOSAttempting to belittle the impressive economic gains achieved by the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy), the carpers have been bellyaching lately about the lack of jobs that the economy failed to deliver. Some carpers also bellyached about the mock election that they’re claiming had “demonstrated” the failures of the PCOS machines that’ll be used for the 2013 elections.
In both instances, it boiled down to nitpicking on a seemingly logical and factual point that they then insidiously projected as the whole. Anders Behring Breivik went on a shooting rampage in Norway and killed 91 people. Following the carpers’ logic, all Norwegians are murderers or easily inclined to commit murder. The truth is Norwegian people and communities are among the most peaceful in the world.
On the issue of jobs, this is an attempt to belittle the economic turnaround that the P-Noy administration has accomplished in less than 3 years in office. Even a grizzled veteran like CNN’s John Defterios expressed admiration over what P-Noy has accomplished. Defterios has interviewed hundreds of CEO’s and economic leaders and would know what is a significant economic stride from a lucky upward glitch.
It’s as if these carpers are saying that the announcements by many foreign experts that the Philippines is a rising tiger economy meant nothing. For sure, we are not there yet but only an intellectually dishonest carper will deny that we have made a dramatic turnaround from the cynicism during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo years. Let’s not forget that the most important battle to be won is the battle for the investor’s heart and mind and in this battle, P-Noy has attained a resounding success. We should not allow this great stride to be undermined by carpers and P-Noy haters.
When we discuss jobs, we have to assess many factors ­— many of these are shortcomings of people who are either not qualified for available jobs or the indolent ones, people who don’t want to work. Job creation would mean manufacturing operations and the biggest impediments have been our labor front and the high cost of energy in our country. This is not to say that we cannot create more jobs — only that manufacturing jobs will not be easy to attract. This doesn’t stop us from creating jobs from tourism upsurge and from a more active agriculture sector.
In a recent documentary on NewsTV, they featured a mother who wasn’t equipped with a sufficient educational background but was able to generate the earnings that funded her family’s needs. This mother simply worked harder than the next peddler. She peddled what people needed in the morning, what they needed in the afternoon and what they needed in the early evening. In the 1960s, there was this well admired peddler in the Ermita area known as Mang Bernie. Folks were impressed to know that through dint of hard work, Mang Bernie was able to provide a university education to all his children. Surely, you will agree that one doesn’t require a high school education to be able to work as a peddler.
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Comelec (Commission on Elections) Chairman Sixto Brillantes has a right to be piqued over the way nitpicking is being done against the PCOS machines before and after its recent mock election. The snags that were found in the mock election were minor problems that could be easily resolved. Many of these happened too in the 2010 elections but were remedied.
We’re never short of sore losers during elections, losers who refuse to admit defeat and will claim to be victims of cheating. There were several of those too during the 2010 elections but none of them were ever able to prove that they were cheated. There’s no way our people can be cajoled into returning to the manual count, the well of fortune of poll fraud operators and the system that perpetuated the evil persons in public office. We have the PCOS machines and nothing else for the moment. Based on the results of the 2010 elections, as well as the mock elections, we just have to live with these machines and ensure that glitches are kept to a minimum.
Expect and accept glitches with the PCOS machines but only for as long as these are within the tolerable margin of error. Many of the causes of the glitches are not even in the machines but the difference in available technology at the polling place. The telcos and not the Comelec provide the transmission signals at the polling place. Comelec cannot transmit where there’s no signal due to intermittent disruption. During the 2010 elections these glitches were minimal and didn’t really affect the outcome of national as well as local contests. Even in other more developed countries with uniformity in technological dispersion, there have been glitches in their automated polls.
By all means, let’s search for improvements as well as provide more safeguards to our automated polls — but this doesn’t justify what the carpers are trying to project these days. Let’s improve, not junk, this good thing — automated polls — that we started in 2010.
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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
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