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France again; terrorism plunges world in chaos as 84 die in bus attack

Truck rammed into crowd on the Promenade des Anglais at around 2230 local (1630 ET) Thursday night, shortly after last Bastille Day fireworks had ended

CLICK: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/14/europe/nice-truck-attack-live-blog/index.html
At least 84 people killed while at least 18 remain in critical condition, according to Nice police
U.S. officials confirm at least two Americans were killed; three Australians injured, according to country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop; two Chinese citizens were also injured, the Chinese consulate in Marseille tells CNN
Identity of assailant was known to authorities for petty crime violations, based on a provisional identification of the attacker. But he was not known to security services for jihadism or Islamist extremism, a source close to the investigation tells CNN
Authorities are working to determine whether an I.D. card of a 31-year-old French-Tunisian found in the truck cab matches the body of the driver, according to a police source reported by AFP
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack
Eyewitness: ‘It was well-planned’

Eyewitness Andy McArdy works at Le Queenie, a restaurant on the Promenade des Anglais. He tells CNN of his shock that an attack like this has happened in Nice.
“Maybe though something would happen during the Euro 2016, but that passed without incident. Nice was a soft target, a family outing, people enjoying the music, the promenade.
He continued: “It was very well planned; they knew that the noise of fireworks would mask the noise of gunfire, so that people would think that they were hearing fireworks, instead of, sadly, live gunfire that killed people.”
Recalling the moment the truck appeared on the promenade, McArdy said: “He must have broken through the barriers … You could hear the pop, pop, pop. There were bodies everywhere.
“Everyone came rushing in the restaurant — about 100 people — trying to find safe passage. They ended up staying in the building until midnight, when police said it was safe to leave.
McArdy says the scene today has “an extremely eerie atmosphere.”
“Nothing has been cleaned away — the bodies have been removed, but the debris and the blood are still there.”

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Let’s continue to pray for world peace

We renew our call to all peace-loving citizens in the world to pray for world peace as another terrorist attack occurred in Istanbul, Turkey.  Here’s the link: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/28/europe/turkey-istanbul-airport-attacks/index.html

Here’s the full report from CNN:

ISTANBUL — Gunshots, screams and explosions pierced the air Tuesday at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, as three terrorists armed with bombs and guns attacked passengers at one of the world’s busiest travel spots.
Witnesses described deadly carnage and crowds in a panic as the attackers struck.
At least 36 people were killed, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, in the terror attack, one for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Another 147 people were wounded, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said
Sue Savage was in the airport to see a friend off when she heard gunshots and then an explosion, which she knew was a bomb. Then more gunshots and another boom, she told “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
She ducked into a men’s prayer room and then into a men’s toilet, where she hid in a stall with a young woman. They came out, perhaps 20 or 30 minutes later, and heard more screams and gunshots and ducked into a room where luggage is inspected.
She and about 30 people were herded into a women’s prayer room until authorities led them out and down an escalator into the main terminal hall.
“There was a lot of blood,” she said. The floor was marked with bloody boot marks and she saw a woman’s scarf on the floor. The group was herded around to the other side of the room.
“There was so much glass on the floor they were scuffing it aside so we didn’t slip,” she said.
Video from inside the airport terminal shows people racing away as fast as they could and the bright orange flash of fire from one of the explosions. Victims stagger and some fall from the now blood-covered, slick floor.
Another video shows a man walking with a gun, which he drops when he apparently is shot by a security officer. The man slumps to the ground and the officer briefly stands over him before running. About 10 seconds later, there is an explosion.
Traveler Laurence Cameron described what he saw after he stepped off a plane.
“It was just a massive crowd of screaming people. Some were falling over themselves. A poor chap in a wheelchair was just left, and everyone just rushed to the back of the building, and then people ran the other way and no one really seemed to know what was going on,” he told CNN. “Where you normally hail a taxi, that is where the attack happened. The ground is just kind of shredded. There are bloodstains on the floor as well.”
Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin said the three terrorists were also killed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a unified international fight against terrorism, saying: “Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome. Unless all governments and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.”
The attacks happened on a warm summer night at the airport, east of Istanbul, which is the 11th busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. CNN’s Ali Veshi said Ataturk is a modern, sophisticated airport.
“There are all of the major European and American boutiques there,” said Velshi, who has traveled through Turkey many times. “… You see people of all shapes and colors, in all sorts of dress. If you want to target the cosmopolitan nature of Istanbul, this is possibly the most cosmopolitan, heavily populated part. You can target tourist areas, but this is the part where the world comes together.”
Flights into the airport were diverted to the capital of Ankara and other cities, airport spokesman Erhan Ustundag said.
“The terrorists came to the airport in a taxi and then carried out their attacks,” Yildirim told a national audience. “The fact that they were carrying guns added to the toll. Preliminary findings suggest all three attackers first opened fire then detonated themselves.”
Yildirim didn’t say why, but said signs pointed to ISIS being behind the attacks, which occurred with a little more than a week left in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Multiple U.S. officials told CNN’s Pamela Brown and Elise Labott that the early thinking among U.S. intelligence officials was that ISIS or an ISIS-inspired group was to blame. Like the Turkish prime minister, the officials said there is much more investigating to be done.
One official said the attack bears the hallmarks of ISIS because of the target and the method. And a senior US official pointed to the way it was coordinated using weapons and explosions.
It would be a “big surprise” if it was the PKK — or Kurdistan Worker’s Party — based on how the attack was conducted. The PKK tends to target military and security installations, other officials said.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2016 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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I challenge you to a duel!

“Sometimes in politics one must duel with skunks, but no one should be fool enough to allow skunks to choose the weapons.” Joseph Cannon

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — There was a time when rivalries were settled only after one of the protagonists has been killed.
David bludgeoned Goliath. Lapu-Lapu bar-b-qued Ferdinand Magellan. Julius Caesar decapitated Pompey. Pizzaro burned Atahualpa. Emilio Aguinaldo executed Andres Bonifacio. Vladimir Lenin bashed Leon Trotsky. Fidel Castro defrocked Fulgencio Batista. To name only a few.
Immediately after her defeat (she claimed she was cheated) to former Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 presidential election, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago challenged the former Marcos general to a fistfight.
President-elect Rody Duterte once challenged rival Mar Roxas to a slapping match. Roxas challenged him to fisticuffs.
But the most controversial showdown in history happened between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
Burr had a knack for making enemies out of important people.

DISLIKE

George Washington disliked him so much from their time together during the Revolutionary War that as president, he had Burr banned from the National Archives, didn’t appoint him as minister to France, and refused to make him a brigadier general, according to The Fascinating Book of History.
Burr became a lawyer in New York after the war, frequently opposing his future dueling partner Hamilton.
But it wasn’t until Burr beat Hamilton’s father-in-law in the race for a Senate seat that the problems between them really started.
Burr ran for president against Thomas Jefferson in 1800. The candidate with the most votes got to be president back then; whoever came second became vice president–even if they were from different parties.
When the election ended in a tie in the Electoral College, it was thrown to the House of Representatives to decide. After 35 straight tie votes, Jefferson was elected president, and Burr became vice president.
Like Washington, Jefferson didn’t hold Burr in high regard. So in 1804, Burr decided to run for governor of New York.

PRESS

When he lost, Burr blamed the slandering of the press in general and the almost constant criticism from Hamilton in particular.
Hamilton later shot off at the mouth at a dinner party, and Burr decided he’d had enough. After giving Hamilton a chance to take his comments back (Hamilton refused), Burr challenged him to the famous duel.
On July 11, 1804, Burr and Hamilton met at Weehawken, New Jersey. Some say that Hamilton fired first, discharging his pistol into the air; others say that he just missed.
Burr, on the other hand, didn’t miss, shooting Hamilton. He died the next day.
Burr fled to his daughter’s home in South Carolina until things cooled down. He was indicted for murder in both New York and New Jersey, but nothing ever came of it, and he eventually returned to Washington to finish his term as vice president. But his political career was over.
Burr decided to head west, after his term as vice president, to what was then considered as Ohio and the new lands of Louisiana Purchase.

EMPIRE

It seemed that Burr had things on his mind other than the scenery, however. According to some (mostly his rivals), Burr intended to create a new empire with himself as king.
As the story goes, he planned to conquer a portion of Texas, still held by Mexico, then convince some of the existing western states to join his new confederacy.
Called the Burr Conspiracy, it got the attention of President Jefferson, who issued arrest orders for treason.
Burr was eventually captured and brought to trial in 1807. But he caught a break. The judge was Chief Justice John Marshall. The judge and Jefferson didn’t get along, and rather than give his enemy an easy victory, Marshall demanded that the prosecution produce two witnesses that specifically heard Burr commit treason.
The prosecution failed to come up with anybody, and Burr was set free.
Burr then left the United States to live in Europe. Returning to New York in 1812, he quietly practiced law until his death in 1836.

 

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Visions of the Virgin

“Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can suffer.”
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Do you believe in miracle?
Pious Catholics hold a special place for Mary, the mother of Jesus, praying for her daily for favors and blessings.
Some say that the virgin has appeared to them right here on Earth.
Many of these claims are not verified–dismissed as products of overactive imaginations or as outright hoaxes–but two apparitions, which defy scientific explanation, have stood the test of time and remain highly cherished by Catholics around the world.
The Fascinating Book of History tells us that in February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a poor, sickly 14-year-old peasant girl, was gathering firewood near a stream when she suddenly had a vision of a beautiful lady dressed in white.
Overcome with fear, she rushed home to tell her mother, who told her to keep away from that place.
However, Bernadette returned and would repeatedly see the Virgin–18 times in all.

CHAPEL

One message stood out: A chapel must be built on the site where Bernadette had first seen Mary.
Bernadette’s parish priest was highly skeptical of the visions and dismissed the little girl and his childish fantasy.
In spite of ridicule, Bernadette stuck to her story. It was only after people began reporting that their ailments had been cured after washing in the stream where the visions occurred that the church decided to endorse the apparition.
A shrine was built on the site and, to this day, is visited annually by millions. These pilgrims flock to Lourdes, hoping to cure physical ailments by washing in its now famous waters.
Hundreds of miraculous healings have been reported, all of them verified by church and medical experts.
In May 1917, Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco were tending their sheep in the town of Vila Nova de Ourem in the parish of Fatima, Portugal.

LIGHT

Suddenly, they saw a tremendous flash of light. Thinking it was lightning, the children rushed for cover, only to see the same flash again.
The children described seeing “a Lady more brilliant than the sun.” This was the first in a series of Marian apparitions reported by the children.
Mary impressed upon the children the importance of daily prayer (especially reciting the rosary) and penance. She also told the children that there would be a second war, much worse than the first.
When World War II began almost two decades later, many saw this as the fulfillment of the prophecy. The Virgin also gave the children a brief glimpse of hell and further revealed a mysterious secret, which church authorities kept under wraps until 2000. (The third secret was revealed to be a vision of the deaths of the pope and other individuals.)

MIRACLE

Word of the apparitions soon spread, and by October 13, 1917, a crowd of 70,000–believers and skeptics alike–flocked to Fatima on the hot rumor that a miracle was about to occur.
They were not disappointed. Newspaper reports of the day document how onlookers saw the sun burst through rain clouds and then begin dancing and spinning across the sky in a zigzag pattern, trailed by a brilliant ray of colors.
The so-called “Miracle of the Sun” solidified belief in the apparition, and a shrine was built on the site.
Each year, scores of pilgrims visit the site, hoping to get the graces of Mary first experienced by the three children.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in HISTORY, RELIGION

 

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Don’t insult your friends

“If you can’t ignore an insult, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh it off; and if you can’t laugh it off, it’s probably deserved.” Russell Lynes

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We don’t need to lose quality friends only because of friction and animosity during the election season.
While there are heightened emotions brought by partisan politics, a friendship can only be shattered if we insult one another especially in the social media.
We can crack jokes for the sake of discussion, but if we resort to insults and belittle our friends, egos will be bruised. Relations will turn sour.
If our friends don’t support our candidates, we don’t denounce them and assassinate their character for supporting another candidate. Vice versa.
Our friends don’t have “poor choices” only because we don’t agree with their candidates. Vice versa.
They are not “stupid” or “idiots” for insisting that their candidates have the best and better platform of government. Vice versa. Some words hurt like daggers especially when they come from friends.
Respect begets respect. When we heap insults, they will boomerang. The law of cause and effect.

COME AND GO

Election season come and go. We keep friends, the good or quality ones, come hell or high water, if needed.
Even before Grace Poe had thought of running for president, friends have been “tagging” each other with many interesting videos, website links, quotations from Buddha and Shakespeare, etc.
Even before Mar Roxas filed his candidacy for president, friends have been swapping ideas and suggestions involving apolitical issues.
Even before Rodrigo Duterte disclosed his intention to seek the highest post of the land, friends have been “liking” each other’s posts with added emoticons.
We can always cast aspersions on the candidates we don’t like. That’s normal in the dirty world of politics. The candidates themselves won’t mind the slander.
Positive or negative publicity is still a publicity. Public Relations 101.

ATTACK

Politicians are accustomed to attacks, verbal and written abuse; mockery is part and parcel of being a candidate for an elective office.
Political rivals engage in mudslinging and pull each other down to improve their rating in the surveys.
Politics, after all, is nasty. We can’t expect the voters to look up at all politicians as role models. There will always be offensive remarks and bashing in mass media.
But let’s spare our friends who support or campaign for another candidate. Let’s respect their choices.
When emotions simmer down after the election of our new set of public officials from municipal council to the president, friends will always be friends.
Let’s hear the speech of Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Election fans, fanatics clash; burn bridges

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Winston Churchill

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Days or weeks after the May 9, 2016 polls, Mar Roxas, Rodrigo Duterte, Jejomar Binay, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Grace Poe will greet each other when they meet accidentally in the airports, hotel lobbies, government offices, and other public places.
Let bygones be bygones. Let’s now put the furor whipped up by intense politicking behind us and move on, they will gamely tell each other.
Life must go on. Live another day. Laugh and the world will laugh with us. Cry and we cry alone.
How about their followers? Some of them are also currently at each other’s throats, bitterly and violently.
Others have burned their bridges; some have declared Armageddon.
Friendships shattered permanently because of partisan politics.

JOKE

“Magbiro sa lasing, huwag sa bagong gising” (play jokes on a drunk, not with someone who just woke up from a sleep) was a popular but succinct warning given us in jest by friends in the Philippines.
The caveat is loud and clear: it’s easy to handle a drunken master than a person whose temper can’t be tamed even by a dose of spirit of ammonia.
This goes also to the two warring camps in the blue and red corners in this election season: the fanatics and the fans.
The rift among supporters of candidates in the May 9 presidential and local elections has gone from bad to worse that the warning level has been optimized to “(you can) argue with fans, (but) shun the fanatics.”
Some people find it more healthy and lively to converse with a fan of a particular candidate and more risky and deadly to engage a fanatic in a debate.

AFICIONADO

A fan is merely an aficionado or admirer, while a fanatic is a person who is zealously enthusiastic for some cause, especially in religion and now politics.
A fan can afford to smile, relax and understand the standpoint of another person. A fanatic is always seething with anger, reluctant to admit his shortcomings, and is willing to kill or even die for his candidate.
A fan likes or admires a certain candidate because the candidate amuses and makes him happy.
A fanatic is a fan to the point that he is obsessed with the candidate he is a of and he might even try to hurt someone who is not a fan or is a fan of a rival.

DEBATES

From round-the-table intellectual discussions among friends to heated debates in the coffee shops, barber shops, including the social media, fans and fanatics clash like warriors in the Battle of Arbela.
While it’s not yet certain who will win the electoral contest, both the fans and fanatics should slow down and refrain from releasing hurting words, or throwing verbal expletives and insults that’s hard to heal and difficult to forget.
Jose Mari Chan has a good suggestion: “Can we just stop and talk a while?”

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Debate cruel

“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.” – Margaret Thatcher

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – Historians say that the major reason for Richard Nixon’s dismal defeat to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 US presidential contest was because JFK clobbered him in the “live” TV debate.
Nixon’s body movement and “farcical” facial expressions became his Waterloo.
In a “live” TV debate, candidates can’t hide their expressions and mannerisms; the aesthetic reality prevails.
Television camera is so cruel it can capture even the number of times a debater’s Adam’s apple gyrates.
In TV format, a nervous candidate becomes an ugly sight.
His eyes watery and panicky like he is about to be hauled into an Inquisition, a nervous debater can produce a hailstorm of confusion among his followers and admirers in the audience.

SEPARATE

The beauty of a “live” presidential debate actually is that the chaffs are easily separated from the grains.
Because all candidates are isolated on stage without immediate assistance from subalterns and campaign strategists, charlatans and nondescript debaters are immediately exposed.
They can’t be rescued by their spin doctors, image builders and propagandists who are off limits in the debate.
They are on their own, thus they better skip the debate if they aren’t prepared, or if they think they don’t belong there in the first place.
What the audience see is what they get.
One official debate can spill a disaster for any leading candidate who performs ludicrously.
After the “live” debate, the wheel of fortune changes so fast for any candidate who leads in independent surveys, or a candidate who lags behind.

NARROW

It can narrow the gap among those wearing the yellow jersey in the surveys and those breathing behind their necks in quick succession hours after the debate.
Debate unmasks the pikons (onion-skinned) and those who are grandstanding.
A candidate should have no stage fright as it automatically disqualifies him or her from the program unless he or she wants to commit hara kiri.
In the last debates for the presidential and vice presidential races for the May 9 elections in the Philippines, we’ve seen how a leading vice presidential aspirant melted down as shown by the feedback in the social media because of a “robotic” style of speaking and his virtual lack of depth and substance on other major issues.
In the most recent presidential debate, we’ve seen how a candidate known for a gung-ho style dodged a question about foreign relations by resorting to argumentum ad verecundiam to camouflage his ignorance.
And so and so forth.
Debates are often a spectacle, but voters still look to them as a primary source of information where there is a democratic competition anywhere in the world.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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