Tuesday, May 24, 2022

We are dead again


“As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.”

Pythagoras


By Alex P. Vidal


THE title of this article can best describe what any normal American can grotesquely feel and express instantly in a nutshell each time a gun-toting maniac has opened fire in a crowded place—grocery store, subway, synagogue, theater, shopping mall, or school—and kill innocent people, including children, women and elderly.

We Are Dead Again because death—in the number that defies the logic of murder—has been happening on a regular basis, rampage after rampage, state after state, with no apparent provocation and almost endless and routinely. Life in America.

Yesterday (May 24), authorities confirmed 21 died again, including the gunman, a teacher, and 19 other students in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, roughly 80 miles west of San Antonio.

The latest macabre killings occurred a week after radio RMN Iloilo in the Philippines reached me via social media to share what I learned about the mass murder inside a Buffalo supermarket in New York State that killed 10 people in a racially motivated attack.

I mentioned during the “live” conversation with RMN anchors Novie Guazo and Regan Arlos that the Buffalo massacre “might not be the last” even if I further elucidated that Americans, unlike the Filipinos in the Philippines, are allowed to carry firearms under the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, thus violence is always inevitable. 


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In a shocking coincidence, I mentioned Texas as the state with the most number of incidents of gun violence and with the highest number of firearms in the hands of civilians where the possibility of another mass murder might occur.

Both the gunmen in Buffalo and Uvalde were 18-year-olds, armed to the teeth, motivated by unexplained animus, and extremely dangerous.

The gunman in Uvalde, identified by officials as Salvador Ramos, was himself killed dead and believed to have acted alone. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said confirmed the murderer had attended Uvalde High School.

It was the deadliest shooting at an elementary school since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut that left 26 people dead, including 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, according to reports.

Will the mass murder in the land of milk and honey and endless economic opportunities end? I don’t see it ending in Uvalde.

In fact, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S. in 2020, the most recent year for which complete data is available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The figure includes gun murders and gun suicides, along with three other, less common types of gun-related deaths tracked by the CDC: those that were unintentional, those that involved law enforcement and those whose circumstances could not be determined. 

The total excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role. 

CDC’s fatality statistics are reportedly based on information contained in official death certificates, which identify a single cause of death.


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We further learned from CDC that the 45,222 total gun deaths in 2020 were by far the most on record, representing a 14 percent increase from the year before, a 25 percent increase from five years earlier and a 43 percent increase from a decade prior.

CDC said gun murders, in particular, have climbed sharply in recent years. 

The 19,384 gun murders that took place in 2020 were the most since at least 1968, exceeding the previous peak of 18,253 recorded by the CDC in 1993. 

The 2020 total represented a 34 percent increase from the year before, a 49 percent increase over five years and a 75 percent increase over 10 years.

The number of gun suicides, CDC said, has also risen in recent years – climbing 10 percent over five years and 25 percent over 10 years – and is near its highest point on record. 

The 24,292 gun suicides that took place in 2020 were reportedly the most in any year except 2018, when there were 24,432.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)


Monday, May 23, 2022

What we Heard and how Depp do we know

“This would be a much better world if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt.”

Earl Wilson


By Alex P. Vidal 


OF all the not-so-earthshaking-but-headturner news that spread around the globe these past weeks, none was more shimmering and toffee-nosed as the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard l’affaire.

News of the Virginia trial of Depp’s $50 million defamation suit against his ex-wife Heard, for awhile, had been stepped aside to pave the way for the gruesome killings by Russian soldiers of Ukrainian civilians, the never-ending saga of Roe V. Wade, the impending return of the Marcoses to power in the Philippines, the baby formula shortage, among other hot issues.    

Now, it’s the talk of the globe, so to speak; it’s hard to ignore this courtroom melee that erupted more than five years after the controversial couple’s breakup.

The star of the Pirates of the Caribbean, who arguably is more popular than Vladimir Putin and sometimes more hot-tempered than Will Smith, is mired in the most scandalous publicity that will either make or break him.

What have we Heard, so far, and how Depp do we know about the case that is now on its final stage?  

Let’s begin with Depp's legal team, which had argued that Heard ruined the actor's reputation by "choosing to lie about him for her own personal benefit." 

Heard had written an essay for the Washington Post back in 2018 in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." 

The article never mentioned Depp by name, but the actor’s attorneys previously said in court documents that his ex-wife’s op-ed was all part of an "elaborate hoax."


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Depp also claimed in court documents that Heard concocted her story in the hopes of generating "positive publicity" and to "advance her career."

The Aquaman Mera actress made a rare statement on Instagram announcing a break from social media days before the trial unwrapped. "Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post, in which I recounted my experience of violence and domestic abuse," she wrote on April 9. "I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny."

Writers Mike Vulpo, Lindsay Weinberg, and Gabrielle Chung narrated that on May 23, producer and entertainment industry consultant Kathryn Arnold testified that Depp's career was already in decline before Heard's 2018 op-ed piece for The Washington Post. 

According to the three writers, Arnold had said past movies starring Depp including Mortdecai (2015), Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) and The Lone Ranger (2013) underperformed at the box office.

She also testified that reports of Depp's poor work habits made it harder for Hollywood to financially back him. 

"We talked about the erratic behavior, the tardiness, the drugs and alcohol abuse," Arnold testified. "And the lawsuits have had a really big impact, not just this lawsuit but previous lawsuits that Mr. Depp has been involved with because there's a lot of publicity around anything he does."

Arnold also referenced a Hollywood Reporter article, published before Heard's Post piece, that said Disney was rethinking the future of Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise after disappointing returns on the fifth film.


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During her testimony, Arnold said that movie, TV and endorsement deals for Heard dried up after Adam Waldman, Depp's ex attorney, publicly called her abuse accusations against Depp "false" and a "hoax."

Arnold predicted that Heard could be at the same level as Ana de Armas, Zendaya and Gal Gadot following her breakout superhero role in 2018's Aquaman. "It would have been very reasonable to believe her career would have been on an upward trajectory of those other actors" if not for the hoax allegations, Arnold testified. "It's very likely Ms.Heard should have earned $45 to $50 million." 

Depp's team, however, pushed back on cross-examination arguing that Gadot was in Fast & Furious movies before she played Wonder Woman and Zendaya was a Disney Channel star before her career took off.

Psychiatrist says Depp showed Signs of intimate partner violence. Psychiatrist Dr. David R. Spiegel testified for Heard's defense on May 23 that Depp showed signs of substance misuse and intimate partner violence. 

"In my opinion," the Eastern Virginia Medical School professor said in court, "Mr. Depp has behaviors that are consistent with both someone who has a substance use disorder as well as consistent behaviors with someone who is a perpetrator of intimate partner violence." 

Depp's legal team argued that Dr. Spiegel may be unqualified to testify on intimate partner violence because none of his published works specifically have the topic in the titles. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, intimate partner violence is defined as abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship.


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Alex Finnis of People explained a scenario if Depp wins. The jury will decide whether, on the balance of probability, Heard did defame Depp in the 2018 Washington Post article.

If they decide she did, Depp will win the trial and Heard will be ordered to pay him damages. He is seeking $50 M in compensation, but the jury may recommend he is awarded more or less than this amount.

Heard will not go to prison even if the jury decides in Depp’s favor, Finnis stressed.

“This is a civil trial, not a criminal case. Neither Heard nor Depp are being tried on any criminal charges,” he added.

A civil case is a court case in which a person or entity (the plaintiff) can find another person or entity (the defendant) liable for some type of harm or wrongful act. When someone is sued, this is a civil case.

If the plaintiff is successful, they will normally receive some form of compensation from the defendant.

A civil lawsuit can be brought over anything from a contract dispute or a residential eviction to injuries sustained in a car accident, or countless other harms or disputes.

Civil cases are intended to compensate the person who is harmed rather than punish the defendant. If the defendant loses a civil case they are not convicted of a crime, as they would be in a criminal case, and they do not face prison – even if they are found found liable for conduct which amounts to a criminal act.

The burden of proof is also lighter in a civil case than a criminal case. In a criminal case the defendant’s guilt must be proven “beyond reasonable doubt”, whereas in a civil case the jury simply has to decide which side of the dispute they believe to be more likely.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)


Sunday, May 22, 2022

‘Bilog ang bola’

“When a great team loses through complacency, it will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat.” Pat Riley


By Alex P. Vidal


IN any competition, we must always expect the unexpected; anticipate a possible upset and a lopsided contest—and if defeat is inevitable, be prepared to walk in the boulevard of broken dreams.

When world basketball superpower, the Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan-led the United States of America (USA), settled for a dismal bronze after being humiliated by Argentina, 89-81, in the men’s basketball semifinals in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games, Filipino lovers of American Hoops hollered: “Bilog ang bola!” (The ball is round)

Pinoy soccer fans also succinctly offered as a convenient excuse the “Bilog ang bola” narrative when a little-known African team Cameroon upset the Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina in the 1990 World Cup.

It’s always a poignant reminder for all the lords of the rings that any ballgame is anybody’s game as long as they’re using the same ball during the match.

Like the recent Hanoi debacle involving highly touted Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team, which succumbed to Indonesia, 85-81, for gold in the recently concluded 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

The Philippines lost the basketball crown after three decades because, aside from the magnificent performance of the Indon dribblers, it’s “bilog ang bola,” what else.


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The horrific upset could happen, and it finally happened.

As a matter of fact, we must give credit where credit is due: the Indonesians really came well-prepared and finished the tournament a perfect 6-0, while Gilas brought home a silver with a 5-1 record.

Also because “bilog ang bola,” the Philippines had won 18 of 20 men's basketball gold medals and were riding a 52-game winning streak dating back to 1997 before being conquered by Indonesia.

While other Southeast Asian countries routinely dominate other sports, men's basketball had been the Philippines' domain, thus Indonesia’s Muslim populace celebrated the biggest story in the Games that day like they won the Olympic gold.

For ESPN’s Sid Ventura, the conditions prior to last Sunday’s championship were ripe for a Gilas loss.

It's tempting to blame the lack of preparation on this debacle, explained Ventura, since this version of Gilas had only around three weeks to prepare and didn't practice as a complete team until the Ravena brothers flew in from Japan. 


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“But as early as the 2017 Games, the danger signs were already there,” observed Ventura.

He pointed out that a young Gilas selection backstopped by PBA players Christian Standhardinger, Troy Rosario, Baser Amer, Kevin Ferrer and Kiefer Ravena, nearly lost to Thailand in the group stage and to Singapore in the semifinals. 

Everyone just forgot about that after the SBP fielded a PBA Dream Team in the 2019 Manila Games.

This Gilas team was flawed—only two pure shooters, lack of depth off the bench—but this lineup would won the gold as recently as seven or nine years ago. 

Not so in 2022, where Indonesia was the perfect foil.

It had a coach who knew the Philippine style of play, a big, athletic naturalized player to shut down the paint and neutralize Fajardo, and a ton of players who could shoot well.

Fatigue likely set in. Ventura observed that coach Chot Reyes used only eight players, and one of them--Kib Montalbo—played only five minutes. 

“So he was essentially rotating only seven players for the majority of the game,” Ventura pointed out.

“Towards the end, Indonesia just had more energy. They were quicker to grab loose balls, relentless off the boards, and stayed disciplined on defense. Would LeBron Lopez or Will Navarro or Isaac Go have made a difference? It's hard to say for sure. But four Gilas players logged 31 or more minutes each. In contrast, Pejic rotated 10 players, with only two---Bolden and Dhyaksa--logging more than 30 minutes.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)




   


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Monkeypox a monkey business?

 

“The mystery of that damn virus has been generated by the $2 billion a year they spend on it.”

Kary Mullis


By Alex P. Vidal


HARDLY had the humanity recovered from the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, we are again being vexed by a mysterious virus called monkeypox.

Is humanity being held hostage by a greedy corporate cabal masquerading as health authorities with power to spread fear and panic about certain viruses or diseases?

The timing of the monkeypox’s sudden arrival when people appeared to be not anymore fearful of the coronavirus sub-variants, may have been only a coincidence, but no one can blame the Doubting Thomases if they hastily reacted with utmost pessimism and a suspicious mind.

Is the monkeypox a monkey business?

Will governments all over the world be asked anew to require their citizens to have another round of vaccinations to ward off this rare virus? 

The coffers of both the rich and poor countries have been emptied for the purchase of billions of dollars worth of vaccines to combat the coronavirus since 2020. 

Many countries, including the Philippines, are already down on all four from foreign debts as a result of international calamity wrought by coronavirus.

It’s puzzling why all of a sudden the whole world is being warned anew of another strange virus even before the coronavirus sub-variants have bade farewell.

Let’s hope this is not going to be another epidemic that will blossom into a pandemic and again make our life difficult. We pray not.

Monkeypox may be a rare disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus. 


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Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.

Monkeypox was actually first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox,’ explained the CDC. 

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. 

Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. 

The majority of infections are in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Monkeypox cases in people have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals, including cases in the United States, as well as Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

The natural reservoir of monkeypox remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) may harbor the virus and infect people.


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We have our first reported first case of monkeypox in New York City even as Mayor Eric Adams said May 21 that he’s not worried about the virus’ spread in the Big Apple – where at least one case of the rare disease is already suspected.

“Nope. We have the best Department of Health,” Adams told The New York Post after being asked about the disease following an unrelated Midtown event. “We are going to make the right decisions for the city.”

The city’s Health Department has confirmed that a city patient tested positive for a family of viruses that monkeypox belongs to, but it was still unclear Saturday whether the person was infected with the rare disease.

Two patients had been under investigation by the city’s Health Department for possibly carrying the virus. One case was ruled out while another person tested positive for “Orthopoxvirus,” the family of viruses to which monkeypox belongs.

The patient remained in isolation Saturday awaiting testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local health officials are carrying out contact tracing in the meantime.

According to CNN, the CDC was investigating at least five other cases of possible monkeypox involving American patients.

Monkeypox cases in the U.S. are reportedly very rare. It does not occur naturally in the United States, but cases have happened that were associated with international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease is more common, said the CDC scientists.

As of this writing, it was reported that CDC scientists were collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to investigate a situation in which a U.S. resident tested positive for monkeypox on May 18 after returning to the U.S. from Canada.

It was reported that CDC was also tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported in early- to mid-May in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including in Europe and North America.

It’s not clear how people in those clusters were exposed to monkeypox but cases include people who self-identify as men who have sex with men. 

CDC has urged healthcare providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)



Thursday, May 19, 2022

When will Treñas and Joe III forgive each other?

“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.” Alan Paton


By Alex P. Vidal

THE two successive election defeats incurred by former Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III in 2019 and 2022 were a bitter pill to swallow for a highly regarded public servant with a sterling track record.

If he can’t bounce back soon or in the next election, Espinosa, an honest and intelligent man, will be a big loss for Iloilo City politics.

The last thing he needs to put a final nail on his political coffin is a third straight setback in local positions.

Espinosa’s latest defeat to reelectionist Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda could have been avoided if he and his brother-in-law, Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, weren’t anymore at loggerheads.

As long as Treñas is still active in politics and they remain at odds, Espinosa, who has no more power and with a limited clout now, is doomed.

The back-to-back setbacks could put an exclamation point on his political career—unless he and Treñas will finally kiss and make up, let bygones be bygones and agree to rebuild their splintered family and political forces before they turn 80.

But after two contentious elections, the relationship between Espinosa and Treñas appeared to have further sunk deeper in the ocean instead of making some headway. 

It is said that Philippine elections sometimes could permanently cripple relationships. 

In the case of Espinosa and Treñas, time didn’t heal their wounds?

When will they forgive each other?


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It’s now crystal clear that since their feud erupted in the 2019 election, Treñas still hasn’t forgiven Espinosa, or vice versa, because they ran under two rival political parties in the May 9, 2022 election and cavorted with different candidates for city mayor and House of Representatives instead of supporting each other.

After soundly beating Espinosa for mayor in May 2019, Treñas, who trounced radioman Salvador “Jun” Capulot for mayor in May 2022, backed Baronda’s releection bid for congressman against Espinosa, who supported Capulot.

But even if the two brothers-in-law decided to bury their hatchet for the sake of family unity before the May 9, 2022 election, it wouldn’t follow that Treñas will discard second-termer Baronda for Espinosa.

Treñas’ political commitment with Baronda doesn’t end with the  reinstatement of his relationship with Espinosa. 

Baronda’s position shouldn’t be part of any package deal by any wheeler-dealer.  

Both gentlemen can always break bread together again anytime and rekindle their sweet moments without sacrificing Baronda, or interrupting the lady’s joyride in congress.


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The newly elected neophyte politicians don’t need to be reminded like kindergarten pupils on what to do especially if they are in the legislature—local and national.

Whatever they do or plan to do now that they have been elected, is their call. 

We won’t babysit or pamper those who are incompetent and inept.

Some of them were elected because of their notoriety and popularity, but it’s part of the game and there is nothing we can do about it now; we can’t deny this fact and reality.

The obligation of the voters is to elect their chosen candidates in a free election and watch while they serve in their capacity as public servants. It’s up to the elected officials whether they will bungle or shine.

Good luck.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)





Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Playing with the Ilonggos’ emotions again

“Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten.”

Dick Gregory


By Alex P. Vidal


FRESH from being reelected, Iloilo first district Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin’s first publicity stunt was to rekindle the bad memory that gave the Ilonggos, especially the Guimarasnons, a nightmare and so much emotional pain.

She reportedly assured them that presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has “committed” to push through with the over-sensationalized, over-advertised, and over-promised Panay-Guimaras bridge project, aborted numerous times in the past three administrations. 

Another one bites the dust. Here we go again. 

According to the lady solon, Mr. Marcos Jr. “will prioritize” the construction of the controversial bridge first conceptualized during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992 and last dangled to the Ilonggos by the outgoing Duterte administration.

It’s too early in the game for someone with a political clout like Loreto-Garin to act as spokesperson for political promises that mostly are only made to be broken.  

Loreto-Garin’s grandstanding came after the national government was able to reportedly secure about P2.96-billion loan from South Korea to finance preliminary studies on the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridges.

The Philippines and South Korea reportedly exchanged their copies of the agreement for the loan extended by the Export Import Bank of Korea-Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEXIM-EDCF) on May 4, or five days before the presidential election.


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Because of the dishonesty and insincerity of politicians who served under the outgoing Duterte administration tasked to handle the ambitious bridge project, the words “push through” and “prioritize” don’t anymore tantalize the Ilonggos; the words have totally lost their substance, impact and magic.

Ever since the project, supposed to be lined-up in the so-called “build, build, build” program of the outgoing administration, nosedived, many Iloilo residents and Guimarasnons weren’t anymore impressed and excited every time government officials brought up the subject matter.

In their minds they grumbled, “Please stop giving us false hopes. We have had enough. Just do it or shut up.” 

In February this year, Marcos reportedly vowed to include the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridges as among his priority projects if he wins the presidential race during his campaign rally in Iloilo.

He reportedly declared: “Kailangan po nating ipagpatuloy ang sinimulan ni Pangulong Duterte na ‘Build, Build, Build’ program sa imprastraktura. Pinag-uusapan nga namin kanina kung papaano ang gagawin para matuloy na ‘yung tulay na manggagaling sa Iloilo hanggang Guimaras hanggang sa Negros.”


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I was serious about the book, The Republic, written by Plato more than two thousand years ago (even before the Roman Empire was established), that I first promoted it when actor Erap Estrada was elected president in 1998.

When several clowns, drug addicts, thieves were elected in the Senate and the House of Representatives thereafter, I again promoted Plato’s marvelous book not because I could gain from it financially, but because I wanted my friends and readers to understand why we kept on electing these incredible characters in our society into these very important government offices.

After Robin Padilla was elected as the No. 1 senator and more ruffians and scalawags have joined the government through the scandalous partylist system, I again promoted Plato’s The Republic. 

I won’t stop promoting the book in the future Philippine elections even if my crusade will be dismissed as only an exercise in futility because many Filipinos, especially registered voters, are non-readers.

To compound the matter, most Filipinos—registered voters particularly—no longer read the newspapers and are hooked on the social media where they swallow hook, line, and sinker all the lies being peddled by insidious Tiktokers and paid hacks masquerading as “political analysts” and “media vloggers.”


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Zinc improves mood in women. Oysters (talaba) are a great source of zinc. According to London-based Dr. John Biriffa, there is some evidence that links zinc deficiency with an enhanced risk of depression. Treatment with zinc improved mood to some extent, he said.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Buffalo grieves

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

C. S. Lewis


By Alex P. Vidal


I HAD fond memories of Buffalo more than a decade ago.

I first arrived in this rain-drenched upstate community known as the City of Good Neighbors at 2 o’clock in the morning in a lung-busting land trip from Chicago via Greyhound bus. 

I learned from the bus terminal staff that Buffalo’s nightlife doesn’t call it quits until 4 o’clock in the morning, rather than 2 o’clock in the morning like most other cities in the U.S. I thought I fell in love with Buffalo—both at first sight and land.

My final destination was Toronto, Canada.

I always encouraged my friends from the Philippines who are in the United States for a short vacation and intending to visit Canada to take the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge crossings from the City of Buffalo in New York to Ontario, an east-central Canadian province.

This is my favorite route when I travel to Canada by land. 

Buffalo is at the eastern end of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara River, and is across the Canadian border from Southern Ontario.

We always assumed that the No. 1 target of visitors from the United States in going to Ontario would be the Niagara Falls.

Most of those who have been to the U.S. east coast know that Niagara Falls, a city on the Niagara River, is in New York State. It’s the Falls’ official address.

Only a few think Niagara Falls is officially in Ontario, Canada because the Falls is known for the vast Niagara Falls, which straddle the Canadian border. 

In Niagara Falls State Park, the Observation Tower, at Prospect Point, juts out over Niagara Gorge for a view of all 3 waterfalls.


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I am writing about Buffalo and its connection to Ontario because my memories of this second-largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Erie County, have been desecrated by the killing of 10 people and wounding of three others in a shooting rampage in a supermarket on Saturday (May 14) afternoon.

Of the 13 victims, 11 were Black. Police and prosecutors said the shooting had a racial motive, a claim that ignited a criticism from CNN anchors for being “too soon” (to determine that it was racially motivated).

"It was, straight up, a racially motivated hate crime," Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a late afternoon news conference.

The gunman, Payton S. Gendron, 18, of Conklin, in Broome County, was arraigned Saturday evening before Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah on a first-degree murder charge.

According to initial reports, four Tops (name of supermarket on Jefferson Avenue) employees were among those killed, including a recently retired Buffalo police officer who was working as security at the store. 

As of this writing, the Buffalo News withheld the retired officer’s identity because it could not be determined whether his family had been notified.

According to the Buffalo News, as many as five bodies were found in the parking lot, an onsite police official said.

"Bullets and blood are everywhere," the source said.

Shonnell Harris, an operation manager at the Tops, said she heard gun shots and ran frantically through the store, falling several times before exiting out the back. 

She saw the shooter, whom she described as a white man wearing camouflage. "He looked like he was in the Army." Harris thought she heard 70 shots.


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There are actually three United States to Canada border crossings in the Niagara Falls area, all within 28 miles (45 kilometers) of Buffalo, New York. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge crossings I mentioned earlier are among the busiest of all Canadian border crossings. 

Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and Rainbow Bridge can move much faster, as Whirlpool Rapids Bridge is reserved for NEXUS pass holders and Rainbow Bridge is void of commercial traffic. 

All bridges offer convenient passage into southern Ontario and Toronto and are used by those traveling to Niagara Falls, Canada or the Niagara wine country. 

But which one to take at the time of our journey should depend on factors like preferred route, wait times, and duty-free shopping opportunities.  

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)