Posted by: Chuck | October 9, 2013

Snakes and a political dynasty

Hello friends Mama Vera called my wife yesterday to tell they had found large python living in their attic, Mama Vera and Papa Vedasto survived but the snake didn’t. We don’t have gang bangers but we done have the NPA living nearby and large pythons able to move in; in fact a few months ago we had some baby pythons move in the outside Comfort Room but now their history. The Estrada-Ejercito political dynasty, which dwarfs all dynasties in sheer insensitivity and utter lack of delicadeza, is dying. It’s in the throes of death not because the political brand has lost its luster, especially among the mesa which can be relied upon at any time to give the vote to anyone anointed by its patriarch, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada – his progenies and even mistresses. The uneducated vote, Miriam Defensor Santiago never fails to depreciate this phenomenon that continues to embrace Estrada with his champion-of- the-poor, movie-hero image of long ago. And that was when Erap’s stoop was more of a swagger than geriatric mannerisms and he spoke with less marbles in his mouth than when he ran and won as Manila city mayor.

It is not even the pork barrel scam that is about to deal the fatal blow to the Erap dynasty, although it accounts for a big part of the reasons. The Supreme Court will be doing the honors. This will come as SC finally decides on a petition seeking to disqualify Erap in the Manila mayoral race on the ground that the 2007 pardon granted to him by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not go with the right to again seek public office. The same petition had been junked a couple of times, once by the Commission on Elections for “lack of merit.”

I recall a high profile American psychologist in Metro Manila was murdered a few years back because the killer thought he was taking jobs from Filipinos but little did he know it was all volunteer work. The psychologist volunteered in jails, prisons, detention centers and homes for abused women and children.

Assaad Assaad sold everything to escape poverty in Lebanon, but now he is back, after watching his wife and three children, and his dreams of a better life, perish at sea. The 36-year-old, who could now pass for 50, was among 18 shell-shocked Lebanese who returned on Sunday after surviving a shipwreck off Indonesia that killed dozens of impoverished migrants from the Middle East. The Lebanese aboard the Australia-bound boat mainly hailed from the northern Akkar region, where an influx of refugees from neighboring Syria has compounded the endemic poverty of one of Lebanon’s poorest areas.  “We were desperate to leave, and we had hope for a better life, because there is nothing for us here,” Assaad said as he stared ahead blankly, still reliving the tragedy.

China urged Washington on Monday to take decisive steps to avoid a debt crisis and ensure the safety of Chinese investments, as a deadlocked U.S. Congress confronted a looming deadline to increase the nation’s borrowing power or risk default. China, the U.S. government’s largest creditor, is “naturally concerned about developments in the U.S. fiscal cliff”, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said in the Chinese government’s first public response to the Oct 17 deadline in the United States for raising the debt ceiling.

Temporary layoffs expected to cascade out of United Technologies Corp. were canceled after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Saturday recalled most of the Pentagon’s furloughed civilian employees. With the first round private sector furloughs scheduled to begin Monday at Sikorsky and Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, attorneys at the Pentagon concluded that the law doesn’t permit the type of blanket furlough of all civilian employees, including the on-site defense inspectors.

The death toll from an earthquake in southwestern Pakistan has reached 515, a provincial official said Friday, as insurgents continue to hamper relief efforts. Babar Yaqoob, the Chief Secretary of Baluchistan, gave the updated death toll as he was touring the destroyed region of Awaran, where the earthquake struck on Tuesday. The area is also a stronghold of separatist Baluch insurgents, who have shot at helicopters carrying military officials in charge of responding to the disaster. “There is a law and order situation here and other hurdles but despite everything, we will get to every last person,” said Lt. Gen. Nasir Janjua, the highest ranking military official in the province.

Revelations by Edward Snowden about British eavesdropping are a gift to terrorists because they weaken the ability of the security services to stop those plotting deadly attacks against the West, the head of the MI5 Security Service said on Tuesday. In an unusually frank public intervention in the debate over the powers of U.S. and British spy agencies, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker warned that his agents needed to read and listen to suspect communications to foil major attacks. The extent of U.S. and British surveillance was laid bare in media reports based on previously top secret documents stolen by U.S. National Security Agency contractor Snowden, prompting a spy scandal that pitted Barack Obama against the Kremlin and triggered calls for greater scrutiny of Western agents. Cautioning against complacency over the threat from militants, especially those returning from the battlefields of Syria, Parker dismissed as nonsense the idea that British spies gratuitously rummaged through private data of the innocent like the secret police of Communist East Germany or North Korea.

Heavy rain and floods have left 11 dead in the central and southern Philippine islands, including in a city still reeling from deadly guerrilla attacks, civil defense officials said Tuesday. Among the hardest-hit areas was Zamboanga City, where floods again displaced thousands of people who had previously fled their homes to escape three weeks of fighting between Muslim rebels and government forces. Three bodies were found in the southern city on Tuesday while troops plucked shivering children out of knee-deep floodwater, said the area’s civil defense chief Adriano Fuego.

Typhoon Fitow, which barreled into China’s east coast early Monday packing winds of more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour, killed at least five people and impacted 4.5 million, state media reported. Two men died in Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province, the official news agency Xinhua said, while three people from the city of Ruian died of electric shocks. One of the victims in Wenzhou, 55-year-old Ni Wenlin, died “when a strong wind blew him off a hill” late Sunday, Xinhua said, while the other, Chen Wanjie, was killed after being buried beneath his duck breeding factory.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has promised Israel the United States will be “clear-eyed” and committed to ensuring that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons as Washington pursues engagement.  Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, whose government has pressed for a hard line, visited Washington a week before Iran meets six nations to ease international concerns on its nuclear program that have triggered a US-led campaign of sanctions. “Secretary Hagel noted that while the United States intends to test the prospect for a diplomatic solution with Iran we remain clear-eyed about the challenges ahead,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner can’t even agree on how to describe their private conversations as the government shutdown enters its second week and a first-ever U.S. default looms. Obama telephoned Boehner on Tuesday around 10:45 a.m. — and that’s pretty much where the agreement ends. Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck tersely described the call this way: “The president called the speaker again today to reiterate that he won’t negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase.” (Buck’s message was helpfully entitled “news … or what passes for it.”)–boehner-in-shutdown-%E2%80%98he-said–he-said%E2%80%99-160110221.html

Have a good day and thank you for your visit, Uncle Chuck



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