Monday, August 30, 2021

‘Am I that easy to forget?’

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

—John F. Kennedy

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

I WAS on my way to the Main Street in Flushing, Queens on board an elevated 7 Train August 30 midday when I decided to drop by at the Mets/Willets Point Station, where most passengers disembarked to watch the 2021 U.S. Open opening day matches.

I took advantage of the open gate and entered via the boardwalk leading to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens. 

If I decide to comeback to the platform and wait for the next train to the Main Street (the trip’s final destination) after the visit to the U.S. Open, I would just walk in using the same (open) gate, I told myself.


In the U.S. Open entrance, I saw most of the tennis fans flocking to the first in-person U.S. Open in two years being forced to endure hours-long leading to “completely chaotic” and dangerous crowding outside the stadium.

The full capacity tournament drew thousands of visitors who were mostly Caucasians from Europe (based on their dialects), Canada and the host United States despite the pandemic.

 

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But while the event was slated to begin at 11 a.m., many fans complained they were forced to wait outside for close to two hour—keeping them from some of the early matches and leaving attendees at risk of heat-related illness as confirmed by the Gothamist.

A Greenpoint resident who previously worked at the U.S. Open and has been coming to the tournament for more than two decades, told the Gotamist the lines and confusion were unprecedented.

“It was out of control,” said Jessica Pearson. “There was no crowd control from the stadium all the way back to the subway.”

The U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement the delays were primarily caused by fans bringing an “inordinate number of bags this year.” 

The USTA also said that patrons had arrived at the gates earlier than usual. "Previously, the number of patrons arriving to the grounds prior to 11 a.m. averaged approximately 10,000," the group said. "This year, the number arriving prior to 11 a.m. was only 3,000."

Others speculated that a last-minute decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations at the tournament was to blame. 

 

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The USTA announced the mandate on August 27, after facing criticism for their original plan not to require vaccines or masks.

Pearson said the hold-up seemed at least in part due to broken metal detectors and a lack of staff. However, the association denied that vaccination requirement was a factor.

“The slow down seems to be centered on the Bag Check area,” the USTA statement noted. “The process to check proof of vaccination seems to be working smoothly and is not a major contributor hampering entrance to the site.

At some points, the Gotahmist said the queue appeared to severely clog parts of the Mets-Willets Point subway station. “Worst line in US Open history,” wrote one attendee. “I was in the 7 train tunnel.”

The bottleneck appeared to clear by around 2 p.m., just in time for fans to catch Andy Murray and his reassembled hip take on the third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

At 7 p.m., Naomi Osaka—winner of the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Opens—was playing Marie Bouzkova.

 

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Meanwhile, when I returned to the open gate leading back to the train platform, a burly male Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) staff blocked my way as the two New York Police Department (NYPD) cops standing nearby watched.

“Where’s your (subway train) ticket, sir?” the MTA staff, a look-alike of Wesley Snipes, hollered followed by three steps backward (I thought his action was overacting because I wore a mask).

“I was here a while ago. I only disembarked from the train just to take some photos in the U.S. Open,” I nicely retorted. “I’m back to resume my trip to the Main Street.”

He backpedalled once more like Floyd Mayweather Jr. dodging a Manny Pacquiao wallop. Another OA acrobatic because, I must insist, I wore a mask.

“You saw me a while ago when I left the train and approached this (open) gate,” I added, smiling. “Am I that easy to forget, sir?” 

Mr. “Wesley Snipes” then pointed to the platform inside the gate and loudly mandated, “Go, get inside!”

I thanked him nevertheless for not letting me spend another $2.75 for the train fare.

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

 

Duterte uses aide Go to confuse enemies

 “Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.”

Stephen Moyer

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

IT is now becoming obvious that President Rodrigo Duterte has been using his aide, Senator Bong Go, to confuse his political rivals and, perhaps, the Filipino people.

Mr. Duterte has been floating the idea since early this year that his most trusted sidekick, whose background remains to be a mystery to many Filipinos as of today, will run for president in the May 2022 election.

The President even hinted recently he was willing to run for vice president if his aide will run for president.

And Go appears to be enjoying and cooperating in the biggest pre-election zarzuela meant ostensibly to retain Mr. Duterte into power beyond 2022. 

Ditto with the President’s acolytes in the PDP-Laban—although he has been replaced as chairman by Senator Koko Pimentel, son of the legendary and party founder, the late and real maverick former Senator Nene Pimentel.

To compound the drama, Go was reported to have “rejected” PDP-Laban’s supposed endorsement for him to run for president.

To further put a flummox on the people’s thinking, they made it appear there’s a simmering animosity between father and daughter, Davao City mayor Sara-Carpio, who is actually the family’s best choice to succeed her father for presidency.

It will not be surprising though if the President will pick somebody who has no solid and credible background in political leadership to succeed him. 

After all, it was rumored that Emperor Caligula appointed his horse consul or senator.

 

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But even the most illiterate person in the neighborhood knows Mr. Duterte really intends to endorse his own daughter, founder and will be the official candidate for president of the Mindanao-based Hugpong Ng Pagbabago Party.

And they are using Go to divert the attention of all and sundry.

There is even more than meets the eye in Mr. Duterte’s recent “confirmation” that he would run for vice president even as it bolstered suspicions they were, in fact, endorsing former senator Bongbong Marcos as standard bearer.

To confuse an enemy is a major stratagem in any warfare so they do not know which way to turn and will not expect what you do next.

When the rivals are confused they hesitate, wondering what will happen and what they should do.

Hesitation can be fatal in political battle when it hands the enemy the initiative, giving them first strike or the choice of the next move.

Hesitation by rivals has a devastating amongst conscripts who assume that if rivals are not sure what is going on then their doom is assured.

Confusion is invoked when rivals of the Dutertes expect a particular thing to happen and then something else happens instead. 

This includes nothing happening when, for example, an attack or changing of squad was expected.

Confusion may also be invoked by acting unpredictably. 

The enemy will always be trying to second-guess, typically by studying your past moves. 

If you deliberately break past patterns then their predictions will be wrong and their counter-moves counter-productive.

 

-o0o-

 

WE have Filipino US Open champions in chess and billiards but not yet in tennis.

But I have good reason to continue patronizing the 2021 US Open despite the pandemic: the venue is 15 minutes away by walk from where I live, and there will be a partial glimpse of what may follow this golden era will be on display at the U.S. Open, which gets underway without Roger Federer, 40, or Rafael Nadal, 35, who both announced they won’t compete again in 2021 as they address lingering injuries.

The first day at the US Open has a special aura of newness and even revival for players and fans alike like American baseball’s opening day, as reported by Richard Finn.

It is when hope springs eternal for all. On this day, everything and anything is possible. 

The past means nothing and only the present counts. 

Previous wins and losses, resumes rife with titles, none of that matters. All 128 men's and 128 women's singles competitors start the tournament at the exact same place, all with one goal and dream—to win seven matches and be crowned US Open champion.

Opening Day at the Open is likewise a bonanza for fans. It’s like lifting up the lid of a treasure chest, not knowing what delightful treasures are inside.

Walk around USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and your eyes won't know which way to look. It’s like your head is on a swivel and your mind is on overload trying to keep up with the action, as world-class players are competing on every court. 

Established stars and those trying to make a name for themselves all share the Opening Day stage.

And despite the throng of fans and the scope of the grounds, there is an intimacy between the fans and players that is truly unique. 

Everyone gets wrapped up in the thrill of getting the season’s final Slam underway. On the outside courts, fans can see the sweat on the faces of the players, hear their exhortations, and marvel at their speed, strength and skills.

Most certainly, every day at the US Open is special, but Opening Day takes “special” to another level. 

It is a celebration; a riveting block party that rolls out the welcome mat for players and fans alike. It is the first chapter of an unforgettable drama.

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

 

 

Friday, August 27, 2021

‘I worry for my two sons’

 Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing? Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago? Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, every one. Oh, when will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?”

PETER, PAUL AND MARY in Where Have All The Flowers Gone

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

MY friend Patrick, who lives in Las Vegas, cursed then U.S. President Barrack Obama after his two sons, both corporals in the U.S. Marines, were deployed together to Afghanistan more than 10 years ago.

I remembered Patrick on August 28 after it was reported that some 13 U.S. soldiers were among those killed by suspected ISIS terrorists in a bloody bombing spree in a Kabul hotel and in the checkpoint August 26 while helping facilitate the American citizens’ flights out of the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.


“If  something will happen to my two sons, I’m gonna kill that SOB,” my friend Patrick thundered. “I don’t want to lose them, but they have no choice.”

I understood the sentiments of a worried father, but I reminded Patrick being deployed to war zones for U.S. soldiers was part of the patriotic duties and obligations of American soldiers; the moment they were recruited to serve the country, they were aware they were ready to die.

Aside from the 13 U.S. service members killed, at least 18 were injured in an attack at a checkpoint outside the Kabul airport, where thousands of people were being evacuated. 

They were the first U.S. service members killed in action in Afghanistan since February 2020. 

At least 60 Afghans were also killed and dozens more injured in the attack. President Biden vowed to take action against the Islamic State in Khorasan, which claims responsibility, and to continue the evacuation at least until the August 31 troop-withdrawal deadline.

Marines often serve in a variety of special capacities, whether protecting the nation’s embassies abroad, recruiting the next generation of United States Marines, or even serving the United States Special Operations Command as a MARSOC Raider. 

These duties are reportedly earned by Marines who have proven their exceptional ability to fight and win in the primary MILITARY OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTIES (MOS).

 

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Ready to stand on the frontline of any battle, the Marine Raiders of MARSOC are built up in their Corps ethos, war-fighting philosophy and values and represent the Marine Corps contribution to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). 

Two of the prominent roles within the Marine Raider community reportedly include Critical Skills Operators, who support the full spectrum of special operations on a global scale, and Special Operations Capability Specialists, who provide combat support expertise in intelligence, fire support, communications, EOD, and canine operations.

Meanwhile, Pat’s two sons weren’t killed during their deployment to Afghanistan. They were able to come home to their respective families and Pat did not anymore hold grudges against Mr. Obama and other presidents after him.

On February 17, 2009, President Obama recommitted to Afghanistan and announced plans to send 17,000 more troops to the war zone. 

Mr. Obama reaffirmed campaign statements that Afghanistan was the more important U.S. front against terrorist forces. 

He said the United States would stick to a timetable to draw down most combat forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. 

As of January 2009 the Pentagon had 37,000 troops in Afghanistan, roughly divided between U.S. and NATO commands. 

Reinforcements focused on countering a “resurgent” Taliban and stemming the flow of foreign fighters over the Afghan-Pakistan border in the south.

Speaking on the troop increase, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described the original mission in Afghanistan as “too broad” and called for establishing limited goals such as preventing and limiting terrorist safe havens.

 

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On October 7, 2011, then President Obama outlined a plan to withdraw 33,000 troops by the summer of 2012—the surge troops sent in December 2009—including by the end of 2011. 

Polls showed a record number of Americans did not support the war, and Mr. Obama faced pressure from lawmakers, particularly Democrats, to sizably reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan. 

After the surge troops leave, an estimated 70,000 U.S. troops were scheduled to stay through at least 2014. 

Mr. Obama confirmed that the U.S. was holding preliminary peace talks with the Taliban leadership. 

With reconciliation in mind, the UN Security Council days earlier splits a sanctions list between members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, making it easier to add and remove people and entities.

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

 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

‘Missing’ NY doctor

 “I will be living with chronic pain for the rest of my life. I don’t have the mobility, energy or life options I used to have. I work hard to manage the pain, and I want the medical system to be a respectful and effective partner, not a jailer. The opioid crisis is not my doing.” 

― Sonya Huber

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

A PROMINENT psychiatrist in New York City has “disappeared” and couldn’t be located or contacted by his 87-year-old female patient since June 2021.

I plan to visit his clinic at Westside Upper Manhattan to investigate. 

There were fears he was infected with COVID-19 and died.

The doctor is reportedly in his late 70’s and could be vulnerable.

The infectious disease has killed millions of people around the world.

There were also suspicions “he intentionally refused to answer the calls from his patients to conceal his whereabouts or to make them believe he was gone for good.”

I visited the clinic together with the “missing” doctor’s 87-year-old patient more than five times in 2019 and at least once before the pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020.

I do errands for the female patient and I accompanied her during her doctor’s appointments.

The female patient badly needs the “missing” doctor for the refill of her pills for anxiety. 

Since efforts to locate him proved futile these past months, the patient is running out of the pills only the “missing” doctor can prescribe.

Hence, she needs an emergency treatment or something that can detox her system to end her dependence on the pills which are reportedly opioids.

 

-o0o-

 

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant and that work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including the relief of pain with many of these drugs, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

Opioids can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers, or they can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin.

Many prescription opioids are reportedly used to block pain signals between the brain and the body and are typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. 

In addition to controlling pain, opioids can make some people feel relaxed, happy or “high,” and can be addictive. 

Additional side effects can include slowed breathing, constipation, nausea, confusion and drowsiness.

She has been seeing the same doctor for the last 35 years.

“Unbelievable that all of a sudden, he (doctor) mysteriously disappeared without any notice. This is so devastating on my part because I am shaking and I feel like I will die if I have no more pills to take,” sobbed the 87-year-old patient, a German-American who was born two years before the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

 

-o0o-

 

Was the doctor’s sudden disappearance had something to do with the opioid crisis that has bedeviled the drugs industry?

In 2015 alone, nearly nine million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in New York State, according to the NYSHealth Foundation.

Between 2011 and 2014, approximately 145,000 New Yorkers annually abused or were dependent on opioids, it added.

The opioid crisis in New York State is reportedly multifaceted, and solving it will require a whole range of interventions. 

Among other approaches, curbing the epidemic will involve: analyzing and sharing data to demonstrate the scope and diversity of the problem; educating health care providers and giving them tools to address prescribing patterns; encouraging public health departments to screen for opioid use and refer users to treatment; and working with law enforcement to emphasize treatment over incarceration.

NYSHealth is supporting a number of activities to combat the opioid crisis.

Analytic Work. Follow the Money: Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Payments and Opioid Prescribing Patterns in New York State

This report examines how payments from opioid manufacturers to physicians may have influenced opioid prescribing in New York State. Financial relationships between physicians and drug manufacturers are common, including payments for speaking and consulting fees, as well as for various gifts such as meals. 

 

-o0o- 

 

Between 2013 and 2015, drug manufacturers reportedly spent more than $3.5 million in opioid promotion activities with thousands of New York State physicians. 

The report finds roughly 1 in 10 physicians who prescribe opioids received a payment, and physicians who prescribe more opioids got more opioid-related payments.

Targeting an Epidemic: Opioid Prescribing Patterns by County in New York State

To better understand the scope of the epidemic, NYSHealth produced this data snapshot examining trends in opioid prescriptions and opioid abuse in New York State. 

The analysis examines prescribing trends by county in New York State from 2010 to 2015, using publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Most research on the opioid epidemic has focused on state-level data, which masks important differences between smaller geographic areas. Understanding geographic variation within New York State is essential to ensure that resources and interventions are targeted appropriately.

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

 

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Iloilo lawyers vs. Tagalog broadcaster

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”

Margaret Heffernan

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

WE can’t blame the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Iloilo Chapter for denouncing a Tagalog broadcaster who attacked one of its members in the broadcaster’s Youtube program.

It’s a tit for tat. 

You insulted our member, we are making the counterattack.

Because the Tagalog broadcaster used a media platform in his sally, it’s but proper for the Ilonggo lawyers to use the same platform to “return the favor.”

Nowadays the media battlefield has been modernized and largely ameliorated; and the joust is even: the aggrieved party can retaliate using the same apparatus and technology used to inflict the aggression. 

The lawyer’s group may also file whatever case or cases it deems proper against the hard-hitting broadcaster, but the group can’t muzzle the fire-spewing media personality.

In a democratic state like the Philippines, freedom of speech and expression is better abused than curtailed.

That’s why we have the laws against slander and libel.

If you overstep, you’ll be in trouble under the legal system.

And the lawyers are in the better position to throw the books on the broadcaster known for his profane-laced language and sardonic style.

 

-o0o-

 

IF the Philippines, or any “small” country and territory for that matter, will be overran, God forbid, by internal enemies and the government will capitulate, no outside forces are supposed to interfere and wage war against the conquerors unless they violate the people’s basic rights and impose brutal rules that threaten to permanently destroy the country and endanger world peace.

Like what happened in Afghanistan.

And if some Filipinos who don’t want to stay and opt to flee will seek sanctuary in the United States and other free countries like what is happening in Kabul, they should be assisted and welcomed with open arms.

And if they can’t “escape” and are trapped in violence and hostilities, it will be the right time for the Big Brothers like the U.S and its European allies to employ and marshal their full diplomatic and economic resources to assist the beleaguered citizens.

 

-o0o-

 

But we are confident what happened in Kabul will not happen in Imperial Manila.

The left wing enemy, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and the right wing agitators, the coup plotters and the Muslim secessionists, may not have the same power, reputation and influence to topple the duly-established government in the Philippines.

And unlike the president of Afghanistan, President Duterte may not flee to other countries and will probably fight to the finish because that is the kind of reputation he had inculcated in the minds of the voters who put him into office. “P_tang ina, papatayin ko kayo!” is the president’s most popular battlecry.

The U.S. and other Western Allies interfered heavily in Kabul because they wanted to “rescue” some American citizens and bring them out soon before the August 31 deadline imposed by the Taliban.

This will justify their “intervention” in the turmoil in Afghanistan.

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

 

 

Alex P. Vidal Quotes


 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

‘Good riddance’


 “It is not your qualifications but your exposure in life that makes you who you are.”

— Jaggi Vasude

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

IT’S pointless for critics of President Rodrigo Duterte to invoke delicadeza to discourage him from running for vice president in next year’s Philippine presidential election.

In the Philippines, nobody cares about delicadeza anymore. 

Ask the health secretary and other political bogeymen and women in this benighted country.

It’s only a vocabulary in public service that isn’t taken seriously unless we are in Japan, where leaders commit hara kiri, ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practiced by samurai as an honorable alternative to disgrace or execution, if they commit shameful acts while in office.

As long as the constitution allows Mr. Duterte to seek for the second highest position of the land after his term expires, no one can prevent him.

Anything that is not prohibited by law can be applied in as far as the decision of one elected official to cling to power is concerned.

If framers of the charter didn’t want the president and other incumbent officials to seek another public office through election, they should have fixed the provisions on the term or tenure of office.

In political theory, “term of office” and “tenure of office” are terms oftentimes contrasted with each other, according to law lecturer Frank Lobrigo. 

Term of office refers to the period, either fixed by the Constitution or a statute, within which a public official may hold office. Tenure of office, on the other hand, is the period within which a public official actually held office within a prescribed term. In other words, term of office is fixed, while tenure of office is variable, Lobrigo explains.

 

-o0o-

 

My article about resigned New York Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo on August 25 elicited feedbacks from various people, including a female lawyer who was once a human rights advocate in the Philippines.

Governor Cuomo’s downfall has been stunning in it’s speed and scale —it’s taken only eight days from the Attorney General’s report for charismatic New York leader to resign. 

Feelings on the street in downtown Manhattan were also mixed, ranging from apathy, to anger, to cautious hope. Most seemed disappointed; at who, however, was far from unanimous.

—“I’m sad ‘Lex on (New York Governor Andrew) Cuomo’s resignation. We lost a great leader. He was steadfast in his focus to achieve his goals that along the way, he alienated a lot of people even the democrats,” said the Ilonggo lawyer, 63.

—“Ah, that pervert governor. Good riddance,” said Fil-Am Noypi, 56.

—“Honestly, I feel bad for the governor, as a woman. I sympathize with the women, I am that woman, but I think Cuomo did a lot of good for New York City,” said Charisma, 48.

—“I’m just really disappointed in this leader. I had a lot of respect for this governor, but there’s just a weak side to the guy, and it’s a shame,” said Marlon, 62.

—“If his ego and character weren’t weak, he wouldn’t have resigned,” said Jimmy, 59.

—“He’s a good guy, I wish he wasn’t resigning because he made sure we eat and survive the pandemic,” said Anastasia, 38.

—“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” said the new governor Kathy Hochul.

 

-o0o-

 

FORMER Bacolod mayor and congressman Monico Puentevella declared over radio that fans inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas “booed” the unanimous decision of the three judges who scored for Yordenis Ugas.

O ayan na bino boo na ng mga tao ang decision,” declared Puentevella, who had served as a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission from 1996 to 2001.

Sandali lang samahan ko muna siya sa kuarto nia. Magsisimba pa kami.”

Monico, 75, seemed to be trying to poison the minds of radio listeners that Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao had been cheated in his WBA welterweight title fight on August 21. 

And he wanted to sound like he really belonged in the boxer’s circle of close friends. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Last ‘Dear Alex’ letter from Gov. Cuomo

 

“Farewell, fair cruelty.”

William Shakespeare

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

AT 10:13 p.m. last night in New York City, I opened my email and saw the last “Dear Alex” letter from our beloved Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo, 63.

I was stunned and heartbroken.

Cuomo, who doesn’t know me personally from Adam, would’ve been the best President of the United States had he ran and President Joseph “Joe” Biden Jr. hadn’t clinched the official berth in the Democratic Party primaries en route to a showdown in the 2020 U.S. presidential election against then reelectionist President Donald Trump.

Like millions of fellow New Yorkers, I admire Governor Cuomo’s brand of leadership. 

I watched his daily press briefings (he was the only governor in the United States to do that) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when New York became the epicenter in the world in terms of number of cases and death.

Despite our depressing situation during the pandemic, Governor Cuomo inspired us and gave us reason not to give up and to continue to soldier on amid grief and uncertainties, until New York was able to recover and bounce back from despair and hopelessness this year.

It’s so sad that he has to go amid allegations he sexually harassed 11 women. 

We just “lost” a magnificent leader.

 

-o0o-

 

Here’s Governor Cuomo’s last letter to me sent at 6:34 p.m. August 23, 2021 which he also certainly sent to other New Yorkers:

Dear Alex, Tonight, as you may be aware, I am stepping down as Governor of New York at 11:59pm. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will become governor, and we all wish her success. So I want to send my final note to you as governor.

New York's future is based on what we have accomplished together, and during my tenure we've shown that New York has a spirit that reaches for the skies. We have worked to make New York the progressive capital of the nation. From passing Marriage Equality and the $15 minimum wage to enacting Paid Family Leave and the NY SAFE Act, from building new bridges and airports to combating climate change, from fighting against hate to fighting COVID—together we did what no one thought could be done.

We didn't get everything done that we wanted to, and we didn't always get it quite right, but I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that every day I worked my hardest, I gave it my all, to deliver for you. Thank you for empowering me to fight for you. Thank you for your trust in me through COVID. Thank you for the honor of serving you.

And never forget: Always stay New York tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving. It's the essence of what makes New Yorkers so special. Ever Upward, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

 

-o0o-

 

We “never made it through the rain” after a strange thing happened while Barry Manilow was about to sing his 1980 hit, “I Made It Through the Rain” in the superstar-laden “Homecoming Concert” in New York City’s Central Park August 21 afternoon: a loud thunderstorm struck.

He was able to actually render two of my most favorite songs: “Copacabana”, “Can’t Smile Without You” and “Mandy” and was about to sing “I Made It Through the Rain” when the thunderstorm, signaling the arrival late Saturday of hurricane “Henri”, exploded loudly sending people to scamper and leave the venue.

The concert was eventually canceled because of dangerous weather as Hurricane Henri approached the Northeast on August 21.

Manilow began performing "Can't Smile Without You," as part of a medley of his hits when the announcement interrupted his performance, ordering concert-goers to immediately leave the park and seek shelter. 

The Grammy Award-winning senior citizen continued on, not realizing at first what was happening.

 

-o0o-

 

Organizers repeated over public address for concertgoers to "calmly move to the nearest exits and proceed to areas outside of the park."

The five-hour concert, intended to celebrate New York City's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, was about halfway through when the weather became an issue. 

Heavy rain and lightning filled the sky.

As the crowd—estimated at more than 60,000–began leaving the concert area, there was a moment of optimism that the show might resume once the weather cleared. But a few minutes later, another announcement said it was canceled as the downpour intensified.

Mayor Bill de Blasio later tweeted, "While it's disappointing that tonight's concert had to end early, the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first."

The highly promoted mega-concert featured Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Jennifer Hudson, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J and Andrea Bocelli among the performers.

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

 

 

 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Welcome to America

 “The refugee crisis shows we can't be isolated from the world's geopolitical troubles.”

Emmanuel Macron

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

I WELCOME everyone regardless of race, color, age, sexual orientation, religious and political belief who wants to come to America legally to join the mainstream as immigrants.

I don’t like the way some people in this great nation react every time a horde of refugees or those intending to seek sanctuary in mighty America are reported to be on their way to the Land of Milk and Honey.

Like our distressed and badly tormented brothers and sisters fleeing from Kabul.

This is a geopolitical reality and America probably has been designated by God to embrace those who are seeking immediate help and in need of protection, quality of life, freedom, professional and economic opportunities, productive and peaceful environment, religious and political freedom.

Especially those coming from the Third World, calamity and war-torn countries like Vietnam in the 70s, Haiti, and some famine-stricken and violent-laden African countries. 

 

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It so happened the latest waves of immigrants are running away from a Taliban-controlled country and are seeking refuge in the United States, among other “friendly” and “open” countries and territories in America and Europe.

In the issue of social mobility, any possibility of abrupt assimilation and congregation will always make some citizens jittery and insecure; they think there is such a grand invasion that will threaten their security, property and good life; they’re frightened by a class-divided society myth.

In a state organized principally around the ideas of opportunity and openness, social stickiness of this order amounts to an existential threat.

There’s always an iota of bias and discrimination in the hearts of some of those already enjoying their life in economically and politically advanced and robust countries like the United States.

This will explain their unfounded and baseless paranoia and restlessness toward these terrified warm bodies from Afghanistan. 

As human beings, we all possess an inherent responsibility to love and care for one another. 

Tuloy po kayo and welcome to America, brothers and sisters from Kabul.

 

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EVEN if Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao has already accepted defeat—and even apologized, some of his fanatics continued to insist the former world champion from Saranggani “had been robbed.”

A narrow-minded die-hard from Pototan, Iloilo, a frontline worker who just came home from Saudi Arabia, even toyed with the idea that “it was the mafia who caused Pacquiao’s defeat” to Yordenis Ugas during their WBA welterweight title duel on August 21 in Las Vegas.

This is the kind of cult mentality that is so dangerous and has heavily contributed in the deterioration of the quality of leaders being regularly elected in the Philippines.

For instance, even if the leader—political or religious—is the one who raped the 12-year-old girl, this type of die-hard supporter will insist it was the victim’s fault because “he had a crush” on the perpetrator.

Scary because there are so many of them. 

They even once elected a deviant movie actor and an over-rated mad man into the highest office of the land.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I ‘saw’ Ugas’ win against Pacquiao

“When an underdog wins, they win for everybody, because somebody gotta come through that door and break it open and make it possible.”

—Saint John

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

THE first thing that impressed me about Yordenis Ugas was he isn’t a thrash talker. Not an obtrusive person. He doesn’t insult his rival. Very professional.

Silent water runs deep, as the saying goes.

Second was his height (5 feet and 9 inches).

Height has always been a major advantage in the welterweight category.

Third was his amateur background (highlighted by a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics). 

Once you have an exciting and extensive experience in the amateur ranks, you’re almost always penciled to become a world class professional fighter.

Then I reviewed the Cuban’s fights on video; I studied his style and movement in the ring. I knew Ugas was the Real McCoy, someone who could match Pacquiao’s ferocity above the ring when the goings get tough.

I diligently did my assignment as an analyst and sportswriter.

I knew I would be grilled intensely by my colleagues in the broadcast media who always sought my opinion and trusted my pre-fight analysis in boxing during the “live” interviews.

I always anticipated on-the-spot and thought-provoking questions like: “What is your prediction?” and “Who do you think will win and why?”

Even if Ugas was toting an “unremarkable” ring record (now 25-4-0, 12 KOs), it didn’t discourage me from picking him to win against Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.

 

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When I made pre-fight “fearless forecasts” in the past and wouldn’t pick Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs), fellow Filipinos with deep admiration and love for Pacquiao ribbed me for being “un-Filipino” and “biased against a fellow Filipino.”

I expected the same treatment when I announced that Ugas would score a huge upset if there was no knockout and the fight was decided by the judges, thus I always said “sorry” to Pacquiao’s fans before saying that Ugas might win on points.

Pacquiao remains to be extremely popular among Pinoy fight fans that they always believed he could still destroy his rivals by stoppage if the duel would not reach 12 rounds.

They forgot that the wear and tear factor has already caught up with Pacquiao, who has been fighting as a prizefighter since 1995. 

At 42, he may not be as destructive and quick compared during his heydays years back when he would send to retirement some of the most feared former world champions who had crossed his path like Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar Dela Hoya, and Joshua Clottey, to name only a few.

Many of Pacquiao’s die-hards would always base their judgment on the hitherto best boxer pound for pound’s invincibility on emotion, not on science, statistics, period of inactivity and reality.

 

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Gamblers who placed a heavy bet on the “fighting lawmaker” who will now be obligated (I decline to use the word “forced”) to abandon boxing and focus on his political career now that he failed to bag Ugas’ WBA welterweight jewels, were the real big losers.

Pacquiao, 42, was the heavy underdog when his fight this year was announced against unified WBC and IBF 147-kg ruler Errol Spence Jr., 31.

When Spence Jr. pulled out and gave way to Ugas, 35, due to a torn retina two weeks before the August 21 bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Pacquiao became the heavy favorite.

Gamblers made a last-ditch effort to shift their bets and suffered the consequences for the “poor judgement.”

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