Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rebuffs Obama’s peace message

March 22, 2009

In a video message on March 20, 2009, Pres. Barack Obama tried to reach out to Iran, reminding the hard-line Islamic country to show its greatness not by way of arms, but through peaceful means.

His offer to normalize relations with the mullah-dominated country is a campaign promise he had to fulfill—a radical digression from Pres. George W. Bush’s policy of non-negotiation towards a regime known to be part of the “axis of evil” that threatens to wipe out Israel.

Obama’s peaceful diplomacy is what most of the Western world wanted. Yet, this presidential gesture delivered in time for the Persian new year of Nowruz is looked upon as a form of “surrender” which the “hard” Muslims expect from the “soft” Americans. Iran thinks the United States, saddled by economic problems, is wearied by terrorism and preoccupied by the Iraqi and Afghan wars; it doesn’t have the enough strength to fight. That’s why Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to rebuff the US president.

“He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed…Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged.” —-Yahoo News/ AP (03/21/09, Dareini, A)

Iran finds a new sense of self-importance learning of Obama’s conciliatory stance to patch up the strained relations between the two countries. Denying terrorism and the Iran’s race to produce nuclear arms, Khamenei lashed on Obama by mentioning a litany of Iran’s grievances against the United States.

Amid calls of “Death to America” from his audience, the cleric-leader dwelt on long standing hostilities since diplomatic ties were severed after the fall of the pro-US Shah government about 30 years ago.

Many have some inkling on know how the Iranians are taking Obama’s peace overtures. Iranians opposed to the cleric-controlled government may support him. But others may look at his peace suggestion as a sign of weakness. Like other warlike Muslims in other parts of the world, Iranians don’t respect a man who looks like a wimp even if he is the president of the United States. (Photo Credit: Polyphake; Photon Trap)=0=

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Promises from Obama’s speech to Congress

February 25, 2009

With his ambitious assurances that he’ll lead the country to a brighter future, Pres. Barack Obama delivers his speech to the joint session of Congress, the first in his month-old administration, saying that more money will still be required to take care of the worsening banking crisis. He went on to discuss his budget priorities to be spent on energy, healthcare, and education.

In an optimistic tone, in spite of the faltering economy, Obama said, “Tonight, I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.’ “—Yahoo News/ AP (02/24/09, Loven, J)

It sounds good.

Responding to Obama’s speech, the Republican minority through Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana reiterates the party’s cooperation with the administration, but it believes the $787 billion stimulus package passed by the democratic majority is excessive, wasteful, and irresponsible. This is a massive amount which will be taken from taxpayers’ money. The government hasn’t shown any slowing on its extravagant spendng which hurt the common person in the main street.

The reaction of the public is mixed. Many may have been consoled by Obama’s assurances which they badly want to hear, but there are lingering doubts on whether the stimulus package will work. The majority expects it will —although there’s no convincing indication that this is true.

Consumer confidence is down. Persistently, many ask how one can spend his way out of the recession without compromising the finances of the next generation. There is distrust in the way the government spends public money. But almost everyone wants to believe things will be better, the world brighter, after Obama’s address. (Photo Credit: Iwriteplays)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Obama addresses congress for the first time” Posted by mesiamd at 2/25/2009

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Obama addresses congress for the first time

February 25, 2009

Pres. Barack Obama at present enjoys high level of public support optimism and confidence. Americans badly needs him at this time even if political trust doesn’t necessarily translate to economic confidence. The stock market for the last month continues to flounder in spite of the change Obama has been pursuing.

Those badly hurt by the economic downturn watch silently where the recovery program will go. Rightly so, it is early to give in to pessimism, but there is a cause for concern.

Those with money are afraid to invest—the stock market behaves erratically as if to suggest that something isn’t right. It is expected to go for undetermined amount of time in spite of the bold assurances of Obama. People badly affected by the financial crisis are confused, some can’t get over their shock on what’s going on.

Opinion on B. Obama:

——————————–Approve———–Disapprove——–No Opinion

His job as president————63%—————–22——————-15
Foreign Policy——————-57%—————–17——————-26
The Economy——————-57%—————–32——————–11
Iraq Situation——————–54%—————–24——————–22
Source: New York Times (02/23/09, Zeleny, J; Thee-Brenan, M)

On Tuesday, February 23, at 9PM eastern time, Obama will address the joint congress. He enjoys strong political clout with about 2/3 of the American people supporting him. A rising number however is skeptical. In spite of the benefit of the doubt, many are struggling to fend off their ambivalence. There are those who feel they’re practically on their own, without much reason to believe the government will look after them since their finances have been ruined by mismanagement. They can’t take the thought of bailing out irresponsible Americans in cahoots with unscrupulous bank lenders who bought homes beyond their means.

Obama’s Disapproval Rating Doubles

According to a recent Gallup poll, Obama’s new disapproval rating rose from 12% last month to 24% this month. This is 50% higher than the 16% average for a month-old new presidency. —-Los Angeles Times ( 02/24/09, Malcolm, A)

Americans really can’t be too trusting these days, not even with Obama’s popularity. Words cannot change reality. Sixty (60%) of the public worries that someone in the family will lost a job in the coming months or the next year. Fifty-five (55%) of the Americans says they are just trying to make ends meet. While Americans are under no illusion to believe that the economic problem will die down soon, it’s unclear if they who are extravagant and used to good life can weather the turbulence of the recession.

In spite of the media’s overwhelming biased adulation for Obama (as described in Bernard Goldberg’s book “A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media “)it is still the truth that matters. People can’t live with the promises and eloquent words of a president, they need to see tangible results, especially those who put their reliance on the government to solve their problems. (Photo Credit: Alex Johnson)=0=

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Name calling in the Senate

February 19, 2009

When Sen. Miriam D. Santiago resorts to name calling to make a point, most of us laugh. We’re tickled by the colorful but vile language that only a lawyer from UP with a peculiar sanity can deliver. And surprisingly, she is tolerated by her colleagues whom she disparagingly labels as “idiots.”

For all her self-proclaimed erudition, Santiago harbored frustration after being trashed in her bid to be a jurist in the International Court of justice (ICJ,) a position she actively campaigned for. The emotionally volatile lady senator dared the then Pres. Joseph Estrada who was a school drop-out for an IQ test match to push forward her mental superiority. Her bizarre mouth-blabbering cowed the people around her. She called members of the legislature as “fungus faced.” The lady threatened to jump from a plane only to say later she was just joking.

When party list representative Risa Hontiveros disagreed with Santiago against the court-like conduct of senate inquiries using “rules of evidence,” the gas bag allegedly referred to Hontiveros as a “menopausal insect who was out to get publicity and wanted to teach the senate.”

Such nasty words are unlikely to come from a supposedly educated lawmaker. That’s why people don’t think of her as reliable, sincere, and sane. Many squirm with shame at her vile comments which frustrate productive exchange of ideas. Instead of being direct on issues and coherrent in her thoughts, Santiago resorts to reckless talk which is unbecoming of a person in her position. =0=

Morality as an administrative order

February 18, 2009

The administrative order No. 5 signed by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo calls for a program that will bring moral renewal to the country. Is it for real? The presidential edict comes on the heels of many corruption charges which see no end. As the president’s tenure reaches the finish line, the entire nation wonders what will be accomplished by the action plan for moral rejuvenation. Zero tolerance towards corruption—that’s what the president says.

“Why only now? She should have done it long before. It is funny she’s calling for moral renewal now as it is only a year before the end of her term unless she plans to extend her term,” Jinggoy Estrada said.—GMATVNews. Net (02/17/09)

Widespread corruption is out of the box in the Arroyo government, but no one has the resolve to prove it. Used to inaction, Filipinos live in apathy and forlorn silence with their frayed cultural values. They hope a deliverer will come to rescue them— or something will happen by simply waiting.

Foreign observers point to widespread dishonesty, but most of us choose to keep our mouths shut. The emboldened corrupt among us are defensive. They are trying to convince us there’s nothing that can be done. It’s only a year before the next presidential election and many believe the government is better left alone to wither away for the next status quo. (Photo Credit: bw.futures(away)=0=

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Corruption and apathy: where will these lead us?

February 10, 2009

We face foreign aid cuts due to corruption. It is shameful that our country which seeks assistance abroad is being singled out as unworthy of help because we are dishonest. Obviously, this is morally and economically damaging. Foreigners are saying untrustworthiness will hurt us in the end. It’s time we heed the criticisms and do corrective action.

“The Philippines is facing a big cut in foreign aid because corruption in government is “deeply entrenched” and the World Bank report is “worrying” a big donor country, a diplomat disclosed yesterday.

The diplomat from the major donor country, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their government is closely following the WB report and the investigation into the anomalous road projects funded by the foreign financial institution and the extent of government corruption that has identified First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo as the alleged patron of colluding contractors in a $33-million road project in 2003. “—-Philstar (02/10/09, Lee-Brago, P)

Corruption is getting worse. Our leadership is in crisis. Right at the heart where Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo weaves power, allegations of corruption in her administration are common. Even members of her household have been repeatedly accused of dishonesty in government. The charges are too many—and too embarrassing that even foreign observers are stunned.

Though most of us acknowledge that there is worsening corruption, almost no one is ready to face it with candor, righteousness, and accountability. Instead, there is damning apathy and lack of concern.

Those who are guilty dodge the issue by denying the accusations. Most of them who are influential keep a blind eye and take advantage of the weakness of the legal system. Most corruption charges remain unproven in spite of investigations with telling evidence. There is little effort to ferret out the truth and bring the guilty accountable. This is bad to the future of the nation and the next generation. (Photo Credit: gmaresign; zero+q) =0=

RELATED BLOGS:“Not as a lecturer or as a judge,” EU thinks RP must do more to curb corruption Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009; “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009

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Iraq unveils a shoe monument

January 30, 2009

We can forget Imelda Marcos’ shoes for a while. Iraqis are still elated and angered by the shoe thrown at Pres. George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last December 2008 by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi. A brown shoe sculpture seems a funny retaliation by a culturally sequestered people who appreciate al-Zaidi and boil mad on the former US president even if they have been liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule.

Surely, the Iraqis have strong reasons to be mad. The cost of war is high in places of ethnic strife and tribal clashes. Many human lives have senselessly been lost in the name of freedom. 5.1 million people were displaced and about an equal number of children were left without parents.

To vent their anger and send praises for the jailed shoe-thrower who dreams of getting an asylum status in Switzerland, Iraqis and children from the Tikrit Orphanage helped sculptor Laith al-Amiri make a symbolic shoe monument. A brown footware with a raggedly brown surface was mounted on a white cloth so the people could see and ponder.

Whatever thrill one gets in looking at the oversized shoe, the use of children to make a political point is disturbing. There is negatism and darkness young minds can’t miss when they see the controversial shoe. The footware is less likely a symbol of disrespect and misplaced rage, but more a reminder of the derision the Muslims have for USA and Pres. George W. Bush.

Lacking gratitude after being saved from Saddam’s terroristic regime, some Iraqis have taken the low road of the warring militants who succeed in teaching generation(s) of children on selective memory and tough love. The faith-based beliefs against the “infidels” are still the driving force of hatred against the Western civilization. There are those who have become one-track thinkers— intolerant, violent, self-righteous, and unforgiving in their political views. This is one reason why the culture of violence kills the innocents. And peace is so elusive in that part of the world. (Photo Credit: CNN) 0=

UPDATE: Feb. 1, 2009. Iraqi officials ordered the dismantling of the shoe monument in the Tikrit Orphanage. They say government facilities must not be used as a venue to air political views.

“Not as a lecturer or as a judge,” EU thinks RP must do more to curb corruption

January 28, 2009

Many huge corruption charges in the Philippines involve officials in the highest corridors of power, but almost all of them remain as accusations displayed like dirty laundry for the public to bear. At the cost of the country’s credibility, almost no one gets punished. The entire nation keeps a blind eye of the growing list of scandals whose outcomes are often tip in favor of the crime doers.

For a long time, corruption comes like a foul odor ignored by the government and its citizens. The stench is allowed to stay, follow its course, until it dissipates in the wind. That’s the usual course that has incrementally robbed the country of its shame and dignity. The public is tired, perhaps, about to give up on corruption—for even with laws in place, there is little accountability. There is almost no public outcry of protest.

Illegal deals and criminal transactions occur right on the face of a Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo. Circumventing the law is common, perpetrated by criminals in broad daylight without embarrassment. The hideousness of the corrupt practices has prompted foreign entities like the World Bank (WB) and European Union (EU) to sound their alarm; they point to government deals that smell too stinky to brush aside. The latest is the WB disclosure of fraud in its bank-financed projects.

The president’s husband Jose M. Arroyo, just like in the past, has been linked to greedy collusion schemes. The latest is with the E.C. De Luna Construction Corp, one of the contractors named by the World Bank for rigging the bidding process of road projects funded by foreign money. Officials of the foreign bank are dismayed by the scale of corruption that is traced way back in 2007.

Careful not to rub the sense of shame of Filipinos, WB’s corruption charges which point the complicity of Chinese partners, suggest that the international community can’t just watch the dirty way the government is run. Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo continues to play the charade for the nation.

The EU also sounded its concern by offering the Philippines help to fight corruption. Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the European Commission said in a Commission of Human Rights meeting in Manila that the EU “sees corruption as a symptom of poor governance and lack of transparent, accountable management, and control system. —Philstar (10/28/09, Clapano, JR)

There it is. MacDonald is right in saying that officials, the civil society and media must work together to fight corruption in government by observing “transparent electoral processes and supporting parliamentary and judicial oversight.” The country can’t live with perversion of integrity that is out in the open and politicalized for everyone to see, but can’t do something against it.

Even if the outside world wants to help the Philippines solve corruption, it is still the people who must first reject and work against it. There is no shortage of anti-corruption laws. They are just waiting to be enforced, not by officials who are themselves corrupt, but by those who are committed to move the country ahead.

The fight against corruption needs ethical leaders to help government officials and business leaders reform their ranks. They need moral rejuvenation and accountability which must be taught and applied in the community. With the nation’s fate at stake, there is deep shame when foreigners remind Filipinos of their freedom, duty for country, and moral responsibilities. (Photo Credits: Almostevil665; wdbphoto) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009; “On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008

Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

January 28, 2009

“The 2006 World Competitiveness Survey by the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development ranked the Philippines 60th on bribery and corruption among 61 countries surveyed. In the 2007 report of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, using a grading system with 10 as the worst possible score, the Philippines got 9.4, worsening sharply from its grade of 7.8 in 2006.

The problem of corruption in the Philippines is getting worse, and it appears that it is not just a problem of perception but an actuality. The corruption cases are increasing not only in number but in the amount of money involved. In the past, the big cases involved tens of millions of pesos; now, the figures run into hundreds of millions and even billions.” —-Inquirer (06/30/08, Editorial, Worsening Corruption)

1. Filipino & Chinese bid-rigging cartel in bank-financed projects exposed by World Bank

2. Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante’s P728 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam diverting agricultural funds for the 2004 election campaign of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

3. $329 Million Philippine National Broadband Network-Zhong Xing Telecommunications Deal (NBN/ZTE mess)

4. The $2-million IMPSA (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima) alleged bribery case involving Justice secretary Hernando Perez to rehabilitate the 750-megawatt Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power complex in Laguna.

5. The allegedly overpriced P1.2-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Construction

6. Commission on Elections’ P1.3-billion poll computerization program

7. Pres. Joseph Estrada Plunder Conviction and the Controversial Hasty Pardon

8. “Hello Garci” alleged Election fraud of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

9. Unexplained Wealth of Government and Military Officials—some of them take tasks of “investigating” corruption

10. Money Laundering Schemes like the “Euro Generals Scandal”

11. Maj. General Carlos Garcia’s amassed P143 million wealth in AFP

12. The P500,000 cash-gift distribution (bribe?)in Malacanang Palace in 2007

13. Tax Evasion, Special Purpose Funds & Public Procurement Anomalies

14. Killings, tortures, and disappearances of journalists, plain citizens, and perceived enemies of government

We probably know the brazenness of corruption to a point of surrender. So we either ignore them or we shield ourselves from truth by pretending wrong-doing and perversion will go away. We have our own psychological adaptations that work for sometime just the way we’re tempted to run away from moral rectitude and brush aside responsibility.

The brave among us however face reality as it comes. No matter how hard and hurting, we understand the need to correct our errors. We know life is a succession of battles where courage, tenacity, and optimism are required and apathy has no place. We need integrity as a hedge against fraud; honesty is a positive force to renew society. Consider the corruption in the world. What can we do about it? (Photo Credit: Zero Q)=0=

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Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

January 28, 2009

“The 2006 World Competitiveness Survey by the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development ranked the Philippines 60th on bribery and corruption among 61 countries surveyed. In the 2007 report of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, using a grading system with 10 as the worst possible score, the Philippines got 9.4, worsening sharply from its grade of 7.8 in 2006.

The problem of corruption in the Philippines is getting worse, and it appears that it is not just a problem of perception but an actuality. The corruption cases are increasing not only in number but in the amount of money involved. In the past, the big cases involved tens of millions of pesos; now, the figures run into hundreds of millions and even billions.” —-Inquirer (06/30/08, Editorial, Worsening Corruption)

1. Filipino & Chinese bid-rigging cartel in bank-financed projects exposed by World Bank

2. Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante’s P728 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam diverting agricultural funds for the 2004 election campaign of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

3. $329 Million Philippine National Broadband Network-Zhong Xing Telecommunications Deal (NBN/ZTE mess)

4. The $2-million IMPSA (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima) alleged bribery case involving Justice secretary Hernando Perez to rehabilitate the 750-megawatt Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power complex in Laguna.

5. The allegedly overpriced P1.2-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Construction

6. Commission on Elections’ P1.3-billion poll computerization program

7. Pres. Joseph Estrada Plunder Conviction and the Controversial Hasty Pardon

8. “Hello Garci” alleged Election fraud of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

9. Unexplained Wealth of Government and Military Officials—some of them take tasks of “investigating” corruption

10. Money Laundering Schemes like the “Euro Generals Scandal”

11. Maj. General Carlos Garcia’s amassed P143 million wealth in AFP

12. The P500,000 cash-gift distribution (bribe?)in Malacanang Palace in 2007

13. Tax Evasion, Special Purpose Funds & Public Procurement Anomalies

14. Killings, tortures, and disappearances of journalists, plain citizens, and perceived enemies of government

We probably know the brazenness of corruption to a point of surrender. So we either ignore them or we shield ourselves from truth by pretending wrong-doing and perversion will go away. We have our own psychological adaptations that work for sometime just the way we’re tempted to run away from moral rectitude and brush aside responsibility.

The brave among us however face reality as it comes. No matter how hard and hurting, we understand the need to correct our errors. We know life is a succession of battles where courage, tenacity, and optimism are required and apathy has no place. We need integrity as a hedge against fraud; honesty is a positive force to renew society. Consider the corruption in the world. What can we do about it? (Photo Credit: Zero Q)=0=

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