October 2012

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

CARRIER STRIKE GROUP

For the first time since the end of World War II, the United States achieved a state of relative peace in the world.  President Barack Obama’s timetable of withdrawing American combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014 would mark the end of a century of warfare that began in 1914 when World War I erupted.   Yes, the elusive dream of Pax Americana– Latin for “American Peace” — is finally coming to full realization.

The term “Pax Americana,” which was originally applied to relative peace in the Western Hemisphere in the 19th century and to the Western world in the first half of the 20th century, has evolved to encompass the entire world at the end of World War II.  But regional wars continued after America dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  For the ensuing 60 years, American forces were sent to the Korean War, Vietnam War, two Iraq wars, Afghanistan, and several other smaller conflicts around the world.

Pivot to Asia

But the specter of another war looms in Asia where a rising China is making her neighbors nervous, notably Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines.  To allay fears that the United States is not concerned about an emerging – and aggressive – Chinese military power, Obama implemented a “Pivot to Asia” plan where 60% of American naval forces would be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.  American military strategists have developed a strategy – Air-Sea Battle — to deal with China’s missile systems, which are designed to keep U.S. air and naval forces beyond what China refers to as the “inner island chain.”  It encompasses the East China Sea and South China Sea from the southern tip of South Korea to the western edge of Borneo, an area that is bounded by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia.

U.S. military planners say that Air-Sea Battle is “a concept for disabling those systems using long-range bombers and submarines. The concept is designed not so much to fight a war as to convince the Chinese that any conflict with U.S. forces would be long and costly. Pentagon officials say Air-Sea Battle is not solely focused on China, which they describe as the ‘pacing’ threat.”

China’s land-based anti-ship missiles have a maximum range of 1,300 miles, which would reach the Western Pacific and the Philippine Sea.  However, Guam – which hosts Andersen Air Base and a submarine base — is beyond the reach of China’s missiles.  As “Air-Sea Battle” envisions, “stealthy bombers and submarines could wage a ‘blinding campaign,’ destroying long-range Chinese surveillance and missile systems and opening up the denied areas to U.S. fighter jets and ships.” (Source: Strategic and Budget Assessment).

Trouble spots

SANSHA CITY

In my article, “Trouble spots in Western Pacific waters” (October 12, 2012), I wrote: “What was once a relatively placid body of water in the Western Pacific has become a tinderbox ready to explode.  I am talking about an area that extends from the Sea of Japan down to the East China Sea through the Taiwan Strait and into the South China Sea with a total area of about 5.8 million square kilometers (2.2 million square miles).  It’s dotted with little islands, islets, atolls, shoals, and rocks.  Except for a handful of islands, these outcroppings are uninhabited.  But the waters are rich in oil, natural gas, and marine life. And that’s why countries in the region are interested in owning part – if not all — of this vast body of water.”   

Of the three trouble spots in Western Pacific waters, China is involved in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei over the Spratly islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea); and with Taiwan and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal to the Philippines).

On July 24, 2012, China established a prefecture-level government in Sansha City located in Woody Island, which will administer all of the Paracel Islands (disputed by Vietnam), Spratly Islands, and Macclesfield Bank (claimed by the Philippines).  Woody Island — which was uninhabited when China forcibly took it from Vietnam 38 years ago — is now populated with more than 1,000 Chinese civilians with roads, a bank, a post office, a supermarket, and a hospital.  In addition to the city government, China is also going to establish a military garrison in Sansha.

SENKAKU ISLANDS

Recently, China waged a word war with Japan on the territorial dispute over the Senkaku islands (Diaoyu to China), a cluster of five islets and three rocks in the East China Sea about 160 kilometers from Okinawa and about 320 kilometers from mainland China.  While the uninhabited Senkakus are administered by Okinawa, China and Taiwan claim them as part of ancient China.

The question is: Is China prepared to go to war over the disputed islands?

At present, China wouldn’t risk going to war with Japan over the Senkakus knowing full well that the U.S. made it clear that she considers these islands as part of Japan; thus, covered by the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which requires the U.S. to defend Japan in case of attack.

In the case of the Spratlys, the U.S. Marine Corps Pacific Commander General Duane D. Thiessen confirmed in a media interview in Manila last April that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty covers Philippine-held islands in the Spratlys.

Transition of power

XI JINPING

With the U.S. presidential elections just a week away and the ascension of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to the presidency coming up in December, the outcome of the U.S. presidential elections and how Xi presides over a rising China could affect the world’s balance of power.  Can Xi convince China’s military leaders to stand down on their hawkish policies and maintain peace with China’s neighbors? Or would he play into the hands of warmongers?  One must remember that in China, the Central Military Commission (CMC) is really the one that calls the shots.  And it controls the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which reminds us of Chairman Mao Zedong’s famous quotation: “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

It is expected that outgoing President Hu Jintao will keep the CMC chairmanship for a few years or until the Politburo is ready to hand Xi full power and authority.  Meanwhile, he has to kowtow to Hu and the military brass.

The U.S. has its share of warmongers – rightwing politicians — whose hard line stand on China, Russia, Iran, and Syria could bring the United States closer to the threshold of another war.  Indeed, whoever wins on Election Day would draw the chart the U.S. would take in the complex world of geopolitics.

Perhaps, it’s time to give peace a chance to take a foothold and let the world enjoy a new era of Pax Americana.

AIR-SEA BATTLE

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boasted about his accomplishment for managing the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.  What he didn’t tell the people was that he sought Federal bailout to complete the Games.  Here is the story as told by Sen. John McCain. — PERRY DIAZ

Romney’s 2.7 Billion Olympic Bailout by John McCain

Posted by Politicol News
July 28, 2012

In 2002 the Winter Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah, home of the Mormon Church, Mitt Romney canvassed the White House for a bailout of the Olympic Games.

The Final Bill was: 2.7 Billion Dollars given to Romney by George Bush, the then, President to complete the Games which was grossly over-budget from the initial costs.

The taxpayer saved the Olympic Games from what was corruption, greed and misappropriations of funds.

Mitt Romney failed to gather support from corporation sponsors to swing the costs to private businesses, which is one of the qualities he boasts about in his run for the 2012 Presidential Election. Had that been true, the taxpayer would not have been footing the bill for the entire project.

Romney has no problem asking for a government bail out and no problem admitting he could not accomplish the task of funding the Winter Games.

In this clip, Senator John McCain blows up on Romney’s pork barrel project and the failure to remain within budget.

In this same clip Mitt Romney calls it” Modest help when he asked Senator Bennett, a member of the Appropriations Committee for money”. Sen. Bill Bennett was the Republican Senator for the State of Utah, whom he worked with to get the massive bailout money during the Bush Administration.

Apparently, Mitt Romney lobbied Hard for Money from Congress to bail him out, to fund the Olympics and to add to the National Debt, and in the end he credits himself for “Saving the Olympics” as he puts it.

Romney: “I think he was thinking we were asking for 5 to 10 million, we asked for several hundred million dollars in help. Everything that was needed was ultimately obtained”.

McCain: “…The American taxpayer has become by far, the largest single underwriter of the costs of hosting the Olympics”.

We apologize for the audio quality, please adjust your ears, but this is well worth listening to as we continue to vet Mitt Romney for the Presidency of the United States.

As Senator John McCain points out:

1) The 1984 Summer Olympics in LA received 75 Million Dollars in Federal Support.

Compared to:

2) The 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah received 1.3 Billion Dollars in Federal Support. (Final Total was 2.7 Billion)

3) What the Money was Used for:

91% in LA was for safety, Security, Safety
7% was non-security funding

4) In Utah the 1.3 billion was spent on building Salt Lake City Infrastructure

$ 974,000 Utah Olympics Public Safety Command
$ 5 Million Dollars to Communications Agency Networks
$ 3 Million Dollars to Olympic Regional Development (Upgrades to Sports Complex)
$ 2.5 Million Dollars Bus Facilities
$ 2.5 Million Dollars to SLC regional parks ride lines
$ 500,000 SLC Transit Bus
$ 925,000 SLC Public Safety after the Olympics
$ 1 Million for SLC Security and Training
$ 2,200,000 for SLC Sewer Infrastructure Needs associated with the Games.

As Sen. McCain outlines, what began as corruption and bribery charges in Salt Lake City, before Mitt Romney took over, turned to massive paybacks, pork barrel for the City and friends of Mitt Romney.

It was no surprise that the Salt Lake City association with the Mormon Church is the connection here to Romney and the pork barrel spending. Mitt Romney now donates stocks from Bain Capital regularly to the tax free status Mormon Church.

President George Bush approved of Mitt Romney’s pork barrel spending, which included the construction of roads and bridges for the Olympics.

If Salt Lake City needed 1.3 billion in infrastructure required to host the games, they never should have been chosen as a viable site to host the Games.

In conclusion, Mitt Romney claims he will slash spending and reduce the deficit, when his track record shows he does not know how to budget. In his term as Gov. of Mass. he also left the state with a 5 billion dollar deficit. As a potential candidate, Romney’s record evolves around:

The Romney Big Tax Payer Spending record and passing the costs on to the middle class who pay the volume of taxes to run this country are legendary. Although he makes false claims in the mainstream media, and they erroneously report “He saved the games in 2002″ the reality of what Romney did is a completely different story.

What you hear on NBC, CBS, Fox News, and CNN the other faux news channel, is just one example of the fabricated misinformation on the reality of the big spending, bailout that Mitt Romney received as CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

This is the Reality of Mitt Romney’s Resume on the 2002 Winter Games- The Most Expensive Games in US History

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO  >> Romney’s 2.7 Billion Olympic Bailout by John McCain

 

By Howard Kurtz 
The Daily Beast

Romney was on a roll until Hurricane Sandy upended the campaign. Howard Kurtz on why the storm hurts him far more than the president. 

The monster storm battering the East Coast is hurting both presidential candidates. But it is probably hurting Mitt Romney more.

Mitt Romney greets supporters at a rally in Celina, Ohio, on Sunday. (Melina Mara, The Washington Post / Getty Images)

By freezing the campaign in its tracks, Hurricane Sandy is blunting the momentum that Romney had achieved since the debates, which put him ahead of President Obama in many national tracking polls and had him edging ahead or closing the gap in several key swing states. With the killer storm now dominating the news, Romney faces the challenge of keeping the conversation on politics when tens of millions of Americans are focused on anything but.

Romney’s progress, at least as measured by polls, may have been petering out anyway before Sandy struck. But from the viewpoint of a challenger trying to make the sale, the storm is an unwelcome October surprise.

To underscore Romney’s dilemma from an appearance standpoint, the president is assuming control of the federal emergency response. Obama flew to Florida on Sunday night, but canceled an Orlando event scheduled for Monday morning to return to the White House to monitor the storm’s damage. Romney, by contrast, has no role other than to express sympathy.

The hurricane takes two critical states, Virginia and New Hampshire, off the campaign trail this week. The candidates simply can’t bring their Secret Service details and motorcades into storm-ravaged areas trying to cope with flooding and blackouts. This could undermine Romney’s effort to close the gap in Virginia, where the latest Washington Post poll gives Obama a 4-point lead. The president has a 2-point lead in New Hampshire, according to a PPP poll.

Both candidates are likely to double down in Ohio, which is mostly outside Sandy’s path. Obama had been clinging to a 4-point lead in that bellwether state, but a Cincinnati Enquirer survey now has them tied at 49 percent. Romney has fewer paths to 270 electoral votes without Ohio.

The storm and its aftermath could hurt Obama’s ground operation, which is widely acknowledged to be stronger than Romney’s and is a linchpin of his strategy. By sidelining staffers, and making potential voters harder to reach by phone, the hurricane could put a serious crimp in the Obama turnout machine. Obama is also banking more heavily on early voting—Maryland shut down its program for Monday—but many of the affected states have tight restrictions on such voting.

Still, the greatest impact may be on public attention. Go to any news website or flip on any cable news channel, and Sandy is the dominant story by far. No one is talking about tax cuts or unemployment or immigration. Television has a tendency to overhype major storms, but given the breadth and destructive power of Sandy, the saturation coverage seems to match its magnitude.

Obama can now cast himself as a take-charge executive, meeting with FEMA officials and directing the government’s response. This approach is not without risk, as George W. Bush learned after Katrina. But it casts Obama in a more presidential role than simply touring the country giving the same stump speech.

The storm and its aftermath could hurt Obama’s ground operation, which is widely acknowledged to be stronger than Romney’s.

Romney is doing the only thing he can do, which is trying not to appear preoccupied with politics. “I know that right now some people in the country are a little nervous about a storm about to hit the coast,” he said. “And our thoughts and prayers are with the people who will find themselves in harm’s way.”

By Nov. 6, Sandy may prove to be a political afterthought. But in such a tight race, it now looms as a powerful X factor.

Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

Howard Kurtz is The Daily Beast and Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, and writes the Spin Cycle blog. He also hosts CNN’s weekly media program Reliable Sources on Sundays at 11 a.m. ET. The longtime media reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, Kurtz is the author of five books.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-is-a-nasty-october-surprise-for-mitt-romney.html

By David Jackson
USA Today

(Photo: Marc Serota, Getty Images)

9:23AM EDT October 29. 2012 – An Associated Press analysis says President Obama is in position to claim 271 electoral votes — one more than needed to re-claim the White House.

The AP also notes: “To be sure, anything can happen in the coming days to influence the Nov. 6 election.”

As it stands now, the AP says that Republican challenger Mitt Romney “continues to have fewer state-by-state paths than Obama” to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win, because he is seen as trailing the president in the key state of Ohio.

“Without Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, Romney would need last-minute victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and manage to pick off key states now leaning Obama’s way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin,” says the AP.

Also from the Associated Press:

“The analysis shows that Obama probably would win with at least 271 electoral votes from 21 states, including Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, and the District of Columbia.

“Romney seems on track for 206 from 23 states, including North Carolina. Obama won that state in 2008 and campaigned aggressively there this year. But Obama’s team acknowledges it is the most difficult state for him to win, and he’s paid less attention to it recently.

“Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia, with a combined 61 votes at stake, could go either way.”

Romney aides, meanwhile, cite polls showing they are closing in on Obama in states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Iowa.

The wire service also notes that its analysis “isn’t intended to predict the outcome.”

“Rather, it’s meant to provide a snapshot of a race that has been stubbornly close in the small number of competitive states all year.

“The analysis is based on public polls and internal campaign surveys as well as spending on television advertising, candidate visits, get-out-the-vote organizations and interviews with dozens of Republican and Democratic strategists in Washington and in the most contested states.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2012/10/29/obama-romney-271-electoral-votes-ap-analysis/1664503/

By Amelia McDonell-Parry
The Frisky

“When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift.”

Watching “Melissa Harris-Perry” on MSNBC on weekend mornings has become a ritual for me, as the journalist offers some of the most insightful and interesting commentary on current events in mainstream media. Saturday’s show was no exception, but it was an especially memorable one, as Harris-Perry, herself a sexual assault survivor, delivered this open letter to Richard Mourdock.  Mourdock is the U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana who said during a debate last week, that he is against abortion even in cases of rape and incest, because those pregnancies are a “gift from God” that happened as God “intended.” Harris-Perry’s letter is powerful and I urge you all to watch the video above. The full transcript of her letter is also after the jump. [MSNBC]

Dear Mr. Mourdock,

Sometimes I still flinch when I’m touched a certain way, even if it’s the loving embrace of my husband. I can’t stand to watch TV shows where rape is the central plot line. Even some seasons of the year are harder for me. Those of us who are sexual assault survivors call these triggers. We spend our lives — the lives we lead after the attack — avoiding and managing these triggers.

A congressional debate shouldn’t have to come with a trigger warning. But apparently, Richard, yours should. Because in Tuesday’s debate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, you said this Tuesday night during a debate in New Albany, Indiana.

“I believe that life begins at conception…The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Rape and sexual assault are complicated experiences for survivors. Some of us fight, kick, scream, and resist at every moment. Some of us eventually give in to save our own lives or to manage the horror. Some of us know that what is happening is rape, others of us just know it is wrong, but don’t have the words to describe why. Some of us push the memories down and try to forget, others of us battle openly with the nightmares and scars every day. There is no one right way to survive. There is no one right way to feel.

As we heal, we learn not to judge ourselves or to judge our fellow survivors, because we learn that judgment can wound as deeply as assault. If a woman finds herself pregnant after a rape, we do not judge the choices she makes.

I am descended from American slaves. I have foremothers who found themselves pregnant with children whose birth increased the wealth of the very man who enslaved and raped them. Somehow, through the angst and misery of that experience some of those women found a way to love and embrace the children they bore from rape. So I do not doubt the compassion or judge the choice of a survivor who carries a rape pregnancy to term.

But the whole point is choice. Consent. You see, Mr. Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. They tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it’s God’s will. That is the core violation of rape – it takes away choice.

Richard, you believe it is fine to ignore a women’s right to choose because of your interpretation of divinity. Sound familiar?

Let me explain something to you. When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift. When we survive, when we go on to love, to work, to speak out, to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to cry, tolive, when we do that, we defeat our attackers. For a moment, they strip us of our choices. As we heal, we take our choices back. We are the gift to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation when we survive.

Now let me say this very clearly to you Mr. Mourdock, and to all of your shameless endorsers: we did not survive an attack on our consent just to turn around and give up our right to choose to you. Not without a fight.

Are you sure you want to have that fight?

Sincerely,

Melissa

http://static.thefrisky.com/2012-10-29/melissa-harris-perrys-eloquent-and-moving-open-letter-to-richard-mourdock/

By Austin Bay
Creators Syndicate 

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) transits the Straits of Hormuz last year. Both candidates missed the boat when discussing the Navy. Photo: U.S. Navy, AP / US Navy

The final 2012 presidential election debate included a brief but fierce naval battle. The candidates exchanged close-combat broadsides over the size of the U.S. Navy, then fired provocative salvos in the direction of two complex subjects: the capabilities of modern weapons and the deleterious effects of funding cuts required by sequestration on the defense budget, especially planned ship-building programs.

Gov. Mitt Romney opened the engagement. “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now under 285. We’re headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration.” President Barack Obama dismissed Romney’s 2012-1917 comparison with a hot-shot jibe that America now deploys fewer “horses and bayonets,” arguing that “counting ships” wasn’t the issue, capabilities are.

Capabilities matter. One modern U.S. destroyer, armed with “smart” missiles and sensors, arguably outclasses the anti-surface striking power of a World War II U.S. carrier and its escorts — until the Lone Ranger super-ship all too quickly expends its pricey missiles.

The Navy shipbuilding plan submitted to Congress in April stated the Navy has 282 warships but would increase to just over 300 ships. However, “if shipbuilding investments are not funded,” the battle force “will decline to well below 300 ships.” The Navy plans to decommission more than three-dozen warships between 2013 and 2016.

So both candidates had a case. Unfortunately, both candidates missed an opportunity to link very explicitly naval strategy to American economic revival and 21st century global economic security. That linkage would have lifted the naval debate from numbers and gotcha to the truly presidential-level of geo-strategy and America’s global role.

Former British First Sea Lord Adm. Sir Jonathan Band understands the linkage: 95 percent of global trade passes through nine vulnerable maritime chokepoints. Jeremy Blackham and Gwyn Prins, in a 2010 issue of the Royal United Services Institute Journal, also credit Sir Jonathan with calling the sea the other “superhighway of the modern age.”

The 21st century’s best-known “superhighway” is the Internet. Blackham and Prins note that the two superhighways confront maritime bottlenecks. “Ninety percent of global email traffic is conveyed via undersea fiber-optic cables. These cables bunch in several critical sea areas (off New York, the English Channel, the South China Sea, and off the west coast of Japan).”

So everyone (not just Americans) who uses the Internet, and everyone (not just Americans) whose economy benefits from international trade, has an interest in securing maritime chokepoints.

Diplomacy helps. Cheap unmanned aerial vehicles may assume many sea surveillance missions. But truly securing maritime chokepoints and the high seas requires capable ships and trained sailors — sufficient ships and crews on station to handle the likely threat, ships and crews preparing to deploy, and ships in refit (with crews taking a break).

The candidates could have explored who should provide these ships. Gentlemen, who do you trust to defend the U.S. economy? NATO ally Turkey controls the Turkish Straits; Denmark, Norway and Sweden handle the Baltic’s Skagerrak, so they’re cool. But, president, governor, do either of you trust the Chinese Navy to keep the South China Sea open to free commerce? Our allies Japan and the Philippines don’t.

We agree no one trusts Iran at Hormuz. So, candidates, is it in America’s interest to have a Navy that can patrol these distant chokepoints? To project power to defend these chokepoints?

Each of these missions requires more ships and more capabilities. Which means spending more money in an era when debt itself is a strategic threat. But if a critical maritime chokepoint closes, the economy takes a broadside. Barack, Mitt: Your foreign policy and economic revival debate, and the U.S. Navy’s fundamental role in both, has now begun, in earnest.

www.austinbay.net

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/columnists/austin_bay/article/Candidates-missed-the-boat-in-naval-discussion-3991187.php#ixzz2AlaPknN2

BY AMADO P. MACASAET
MALAYA

‘By refusing to make good its commitment to cooperate in the exchange of data with members of the FATF, the Senate practically helped make this country a possible haven for laundered money.’

By its refusal to honor a firm political commitment in 2010 to remedy the deficiencies in the Philippine effort to combat money laundering, the country has been placed on a so-called gray list.

The Philippines is now being constantly monitored by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as a possible haven for stolen or dirty money coming from drugs, smuggling, kidnapping for ransom and other illegal sources including graft and corruption.

The Senate failed to make good the Philippine commitment obviously because it found itself in quandary between compliance and possible violation of the bank secrecy law.

Under the FATF regulations, member countries may exchange information about suspected laundered money without court permission. Giving away information about deposits without a court order or consent of the depositor is considered a criminal act.

But how else are we going to catch the thieves? As it is, the courts in the Philippines have not exactly been cooperative in pursuing anti-money laundering. We remember the case of some officials of Fraport, the German partner in the construction of the failed NAIA Terminal III.

The anti-money laundering council filed an ex parte petition with the court to examine the deposits of the Germans and the wife of an official of Philippine International Air Transport Corp. (Piatco).

The court invalidated the petition because the respondents were not informed. That, according to the court, does not sit with law. The legal doctrine of “dura lex, sed lex”, the law is hard but it is the law, was clearly applied in the case.

A more noble objective of preventing the country from being a haven for ill-gotten, stolen, dirty money was crushed by the court. Upholding a legal maxim put the country in grave danger.

We look at the case simply from common sense. If the respondents in an ex parte case – respondents suspected of having deposited stolen money – were informed of the council’s intention to examine their deposits, the first move they would take is move the deposit elsewhere.

The court put to waste what could have been years of painstaking intelligence work to trace iII-gotten money.

By refusing to make good its commitment to cooperate in the exchange of data with members of the FATF, the Senate practically helped make this country a possible haven for laundered money.

The danger of this proposition, obviously taken by the Senate in the name of the majesty of the law, is making Philippine banks a depository of money for terrorism.

There is so much illegal money that comes from the smuggling of cigarettes in countries that raise taxes to make smuggling a profitable proposition.

The Philippines is a clear candidate if the Senate yields to the pressure of the Department of Finance to raise the excise tax that would make local cigarettes beyond the rich of the poor smokers.

The Senate could have asked the anti-money laundering council how much ill-gotten money it has forfeited for the state. The senators will be told that billions upon billions of pesos have been collected from the money launderers. But the council does not talk about it.

I guess one reason is large sums were forfeited from powerful people. The effort against money laundering is gaining ground in spite of obstacles thrown by the courts.

In refusing to amend the anti-money laundering law to comply with a 2010 commitment, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was quoted in media as having said the Philippines will not be told what to do by the FATF.

Enrile’s stand for legislative independence is misplaced. The Senate is merely called upon to honor its commitment to prevent the country and its banking system from being a huge parking lot for stolen funds.

Little has it occurred to the Senate that under the program, only foreigners are allowed to make deposits under the Foreign Currency Deposit Unit. The money is considered part of secondary reserves and may be relent by the depository bank.

The dollar deposits made by then Chief Justice Renato Corona were considered as attempts to keep the money away from public knowledge, the funds not having been included in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

The Senate, which may feel it finds itself in a bind between the law and the commitment to the FATF, may simply consider or weigh which part benefits the country most. Is it complying with the bank secrecy deposit law or is it keeping the reputation of this country as a democracy loathe to harbor money from thieves?

After all, the exchange of information is treated with the highest confidence. The banks that may have deposits suspected of being ill-gotten will not complain. Neither will the depositor.

If they do, they both expose themselves as parties to a fraud.

***

email: amadomacasaet@yahoo.com

http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/opinion/16506-money-laundering

By Joyce Pangco Panares
Manila Standard Today

The leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Tuesday urged the government to postpone the awarding of oil exploration contracts in the Liguasan Marsh in the Cotabato basin and in Sulu until wealth-sharing arrangements are ironed out.

Negotiators from both sides are scheduled to meet next month in Kuala Lumpur to discuss wealth-sharing, power-sharing and the decommissioning of MILF fighters.

“Our appeal is very reasonable and sound,” said MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim in a statement posted on the group’s Web site.

“As a principle, we are not against exploitation of our natural resources including oil and gas provided that they redound to the benefit of our people and should be done in the proper time and conditions,” Murad said.

The areas are covered by the Department of Energy’s Petroleum and Energy Contracting Round 4 that was launched last year.

Three contracts are currently up for bidding: Area 11 covering 600,000 hectares in Cotabato, Area 12 covering 456,000 hectares in Cotabato, and Area 15 covering 482,000 hectares in Sulu Sea.

In his statement, Murad said that, based on available data, the resources in the Cotabato basin were estimated to be 158 million barrels of oil.

He said 10 wildcat wells had already been drilled in the three areas.

Area 11 in Cotabato received two bids from Forum Pacific and Helios Mining and Energy, which were both accepted.

Area 12, also in Cotabato, received a bid from three companies of which two—Dil Moro Energy Corp. and Min Energy Pty. Ltd—were accepted.

Area 15 in the Sulu Sea drew the most bids and three were chosen: Philodrill Corp. and Philex Petroleum Corp.; Mitra Energy Ltd. (with Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Co. and Tap Oil) and Forum Pacific.

Earlier, Gapul Hadjirul, the political director of the rival Moro National Liberation Front faction led by Nur Misuari, claimed that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak offered 2 billion ringgits for the right to search for oil in Mindanao.

Hadjirul claimed Najib made the offer to Murad for the MILF to accede to Malaysia’s mineral exploration venture in the country’s southern region.

“Malaysia had offered 2 billion ringgits for the exploration of our oil basin at the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao, which the United States supports,” Hajirul said.

But the MNLF official did not give details of the alleged deal.

On Tuesday, Hadjirul said that even without the Palace admission of the oil exploration deals in the Liguasan Marsh, Murad’s statement was proof enough of foreign interference in internal affairs.

“The Philippine government is trading the sovereignty of Mindanao in the interest of foreigners including Malaysians,” Hadjirul said.

He also criticized MILF political affairs director Gadjali Jaafar for dismissing the MNLF claim.

“Now who is lying? He is a liar, “Hadjirul said.

He also urged the Aquino administration to stop transacting business with the Malaysians in Mindanao.

“Why should they allow Malaysia to interfere with our internal affairs? Let the people of Mindanao govern it,” Hadjirul said.

He warned that Malaysia’s interference would intensify the conflict in the region.

Emmanuel Fontanilla, legal counsel of the MNLF, said the oil exploration deals represented “a creeping invasion” by the Malaysians.

He said “the framework agreement was a misrepresentation of the true aspirations of Mindanao’s inhabitants composed of Christians, Muslims, Lumads and other indigenous people.”

Fontanilla slammed the government for treating the MILF as “the representation of the entire Mindanao” when the people were never consulted about the framework agreement.

The Liguasan Marsh is about 200,000 hectares of dry and wet basins bound by the Mindanao River in south-central Mindanao, North Cotabato and South Cotabato provinces. It is reported to be rich in oil and gas deposits, and is home to 112,000 Maguindanaon families whose primary means of livelihood is fishing. With Francisco Tuyay

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/10/31/milf-to-govt-hold-liguasan-oil-search/

By Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS

U.S. News and World Report writer Mary Brophy Marcus wrote an article a few years back about the critical shortages of physicians in the United States and the escalating cost of healthcare due to the malpractice crisis, which piece she entitled Healthcare’s “Perfect Storm.” The title was, indeed, most appropriate, one that predicted an ominous future for the Americans. That bad omen came true. Today, there is a serious crisis in healthcare cost that is bankrupting Medicare and other private insurance companies and medical care providers in the United States, thanks to the mandated malpractice insurance for all physicians in America.

The same crisis could wreak havoc to our own healthcare system in the Philippines and cause us and our family immeasurable pain and suffering, if we, the people, allow our legislators to pass a law mandating all physicians in the country to buy malpractice insurance as physicians in the United States are required to have.

Since that US law was passed, malpractice lawsuits suddenly skyrocketed, malpractice lawyers mushroomed, and so with ambulance chasers and bills boards encouraging patients to sue physicians, medical staffs, clinics, and hospitals. Physicians were forced to practice defensive medicine, ordering more tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRI, etc., in order “to be extra careful” and protect themselves. Healthcare costs escalated. America has grown into a litigious society it is today. Because of large settlement awards to plaintiffs, insurance companies had to jack up malpractice premiums to a prohibitive level. Unable to cope with the financial burden, many physicians called it quits. The vicious cycle continued leading to a present healthcare crisis in the United States.

In this revealing and alarming essay, the author related how a Las Vegas OB-GYN specialist with a thriving practice, seeing 40 patients a day and delivering 20 babies a week, had to fold his obstetrics practice after 12 years because of skyrocketing malpractice premium in the United States. Although he had never been sued before, his malpractice rate jumped from $33,000 (more than 1.3 million pesos) to a more ridiculous $108,000 (almost 4.5 million pesos) a year! At an income tax (bracket) rate of almost 50%, this physician had to earn about $216,000 (almost 9 million pesos) a year just to be able to pay Uncle Sam the annual income tax and the malpractice premium of $108,000, with nothing left in his pocket for himself, his family, his office staff and other overhead expenses.

The example the writer illustrated above is typical and widespread across North America, where currently there is a healthcare crisis, almost to a catastrophic proportion. The run-away malpractice insurance premium rate is forcing countless physicians, especially those specialists regularly performing high-risk procedures (heart surgeons, obstetricians, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, emergency room physicians, etc.) to curtail their practices or retire prematurely, or change career, to avoid debts or bankruptcy.

“People are dying,” stated Loren Johnson, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ California chapter. The reason is because states are running low on vital medical specialists and services as a result of this malpractice crisis.

The Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Maryland, like many other hospitals, had shut down their trauma center (emergency room) because of lack of physicians and the very costly malpractice premium. Many training hospitals are concerned that the high cost of malpractice premium they have to buy for their residents might cause them to close their programs. And this will further reduce the number of practicing physicians in the country, making healthcare even lesser accessible for the people.

When both hands of the physicians are tied as a consequence of a prohibitive malpractice insurance premium, a coverage required by all hospitals in order for a physician to join the medical staff, they are essentially deprived of their individual constitutional right to practice their profession and art. And the ultimate victims who will suffer the brunt of all this are the people, the patients, especially the sickness-prone seniors and the children.

The potential profitability of filing a suit against a physician becomes a strong incentive for many patients to sue their physician at a drop of a hat. Indeed, the United States, most unfortunately, has become a very litigious society, for a fast buck!

The crisis came to a head when St. Paul Companies, the largest malpractice insurers, dropped tens of thousands of physicians, leaving them naked, without any coverage at all, and scampering for other insurers. And this came at a prohibitive price because other insurers took advantage of this situation and raised their premiums. The reason for all this was the increase of medical lawsuits and the high-priced damage awards.

In Las Vegas, for instance, like in many other metropolis, one sees a billboard almost every mile, advertising personal injury lawyers, with a “no-legal-fee-if-we-lose” incentive, practically enticing people to sue their physicians.

Can crisis this happen to the Philippines? Yes, since we, Filipinos, are very fond of copying everything and anything from the United States. As a matter of fact, it appears many of our legislators are still bent on importing the scary and potentially devastating idea of mandating malpractice insurance coverage for every physician in the Philippines.

Are these legislators misinformed, miserably careless, simply without foresight, or cleverly planning to invest in, or put up, malpractice insurance companies in the Philippines? If the reason is none of the above, then why in heaven’s name would they, who have sworn to serve and protect the interest and welfare of the Filipinos, could even think of importing a harmful piece of legislation, like the mandatory malpractice insurance for physicians in our country, when the same experiment has despondently failed in the United States and has been causing a healthcare havoc, pain, and suffering among the Americans? Only some of our legislators, malpractice lawyers, ambulance chasers, and insurance companies will benefit from a national suicidal law such as this.

Why do we have to import mistakes, miseries and heartaches from abroad when we have more than enough of our share right here in our country? For Filipinos in the United States who have “seen the future,” this proposed law is a sugar-coated poison that would kill our healthcare system and the medical profession, with the patients and their family as the ultimate victims of escalating cost of healthcare and less accessibility to medical care. Even our national coffers would eventually suffer tremendously.

If we must, let us import from the United States ideas and programs that will be good for our people, and not a bad piece of legislation that has already been proven deleterious by the Americans themselves, who are now trying very hard to undo and correct their errors of the past. Let us learn from this bad experiment in the United States and not bring this killer dinosaur to our shores.

Mandating our physicians to buy malpractice insurance in order “to protect the consumers in the event of a law suit” is like forcing these doctors to use a shotgun to get rid of a fly on the patient’s forehead.

______________

The author is a Fil-Am cardiac surgeon based in Las Vegas and the Chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA and Loyal Alliance for Medical Missions in the Philippines (LAMP). He is a contributor to Global Balita. Google Philip S. Chua, wikipedia. Website: www.philipSchua.com Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

Did the Malaysians take P-Noy for a ride in ‘railroading’ the framework agreement that will lead to Bangsamoro autonomy?  — PERRY DIAZ

P25b oil drill offer in Liguasan bared

By Francisco Tuyay 
Manila Standard Today

A top Malaysian government official had offered 2 billion ringgits—about P27 billion—to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the right to search for oil in Mindanao, an official of the Nur Misuari faction of the rival Moro National Liberation Front said Sunday.

In a phone interview, Haj Gapul S. Hadjirul, the political director of the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari, said Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak offered 10 billion ringgits to MILF Chairman Al Haj Haj Murad Ebrahim to accede to the Malaysian mineral exploration venture in Mindanao.

“Malaysia had offered 10 billion ringgits for the exploration of our oil basin at the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao, which the US supports,” Hajirul said.

Hadjirul, however, offered no specifics about the alleged deal, except to say that the government panel crafting the framework agreement together with Murad had a secret meeting with Najib in Malaysia days before the signing of the treaty.

But Hadjirul, quoting a confidential source from the MILF’s central committee member who had deserted to the MNLF, said he was surprised by Murad’s public disclosure of the deal.

Anticipating the Malaysian dole, “Murad convinced the central committee leadership to agree to the government’s offer because it will eventually benefit us,” Hadjirul said, quoting an unnamed source who was in the meeting when Murad announced it.

The Liguasan Marsh is around 200,000 hectares of dry and wet basins bounded by the Mindanao River in south-central Mindanao, North Cotabato and South Cotabato provinces. It is reported to be rich in oil and gas deposits, and is home to 112,000 Maguindanaon families whose primary means of livelihood is fishing.

The area is a vast complex of river channels, small freshwater lakes and ponds, extensive marches and arable land subject to seasonal flooding in the basin of the Mindanao River.

Most of the area is under water during periods of heavy rainfall, but some 140,000 hectares dry out during the dry periods and are cultivated.

The marshes are state-owned but the surrounding areas are privately owned. In 1979 30,000 hectares of the area were declared a Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary.

Study has said that the marsh supports a great variety of aquatic wildlife, including 20 species of fish, three species of reptiles, and over 20 species of waterfowl, herons, egrets and ducks. The marsh is also one of the last strongholds of the Philippine Crocodile and the Estuarine Crocodile.

Former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari has said that some American experts had told him that the estimated earnings from the natural gas of Liguasan, once explored, was $580 billion.

Hajirual said that while Malaysia was banking on the MILF’s control of the marsh, “the desertion of thousands of MILF to the MNLF” had led to the MNLF’s control of six municipalities surrounding Liguasan Marsh.

The MNLF official added that the US had pushed Malaysia to the forefront of the deal to obscure its involvement in the enterprise.

The Malaysians, Hadjirul said, had enlisted US expertise, sending representatives to conduct soil tests and other studies in preparation for exploration.

“The US [experts] are now scattered in General Santos City, Jolo, Compostela Valley and Cotabato,Hadjirul said.

“They have a huge presence in Zamboanga City, which they use as their headquarters. But they are [highly] visible in Palawan.”

Misuari has said that, aside from oil exploration, Malaysia intends to convert the entire Liguasan Marsh into a palm oil plantation.

“That is their purpose behind the secret deal,” he said.

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2012/10/29/p25b-oil-drill-offer-in-liguasan-bared/