Monday, November 30, 2020

So’s win over Carlsen eclipses Rockefeller’s $3-M donation

“In life, as in chess, forethought wins.” 

Charles Buxton


By Alex P. Vidal 


BEFORE Filipino-American Grandmaster Wesley So’s (2741) head-turning victory over world chess champion Magnus Carlsen (2881) in the blitz playoff Champions Chess Tour Skilling Open in Cyber Monday (November 30), the world chess community was agog over John D. Rockefeller V’s $3 million donation to the US Chess Federation.

It became the talk of the town, for a while.

But So’s come-from-behind win over Carlsen made sports headlines  and edged the news about Rockefeller V’s gargantuan donation, which became a cover story in Chess Life’s December 2020 issue.

"I have to apologize to Magnus for semi-ruining his birthday!" said So as quoted by Chess24.

The former Philippine Team player, who migrated in the US as a teener and was under the tutelage of former Philippine actress Lotis Key,  clinched 1st place and the $30,000 top prize in the first event on the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour. 

The World Champion's 30th birthday seemed to be going perfectly when he won the 1st game of the day with the black pieces, but 27-year-old So, hit back in Game 2 and survived a wild 3rd game. 

Chess24 reported that “Carlsen repeated his World Championship match trick of taking a quick draw to reach a playoff, but for once he fell short.”

The next event on the tour is reportedly the first major, where everything is doubled—the prize fund is $200,000 prize fund, with up to 100 points available to each player. 

That starts on December 26th, with So, Carlsen, GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, GM Levron Aronian, GM Teimour Radjabov, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Anish Giri already qualified for finishing in the Top 8 in the prelims. 

They'll be joined by GM David Anton, who was voted back in, and three more players, to be announced in the coming weeks.




Rockefeller’s largesse was hailed as a “transformative gift that creates four new events and enhances existing ones” even as the United States Chess Federation (US Chess) announced that the donation was “the largest single gift ever presented to US Chess in our 81-year history.”

“It is impossible to overstate the importance to US Chess of Rockefeller’s unprecedented generosity and his vote of confidence in the future of our organization,” ChessBase reported. 

According to ChessBase’s press release, “The donation creates four events, enhances three existing events, renames one, adds to the scholarship funds for the scholastic events, and creates a book fund to further strengthen the invitationals.” 

The endowments ensure the tournaments will reportedly be run and the funds will be awarded in perpetuity.

This all directly speaks to their educational mission to "empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess."

John D. Rockefeller Sr. established the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913. Ever since, the Rockefeller family has embraced this legacy.

"Using wealth to shape the future is something Rockefellers have done for a long time. Starting in August of 2019, but especially during the first two months of COVID-19 in America, I decided it was time for me to do my part to continue the family legacy. I’ve never done anything approaching this scale of giving," Rockefeller V explained.




US Chess Executive Carol Meyer said, "John’s enthusiasm for scholastic chess is virtually unmatched. He is an unwavering optimist, believing in the transformative power of the game to improve the lives of young players through competition, study, and friendships.  US Chess and our community are grateful for his leadership giving and vision, which will extend invitational chess tournaments to more players across the various ages of membership."

The US Chess Federation (US Chess) is the official governing body and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for chess players and chess supporters in the United States. 

Its mission is to empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess. 

Its vision is that chess is recognized as an essential tool that is inclusive, benefits education and rehabilitation, and promotes recreation and friendly competition.

US Chess represents the United States in the World Chess Federation (FIDE), connecting our members to chess players around the world. Founded in 1939 with the merger of the American Chess Federation and the National Chess Federation, US Chess has grown to serve over 97,000 members by March 2020 and 2,000 affiliated chess clubs and organizations today.

Every year, US Chess sanctions and rates over 10,000 tournaments and over half a million games. 

It hosts over 25 National Championships and award titles to both amateurs and professionals, ranging from elementary school students to senior citizens.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, is a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)






Sunday, November 29, 2020

Why Filipinos need to focus on Georgia run-off

“Voter fraud is almost non-existent. People don't just show up on election day, trying to impersonate other people.”

Nina Turner


By Alex P. Vidal


SOME Filipinos with relatives and friends intending to avail of the Biden-Harris incoming administration’s “comprehensive immigration reforms” are hoping—and, perhaps, praying—that Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock will win the Georgia senate race run-off election on January 5.

Both Ossoff and Warnock are Democratic challengers respectively against incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Republicans currently are in control of the U.S. Senate, 50-48, after the November 3 election. 

A win by Ossoff and Warnock will make it 50-50. 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will sit as the Senate President and Presiding Officer, can break any deadlock in crucial legislative impasse. 

“Sana sila (Ossoff and Warnock) na ang manalo para tuloy-tuloy at walang hadlang ang mga legislative agenda ni (President-elect Joseph) Biden,“ quipped Erlinda, 66, a gynecologist in Cagayan de Oro City, who is now a caregiver in New Haven, Connecticut.

Erlinda’s younger sister, Rhodora, 58, a retired teacher, is looking forward to avail of Mr. Biden’s immigration reforms, one of the centerpiece programs of his candidacy in the recent U.S. Presidential Election.

Rhodora, now a nanny in Bridgeport, Connecticut, left her three children in Cagayan de Oro City in 2005 and overstayed her tourist visa while in Burbank, California. 




Rhodora has been “religiously paying her taxes,” Erlinda said even if her younger sister did not have a social security number (SSN).

As a tax payer, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Rhodora with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get an SSN. 

It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number "9", formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).

ITIN can be used along with an unexpired passport to open a bank account.

Erlinda, a U.S. citizen, wants Rhodora to avail of the Biden administration’s “amnesty” and vowed to help pay for her sister’s legal fees.

Jason, 46, a nursing assistant at Montefiore St. Luke's Cornwall, said Rebecca, 44, his friend and town mate in Dumaguete City in the Philippines, also doesn’t have a legal status but has been working as a  food server in a Filipino restaurant in Hackensack, New Jersey.

“I want to help her. She hasn’t seen her only son in Negros for almost 15 years now. We are also looking forward for a Democrats victory in Georgia so that Biden’s immigration reform agenda will pass smoothly,” said Jason, an active organizer of an LGBT organization in Passaic, New Jersey.  




Armando, 54, of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, has been working “under the table” as a private caregiver and in various home care facilities in Lake Forest, California since 2008. 

A former member of Lion’s Club, he toured the U.S. in 2008 and did not go back to the Philippines.

Armando worked as a chef in a bakeshop in Brooklyn as of February 2020, but lost the job during the lockdown caused by the pandemic. 

“I want to go home before I reach 60,” he vowed. “I hope Biden can help me (with my immigration papers).”

Republicans and Democrats are searching the state of Georgia for new voters, although CBS News exit polling of the general election suggests neither party has much room to grow outside of their bases before the January runoffs. 

Time is short, with little over two weeks before early voting begins. 

One race pits Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Warnock and the other has Republican David Perdue defending his seat against Ossoff.




The runoff elections will determine which party has a majority in the U.S. Senate. 

Democrats need to win both seats to split control of the chamber 50-50. The vice president (Democrat Kamala Harris beginning in January 2021) casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate. 

Republicans only need to win one seat to maintain their majority.

National Republicans frame the fight over Senate control as a fight against socialism in America. 

Democrats say the incoming Biden administration needs a Democratic Senate majority to make progress on immigration, healthcare and pandemic recovery.

Georgia's last Democratic senator, Zell Miller, left office in 2005. Republicans have had a trifecta in the state—holding the governor's office and controlling both chambers of the state legislature—since 2004. 

And Republicans have had a triplex—holding the offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—since 2011.

Georgia's legislature passed a law in the 1960s requiring runoffs for general elections in which no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

The top two finishers in the general election advance to the runoff. Runoff elections are required for all congressional, state executive, and state legislative elections in which a candidate does not receive a majority in the general election.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, is a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Pinoys among those facing eviction if stimulus isn’t OK’d

 “Housing is absolutely essential to human flourishing. Without stable shelter, it all falls apart.”

Matthew Desmond


By Alex P. Vidal


ON December 31, 2020, Veronica, 77, a semi-retired pastor and former worker in the United Nations in Manhattan, and her son, Jaime, 51, are among the 6.7 million Americans who could be evicted from their apartments when the federal eviction moratorium ends.

Mother and son, both from Pampanga in the Philippines, have been living in New York City for 40 years, and are on the brink of losing their housing if Congress will not pass the second coronavirus relief package soon.

“Marami na kaming kinontak dito sa lugar ninyo (Elmhurst) just in case ma evict kami maghahanap na lang kami ng malipatan dito (We plan to transfer here in Elmhurst just in case we will be evicted. We have started to contact some people here),” opined Veronica, who sat near the Elmhurst’s Broadway-Whitney bus stop waiting for Jaime who “met with his friends” in the neighborhood.  

PASTOR VERONICA (in my background)
Lawmakers could still pass a scaled-down stimulus bill when they return to Washington, D.C. on November 30, but most economists believe it's unlikely to match the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law in March and provided $1,200 checks to most Americans.




Democrats and Republicans reportedly remain far apart on several key issues, such as providing hundreds of billions in funding for states and cities that have been hit by declining tax revenues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Like Veronica and Jaime, 67-year-old Teodoro has also started to look for a possible relocation in Queens if the December 31 deadline beckons and no relief assistance will come soon. 

Doon na muna kami sa dati kong apartment if matuloy ang eviction (We will transfer to our old apartment if the eviction will take place),” said Teodoro, born in Marilao, Bulacan in the Philippines. 

Teodoro, a retired worker at La Guardia Airport, lives with his “sickly” wife in Woodhaven.

“I take the 53 bus to come here to look for our old apartment,” he said.

That would approach the number of people who lost their homes to foreclosure during the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the University of Arizona.

Even if Congress passes an aid bill early next month, it could take weeks for the IRS to electronically deposit the funds into people's bank accounts, much less mail out millions of paper checks, the CBS News reported. 

It reportedly took between one and three months for most Americans to get their so-called Economic Impact Payment after the bill was signed into law this spring.

“That would leave many households and businesses hanging, with millions set to lose their unemployment benefits by year-end and nationwide eviction moratoriums lapsing in the new year,” said the CBS New report.

“The number of Americans applying for jobless aid rose for the second week in a row, a sign that the economic recovery is losing speed.”





House Democrats had passed an updated Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus and Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act on October 1, but the $2.2 trillion bill ran into opposition from Republican lawmakers. 

Among the main disagreements: Whether the federal government should help cash-strapped cities and states weather the massive economic blow caused by the pandemic. The crisis could cause a $434 billion federal budget shortfall through 2022 under the most severe scenario, which would include a resurgence in the virus and a lack of more stimulus aid, according to Moody's Analytics.

The HEROES Act would have provided more than $400 billion in funding for state and local governments, but Republicans took issue with that aid, including President Donald Trump, who has objected to what he calls "bailouts" for states helmed by Democrats. 

“But the fact is many Republican-helmed states and cities are facing budget shortfalls as well, including Ohio and Texas, with the latter staring into a $4.6 billion budget hole,” observed Aimee Picchi.

Democrats and Republicans also remain far apart on the issue of unemployment aid, with Democrats pushing for a renewal of the extra $600 in weekly pay provided under the CARES Act.

Republicans have argued that enhanced jobless benefits are too generous and dissuade people from returning to work, despite a lack of economic data that supports the contention.

More than a dozen New York City nonprofits currently have contracts to provide supportive housing for homeless or unstably housed individuals who have mental/psychiatric disabilities or are high-cost Medicaid users. 

The criteria to live in these apartments varies based on the government agency funding them.

Affordable housing has income and credit requirements and it is for various income ranges. 

Applications are picked through a lottery system. 

When an applicant is chosen through the lottery, they have made it to the next step of the process and have to go to an interview to submit required documents. 

Being picked for an interview does not guarantee an apartment.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, is a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)




Thursday, November 26, 2020

Emails I receive from Trump asking money

“People live too much of their lives on email or the Internet or text messages these days. We're losing all of our communication skills.”

Tracy Morgan


By Alex P. Vidal


THREE weeks after the November 3 U.S. Presidential Election, I continued to receive emails from “President Donald Trump” and members of his family, including “Vice President Mike Pence”, asking me to donate funds for the “Election Defense Task Force.”

President Trump has refused to accept defeat and apparently plans to drag his electoral protest all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Months before the election won by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., 306-232, the Trump-Pence campaign sent multiple e-mails regularly, asking the recipients to vote for the Trump-Pence tandem and dump the Democratic Party led by Mr. Biden and then Senator and now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Many of the emails contained vitriols and attacks against the Biden-Harris tandem and the entire Democratic Party.      

I am among the recipients of the emails.

Almost everyday after the media networks have called Mr. Biden as the winner in the Electoral College and popularity votes, the Trump campaign emails continued to pour endlessly.  




On November 26, “President Trump” sent this email: “Friend, Despite the Left’s attempts to undermine this Election, I will NEVER stop fighting for YOU.

“My Administration is achieving things no one thought possible - the stock market is up BIG, the coronavirus vaccine is underway and will be completed safely very soon.

“We are accomplishing so much, which is even more reason to step up and DEFEND THE ELECTION! We cannot let the Democrats STEAL this Election from your all-time favorite President. They’ll DESTROY everything we’ve worked so hard for. 

“I’m calling on YOU to FIGHT BACK. We need to bolster our critical Election Defense Fund if we’re going to keep going. We can’t do this without you.

“Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to the Official Election Defense Fund and you can increase your impact by 1000%.”

Also on November 26, “Vice President Pence” sent this email: “Friend, Every single LEGAL vote must be counted in this Election.

“Our democracy and freedom is at risk like never before, which is why I’m reaching out to you now with an URGENT request.

“President Trump and I need our STRONGEST supporters, like YOU, to join the Election Defense Task Force. This group will be responsible for DEFENDING the Election from voter fraud, and we really need you to step up to the front lines of this battle.

“What we do TODAY might possibly impact our Election for DECADES to come. Don’t let your Country down.

“Please contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to join the Election Defense Task Force and to increase your impact by 1000%.”




On November 24, President Trump sent this email:

“Friend, Despite the Left’s attempts to undermine this Election, I will NEVER stop fighting for YOU.

“My Administration is achieving things no one thought possible - the stock market is up BIG, the coronavirus vaccine is underway and will be completed safely very soon.

“We are accomplishing so much, which is even more reason to step up and DEFEND THE ELECTION! We cannot let the Democrats STEAL this Election from your all-time favorite President. They’ll DESTROY everything we’ve worked so hard for. 

“I’m calling on YOU to FIGHT BACK. We need to bolster our critical Election Defense Fund if we’re going to keep going. We can’t do this without you.

“Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to the Official Election Defense Fund and you can increase your impact by 1000%.”

From “Lara Trump”, November 23: “Friend, I’ve never seen anything like this before.

“Right now, as you read this email, millions of Americans across the Nation are coming together to show their support for OUR President and his FIGHT to DEFEND the Election.

“It’s clear the American People stand with President Trump - no matter what the Fake News media says - and it’s up to us to take action and SAVE AMERICA from the Left.

“It is time for EVERY PATRIOT, like YOU, to step up and DEMAND that every single LEGAL vote is counted. We cannot allow the Democrats to undermine the Election and try to STEAL the White House.

“The President has legal teams in each critical state that are working around the clock to ensure a fair and transparent Election. All he needs now is YOU.

“Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to stand with President Trump against the Radical Left.”




From “President Trump”, November 24: “Friend, The Fake News media is NEGLECTING to report serious evidence of voting irregularities, but we, the American People, will not be intimidated.

“As usual, the LYING, BIASED media would rather help the Left succeed at all costs instead of doing their jobs as JOURNALISTS to tell the FACTS. It’s pathetic.

“President Trump can’t fight them off alone. He needs his STRONGEST allies, like YOU, to step up and break through the Fake News filter.

“We are going to prove that President Trump won by a landslide and we are going to reclaim the United States of America for the People who voted for freedom.

“Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to DEFEND the Election from the Radical Left and you can increase your impact by 1000%.”




From “Eric Trump”, November 24:

“Friend, Make no mistake, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and their allies in the Fake News media are trying to steal this Election. Why else would they fight so hard against signature verification on the ballots? CHECK THE BALLOTS!

“Biden couldn’t get 10 people to a rally and went days without leaving his house, while my father received 11 MILLION more votes THIS YEAR than he did in 2016. We need to make sure every legal vote is counted and that’s why your support is so critical.

“The truth is, we’re pacing behind our Election Defense Fund goal. We need all hands on deck if we’re going to FIGHT BACK AND WIN, which is why I’m reaching out to ask for your help.

“Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to support the Official Election Defense Fund and you can increase your impact by 1000%.”

From “Trump Donor Record”, November 24:

“Friend, Did you see the President’s email?

“We pulled the records of his most LOYAL supporters - the ones who have been there for him no matter what. Unfortunately, your donor record showed up in the BOTTOM 1% of all Trump Supporters.

“President Trump REALLY needs you right now. Why haven’t you stepped up?

“The truth is, we are pacing BEHIND our Election Defense Fund Goal. If we don’t do something quick, we risk LOSING America to BIG GOVERNMENT SOCIALISTS.

“If every supporter took action and contributed TODAY, we’d be back on track and would have what it takes to SAVE AMERICA from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

“Please make your FIRST EVER contribution of $10 or more by 11:59 PM TONIGHT to the Official Election Defense Fund and to help President Trump SAVE AMERICA.”

Although I have read some of the these emails, I don’t necessarily agree with all their contents; I haven’t contributed a single dollar or the amount being asked because I am not convinced that the election was rigged as alleged.

I am preserving them for “souvenir” and for record purposes as part of my coverage of the U.S. Presidential Election 2020.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, is a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)




Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Don’t humiliate a woman political rival

“Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in.”

— Mary Wollstonecraft


By Alex P. Vidal


IT’S not nice for a man to use the social media to attack or even think of attacking a woman. 

It’s not good for a frustrated politician to always badmouth and humiliate a neophyte member of the House of Representatives, who is a potential rival in the next election. 

Even in imagination, a man should never hurt a woman emotionally and physically.

If you want to know a man, listen to the language he uses to describe a member of the opposite sex after he has been jilted by the latter, or for being a “stumbling block” in his sagging political career.

Also, it’s not pleasant to admit hurting a woman physically especially if she is a lover or former lover, a wife or former wife. 

It’s not wise to wash your dirty linens in public and to kiss and tell after the neophyte politician has “eclipsed” the male politician’s political success. 

Especially if you are having or had emotional attachment with her. Especially if you are having or had sexual liaison with her; if you benefited a lot from her concerning your carnal needs and fleshly desires.




She shouldn’t be called a “slut” or “maniac” to justify dumping her like a waste so his macho tormentor can tarry-hoot with the next nymphet.

It’s not good to be a misogynist. 

Like envy and irrational jealousy, it’s an aberration of the mind.

A woman is a special creation of God. 

She represents the image of our mother, sister, girlfriend, wife or partner in life.

We have the Blessed Virgin Mary as the symbol of purity, the epitome of piety and righteousness, the mother of Jesus Christ.

Without a woman, no one could biologically bring us here in this material world.

She labored hard, sacrificed a lot, and carried us on her womb for nine months. She feeds us. She gives us life. She sings for our joy and benefit.

No woman should be ridiculed or put to shame because of her sexual experiences or desires even if she is a criminal or enemy of the most powerful man in the universe.

After all, we are all sinners. In fact, many of us have committed more sins than her.

Magdalene, Cleopatra, Madame Bovary, Lady Chatterley, Princess Diana, Kris Aquino had their own share of infamy in the department of lechery.

They, too, had been slandered and persecuted. 

But men of antiquity and modern times treated them with respect and adulation because they are women–and because of the great things they contributed for mankind.




Like men, women also fall in love with passion. 

They, too, have emotions. 

They also fail and get frustrated and hurt. 

When they fall for men, they give their best; they give it all.

If some of them happen to be naive they become susceptible to exploitation and abuse–and sometimes end up as sex slaves, if not tortured and murdered.

Women in general are loving and decent human beings. 

God intended to give them a special role in society, and they should enjoy equal rights, privileges, and happiness with men.

Let’s hear it from Barbra Streisand: “I am a woman in love and I do anything to get you into my world and hold you within. It’s a right I defend ever and over again. What do I do?”

To fall in love, to enjoy a satisfying sex life, to live with dignity and respect, to practice freedom of choice, is the right that every woman should fight and defend in a masochistic society governed by some do-gooder and hypocrite congressmen. 

(The author, who is now based in New York City, is a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Alex P. Vidal Quotes


‘Rumor’ is different from ‘fake news’

“Fake news and rumors thrive online because few verify what's real and always bias towards content that reinforces their own biases.”

Ryan Higa


By Alex P. Vidal


IT is believed that made-up facts and boastful dissimulators have been with us for hundreds of years. 

But do we know our taradiddlers from our ultracrepidarians?

Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Mangilimutan of La Castellana, Negros Occidental is only one of the many public officials in the Philippines and in the United States who have been “misusing” the much-abused words “fake news.”

On November 24, the lady mayor reacted to the “rumor” that she had been suspended for 90 days.

She belied it and reportedly called the rumor as “fake news.”

“I continue to dispose of my duties and responsibilities as chief executive of this town,” insisted Mangilimutan as reported by veteran Negros journalist Dolly Yasa.

The mayor added: “Granting that my opponents filed a case, it will undergo a process, until then it remains hearsay.”

She continued to sign documents including their payroll, the mayor disclosed, blaming her political detractors as the ones behind the “suspension rumors,” added Yasa’s report.

The mayor apparently learned about the rumor from municipal employees she didn’t immediately identify. 




If it did not come from an official source and no one came forward to own it as the author, it definitely was a plain and simple rumor.

A rumor can’t be “fake news.”

Rumor is a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth. It is circulated as an unverified account.

Fake or bogus is something that isn’t genuine.

News is a newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.

If the source of the false suspension order came from the media and was simultaneously reported in the print, television, radio, and news websites or the Internet, it becomes “fake news.”

The now familiar words “fake news” have been habitually spoken with conventional monotony so many times in the past every time someone (in most cases disgruntled politicians) reacted to a negative story about him.




Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump are among the prominent politicians in this generation who have verbalized “fake news” with utmost cogency and intensity to undermine the critical press. 

We have also heard with rapid succession many politicians corrosively using “fake news” as a defense mechanism or to refer to a doubtful report or half-truths and dishonesty during the election period.

Even the social media giants have adopted contrasting approaches to the problem of dishonest campaigning. 

In the recent US election, for instance, Twitter banned political advertisements altogether, while Facebook serenely allowed them to spread falsehoods and even threats of murder.

“Indeed, it is often supposed that the age of Trump and Brexit heralds something new: the political supremacy of the lie absolute, the cynical fabrication, the bot-netted virality of fake news,” reported UK’s The Guardian in an article entitled, “Before Trump: the real history of fake news.”

“But old words buried in the geological strata of the English language tell quite the opposite story, that made-up facts and boastful dissimulators have always been with us. To unearth and polish these fossils may act as some small consolation, while providing resources for expressive resistance to the ongoing omnishambles.

The age of post-truth, indeed, stretches as far back as we care to look, there never having been a golden age of transparency. 

The ubiquity of fake news and scientific misinformation reportedly was already a serious problem for leading thinkers of the Renaissance.

Meanwhile, the mayor doesn’t intend to name her supposed political detractors who authored the rumor saying she will only pray for them.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, was a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)






Monday, November 23, 2020

Why Duterte won’t suffer Trump’s fate

“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.”

James Freeman Clarke


By Alex P. Vidal


THE answer is very obvious: President Rodrigo R. Duterte can’t run for reelection under the constitution. 

Elected in 2016, he’ll have to vacate Malacanang in 2022 (unless, of course, “unforeseen” events will interfere). 

Philippine presidents have fixed six-year terms while U.S. presidents govern for four years and can seek a reelection for another four years.

Could Mr. Duterte, who allegedly enjoyed a 91 percent public approval in the most recent survey, suffer Mr. Trump’s fate if he was allowed to run for reelection?

It depends. 

The No. 1 reason put forward by election experts in America why 74-year-old Trump was trounced by 78-year-old President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was his poor handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

If COVID-19 was a central issue in the Philippines and Mr. Duterte played it down or refused to acknowledge it wreaked havoc on the lives of the Filipinos (or, like Mr. Trump, denied science, rejected the suggestions of health authorities and refused to wear a mask), he might be “fired” (as Mr. Trump’s nemesis would always say after the November 3 election) by the Filipino voters assuming he could or was running for reelection.




As of this writing, there were 12,306,023 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from health officials. (Or 504,004 more than November 20 morning.)

There were 257,692 deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (Or 4,059 more than November 20 morning.)

The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project was 179.34 million as of this writing.

Mr. Biden’s popular-vote lead over Mr. Trump stands at four percentage points, 51 percent to 47 percent—and it’s only going to grow once more of New York’s votes (finally) get counted, according to the NBC news.

This would give Mr. Biden the second-largest popular vote margin out of the 21st century’s six presidential elections, with only former President Barack Obama’s seven-point win in 2008 being greater, according to NBC news analysts Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg.




When it comes to the Electoral College, the tally stands at Mr. Biden 306, Trump 232–which happens to be the exact same split as Mr. Trump’s 2016 win versus former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (but in reverse). 

And Mr. Trump referred to that as a “massive landslide victory.”

Mr. Biden’s ahead by 154,000 votes in Michigan (greater than Mr. Trump’s 10,000-vote winning margin there in 2016).

The President-elect is ahead by 81,000 votes in Pennsylvania (nearly twice Mr. Trump’s 44,000-vote win there four years ago).

And Mr. Biden is ahead by more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin (almost the same as Mr. Trump’s 23,000-vote victory there in 2016).

On top of those leads, Mr. Biden also narrowly flipped the traditionally GOP-leanings states of Arizona and Georgia.

The 2020 presidential race reportedly looked close the 12 hours after the first polling places closed on Election Night.

As of this writing Mr. Biden’s lead in the popular vote was 6,026,117.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, was a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)








Sunday, November 22, 2020

We differ in taste

“All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting.”  



By Alex P. Vidal


HOW do we differentiate a bad taste from a good taste? Who determines whether my taste, your taste, their taste is better?

That people differ in their tastes is itself an indisputable fact. 

It is also true that there is no point in arguing with a man about what he likes or dislikes. 

But it is still quite possible to tell a man that he has poor taste and that what he likes is in itself not excellent or beautiful. Here there is plenty of room for argument.

Those who say there is no disputing about tastes usually mean more than they say. 

In our judgment they are wrong not in what they say but in what they mean. 

They start from the fact that people differ in taste, in what they like and dislike, and conclude that that is all there is to it.

They conclude, in other words, that in talking about works of art of things of beauty, the only opinions which people can express must take the familiar form of “I don’t know whether it’s beautiful or not, but I know what I like.”




This conclusion makes beauty entirely subjective or, as the saying goes, entirely a matter of individual taste. 

People sometimes take the same position about truth and goodness. The truth, they say, is merely what seems true to me.

The good is merely what I regard as desirable. They thus reduce truth and goodness to matters of taste about which there can be no argument.

Let us illustrate the mistake they make. If a man says to us, “That object looks red to me,” we would be foolish to argue with him about how it looks. 

The fact that it looks gray to us has no bearing on how it looks to him.

Nevertheless, we may be able to show him that he is deceived by the reddish glow from a light shining on the object and that, in fact, the object is gray, not red. 

Even after we have proved this to him by physical tests, the object may still look red to him, but he will be able to recognize the difference between the appearance and the reality.




This simple illustration shows that while there is no point in arguing about how things look, there is good reason to argue about what things are.

Similarly, if a person insists upon telling us what he likes or dislikes in works of art, he is expressing purely subjective opinions which cannot be disputed. 

But good critics try to express objective judgments about the excellence or defects of a work itself. 

They are talking about the object, not about themselves.

Most of us know the difference between good and bad workmanship. 

If we hire a carpenter to make a table for us and he does a bad job, we point out to him that the table is unsteady or that its legs are too light for the weight of the top. 

What is true of carpentry is true of all the other arts. 

Like tables, works of fine art can be well made or poorly made. 

Well-made things have certain objective qualities which can be recognized by those who know what is involved in good or bad workmanship in the particular field of art.

To recognize excellence in a piece of music, one must have some knowledge of the art of composing music. 

If a man lacks such knowledge, of course, all he can say is that he likes or dislikes the music. 

The man who insists that that is all he or anyone else can say is simply confessing his own ignorance about music. 

He can go expressing his likes and dislikes in music, but he should not, in his ignorance, deny others the right to make objective judgments based on knowledge he does not have.




The question to ask anyone who insists that the beauty in works of art is entirely a matter of personal taste is whether some people have better taste than others. 

Do some men have good taste and others quite bad taste? 

Is it possible for a person to improve his taste?

An affirmative answer to these questions amounts to an admission that there are objective standards for making critical judgments about works of art. 

Having good taste consists in preferring that which is objectively more excellent. 

Acquiring good taste in some field of art depends on acquiring knowledge about the art and learning to recognize excellence in workmanship.

If there were no objective differences which made works of art more or less beautiful, it would be impossible to say that anyone has good or bad taste or that it is worth making a great effort to improve one’s taste. 

(The author, who is now based in New York City, was a former editor of two dailies in Iloilo, Philippines)