Tuesday, December 30, 2014


The Left-leaning website, thinkprogress.org is not on my list of "must reads". I was recently led to the site, however, while looking for information on Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on climate change. "Progressive" publications and websites are generally not complimentary toward the Catholic Church; the Church's view on climate change being the one notable exception.

Most of what I've come across lately, concerning the Pope and other Catholic Bishops, with regard to climate change has been encouraging. I'll go further into that subject in a later post, but for now, I want to write about thinkprogress.org's general assessment of the Catholic Church.

On the website's menu bar, we find nine sections - not counting the "Front" or Home page. These sections include, Climate, Economy, Health, Justice, LGBT (of course) World, Culture, Sports, and Election. In the same issue where I came across the article, Pope Francis Expected To Instruct One Billion Catholics To Act On Climate Change, I found no less than five additional articles on the Catholic Church. In the nine sections listed above, I found an article in all but three.

Any positive feelings toward the Church that might have been found in the piece on climate change was wiped away in the anti-Knights of Columbus article, How One Religious Organization Bankrolls America’s Social Conservative Movement. That the KoC would support the Church's teachings on abortion and same sex "marriage" is beyond the "brights" who write for thinkprogress.org. The site isn't called thinkthingsthrutotheirlogicalconclusion.org, after all.

In the article, New Catholic Survey Asks About People With ‘Homosexual Tendencies’ writer Jack Jenkins has to put in the old, “who am I judge?” comment. Progressives are so predictable.

In the Economy section, they speak highly of the Pope again by pointing out that Francis celebrated his birthday by giving sleeping bags to homeless people. They also have to mention, of course, that there was some "internal opposition in the Vatican" to his helping the homeless.

Finally, in Health writer Sam P.K. Collins' article, Low-Gluten Diet Alternatives Have Reached A New Frontier: The Catholic Church, there is absolutely no understanding of - or sympathy for - the Church's teachings on the Blessed Sacrament.

In an earlier post, I wrote of "my desire to get as many POV's as I could when trying to get the ends and outs of a variety of stories". Be that as it may, a link to thinkprogress.org will not be added to my News Sources column on the right.

Tropical Storm Seniang.

For those looking for news on Tropical Storm Jangmi (AKA Seniang), check my other blog, Dumaguetewebsite.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Adios, Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald.

In what might be loosely considered an update from an earlier post, I want to comment on the "News Sources" links listed in the far right column.

Since placing the links there, I've had to make a few changes to the list. Sadly, I've had to remove the links to two newspapers, The Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald.

I'm afraid that both papers have begun limiting the number of free articles that can be read on their websites each month. I want to get news from a wide variety of sources, but I haven't found anything on either website that would warrant my paying for the "privilege" of getting their version of the news. There are just too many free news sites on the Internet. I understand that we all need money, but the traditional newspaper is dead and companies like The Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald need to accept that.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


There are only a few days left in this year. It's the time,commonly set aside for looking back on what we've accomplished......or failed to accomplish, as the case may be.

It's become a tradition, of sorts, for me to publish a post around New Year's Day, giving a list of the books I've read in the year just ending. I've done this for 2011, 2012 and 2013. As there are still a couple of more days in 2014, I should be able to finish the book I'm currently reading before the New Year's deadline. The total number read in 2014 is more than 2012 and 2013 combined. Retirement has it's benefits - no pun intended.

Another landmark for 2014 is that, for the first time, all the books read this year were eBooks; there's not a single printed book on the list.

As mentioned in a post from August, I somehow managed to damage my Kindle on the trip here from the U.S.. Fortunately, I had purchased a Kindle for my son before moving to Philippines. I was able to keep up with my reading via his Kindle, but I don't really want to "hog" his Kindle; I want him to become a lover of books too. In order to read eBooks while he's on the Kindle, I downloaded the Kindle app to my android. This works out OK, except for one thing. While I can download eBooks which I've purchased from Amazon on either device, I haven't found a way to read eBooks from Project Gutenberg on the android. It may be possible to do so, though I don't know how to do it.

I have managed to get around that problem another way. I've downloaded the FBReader app onto the android and now eBooks from Project Gutenberg can be uploaded to their website and stored onto my Google Drive.Now,it's safe to say that I can read whatever I like, whenever I like. (another advantage of using either the Kindle or FBReader app on the android is the light coming from the phone makes for easier reading than on the regular Kindle).

I don't care for either e-reader when used on a PC. I've gotten over not having the feel of turning paper pages, but I don't believe I could ever get over not being able to hold the device in my hands.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lawmaker Stands By Bill Requiring Man’s Consent for Abortion

In the far-right corner of this blog, one will find a series of links listed under News Sources. Most of the links featured are not to American news websites.

The reason behind my choices of sources has to do with my desire to get as many POV's as I could when trying to get the ends and outs of a variety of stories. Obviously, a story as reported on FoxNews or CNN might have a different slant when viewed on Aljazeera or Sputnik US. In some cases, stories found on BBC or on an Australian news outlet might not even appear on an American website.

One particular case in point involves the reporting of Missouri lawmaker Rick Brattin's introduction of Missouri State House Bill 131 which would require that "no abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written,notarized consent to the abortion,except in cases in which the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced was the victim of rape or incest and the pregnancy resulted from the rape or incest".

The American press [ kfor.com and kansascity.com for example] choose to paint Brattin's bill as an attempt to restrict women's Rights.

" 'It’s simply demeaning and degrading to women. We, and most of the voters in Missouri, believe that women can make their own decisions both about their lives generally and about their healthcare specifically,' said Laura McQuad, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri."

The same story, as presented by the Russian newsite,us.sputniknews adds something left out in the U.S. reporting.

"When Missouri lawmaker Rick Brattin found out he was required to have his wife’s consent for his own vasectomy, he thought about how 'twisted' it is that the same rule does not apply to women seeking an abortion."

us.sputniknews quotes Brattin, by way of Mother Jones,

"When a man goes in for that procedure—at least in the state of Missouri—you have to have a consent form from your spouse in order to have that procedure done," he told Mother Jones. "Here I was getting a normal procedure that has nothing to do with another human being's life, and I needed to get a signed form…But on ending a life, you don't. I think that's pretty twisted."

As someone who agrees with the Catholic Church's condemnation of vasectomies, I can understand the reasoning behind a law requiring a wife's consent before a man can have a vasectomy. I do, however, see Brattin's point. I've always disagreed with the idea that a man doesn't have a say in the abortion of his own child.

I'm sure that the biased American media will succeed in painting Rick Brattin as a far-Right wing, anti-choice kook. Knowing America as well as I do, I know that abortion on demand will continue to be the law of the land. It would be nice, however, if while defending abortion, the media could, at least present an accurate description of both sides of the argument.

I won't hold my breathe.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Sleeper 13 Anti-Gun PSA.

From dailycaller.com:

A provocative public service announcement released by a San Francisco-based production company encourages children to put themselves at risk and commit a slew of crimes by stealing their parents’ guns from home and turning them in at school.

The PSA shows a boy, in his early teens, sneaking into his mother's bedroom and taking a handgun from her drawer. The boy takes the handgun to school, where at the end of the PSA, he hands over the gun to his teacher, saying, "Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house.”

The Sleeper 13 Productions ad’s director, Rejina Sencic went even further by posting this taunt on Twitter, "Lot of people are afraid to share my PSA! If you are not a coward please share."

Of course, I wanted to judge the provocative PSA for myself, but sadly, Ms. Sencic's own cowardice was making it difficult - if not impossible - for me to share her video.

Attempting to watch her video on Youtube via the links provided, told me that the video was "private".

It occurred to me that, if Sleeper 13 Productions had their own Twitter account, they would also have a Facebook page. That search enabled me to watch the PSA on a different Youtube account. My first thought was to provide the link to that account's video, but I'm certain that, like the Twitter account video, this one found on Facebook would soon become "private" as well.

But, where there's a will, there's a way. I downloaded the video, turned around and uploaded it to my Youtube account.

So, here is the video which Ms.Sencic believed we might be too cowardly to share.

Check out this opinion piece from The Washington Times: A video against gun violence misses the target by a mile.

'The Interview' will be in theaters Christmas Day

Perhaps the good folks at Sony Pictures Entertainment have followed Jonah Goldberg's sage advice and have gotten over their hoden angst concerning the release of  The Interview . As defined by Goldberg, “Hoden” in German means “testicles.” Angst means fear, worry, anxiety.

According to Aljazeera America, Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced a limited theatrical release of  The Interview beginning Thursday, putting the comedy back into theaters.

Hollywood could go one step further.

In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences displayed their, uh, Hoden Liebe by giving Brokeback Mountain  three Academy Awards. A true display of Hollywood's having lost their hoden angst would be by making a similar gesture towards The Interview by giving that film an equal number of awards. It would matter little whether or not the film actually deserved to win an Academy Award on it cinematic achievements.

It's the thought that counts, you know.

North Korean Internet Goes Down.

In a recent article, [ No Superheroes in The Interview Cave-In ] Jonah Goldberg laments that America's response to the computer hackers who attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment and were "clearly henchmen for the North Korean regime", has been less than heroic.

It's pathetic when the most heroic response to the -so called- “Guardians of the Peace,” and their threat to bomb movie theaters, was Obama's comment that people should go to the movies.

In his newsletter, Goldberg suggests that our only honorable response to the North Koreans would have been, “Go f**k yourself.”

I couldn't agree more.

Now, according to asia.nikkei.com, the U.S. may have done just that - in a passively aggressive manner, of course.

North Korea's Internet connection has been spotty since Friday, raising speculation that the U.S. government may have launched a cyberattack in reprisal for Pyongyang's alleged hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The article goes on to say that President Obama had earlier promised a "proportional response." Some are now speculating that a denial-of-service attack against North Korea was the proportional response promised.

Of course, not everyone believes that the U.S. government is responsible for the cyber attack against North Korea. The New York Times suggested that North Korea cut off the country's Internet connection itself to prevent a cyberattack against it.

According to bbc.co.uk,

The sole route for the internet into North Korea is through China. It may be that if the United States was behind the attack, China helped or at least turned a blind eye.

But we are in the realms of wild speculation now.

Was the attack worth it? According to Chang Yong Seok, an expert on North Korea at Seoul National University, a cyber attack on North Korea would not cause serious disruption and so be an exercise in futility.

"Even if their internet is shut down, the inconvenience will be shared only by members of the power elite."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Indian Court Allows Dead Guru to 'Meditate'.

On January 29, 2014, spiritual guru Ashutosh Maharaj, founder and head of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission), suffered a heart attack and was declared clinically dead by a team of doctors. Many of his followers, however, believe him to be in a state of deep meditation (samadhi) and have won a court battle delaying his cremation until February 9, 2015.

According to Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan spokesman Swami Vishalanand, his followers are waiting for Ashutosh to awaken and end his nearly year long meditation.

"Mahara-ji is still sending messages through followers in their meditative stage to protect his body till he returns," he said.

One might ask, how it is that, if the guru were indeed dead - and not in samadhi - why his body has not decayed during these past 10 months?

No miracle there. Ashutosh's body has been in a freezer since his death.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Scalia: Constitution Doesn’t Prohibit Torture.

Put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save.

Psalm 146:3

I should have known better.

I had always looked upon Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as someone who takes his Catholicism seriously, and therefore someone who would set the standard for the Supreme Court.

After learning of Scalia's recent interview on Swiss National Radio,I've changed my opinion. Contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that torture is a sin under all circumstances, Scalia said,"I don't think it's so clear at all."

"I think it is very facile for people to say 'Oh, torture is terrible,'" he said. "You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people."

The idea that torturing someone to prevent a nuclear explosion may appeal to others, and while Scalia agrees, he does not believe that information that a carload of terrorists heading to Los Angeles with an atomic bomb would be enough to justify police stopping the car, if the tip came from an anonymous source.

"I want you to say, 'Let the car go. Bye-bye, LA,'" Scalia said.

So, in his view, cops cannot stop a car driven by folks who might blow up LA in a nuclear explosion, if the cops' information comes from an anonymous source, but it's OK to torture the same guys to stop the bomb.

As it turned out, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court went against Scalia's contention that a car cannot be pulled over because of an anonymous tip. No word from the Supreme Court as to whether the drivers can be tortured.

The Warren/Clinton Slugfest.

It's a heartwarming headline:Elizabeth Warren poses a challenge to Hillary in 2016.

Getting the opportunity to vote against either of these two would almost be enough to make me renege on my earlier statement about never voting in an American election again.  Seeing the Warren/Clinton slugfest may well turn out to be the highlight of the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign.

Both candidates' supporters have already created websites for their particular favorite. Videos in support of the two have been produced and uploaded to Youtube.

As excruciatingly painful as it is to watch the Stand With Hillary video, the Run Liz Run video has to be the worse thing put on video - or film - since Plan Nine From Outer Space.

If I were a Hillary Clinton supporter, I would make every effort to make Run Liz Run go viral.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


As an expatriate who will probably never vote in another American election, some might argue that I have no business commenting on American politics. Maybe so. However, it is difficult for me to not comment on the recent report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concerning the CIA and torture.

My response is really fairly simple and straight forward. Paragraph 2297 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states -
"Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity".
 The use of torture is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. No exceptions.

On this, writer Mark Shea are in agreement. As a conservative, you cannot use Charles Krauthammer as a defense witness for your support of torture. As much as I might find some of Krauthammer's thoughts close to brilliant, he is not Catholic and his ideas on torture are as sinful as his thoughts on abortion.

As I said, on the sinfulness of torture, Mark Shea and I are in agreement, but there is something about his recent rants against conservative Catholics that rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps, he isn't quite expressing himself well, but Shea has a particular dislike for "conservative" Catholics and he appears to relish this opportunity to tar an entire group for the sins of a few, so-called, "pro-life Catholics" who have defended torture.

I agree that these particular Catholics were in serious error when they either defended torture or looked the other way, but I feel as if many conservative Catholics were splattered with paint when Shea threw his proverbial bucket of scarlet paint upon the guilty.

As one commenter on Shea's blog, going under the name Jassuz8, wrote,

"I hope you keep trying to raise awareness for this and all pro-life issues. But, I also hope that you transition to a more constructive, uplifting approach...now that you seem to have everyone's attention."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ready Or Not............

Via Daniel Harper at The Weekly Standard : 300 Former Obama Staffers Urge Elizabeth Warren to Run for President.

"A group of more than 300 hundred former Obama staffers have written an open letter urging Elizabeth Warren to run for president of the United States. 'We helped elect Barack Obama — now we’re calling on Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016,' the letter is titled."

Of course, the group has their own website and Facebook page - Ready For Warren.com.

Sadly, it appears that no one informed the group that their Democrat competition has already beaten them with their own Ready For Hillary website. In addition to the website, the RFH group is ready with Ready For Hillary merchandise. The Ready For Hillary Hoodie should go well with your Guy Fawkes mask, for that special protest.

One wonders which of the two groups will be the first to call on Sponge Bob Squarepants as a spokesperson.

Bar Manager Faces Prison for Insulting Buddhism.

Philip Blackwood, general manager of the VGastro bar in Myanmar faces up to two years in prison after he insulted Buddhism by depicting Buddha wearing headphones in a promotional poster for an event at the bar.

Police arrested Blackwood on Wednesday, along with the bar's owner, Tun Thurein, and another employee, Htut Ko Ko Lwin.

According to the Big Story, the image, posted online, was a "psychedelic image" of a "neon pink Buddha wearing DJ-style headphones".

Blackwood should consider himself lucky. Two years in prison certainly beats the 20 years he could have received had he kicked ol Buddha's gong.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Australian Press link Sexual Abuse to Celibacy.

According to a number of news sources in both Australia and the UK, in Australia, the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church has released it's "Activity Statement". The two main points given in the majority of these news reports are - 1) celibacy may be linked to sexual abuse - and 2) the progress report by the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church is at direct odds with a report by the Catholic Church in the United States that denied any link between child abuse and celibacy.

Naturally, any unbiased evaluation of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church would have to include a study of both reports.

The Australian report can be found here.
The American report can be found here.

This post is not intended to a detailed analysis of both reports. I've included the links so that readers of this post can make their own evaluation. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention some of my thoughts on the two reports.

The report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a 152 page document reporting on "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010" and deals specifically with the causes of the abuse.

The Australian report is a 44 page document which attempts to cover several points - and not exclusively on the causes of sexual abuse.

The only mention I found dealing with the causes of sexual abuse by priests come on page 23 of the report.

"Culture and clericalism .
Throughout the public hearings and as the Council has engaged with stakeholders, many issues have been raised about the Church’s culture and the way in which it may have played a part in contributing to child sexual abuse within the Church.

There has also been much discussion about the impact of ’clericalism‘, which can be understood as referring to approaches or practices involving ordained ministry geared to power over others, not service to others. Clericalism has been seen as a contributing factor to the way in which the Church has responded to abuse claims and engaged with survivors. It may be seen as having played a part in the following:
• historically Church leaders seemed to have responded virtually identically to complaints of child sexual abuse
• Church institutions and their leaders, over many decades, seemed to turn a blind eye, either instinctively or deliberately, to the abuse happening within their diocese or religious order, protecting the institution rather than caring for the child
• historically, parents were reluctant to believe their children and did not confront Church leaders about allegations of abuse
• obedience and closed environments also seem to have had a role in the prevalence of abuse within some religious orders and dioceses
• another contributor may have been the way in which candidates for the priesthood or religious life were accepted for entry, and
• obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances."

From one sentence in the 44 page report - "obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances" - the press reports, "Celibacy may be linked to sexual abuse, Catholic Church concedes".

The headlines from the Australian and British news sources will give "ammunition" to those wishing to put an end to priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church. It's unlikely that those folks will bother to read any report that contradicts their opinion. All I can do is make the report available.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kabul's Bare-Legged Woman.

To paraphrase the Frank Zappa song, Big Leg Emma, there's a big dilemma about a barelegged woman, uh-huh, oh yeah .

The photos of Kabul's barelegged woman, taken by Afghan journalist Hayat Ensafi, hasn't caused so much as a ripple in the U.S., but the Australian news sites appear to be in love with the story.

I first came across the story of the young woman who has sent shock waves through Afghanistan, via The Sydney Morning Herald, but a Google search of 'Hayat Ensafi' reveals the story has found a home on news.com.au, 9news.com.au and dailylife.com.au as well.

According to the Afghani journalist who took the photos, the woman was walking very quickly and would not speak to him when he tried to engage her in conversation. The talk in Afghanistan is whether the woman was making a political statement, or merely mentally unbalanced.

The Australian news sites maintain that the photos have gone 'viral', but I'd have to question that. Although everyone in Kabul is talking about the woman, the photos certainly haven't gone viral in Afghanistan, where internet usage is practically non-existent.

Monday, December 8, 2014

You Go Uruguay, I'll Go Mine.

Checking bbc news and aljazeera.com, I learned that six Guantanamo prisoners have resettled in Uruguay. There was no mention of the release on CNN, Fox or Drudge. I was beginning to believe that the story was going to be completely ignored by America news outlets, until I discovered articles on the transfer on the Washington Post and the Washington Times.

Prior to this story, my knowledge of Uruguay was pretty much, well, nothing. So, wishing to increase my knowledge of the country, I searched for information about the current president of Uruguay, José Mujica. For the most part, he seems like a man after Obama's heart. Mujica has called Guantanamo a "disgrace" and has used Guantanamo to bash George Bush. Being a typical politician, Mujica delayed bringing the prisoners into Uruguay until after the country's recent elections - an October opinion poll showed 58% of Uruguayans were opposed to bringing in the prisoners.

On the plus side, Mujica does not live in the Presidential palace, but on his wife's farm where the couple cultivate chrysanthemums. Called by some, the world's poorest president, Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary to charities which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs. This leaves his take-home pay inline with the average Uruguayan income - $775 a month. I can't imagine any U.S. President, Democrat or Republican, doing the same.

On the negative side, Mujica supports abortion.

Not surprisingly, Mujica has stated on a left-wing Spanish television station, that he is an atheist.

As for the photo, due to Mujica’s efforts to legalize marijuana in Uruguay, the president has won the praise of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dr. Death visits Auschwitz.

Dr Wims Distelmans, who practices euthanasia in a Brussels clinic, wishing to ‘clarify confusion’ (whatever that means) led a group, consisting of doctors, psychologists and nurses from Belgium, (most of whom also work in the area of euthanasia) to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Naturally, Jewish and anti-euthanasia campaigners have reacted with horror, saying the trip, billed as a study tour, is ‘offensive and shocking’.

At one point during the trip, while in Krakow, the members of the group received name-tags. From Der Spiegel:

"Distelmans pins his name-tag to his T-shirt, places his scarf on top of it, and pulls his jacket over his scarf. 'I don't know if I have any opponents here,' he says. Before the trip, a picture of him appeared on Google. Someone had doctored the image and put an SS uniform over his sweater."

I was more than happy to locate the photo and post it here.

In a story overflowing with irony, one portion stands out. At one point, the group discusses "the case of a colleague in the group who asked if he is allowed to kill a Nazi. The patient in question is paralyzed on one side and is a former member of the Waffen-SS. In fact, a portrait of Hitler hangs over his sofa. The colleague refused to perform euthanasia because he doesn't feel the Nazi deserves a painless, gentle death".

All through the article, we were told that those advocating euthanasia wanted to give the patient control over his or her own death. Doctors shouldn't prolong life out of a sense of control and a desire for power over the patient, we're told. Yet, here we have the very same doctors maintaining that certain individuals don't deserve "a painless, gentle death".

Distelmans, however feels differently that his colleagues. "He says that he would do it out of respect for the man's pain and humanity -- as an act of unconditional love."

Some might say he simply would never pass an opportunity to kill someone.

Typhoon Ruby 3.

As I write this, it is 7:02, Sunday morning. It appears that our area is out of danger. Typhoon Ruby has a more northerly path than originally predicted, and while other areas of Philippines have been hit hard, it looks as if we've been spared, for the most part.

The typhoon will be making landfall in Masbate this morning - approximately 300 miles to the north of us. I feel confident in saying that the worse is over for Negros Oriental.

People in other parts of the country, however, are still in need of our prayers.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Typhoon Ruby 2.

Although the predictions are that the worst of Typhoon Ruby will pass north of us, we will not be spared from heavy rain and winds. As I write this, it's Friday AM here and while the typhoon isn't expected to hit land until sometime Saturday, it has already started raining. The wind has picked up, though nowhere near as fast as it is forecast.

As mentioned earlier, we have supplies......rice, bottled water, canned food and LP gas. There was a report on the TV earlier this morning that there could be storm surges in Sibulan. My wife has asked me to locate our important papers - passports and the like - in case flooding makes us evacuate the house. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Super Typhoon Hagupit Threatens Philippines Including Areas Vulnerable After Haiyan.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Typhoon Ruby.

Tropical storm "Hagupit" is headed our way and is expected to hit Philippines sometime Saturday. According to PAGASA Deputy Administrator Dr. Landrico Dalida, Jr.,there is a 75% chance that the storm will hit land, and 25% of it changing track and heading northward.

Once the storm enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) it will be referred to as typhoon Ruby. Indications are that Ruby will be a "super" typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 160 kph, and gusts of up to 190 kph.

Forty-four provinces were declared critical areas by the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration(PAGASA). While the province I live in (Negros Oriental) is listed among the 44 critical provinces, the province in most danger is Eastern Samar where typhoon Yolanda - AKA Haiyan - caused extensive damage last year.

We're getting prepared. We've stocked up on the essentials - bottled water, rice, canned food and LP gas. We're hoping that our worst problem will be disruption of electricity. Even with the strong winds and rain, the house, which is built from concrete blocks, should be OK. God willing, we won't experience flooding in our area.

Of course, in today's world, we can't talk about typhoons - super or otherwise - without mention of climate change. A German think-tank, Germanwatch, announced from Lima, Peru that "Philippines, Cambodia and India were most affected by extreme weather events in 2013."

“We all remember the images of the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan, which wiped out entire regions and took the lives of more than 6000,” said Sönke Kreft, author of the study and Team Leader for International Climate Policy at Germanwatch. “It was the most severe tropical storm ever to make landfall."

In Climate Change circles, super typhoons, such as Yolanda and Ruby, are called "extreme weather events". While I make no claims to be a scientist, it's difficult to imagine that these "extreme weather events" are not brought about by climate change. The questions that remain are, how much of this climate activity is caused by humans and what can we do about it?

There was a good deal of chin wagging and patting on backs after China and the US pledged last month to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Now, the Chinese maintain "that progress is likely to be stymied by differences between the developed and developing world - with the US the main culprit".

I'm not putting much hope in humans being able to deal with this.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever.

We had heard rumors that there might be a "super typhoon" headed our way, so I took to the Internet to check various websites for any reliable information. After going to a weather website, a typhoon update website and three Filipino news sites, I've concluded that the rumor had no truth behind it. I couldn't find anything related to any sort of typhoon - super or otherwise - headed toward us in the foreseeable future.

While on the abs-cbnnews website, I thought I'd check out the latest news in Philippines.

One story that caught my attention was Swiss arrested for trafficking, child abuse. I like to keep up to date on stories involving foreigners here.Before coming to Philippines the first time, I never expected that there would be so many Germans, Swiss and Australians living in the country.

The article linked to above is rather short, so I'll post it here :

"By Jessee Atienza, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas
Posted at 11/30/2014 1:34 PM | Updated as of 12/01/2014 12:21 AM

CEBU – A Swiss national was arrested Saturday in Sta. Fe, Bantayan island in Cebu by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for his alleged involvement in human trafficking and child abuse.
The suspect was identified as Walter Hauck, who has been residing in Barangay Talisay for two years, having settled there after his retirement.
A joint operation by the NBI, the Children's Legal Bureau and the Provincial Women's Commission (PWC) led to the rescue of five minors from Hauck's residence.
Heda Largo, a consultant of the PWC, said there were some sex toys found inside Hauck's house.
The five minors are now in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development where they will undergo legal processes.
Huck is being detained at the NBI Region 7 office, where he will undergo further investigation. He is expected to be presented to the media on Monday".

Further into the website, I found another article concerning the Swiss, though not those in Philippines:
Swiss urged to stop eating cats on Christmas day.

Surely, I thought, this can't be a real story. Perhaps it was just some Filipino working for ABS-CBN getting back at the Swiss because of the despicable actions of the Swiss national in Sta. Fe, Bantayan. I can't imagine that the Swiss actually eats cats on Christmas Day.

Taking to Google, I found this link:
Animal rights group calls for new law - to stop Swiss eating CATS on Christmas Day.

It's hard to imagine that I had never heard anything about the Swiss tradition of eating dogs and cats.

The story has even made it's way to the bbc.co.uk website, which says:

" 'Around three percent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog,' said Tomi Tomek, founder and president of animal protection group SOS Chats Noiraigue.
Cat appears on traditional Christmas menus in some areas of Switzerland.
It is often cooked for the festive season in a similar way to rabbit - with white wine and garlic.
'We especially see it in the regions of Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern,' said Tomek.
Dog meat goes mostly into making sausages and a fatty remedy for rheumatism".

On 29 November 2014, Lifetime  released a made for TV movie, "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever". I haven't seen the movie, but I'm curious to see if Grumpy Cat spends any part of Christmas in Switzerland.