Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Growing Graveyard in Gaza

In that small strip of land called Gaza, it has become the problem of the living to bury the dead. Dying is such a regular occurrence that outstrips birthing and aging, and the Palestinians have run out of graveyards. Those buried by the rubble from the bombs and big guns of Israeli tanks may be retained where they perished. And if the Jewish State offensive continues, the entire Gaza may become a graveyard - not only of the mangled bodies of civilians, but also of the dreams of young Palestinians for a better existence and a place to call their homeland.

As of the 12th of January, 971 Gazans have been killed - one third of them children. Those that will eventually perish from diseases, wounds, and starvation brought on by the humanitarian crisis now engulfing the area, have yet to be factored in. The latest is that Israeli bombs have struck a United Nations aid storage facility, aggravating the already volatile and inadequate aid supply in the city. Israel has also struck the office facilities used by foreign journalists. Both bombs have been confirmed to contain phosphorous - a fact Israel has consistently denied.

Israel's claim of self-defense is not all that plausible. Prior to its recent barrage in Gaza, it has not suffered an armed attack, which in the UN Charter preserves the right of a state to retaliate. What Israel has initiated is a war of aggression. Since the rocket attacks versus Israel in 2002 commenced, about two dozen Israelis have perished. These attacks by Hamas may be considered war crimes; yet in the same period, Israel's retaliatory strikes have killed 2,700 Palestinians.

In June 2008, both sides agreed to a 6-month truce which neither party fully complied with. Hamas fired rockets into Israel after the Jewish State killed or seized Hamas members in the West Bank, and Israel's refusal to ease the blockade that effectively starved and suffocated Gaza. Israel then broke the truce in November 2008 and killed a Palestinian. The resulting Hamas rockets killed no one - but Israel then killed 5 more Palestinians. The current conflict was thus initiated by Israel's violation of the truce - and it cannot claim self-defense against this escalation because it was provoked by its own abuse.

This armed attack by Israel, unjustified as self-defense, is a war of aggression; and definitely a war crime. And although it has withdrawn its soldiers and settlers in Gaza since 2005, Israel continues to strictly control the coast, borders and airspace, making the Jewish State an occupying power with the legal obligation to protect the civilian population. Hamas can be charged for its violative tactic of using civilians and governmental facilities as shields in launching attacks on Israel, but it is not as serious as Israel's crime of launcing a war of aggression against the civilian population.

The idea that the constant battering of the Palestinians will soften them and accept the peace Israel wants to impose on its own terms, is unrealistic. It will only fuel hardened hatred and rage against them. The statements by Condi Rice and George Bush admonishing Hamas to desist from firing rockets is a subtle way of projecting that Hamas is the aggressor. It is both laughable and incredible, since Israeli tanks are inside Gaza bombarding the city to rubble, its planes dropping bombs, while its ships blasting at Gaza from the coast - yet no admonishing is given to Israel. The lopsided statements have resurfaced America's ugly and obnoxious image in the Middle East.

Talks of a truce have been initiated, but the latest bombardment that burned the food, medicine, fuel, and water supplies of the UN to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, puts into question Israel's idea of peace. It may be that Israel's concept of peace is an exact copy of America's pacification campaign in the old west against the native Americans - that peace, as a goal of the Jewish State means no Palestinian left standing alive - either by bullets, bombs, disease, starvation, or intolerable misery. And that no possible regeneration will ever take place. Gaza will then be recorded and renowned in history as the graveyard of Palestinians, and the burial site of their dreams of a Palestinian State.


Source: Johann Hari, The True Story Behind the War is not the One Israel isTelling
George E. Bisharat, Israel is Committing War Crimes

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas To Everyone

To all my dearest friends, readers, regular commenters, Entrecard droppers, and all those who at one time or another participated in the discussions on this site; thank you and may the blessings of the season be with you.

For all those still struggling with tyranny and the oppression of their leaders, may the hope generated by the holidays uplift your spirits to continue the efforts for freedom and a better life.

To those we've known who suffer from hunger, disease, and deprivation that are aggravated by the wanton corruption, denial, incompetence, and abandonment by their leaders - may the joy of the Savior's birth heal you, nourish and strengthen you, and guide you to the fulfillment of even your simplest dreams.

For those who have lost their homes, property, savings, and the many more threatened by the same fate; may the essence of the holidays give you the endurance to proceed towards a life lived in simplicity, kindness, and the realization of the plight of those with a lot less than what you've had; and may your generosity towards your fellowmen, of whatever nation, race or religion, be enhanced by this experience that would lead to better understanding and co-existence.

For those who live in areas of war and conflict, may the spirit of Peace grace your orientation and settle into your sense of humanity, and make you realize that all races or religions have a lot more in common than differences - and that these differences are not threats to the existence of others if tolerance and understanding prevails in the spirit of Peace.

And may citizens of this planet we call Earth finally move as one under the realization that we are all brothers; and that this small piece of rock in the universe we call home, which is under attack from the abuse and unabated wasteful consumption of some of the most profligate members of mankind, finally find the light and guiding star to unite as one and save the only home we will ever have, and the only home we will ever know.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Capturing Consumers via the Cold and the Crisis

In the minds of most people, the mere mention of Siberia produces images of an eternally snow covered and vast wasteland, known to be the final destination of Russian dissidents during the communist regime; where they were frozen in time from the memories of the people, or merely froze to death. It comes as a surprise that this once barren and forsaken expanse has a Capital in Novosibirsk, with a population of over 1.3 million people. The bigger surprise is that it is the home of Inmarko, a company that is the biggest ice-cream maker in the entire Russian nation.

The city was established in 1893, and was named after Tsar Nicholas II. It has none of the natural resources that the country is heavily dependent upon for its economic engines, and no industrial areas nor factories either.
What it has are universities and research institutes that produce a lot of creative ideas from people who refuse to be cowed, intimidated, nor demoralized by a global financial crisis. They are happy to meet the crisis head on - despite the minus 25 degree weather almost all year round.

However, after 118 years of existence, its small population may be an indication of a cold and calculating race of people. They may not be a very romantic lot - cold to one another and having difficulty warming up to a relationship - or are terribly inhibited by the cold that they fail to remove their clothes when in the process of fully expressing their love for each other. Unless of course they prefer to preserve their respective reproductive cells for the day when global warming finally brings the heat to the place.

To outsiders, their fondness for ice cream (a $200 million company business) presents a stunning image (300 shops in Novosibirsk alone selling nothing but ice cream). But it should come as no surprise since the land was buried in ice and that's all their grandparents had to live on for sometime, flavored by whatever comes with it. To this end, Inmarko pays tribute by coming up with popular flavors such as black pepper, ice cream with fish, and a flavor called Vampire - a small stake of aspen wood stabbed into the ice cream. It wouldn't be surprising if the highest priced flavor is cannabis and cream.

However, the world should credit them for going into such a venture in the midst of all that ice, and nurture a company that has dominated the Russian market. It lends credence to the concept that similarities exist within people from whatever part of the world.

The Russian taste buds are just different from the rest as attested to by preferred flavors. But the world can find comfort in the fact that on major issues, similarities are more pronounced - especially among the more powerful nations and those emerging powerful ones. These are : domination, hegemony, political expediency, self-interest and greed.

Perhaps nations of the world should share their ice cream instead - whatever flavors these are made of.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shocked, Shamed, and Shooed by a Shoe Thrower

The United States Secret Service have always dedicated themselves to the idea of taking a bullet for the President, sacrificing their lives to save the most powerful man on earth. This has been proven many times throughout its history. Security arrangements for the US President always precedes the visit by at least 2 days, to ensure utmost safety, and to assure that all precautions are taken with all factors considered, and activities moving with pinpoint precision. While the US Secret service are willing to die, they may not be willing to take a shoe, and leave it up to their President to be agile enough to duck.

The good news is that President Bush knows how to duck, it's what he's been doing for the last 8 years - ducking all the exposed actions and machinations of his administration that are immoral and illegal with falsified reports, spurious constitutional arguments and outright lies. But the Secret Service has been caught napping by Iraqi reporter and shoe thrower Muntandhar al-Zeidi. What is most embarrassing is that the Iraq trip was supposed to be top secret, where they even released a schedule of activities for the President, only to be seen on a news video being shooed with a shoe, followed by the words " Take a farewell kiss you dog".

The news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was held in the green zone - the most heavily secured part of Baghdad - which turned out to be of questionable safety since the Secret Service and those securing the zone had not checked the background of the Al-Baghdadiya reporter who had been kidnapped as a result of the conflict and has always hated the US presence and Iranian interference. The Secret Service failed to thwart the shoe throwing which was done twice, and could have made the President of the United States kiss corrugated rubber or worn out camel leather with a dash or Iraqi sand. Or, have a visible external lump on his head from the sole of a smelly, dirty shoe - not that he has no internal lumps on his head from constant knocking with the fists from all his superiors and father for mangling the English language - but such a violently caused lump is a shame that all Americans would feel.

While it represents accurately what many Iraqis feel about America and Bush in particular, shaming Americans is too much of an additional burden for the already economically punished citizens. They have been embarrassed enough by 8 years of bungling and cover ups, by the loss of their homes, jobs, and incomes, by the disposal of their very personal belongings to pawnshops to generate needed cash for required expenses to keep themselves afloat. Bush is still the President, a choice many regret after two terms, but any humiliation he gets in a foreign country is a humiliation for Americans. This secret trip should not have been made, and perhaops President Bush should simply be locked up somewhere until Barack Obama's inauguration - to prevent any more miscues and untoward incidents that would only add to his long list of inanities.

The shoe thrower has become a hero, hailed by Arabs and Iraqis who rallied in the streets asking for his release - invoking the freedom of expression provision in Iraq's American made constitution. He has risen from obscurity to become a symbol for Iraq's self governance and interference free political and economic life. A big difference a pair of shoes make - and it is not surprising if many Arabs and even Americans would want to be in al-Zeidi's shoes - or rather have the sole of their shoes caress the face of the outgoing President as a going away relief from all the anxieties brought by the policies and management he has employed. This would perhaps lay to rest their confused predicament, and put an end to their arduous soul searching for what went wrong - and find solace in the sole act of letting their shoes fly.

As to the Secret Service, well the incident on video cannot be kept secret, and their service to an outgoing President has lapsed into disservice. These assigned people need to be retrained for they may have been infected by the incompetence virus of Bush and company after 8 years of exposure.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Devastating Defeat for De la Hoya

Saving a cherished reputation of never being knocked out in a legendary 10 year career that brought him an unprecedented 6 titles in as many divisions, Oscar de la Hoya managed to accomplish only that, nothing else. Yet his surrender after the 8th round made that same reputation hollow and meaningless. Touted as a true warrior who faced many fierce battles, de la Hoya's failure to fight to the death, like a true warrior, cast serious doubt on his spirit and substance as a tested fighter who never loses heart. On this fateful night, de la Hoya lost everything.

In the fight top billed as the Dream Match, Oscar lost the agility in his legs, his penetrating jabs were neutralized, his power punches blocked or evaded, his surgical approach dismantled, his speed was jammed into a halt - until the fight in him vanished. He didn't do this to himself, but was masterfully executed by Manny Pacquiao, who had triumphed over all Mexicans put in front of him until they could no longer find a match for his superior fighting skills. The last Mexican standing was a legend who was bigger, heavier, with longer reach and a reputation to protect - all the elements that bolster an advantage which made the Pacman the underdog. What Oscar did to himself was to lose heart and give up to evade an outright knockout. In the process, he also lost his reputation as a true warrior.

Ringside statistics attest to the domination by Pacquiao in the lopsided fight that made Oscar looked anything but old and retireable. His speed, power, agility, and fight strategy proved beyond doubt that he is the world's best pound-for-pound fighter there is. Pacquiao pummeled de la Hoya like a permissive punching bag, hitting him at will with 224 out of 585 punches landing, as against Oscar's 83 out of 402. He also gave Oscar 45 power punches in the 7th round versus only four received by the Pacman which threw de la Hoya at the center of the ring. Two of the 3 judges gave Pacquiao all the 8 rounds except for one judge who gave Oscar the first round. Manny Pacquiao put on a spectacular display; while Oscar de la Hoya, who was a mere shell of his old self, put on a pathetic performance.

Manny Pacquiao has unwittingly put an end to a remarkable story, one that began in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when a young Oscar de la Hoya won the gold in a skillfully executed bout. He went on to become the biggest box office draw in boxing. In the last 6 years however, he has not won a major bout. In this match, he no longer had the elements to mount a counter attack to win the fight. He was all spent and wasted. His only other stoppage came via a referee's decision, this time, he concurred with his handlers.The decision was his, and he opted to end it standing up. All is not lost for he earned a substantially sizeable amount for his closed left eye and swollen face. Perhaps pride can be covered with money, which seems to be the main reason for this battle. Oscar de la Hoya has come full circle, from a fighting legend to a shrewd businessman.

The power of Pacquiao's punches may be greatly aided by his faith and augmented in large part by his prayers and those of around 50 million of 82 million Filipinos. He has defeated a legend, and has himself become one. He bears the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders whenever he goes up the ring, and dedicated each of his fights to the people of his country. He prays before and after a fight, win or lose; and refuses to give up even when badly beaten, heavily cut, and profusely bleeding - much like his idol Oscar de la Hoya some years ago. Perhaps a fighter loses part of his spirit with every punch received over the years - all because of their stubborn refusal to stop. The addiction to glory in a viciously violent encounter boosts their ego and makes them deny their diminishing power and strength, in an event so primitive yet continues to salivate a supposed civilized world in watching two men rearrange each other's face and bones; and become ecstatic at seeing blood and gore.

The Filipino people and the Filipino nation should be prepared to pray that Pacquiao cease this brutal sport while he is in one piece. He has done more than enough for the country and to the upliftment of the Filipino psyche' and spirit, more than any politician ever has. Pacquiao's humanity and sacrifice has encouraged unity and peace - the least the Filipino nation can do is to honor him in peace and let him enjoy the fruits of his very excruciating labors. The peak is the best place to end a quest. Pray that he isn't knocked senseless by all the adoration and the summer acquaintances who shower praise - yet disappear when the rains pour.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Ilumina : Investing in Inovention

Revolutions belong to the young, those who refuse to yield to the boundaries and limitations laid out by elders who hold power; and who stifle their freedom to express their concept of what is right for their generation. These are achievers who are not content with choices dictated by commercial interests, but rather adhere to function and adaptability; yet are denied the power to access resources that would fulfill their dreams which defy long held assumptions and conventions. These young revolutionaries are the Inoventors.

A core group of very young, talented, and adventurous Filipinos whose audacity is molded in idealism and tempered by nationalistic fervor have launched an Inovention Revolution that will install the Philippines to a position of global leadership in consumer electronics technology. Innovation and invention are their driving forces, and they have set up a company (Inovent Inc.) that unveiled the first true LCD Interactive Television. These young men see only a future where true convergence exists, unbound by various meshes of business ecosystems catering only to specific interest groups. Their optimism generates enough energy to break whatever challenge is brought their way; their enthusiasm and belief in what they have begun is more than enough to raise a groundswell of adherents and supporters.

The product, dubbed "ilumina", is a television set with the power and brain of a personal computer. It has a flat 32 inch LCD display screen, a 1 terrabyte hard drive, and a multimedia center that allows owners to listen to music, see movies, watch and record TV shows and surf the web. It has a USB port, is wifi enabled, plus a video camera that eliminates the need for separate players and multiple connections. It is compatible with any type of keyboard including the mac wireless keypad. The "gadget" represents the changing lifestyles of today's generation and those emerging multimedia users of the future. It is a revolution in industrial design spawned by functionality, substance, divergence and physical aesthetics that addresses the unspoken demands of an undefined constituency; large enough to create a major market, but ignored by traditional manufacturers whose concerns are focused on the mutual benefits shared with their ecosystem partners.

Exponents of the Inovent Revolution who created the "ilumina" targeted the 30th of November for the unveiling of the product, for it represents the anniversary of the Birth of the Philippine Revolution against foreign domination represented by Spain in 1896. The launch was held at Fully Booked on Bonifacio Avenue in Global city. The leader of the 1896 Philippine Revolution was Andres Bonifacio, for whom the street was named - who was a young and idealistic Filipino who dared raise the cry for freedom more than a century ago. The choice of Global City may not be coincidental as this revolutionary product is destined for global leadership.

The first revolution was a failure, and Filipinos had to endure American and Japanese rule which ended in 1946, but only on paper. Its economic policies, foreign policies and commercial activities remain foreign dominated. The "ilumina" is a historic inovention that champions the Filipino idea, the Filipino ingenuity, capability, creativity, management expertise, and multi-disciplinary harmony in creating synergy that is competitive and world class. These revolutionaries seek support and ask Filipinos to invest in inovention, invest in ilumina, and to invest in Filipino pride.

The revolution has begun and it is headed towards a victorious destination. All it requires is the sustaining power that comes from the patronage of its countrymen in terms of venture capital and subsequent product acquisition. Success is imminent, freedom is on the horizon, and honor for Filipinos globally is at hand. It cannot be prevented. Unless, Filipinos themselves turn their backs and opt for foreign created products that will once again abandon the revolution and leave its proponents to become orphaned non-entities. Should this transpire, the Filipinos shall be doomed to enslavement for one hundred more years. Heaven forbid!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bringing the Bees Back for Breakfast

The phenomenon of the continued decimation of bee populations signals an additional burden for the already difficult times ahead. The pollination of edible plants and vegetation is largely dependent on these busy insects whose efforts impact on food supply, including those that are used for animal feeds that breed livestock for human consumption. It would not matter one bit if the population of politicians globally were the ones being decimated, there's more than enough of them to endanger global harmony. But the bees are the better breed whose quiet productive activities and sustained contributions are not bound by race, country, ideology nor political party.

Members of the European Parliament have raised the alarm over the critical actions needed to save the world's bee populations, joining a growing number of scientists, non-government institutions, and citizen's organizations who have echoed the concerns of bee keepers all over Europe. The threat to Europe is very alarming as two of their largest beekeeping countries (Italy at 1.09 million hives and France at 1.2 million hives) have registered a bee mortality rate of 40% to 50%. These are countries with industrial scale bee keeping industries that have been reduced to about half of their normal production output. The threat is so serious that a name has been given to it: Colony Collapse Disorder.

Decline in bee populations does not only affect the supply of honey, but also the much heralded European institution known as the Continental breakfast - which could become a bleakfast. Bees pollinate almond trees whose nuts provide the filling for almond croissants. The one Euro cup of coffee, as well as the orange juice would increase in price since bees pollinate the majority of coffee plants and orange trees. Bees also pollinate most types of plants used for animal feed, and if livestock producers resort to cereals, the price of milk would also escalate.

Scientists suspect a kind of mite that suck the blood of bees as the culprit behind the bee mortality rate. Also considered are changing weather conditions such as the amount of rainfall in the last two summers. The Members of the European Parliament are looking at the creation of special recovery zones of arable land full of nectar rich plants that could help the bee populations to recover. Although a bit late, the beekeeping industry is happy with the attention obtained from the European politicians.

If the European politicians would busy themselves with this threat and work as hard as the bees they intend to save, the Continental breakfast will surely survive. However, if they take their normal pace, Europeans will be eating dead bees for breakfast - and the politicians will be eaten alive by the people because of it.