Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lyon 0-0 Milan: My my!

Milan had to be content with a goalless draw at the Gerland stadium despite creating a number of clear-cut chances in their Champions League quarter-final first leg tie against Lyon. The Rossoneri dominated early on and Andriy Shevchenko was denied on three occasions by fine saves from home goalkeeper Coupet. The occasion certainly seemed to affect Lyon in the first period and Kakà was also a constant menace down the left flank. However, the French champions began the second half in much more positive fashion although the Milan defence remained solid. So, it is all to play for next Tuesday when the two sides go toe-to-toe again at the San Siro.

Here's Luis

Youngblood : First bribe
First posted 01:11am (Mla time) Mar 30, 2006
By Luis R. Buenaventura III

Editor's Note: Published on Page A13 of the March 30, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

IT'S official. I just paid my first bribe.

Exiting the Edsa highway's tunnel underneath the Shaw Boulevard interchange in Mandaluyong City, I had turned right to SM Megamall when a man in uniform suddenly came running toward me. Slowly, the excitement that was meant to be savored on the day my dad finally allowed me to use the car faded, and chills went up my spine.

The man was a traffic enforcer of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and he cited me for a traffic violation I had not heard of before: "swerving." Without much ado, the questioning began. He did all the talking. I was all ears, but what I was hearing was all babble. My only concern was how to get out of the fix and crafting a good explanation to my parents. Like a hapless fool, I reached for my wallet and, on cue, slipped a week's worth of allowance into his black leather case.

Five years after that first episode, I recall doing the same thing at least two more times. Each time, I congratulated myself for getting down to the "real" business very easily. I must have been inspired by scenes from Hollywood movies where wily crooks bought themselves out of trouble without hesitation or fear. But I swear that I didn't progress to committing felony in my entire life.

It felt like only yesterday when my values education teacher in elementary school described corrupt people as hideous beasts. And I couldn't believe when I realized that I had become one.

The reality was brought home to me when I hitched a ride with a friend. She was caught going the wrong way on a one-way street. To cut a long story short, she extricated herself from the fix the same way I did on those three previous occasions. I felt like I was looking at myself in the mirror.

She gave me the same excuse that sounds so reasonable: "I'm a busy person. There are more important things for me to do than go through the hassle of making everything legal. Besides, a couple of hundred bucks won't hurt a bit, would it? In fact, everybody goes home happy. The traffic officer earns a little extra to augment his meager salary. And heaven knows, I won't do it ever again."

I had heard it before. But still I was a bit shocked by her action and her attempt to justify it. She was well respected in our circle of friends. She was upright. She was a good person!

Then it hit me: How many "good" people out there actually succumb to the temptation to engage in such a dishonest practice?

Feeling the pangs of guilt, I resolved to do the right thing the next time something similar happened. I told myself that the next time I got caught violating traffic rules, I would surrender my license and calmly engage the apprehending traffic officer in polite discourse.

When it finally happened, I got more than what I bargained for. The officer returned my license, without hinting at some consideration, although he gave me a brief lecture on traffic rules and safety.

But even this feel-good anecdote was not received well by my friends. They told me that talking at some length with a traffic officer late at night was a very risky thing to do. "That was stupid," they said. "You never know what crazy things public officials are capable of these days."

To be fair, I do see their point. I mean I should give serious thought to their concern, seeing how many heinous crimes are being committed these days.

But I also realize that this growing tolerance is being promoted by "good" people who don't think twice before giving small bribes. In the larger scheme of things, this wicked propensity to go for the "quick fix" is borne out of frustration over greater societal ills like poverty, the absence of peace and security, and corruption in high places.

In his practical book on nation-building, titled "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country," lawyer Alexander Ledesma Lacson urges respect for the traffic officer, soldier and other public servants.

I have had five traffic encounters since I resolved to do things the right way. And I must say I got my license back every time, without paying a bribe. Integrity, like barbarity, is reciprocated even out there in the streets.

Even someone as ordinary as I am can actually do something about our nation's most serious problems after all. For one thing, corruption can be reduced, and, as Lacson said, this can begin by respecting traffic officers.

If treating them with respect doesn't get me back my license, so be it. I just have to go through the more cumbersome legal process of getting it back. It's not easy. But it's plainly my civic duty.

Luis R. Buenaventura III, 25, is a project analyst at Lufthansa Technik Philippines.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Arsenal 2-0 Juve

Juve (yes, the Serie A leader) lost 0-2 against Arsenal (in Highbury) to lead their quarterfinal match-up in the UEFA Champions League. They next play in Torino.
Let's hope the Rossoneri play well in their away-game against Lyons in their own quarterfinal match-up today!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Statistics: Let's do our homework

Get Real : Why people are not out on the streets

First posted 02:01am (Mla time) Mar 25, 2006
By Solita Collas-Monsod

Editor's Note: Published on Page A10 of the March 25, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

FOR the opposition members who crow over the latest Pulse Asia survey -- which shows 65 percent of Filipinos think that ousting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the best thing that can happen to the country -- take note: The same survey reveals that 81 percent of Filipinos think that ousting Ms Arroyo is the worst thing that can happen to us.

How is this? Does this imply that Filipinos can't make up their mind or/and that the survey can't be relied upon?

As mentioned in last week's column, the survey respondents were asked which of 10 political scenarios, presented to them in a list, constituted the most beneficial -- the one that would best serve the national interest. Multiple answers were not allowed.

Five of the scenarios had to do with Ms Arroyo's resignation and various possible aftermaths: (1) special presidential election; (2) Vice President Noli De Castro taking over; (3) the Vice President resigning and the Senate president taking over until the holding of special elections; (4) a temporary group or "junta" taking over to prepare for elections to choose a new president or prime minister; and (5) the Vice President taking over temporarily while preparing for a new government under a new Constitution.

Two of the scenarios had to do with coups, after which: (6) the military and the police forces decide which group of politicians govern; and (7) the military and the police themselves directly wield political power.

One scenario had (8) a foreign government getting involved and installing in power its Filipino allies.

The last two scenarios had to do with the Arroyo administration staying in power (9) until it completes its mandate under the Constitution; and (10) until the Constitution is changed and a parliamentary government takes over before 2010.

The 65 percent figure (representing those who believe that Ms Arroyo's ouster is the best scenario) was obtained by adding up the respondents who chose any one of the first eight scenarios: resignation, coup, or foreign intervention. (Although the inclusion of foreign intervention as an oust-Arroyo scenario is puzzling -- isn't it possible that big brother might want to keep Ms Arroyo?)

Next, the respondents were presented with the same 10-scenario set, but this time they were asked to choose the scenario they considered the worst, that is, the most inimical to the national interest. The percentage of respondents who chose one of the same first eight scenarios added up to 81 percent. And this explains our seemingly paradoxical findings: that 65 percent of Filipinos think ousting Ms Arroyo is the best thing that can happen to the Philippines, while a greater majority (81 percent) thinks that ousting Ms Arroyo is the worst thing that can happen to the country.

Does this mean that the survey results are not to be relied on? The answer is no. There is nothing wrong with Pulse Asia's survey methodology -- questions were pre-tested, the survey used a multi-stage probability sample with a 3-percentage-point margin of error either way on the national level at the 95 percent confidence level, i.e., if 40 percent of the respondents think that coups are the worst possible scenarios, that means that 95 percent of the time, the true percentage of respondents would lie between 37 percent and 43 percent.

If there is any beef on my part, it would be that (a) lumping together the results of the various ouster scenarios implies a homogeneity to the responses that is not there -- which is why one is confronted with seemingly paradoxical results; and that (b) if Pulse Asia made the observation that 65 percent of Filipinos thought that the eight ouster scenarios were the best, it should have also pointed out that 81 percent of Filipinos thought that these eight ouster scenarios were the worst.

Does this mean that Filipinos are fickle? Again, the answer is "No." It merely shows that one man's meat can be another man's poison. Fifty-nine percent of Filipinos may want her to resign, but they are divided as to the second part of the proposition -- on the post-Arroyo scenarios. One respondent that thinks that resignation followed by special elections is ideal may also think that resignation followed by a junta is the pits. Or, one who thinks that Ms Arroyo should resign may have a violent objection to her ouster by coup.

Which is what the survey results show: 59 percent of Filipinos think any of the five resignation scenarios is best, 4 percent think the two coup scenarios are best, and 2 percent think that foreign intervention is best-for a total of 65 percent. On the other hand, 29 percent of Filipinos think resignation is worst, 40 percent think coups are worst, and 12 percent think that foreign intervention is worst-for a total of 81 percent. See why adding up the various scenarios can be counterproductive?

The survey results also provide an explanation to the question of Amando Doronila: If 65 percent of Filipinos want Ms Arroyo out, why aren't they out on the streets? Because, first, they are hopelessly divided on what the post-Arroyo scenario should be (the average response for each scenario was less than 8 percent, with a high of 16 percent and a low of 1 percent, plus or minus the margin of error), and they may not want to go out unless the resignation aftermath is their favored scenario. The second reason is that romancing the military as part of an ouster attempt is the kiss of death for popular support -- while 19 percent of Filipinos think that Ms Arroyo's continuing in office is the pits, more than double (40 percent) think that military coups carry that distinction.

Yet, leaders of the oust-Gloria movement make no secret of their courting the military, and they are upset that people aren't rallying around them. Hellooo!

Is this love?

Mom Accused of Kidnapping Kids, Posing as Dad
Monday, March 27, 2006,2933,189195,00.html

RALEIGH, N.C. — A woman accused of abducting her two young children from their father, then dressing like a man so she could assume his identity, agreed Monday to return to Arizona where she faces kidnapping charges, authorities said.

Shellie White, 30, was taken into custody Friday in Roanoke Rapids, where police said she and a woman lived together as the children's father and mother.

"I haven't lived the life of someone on the run," White said in a jail interview with The Associated Press. "I never knew I was on the run."

White was arrested more than two years after she was charged with custodial interference in the children's disappearance, the U.S. Marshals Service said. Her ex-husband, Ernest Karnes, had custody of the children at the time and learned Friday that they had been found.

"The first thing that come out of his mouth was, 'Did they get my kids, too? Are my kids OK?"' Gila County, Ariz., Sheriff's Detective Johnny Holmes said Monday.

The U.S. Marshals Service said White "radically changed her appearance to that of a man and assumed many aliases," including her ex-husband's.

"She even went so far as to tell her children, aged 3 and 5 at the time, that she was their father," the Marshals Service said. "When she was arrested, the children, now aged 6 and 8, asked why they were arresting their Daddy."

White told the AP that one of her children, scared by authorities breaking into their home on Friday, did say she was their father. White also said she told her son to tell children who made fun of her appearance that she was his dad.

But Deputy U.S. Marshall Dennis Harkins said White had posed as her husband and other men since leaving Arizona.

"She was playing it off for all the world to see that she was a man," Harkins said.

Under the terms of the divorce, Ernest Karnes had custody of the children, a boy and a girl, but his wife had visitation rights, Holmes said. He said Karnes' wife could take the children to Tucson when she lived there, but neither parent could leave the state with them without the other's permission.

White, who signed a waiver of extradition on the fugitive warrant Monday, denied kidnapping her children.

"I didn't steal my children and I didn't take my children," she said. "When I left Arizona, I had custody."

Holmes said that after charging White with custodial interference in January 2004, authorities were able to trace the children to various schools, but always came up empty.

"It kept going in a circle," he said. "So she was aware of it. It was just a matter of time, because she wouldn't keep them in a school no more than maybe six months."

Holmes said he was contacted about a month or two ago by a police officer in North Carolina who had received a letter from Ernest Karnes, who said he believed his ex-wife was in the area. Karnes contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children earlier this month.

Karnes told WRAL-TV the break came when a bill collector led detectives to the home in Roanoke Rapids, about 85 miles northeast of Raleigh.

He and his current wife flew to North Carolina on Sunday to seek custody of the children from Halifax County authorities. They hoped to see the children Monday and take them back to Arizona, WRAL reported.

"I just want to see them and hug them and love them," Karnes said. "I just want to take my babies back home. They need to be with their family."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Of jeepneys and their drivers

One of the pet peeves of commuters in Cebu is the driver of the passenger jeepney who stops his jeepney in the middle of the road if a passenger embarks or disembarks. Why does he do that? You can imagine the traffic jam that is caused if you multiply that by hundreds of jeepneys plying the different routes.

A doctor friend who recently hired a a former jeepney drivers as his family's driver says that he asked his new driver the reason for this seemingly disregard for traffic rules and road courtesy. His driver gave two reasons.

First. Passengers may be the cause. He says that because we commuters can ask (nay, command) the driver to stop his jeepney anywhere we want, he needs to pull over many times. That would not be a problem if there are designated jeepney stops or that commuters take the extra mile to walk a short distance. But no; most of the time, commuters want to get off nearest to where they need to go, never mind if the previous stop was only two meters behind. For a driver to be doing that many times is very tiring. Of course he also faces the ire of the commuter if he goes past or mortify himself and the other passengers with the incessant banging for him to stop. So what does he do? He stops in the middle of the road, so the commuter can get off.

Second. Drivers want to earn more. If they pull over to let a passenger disembark, the next driver will get to the passengers who are waiting for a ride first. If he stops in the middle of the road, the drivers folowing him will have no choice but to wait for him to move forward. Or overtake him and risk getting the wrath of drivers on the other lane; that is, if he can actually overtake considering the traffic situation in many areas.

So perhaps the next time we follow a jeepney whose driver does this stop-in-the middle-I-don't-care kinda thing, we can be a little more understanding. Nevertheless, this situation can be remedied. Any suggestions?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sign of the times

Briefcase, lunch, car keys, baby -- uh-oh
Commuter finds something missing on way to Washington

Thursday, March 23, 2006; Posted: 5:32 p.m. EST (22:32 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Commuters racing to catch the train typically forget things in the car -- keys, wallets, briefcases. But a baby daughter?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The last laugh

Czech MPs approve gay rights law

The Czech Republic has become the first former communist country in Europe to grant legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.

The vote was passed in parliament by the absolute minimum needed to overturn a veto by President Vaclav Klaus.

He had argued the legislation amounted to excessive regulation by the state of people's private lives.

The law will give gay couples rights to inherit a partner's property and raise children, but does not allow adoption.

The BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague says Czech society is one of the most secular and sexually liberal in Europe.

Homosexual campaigners appear to have the Czech public on their side, he adds.

'Defeat for family'

Although the lower house of parliament approved the legislation in December and the Senate in January, an absolute majority was required to override the presidential veto imposed in February.

The proposal had strong backing from Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who said it was key issue ahead of general elections in June.

In a statement released after the vote, Mr Klaus said the result was not a personal defeat but rather "a defeat for all of us who believe that the family in our society is fundamental, unique, unrivalled".

Martin Strachon, a spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian League, told AFP news agency the vote meant gays and lesbians were now recognised as "normal members of society".

"The law is a compromise," said leading gay rights activist Jiri Hromada, quoted by Associated Press. "It will harm no-one and will make many happy."

Parliament has turned down similar proposals four times in the past.

Yehey for Baby MB

Sick baby's family thanks judge

They were fighting a hospital's bid to turn off the ventilator that keeps the child, known only as Baby MB, alive.
The 19-month-old boy has genetic condition spinal muscular atrophy - which leads to almost total paralysis.
The judge said he felt the child gained enough pleasure from life to outweigh the medical evidence of his condition.

The parents of a severely disabled baby boy at the centre of a right-to-life case have thanked the judge for ruling that he should be kept alive.

In an exclusive BBC interview the child's mother said: "I really thank the judge for coming to that decision."

His father said Mr Justice Holman was right to rule the ventilator that keeps the baby alive should not be switched off.

During the case at the High Court in London, Baby MB's mother described how he responded to certain cartoons, such as Shrek and Finding Nemo - but did not appear to like the news or Eastenders.

But a total of 14 medics, including two independent doctors called by the parents, told the hearing his quality of life was so poor he should be allowed to die.

Doctors argued the invasive ventilation which is keeping the child alive is likely to be uncomfortable, with one saying he felt the child had an "intolerable life".

Baby MB, from the north of England, cannot breathe unaided and is almost totally paralysed. He also cannot chew or swallow.

He suffers from the most severe form of spinal muscular atrophy and has lived in a high dependency unit in hospital since he was seven weeks old.

His parents want him to have a tracheotomy ,which could make long-term ventilation easier, so he is able to leave his hospital bedroom and explore the grounds, albeit with the assistance of medical staff.

Simple pleasures

Giving his judgement, Mr Justice Holman did not dispute the medical evidence, and said Baby MB would not experience simple childhood pleasures, such as taking his first steps or the "rough and tumble" of playing with other children.

The court has agreed with the assessment of Baby MB's quality of life by those people who know him best
Family solicitor

Reaction to ruling
A medical ethicist's view

But the judge said he was not unconscious and was capable of bonding with his family.

He said Baby MB could probably see, hear and feel - taking pleasure from the eight or nine hours his family spend with him each day.

Justice Holman said: "It must be assumed that he processes all of those sights and sounds like any child of his age and gains pleasure from them."

He added: "No court has yet been asked to approve, against the will of parents, the withdrawal of life support with the inevitable and immediate death of a conscious child with sensory awareness and cognition, and no significant evidence of brain damage."

The solicitor for the family said they felt "vindicated" by the judgement.

"In the judgement, the court has agreed with the assessment of Baby MB's quality of life by those people who know him best."

He said the parents would take time to consider the detail of the judgement.

Public hearing

However, the judgement does not mean that Baby MB would be kept alive indefinitely or that doctors would have to give treatment to the baby in any situation.

The judge has said that, if Baby MB's heart stops, it will be lawful for doctors not to give him drugs or defibrillator treatment to restart it.

They would also be allowed not to give antibiotics if he develops certain serious infections.

His parents said his quality of life must be fully assessed before any such decision is made.

A court order bans the identification of the boy, his family, the hospital where he is cared for and the medics involved in his care.

But details of the case can be reported after BBC lawyers made an application for the hearing to be held in public.

In a statement, the trust caring for Baby MB said it was an extremely difficult case, and it had consulted a range of experts and organisations before going to court.

It added: "The trust will now consider the details of the ruling and how best to care for MB in the light of this decision, continuing to act in his best interest."

It will now have to decide whether it wants to challenge the High Court ruling.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics at the British Medical Association, said: "For doctors, the decisions are extraordinarily difficult because they have to have at the centre of their sights the child and the welfare of the child, and not putting the child through a burdensome treatment where there is no hope of any future improvement."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

On Baby MB

Parents to learn sick baby's fate
Baby MB cannot chew, swallow or breathe for himself

The parents of a severely disabled baby boy at the centre of a landmark right-to-life case will find out on Wednesday whether he will live or die.

Here's from Doc

Since this link will be gone in a week, here's the whole of it.

Constitutional rescue

First posted 02:46am (Mla time) Mar 14, 2006
By Minguita Padilla

FORMER Marine battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Balutan is one of the most admired and respected officers in the Marine Corps, this according to many reports from friends in the military. He is regarded as the embodiment of courage, principle, honor and integrity. And from all we know about this man, he is truly deserving of this admiration.

Captain Ruben Guinolbay, "Hero of the Lamitan Siege" in 2001, is another jewel in the Armed Forces. The investigation that followed that siege revealed how he and his men valiantly fought off the Abu Sayyaf with the odds clearly against them, and in circumstances that reeked of betrayal of him and his men by higher-ups in the chain of command. That one incident spoke volumes of this officer's fidelity to duty and love of country even in the face of the gravest of threats.

These are but two of the many faces of our righteous soldiers now either being investigated or tried by court martial for their adherence to their constitutional mandate "as protector of the state and defender of the people"

A "constitutional rescue" is the term Lieutenant Colonel Balutan used to describe the military plan to withdraw support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last Feb. 24 in order to force government to cleanse the Commission on Elections and call for a snap presidential election soon after. Lieutenant Colonel Balutan said it was something that had to be resorted to because the "democratic institutions had failed to resolve the political crisis spawned by two issues: the alleged cheating in the May 2004 elections and the 'Hello Garci' tapes," which, to all but the deluded, clearly supported the accusations of massive and systematic electoral fraud.

Many experts in fact say that the cheating during the 2004 presidential election was unprecedented in its extent, its premeditation, and its brazenness. It is bad enough that the architects of this massive fraud used some sectors in the armed forces to carry out this betrayal of our trust. What infuriates the honorable members of the armed forces is that those who participated in the cheating have been rewarded in almost all ways imaginable. While those who, like Lieutenant Colonel Balutan, dared to resist the cheating and tell the truth, have been, and continue to be, persecuted.

Not contented with this injustice, the administration now wishes our people to condemn the same patriots as traitors, as enemies of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The front page of the Inquirer last March 10 showed a photograph of Captain Guinolbay with his fixed gaze looking straight into the camera, his eyes clear windows of honesty and sincerity. The photo accompanied an article about his investigation. Beneath it was a story that spoke of the junking by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales of a P151-million tax evasion case against "untouchable" Samuel Lee -- an act that is alleged by government insiders to have been accompanied by bribes in the millions of pesos. These two stories reflect the deplorable sate of our country today. The contrast, the selective justice or lack of it, evident in comparing the two situations, speak the sad truth to us in no uncertain terms. We are living in a successful sociopathy.

What is a sociopathy? To understand this one must first understand the sociopath. In the simplest terms, sociopaths are people who care only about fulfilling their own needs and desires and who view other people simply as possible pawns to be used toward this end. Their hallmark is an absence, or a major defect of conscience. Hence they are incapable of remorse or guilt.

According to Wynn (2005) successful sociopaths are "at least temporarily very successful in society. They achieve their success by socially unacceptable means, yet often enough society fails to challenge them. Sociopathic individuals are extremely self-confident, intelligent, and persuasive. They inspire those around them to create a dysfunctional culture often dizzy and disoriented by its success. They surround themselves by supporters who worship them. Dissenters leave or are ostracized. The community admires them and the system of justice seldom pursues them."

Apartheid and the Holocaust are ready examples of successful sociopathy. Once a successful culture (no matter how evil or dysfunctional) is established it assumes an independent momentum and spreads rapidly. It acquires a legitimacy which few dare challenge."

A successful sociopathy -- how else can we explain that we allow our righteous soldiers and patriots to be punished for upholding their constitutional mandate, while smugglers, thieves, and murderers of our institutions are allowed to go free, even rewarded, for their deeds?

How else can we fathom that we continue to pay higher taxes and silently take the abuse when we have overwhelming evidence that P728-million was plundered by this government to line the pockets of corrupt public officials during the last elections, when we have knowledge that billions of recovered Marcos wealth has vanished unaccounted for and we are now a haven for smugglers and drug dealers, while our justice system doesn't even pretend to pursue the responsible criminals with haft the passion it has shown towards punishing people whose only crime is to uphold the truth?

How else can we explain how we have allowed the executive to destroy our democratic institutions, block all forms of checks and balances, and force us to practically abandon our principles while, like mindless parrots, we mouth the pathetic ruse that there is no alternative to Mrs. Arroyo?

How else can we justify that very few now even dare ask the questions begging to be asked because we are afraid of the answers?

Lent is usually a time of reflection and penance. Perhaps this lent we should ask ourselves: "Who is the true enemy of the state?" Most of us know the answer but refuse to see. And once we discern the enemy, are we simply going watch our patriots wither away amidst the mockery of those who say that a government of honorable servant leaders is an impossible dream for us, and that our only choice is either to wallow in the murky waters of hopelessness and corruption or to migrate?

And what of our administration officials who now act like arrogant victors enjoying the spoils of war? It would do them good to remember that power is fleeting. They should also ask themselves if punishing our righteous soldiers for trying to uphold their constitutional mandate will preserve the State, or will this just add to the rage already building up among the ranks particularly in the light of the fact that those in authority continue to mangle our constitution and poison our institutions through corruption and intimidation. Will trying to move on without closure solve the problem or will it, like a plug of hardened lava, simply close off the crater of the volcano and force it to self-destruct?

Dr. Minguita Padilla is the President of Sinag, a people's crusade for good governance, and of DARE, the Drug Abuse Research Foundation. She is the daughter of the late Supreme Court senior justice Teodoro Padilla.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Equal protection?

Male activists want 'say' in unplanned pregnancy
Lawsuit seeks right to decline financial responsibility for kids

Wednesday, March 8, 2006; Posted: 9:23 p.m. EST (02:23 GMT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Contending that women have more options than they do in the event of an unintended pregnancy, men's rights activists are mounting a long shot legal campaign aimed at giving them the chance to opt out of financial responsibility for raising a child.

The National Center for Men has prepared a lawsuit -- nicknamed Roe v. Wade for Men -- to be filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Michigan on behalf of a 25-year-old computer programmer ordered to pay child support for his ex-girlfriend's daughter.

The suit addresses the issue of male reproductive rights, contending that lack of such rights violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

The gist of the argument: If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood. The activists involved hope to spark discussion even if they lose.

"There's such a spectrum of choice that women have -- it's her body, her pregnancy and she has the ultimate right to make decisions," said Mel Feit, director of the men's center. "I'm trying to find a way for a man also to have some say over decisions that affect his life profoundly."

Feit's organization has been trying since the early 1990s to pursue such a lawsuit, and finally found a suitable plaintiff in Matt Dubay of Saginaw, Michigan.

Dubay says he has been ordered to pay $500 a month in child support for a girl born last year to his ex-girlfriend. He contends that the woman knew he didn't want to have a child with her and assured him repeatedly that -- because of a physical condition -- she could not get pregnant.

Dubay is braced for the lawsuit to fail.

"What I expect to hear [from the court] is that the way things are is not really fair, but that's the way it is," he said in a telephone interview. "Just to create awareness would be enough, to at least get a debate started."

State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men like Dubay is outweighed by society's interest in ensuring that children get financial support from two parents. Melanie Jacobs, a Michigan State University law professor, said the federal court might rule similarly in Dubay's case.

"The courts are trying to say it may not be so fair that this gentleman has to support a child he didn't want, but it's less fair to say society has to pay the support," she said.

Feit, however, says a fatherhood opt-out wouldn't necessarily impose higher costs on society or the mother. A woman who balked at abortion but felt she couldn't afford to raise a child could put the baby up for adoption, he said.

'This is so politically incorrect'

Jennifer Brown of the women's rights advocacy group Legal Momentum objected to the men's center comparing Dubay's lawsuit to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a woman's right to have an abortion.

"Roe is based on an extreme intrusion by the government -- literally to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn't want," Brown said. "There's nothing equivalent for men. They have the same ability as women to use contraception, to get sterilized."

Feit counters that the suit's reference to abortion rights is apt.

"Roe says a woman can choose to have intimacy and still have control over subsequent consequences," he said. "No one has ever asked a federal court if that means men should have some similar say."

"The problem is this is so politically incorrect," Feit added. "The public is still dealing with the pre-Roe ethic when it comes to men, that if a man fathers a child, he should accept responsibility."

Feit doesn't advocate an unlimited fatherhood opt-out; he proposes a brief period in which a man, after learning of an unintended pregnancy, could decline parental responsibilities if the relationship was one in which neither partner had desired a child.

"If the woman changes her mind and wants the child, she should be responsible," Feit said. "If she can't take care of the child, adoption is a good alternative."

The president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, acknowledged that disputes over unintended pregnancies can be complex and bitter.

"None of these are easy questions," said Gandy, a former prosecutor. "But most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child."

Spirit is willing?

Injured Cheerleader Didn't Want Squad, Team to Be 'Distracted'
Wednesday, March 08, 2006

NEW YORK — A cheerleader who continued to cheer for her team from a gurney despite tumbling 15 feet onto her head said Wednesday she was worried the accident would distract from the basketball game.

"My biggest concern was that I didn't want my squad to be distracted — so that they could continue cheering on the team — and I didn't want my team to be distracted from winning the game," Kristi Yamaoka, 18, told NBC's "Today" show.

Yamaoka, a Southern Illinois University sophomore from Springfield, Ill., suffered a concussion, a spinal fracture and a bruised lung when she lost her balance atop a human pyramid during a time-out in Sunday's game against Bradley.

She drew national attention as she was wheeled off the court. When the pep band fired up the school's fight song "Go Southern Go," Yamaoka gave a two-handed thumbs up from the gurney, then moved her arms — the only things not strapped down — in time to the music and cheered.

"I'm still a cheerleader — on a stretcher or not," Yamaoka told the "Today" show while wearing a neck brace and her cheerleading uniform. "So as soon as I heard that fight song, I knew my job and just started to do my thing."

Following Yamaoka's accident, the Missouri Valley Conference barred certain cheerleading stunts during this week's women's basketball tournament. Cheerleaders may not be launched or tossed and may not take part in formations higher than two levels during the tournament.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Something AdMU is not so well known: Grand Slam Football

This is something we do not hear about in relation to Ateneo de Manila sports. The UAAP seniors football team has scored a Grand Slam (2004, 2005, 2006). Can AdMU UAAP basketball match this?

Go up to the HILL once more.

Celebrate Ateneo's historic grand slam football title.

Friday, March 10, 2006
Erenchun Field (Football Field #1)
Loyola Heights Campus
6:30 pm onwards

Mass. Bonfire. Party.

See you all at the land of the BRIGHT Blue Eagles.

The Ateneo Blue Booters
UAAP Champions
2004 * 2005 * 2006

What my brother and I have in common

My brother Mike fell off his bike last Sunday. He broke his left clavicle (years ago he also fractured his right arm -- that allowed him to learn to write with his left hand). They are giving him three months to heal, else they'll probably have to open him up. My friend Roy, a roadbiker himself, tells him: If he likes biking he can definitely ride again. This is fairly common to pro bikers ... he has become a pro!

I broke my left clavicle in a horseback riding accidemnt on November 28, 1999 in Tagum, Davao del Norte.

Here's a link to a previous blog. I found out too that RP's top equestrian team members Toni Leviste and Joker Arroy also had broken clavicles, but they still ride.

International Women's Day

It is women, in the end, who even in very desperate situations, as attested by history past and present, possess a singular capacity to persevere in adversity, to keep life going even in extreme situations, to hold tenaciously to the future, and finally to remember with tears the value of every human life. (Ratzinger)

Give Women a break today! It's International Women's Day

Just one of those problems that beset IVF

Woman loses frozen embryos fight

A woman left infertile after cancer treatment cannot use her frozen embryos to have a baby, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

Natallie Evans started IVF treatment with her then partner Howard Johnston in 2001 but he withdrew consent for the embryos to be used after they split up.

Ms Evans went to the Strasbourg court after exhausting the UK legal process.

She now hopes to appeal to the Grand Jury of the European Court, but still wants her ex-fiancé to change his mind.

Ms Evans said: "I'm still as determined to do whatever it takes to have a child of my own."

She added: "Howard may feel it's too late for him to change his mind, but it's not."

But Mr Johnston said: "It seems that common sense has prevailed.

"The key thing for me was just to be able to decide when, and if, I would start a family."

But he added: "I'm not thinking about this in terms of a victory."

Ms Evans' legal team had asked the judges to consider whether the UK law, under which the six stored embryos would be destroyed in October this year, was in breach of her human rights.


In the court's judgement, decided by a panel of seven judges, said: "The Court, like the national courts, had great sympathy for the plight of the applicant who, if implantation did not take place, would be deprived of the ability to give birth to her own child."

'I'm determined to have baby'

But it was ruled, in a majority verdict that, even in such exceptional circumstances as Ms Evans', the right to a family life - enshrined in article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights - could not override Mr Johnston's withdrawal of consent.

It also ruled unanimously that the embryos did not have an independent right to life.

Cancer diagnosis

The UK's Court of Appeal and High Court had both ruled that Ms Evans, who is in her early 30s, could not use the embryos and she failed in her bid to take the case to the House of Lords.

Ms Evans, from Wiltshire, underwent IVF treatment following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in which the embryos were created and placed in storage.

She has argued that Mr Johnston, from Gloucester, had already consented to their creation, storage and use, and should not be allowed to change his mind.

Current UK laws require both the man and woman to give consent, and allow either party to withdraw that consent up to the point where the embryos are implanted.

A Department of Health spokeswoman welcomed the European Court judgment.

She said the department recognised the distress caused to Ms Evans during the legal process, and added a review of the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which included the issue of the storage of embryos, was currently underway.

'Ticking clock'

Josephine Quintavalle of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said of the court's ruling: "It's an inevitable judgement, but a very sad one."

She said Mr Johnston had "become a father" when the embryos were created, and should have compassion for Ms Evans.

But Michael Wilks, of the BMA ethics committee: "It's the right verdict, but a terrible situation."

However Dr Wilks called for a change to the five year limit for embryos to be stored after one partner withdraws consent should be extended so there was less of a "ticking clock".

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gov. Rounds Signs Bill Banning Most S.D. Abortions,2933,186961,00.html

Gov. Rounds Signs Bill Banning Most S.D. Abortions

Monday, March 06, 2006

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Gov. Mike Rounds signed legislation Monday banning nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It would make no exception for cases of rape or incest.

Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, in Sioux Falls, has pledged to challenge the measure in court.

Rounds issued a written statement saying he expects the law will be tied up in court for years and will not take effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court upholds it.

"In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them," Rounds said in the statement.

The governor declined all media requests for interviews Monday.

The Legislature passed the bill last month after supporters argued that the recent appointment of conservative justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito have made the U.S. Supreme Court more likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.

South Dakota's abortion ban is to take effect July 1, but a federal judge is likely to suspend it during a legal challenge.

Rounds has said abortion opponents already are offering money to help the state pay legal bills for the anticipated court challenge. Lawmakers said an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to defend the ban, and the Legislature set up a special account to accept donations for legal fees.

Under the new law, doctors could get up to five years in prison for performing an illegal abortion.

Rounds previously issued a technical veto of a similar bill passed two years ago because it would have wiped out all existing restrictions on abortion while the bill was tied up for years in a court challenge.

The statement he issued Monday noted that this year's bill was written to make sure existing restrictions will be enforced during the legal battle. Current state law sets increasingly stringent restrictions on abortions as pregnancy progresses. After the 24th week, the procedure is allowed only to protect the woman's health and safety.

About 800 abortions are performed each year in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood has said other women cross state lines to reach clinics.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tiger's third win

Survivor: Miami

Despite slipping down the stretch with two late bogeys, Tiger Woods closed the deal -- again, winning the Ford Championship by one for his 48th PGA Tour title and third win of the year.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Here's from the Jesuits in the Philippines

February 27, 2006


RE: Preliminary guidelines for the present situation of “national emergency”

In view of the confusing reports regarding the present situation, and the many calls on Jesuits, lay partners and Jesuit institutions to support various movements, I wish to share with the Province some information on our present situation and some responses for your discernment and guidance. As with the earlier Guidelines from the Province Commission on the Social Apostolate, these considerations are the fruit of discussion and discernment, understandably hurried given our circumstances, of an adhoc Province Committee on Crisis Response.

At a time when things remain fluid and unstable, these guidelines are presented, not as a total and final response to the situation and the problems of political legitimacy and reform, but as an initial response to very immediate concerns and questions. Moreover, they are offered for consideration and discernment, rather than as “positions” all are required to adhere to. Those who, after prayer and reflection, find that they can, in conscience, hold these positions, may share what is contained with others, who seek guidance in a time of confusion and heightened emotional responses.

Let us continue to beseech our gracious Lord for the light, courage and hope we need as we face these challenging times in our country’s history.

Sincerely in our Lord,



Preliminary Guidelines for the Present Situation of “National Emergency”

A. The Situation:

There seem to be groups in the military who have seriously been engaged in attempts to seize state power. Part of the impetus for these coup plots appears to be legitimate grievances concerning the present state of the military under the present administration. But it does not seem that the ventilation of these grievances is the only agenda of the present movements among these groups. There also appears to be a genuine intent to take political control of the country. Transitional juntas, with civilians participating, appear to be envisioned. Some civilians, chiefly politicians and organized political groups, seem to know about these plans. Some, convinced that all constitutional means to oust the present administration have been exhausted, support these attempts.

There appears to be a crucial difference between the events of EDSA 1986 and the present. EDSA was a civilian-led initiative against dictatorship that received support from the military. What we are witnessing these days is quite different: a military-led effort seeking civilian support and legitimation.

The response of the government is the declaration of a state of National Emergency, through Proclamation No. 1017. The column of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., in today’s Philippines Daily Inquirer, explains the constitutional basis for and scope of emergency powers in the Proclamation. But Fr. Bernas also points to the disturbing inclusion of what seem to be martial law powers in the President’s declaration, particularly in its appeal to Article XII, Section 17 of the Constitution, concerning the temporary takeover of privately owned businesses and utilities, a move that seems aimed at government control of the press and media.

B. Some Guidelines:

1. The crisis of political legitimacy and the crying need for reform of the military are real. Nonetheless, any attempt by factions in the military to seize state power, however well motivated, cannot be supported. Such attempts overstep the noble task of the military in a democracy. The consequences of such actions that threaten civilian supremacy over the military will be extremely difficult to reverse and would be seriously harmful for the country’s future. The experience of countries in which a politicized military has taken state power—what we often refer to as “banana republics”—gives sobering illustrations of these consequences. Once having captured the state, military forces have not given up power easily. A cycle of constant struggles for state control among military elements begins, to the detriment of political stability, democratic freedoms and national development.

Democracy demands the rule of civilians who are legitimately chosen from and by the people, and not simply kept in power by military might. It is important to recall the principle articulated by the CBCP in its pastoral statement of January 2006: actions that “condone violence or counter-constitutional means in resolving our present crisis” are not acceptable, especially since they “would only bring about new forms of injustice, hardships, and greater harm in the future.”

2. The serious threat to democratic freedoms involved in Proclamation No. 1017 should be exposed, questioned, and resisted. Even constitutionally mandated emergency powers can be abused if they are exercised disproportionately, to the point of undermining basic rights. It is alarming that, even now, there seem to be indications of this abuse, such as the arrest of civilians without clear bases and charges. This is a serious and unacceptable violation of civil and political rights.

Furthermore, the present administration’s actions towards controlling the media must be resisted. Not only are these moves of questionable constitutionality, but state takeover of media seems morally unjustified, as such a measure would violate the freedom of expression which is a fundamental tenet of democracy.

  1. We must not be naïve and uncritical. Many groups have taken and will continue to take advantage of the present confusion. We, especially religious and Church groups, must be wary about which groups we identify with, lest we indirectly legitimate and support antidemocratic groups with vested interests. The question of the future governance of the country, should the present administration collapse, is not a matter of indifference, but a serious moral consideration. Who assumes power, with what mandate and what agenda, are questions that we must seek answers to from those who would solicit our support.
  2. The present administration’s actions to frustrate legitimate constitutional means of reform and accountability must be held largely responsible for the present crisis. Government’s constant attempts to evade accountability and true reform have made the military solution seem attractive and inevitable to some.

Thus, it is necessary that the following be addressed with greater urgency: the search for truth on the many controversies of the recent past; the revamp of COMELEC and other necessary electoral reforms; reforms in the military; and the continuing search for solutions to the problems of poverty and inequality that beset most of our people.

C. Some Immediate Courses of Action:

In this situation, the following are appropriate immediate courses of action:

· Gatherings of prayer for peace and a non-violent resolution of the crisis;

· Gatherings to exchange reliable information, and to discern collectively in the light of emerging developments;

· Expressions and actions of protest against the curtailments of democratic freedoms in Proclamation No. 1017.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Another take

Get Real : Keeping the flame of Edsa alive

First posted 01:14am (Mla time) Feb 25, 2006
By Solita Collas-Monsod

Editor's Note: Published on Page A10 of the February 25, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

COUNT ME OUT of the protest actions at the Edsa Shrine and Makati City disguised as a peaceful celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolt. It is not because I don't want to celebrate it -- that event showed not only us, but an admiring world, the best of the Filipino spirit, and is therefore worthy of recall. But I refuse to celebrate it with people who are cynically using the occasion to further their own political or personal agendas by invoking "the greater good." Truly the last refuge of scoundrels.

By doing so, they are destroying all that the Edsa revolt stands for: the spirit of self-sacrifice for the motherland, with no thought of personal benefit. And what is more, they are encouraging military adventurism that may end up at first with a military/civilian junta, but will, if world experience is any indication, surely metamorphose into a military dictatorship, a la Myanmar with its 44-year-old military rule. That will truly be the height of irony:

They want to change Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (with assertions of her "illegitimacy" that so far has not been substantiated), and will end up with a regime that they may not be able to change at all. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Those who are calling loudest for Ms Arroyo to make the "supreme sacrifice" and step down for the "good of the country," what kind of sacrifice are they willing to make, if at all? Take the leftists with the red flags who sat out Edsa People Power I and are trying to exploit the event to set up their own government without benefit of elections (to be held only after 1,000 days, if at all). Like the proposed governing council or junta, were they not expecting to be in that self-same governing council themselves?

Take those who resigned their Cabinet positions. Was that really a sacrifice, considering that they seemed to be maneuvering to be in the incoming government (what was that visit to Hong Kong all about, after all)? Or take those who supported them. Weren't they also expecting, and bargaining for plum positions in the successor government?

Take those supposed military "idealists" who want change. What were they doing playing footsies with the New People's Army, whose sworn objective is the violent overthrow of any government that is not theirs? Or people like Scout Ranger Brig. Gen. Danny Lim, who has been in I don't know how many coup attempts, pretended to have reformed and thus rose through the ranks, and now resurfaces as the head of a breakaway group.

Have these people bothered to ask themselves what benefit, or rather, damage, the country has incurred from their activities to supposedly save it?

What about all the hysterical reactions to the so-called "state of emergency," which does not add any powers to the President that she does not already have? It is like the "state of rebellion" declared during -- was it the Oakwood incident? -- that some people immediately described as undeclared martial law. The fact is that there is an emergency situation because there was an attempt by a faction of the military to withdraw support from the government and to solicit participation through the chain of command.

And it is likely that the attempt was made with the support, tacit or material, of others. And it is likely that a few (certainly not all) elements of those participating in the street celebration may want to exploit the situation for their own ends. Provided that the police act with maximum tolerance, what is wrong with taking the necessary precautions to make sure that the assemblies are indeed only peaceful celebrations of a glorious moment in our history?

After all, the spirit of Edsa People Power is not dead, as some people say, perhaps to excuse their inability to mobilize a critical mass in the streets. It is very much alive -- not in those with self-serving agendas or who think of it in the narrow sense of street protests -- but in the quiet heroes engaged in the noble task of nation-building, especially in their own communities, who exercise people power as an instrument to make a better life for themselves, like the parents who work with local officials to improve the education of their children (i.e., Synergeia, about which I have often written), or who make sure that their local officials are accountable for the internal revenue allotments, or who strive to make the justice system work in their "barangay" [villages or neighborhood districts], or who even resort to the recall of non-performing local officials, or who resist projects that endanger their environment.

There are other manifestations of people power at a broader level. Like the private initiative, Gawad Kalinga, that is so purely unselfish in spirit that it has drawn countless people to help build not only homes but thriving communities for the underprivileged. Like government officials both low and high (Gem Carague at the Commission on Audit, and Karina David at the Civil Service Commission) who are engaged in institution-building despite the distractions and politicking around them.

Take those who are disappointed with the impeachment proceedings but know that the ultimate sanction in the accountability process in a democracy lies in elections. Hence, they object to the "no-el" [no-election] scenario and advocate truly credible elections in 2007. A Congress with a different composition can pursue the "closure" of the issue of national leadership.

There are thousands more like them around the country. This year I am celebrating Edsa People Power with them, because of them, for keeping the flame of Edsa People Power alive for all of us.


History takes too long.
Yes. But history is unkind to those who hurry it.