Sunday, April 30, 2006


Newsflash: Mexico legalizes drug use… may have to put up wall to keep Americans out!

" Mexico's Congress approved a bill Friday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin for personal use —"

Ok, the headline is bit of a stretch. but I can see it as one solution to a major problem that Mexico has been unable or unwilling to contend with.

i can also see Jay Leno's Tonight Show and those guys from Comedy central's writer's pool and a lot of Hollywood getting ready to write punch lines to jokes; With the same message I had in my headline. While others wil be doing it in hotel rooms in Mexico to be there when the bill is signed into law.

" The only remaining step was the signature of President Vicente Fox, whose office indicated he would sign it. Supporters said the law would let police focus on drug smuggling, rather than on busting casual users. The bill also would stiffen many drug-related penalties: for trafficking, for possession near schools, and for possession of even small quantities by government employees." - reports.

I do expect if the law is enacted; a lot of those using and abusing the "personal use" law will be Americans and people from other countries who use and abuse drugs.

I can imagine those drums along the Border in TJ where people can dump contraband oin return to the USA will full of "personal" items of people returning to the USA.

But; it is a surrender to drug barons and drug dealers in way - however domestic consumption in Mexico is a problem that is encouraged by the huge demand across the Border. The problem is Mexican jails are filled with tens of thousands of people who technically are addicts in need of rehabilitation. Read the rest on the website.

In light of recent ruling in the United States where a Federal ruling has overturned some states use of medical marijuana it may be way for those who suffer from ailments to seek treatment and may be a move to cash-in before US "smoke rooms" are shut down .

Do not get me wrong; I do not use drugs; I said no a long time ago - nor do I condone the use of the illicit drugs mentioned above for sale illegally or as is now legally allowed in Mexico when Fox signs it into law.

To do such is a surrender. A failure to being able to enforce drug laws effectively or failure to be able to stop the trade.

But what I am saying is it a sad day for those engaged in fighting the sad social scourge and I am sure will be abused extensively by many who are in the drug trade.

Vicente Fox could still Veto the measure; but it is unlikely seeing it is an election year in Mexico.

In fairness to Mexico; in the Netherlands, a similar law was introduced. It was not successful and later redrawn with stricter policies and change as drug abuse and drug tourists visitors escalated to levels many could not tolerate.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Threat of May One violence confirmed in Police Raid

Militant Extremists of the Abu Sayyaf and not military rebels may have thier own "G plan" for the upcoming may day rallies in the Philippines. a total of six granades five hand granade and a rifle granade as well as a unfinnished IED and blasting cap fuse wire were recovered by Philippine Police.
When operatrives led by Lt. Col. Nelson Yabut of the CIDG NCR ; raided a compound in the suburban city of Marikina where at 21 champaign street in residence village in Marikina they found the weapons cache.
I know Nelson - he was Lt. Yabut of the WPD or Manila's western Police district when I first met him a long -long time ago- myself- like other reporters used to sneak into his office to get instant coffee! (what does that tell you about how long ago that was!) All I can say it was a much happier if not interesting time. A lot of us - learned quite a bit from Nelson... i dont know why but - a watering hole in front of WPD's press center comes to mind - spent many late nights there learning the trade in what now seems - a long time ago.
Now Lt. Col or perhaps Col. Yabut - he should be General soon I hope; I know many Cops; not Yabut, Nelson is a "Police Officer".
Anyhow he explained to reporters the purpose of the raid - and the need for a higher level of vigililance by all groups in the days ahead.
Among those seen at the compund were higher ups in the ASG - they believe that a plot to throw grandes into crowds of rallists protesting this labor day- may have been the purpose of the group that reports say numbered anywhere for four to six men. Who are "at large" by the way at this time.
A trademark of the groups here though - was seen at the site- the blast wire- I can't go into details but perhaps I can talk about it in another blog.
"Fusewire" was found at the site as well as wrapping paper for more - alert levels have been raised. Police in the City of Manila are on a high level of alert to deal with anything untoward other groups attempt to create chaos in the days ahead.
the six men included a cousin of the Abu Sayyaf leader Kadaffi Janjalani.
I'll keep an eye on this one...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006



4G; the plot not the phone…

April 26th, 2006

A new plot to seek violent end to the current dispensation running the country is reported to be in the works in time for the May 1st Labor Day;

"anti-government groups are hatching plans dubbed "Oplan: 4G" to destabilize the Arroyo administration on May 1."

Ok, this is not to be confused with ‘3G’ the new cellular service advertised by Smart and Globe in the country - that offers video calling,

‘4G’ however is also being used to describe the next level of cell-phone service being designed which gives better data rates and a high end of user interface for communications devices such as phones and entertainment and information services..

So- With that out of the way what is this “4G”

This Oplan ‘4G’ comes on the heels of “Oplan Hackle”; and earlier plats and plans and the like.

I wonder when the groups come together to name these plots - do they have a registered trademark? I mean is 4G a working title? Or is there some meaning behind it? Like 4 is the number of people involved and the names all start with G?

Or Is it religious - 4 God perhaps? Or something like a throw back to the Marcos era 4 - ‘Galun-gong’; .

No Perhaps this ‘4G’ means the ever old saying of 4 gold or 4 glory?

Could it also be a sudden shift and be plan to suddenly declare sexuality long hidden in the closet 4Gays? Uh in this case, Don’t ask – Don’t tell comes to mind.

What does 4G mean - who thought it up?

Perhaps it is just one of many quickly thought out names during a meeting and has no meaning other than a plan and a number. Perhaps there should be incorporated into the PMA classes a "Subversion Oplan naming ‘short course’ for would-be plotters" one journalist I talked to said.

A little raz-ma-taz of Madison Avenue on the topic. Some more catch words and key designs. In the meantime a local correspondent seeing a foreign influence noted the number "4" in Fung Shie or numerology is the number for Death. But death for whom? Government… Goons… Gratitude… Greed… what else starts with "G"… lest I be dragged somewhere and given too much water to drink I just want to say I'm writing this to pass the time and cure boredom while waiting for an interview. I have no idea- and am merely looking at this in a cynical way- albeit “callus” mindset most journalists have after years of coverage.

"intelligence reports that showed destabilizers plan to carry out Oplan: 4G by infiltrating street demonstrations during celebrations to mark the International Labor Day."

- A website story on the subject points out - so it could simply mean 4-Gulo.

Other groups have their own opinion on the topic at hand.

"The labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, however, said the supposed security threat is the administration's way of discouraging people from joining street rallies on May 1.They invented the security threat to discourage people to join the protest on May 1," KMU leader Elmer Labog said in Filipino on ABS-CBN".

.So in that essence to them the 4G stands for a hope people will "4-Go" attending the mass actions and rallies and be "4-ever Grateful" to the Military for warning them.

All most people hope is another 4G happens and those people behind this 4G plot; "4-Get" So we can all go "4-golf" Saturday.

Oh and 4-Goodness sake…. 4-give my silliness on a serious topic. By now this may all be a 4-gone conclusion.

Most of the quotes above come from ABS-CBNNews news the country’s most trusted name in news online. But the humor is mine!

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Boss" Jake - One of "the creators" of ABS-CBN's TV Patrol, Alas Sinko Y Medya, and, ANC - sent me the following email on if the Biblical Noah were around today and in the Philippines-
I think this is an updated version of one I saw shortly after EDSA '86;

read on...

It is the year 2006 and Noah lives in the

The Lord speaks to Noah and says:

"In one year I am going to make it rain and cover
the whole Earth with water until all is destroyed.

But I want you to save the righteous people and two
of every kind of living thing on the earth.

Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark."

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications
for an Ark.

Fearful and trembling, Noah took the plans and
agreed to build the Ark.

"Remember," said the Lord, "You must complete the
Ark and bring everything aboard in one year."

Exactly one year later, a fierce storm cloud covered
the earth and all the seas of the earth went into tumult.

The Lord saw Noah sitting in his front yard weeping.

"Noah." He shouted, "Where is the Ark?"

"Lord please forgive me!" cried Noah. "I did my best
but there were big problems.

First, I had to get a Mayor's permit for construction
and your plans "did not comply with the codes".

I had to hire their "engineering firm" and "redraw"
the plans.

Then I got into a fight with Municipal Fire Safety
Inspector over whether or not the Ark needed a fire
sprinkler system and extinguishers.

Then my neighbours objected, claiming I was
violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in
my front yard,so I had to get a permit from the
municipal planning office.

The Municipal Planning office told me to get a
barangay clearance.

But when I went to the Barangay Captain, he said
I should first get a permit from the municipal planning office.

I got confused.

I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark,
because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect
the Monkey-Eating Eagle.

I finally convinced the DENR that I needed the wood
to save the eagles. However, the DENR won't let me
catch any eagles. So, no eagles.

The carpenters formed a union and went out on
strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the KMU.
Now I have 16 carpenters on the Ark, but still no

When I started rounding up the other animals,
I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected
to me only taking two of each kind aboard.

Just when I got the suit dismissed, the DENR again
notified me that I could not complete the Ark without
filing an environmental impact assessment on
your proposed flood.

They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they
had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator
of the universe.

Then the DPWH demanded a map of the proposed new
flood plan. I sent them a globe.

Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed
with the DOLE that I am practicing discrimination by not
taking godless, unbelieving people aboard!

The BIR has seized all my assets, claiming that I'm
building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to
avoid paying taxes.

I just got a notice from the BIR that I owe some kind
of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a recreational

The NBI and ISAFP each wanted a piece of the action
alleging that the Ark would be used by Garcillano to escape.

The PNP on the other hand insists that Mr. Arroyo
might use the Ark to flee to the USA.

Malacanang sees the opportunity to use the Ark for
GMA's Strong Republic Nautical Highway presidential
campaign sorties.

Upon hearing my building the Ark, Congress did what
they always do --- formed a fact-finding committee.

I'm not worried about that though because they've
never had anything done anyway.

Finally the Senate got the courts to issue a TRO
against further construction of the Ark, saying that
since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and
therefore unconstitutional.

I really don't think I can finish the Ark for
another 10 or 16 years!"

Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and
the seas began to calm. A rainbow arched across the sky.

Noah looked up hopefully.

"You mean you are not going to destroy the earth,

"No," said the Lord sadly...."The government is
already doing that."


'In the coming Days.'.. LA times article on "Gringo"

Something seems to be up; what exactly is hard to say. But a lot is being made of a interview and quote about "In the coming days." I talked about this in a earlier blog below.

The quote is from an interview with a "Magdalo" member of the foiled Oakwood mutiny - "Former Sen. Honasan serves as an example and inspiration. We believe he is fighting for genuine reforms." Army 1st Lt. Sonny Sarmiento, said this on Che-Che Lazero's probe team episode on the "Magdalo Group".

Todays; Sunday edition of the LA times has an article by Richard Paddock on Sen, Gringo Honasan; Xinghua Chian news agency has a piece out the Philippine Military saying they are ready for anything. Time has a story in the works So does Newsweek Al Jazeera is working on something, the BBC, ITN, and CNN or so I hear. Wazzap?

The article got noticed in the USA - I got a few calls from a couple of US TV networks to be "ready and aware"... It seems the buzz is out there indeed. But- Paddock's Article intrigues me... In the LA times the report is focused on these points; But waht grabs me is the tone - its an advanced piece... advanced to what I do not know. If you take the Ny time editorial and then this. Then the Heritage Foundation Rpeort very critical of the GMA government and a very well oiled and organized campaign in the US with web ads and a strong PR effort vs. the Philippine Gov't one looks to the heavens and wonders aloud like Yule Briner in the King and i and musses - "It is a puzzlement..."

Perhaps it is nothing but a interesting rehash of things we have heard here in Manila time and again but - in news timing is everything. And I think it's time I listened a bit harder. I could be wrong but I think the LA times and other US based media groups hear the distinct but distant pitter patter of feet- and they may be wearing combat boots.

- I hope they're wrong…. but my camcorder batteries are charged just in case.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Reports coming from the recent counter terrorism summit held in Mactan, Cebu warn, that, a new wave of organized rebuilt and armed with a new crop of cadre's Jemaah Islamiah is ready to strike anew.

Australia, did issue a warning for Indonesia last week- While not clearly indicating where- they gave a date of April 20th onwards- of new a plot for new attacks somewhere in Indonesia.

The DFAT (Dept. Foreign Affairs and Trade) issued a alert calling on Aussies; living in Indonesia to” lie low” for those who already were in that country.

While warning tourists of a new possible plot, that had been uncovered by the AISO, in the wake of sweeps and arrests that foiled attacks in Sydney.

"A noted regional security analyst said here yesterday the regional Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror network has 100 foreign militants in Mindanao who have trained 400 to 500 fighters for new attacks." - the Philippine Star reported further - " Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told reporters on the sidelines of a three-day international experts’ conference on counterterrorism here that nearly 100 JI militants were being given refuge by rogue guerrilla leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front."

Overall the MILF has rejected extremism, and has repeatedly said. They want to see an end to groups engaged in these kinds of terror acts be stopped; and are cooperating by and large to see "outlaws" face justice.

Overall, the Cebu summit versus terrorism got a few "footnotes" of coverage on the news locally;, print coverage was better though than Broadcast most TV Stations seem perplexed of late covering anything outside Politics,

So for them it is a focus of covering the Cha-Cha or alleged plots and reports and claims of new plots to destabilize the country rather than focus attention on an "old topic" it is a dilemma for many in the industry who focus on this topic as conflicts abound in Newsroom’s with personal bias high against the topic .

I remember one time; when I too felt that way – then- six years ago- it all changed one day- it was on Dec 30th of 2000 - I had just gone to work to check my email when the Desk editor on Duty asked if i could hop into a crew cab and help out as a something had gone wrong with a LRT train at the Blumentritt station.

Earlier Robert Tan, another reporter, had gone out to Makati - a fire had been reported on a bus - and while I was in the crew cab on the way to the story a third team was being rushed to Plaza Ferguson in front of the US Embassy in Ermita.

Something had exploded,,, at three locations… as well as on a Bus,

When I reached the Bumentritt LRT station - we saw pandemonium; people screaming - people running down the steps carrying victims. The steps were slippery and sticky - blood and body parts were everywhere,

A series of explosions in four places at one time had rocked Metro Manila, the first thing that came to mind, was domestic politic s- then almost ominously- I looked at a local Police detachment commander talking to General Avelino Razon - the words the man said echoed in my head for a while “ This isn't local Sir...Tthis is like a middle east bombing...look at the blast – it cut - this is not something Filipinos rebels do look at the civilians, Sir, ...”.The Police detachment officer who had been a PNP UN peacekeeper in Lebanon and elsewhere in the middle east - He knew in an instant what many at the immediate time choose to ignore, that a new wave International terrorism had hit Manila.

Everyone was skeptical; Most of our news coverage had been focused on the Impeachment allegations of that time – and - we like everyone else were looking at a possible coup plot or other type of destabilization at the time.

Even later that night at the Chinese General Hospital when the President came to visit the injured victims - another officer - a PSG close in security officer I had known for years told me, in almost a whisper one word "Terrorists..."I looked at him – my face showing disbelief; When I asked "who”His reply hit me like a lightning bolt-

"Al Qaeda... from Indonesia"

He said it - I couldn't believe it at first- but the cold stare in eyes and years of knowing him one look said it was what he believed to be true. What many People then did not understand that at around that time Former President Estrada had ordered his forces to move into MILF camps in Mindanao in 1999 for a offensive – what they uncovered was a large number of Foreign fighters; many of whom were from Indonesia and other from as far off as Pakistan and the Arab World. Piles of passports and documents had been seized in several camps.

The MILF; at that time had welcomed the foreigners into the camps for simple logistics and as volunteers who I was later told by senior MILF people “Abused the hospitality of the MILF and established hard-line sects within the group.” The Military of the Philippines has a very different view of that period – but since both parties are now in peace talks – in the spirit of reconciliation I’ll leave it there.

Now; back to that Rizal Day, after doing a bunch of reports on air for all of ABS-CBN’s channels- before being relieved by more senior correspondent Doris Bigornia , for a special edition of TV patrol as night fell, I was happy to see Doris, she had money for dinner! We had been going at it since morning – by then we were tired and most of our energy was spent.

Most of us in Media on that night on December 30th, 2000 –- remember this was before 9-11 – had really very little knowledge of the extent Al qeada had grown; although many knew it did have ties to the Abu Sayyaf this was still unclear then.

Later on that night I went back to the office we were told of calls by a man claiming to be from the” International Islamic Movement”, claiming responsibility in broken English.

It was only then - I noticed people staring at me- I hadn't had a chance to change yet- my pants, shoes, shirt, was stained with blood. We had been first on the scene and had helped EMS teams with some of the victims. I also remember that there was flesh and body parts everywhere.

When I went home - I couldn't go to sleeps – Always in my mind is the picture of Baby Bottle; its nipple bit off- blood around the rim. I can understand the reasons behind these kind of attacks; but when ever one see’s the effects it never really leaves you.

I sat down and remembered the wounded- the words they spoke those children asking for parents some we knew were dead; killed in the blasts. 22 in all died that day a few hundred more were injured.

In the weeks, months, and years, that followed there were more bombings and attacks - a bus her e- a place there, other parts of the country as well; always the scene was the same - people frantic. The worst was the Super Ferry; a couple of years back I didn’t go to the scene at the time - but later went to the Ship when it had been raised.

The faces of terror's victims always looks the same; Also the sight of people like me always at the scene- reporting ,looking, seeing first hand the death and dying the people after a while it becomes another story- the more it happens the less it grabs the headlines. I wonder if the People who do this realize that, that people while fearful seem less and less shocked by the carnage.

A report I posted further down said last year was the worst; the number of attacks across the globe setting a new level with 10,000 attacks overall . Yet there is less and less focus of coverage on that kind of news. More showbiz- more sports- more politics.

So now with the new warnings and new threats it seems like before when people first warned of “new groups of extremists” in 1999.

At that time Asia was just hearing of the then new recruits, new groups old slogans and tactics it was largely ignored by media.

Now amidst fears by expressed by “experts”; fears of worse and more horrific attacks. A lot of which is ignored save for a few seconds on the news on TV stations and back pages of some newspapers.

So when warnings like this come out I think back to the warnings of before and worry about seeing history repeat itself as some seem in media seem to prefer to ignore this threat and clear present danger – for the latest showbiz scandal – or Political event or exercise they have vested interests in… I hope I’m wrong this time – and these warnings will now fall on deaf ears.


Abductees... North Korea's kidnapped Japanese brides

On the 27th of April, at the US Congress a hearing into the record of the North Korean attempt to create a ethnic Japanese pool of children to be used as spies in Japan - will be discussed before the Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Set to speak are - Mrs. Sakie Yokota;The Mother of Megumi Yokota, Japanese abductees’ who was kidnapped and brought to Japan as a teenager and held for many years.

A story that many never believed and sparks a story of images of a old John Travolta movie about a Russian spy town in the former Soviet Union that was built to look like a American town and city.

But there was no comedy in the case of these abductees - the words of verified reports of torture and abuse for decades are expected to be brought forward anew by others like Mr. Koh Myung Sup a South Korean abductee held in North Korea for 35 years.

It can be remembered when early on the last two decades; Professor Yoichi Shimada Vice Chairman, National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea.

When the Professor first brought the reports to light in Japan many could not believe the reports of a North Korean institute designed to create pseudo-Japanese of Korean ancestry to blend into Japan's society to work for the regime on Pyongyang.

But for Mr. Cho Chang-Ho Former, South Korean officer and POW held in North Korea for 43 years, the stories were real an and far from imagined.

People like; Ms. Lee Mi-Il, President, Korean War Abductees Family Union Vice Chairman, National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN), worked endlessly over the years to get back children of Japanese and South Korean families - many of whom were duped into being forced brides or breeders of the super spies of the North.

But the crop of spies and saboteurs who were later released back to Japan. The revalation of the program came after the collapse of North Korea's farming system and forced the "Hermit Kingdom" of the North to release many the people.

Most of whom were now in their forties back to Japan in exchange for increased food and aid shipments.

Mr. Cho Chang-Ho Former South Korean officer and POW held in North Korea for 43 years also is expected to shed light on rumors of Americans and other nationals long held in secret by the North..

While; Ms. Lee Mi-Il, President, Korean War Abductees Family Union claim that many more still suffer in the North from other parts of Asia is something perhaps that the Government here ought to look into?.
Could there be a Barangay in the North Korean vastness of Pinoy's? If the reports are true could the North be also creating "perfect" fake Pinoy spies - rumors abound of other camps of other nationalities as well Indonesian, Chinese, Russian, even when albeit unlikely of any success in the program.

The first word of which came to light as many of those “bred” or brainwashed to be spies for Pyongyang were once allowed to assimilate and brought to see that life in the rest of the world was not as their "brainwashing" taught them. Those some of whom taken as children as young as five - went to authorities and surrendered.

This is how the case with the Japanese first abductees’ who reintroduced into Japan turned themselves in to authorities and exposed to the world the program that few imagined existed was true.

It will be a interesting story... I wonder if any major coverage will be seen. other events for the hearings scheduled include this week:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 10:30 a.m.

Full committee hearing,
Iraq: Update on U.S. policy”

Room 2172 Rayburn
2:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing, “U.S. - Mexico Relations”

Rayburn 2:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations hearing,
“The Endangered Children of Northern Uganda”

Room 2200 Rayburn

2:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia hearing,

U.S. Policy in Central Asia: Balancing Priorities (Part II)”

Room 2255 Rayburn

I'm sure the first item on Iraq Policy will be the major focus of attention of the reporters and bloggers- as well as the second item on the agenda on the US-Mexico hearings and reports. The other topics mostly focus on issues the foreign relations committee deals with and does a lot of good to channel US aid and programs to areas in need of support or attention in the world.

Friday, April 21, 2006


10,000 terror attacks in 2005... This thing is far from over

If you thought that this War is waning down - you might be pardon the pun "Dead wrong"

A report be a established and long held credible news agency in the U of A. Knight Ridder- no - not the TV show of David Hasslehoff and there is no "Kit" black Trans Am in the parking lot there either this is serious stuff - so listen up.

" The number of terrorist attacks documented by U. S. intelligence agencies jumped sharply in 2005, crossing the 10,000 mark for the first time, according to U counterterrorism officials and documents obtained by the Knight Ridder news agency."

10,000 Attacks! Typical news director reaction would be - "It's almost as bad a L.A./S. Cal /Vegas gang problem already?" Or typical LA news desk reaction - "Or Compton on the Friday night after a high school football game with Sta.Ana."

Yes- people it is - it is that bad - and if you notice from my analogy - which is the same reaction of most news people in the US you probably not be reading much of it on the web in print or in the papers - save for those who subscribe to the service running - 10,000 attacks - is really bad.

Most People I met in the USA in the news biz - seem to think the war is over and all the extended action in Iraq and elsewhere in Iraq and around the world is the old term of simple "Mopping Up Operations."

Iraq- has become terrorism central "More than half the fatalities from terrorism worldwide last year occurred in Iraq, said a counterterrorism official, " that means all the major attacks the 10K number is found in the theater of operations that is Iraq - also on this point one can clearly see one major thing 85% of all US casualties in the fighting have been there as well.

But closer to home the News Agency report found out something - "There were 3,192 terrorist attacks in 2004..." According to a report by the National Counterterrorism Center.

A new system of looking at the events surrounding the attacks and terrorism changed also hence a higher number - "In the past, intelligence analysts had counted only "international terrorism," defined as attacks involving citizens or territory of more than one country. But officials concluded that the definition was outdated and undercounted terrorism.

The 2004 sinking of a ferry in the Philippines by [Abu Sayyaf] that left 132 people dead was omitted in the tally, but , with the new reporting system the numbers of attacks clearly show a higher level of activity by groups like Al Qaeda and others indicating even when reviewing old data - last year was a marked increase in activity for the groups engaged in violence.

More clear in this reports is this -

"U.S. State Department counterterrorism coordinator Henry Crumpton told Congress earlier this month that the leadership of al Qaida, responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "may be isolated and under pressure, unable to communicate effectively. But, Crumpton told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, regional terrorist groups have established their own independent networks, a development that in some ways "poses even more daunting intelligence collection and strategic policy challenges."

Meaning with all the new groups that have sprung up since the start of the conflict- one can almost think the worst case scenario has happened.

The Hornets nest that was Afghanistan then the worlds breeding ground for extremists has not been crushed but spread to the winds - and in 2005 has come up from its Ashes and those groups that were thought destroyed, have been reborn- perhaps not the same - perhaps more complex; those captured leaders have been replaced - and further spread out.

An increase in the number of attacks from 3,000 to 10,000 in a year clearly means - even if most of those new attacks did take place in the main center of the war.

That this war is not anything near being over - and the Jihadi's or Terrorist's depending on your perspective has not nor did not bow out like dust in the wind but instead has spread out to new areas and have focused their energies in places like Iraq and may be ready to start new operations in places like... Well... Here in Asia anew.


The Great Wall of "A"...

A American Iron Curtain? The other one didn't work

The images below are of two different walls

 –wall built for very different purposes and yet also for the same reason to divide a people in the case of the newly proposed one.

This is a image from WENEEDAFENCE a organization seeking to build a wall of barbed wire, patrols, watch towers, and guard dogs.

A Wall like this is more than a physical thing to divide the North from South.

This 'Wall' although only a barrier really that perhaps - some enterprising contractor I am sure will be backing to the hilt. As well as some sort of perverted pork barrel project for Congressmen in need of funds for re-election - and as a false security blanket for people who feel the need to build it.

All I can say is look to History and learn walls built are often torn down by people who realize that they serve little purpose.

Except for those who profit at the construction -

Oh almost forgot - construction? Ok perhaps the wall it will be benifit to migrant labor afterall; kidding aside.

What should be done - is to build bridges between people and coming to understandings and working for better legal patterns often make the need for things like the new Iron Curtain of America or the Great Fence of "Â"– not needed.

A better sytem of implimentation of immgrigration laws based on the laws asthey stand not on fear or policy's of either xenophobia or extreme positions to throw down all barriers which would not be acceptable in both countries.

But - Looking back to history remember this wall Freedom on one side Oppresion on the other?

They stood along a great expanse of Europe and became a symbol of all that was wrong with the country that built them.

Yes it was made to keep people in – while the one above to keep people out but the served only to create tension and mistrust between neighbors.

These walls almost led to new wars and were symbols of everything wrong in a society once called an "Evil Empire".

I wonder what the rest of the America's will say if a wall of freedom is built?
And the name- Wall of Freedom? Freedomdom tears down walls - and those who seek to throw them up; walls are only built by those woppressess or have something keepeep others out from - this fence will not stand if it is called that; because it will only be another wall for people who need a symbol to those who seek to climb it.

So build it - and like the former Soviets learn the truth that no mater how many walls, towers, sensors, hidden camera's you put up- it will always be just another thing to climb - and they will climb it and cross it still no mater what unless true reform an equitable system of Immigration reform is introduced.

I was looking on the Web for stories to research on and came across this banner ad on a myspace area.

Very effective i must say - the older traditional crowd of anti-immigration groups seems to be falling behind.

From a purely organizational standpoint the tech - savvy web enabled protest movements have

really come on strong to develop the craft they have into something more than just the postings of opinion but use the tags and buttons and messages to swarm to organize and work in unison - amazing.

One has too look at the images and see that free speech groups and those connected to the liberal side of US society has brought the level of action up a lot in an wave of support for migrant rights in ways the groups like the minutemen can't match in tech ability.

I spent a few minutes on various links to groups sponsoring the posters ads and information drives and also found groups posting images for other causes closer to home here in the Philippines for example - oh well... I wish I could report other items on the sites that seemed to be embedded flash based video images of the protests and new round of mass action.

And to think when we were in college! All we had were silk screens and buttons!!!! Ahhgghhh!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Iraq: worlds kidnapping capital - KFR and Politcal kidnappings top 20,000 in 12 months

A Non-Government Organization combined report published on violence in war-torn Iraq says nearly 20,000 people have been the victims of KFR groups and political violence and vendetta.
In the report, which details the insurgency's effect and increasing sectarian conflict, did not go into specific number of fatalities; However, in March 2005 to March 2006 - 15,462 people have been wounded.

The shocking number is the reports figure "of 19,548 people kidnapped among these 4959 women and 2350 children," The combined survey by 125 non-governmental organisations based in Iraq - made thier report public in the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala.
While the News Organizations have focused on high-profile kidnapping's of foreigners in Iraq estimated to number "a few hundred since the practice began two years ago and is usually aimed at scoring propaganda points against the US-led occupation."
The report focuses on "Thousands of Iraqis being kidnapped are primarily the victims of political rivals and of common criminals seeking ransom."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Eraptions back on air...

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada is going back on the airwaves...

Estrada who is currently held in custody will be allowed to speak out on national issues starting today anew say court officials so long as he doesn't discuss his pending case plunder which he is on trail for at the Philippines Sandigan Bayan. (anti-graft court)
I covered Estrada a few times - he always was a fun interview and I had lunch with him and his wife in San Juan many years back when he was vice president, he donated a set of police motorcycles to the Palawan at the time.

Aside from this Estrada did visit Palawan a few times I covered him then when I was still based there. I always enjoyed interviews I did with him - mostly he's been jovial and direct.
I have seen his unfriendly side once... But that was a situation I'd rather forget and all just part of the job we jounrno's go through it all worked out anyway in the end.


jueting overseas...

Jueting in the Dessert...

The numbers racket that is Jueting has for the most part been quashed in the Philippines - although reports persist of small operations still going strong in some places - Like far flung parts of central Luzon.
Its replacement- the Small Town Lottery- a legal lottery called STL creates dozens of taxable legal alternatives - But at the same time - Jueting rackets overseas...
Have come to light in the wake of a gruesome find in a mine shaft area in Saudi Arabia.
6 people were found grusomely murdered and dismembered in what KSA Police there are linking to "Jueting " ala Saudi - although all forms of gambling are tightly controlled or effectively banned in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
where there are scores of workers and a cash flow there will be rackets to keep people desperate enough to work in dessert heat and take risks abroad in a region with war raging nearby- where being a foreign worker can be a dangerous life- Some gamble further and set up "other ways" to augment income.

" Jueting " a simple lottery based game that is found in most parts of the Philippines based on combinations of two numbers drawn daily is a simple gambling lottery that can promise a small cash windfall of between 350-800 times the amount bet.

The chances of winning are small actually - as with most games of chance - odds show a cube formula of 1,879 to 1 as a ratio of hitting one number - so double that figure to hit two numbers- so who ever runs the game stands to gain large amounts of cash.

There are places overseas where OFW's and other overseas Pinoys can bet legally - in Saipan for example where Jeuting is legally run. Other parts of Micronesia also have similar set-ups to allow for cultural games of chance.

But in the KSA; setting up any form of illegal lottery- is tantamount to a state crime that could result in the death penalty or harsh prison terms. That workers in a gold mine would try this at all shows just how desperate many people are to earn and risk their lives to running a illegal lottery.

The "Jueting" export lotteries and other games of chance like - Sabong - cockfighting also have taken root where-ever Filipino communities can be found. In historic Filipino town in Los Angeles small scale "numbers rackets" do on occasion happen. In Iraq's worker bases illicit gaming rooms for off duty workers offering masons and card games also abound - little is done to stop them by the US military or Iraqi authorities who are busier with other larger problems of security. Jueting on a small scale also exists in nearly every major overseas worker area where large groups of OFW's are found.

But Jueting is based on trust - and secrecy- what happened to the six murdered victims is still unclear. The fact that they were chopped to bits could be seen as a violent reaction to a profit sharing scheme or failure to pay out winnings or an attempt to inform authorities or rival Jeuting organizations fighting over turf.

The entire incident is sometimes seen in fights over turf in the past when the Rackets kingpin's fight over territory -violence is commonly known to happen and deaths are not unheard of in the fight to control proceeds.

It will be interesting to note as this case develops what Saudi Police officials uncover. There is more to be seen here than a simple case of murder - the case could be a eye opener into the extent of organized crime groups popping up in the Middle East led by Pinoys and victimizing pinoys overseas.

The Jeuting killings comes as "The financial intelligence unit at the [KSA] Ministry of Interior has been monitoring several sources possibly offering financial support to terrorist operations in the Kingdom, press reports said “The unit has received several reports of suspicious financial dealings and it is taking required measures to foil them,”

The fact is also clear that rackets like Jeuting do create large amounts of cash - and - since it is highly illegal to engage in games of chance or gambling in the KSA some are wondering if the killing have come on last weeks intensified operations by Saudi police to crack down on illicit cash rackets like Jeuting "Saudi Arabia has been playing a leading role in the global campaign on combating terror financing and money laundering. The Saudi laws define as a criminal acts - money laundering, criminal activity, and, financing terrorist operations."

like I said there is more to be told in this story.. As the saying goes..."Abangan"

Monday, April 17, 2006

Death Penalty - commuted enmasse

"I wish to announce that we are changing our policy on those who have been imposed the death penalty. We are reducing their penalty to life imprisonment,"

An Easter move to end the death penalty that many in Europe have applauded and elsewhere,

However victims families have been expressing dismay - also among those reaction are communities in places where heinous bombings and kidnappings and attacks have taken place at the hands of outlaw bands.

I must say - it is move many are surprised at. The death penalty has always been seen a deterrent to rape, drugs, massive graft and corruption.

It is a shift back to the Christian-Social democrat route many have seen in the Arroyo Government of late. It is path few leaders chose - but after all a leader must lead.

If it is any consultation to those victims - life behind bars in a Philippine Prison - to many inmates I've interviewed over the years is often called a fate worse than death.


Analysis: Iran in Iraq

Monday April 17th - adendum-
I got a few comments in emails from people asking me if there was any
documented proof...

If Iran was "ever" engaged in any actions versus the current govenrment in Baghdad and the insurgency. In some emails they pointed out to meeting between coalition partners and Iran as well as support given during the War with Iraq as proof Iran is actually in some form supporting the US and UK efforts in Iraq.

That may have been true during the time of saddens rule- there is much documented evidence that Iran provided a lot of information through other Arab states about the actions of Saddam. No other country except Kuwait in the region suffered under the Baathist regime in Iraq than did Tehran.

Of late- there has been much focus on Iran's actions might be if indeed there was any attempt to engage in a "force solution" to the Nuclear issue.

"... The Iranian polity [towards the Iraqi insurgency] - is fractured, with various power bases supporting their own interests. This was clearly apparent in the aftermath of the capture by Iran in June 2004 of a British patrol boat. After a number of contradictory statements, likely reflecting disagreement between Iranian elements, the crew were released. At the same time, sources within the hard-line Iranian revolutionary made plain that restraint in Iraq was contingent on international treatment of Iran." - Global

But even without any action it is clear that there is "Iranian involvement" in Iraq. If not in the insurgency - in political life and religious affairs. "the Iranian presence in Iraq is difficult to gauge, although it certainly exists. ... Several Shi'ite political parties (including SCIRI and al-Da'wa, both members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the country's dominant political coalition), have ties to Iran." Global

Earlier in the ongoing conflict inside Iraq come clear indications - aside from the Political and religious there is some form of "backing" for groups destabilize Iraq. For some it is also seen as payback - for the seven year war between the two countries and a attempt by some in Iran to not see a strong potential rival along its border.

The Interim Iraqi Government repeatedly expressed concern over Iraqi influence, Defence Minister Hazem Sha'alan claiming in mid-2004 that there was "clear interference in Iraqi issues by Iran" and that the latter supported terrorism in Iraq. " OSD report


Blair says enough... Will not back Military action vs. Iran

Monday April 17th, 2006
He backed military action all over the world by two American Presidents. But Tony Blair has been seen of late as not being willing to stand toe-toe with president GW Bush on Iran.
The EU seems to prefer diplomatic efforts - so for that mater does the white house - and most of the world. Iran's leadership knows this - and is enjoying pushing the envelope with inflammatory rhetoric; But reports like this send a mixed message to those seeking a common front on dealing with Tehran.

" TONY Blair has told George Bush that Britain cannot offer military support to any strike on Iran, regardless of whether the move wins the backing of the international community, government sources claimed yesterday. " BRIAN BRADY WESTMINSTER EDITOR for the Scottsman reports.

But the lack of support for any Military action does not mean the UK is backing away from other forms of pressure.
" Blair is expected to support the call for a "Chapter 7" resolution, which could effectively isolate Iran from the international community." Brady writes on.

Sanctions could work two ways - Iran is awash with Oil cash with the Iraqi oil fields out of reach and most Oil prices in the world rising with each new car sold in china! This winter analysts predict the prices of oil will rise further.

Its not the fault of China that capitalism has brought prosperity - a reduction in the number of un-fuel friendly SUV's by even twenty per cent in the USA could bring down the level of Oil prices faster than new oil fields, so , superego's downsizing needs to be the first order of business to keep fuel prices down.

Imagine the impact of a major airstrips or tension in Iran reaching a boiling point - Oil is currently hovering around $30 a barrel- try - to imagine Oil per barrel at $55 a barrel or higher if a major conflict were to engulf the gulf anew.

Perhaps knowing this - leaders in Iran are rattling the sabers a bit- to get a higher price for their primary export. Meanwhile Russia and more importantly China are expected to not offer cooperation if Iran is targeted more closely.

Iran is not Iraq - that is clear- Tony Blairs "I'm putting my foot down-" could also be for both domestic consumption and for Iran's viewpoint - playing a good cop-bad cop to mullahs and Ayatolla's.

In the meantime elements in Iran- with or without Government backing -are still engaged in supporting the attacking factions in Iraq, reports on CNN, BBC, Fox News, and even Al Jeezera clearly show some form of support from factions in Iran for some groups in Iraq.
It is expected also that some more support will flow eastward to Afghanistan from elements in Iran who fear stable Democratic secular neighbors allies of the country they see as allies of thier greatest threat - the USA.

So if Irans hardliners could hope for anything is the US go it alone - and or with Israeli backing to hit targets no one knows for sure and with the Iraq intel ficasco freash in peoples minds - no one is sure really exists around the world - then the hardliners could rally and create a situation that would make 9-11, Madrid, and London actions of al qeada seems like childsplay.

For now cooler heads remain in control. But- if it is a situation worth monitoring....

Sunday, April 16, 2006


a view....

Easter Bomb-plot foiled?

Easter Sunday Morning - 2006:

I was up to watch the "meeting" sulubong procession this morning on TV at about three thirty when I while waiting did my normal email search and saw something from a "stringer" of mine down in Zamboanga.

It seems in a set of Police and Military raids since last Thursday have uncovered two cache's of explosives. The first in a ice plant the second in another part of the city notorious for "illicit' activities.
C-4 explosives, 300pcs of blasting caps from of all places India and many more other electronic timers were uncovered.
A few days before in a clash a group of major ASG figures who were involved in the a 2005 bombing were "encountered" by the military on a small island off of Zambo- two were killed.

Sources in the police here tell me they believe the ASG is pushed to a new level of emulating "sectarian" violence directed at Catholics and Christians similar to activities in other areas in SE Asia like Poso and Suluwesi.

The War vs. Terrorism - is still a major story here even if in terms of attacks it pales in comparison to the battles and daily bombings in Iraq. But what is common here are arrests and seizures by Police and the Military vs. Those seeking to create violence. Success is measured in the number of arrests and devices seized.

Journalism being what it is- when ever I pitch stories about good jobs done- it winds up on some editors out pile in the USA- such a shame- with all the bad news success in the fight versus violence is something I think at least should be covered.

There is so much innovation and so much done right in keeping a lot of the attacks of balance- but - for some reason nobody - at least in the mainstream media world can seem to want to keep reporting on the good work done.

I'm cynical perhaps - but- I think this is where media seems to fail in a big way- by emphasizing only the failures - such as when a successful operation is carried out by those on the side of extremism - they fail to consider that they have become perhaps the biggest propaganda machine of the other side of the war. Ironic isn't it? Considering - that at least in my case - that's where this major conflict began for the USA.

Funny how hard it is to pitch a "good job done..." Story - perhaps its all the fault of those major journalism colleges concepts of reporting must place a high emphasis on failures first and finding conflict instead of looking for solutions along with the problems. Oh well... At least those blasting caps and devices found are out of circulation. For now police and the military here and in the southern Philippines are on renewed "heightened alert".

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Living on in eclectic dreams...

Looking at the overall situation of the world on this set of blogspace... A look at the world news major topics from the viewpoint of what is going on for freelance journalists like myself and worth looking into further.

Looking at the illegal or undocumented immigrant status debate in the USA one headline grabs my attention. The Mytle Beach "online" reports that north Carolina has a plan that would bar illegal aliens from getting their winnings if they won that State's Lottery.

It says they need a social security Number, a green card, a photo ID, and or a US foreign passport in order to claim winnings of over $800. Ok - but most have a foreign passport - the rule makes no mention of legal visa stamp inside the passport to presented.

Ok yeah like; the paper seems to forget you can pick up an ID almost anywhere and most illegals do have social security numbers- fake cards bought in swap meets! So back to the drawing board ....

meanwhile... Other states along the Mexican border don't use any restrictions on residency for claiming prizes the article claims... Not quite the case... California has strict requirements on the laws and policies covered under tax policy but not immigration. There was recently famous incident of a "illegal" who the INS deported backs to El Salvador after he won a multi-million dollar lotto prize... The man agreed- bought a first class upgraded ticket and now has a thriving business there... What many states forget -- is that economic migrants -- more often than not only want to come into the USA or western world to work- make it rich -- or at least get comfortable and go home.

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