Please read this. I really hope the controversy over his plans to build on Arroceros makes Mayor Atienza see sense. Does he really want to be remembered as the destroyer of one of the most beautiful parts of Manila?
Even in this smelly London Internet cafe, I still find time to check out the sassy lawyer. She has an astonishing story about a World Bank loan to Jollibee:
MANILA : The World Bank’s private sector financing arm will put some of the 100 million dollars it plans to invest in the Philippines into local fast food chain Jollibee Foods.
International Finance Corporation (IFC) country manager Vipul Bhagat told the BusinessWorld newspaper the body wants to help both the company expand in the provinces and entrepreneurs who want to run their own Jollibee restaurants. [Channel News Asia]
Sassy's righteous indignation is spot on: "The provinces are the only places left where ethnic Filipino cuisine thrives and they’re about to be deluged with Jollibee. And then what? The future generations are supposed to define Filipino cuisine according to the Jollibee menu? Talk about killing the Filipino culture…"
This patient is in terminal decline. Brits no longer talk, dream or think about anything else apart from the vast profits they can make from exchanging one badly-built semi-detached house for another. Intelligent, worldly people find it impossible to end a sentence without the obligatory "the place must be worth a fortune". One TV channel showed three "property programmes" one after the other last Saturday night. High streets are crammed with the dead facades of estate agents and letting businesses. The nauseating and materialistic property culture is completely out of hand and I for one can't wait for the bubble to pop even if it does leave the blood of some of my friends splattered on the walls. They'll survive and perhaps even re-appraise what is really important in life. And that's my judgemental expat post for the day.
John Lennon's murderer, Mark Chapman, may be released from jail soon. It's just amazing to me how some Lennon "fans" obviously haven't a clue what he was all about.
" ... if Chapman is released after 24 years in prison, some Lennon fans have already threatened to take action. News of the parole hearing has spread on the internet and dozens of websites have been filling up with messages from fans around the world, many already promising to take revenge on the man who gunned down Lennon on 8 December 1980 as he arrived at his New York apartment building off Central Park.
'Chapman should be executed. I would gladly get rid of him myself,' wrote a fan from Finland on one website. Another fan has already set up an online petition to have Chapman's parole denied. It is already full of messages that show Chapman's safety outside jail would be difficult to maintain. 'If Mark David Chapman is let out of jail, he wouldn't last a day. There are too many people who want him dead,' wrote a New York-based female fan."
... I suggest 'patriaennui' (L. patria, native country, F., ennui, a contraction of L. mihi in odio est, meaning 'it is hateful to me'.
What am I rambling on about? That vague feeling of dread that seeps into my bones before I am 10 miles from Heathrow. There's much to admire in Britain, and of course seeing family and friends is a joy, but I just have an emotional reaction to the place and a sense of guilt for not feeling more at home here.
Anyone who doubts the sense of public service among Filipino politicians should look no further than the remarkable dedication of Ramon Revilla. He’s 77 years old, he had a triple heart bypass in 1999, underwent spinal surgery twice in 2002, and in the same year he suffered two mild strokes. And still he wants to serve his country!
The father of 70 children (that’s not a misprint) served two terms in the Senate, memorable only for his observation during Erap’s trial that you can tell how much a wad of cash is worth by weighing it (he is a cockfighting fanatic). And now he’s been appointed to clean up Public Estates Authority (PEA), the agency responsible for one of the grossest acts of graft and corruption in Gloria’s first term.
It is so obvious as to be hardly worth saying, but the whole PEA fiasco demonstrates all the President’s faults: negligent stewardship of the economy (in a country crying out for infrastructure development, a virtually useless road was built for P1.1-billion and overpriced by P600 million); initial over-reaction (with her eyes firmly fixed on the next day’s papers she first dramatically abolished the PEA and then quietly re-established it), and making appointments based on political considerations rather than merit (Revilla’s son Bong ran on the Macapagal ticket so clearly this is payback time).
Mobile blogging is quite stressful. The last two posts were written in Amsterdam airport while I was in transit. This one is coming to you from an Internet cafe in Brighton while I shelter from the rain.
Anyway, an article by Mary Jacoby last week outlined the stellar academic career of the US president. The source was one of Bush’s professors.
"For 25 years, Yoshi Tsurumi, one of George W. Bush's professors at Harvard Business School, was content with his green-card status as a permanent legal resident of the United States. But Bush's ascension to the presidency in 2001 prompted the Japanese native to secure his American citizenship. The reason: to be able to speak out with the full authority of citizenship about why he believes Bush lacks the character and intellect to lead the world's oldest and most powerful democracy."
Here are a few paragraphs from the piece:
"Trading as usual on his father's connections, Bush entered Harvard in 1973 for a two-year program. He'd just come off what George H.W. Bush had once called his eldest son's "nomadic years" -- partying, drifting from job to job, working on political campaigns in Florida and Alabama and, most famously, apparently not showing up for duty in the Alabama National Guard.
[Bush] showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, "Oh, I never said that." A White House spokeswoman
did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In 1973, as the oil and energy crisis raged, Tsurumi led a discussion on whether government should assist retirees and other people on fixed incomes with heating costs. Bush, he recalled, "made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, 'The government doesn't have to
help poor people -- because they are lazy.' I said, 'Well, could you explain that assumption?' Not only could he not explain it, he started backtrackingon it, saying, 'No, I didn't say that.'"
Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi said. "In class, he couldn't challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged
him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy."
Many of Tsurumi's students came from well-connected or wealthy families, but good manners prevented them from boasting about it, the professor said. But Bush seemed unabashed about the connections that had brought him to Harvard. "The other children of the rich and famous were at least well bred to the point of realizing universal values and standards of behavior," Tsurumi said. But Bush sometimes came late to class and often sat in the back row of the theater-like classroom, wearing a bomber jacket from the Texas Air National Guard and spitting chewing tobacco into a cup.
"At first, I wondered, 'Who is this George Bush?' It's a very common name and I didn't know his background. And he was such a bad student that I asked him once how he got in. He said, 'My dad has good friends.'" Bush scored in the lowest 10 percent of the class.
Michael Vakitiotis has an interesting take on the Anwar release in the current Far Eastern Economic Review. The way he (and Anwar) see it, Anwar and former Indonesian president Habibie represent a pan-South-East-Asian movement towards a more tolerant and pluralistic Islam. I'm sure many Malaysians might say that Anwar's Umno Youth days didn't reveal a particularly tolearant attitude, but still, I think it is an interesting argument. Whether Habibie and Anwar end up on the scrap-heap of busted 1990s leaders or do manage to lead their countries away from confrontation with the West remains to be seen. Anyway, here is the gist of the argument: "
Habibie's influence over Anwar isn't easily dismissed. The diminutive former president founded a reformist Islamic movement in Indonesia in 1990. Habibie worked closely with Anwar in the mid-1990s to promote a tolerant and constructive brand of Islam which they hoped would influence the religion worldwide and head off what they saw as a dangerous trend towards intolerance and confrontation with the West.
Together they gave speeches and formed think-tanks in which young Muslim scholars synthesized the best of Western social science and philosophy with Islamic thinking. They were both leaders in waiting, and they attracted young and ambitious thinkers who saw in them the way to an end to decades of religious conflict and authoritarianism.
What a difference a decade makes. The harsh realities of politics interrupted their intellectual discourse. Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and soon after went to jail, while Habibie lost Indonesia's 1999 presidential election. Their push for Islamic pluralism crumbled along with the so-called Asian economic miracle. In its place an intolerant and radical brand of Islamic thinking took root in the Islamic schools that Anwar and Habibie had wanted to influence.
Now that Anwar is free, Habibie and other scholars and thinkers around the region are hoping the former Muslim radical will resume his quest for a tolerant, progressive Islam to counter the fundamentalism blamed for a surge in terrorism.