RSS

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Drive-in sex booths to help reduce STD, HIV cases?

By Alex P. Vidal

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

HIV POSITIVE

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

PUBLIC SPACE

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Obama did not blink on Miriam’s VFA brouhaha

By Alex P. Vidal

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

BILLION CUTS

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

SECOND

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

RATIFY

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Obama skips Philippines; wary of toxic waste issue?

ALLIES. Philippine President Simeon Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and US President Barack Obama

By Alex P. Vidal

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

TOXIC WASTE

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

CIVILIAN

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

FIRST US PRESIDENT

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

‘TAKING ADVANTAGE’

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

HEARTS: Is everything alright?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Filipinos can learn from US election

By Alex P. Vidal

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

ELECTORAL COLLEGE

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

ABERRATION

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S VICTORY SPEECH IN CHICAGO

By Alex P. VIDAL

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON YOUR REELECTION!

CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON YOUR REELECTION!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized