Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 Sakharov Prize Winner Nasrin Sotoudeh's Hunger Strike

2012 Sakharov Prize Winner
Nasrin Sotoudeh's Hunger Strike

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland of the Office of the Spokesperson, Department of State, has issued a statement November 30, 2012:
“We are deeply troubled by reports of the rapidly declining health of jailed Iranian human rights defender and 2012 Sakharov Prize winner Nasrin Sotoudeh. Iranian officials have denied Sotoudeh, a leading women’s rights champion, medical care during her more than six-week hunger strike and have kept her in solitary confinement.
“We remain concerned for Sotoudeh’s well-being given Iran’s history of withholding treatment from prisoners and allowing them to die from hunger strikes.
“We demand the Iranian Government cease its intolerable mistreatment of Sotoudeh and immediately release her and the more than 30 other female political prisoners detained in Evin Prison.”


Sotoudeh has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. Her clients have included journalist Isa Saharkhiz, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and Heshmat Tabarzadi, the head of the banned opposition group Democratic Front of Iran.
Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security and was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. In January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced Sotoudeh to 11 years in prison, in addition to barring her from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years.
An appeals court later reduced Sotoudeh's prison sentence to six years, and her ban from working as a lawyer to ten years.


New York’s Times Square 
features Pacquiao training

LOS ANGELES, California – As part of pre-fight promotion, Top Rank produced a live one-hour event on a seven-story tall screen in New York’s most famuost building, Times Square, November 30, featuring fighter of the decade Manny Pacquiao’s workout with trainer Freddie Roach direct from the Wild Card gym on Vine St., Hollywood.
The event, co-produced by MLBAM, was witnessed by commuters and fans of both Pacquiao and nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez who is expected to arrive in the US this week for the December 8 fourth match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Pacquiao-Marquez 4 will be promoted by Top Rank, in association with MP Promotions, Zanfer Promotions, Márquez Boxing, Tecate, Wonderful Pistachios, Cinemax ‘Banshee,’ Smart Communications, Universal Pictures ‘Django Unchained’ and MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay Per View.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drive-in sex booths to help reduce HIV cases?

"We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution."
--VICTOR HUGO, Les Misérables

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- Now that other advanced countries have begun to seriously address and curb the problem on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV virus owing to unregulated and unsafe sex industry, the Philippines and other third world countries could learn from the method recently initiated by Switzerland. 
Beginning next year, sex workers in Zurich,  the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich,  will be able to conduct business in drive-in sex booths in a move that officials in the Swiss city hope will help make the sex industry safer and more regulated.
Earlier this year, voters in  Zurich passed a referendum to approve construction of the sex booths on the outskirts of the city, which will provide private accommodations for  approximately 30 prostitutes and their customers, according to a report made by Alyssa Newcomb for ABC News.
According to the recent Philippine Data Fact Sheet on HIV, AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease, sexual contact was the most common mode of transmission, accounting for 9 out of 10 infections. Eighty three percent of cases were among males; for each 10 cases, eight belonged to the 20-39 age group.


Of the 799 HIV positive cases in 2012, 30 were reported as AIDS cases -- 29 were males,one female.
Sexually transmitted infections are also reportedly  the main preventable cause of infertility, particularly in women; and some infections exist without symptoms. International data showed that 448 million new infections of curable sexually transmitted infections occur yearly.
In pregnant women with untreated early syphilis, 25 percent of pregnancies result in stillbirth, while 14 percent in neonatal death. HIV and syphilis can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth, and through blood products and tissue transfer. 
Quoting a news release on the Zurich Social Welfare Department's website, Newcomb stressed that when the booths open in August 2012, prostitution will be banned in certain parts of the city and confined to the booths and two other zones.


“The big difference is that until now prostitution is in a public space,” Michael Herzig, spokesperson for the department, told World Radio Switzerland. “Now we are going to change this, transfer it from the street, from a public to a private space to an old industrial area which belongs to the city, that give us the possibility to define the rules of prostitution in this space.”
Newcomb said the booths will be outfitted with parking spaces, alarm buttons and an on-site counselor, English language Swiss news site The Local reported last year when the publicly funded measure was being discussed.
Beginning in January, sex workers will  also have to apply for a license, register with a health insurer and purchase a ticket each night for approximately $5 before they begin soliciting customers, she added. Officials from the Social Welfare Department said the plan is “progressing” and ready to enter into full-force in the new year.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Obama did not blink on
Miriam's VFA brouhaha

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Was it a case of bad timing?
Several days after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a joint resolution seeking the termination of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Philippine government has not received any official reaction from the White House.
The lady senator had threatened to file the resolution while newly reelected President Barack Obama was about to embark on a three-nation tour of Asia where he dodged the Philippines recently.
Apparently, Obama was unfazed by Defensor-Santiago’s threat even as observers viewed his recalcitrance as a sign that his administration is willing to let go of that vital joint military project.
Or the timing of Defensor-Santiago's resolution could be bad as experts consider the long-raging rivalry between China and five neighbors for control of strategic and resource-rich waters in the Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea to be more urgent than the VFA fiasco.
Obama made it clear during the campaign period he was hell-bent in slashing the military budget as part of his administration’s "peaceniks" policy.  
During his first term, President Obama disclosed a “new military strategy” that would cut the Pentagon budget by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.


The new military strategy includes $487 billion in cuts over the next decade. An additional $500 billion in cuts could be coming if Congress follows through on plans for deeper reductions. The announcement comes weeks after the U.S. officially ended the Iraq War and after a decade of increased defense spending in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, reported the USA Today.
Obama said that the military will indeed be leaner, but the U.S. will maintain a budget that is roughly larger than the next 10 countries' military budgets combined.
"I just want to say that this effort reflects the guidance I gave throughout this process," Obama said. "Yes, the tide of war is receding. But the question that this strategy answers is what kind of military will we need after the long wars of the last decade are over. And today, we're moving forward, from a position of strength."
Obama added: "Some will no doubt say the spending reductions are too big; others will say they're too small," Obama said. "It will be easy to take issue with a particular change. But I would encourage all of us to remember what President Eisenhower once said — that 'each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.' "
Obama has vowed to “strengthen our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region.”


Defensor-Santiago’s Joint Resolution, her second attempt since 2010, accused the US of non-compliance and violation of Philippine law and international norms and customs on the protection and preservation of the environment.
The resolution came in the heels of the controversy involving a US Navy contractor that allegedly dumped hazardous wastes in Subic Bay. A number of senators have called for an investigation on the allegation. It was also in prime news in the Philippines while President Obama’s tour in Asia was in progress and when he recently attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and leaders of Southeast Asia at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The senate resolution also sought to direct the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs to give notice of termination to the United States. "If adopted, the joint resolution, although victimized by the President's veto power, will become a historic compulsive force that can still gather together the broken pieces of national sovereignty shattered by the infirmity of the political leadership," Santiago said in the measure.


The VFA was signed in February 1998 and was ratified by the Philippine Senate in May 1999. It is not a mutual security agreement but a support deal to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
In August 2010, Santiago also filed a joint resolution calling for the termination of the VFA.  It was never passed and remained pending in the committee. In her first resolution, Santiago said the US does not recognize the VFA as a treaty because its Congress never ratified the agreement, which the Philippine Senate did in 1999.
Defensor-Santiago was supported by Senator Joker Arroyo and Teofisto Guingona III who argued that the country had supposedly not benefited from the agreement.


Gov't policies, politics, inaction delay justice for Maguindanao martyrs 

THE FAMILIES of the 58 victims of the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre are starting to lose hope in the justice system, and the government has only itself to blame.
As we commemorate the third anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre, where 32 journalists and media workers were among the murdered, only two of the eight Ampatuan clan members in jail have been arraigned. Some witnesses have died. Some relatives of the victims have fled their hometowns following receipt of death threats.
In August 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III promised five crucial reforms to help speed up the quest for justice. Among these were improvements to the Witness Protection Program, the formation of quick-response teams to investigate media killings, measures to speed up the pace of the trial, and a review of the Rules of Court to mitigate possible abuse and manipulation.
The problems raised are hardly imaginary. As a Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) study shows, some 100 warlords continue to rule areas in the country that have chalked up the most number of media killings.
Even as fear of reprisals continue to haunt witnesses and plaintiffs in the case, the government of Mr. Aquino and other major political parties in the country have embraced the Ampatuan clan.
At least 72 Ampatuan clan members are candidates in the May 2013 elections, nine of them running under the Liberal Party, and 34 others under the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The big number of candidates from the clan bares an intact financial and power infrastructure. In fact, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) shows that Andal Ampatuan Jr. has managed to sell eight prime properties, an outrage when the government has pledged to forfeit wealth that multiplied many times as the clan consolidated its powers with help from successive administrations that wooed the clan’s formidable voting machine.
Nov. 23 is also the International Day to end Impunity. A Southeast Asian Press Alliance report shows the Philippines, supposedly the region’s most vibrant democracy, remains the most dangerous place for journalists.
A total of 153 journalists have been killed since 1986. Of these, at least 14 had been murdered during the administration of Mr. Aquino. Of the total cases, only 10 cases have won partial convictions. No mastermind has ever been brought to trial.
A survey of all cases of media killings will show that half of the suspects are state actors – policemen, soldiers, and elected officials. The Aquino administration’s embrace of a clan long known for warlordism only highlights how state policy can fuel impunity.
Aside from the killings, Mr. Aquino has consistently exhibited a penchant for proposals to curtail press freedom and freedom of expression.
Despite his avowed pledge to implement “tuwid na daan,” he has reneged on a promise to prioritize the passage of the Freedom of Information bill – an initiative that could help his government fullfil its promise to rid the country of corruption.
What he has supported instead is the patently unconstitutional Cybercrime Prevention Act, a law which grants the state draconian powers to crack down on dissent and critical expression on digital space.
Lately, the President has even mentioned in glowing terms the Right to Reply initiative, which would force the press to hand over its space to the whims of politicians and other powerful individuals and groups seeking to manage the flow of information.
Taken together, the acts of commission and omission by the Aquino administration betray sheer lip service to justice and press freedom, and a dangerous tendency to sacrifice both to the exigencies of power.


Center for Community Journalism and Development
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Philippine Press Institute
University of the Philippines-College of Mass Communication

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Freddie Roach's conqueror, 'Macho' Camacho, dead

Freddie Roach's conqueror, 
'Macho' Camacho, dead

CAMACHO (right) with WBC President Jose Sulaiman Chagnon during the boxer's heydays.

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- The boxer who once beat Manny Pacquiao's coach, Freddie Roach, may not live again.
El Nuevo Dia reported that Hector "Macho" Camacho was brain dead. "Medically, there's nothing to do," said hospital doctor, Ernesto Torres. 
Former world champion Hector "Macho" Camacho was fighting for his life in a San Juan hospital as he struggled to recover from very serious bullet wounds, it was reported. 
Camacho defeated then light welterweight contender Roach, trainer of Manny Pacquiao, by the score of 90-99,  89-99, 90-99 in 10 rounds at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California on December 18, 1985 when Pacquiao was only six years old.
Reports said Puerto Rican Camacho was rushed to the Rio Piedras Medical Center in San Juan last night after a gunman shot him in the face while he was in his car with a friend near a shopping mall in the town of Bayamón.
Torres, the Medical Center's Director said on November 21 morning that Camacho's chances of survival were slim. But explained that doctors can keep him alive with the help of a respiration machine for the next few days to see if the 50-year-old boxer eventually responds to treatment.
Torres said that a bullet aimed at Camacho's face, was deflected by his jaw, and made it's way to the top of the boxer's spinal chord, which means that if Camacho survives he could have trouble walking, or may even be paralyzed.
He added that Camacho suffered a brief heart attack at around 4:15 am local time. "His heart stopped working…we gave him medicines and his heart started pumping again. He has (some cerebral activity) but its very, low," doctor Torres told Puerto Rican Newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
The news of Camacho's shooting has taken over newspaper headlines and TV programs in Puerto Rico, where the retired boxer holds somewhat of a rockstar status.
Born on the island but raised in New York City, Camacho became one of the most popular fighters of the 80s and 90s, winning world titles in the Super Featherweight, Lightweight, and Light Welterweight divisions.
Camacho put up some dominant performances during his long career, in which he won 88 fights, and only lost six.
He knocked out Sugar Ray Leonard, and twice defeated Roberto "Mano de Piedra," Duran, but also lost highly publicized bouts with Julio Cesar Chavez, and Oscar de la Hoya, who defeated Camacho in 1997.
Outside the ring, Camacho became famous for his erratic conduct and for being in trouble with the law. He was arrested as a teenager for getting into street fights. After retirement he was arrested for burglary in Mississippi and earlier this year he was detained in Florida on child abuse charges.
Camacho's fans however, will recall his confidence in the ring, and his wild boxing outfits printed with the colors of the Puerto Rican flag.
In the United States Camacho also stayed in the limelight by participating in "Mira Quien Baila," a Univision show that resembles Dancing with the Stars. Thanks to his charisma, Camacho also made several appearances on the Univision show "El Gordo y La Flaca," where he became the show's unofficial "Mira Quien Baila" critic.
Police in Puerto Rico are still investigating the incidents that led to the shooting of Macho Camacho.
According to Captain Reinaldo Santiago, a detective with Bayamon Police, Camacho and his friend, Alberto Mojica, were parked in front of a local store when an SUV with two gunmen pulled up next to Camacho's Grey Mustang.
Witnesses said a gunman descended from the SUV and shot Camacho and Mojica, who died in the incident.
Police chased the SUV but were not able to detain its occupants. They said they knew little about Mojica, except that he was also a former boxer and a fan of cockfights.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Obama skips Philippines; wary of toxic waste issue?

ALLIES. President Obama and Philippine President Simeon Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Right photo, President Obama shares light moments with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Filipinos are among the minorities in the United States that recently gave President Barack Obama overwhelming support to thwart Gov. Mitt Romney in the November 6 presidential election.
But in his first tour of Asia after securing his reelection, the 51-year-old first African American to hold the top office in White House, skipped the Philippines to prioritize Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia.  
White House did not explain why the United States’ 44th president did not include Philippines, its closest ally in the Asia pacific region, in the tour but assured critics that his landmark trip to Burma (now Myanmar) “was not a premature reward for a long-isolated nation still easing its way toward democracy.”
"This is not an endorsement of the government," Obama said November 18 in Thailand as he opened a three-county dash through Asia. "This is an acknowledgement that there is a process under way inside that country that even a year and a half, two years ago, nobody foresaw."
Was the American president aware of the stimulated environmental issue currently brewing in the Philippine?


Obama’s Asia tour coincided with reports that a US naval ship dumped toxic waste in Subic Bay in Olongapo, Philippines. 
The hazardous waste materials were allegedly dumped by Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a US naval ship service contractor. 
The waste materials were reportedly taken from US naval ships in the area.
The furor prompted Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago to call for termination of the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) “for non-compliance of international norms and customs on the protection and preservation of the environment.”
An expert in constitutional and international law, Defensor- Santiago, in a speech delivered November 16 at the annual convention of the Philippine Academy of Medical Specialists, said she would file a resolution with the Senate directing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary to give notice of termination of the VFA to the US.
“I charge the United States for failing to comply with, and for violating, Philippine law, as well as international norms and customs on the protection and preservation of the environment as these obligations are now codified respectively in articles 192 and 211 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” boomed Defensor-Santiago.


The feisty lady senator stressed that Glenn Defense Marine Asia could be characterized as civilian personnel employed by the United States armed forces under Article I (2) of the VFA.
She explained that “the illegality of Glenn Marine Asia’s acts in toxic dumping ceases to be an individual act but is actually a breach of obligation in international law attributable to its principal, namely, the United States Government. It is thus an act of State.”
Defensor-Santiago added: “The reason why toxic wastes are being dumped in Subic Bay is because of the existence of these US Navy ships; thus, the act of pollution by dumping is within the concern of the VFA. Clearly it is a breach of obligation under Philippine law against pollution from ship.”
“One party will simply notify the other in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement. Just like a bill, this resolution can be vetoed by the President; otherwise, it shall become a law as if he has signed it. But even so, I hope that this resolution will become a historic compulsive force among the Filipino youth, particularly in our universities. I call on students throughout the country to demand that the VFA should be scrapped,” Santiago added.


Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Myanmar with Air Force One touched down in Yangon morning on November 18. 
Obama spent just six hours in the country, and the much-anticipated stop came as the result of a remarkable turnaround in the countries' relationship.
The president's Asia tour also marks his formal return to the world stage after months mired in a bruising re-election campaign, reported AP’s Julie Pace. 
For his first post-election trip, he tellingly settled on Asia, a region he has deemed the region as crucial to U.S. prosperity and security.
Aides say Asia will factor heavily in Obama's second term as the U.S. seeks to expand its influence in an attempt to counter China.


China's rise is also at play in Myanmar, which long has aligned itself with Beijing. 
But some in Myanmar fear that China is taking advantage of its wealth of natural resources, so the country is looking for other partners to help build its nascent economy.
According to Pace, Obama has rewarded Myanmar's rapid adoption of democratic reforms by lifting some economic penalties. 
The president has appointed a permanent ambassador to the country, also known as Burma, and pledged greater investment if Myanmar continues to progress following a half-century of military rule.
But some human rights groups say Myanmar's government, which continues to hold hundreds of political prisoners and is struggling to contain ethnic violence, hasn't done enough to earn a personal visit from Obama.
The largest port of the United States for its naval forces in Southeast Asia was formerly based in Subic Bay.
The military based was closed down in 1992 when the Philippine Senate voted to reject a US request to extend the term of its naval station at Subic and Air Force Base at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga province.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Monday, November 12, 2012

'Valenciana' and 'Sotanghon' in America

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- According to the Best of Filipino Food Recipes, the steps in preparation for "Arroz a la Valenciana" are the following recipe (We start by assembling these supplies):
1 cup cooked malagkit

2 cups cooked rice
1 cup mushroom, sliced
1 cup garbanzos
1 cup gisantes
2 cups fried sliced gluten
1 box spaghetti, cut in pieces and boiled
1 can pimiento, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce plus
1/2 can stock or water
2 tablespoons onions, minced
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons vetsin 6 hard-cooked eggs

Saute oritons in 2 tablespoon oil. Add tomato sauce and pimientos, cook a few minutes, and add mushroom, gluten, garbanzos and peas. Season with salt, vetsin and sage. Mix well and cook 5 minutes, then add rice and spaghetti. Mix very well. Garnish with eggs, pimientos and green onions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Threatening e-mails discover CIA boss' extra-marital affair

Threatening e-mails discover 
CIA boss' extra-marital affair 

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- If she did not send threatening e-mails to another woman believed to be also romantically linked to resigned CIA director David Petraeus, biographer Paula Broadwell’s extra-marital affair with the decorated military general would not be uncovered.
This was the report we have gathered here days after President Barack Obama accepted Petreaus’ resignation.
Heavy writer Neil Prospect confirmed that the investigation they made that uncovered Petraeus' extramarital affair “may have been spurred by Paula Broadwell anonymously sending harassing emails to people close to him. It has now been reported by the Washington Post that Paula Broadwell did indeed send threatening emails to another woman connected to Petraeus.”
Prospect said the woman who received the emails “was so shaken by them that she sought FBI protection. The FBI investigated the emails and tracked them back to Paula Broadwell.”
When Petraeus' name came up, Prospect added, investigators thought his email might have been hacked, but the sexual nature of the emails between Petraeus and Broadwell caused them to discover that, in fact, they were having an affair.
Investigators say that the emails sent by Broadwell to the woman close to Petraeus show that Broadwell perceived the woman as a threat to her relationship with the four-star general and CIA director.


Broadwell is a research associate at Harvard's Center for Public Leadership and a doctoral candidate in the Department of War Studies, King's College, London, according to the Penguin Speakers Bureau, which schedules her appearances, according to the research made by another Heavy writer Sandy Fitzgerald.
Broadwell is a 1995 graduate of the West Point Military Academy with degrees in Political Geography and Systems Engineering, and she has earned a master's degree with honors from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and an MPA degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“Other than where Petraeus is concerned, she's brilliant,” Fitzgerald wrote.  “She could probably kick your ass.”
Fitzgerald addede that Broadwell is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, having graduated in 1995 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. While there, she graduated with academic and leadership honors, but most importantly for this point, she graduated at the top of her class for physical prowess. And she hasn't slacked much during the years since.


She also reportedly enjoys running, skiing, cycling, triathlon, surfing, kayaking, weight lifting and kickboxing. She has lived worked in or traveled in more than 60 countries during her 15 years of military service, including serving with the U.S. Intelligence community, U.S. Special Operations Command and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
While much has been said about the book "All In" being like a "valentine" to the disgraced CIA leader, it's not like Broadwell had an affair with the guy and wrote nice things about him without having a set of highly impressive credentials first, revealed Fitzgerald.
 “She has written for the Kings of War and Foreign Policy’s Best Defense blogs, and she has published op-eds in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and The Boston Globe. She's written chapters in books on counterinsurgency, transformational leadership, and women in defense, and has contributed to national TV networks, BBC radio and National Public Radio on similar topics,” wrote Fitzgerald.
Here’s another facts about Paula, as narrated by Fitzgerald:
Army Corporal David Bixler never got to jump out of a plane when he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan, but instead lost both legs in an explosion in 2010. Thanks to Broadwell, he's got his chance. She was supposed to have gone up for her birthday — ironically, it was today, Nov. 9, while all the big news was coming out — but she donated her jump to Bixler, who jumped on Nov. 2.
Oh, and while the rest of the world was finding out all the dirt on her? She was in Charlotte, meeting Bixler and saying she and her husband would help him find a job when he’s ready.
“He’s so amazingly positive, it just makes you cry,” she said.


Broadwell traveled to Afghanistan to travel with Petraeus and "I got a great perspective of the war through his eyes. That is what I wanted, was the war through the commander's eyes."
But did she get too close? Apparently. She went on runs with him, followed him to battlefield visits and watched how he handled the burden of command. Among other things.
She says her attire made her stand out, not her gender or role as a writer:
“I never felt threatened as a Westerner, nor did I feel that out of place as a female journalist. As you know, many female journalists have covered Afghanistan over the years, and a significant number of women serve in the military ... so I wasn't that much of an anomaly. In the field, however, I was probably more of a curiosity for the children, who rarely saw other women, much less a Western woman, and much less a woman in jeans and Kevlar.”
She Wanted to Bring Attention to Wounded Warriors. “My intention with this tour is to bring attention to ‘Wounded Warriors.' Over half a million soldiers have debilitation post-traumatic stress disorder, and as a society we need to draw attention to that and welcome them back.”
Her husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, is a prominent doctor in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. The couple have two small children.
She's a lot younger than Petraeus and his Wife, Holly. Broadwell just turned 40 years old, but Petraeus is 60 and his wife is of similar age. They've been married for 37 years, or if you want to do the math, for about as long as Broadwell has been alive. Holly's father was the superintendent at West Point when Petraeus graduated.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez split! 

LOS ANGELES, California -- Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are no longer fondue-slinging boyfriend and girlfriend, reported Natalie Finn of the Eonline.
Sorry, it's so. (Of course, this also goes to show that you should never stop Beliebin'. Maybe the Canadian pop superstar can now be yours one day.)
The cute-as-a-button couple broke up about a week ago after close to two years of dating and we obviously can't help but wonder why. (Besides always having to be apart for work, the toughness of a long-distance relationship, being super young, etc.)
Here's a look back, from when Justin and Selena first made the scene to when they went their separate ways:
Justin lends a hand to Hurricane Sandy relief
Jan. 27, 2011: Too cute! Justin and Selena see no No Strings Attached—making people wonder if Selena had to buy the tickets to the rated-R flick because Justin's only 16.
Feb. 8, 2011: "She's one of my best friends," he tells E! News about Gomez at the red-carpet premiere of Never Say Never.
Feb. 27, 2011: After being the subject of much more-than-friends speculation, Justin and Selena go public as a couple at Vanity Fair's annual Oscar party. (Irony alert: They're stuck like glue, while Justin Timberlake and Jessia Biel are noted for their meh body language.)
Ke$ha denies sleeping with Justin Bieber
May 23, 2011:  A day after sharing a kiss on live TV during the Billboard Music Awards, the couple jet off to an undisclosed location for a romantic vacay.
June 2011: Selena meets the Biebers! The duo spend time in Toronto with Justin's mom, dad and siblings.
June 5, 2011: They attend the MTV Movie Awards, before which Selena tells us that she's "really happy" with life, including the part where she's dating Justin Bieber. She admits, however, that the constant media scrutiny, er, coverage is "horrible."
June 10, 2011: Bieber gives up his Stanley Cup finals seats in Vancouver after learning Gomez has been hospitalized with headaches and nausea, proving he's got priorities and they're in order.
June 28, 2011: It's kinda weird that we know this, but Justin and Selena exchanged I-love-yous while shopping at an A|X Armani Exchange in New York.
August 2011: The couple keep going strong in the face of a virulent breakup rumor that caught fire when some guy made a YouTube video ranting about Selena supposedly catching Justin texting his ex, Jasmine Villegas. Then Justin tweeted, "what makes you so beautiful is that you dont know how beautiful you are…to me," further fueling the story that he was trying to make up for something. (Though, in hindsight, he may have been writing a One Direction song.)
Five celeb men talk about their soft sides
August 2011: Artist Daniel Edwards crafts a bronze statue of a nude Bieber and Gomez, calling it "Justin & Selena Forever."
September 2011: Selena performs with "Justin" scrawled on her right wrist—but it's not permanent.
Sept. 23, 2011: After squiring Selena to a Demi Lovato concert, Justin rents out Los Angeles' Staples Center so that they can enjoy a private movie date. They watch Titanic, only the most romantic movie ever—if you like tragically awful endings.
Justin spends time with Belieber who's battling cancer
October 2011: What happens now to Baylor, the adorable puppy they adopted from D'Arcy's Animal Rescue Centre in Winnipeg, Canada? Joint custody?
November 2011: Holding hands and looking cute, they attend the MTV Voices Dinner together in Belfast, as well as the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Nov. 16, 2011: Still a little shaken after a 20-year-old woman accuses Bieber of being the father of her 3-month-old baby, Selena finds herself in the right chair—the one across from Ellen DeGeneres. "Yeah, it's good to just kind of…be good," Gomez acknowledges.
Justin Bieber's laptop mystery: Anatomy of a hoax
Dec. 7, 2011: Justin's rep shoots down engagement rumors after Selena is spotted wearing what appears to be a diamond ring on that finger. Girls can dream (about having Justin place rings on their fingers), can't they?
Dec. 31, 2011: The couple ring in the new year together in New York after performing respective New Year's Eve gigs.
March 1: Bieber turns 18, yay.
Our favorite Canadian celebs—there are many!
March 31: Gomez admits to us on the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards red carpet that "Boyfriend" is a catchy little ditty.
April 17: The PDA-friendly duo catch a Lakers game and share a smooch for the Staples Center kiss cam.
May: Bieber is rumored to have broken up with Gomez via Twitter after writing-then-deleting, "Thank you for the time I had with you but now I have to move on." Aside from the fact that it would have been really poor form, the story was just untrue. An insider noted that the pair hadn't been photographed together for some time because Gomez had been in Bulgaria shooting a movie. Long distance, you know?
Obama defeats...Bieber?
May 27: A photographer claims Bieber got rough with him after he tried to snap a pic of the singer and Gomez at a shopping center in Calabasas. Nothing comes of it, legally.
June: Justin and Selena hit up the VIP room at the West Hollywood hot spot Bootsy Bellows—with Robert Pattinson and Katy Perry!
July 5: They head out for Thai food in the wake of yet another split rumor, this one triggered perhaps because it was a Thursday. Six days later, they're in Tokyo together. Eight days after that, New Zealand!
Taylor Swift dishes on friendship with Selena Gomez
Sept. 8: Selena brings Justin's little sister and brother to the Toronto Film Festival premiere of Hotel Transylvania.
Sept. 18: "She's good for him and they're great together," Bieber's mom, Pattie Mallette, says on Ellen.
Nov. 1: Selena says in the December issue of Glamour (in an interview probably given at least several months beforehand) that she "adores" Justin's fans and respects their fierce loyalty.
Selena gets a neck tattoo
Nov. 8: Victoria's Secret model Barbara Palvin, 19, feels the Beliebers' wrath on Twitter after watching The Lion King on Broadway with Justin. "hey everyone. please calm down. he is all yours!! :) please :)" she tweeted back. Fans of Palvin (and reality) chimed in, too, insisting that the model has a boyfriend and can't be dating the singer.
Nov. 9: E! News exclusively confirms that Justin and Selena have gone their separate ways, with a source telling us it just got too hard for them to maintain a relationshp in light of their equally crazy schedules.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Filipinos can learn from US election

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- It’s not difficult to admire the electoral system of the United States when you are used to witnessing the decrepit system in the Philippines, where the results are usually known after more than a week or even two weeks after the elections.
In the United States, the losers deliver concession speeches gracefully the night of election day, and winners deliver their victory speeches magnanimously thereafter.
When Americans wake up the next morning, they already have inkling about their newly elected officials even before they eat breakfast. 
In the Philippines, concession and victory speeches come only if winners are not accused by their losing rivals of committing electoral fraud. 
When losing bets cry “we wuz robbed” it will take months or even years before the winners are declared officially by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). 
In many cases, the winners get to occupy their elected seats only days before the next election; sometimes they never have a chance to take their oath of office as they are embroiled in a protracted legal skirmish.  
Filipino politicians lose because either they are “victims of fraud” or they suffer from “shortage of campaign funds.”  
Whether there is semblance of truth in the aforementioned allegations, losers in the Philippine elections almost always have alibis to offer; they never ran out of excuses.


In the US presidential race, results are determined by the number of electoral votes from the Electoral College. Since the Electoral College is consist of 538 electors, a majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the president. 
Under the system, a candidate who wins the popular votes can not clinch the presidency. 
If the presidential standard bearer in one political party wins, his vice president also wins automatically. 
Because of the two-party system (Democrat and Republican), results are fast and accurate.
In the Philippines, five or more political parties can field their candidates from president down to the local level as long as they are accredited by the Comelec.
The logjam illustrates how chaotic is the tasks and responsibilities of the poll body in terms of regulating these political parties and disqualifying the so-called nuisance candidates who run as independents.


The multi-party system is being viewed as an aberration in the Philippine electoral system where winners are picked based on popularity votes or the number of votes they can garner from different polling precincts nationwide.  
Some of these well-oiled political parties can also delay the proclamation of certain winners by filing annoying election protests meant to derail if not sabotage the assumption into office of winners.  
In some cases, winners are assassinated to prevent them from occupying their seats.
Beset by tribal and ideological differences, elections in the countryside in most cases are attended by violence and massive irregularities such as vote-buying, coercion, threats, intimidation giving credence to the infamous “guns, goons, and golds” terror tactic employed by influential and moneyed bets.
The electoral process in the United States can be considered as role model for other democratic countries that select their leaders through election worldwide.
By afternoon of the day after the November 6 election, reelected President Barack Obama was already back in White House to assume his second mandate. 
And life goes on for all Americans.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


By Alex P. VIDAL
LOS ANGELES, California -- President Barack Obama made a victory speech in his headquarters in Chicago, IL on November 7, 2012 hours after receiving a congratulatory phone call from Republican rival Gov. Mitt Romney. Here's the complete transcript of that historic speech: 
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
"Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.
"It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
"Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.
"I want to thank every American who participated in this election...
"... whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.
"By the way, we have to fix that.
"Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone...
"... whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.
"I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign.
"We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight.
"In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.
"I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.
"And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago.
"Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation's first lady.
"Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you're growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom.
"And I'm so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog's probably enough.
"To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics...
"The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.
"But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the life-long appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley.
"You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you put in.
"I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else.
"You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity.
"You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.
"You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.
"That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.
"That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
"But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.
"A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
"We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.
"We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this - this world has ever known.
"But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being. We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.
"To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner.
"To the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president - that's the future we hope for. That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go - forward.
"That's where we need to go.
"Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path.
"By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.
"And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.
"Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.
"You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do.
"But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That's the principle we were founded on.
"This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
"What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.
"The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.
"I am hopeful tonight because I've seen the spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.
"I've seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.
"I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.
"And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.
"I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own.
"And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president.
"And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future.
"I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.
"I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
"America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
"I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.
"And together with your help and God's grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.
"Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States."