Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Only in the Philippines: A New President, by personal acclaim

AMID persistent reports of coup plots to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a retired general proclaimed himself president of a transition government shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

General Fortunato Abat described his action as peaceful takeover, even as he called on police and military forces to withdraw support from President Arroyo and "protect the sovereign right of the people."

The 80-year-old retired general made the announcement before an audience of about 300 people at the Club Filipino in the municipality of San Juan, in Metro Manila.

Arroyo, attending a summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Kuala Lumpur, has been haunted by a monthslong drive to remove her from power, and coup rumors rose to a new crescendo in the days before her departure Sunday.

Addressing a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, the President declined to comment on the reported coup plot.

But security officials in Manila dismissed the supposed military takeover as "blind rumors" even as Philippine police chief General Arturo Lomibao on Tuesday placed police forces on a full alert status, convened the crisis committee, and directed the intelligence services to validate the reports.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Generoso Senga said the soldiers remained loyal to the Constitution and the chain of command.

Abat, a former Army chief and defense secretary, is convener of the right-wing Coalition for National Solidarity which has been calling on Arroyo to step down.

When the wiretaps scandal broke out in June, Abat called for the establishment of a civilian-military junta and offered himself to head it.

The 117,000-strong military has a history of unrest and played key roles in the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and jailed former president Joseph Estrada in January 2001.

Two years ago, about 300 soldiers, led by young officers, occupied the ritzy Oakwood Hotel and a nearby shopping mall in the capital's financial district and rigged the area with bombs. They surrendered peacefully after about 20 hours.

The coup rumors have been swirling since June, when vote-rigging allegations against Arroyo prompted several cabinet members to resign and key political allies and left-wing groups to call for her resignation.

She survived an impeachment attempt in September when her majority allies in the House of Representatives junked three impeachment bids on a technicality. Opponents continue to call for her resignation and hold occasional small street protests.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

One more for the family (Stan Van Gundy)

Stan Van Gundy resigned as Miami Heat coach. The "legendary Pat Riley" will coach the Heat again. But what is amazing is Van Gundy's reason to "go home." Great!


Van Gundy has always professed to being a family-first man, someone who abhors road trips and the idea of spending holidays away from his wife and four children. He said that because of travel, games and practices, he would have seen his children at home only 49 days out of 170 this season.

"That's just not enough any more for me. It's just not enough," Van Gundy said. "I mean, it's been like that for my kids' entire lives. I've got a 14-year-old daughter and it started to hit me when I started thinking about her birthday, which was last month. I've got four more years left with her. Four. And then she'll be off to college and I'm just not willing to sacrifice any more of those four more years."

Van Gundy said he began wrestling with the balance between job and family during the preseason, and told Riley after the regular-season opener at Memphis that they needed to talk about the future.

"I can't believe people have that big a problem actually believing that someone would actually want to spend time with their family," Van Gundy said. "I don't know why that's so hard for people to buy into."

Watt's wrong?

Watt's wrong?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tiger wins his 7th PGA POY

Tiger wins his 7th PGA Player of the Year award. Go Tiger!

Monday, December 05, 2005

SI's Alan Shipnuck says it well

Alan Shipnuck says it well.

My Sportsman Choice: Jack Nicklaus

By Alan Shipnuck

Jack Nicklaus bid farewell to the Masters this year.

In 1980, Jack Nicklaus was honored by SI as Sportsman of the Year. The then-40-year-old Bear had just completed a season during which he won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, quieting talk that his epic career was entering its twilight. That Sportsman was a celebration of his golf. Now Nicklaus deserves the award again, and it has nothing to do with birdies and bogies. In the past year no athlete has displayed more grace or humanity. Nicklaus has long been known not only as golf's greatest champion, but also its most dignified loser. As Jack has said his goodbyes this year it has been a reminder of how much he has meant to golf, and how much he will be missed.

Nicklaus's game may have rendered him a ceremonial golfer, but he can still command the spotlight. This year he stole the show at two of sports' grandest stages, Augusta National and the Old Course. His final Masters was particularly wrenching because only five weeks earlier Nicklaus's grandson Jake had drowned in a hot tub. Most athletes come into view during their youthful prime and then disappear before they fade away. But generations have grown up watching Nicklaus as he has evolved from overpowering prodigy to doting father to middle aged warrior to dignified elder statesman. We are in an era in which the game's best player has built a fortress around his inner-self, but throughout his life and career Nicklaus always let the public in. When he teared up striding his final fairway at the Masters, a nation cried along with him.

His final British Open was no less emotional. The putt of the year in golf may have been Nicklaus's birdie on his last hole at the Old Course, which was witnessed by dozens of players who ringed the green in a showing of appreciation and respect. You may not root for any of them, but Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all have class, a precious commodity in pro sports. It's no accident that all of them grew up idolizing Nicklaus and have been mentored by him throughout their careers.

The true measure of Nicklaus is not his unprecedented 18 major championships, but his relevance in a sport that he has been shaping since 1960. In September, at the Presidents Cup, a U.S. team that has long been ripped for its apathy played its collective heart out for Capt. Jack, bringing him a victory that he claimed was the most satisfying moment of his career. A second Sportsman would be a nice way to end this momentous year. Only one other person has won two Sportsmans, and for a change wouldn't it be nice to see Jack tying one of Tiger's records, and not the other way around?