June 2012

Kaleidoscope
By Perry Diaz

The recent “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal that is rocking the Department of Justice to its foundation is turning out to be nothing more than a conspiracy theory concocted to embarrass President Barack Obama.  This conspiracy theory links the scandal to allegations by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that Obama was attempting to remove the Second Amendment.  But as it is the controversy heats up, the conspiracy theory is turning out to be without any tangible proof or facts to back it up.  As someone once said, “When truth is not supported with facts, it is worse than a lie.”

But whether it’s the truth or a lie, the Republicans in the House of Representatives took advantage of this conspiracy theory and turned the House into a circus never before seen since the Clinton years.  It didn’t matter whether it turned out to be unfounded, the Republicans just wanted to put Obama on the hot seat hoping that it would fry him by the time the presidential elections come around in November.  But there is also the prospect that the Republicans – and Mitt Romney, the GOP presumptive presidential nominee –might get burned and could result in an election debacle for Romney.

Walk the gun

“Operation Fast and Furious” had its roots in “Operation Wide Receiver,” which began in 2006 during the administration of President George W. Bush.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the “gun-walking” sting operation – which began in 2006 — from its Tucson, Arizona branch office.

“Gun-walking” – or “letting guns walk” – was a tactic used by the ATF to allow thousands of firearms to be sold by licensed Arizona firearms dealers to suspected arms traffickers or “gunrunners” through “straw buyers.”  ATF can then track the movement of the firearms to higher-level traffickers and cartel kingpins, which in theory would lead to their arrest and dismantling of the cartels.

“Operation Fast and Furious” was conducted by ATF’s Phoenix, Arizona branch office from 2009 to 2011.  “Fast and Furious” was part of a broader scope of investigations called the “Project Gunrunner” whose long-term goal is to stem the flow of firearms to criminals in Mexico.

Between 2009 and 2011, Arizona firearms dealers sold about 2,000 firearms to “straw buyers.”  The ATF lost track of an estimated 1,300 of those weapons.  As of October 20, 2011, about 700 were recovered.  Many straw buyers were arrested and indicted; however, none of the targeted high-level cartel figures were arrested.

“Fast and Furious” managed to operate its sting operations under the media’s radar screen until December 14, 2010 when Brian Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, was killed in a firefight with suspected illegal immigrants in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 11 miles from the Mexican border.  Four of the suspects were arrested and two AK-47 assault rifles were found nearby.  The assault rifles were traced to “Fast and Furious.”  However, the bullet that killed Terry was severely damaged that they couldn’t link it to either of the assault rifles.

On January 25, 2011, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis K. Burke announced a 53-count indictment of 20 “straw buyers.”  It also marked the end of “Operation Fast and Furious.”

Conspiracy theory

Recently, Michael Vanderboegh, a blogger and self-styled online journalist, claimed that the ATF had “purposely let the guns go to the bad guys in Mexico so that, after the ensuing bloodbath, the feds could justify a crackdown on assault weapons and gun shows.”

Outlandish and incredible as it might seem, a lot of people fell for his story hook, line, and sinker.  Fox News made Vanderboegh as a prime source for the coverage of the “Fast and Furious” scandal, which is currently being investigated by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa who vowed to conduct hundreds of hearings to get to the bottom of the botched “Fast and Furious” operation.

Assault on the Second Amendment

Another person who fell for Vanderboegh’s conspiracy theory was Wayne LaPierre, the head of the dreaded National Rifle Association (NRA), an organization known to promote conspiracy theories to advance NRA’s political agenda, which is to influence legislation vis-à-vis gun control and gun ownership.  The moment Vanderboegh had associated “Operation Fast and Furious” with weakening the Second Amendment, LaPierre brought the full force – and wrath – of the NRA against Holder and Obama.  He was reported to have insisted that “the reason Obama has done nothing to harm the 2nd Amendment in his first term is so he can win another four years in office, at which point his administration will start confiscating guns with no fear of retribution from voters.” “Obama is not taking your guns now so he can take them later,” La Pierre said.  Now, that is what is called convoluted logic!

Paranoia

Not to be outdone by LaPierre, Issa told Fox News, “Very clearly, they made a crisis and they’re using this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s 2nd Amendment rights.” Now, that goes beyond convolution, it’s nincompoopery at its worst!

But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows why the Republicans are gunning for Holder; and that is, “To undermine the person [Holder] who is assigned to stop the voter suppression in our country. I’m telling you, this is connected. It is no accident.”

If there is a tinge of paranoia in Pelosi’s own “conspiracy theory,” it is because the Republicans have become extremely paranoiac about Obama’s “socialist” tendencies, questionable birth certificate, dubious college grades, his charisma, and his secret weapon – Michelle Obama. Yes, paranoia could be contagious! Avoid eye contact with paranoidal Republicans.

At the end of the day, it can be said that if Holder succeeds in stopping the voter suppression, it will help Obama get reelected because those who are likely to be suppressed of their right to vote are Democrats and minorities.

Indeed, the “gun-walking” conspiracy is all about politics.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

 

The fall-out from an operation that was False and Spurious

By Ariel Gener

Wanting to turn public sentiment against gun ownership, the US government flooded the Mexican gangland with thousands of guns from the US – hoping the ensuing bloodbath would be traced back to US guns, igniting anger against guns, their owners, and their supporters, it is alleged. Indeed, tens of thousands of Mexicans and at least two American officers have lost their lives as a result of this reckless manipulation of public sentiment.

If true, whether you are for, or against, the 2nd amendment- The Right to Bear Arms, it is clearly unethical, illegal and simply wrong for anyone – specially the government – to endanger people’s lives – whether they be Mexican, or any nationality, just to sway public opinion to one side or the other.

If it were proven that Mexicans were used as “worthless targets” by this Administration – as alleged – just to polarize US voters to become anti-gun lobbyists, it would be almost impossible to stem the anger of the Latino vote against Pres Obama in this coming election.

If documents that this government is fighting to keep secret eventually show that the Justice Dept or the White House did not do enough to stop – or worse, that it encouraged – the trafficking of illegal weapons to Mexico, this fiasco may yet prove to be the downfall of Barack Obama, more than the sickly economy he had failed to revive.

This irresponsible move – which started under Operation Wide Receiver under Bush – infuriates not only pro-gun advocates but more so their opponents. Adverse publicity like this turns off the American public to the anti-gun lobby. Democrats who have been courting the Latino vote now blame Atty Gen Eric Holder for the mass exodus of Democratic supporters.

What Pres. Obama should have done is cut his losses and fire Holder to show his regret for the resulting massive violence and big-scale loss of Mexican lives and the endangering of American citizens at the border caused by Fast and Furious. By shielding Holder through the invocation of Executive Privilege, Obama is angering his fast dwindling liberal supporters.

Democrats may be anti-gun but they are certainly not pro-violence against our Mexican neighbors in the South. Obama’s actions to prevent Congress from discovering the truth may be perceived that he and Holder may be one or all of several things: that they have something to hide from the American voters, or they are insensitive to the Mexicans’ plight, or uncaring towards the families of the two US officers slain, or are disrespectful towards the US Congress – a branch of government equal in importance to the Executive branch.

Like they said during Pres. Nixon’s Watergate crisis, the problem is “not the act, it is the cover up”. Invoking Executive Privilege to protect Holder is fast becoming Obama’s Watergate. Almost 38 years ago – on August 9, 1974, Pres. Richard Milhouse Nixon resigned in the face of impeachment because of the Watergate cover up. It seems Obama’s main problem now has worsened from: not being re-elected by Democrats because of poor performance, to being disgraced by possible impeachment for potentially covering up Fast and Furious. Stay tuned.

Cristina DC Pastor
The FilAm  

A thunderstorm rolled into New York on June 25, the same day Jose Antonio Vargas swept across the city to proclaim victory for DREAM Act youth.

In early afternoon, he was at Nasdaq to ring the stock market closing bell, then proceeded to tape an interview with Bill O’ Reilly at the FOX News studio to air in the evening. At 6 p.m., he arrived at the New York Immigration Coalition office where he was to speak to media and supporters and sign autographs.

“I think we killed it,” he said, grinning ear to ear, emotional and looking overwhelmed by all the attention as he faced an audience of admiring young students and immigration activists.

He invited the DREAM Act students who appeared with him in a recent TIME Magazine cover to join him as he spoke. Five of them came forward and crowded him at the front of the room. As a group they were cheered and applauded like victorious soldiers coming home from war.

“I guess, we’re no longer called illegal immigrants,” a giddy Jose said quoting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that “it is not a crime” for undocumented aliens to remain in the U.S. The decision, issued on the same day, reversed some of the controversial provisions of Arizona’s immigration law but also upheld the right of police officers to do random immigration checks on residents.

“This is everybody’s work,” said Jose. “Everybody won.”

He only played a small role, he said, and others were there before him. It is a victory for the NYIC, which has been advocating for immigrants rights for more than two decades, as well as it is for DREAMer Lucy who came out nine years ago, as it is for himself who “joined the conversation” a year ago in a New York Times essay and declared himself — a Pulitzer Award-winning journalist — to be another undocumented immigrant.

The gathering was meant to celebrate their victories, culminating in President Obama moving to end the deportation of undocumented students.

The ceremony at Nasdaq was in recognition of more than a million DREAM Act youths being potential members of the workforce.

The so-called “deferred action” policy – valid for two years and renewable – allows the youth to remain in the U.S. and find employment based on certain requirements.

The policy does not automatically guarantee their eligibility for driver’s licenses and in-state tuition fees, but it allows those in deportation proceedings to get a fresh hearing on their cases.

The policy makes it clear the grant of “deferred action” is temporary and is not a path to citizenship.

Jose said the campaign, since he joined, has managed to “turn the conversation around.” He is still confronted by questions like ‘Why don’t you just go back to the Philippines?’ but he would always respond with, “But I am an American” who knows no other country but the United States.

“He has helped. He became the face of the DREAM Act,” said Mae Lee, director of the Chinese Progressive Association of New York, of Jose’s high-profile involvement with the advocacy campaign.

By telling his own story, Jose personalized the campaign in a compelling way, said Gonzalo Mercado, director of the El Centro del Imigrante in Staten Island. – The FilAm

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/263218/pinoyabroad/worldfeatures/pinoy-pulitzer-winner-jose-antonio-vargas-we-re-no-longer-illegal-immigrants

By Don Azarias

If business, indeed, has picked up, why is it that American companies seem too nervous to step up hiring? For that, there are lots of reasons but no easy solutions. Hiring by U.S. employers has slowed for four straight months, while retail sales contracted in May and new applications for jobless benefits have risen for five of the last six weeks.

With the economic outlook still looking dim and uncertain, many employers have decided to forgo their timetable for hiring and just stick with the current number of employees they have who are more than willing to do extra work for the sake of job security. Given the economic climate, companies don’t believe that customer demand for the goods that they produce will grow. They are also concerned with the European Union’s debt crisis that could adversely impact the U.S. and global economies. Slowing economies in Asia are also contributing to a more cautious approach to hiring. There’s not much confidence in the U.S. economy, either. Or they are uncertain as to what the U.S. Congress will do about taxes and government spending in coming months.

Let’s not also forget state and local government’s budget deficits that are causing spending cuts for schools, transporation projects and services that also result in employee layoffs and hiring freeze.

This will give us a clearer picture of why U.S. employers added just 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year and the third straight month of weak job growth. Many companies appear to be getting more out of their current employees rather than adding new staff. However, many employers are simply facing uncertainty about the direction of the economy.

According to the Federal Reserve, manufacturing output contracted in May for the second time in three months and families took a dimmer view of their economic prospects in early June in signs the American economy’s recovery is on shaky ground. Factory production shrank 0.4 percent last month. It’s clear that the economy is stuck in low gear. Production output sank at American plants and factories making everything from cars to computers. Consumer confidence in the economy is falling amid adverse economic factors. It could lead consumers to cut back on spending, that will further stunt economic growth.

Furthermore, disappointing numbers on housing and unemployment and cautious words from the Federal Reserve have sent stocks lower. Wealthy American consumers aren’t spending the way they used to. And the rest of us are feeling the unpleasant effect. The question is whether the rich will cut back so much as to tip the economy back into recession or if they will spend at least enough to sustain the recovery.

Their cutbacks help explain why the rebound could be stalling. Economists say overall consumer spending has slowed mainly because the richest 5 percent of Americans those earning at least $207,000 are buying less. They account for about 14 percent of total spending. These shoppers have retrenched as their investment values have sunk and home values have languished.

Think of the wealthy as the main engine of the economy: When they buy more, the economy hums. When they cut back, it sputters. But the plunge of stock market prices have shrunk Americans’ wealth. And the rich are once again more cautious about spending.

Those wealthy Americans went back to tightening their belts. At the same time, government reports show shoppers are cutting back on their spending. As a result, companies have responded by refusing to step up hiring. The housing market is stalling. And Americans are seeing little or no pay raises.

The fact that they turned more cautious is why the recovery is losing momentum. If they panic again, that would be the fodder for a double-dip recession. That’s because whether they’re saving or spending, the wealthy deliver an outsize impact on the economy. What’s not clear is whether they will remain too nervous to spend freely again for many months. That’s what happened when the recession hit in December 2007 and then when the financial crisis ignited in September 2008.

As their stock holdings and home values sank, the affluent lost wealth. Their jobs weren’t safe, either. Bankers, lawyers, accountants and mortgage brokers were among those getting pink-slipped. Those who did have jobs feared losing them. Employers usually hire temp workers if they need more output but don’t want to hire permanent employees. But firms aren’t even adding temporary workers right now. That includes those working part time who would prefer fulltime work and unemployed workers who’ve given up on their job hunts.

Without more jobs, consumers won’t see the gains in income needed to encourage them to spend more and support economic activity. Even those with jobs may not feel confident enough to ramp up their spending.

Let’s all be realistic and face the sad truth: There is really no easy way to fix the slumping economic recovery. The lingering effect of this stubborn recession is causing world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, a lot of grief.

The sluggish economic recovery is further exacerbated by unwelcome news that Americans spent less at most retail stores. However, the biggest obstacle is that American workers are worried about their jobs that borrowing is the least of their priority. They would rather save than spend in order to build up “rainy day funds” because of economic uncertainties. And since the volatility in the stock market is in full swing, who can blame them for not spending? Also, in today’s economic climate, can you blame the banks for being cautious when it comes to lending?

But Democrats and Republicans are divided on what to do. Most Republicans want to make permanent the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003. That would amount to nearly $3 trillion over the next decade. Democratic leaders want the cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire but they don’t want to cut or reduce funding for those unaffordable social service programs. What gives? .

A rebound in housing is considered critical for a sustained economic recovery. But builders continue to struggle with weak demand for new homes caused by high unemployment and a glut of foreclosed homes on the market. Builders say consumers remain worried about the weak economic recovery and the large number of unemployed workers. Since this is a buyer’s market, many of those buying are opting for deeply discounted foreclosed properties. I, personally, believe that this is a bad sign for the long anticipated economic recovery.

As to when companies will start hiring again is anybody’s guess. Mainstream economists and analysts don’t seem to have the answer. They are still baffled by the strength and resilience of the economic downturn that just hit us which is called the Great Recession.

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

The announced US pivot of 60 percent of its naval forces to Asia was in anticipation of their next big future adversary — China — in the biggest economic battleground, Asia. With Russia aligned again with China, with India and Iran as minority partners, the area to fight for is Asia with its vast markets and booming economies.

For us Filipinos the US naval realignment has far reaching consequences. Many of our countrymen think it’ll be for our protection without realizing that we could become the frontline of the US-China War. Already, our naval capabilities are being upgraded by the US, as announced during President Noynoy Aquino’s working visit to the US, to be able to effectively patrol and defend our coastline. The conflicting claims of the Philippines and China over the West China Sea provide the biggest reason for this upgrade.

The question now is this — to what extent will the US go to empower us to resist Chinese aggression? Will the US opt to develop our defense capability to approximate that of Israel, the US chief proxy in the Middle East?

Developing a proxy to undertake its dirty job suits American foreign policy. Ever since the Vietnam War, US administrations have encountered stiff domestic resistance to sending American men and women to fight and die overseas. The US need to maintain its power in Asia isn’t matched by the American public’s willingness to fight another war to attain that end, especially if the adversary is mighty China. Without the economic muscle that it has today, China sent Allied Forces in Korea, commanded by the legendary General Douglas MacArthur, back to the 38th Parallel during the 1950s Korean War.

Transforming the Philippines to be the chief American proxy in Asia is easier said than done. Are we capable of becoming a major power overnight? Is the US financially equipped to undertake that capability building process? Up to what level of weaponry will the US give us? We don’t want to be suckered into fighting a war without a decent Chinaman’s chance — pardon the pun — of winning it. At the very least — to survive it.

Philippine capacity to absorb a sudden upgrade of defense capability would be very much in question. It’s only in fairy tales and in the movies where washed out boxers like Rocky Balboa become World Heavyweight Champion. You don’t just move up from having a substandard defense capability to being state of the art equipped. The easier part is providing the weaponry. The hard part is the ability to fight effectively with the new technology.

Compared to the Jews, we were never players in world politics. The Jews may have been stateless until after World War II but the fact is Jews have been important players in many world events — from financing wars to controlling key sectors of a nation’s economy. The Jewish lobby in the US wields more clout than US allies like Canada and Australia in shaping US foreign policy. We don’t have the benefit of a Filipino lobby with similar clout.

The US support for Israel has been maintained even during bad economic periods in the US because of the intense pressure exerted by the powerful Jewish lobby. The Jews control the banking system, the media and Hollywood. They can easily manipulate American minds and sentiments. Do you recall a Hollywood movie ever produced that played positively on the Arab perspective in the Middle East conflict? Arabs can be allowed to look good if they’re fighting enemies like the Soviets during the Cold War but not when they’re fighting Israelis.

Vietnam, which is now already allied with the US, a former enemy, could fit more the role of an American Israel in Asia. Vietnam has the war experience and has shown national grit and determination to win against lopsided odds. Two advantages that we have over Vietnam are that we have been a longer US ally, vassal actually, and our location is more strategic. US naval power can hardly be projected from Indochina, as it could be effectively deployed in the Philippine archipelago.

If there’s no way that China will reasonably settle the conflicting claims with the Philippines, then we may have to work hard to convince the US to arm and train us to be like Israel. The least we can do is to defend our islands with a good fight — ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo (to die for you) as we sing it in our national anthem. We don’t want war. We’ll try to avoid war as much as we can but if China will simply grab what’s our sovereign right — then it’s no longer a matter of choice but one of national integrity. We wouldn’t want our posterity to see us as cowards who ran away like chickens in the face of an enormous enemy force. We can be forgiven for losing but not for refusing to die fighting.

Yes, we do have a military option for our China problem and that’s to convince the US to transform our armed forces to approximate the defense capabilities of Israel. We, however, must prove ourselves worthy of it.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com. and www.chairwrecker.com.

GLIMPSES
By Jose ma. Montelibano

When I read that a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat off the shores of Bolinao, Pangasinan, I felt so enraged. Then, I wondered why the incident was not near the Scarborough Shoal, and decided to wait for more information. It did surface a few days later that a HK cargo ship was a primary suspect, partly because it was tracked to have passed by the area and because the fishermen themselves reported that they saw the name “Hong Kong” on the vessel. I was immensely relieved that what I suspected at first as a serious provocative incident related to the contentious issue over Scarborough Shoal may, after all, be simply an accident of the sea, not normal but not rare either.

At the same time, the days I spent reflecting on the moves that Filipinos can take should the incident turn out to be as suspected – a deliberate provocative, bullying act by China. Even though I was truly upset over a wrong conclusion about the incident, that emotional reaction did soon give way to the more realistic and practical reality confronting Filipinos today. I admit that the general attitude that I perceive over the Scarborough issue falls far short of patriotic requirements. Yes, there has been some level of emotional outpouring – disgust and anger – against China, but nowhere near enough to send a clear, unmistakable message to our giant of a neighbor that Filipinos will not idly stand by as a part of its territory and the value of its sovereignty are being trampled on.

In contrast, what is emerging is an ambivalent sentiment that is more in keeping of a people with a weak sense of nation-hood. Unity among Filipinos has always been suspect, especially when there is no urgent, unavoidable external cause. It took a few centuries for Filipinos to find relative unity in going against Spain. The Scarborough Shoal conflict has contributed much to awakening some patriotic fervor, but it is scattered and mostly shallow so far. There will be no war that Filipinos will volunteer massively for on the mere threat of an adverse claim over a reef – even if such claim is ridiculously unfair and is an unmitigated act of bullying by a shark over a sardine. China will have to do much more before Filipinos in general from Luzon to Mindanao will feel an outrage capable of turning a peaceful people to become Davids confronting Goliath.

What is doubly frustrating about the unfolding conflict with China is that many of us suspect it has less to do with us than it has to do with the United States. Geopolitics is a good enough reason for China to bully the Philippines. The dynamics of global and superpower competition between the United States and China have placed us, at the moment and for long moments to come, in their exact center. What will China have to gain by claiming a Philippine reef to be theirs? It may seem utterly incomprehensible to many until what Scarborough symbolizes hits home. Scarborough is not just a reef, it is Philippine territory located in the China Sea, a territory stretching from Scarborough to Sulu representing strategic sea lanes for trade or for war, and a territory ascertained to be full of oil and gas beneath its waters with a volume that astounds. Scarborough means security for China. It cannot mean anything less for the United States.

I surmise that if the United States were not so intimately meshed with Philippine interests, meaning that their interests to a large extent in the Asian region are married to Philippine territory, people, resources and politics, China would be seriously in partnership with the Philippines for all sorts of joint development ventures to extract oli, gas and many other minerals found in Philippine land and seas. But China has not been able to have its way for several centuries, afflicted as it had been by its own warring factions, foreign intervention, and the picking up of the pieces when Mao and communism established firm control. Today, though, China has reached superpower status in both trade and armament. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States, and may be an inch or so taller if its greater population and central control over its people and resources are taken into consideration. Today, China is flexing its muscles, not necessarily to bully the Philippines, but to send a message to the United States that Asia belongs to China more than it belongs to the United States. It is a necessary message, but it is a dangerous one for Filipinos who have become married to America in more ways than one.

A weak nation has to surrender some, if not most, of its most precious rights, privileges, or demands – whether to Chian or the Philippines. Weakness carries a price that is bitter. Yet, that bitterness can become the trigger of a journey to strength. Many times in the history of nations, that bitter pill is not only subservience or submission, it is also war and death. Filipinos cannot forever avoid the bitter part of growing up. Discipline and sacrifice, the bedrock of nation-building, are virtues we must develop in ourselves beyond the natural talents we have in abundance. Let us use the present issue over Scarborough Shoal as the first motivation to reflect and resolve these questions I asked in a Facebook Page named “Defending Scarborough, Defending the Philippines” – as follows:

“It is not the wish of Filipinos to wade into conflict with neighbor China. Our roots are deeply connected, and our blood even more. But there is a point when all Filipinos must ask ourselves the question, “What are we without control of our land? Who do we become, brown Chinese?”

The answer to this question will lead us to the another question, “How important is it for us to be Filipino, the race born of our homeland, the Philippines, of which Scarborough is part of? Is it important for us to defend our rights over our territory, for ourselves and for our race, those living now and those who will come after us? Is it important enough for us to risk all, if not now, when?”

Send comments to Twitter: @jolomon

By Fr. Shay Cullen
PREDA Foundation

President Aquino encouraged the investment on alternative energy for Subic, after various business groups and residents expressed their opposition regarding a proposed coal-fired power plant for the freeport.

Death came swiftly suddenly but not it was not unexpected. One day in October 2011the motor bike pulled into the open entrance in front of the church rectory of Italian missionary, environmentalist and human rights defender Father Fausto Tentorio. When he came out of the rectory the killer pulled out his gun and shot the priest dead and drove away. Another shocking murder of a man who gave his life defending the ancestral lands of the indigenous people wanted by the mining company. Crime solved, the trigger was most likely pulled by a unknown mining tycoon.

Hundreds of environmentalists defending the rights of the people to their ancestral homelands forests and agricultural lands that are being stolen by the rich and the powerful, have been killed according to Global Witness, a non-government agency. In the Philippines, as many as fifty Filipino environmental defenders have been killed in recent years allegedly by the money moguls behind the logging, mining and power plant industries.

The UN environmental summit in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil has been declared a failure fizzling out like a damp squib with an insignificant document that failed to reach a clear binding agreement to curb global warming and end fossil fuel for energy production. It has achieved practically nothing to curb CO2 gasses and other harmful human activity that is causing global warming.

It was supposed to get national leaders to agree to a sustainable green energy agenda for the future. The super rich industrialists and multinational oil and fossil fuel corporations have played a sinister role behind the scenes to stymie any progress towards a cleaner safer and happier world. Most come from a financial culture where “Greed is Good” and the only green they want to see is on a thousand dollar bill.

In the Philippines, the voices of the many people demanding an end to the construction of coal powered plants are being ignored and even protesters are receiving threats. In Subic Bay, the entire bay and its towns are threatened by the proposed 600 MW coal plant project of R.P. Energy a consortium with powerful political connections in the cabinet of President Aquino. I pray that his energy policy will favor renewable energy and not coal and fossil fuel. His great legacy of anti-corruption might be sullied by these influential industrialists. He must serve the best interests of the people not the profit-making plans of the plutocracy.

Industrialists and financing corporations lobby heavily to influence governments to continue the fossil fuel fiasco like power plants that poison the people in many countries. In the Philippines, the Secretary of Energy is pushing President Aquino into the furnace of coal fired power plants like fury. The honorable secretary has denied he is influenced in anyway by his past position in the private power generation sector.

I pray for him to continue being good and faithful to the people and resist the pressures and temptations to give into the ploys of former associates, employers in the power generation industry to whom he may have an debt of honor (utang na Loob). His greater debt of honor is to the President and the people who elected him and who want a clean healthy environment.

The Secretary of Energy is reported to want eleven coal fired power plants all over the country. Lower cost renewable sustainable electricity can be generated from volcanic heat through Geothermal plants and get lithium as a side product to make powerful batteries that can run clean electric cars. However mysteriously heavy import taxes are imposed on geothermal equipment. Almost none on mining and coal burning equipment.

The Lopez group of companies First Gen Corporation is offering to construct two 300 megawatt hydro-plants on the Angat and Norzagaray rivers respectively. Other companies offer clean renewable and solar and wind power to make electricity.

The Philippines should end the black and dirty coal policy. The proposed Subic Bay coal plant is mired in allegedly corrupt deals with the former government. They will only pay one million pesos a year in rent. These plants that are belching daily poison gasses and ash into the air we breath are killing people. There is no long term solution to dispose of the millions of tons of deadly semi-toxic ash and the deadly mercury and uranium pollutants will remain forever. The Lord of the Cosmos has given us a beautiful planet, we are morally bound to protect and cherish it and all living creatures. END

http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/coal-and-mining-the-killing-industries/

A Cup O’ Kapeng Barako
By Jesse Jose

The newspaper headline screams: Sandusky: Guilty On 45 Counts!
When I read in the papers this week that Jerry Sandusky, a retired defensive coach of Penn State University football team, who was once the late Joe Paterno’s assistant coach, was convicted of sexually assaulting several boys for many years, accusations that shattered the clean-cut, goody-goody image of the Penn State University football team, that led to the firings of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and the president of the university …
I said aloud to myself, gritting my teeth: “I hope you get the giant, fat-bellied ‘Bubba’ (who enjoys pedophiles for sexual partners), as your cell mate in prison and the keys to your cell thrown away for good.”
I hate pedophiles!  They are the lowliest and filthiest scums of the earth!
Sandusky’s convictions were “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse” on boys, who were ten years old and younger.
One of his victims testified that Sandusky molested him during locker room showers and in hotels, and plying him with gifts so as not to talk about it.  The boy also said Sandusky sent him “creepy love letters.”  What a sick man, I tell ya!
Another spoke of forced oral sex and “rape” in the basement of Sandusky’s home, while his wife was upstairs.  Did his wife know and condone the abuses?  May I ask, what wife wouldn’t know that her husband is a pedophile?
Another said that Sandusky threatened him that he would “never see his parents again” if he told anyone what Sandusky did to him.  This kid also said he bled profusely when Sandusky raped him.
Eight victims came forward and testified what Sandusky did to them.  And all these children were with the Second Mile Program, a charity kuno for “troubled children, who need support and positive human interaction,” that Sandusky founded!  Yun pala, this charity program was a palabigasan of Sandusky, the Sicko, for children that he can molest, abuse and rape!
SEXUAL ABUSES WERE SWEPT UNDER THE RUG: I wonder how many victims did not come forward.  The abuses, molestations and rapes happened over and over, for many, many years.  And from what I’ve read, top management of the football team and of the university itself, knew about it, but they chose to sweep it all under the rug.  
All for the sake of … winning football games and projecting the “Happy Valley” image of this university.  What a farcical image!
PEDOPHILE/PRIESTS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: Let me say this first: I’ve said it a couple of times before in my writings that I am a Roman Catholic and I believe in the teachings of my faith.  But I am NOT a blind follower, like many believers of my faith.
This Sandusky story reminds of pedophilia among many priests of the Catholic Church, that were also swept under the rug for many, many years by Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals … and I hate to say it, all the way up to the movers and shakers of Catholicism at the Vatican!  Holy Moses!  Why?
What I heard from ZEALOTS of my faith is this lame excuse: “It’s the sin, not the sinner.”  Jeeez, gimme a break!
CHECK THIS OUT: A survey in 2004 by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice found that 4,392 (and counting) American priests were alleged to have sexually abused young boys and girls, but mostly young boys (it seems that pedophiles have a preference for young boys), under their pastoral care.  More than 500 priests have been convicted so far.  They should all be convicted!  And to hell with all of them!
Where was the outrage and the inquiry then when this HIDEOUS SIN and CRIME practiced within the Catholic Church first surfaced? 
BTW, that number — 4,392 pedophile-priests — was only counted here in America.  What about in other countries, where Catholicism is the dominant religion, like, for instance in the Philippines and in Latin countries?
I betcha, it would be in several thousands, too!  Especially in the Motherland, where priests walk like peacocks, and act and talk like Rizal’s Padre Damaso, and expect the people to be beholden to them. 
A LANDMARK CLERGY-ABUSE CONVICTION: Well, it’s a good thing that for the first time here in America, a Roman Catholic priests/official, named Monsignor William Lynn, in an archdiocese in Pennsylvania (yes, the same state where that Sandusky story happened) was convicted of “child endangerment” in a landmark trial, making it the first US church official branded as a FELON for covering up sexual abuse of children by pedophile-priests.
According to charges, this official/priest “helped his archdiocese keep priest- predators in ministry, and the public in the dark,” by telling parishioners their priests were being removed for “health reasons” and then sending the priests to other churches.  And because of that, more children were abused, molested and raped! 
Can you imagine a priest doing that?  He’s definitely a felon, for perpetuating children abuse by Catholic priests and for protecting those holier-than-thou predators of the Church.  He’s also a filthy scum of the earth!  
Monsignor Lynn and Coach Sandusky should be together in the same prison cell with Bubba, ha?  What do y’all think?  I think Bubba would be in heaven to have two “wives” all to himself that he can abuse, rape and molest.  And truly I hope they bleed and suffer the pain, too, that those innocent children went through.  Because Bubba … is huge.  JJ

SKETCHES
By Ana Marie Pamintuan
The Philippine Star

SEOUL – Last Sunday South Korea’s side of the Demilitarized Zone was packed with tourists.

It was the eve of the 62nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. There was some tension here after Korean forces undertook their biggest single-day live-fire military exercises with the United States last week, followed by a major three-day naval exercise in the Yellow Sea.

I arrived here last Thursday, as South Korea began a two-day military search-and-rescue drill with the US and Japan off the southern island of Jeju.

I thought our East-West Center group tour to the DMZ would be canceled or limited. But South Koreans went about business as usual even in November last year, when I also happened to be here on the day that Pyongyang bombed the fishing village on the South’s Yeonpyeong Island. Seoul went about business as usual at the time, and today the Korean capital isn’t going to worry over Pyongyang’s protests against the joint military exercises with the US.

At the DMZ, visitors including many school children peered through telescopes across the zone, and hiked down one of the tunnels dug by the North Koreans and discovered by the South. We watched a brief video presentation of the history of the Korean War: a lot of blood and gore, children wailing, and then how the DMZ has been transformed from the world’s most heavily mined area into an environmental sanctuary where birds, deer and other wildlife now thrive.

The video ended with the reason for the remembrance: South Korea will never allow another “fratricidal war” to occur again.

That resolve has been periodically tested by the North, with the attack on Yeonpyeong the worst provocation so far since the armistice dividing the two Koreas was signed in the border village of Panmunjom in 1953.

The DMZ has often been described as the last front in the cold war. Korea watchers are hoping that with reforms sweeping North Korea’s kindred spirit Myanmar, the winds of change may soon also blow across Pyongyang.

But these days there’s talk of a new cold war emerging, again with the DMZ as a front. This time South Korea and its ally the United States are being pitted against North Korea and its principal economic partner and supporter, China.

A new cold war could draw in other countries in the region, including the Philippines, which is already locked in a territorial dispute with China.

* * *

China chairs the Six-Party Talks, which deals with security concerns arising from North Korea’s nuclear program. There are those who think Beijing isn’t doing enough to put pressure on Pyongyang to get serious with the talks.

“China has replaced Japan in becoming the biggest problem in the region when it comes to territorial disputes,” said Peter Beck, The Asia Foundation’s country representative for South Korea.

The San Francisco-based Asia Foundation is a non-profit, non-government organization that was once linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency, but which is now funded mostly by multilateral institutions and foreign aid arms including the US Agency for International Development.

Beck, who was part of a panel that discussed security issues in Northeast Asia last Sunday at the end of our three-day conference here, summed up Pyongyang’s attitude toward Seoul: “Give me more money. That’s really all North Korea wants from South Korea.”

He said North Korea at this time could be likened to “a 1938 Japan.” Older generations of Filipinos still remember the horrors of the war and the Japanese occupation.

This time, Japan is seen as part of a US-led security alliance in the region. Japan has so far abided by its post-war pacifist constitution, and Beck expressed pessimism that Tokyo would want to play a bigger security role in the region.

Both Japan and South Korea have used their post-war economic prosperity and military power with restraint. The two countries have instead worked in the past decades to win friends and act as responsible citizens of the world.

* * *

The head of South Korea’s delegation to the Six-Party Talks, Ambassador Lim Sungnam, emphasized to us that Seoul is promoting trilateral cooperation not only among his country, the US and Japan but also among South Korea, Japan and China.

Lim also remains optimistic about the Six-Party Talks, saying, “I’d like to remind you that things are usually harder to make than to break.”

Chinese officials have dismissed speculation about a new cold war between their country and the US as so 20th century. The Chinese like to say they prefer to project soft power. But even for a China fan (and hilaw na Tsinoy) like me, this is becoming hard to believe with recent Chinese actions in Panatag Shoal.

It’s worse when an aggressive emerging power does not seem to be in full control. The buzz in the Tsinoy community is that when the Chinese foreign ministry agrees to a pullout of its boats from the lagoon in Panatag, the message fails to reach the Chinese military and civilian enforcement agencies. The disjointed response is likely to persist until October, when a new leadership takes over in Beijing.

By that time, China would have already lost a lot of neighborly goodwill generated by its recent efforts at openness and friendliness.

It’s too bad that much of the improvement in relations between the Philippines and China in the past three years, with credit going to former Ambassador to Manila Liu Jianchao, are now being undone by the standoff in Panatag.

The dispute has also fueled speculation on whether Washington will be a friend in need. So far we have seen US submarines surface in Subic Bay – unheard of since the shutdown of the US bases here – twice within a month, with the Americans insisting that the visits are just routine port calls.

US forces are reportedly leaving their shipping container camp in Zamboanga City within the year, but there could be new deployment in the West Philippine Sea.

Speculation about a new cold war persists because of China’s actions, and America’s new thrust, announced to the world, that it is shifting its focus from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Asia-Pacific.

It is being helped by China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea. Countries spooked by the aggressiveness are being drawn closer to America, while still trying to maintain friendly and economic ties with China. Those strong economic ties could yet prove China right in dismissing talk about a new cold war.

That talk about soft power will be bolstered if China sees that global power derives its legitimacy from mutual respect, not fear or sheer military force.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=64&articleId=821377

By Jojo Malig
ABS-CBNnews.com 

MANILA, Philippines – China is not pulling out of the West Philippine Sea anytime soon, and is instead fortifying its presence in region in defiance of neighboring countries that seek a peaceful resolution to their territorial disputes.

Zhuang Guotu, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Communist Party of China-owned Global Times tabloid on Tuesday that Beijing has no plans of giving up Scarborough Shoal to the Philippines, as well as the islands in the Spratlys and the Paracels that are being claimed by other countries.

The Philippine Navy and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday that Chinese ships and fishing boats have been seen again at Scarborough Shoal off Zambales.

Following an aerial surveillance by a Navy Islander plane, Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said that as of Monday afternoon, a total of 28 Chinese vessels and boats were spotted in and outside the lagoon.

These consist of three China maritime surveillance (CMS) vessels, two Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) ships, six fishing boats, and 17 dinghies.

Zhuang said Chinese ships will remain at Scarborough to assert Beijing’s claim.

“China has never made commitments that it would pull out from the waters around the island,” he said.

He also claimed that the Philippines only said that Chinese ships earlier pulled out “to get out of an awkward situation.”

Zhuang echoed a statement made on June 18 by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, who said that said China did not give any commitment to the Philippines that it will withdraw its ships from Scarborough Shoal.

“The Huangyan Island is Chinese territory. Since the Philippine side provoked the Huangyan Island incident, China has been demanding the Philippines to pull out its ships. We have noted that two Philippine government vessels left the Huangyan Island in the early morning of June 16. We hope the situation will be eased further and bilateral cooperative relations will be restored and safeguarded,” he said.

“We wonder where the so-called China’s commitment of ‘withdrawing ship’ comes from. We hope the Philippine side can restrain its words and deeds and do more things conducive to the development of bilateral relations,” Hong said.

“As far as I know, Chinese fishing boats are heading back to port for shelter due to the rough seas off the Huangyan Island,” he added.

“In order to ensure the safety of Chinese fishermen and fishing boats, the China Maritime Research and Rescue Center, upon the request of China’s Fishery Administration Command Center and Chinese fishermen, has sent the ‘Nanhaijiu 115’ ship to the area and provide necessary assistance,” he said.

In a press briefing Monday, Hong said “Chinese government ships maintain jurisdiction and vigilance over the areas,” referring to Scarborough Shoal and the Spratlys.

Scarborough Shoal seems just to be a part of China’s masterplan in its claims in the West Philippine Sea.

On Thursday, Beijing raised the administrative status of the Spratlys and other disputed islets, reefs, and shoals in the West Philippine Sea from county-level to prefectural-level, according to Chinese state media.

China’s State Council gave the green light for the setting up of a new prefectural-level city of Sansha (City of Three Sands) to govern the Nansha (Spratlys), Xisha (Paracels), and Zhongsha (Macclesfield bank) islands, state news agency Xinhua reported.

China and Vietnam are also locked in a dispute over the Paracel Islands and the Spratlys.

The Vietnamese National Assembly has passed of a Law of the Sea, which describes the Paracels and the Spartlys as under Hanoi’s sovereignty and jurisdiction.

In response, China’s Hainan Province announced that four areas around the Paracels will be declared as “cultural relic protection areas.”

With the help of the Ministry of Public Security, Hainan plans to build an offshore supervision platform to keep watch over the Paracel’s “cultural relics,” Xinhua said Monday.

“All these efforts signal that China is fortifying its presence,” Zhuang said.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/06/26/12/china-fortifies-west-philippine-sea-presence