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« Reply #1560 on: March 09, 2010, 04:28:42 AM »

    
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Farm girl is RP candidate for Miss Universe

By Armin Adina
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:45:00 03/08/2010

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Fashion, Women

MANILA, Philippines—A farm girl from Camarines Sur won the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown Saturday night.

Maria Venus Raj inherited the title from last year’s winner Pamela Bianca Manalo in a glittering four-hour pageant at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Raj, 21, who will compete in the Miss Universe contest later this year, was voted Miss Friendship by fellow candidates. She also won the Best in Long Gown and Best in Terno awards.

Raj, 5-foot-10 and measuring 35-22-35, told the Inquirer: “This victory means a lot to me. All my sacrifices paid off. This is the result of all the support from my family, friends, loved ones … even strangers.”

The new beauty queen graduated cum laude with a degree in Communication Arts from Bicol University. She confirmed reports of her humble upbringing.

“Our house is in the middle of a farm in Bato, Camarines Sur. Walking on the borders of the rice paddies (pilapil) was my early training in walking on runways,” the part-time model said in English and Filipino. She said that her family still lived on the same farm.

GMA 7 contract artist Krista Kleiner was proclaimed Binibining Pilipinas-International and named Best in Talent and Best in Swimsuit.

Czarina Catherine Gatbonton from Malolos, Bulacan, was the surprise winner of the Binibining Pilipinas-World title. The 19-year-old college student was the only candidate to introduce herself in Filipino. She also answered her question in Filipino. She will compete in the Miss World contest also later this year.

The three titleholders bagged a prize package that included a P250,000-contract with Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc., accident insurance worth P2 million, wardrobe and accessories from Cumbia worth P150,000, as well as cash and products from Natasha worth P50,000.

Raj’s fellow Bicolana, 17-year-old Dianne Necio, was first runner-up, while Pampanga’s Helen Nicolette Henson was second runner-up. Henson was also named Miss Photogenic, Miss Fit n’ Right and Miss Philippine Airlines.

Selena Antonio and Laurese Ann Caparas, who bagged the popularity-based Shoppers’ Choice and Texters’ Choice awards, respectively, failed to make it to the semifinals.

Actors Dingdong Dantes and Carla Abellana hosted the pageant ceremonies. Broadcaster Mike Enriquez, boxing champ Nonito Donaire and 1970 Miss International Aurora Pijuan were among the judges of the competition televised on GMA 7.
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« Reply #1561 on: March 09, 2010, 04:31:57 AM »

    
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   6. Showdown on Supreme Court succession inevitable
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India, China 'missing' 85 million women—UN


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 23:14:00 03/08/2010

Filed Under: Population, woman

NEW DELHI—The United Nations estimated Monday that India and China are "missing" about 85 million women who died from discriminatory health care and neglect or who were never born at all.

In a major report on gender equality, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) found that Asia had the highest male-female sex ratio at birth in the world, with 119 boys born for every 100 girls.

This far exceeded the global world average of 107 boys for every 100 girls.

"Females cannot take survival for granted," the report said. "Sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and death from health and nutritional neglect in Asia have left 96 million missing women ... and the numbers seem to be increasing in absolute terms," it added.

The regional figure was skewed by enormous birth gender disparities in China and India, which each accounted for about 42.6 million of the report's "missing" figure.

Despite robust economic growth across Asia as a whole, the report found that millions of women remained excluded from the benefits of greater prosperity.

The region, and especially South Asia, ranks near the worst in the world—often lower than sub-Saharan Africa—on basic issues such as protecting women from violence, as well as access to health, education, employment and political participation.

"Today, the Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads," the report said. "Whether gender equality is pushed aside or pursued with greater energy amid the economic downturn depends on actions taken or not taken now by governments."

The report focused on the need to improve women's rights in three key areas: economic power, political participation, and legal protection.
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« Reply #1562 on: March 09, 2010, 04:40:34 AM »





JFK condolence letters published for 1st time
03/08/2010 | 11:44 PM
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CONCORD, N.H. – Among the 1.5 million condolence letters sent to President John F. Kennedy's widow after his assassination in 1963 were more than two dozen from Jane Dryden, a dogged and dramatic 11-year-old who churned out a letter a week for six months straight.

"I know that you hate the whole state of Texas. I do to," she wrote to Jacqueline Kennedy from Austin in January 1964. "I wish I lived in Washington, D.C. where maybe I could maybe see you standing on your porch. I am determined to move there as soon as I can. I would feel safer there."

Given the overwhelming volume of mail — 800,000 letters in the first seven weeks alone — most of the condolence letters were destroyed. But at least one of Dryden's notes ended up among the 200,000 pages that were sent to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, where they sat largely ignored until historian Ellen Fitzpatrick decided to write "Letters to Jackie: Condolences From a Grieving Nation."

The book, released last week by HarperCollins, includes more than 200 never-before published letters divided into three categories: vivid recollections of the day Kennedy was killed; letters that express views on society, politics and the presidency; and personal experiences of grief and loss.

Larry Toomey of Upper Darby, Pa., didn't even wait until Kennedy's death was announced before starting his letter.

"My dear Mrs. Kennedy, Even as I write this letter, my hand, my body is trembling at the terrible incident of this afternoon. I am watching the CBS-TV news report. No official word as yet."

Writing two days later, eighth-grader Mary South described learning that the president had been shot just as she sat down to play the church organ at her Catholic school in Santa Clara, Calif.

"I tried to tell myself he would be all right but somehow I knew he wouldn't. ... the tears wouldn't stop. The slightly damp keys were hard to play but I offered it up that the President might live," she wrote.

In return for her letter, she received a small card printed with the words "Mrs. Kennedy is deeply appreciative of your sympathy and grateful for your thoughtfulness ."

"Getting that back felt like: She saw this. Jackie saw this," South, whose married name is Mary Certa, said in an interview Thursday. "I felt good that I had done something. I just wanted her to know how upset we were and how helpless we felt."

When one of Fitzpatrick's researchers called and read her letter, "I started to cry all over again," said Certa, 60, of Campbell, Calif. "It was like I was right back there in 1963."

Fitzpatrick was at the Kennedy library researching a different book when she asked to see some of the condolence letters in hopes of getting a sense of how Kennedy was perceived by Americans in his own time. As soon as she started reading, she was hooked.

"It was like the roof came off the building, the walls dropped away, the floor came out from under me. I was absolutely floored by what I'd begun to read," she said Friday. "I have been teaching American history for 30 years, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a collection as powerful and that represented so many ordinary people speaking from the heart about their views about American society, and politics, and the president."

Fitzpatrick, a University of New Hampshire professor, soon discovered why the letters had never been published: she would have to get permission from each writer before including it in the book. But after she whittled down her list of favorites from 3,000 to 240, only five of the 220 or so she was able to track down declined to be included.

"There have been so many books about the Kennedy assassination. We've heard from the experts, we've heard from the conspiracy theorists, we've heard from people in the Kennedy administration, but here are the voices of those voiceless, everyday Americans," said Fitzpatrick, who said she was surprised at the eloquence of the writers, no matter how uneducated or young.

"I'm just an average American — average mentality, average housewife, average housing, average size family, a year younger than you and perhaps a little more sensitive than some, but I will always have a warm spot in my heart for both of you as long as I live," wrote Marilyn Davenport of New York, who included her phone number "if you ever want to talk."

Barbara Rimer was 15 when she wrote "I promise you that I will give body and soul to perpetuate the very ideals President Kennedy lived for."

Rimer, now dean of the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health, didn't even remember writing to Mrs. Kennedy until contacted by Fitzpatrick.

"When I read it, I thought, 'Wow, was I naive!' I don't know how many people write letters to the president today or to Michelle (Obama), but it seemed incredibly naive," she said.

But Rimer also realized that she has kept her promise to Mrs. Kennedy through her career in public health and by encouraging students to give back at the local, national and global level.

"When I saw this letter, it made me realize how long I've been on a path I really wasn't aware I was on, so I'm really grateful to the author of this book for kind of giving me back a piece of my history," she said.

For Jane Dryden Louis, author of the weekly letters, the assassination coincided with her growing awareness of the world outside her neighborhood. She remembers being drawn to the drama and pageantry of the Kennedys, and the tragedy as well. After the assassination, she set up an altar with candles in her bedroom, and she and her friends pretended to be Jacqueline, Teddy and Bobby Kennedy.

"They say I look like you, too, although I am blonde and wear glasses," she wrote to Mrs. Kennedy.

As an adult, Dryden Louis has worked as pastoral minister, helping families prepare for a loved one's death.

"I can almost still recognize a piece of myself that's drawn to be in relationships with people in that sort of deep and tragic but very rich context," she said. "It's still me."

One of the shortest letters came from Martin Rosenberg, a student at the University of Massachusetts who wrote: "Dear Mrs. Kennedy: I have never seen our football players cry ... but today, they did." - AP
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« Reply #1563 on: March 09, 2010, 04:49:20 AM »

Hundreds slaughtered in Nigeria religious violence
AP

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DOGO NAHAWA, Nigeria – The killers showed no mercy: They didn't spare women and children, or even a 4-day-old baby, from their machetes. On Monday, women wailed in the streets as a dump truck carried dozens of bodies past burned-out homes toward a mass grave.

Rubber-gloved workers pulled ever-smaller bodies from the dump truck and tossed them into the mass grave. A crowd began singing a hymn with the refrain, "Jesus said I am the way to heaven." As the grave filled, the grieving crowd sang: "Jesus, show me the way."

At least 200 people, most of them Christians, were slaughtered on Sunday, according to residents, aid groups and journalists. The local government gave a figure more than twice that amount, but offered no casualty list or other information to substantiate it.

An Associated Press reporter counted 61 corpses, 32 of them children, being buried in the mass grave in the village of Dogo Nahawa on Monday. Other victims would be buried elsewhere. At a local morgue the bodies of children, including a diaper-clad toddler, were tangled together. One appeared to have been scalped. Others had severed hands and feet.

The horrific violence comes after sectarian killings in this region in January left more than 300 dead, most of them Muslim. Some victims were shoved into sewer pits and communal wells.

Sunday's bloodshed in three mostly Christian villages appeared to be reprisal attacks, said Red Cross spokesman Robin Waubo.

Nigeria is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. The recent bloodshed has been happening in central Nigeria, in towns which lie along the country's religious fault line. It is Nigeria's "middle belt," where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands.

Rev. Pandang Yamsat, the president of a local Christian group, said he has urged his congregation not to respond violently to Muslims. However, he said he believes Muslims in the area want to control the region and that any peace talks would only give Muslims "time to conquer territory with swords."

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, condemned the violence and said Monday that the conflict must be interpreted in the light of social, economic, ethnic and cultural factors rather than religious hatred.

The killings add to the tally of thousands who have already perished in Africa's most populous country in the last decade due to religious and political frictions. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people. Muslim-Christian battles killed up to 700 people in 2004. More than 300 residents died during a similar uprising in 2008.

The killings in Dogo Nahawa, three miles (five kilometers) south of the region's main city of Jos, began early Sunday.

Chuwanga Gyang, 30, said he heard a gunshot and left his house through the back door but stopped when he realized that the attackers were shooting to herd fleeing villagers toward another group of attackers carrying machetes.

He recalled climbing into a tree and watching as villagers were killed and the attackers set homes alight over the course of 90 minutes.

The attackers asked people "Who are you?" in Fulani, a language used mostly by Muslims, and killed those who did not answer back in Fulani, he said.

Plateau State spokesman Gregory Yenlong said police are seeking to arrest Saleh Bayari, the regional leader of the Fulanis, alleging Bayari had made comments incited the slaughter. He gave no details.

The chairman of the local Fulani organization denied that his people were involved in the violence.

Jos has been under a dusk-til-dawn curfew enforced by the military since January's religious-based violence. It was not clear how the attackers managed to elude the military curfew early Sunday.

Christian evangelist Musah Paul Gindiri said the police and military provided no security to the villages attacked Sunday morning.

"We have seen our flock is becoming very restive as the government is not trying to protect them," he said, warning that Christians would fight back if attacked again.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan said security agencies would be stationed along Plateau state's borders to keep outsiders from coming in with more weapons and fighters.

"(We will) undertake strategic initiatives to confront and defeat these roving bands of killers," he said in a statement. "While it is too early to state categorically what is responsible for this renewed wave of violence, we want to inform Nigerians that the security services are on top of the situation."

More than 600 people have fled to a makeshift camp that still held victims from January's violence, said Red Cross official Adamu Abubakar. He expected more to come, putting an even bigger strain on the already limited humanitarian aid for those fleeing the violence.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 04:54:37 AM by senior60 » Logged


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« Reply #1564 on: March 10, 2010, 05:01:35 AM »

VIEWPOINT
The Catholic debate on condoms
By Ted Laguatan, Esq.
INQUIRER.net First Posted 06:50:00 03/08/2010 Filed Under: Religions, Government, Health, Diseases

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CALIFORNIA, United States—“I don’t get as much pleasure using condoms, but I don’t like playing Russian roulette either.” says Jun who is into massage parlor sex.

Despite calls for her resignation by some Catholic Bishops, Philippine Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral says: “I’ll keep on distributing condoms until my term ends.” She wants to prevent the rapid spread of Human Immunodeficien cy Virus (HIV) which causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a deadly sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and other bishops take the position that condom distribution promotes promiscuity and that it leads to the increase of AIDS as the use of condoms is not an absolutely fail-safe protection, suggesting that abstinence is the best policy. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) even wants a total ban on condom advertisements and condom distribution announcements, clearly a violation of constitutional ly protected free speech rights.

Should the government distribute condoms?

Here’s my take on this issue:

Abstinence is a good policy, but it’s not the only policy and may not be realistically workable.

If the objective is to stop the spread of AIDS and other STDs, in some circumstances, the abstinence admonition is clearly wishful dreaming. Let’s look at two situations.

Thousands of indigent Filipinos work in the sex industry because of crushing poverty: Men and women, boys and girls, some as young as 12 or even younger all face the likely probability of being infected with the AIDS virus or some other equally deadly STDs. “We now have 4,400 registered HIV cases out of probably 5,000 victims, a 100-percent increase from 2008,” said Cabral.

Another situation pertains to married or unmarried individuals with STD-positive partners.

In both situations, sex is already an ongoing fact of life reality. Admonishing the players to stop and expect them to obey is about as realistic as Kris Aquino becoming Pope. Telling desperately poor sex workers to quit when neither the government nor the church is in a position to provide alternative livelihoods is like telling them to starve.

Rather than for people becoming seriously sick, suffer much, and die early, a more humanistic and Christian attitude is to provide protection. Preventing the spread of AIDS saves already stretched government health care resources, allowing for services in other areas. Educational information campaigns and condoms will help prevent STDs more than harsh lecturing about the evils of sin, although that also may be relevant.

Government condom distribution is good policy. Used properly, condoms protect against deadly STDs and will prevent the lightning spread of these terrible diseases. Granting that there is a 10-percent failure rate due to misuse or manufacturing defects, 90-percent effectivity is still very acceptable.

Whether the easy availability of condoms leads to promiscuity or not is a matter of uncertain conjecture.

A promiscuous person will constantly be looking for sex whether condoms or other contraceptives are available or not. On the other hand, a non-promiscuous person does not necessarily become promiscuous even if he or she has a bagful of contraceptives .

It still boils down to the individual making a choice. It’s not as if he or she is compelled to have sex simply because contraceptives are available. A non-alcoholic with a bar full of liquor does not necessarily mean he will be an alcoholic.

Let’s even assume for the sake of argument that easy access to condoms leads to promiscuity and easy access leads to preventing the rapidly spreading deadly AIDS disease, that is a higher good in the order of discretion priorities.

Consider also that sans condoms, a good number of pregnancies inevitably occur with sex worker girls and women. Some resort to abortion. It’s better to avoid pregnancies by having their customers use condoms than to resort to the greater evil of abortions.

Many Filipino males lose their virginity in their early teenage years and it’s usually with a prostitute. It’s best that they know how to protect themselves from AIDS and other STDs than be infected. They should be made aware of the use of condoms.

Some anti-condom groups claim that in Thailand, despite the government policy of condom distribution, there’s still a high rate of AIDS incidence.

Consider how much higher it would be without condoms. It cannot also be assumed that those who have AIDS in Thailand used condoms and still got infected. More likely than not, many did not use condoms. Many men do not use condoms because of the diminished pleasure. As such, they get infected with AIDS.

The incidence of AIDS in Thailand does not mean the government condom distribution policy is a failure. Some AIDS will always be present in a country’s population because unprotected sex inevitably does happen. Some also live high-risk lifestyles.

The bishops and their supporters mean well. They understandably want to prevent sinful unbridled sex from proliferating which is of course good, but I believe they fail to see the bigger picture. They focus on preventing sin and not so much about caring for human beings despite their sin. The sin we should condemn, but not the sinner. We do so if we don’t save him or her from STDs.

Which is more moral or immoral? Distributing condoms to prevent the spread of deadly STDs that cause people to suffer and die or advocating an unrealistic abstinence policy that factually absolutely does not work.

I believe God gave us two commandments: “Love God above everything else; and love our fellowmen as ourselves.” He also admonished us not to fear life, meaning among other things to have the courage to use our God-given intelligence when we are in good faith even if we have to go against a sometimes blind establishment. In the end, it is not the church which will save us but our own good conscience and God’s love and mercy.

We cannot have a church that proclaims love but does not show love to AIDS-challenged poor and powerless sex workers. We cannot have a church that proclaims life but sows the seeds of death by refusing to allow the use of effective practical means against AIDS.

There are those who see God as a punishing God who brought AIDS into the world to punish sinners.

There are also those who see God as a forgiving loving God who gives us the opportunity and freedom to express our love helping our AIDS-positive fellowmen and preventing others from being infected, and in so doing find meaning in our lives.

I chose to believe in a loving forgiving God. And yes I am a Catholic.
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« Reply #1565 on: March 11, 2010, 04:27:08 AM »


German Catholics to investigate abuse charges
AP

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The spokesman of the diocese Regensburg Clemens Neck is seen in front of a AP – The spokesman of the diocese Regensburg Clemens Neck is seen in front of a painting showing Pope John …

    * German Church Abuse Investigation Slideshow:German Church Abuse Investigation

By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER and VERENA SCHMITT-ROSCHMANN, Associated Press Writers Kirsten Grieshaber And Verena Schmitt-roschmann, Associated Press Writers – 2 hrs 3 mins ago

BERLIN – Catholic authorities in Germany announced two major abuse investigations Wednesday — one into the renowned choir once led by Pope Benedict XVI's brother and another more general look into what everyone, including the pope, knew about the sexual and physical abuse of students.

The Roman Catholic diocese of Regensburg in southern Germany appointed an independent investigator to examine the allegations of physical and sexual abuse that have engulfed the prestigious Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir, which was led by the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, the pope's older brother, from 1964 until 1994. So far, the sexual abuse allegations predate Ratzinger's term.

Regensburg Diocese spokesman Jacob Schoetz said Nuremberg lawyer Andreas Scheulen would lead the inquiry and all charges will be investigated completely.

"The independent lawyer will thoroughly go through all existing legal papers, all court decisions and any information available," Schoetz said. "We expect to publish first results within the next two weeks."

In addition, the German Bishop's Conference said it would look into wider-ranging allegations across the country after more than 170 students at Catholic schools have said they were sexually abused decades ago. Other students have complained of physical abuse.

The conference said it had not launched a formal investigation but had called on parishes and church institutions in Germany to conduct their own examinations. The conference is also seeking expert advice on the issue, prelate Karl Juesten told The Associated Press.

Those local investigations will also examine allegations of sexual abuse at the choir and look into what, if anything, the pope himself knew in his previous position as the archbishop of Munich.

"We do not know if the pope knew about the abuse cases at the time," Juesten said. "However, we assume that this is not the case."

Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx will be "certainly investigating these questions," he said.

In reaction to the spiraling child abuse scandal, the German government said it would impose stricter rules on educators. Families Minister Kristina Schroeder told the Wiesbadener Kurier daily Wednesday that local authorities will be allowed to ask for a thorough police check on all applicants who are going to work with kids.

Juesten, the liaison between Roman Catholic bishops and the German government, also praised Ratzinger, the pope's brother, for apologizing to victims on Tuesday because he did nothing decades ago to stop the beating of students.

Ratzinger says students told him of allegations of physical abuse at an elementary school decades ago and apologized for doing nothing about it.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Ratzinger said he had no further comment on the matter.

Ratzinger had first said he was unaware of any abuse, and Juesten said that others should follow the 86-year-old's lead in coming clean.

"The other perpetrators should follow the example set by Mr. Ratzinger and apologize to the victims for the abuse they have committed," he said.

However, the pope's brother has said he was unaware of allegations of sexual abuse at his own choir — incidents alleged to have occurred before his tenure.

The Roman Catholic Church has been hit by years of abuse claims in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and other countries. Yet the German abuse allegations are particularly sensitive because Germany is the pope's homeland and because some of the scandals involve the choir his brother led for 30 years.

Juesten said it was not known if Benedict, who served as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982, was aware of any of the child abuse cases that took place then at Catholic schools and other institutions. Benedict did not oversee the Domspatzen choir, which reported instead to the Regensburg Diocese.

Juesten also called Ratzinger's apology to the victims an act of courage and a "wonderful sign" that all charges would be investigated.

"It is certainly not easy for such a man to publicly apologize," Juesten said.

Schoetz, the spokesman for the Regensburg Diocese, said there were several cases of sexual abuse by two priests at the choir in 1958 and 1959.

"Sentences have been handed down, the accused have been punished and have since died," he said.

However, Scheulen will be asked to collect any other information or allegations on all possible cases of physical or sexual abuse, he added.

Franz Wittenbrink, 61, sang in the Domspatzen choir from 1958 to 1967 and said he was physically abused on a regular basis by the priests at the choir's boarding school.

"Severe beatings were normal, but Ratzinger did not belong to the group of more sadistic abusers," Wittenbrink said in a phone interview with the AP from Hamburg. "But I do accuse him of covering up the abuses."

Wittenbrink said all boys suffered some physical abuse but a "selected group" of students was also abused sexually.

Another former choir boy at Domspatzen told the Bild Zeitung daily that he and other boys were sexually abused by teachers at the choir's boarding school in the 1950s. Manfred von Hove was quoted as saying he "finally wants to have answers and find out who was responsible for the cover-up at the time."

Von Hove also said he planned to sue the Regensburg Diocese for compensation.

Von Hove's telephone number is not listed and he could not be reached for further comment.

Ratzinger has repeatedly said the sexual abuse allegations date from before his tenure as choir director.

"These things were never discussed," Ratzinger told the Passauer Neue Presse daily. "The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of."

Ratzinger did admit slapping students in the face as punishment for many years, but said he was happy when corporal punishment was made illegal in 1980. Corporal punishment was standard in German schools until the reform movement of the 1960s.

Yet the allegations of beatings from one elementary school at Etterzhausen, however, go far beyond the norm of corporal punishment.

Rudolf Neumaier, a student at Domspatzen Preschool in Pielenhofen in 1981 and 1982, told the AP he was slapped there, witnessed the corporal punishment of other boys, and saw then-director Johann Meier hit an eight-year-old boy with a chair.

Neumaier, who went on to join the Domspatzen choir in Regensburg in 1982, stressed he did not witness or hear about any abuse at the choir boarding school itself. But he said he personally told the pope's brother about the violence at the preschool but Ratzinger did nothing about it.

"I told Ratzinger myself, but he chose not to listen," Neumaier said.

Neumaier said he was shocked to find out that preschool director Meier stayed in his job until 1992.

The schools at Etterzhausen and Pielenhofen, where severe beatings have been reported, were two feeder schools for Ratzinger's choir, and Ratzinger said Tuesday that boys had told him about being mistreated at Etterzhausen but he did not understand how bad it was.

Germany's abuse cases are expected to be brought up Friday at the Vatican when the head of the German bishops conference, Bishop Robert Zollitsch, holds a regular meeting with the pope.

The German government has also announced plans for "round table" meetings involving school, church and other representative s to work on ways of detecting, preventing and dealing with future abuse. The first meeting is set for April 23.
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« Reply #1566 on: March 11, 2010, 04:37:19 AM »


Video of bloodied, handcuffed youth forced to kiss each other spreads on the net
GMANews.TV
GMANews.TV - Thursday, March 11

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A video showing beaten-up and handcuffed young men being forced to kiss each other has started circulating on the Internet, prompting Netizens to post flurries of horrified comments about violations of human rights.

The video came to the attention of GMANews.TV at around 9 a.m. Wednesday when a certain Facebook user “Daydreo Ludovice" posted a link to the video on GMANews.TV's Facebook fanpage.

Within the same hour, the video was taken down. Later in the day, a different Facebook user, “Marvin Azur" shared the same video with GMANews.TV. As of posting time, the video remains active on "Marvin Azur's" Facebook page.

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The video showed three young men, bloodied and slouched on a tiled floor, while a voice in the background bullied them around. "Halikan mo nga yan, kissable lips eh [Kiss him. He has kissable lips]," said the voice of the three men's unidentified "abuser." The seemingly frightened men obliged and two of them began locking lips. Their abusers, however, were unsatisified. "Ayusin mo. Hindi ganyan. Torrid gusto ko, torrid (Do it better. Not like that. I want torrid kissing)," the voice in the background barked, hurling expletives several times. It was unclear why the three bloodied men were handcuffed, but one of the voices in the background could be heard saying, "Ikaw, nakapatay ka 'no (Hey you, you killed someone, right)?" At one point in the video, one of the kissing men was about to vomit, obviously reacting with revulsion to what he was being forced to do. "Huwag ka diyan sumuka. Kapag diyan ka sumuka, tatadyakan kita (Don't throw up there. I'm going to kick you if you do)," the man said. Throughout the four-minute video, voices in the background kept on forcing the two men to kiss each other. The abusers also repeatedly threatened to either slap or kick the handcuffed men. "Ganyan ba napapanuod ninyo sa CD? Gusto ko yung parang napapanuod niyo sa CD (Is that what you’ve seen on CD? I want you to copy what you’ve see on CD)," the man said. "Sige sir (Alright, sir)," one of the men murmured. It was not immediately known who originally uploaded the video or when it was first put online. Both “Daydreo Ludovice" and “Marvin Azur" have yet to respond to inquiries sent by GMANews.TV.

After the video was made available online, Facebook went abuzz with furious comments, with a certain "Apple Sagun" exclaiming: "Nakakaawa kahet snatcher ka, me human rights ka." Another Facebook user who saw the clip commented, "Grabe naman! Parang hindi mga tao (That's terrible! They were treated like they were not human)." - GMANews.TV
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« Reply #1567 on: March 11, 2010, 04:48:08 AM »

Theres The Rub
Cures (2)

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:57:00 03/10/2010

Filed Under: Health, Medicines, Diseases

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DR. TAN’S METHOD OF EXAMINATION IS this: He presses his thumbs to your wrists and feels the throbbing there for several seconds. Then he asks you to flick your tongue up and down while he looks at with the aid of a penlight. All this takes about a couple of minutes. Then he tells you what’s wrong with you.

The telling is quite amazing in its level of detail. But this happens for non-Chinese patrons only when there is someone to translate from Chinese to Tagalog, Dr. Tan’s Tagalog being exceedingly limited. In the course of my going there, I’ve heard her tell someone she had a small hole in the fourth chamber of her heart, that another’s tumor in the stomach was not malignant, that someone’s left testicle was smaller than his right one, that a dialysis patient’s kidneys were still working by 40 percent. The story goes that he once told a woman there was nothing wrong with her teenage daughter, she was just pregnant, and got a scolding by the aghast woman for his pains. He was right.

Bernie tells us that what seems amazing to us is quite common in China. That method came from the tradition of treating nobility in medieval China. No one could touch the emperor or his family in any part of the body on pain of death, so their healers had to device ways to divine their afflictions without touching—by looking at their eyes, their tongues, their stool. The wrist-touching is already a “corruption” of it.

One supposes however that some healers are more gifted than others. Or more sensitive. Several signs on the wall order the patients to shut off their cell phones, reminding one of airplanes that demand the same thing because they interfere with signals from the tower. Now and then, Dr. Tan would bark that someone’s cell phone is open, and the embarrassed culprit would hasten to switch it off with profuse apologies. I don’t know that things like that can be taught.

Dr. Tan then asks you if you prefer tea or tablet. Several signs in the room proclaim that the tea is far more effective than the tablet but tastes far worse. After you express your preference, he writes his prescription in Chinese and you bring it to a drugstore downstairs.

Naturally, I’ve preferred the tea, being the more effective one. But to say that it tastes far worse than the tablet is to say that GMA is far worse than Mother Teresa—it is the understatement of the century. The thing, which contains (in my case—it’s different for everybody) snake skin, herbs, roots, bark, leaves, shells and whatever else is in there wrapped in packets which you empty into a pot and boil, tastes variously like asphalt, rust, muck, and other unmentionable things. Not that I’ve tasted any of them, but I figure that’s how they’re bound to taste. My friends say the same thing about their brew, and add new horrors about its smell when boiling. I’ve always joked that no wonder it cures—taste like that can scare away any disease.

That’s what I’ve been drinking twice a day for nearly two years now. The effect?

Well, first a caveat. If you’re expecting instant cures, look elsewhere. This thing takes time. Quite unlike Western medicine, which is fairly localized, or which treats the disease directly, thereby giving instant relief, this one seems more holistic, which strengthens or revitalizes the organs that fight the disease. That is not an authoritative claim, that is an impression: I have neither the qualification nor the inclination to make medical pronouncements . I can only vouch for experience. It takes time but it has the virtue of having no side effects. And it has the virtue, as far as I can say for myself, and as far as my friends can say for themselves, of working.

I didn’t realize it until much later. Things that happen gradually go unnoticed, not unlike your kid growing up, the dramatic change hitting you only when you look at the pictures. All I knew was that the creaking in my bones, specifically my knees, seemed to be slipping away, to be replaced only by a feeling of “rustiness.” It used to be that I’d need a while to adjust after I stood up, my legs feeling like lead. Now I am able to move about immediately, though with that feeling of “rust,” or even some pain, for a few seconds. It used to be that I’d be dead tired after walking to or from SM. Now I find walking there (and farther on to Trinoma) pleasant all over again. It used to be that I’d need to cling on to the banister to climb up and (worse) down the stairs. Now I need the banister less, and I have gotten back to climbing the stairs up and down without it.

The more dramatic moment came for me when we went to the United States last June for the Gawad Kalinga conference. At one point, my daughter Miranda and I walked all the way down from the upper east side to the upper part of midtown Manhattan, stopping now and then to look at the sights and shops (notably the huge Apple store near Central Park), but without sitting down. It took all of three hours. The weather was pleasant, cool and even chilly (for tropical creatures like us) in some parts, which helped greatly. At the end of it, I was tired, but not uncomfortably so. I cried out soundlessly, “Thank God for Dr. Tan.”

I’m not out of the woods yet. The tophi, or bukols, are still there in my hands and feet and knees. The tea can’t remove those, says Dr. Tan, and he approves of the idea that I get rid of them with surgery. I still get high blood pressure now and then (my mother’s family’s contribution), but since I started walking long distances again, less and less frequently. And the “rustiness” in my knees remains, though quite unlike ordinary rust, this one has been sleeping more and more. I don’t know that I can go back to my younger days when we used to march from Delta to Plaza Miranda like a breeze. But hope springs eternal.

And some hopes have more basis than others.
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« Reply #1568 on: March 11, 2010, 04:53:44 AM »

China space program selects first women astronauts
03/10/2010 | 07:17 PM
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BEIJING — A Chinese proverb says women hold up half the sky. In the future, they'll be doing it from space.

The Chinese space program's first two women astronauts have been selected and may take part in missions to China's planned space station, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

To be considered, the women had to be married, Xinhua said, quoting Zhang Jianqi, a former deputy commander of the country's manned space program.

"In the selection, we had almost the same requirements on women candidates as those for men, but the only difference was that they must be married, as we believe married women would be more physically and psychologicall y mature," Zhang said.

The two, who were not identified by name or age, are transport pilots for the air force, Xinhua said.

China launched its first manned flight in 2003, joining Russia and the United States as the only countries to launch humans into orbit, and in 2008 carried out its first spacewalk.

Along with a space station, work on which is scheduled to begin next year, other Chinese plans include launching a second lunar probe in October in preparation for an unmanned moon landing by the end of 2012.

A possible manned lunar mission has also been proposed — with a target date of 2017 — putting China in the forefront of a tightening Asian space race involving India, Japan and South Korea. - AP
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Bye, bye airplane


« Reply #1569 on: March 11, 2010, 09:15:18 AM »

commercial po ulit - http://www.pep.ph/forum/index.php/topic,3879.msg979240.html#msg979240
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« Reply #1570 on: March 12, 2010, 04:57:01 AM »

    
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    * Arroyo declares state of calamity in Mindanao
    * Mindanao waits for calamity declaration
    * Declaration of state of calamity to help solve Mindanao power crisis




In This Section Most Emailed Most Read

    * Arroyo declares state of calamity in South
    * RP’s Sy, Tan in Forbes list led by Mexican
    * Slim: Businessmen can’t be Santa Clauses
    * Palace lauds Verzosa; Aquino fears he may be retired
    * Analysts: Rise in killings portent of RP’s most violent election yet
    * Election violence from 1992 to 2007


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   1. 4 more Edsa sections to be closed Friday
   2. Ruffa on row with Kris: Time to bury hatchet
   3. Cops rescue Chinese-Filipino businessman seized in Bago City
   4. Now, it’s Madrigal’s turn: Villar offered me P1B
   5. Ocampo jumps on Villar slip, denies link to NPA
   6. Media need multiple platforms, revenue streams to thrive

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    * Now, it’s Madrigal’s turn: Villar offered me P1B
    * Legarda says Roxas asked her to withdraw
    * Mapagu is new Army chief
    * Pacquiao says speed key vs bigger Clottey
    * Ruffa on row with Kris: Time to bury hatchet
    * 25 allies of Pineda off to HK, Macau
    * Hired assassins and the gun ban
    * Police official hurt in QC ambush
    * Arroyo declares state of calamity in Mindanao
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Arroyo declares state of calamity in South

But fund use by LGUs for polls feared
By TJ Burgonio, Jeffrey M. Tupas, Inquirer Mindanao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:01:00 03/12/2010

Filed Under: Electricity Production & Distribution, State of emergency, Government, Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Disasters (general)

MANILA, Philippines — Here’s good news and bad news.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared a state of calamity in Mindanao, a move that will allow cities, towns and provinces on the island to release 5 percent of their budgets so they can quickly procure generators to address the acute power shortage.

The total amount can easily run into billions of pesos, a possible source of kickbacks for officials running in the May elections, especially because the procurement process is exempted from bidding.

In Cagayan de Oro City, Mayor Constantino Jaraula said “although there is a chance for abuse,” people should “assume good faith” in the President.

The government was banking on Ms Arroyo to declare a state of calamity to help solve the worsening power problem on the island, which has been hit daily by rotating brownouts lasting 8-10 hours.

Secretary Ricardo Saludo, presidential spokesperson, Thursday said by phone that Ms Arroyo “has declared” a state of calamity in Mindanao.

Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. said Ms Arroyo signed the declaration on Wednesday.

Mindanao’s internal revenue allotment (IRA) amounted to P68.9 billion in 2009. The IRA is an LGU share of the national government’s tax revenues and one of its sources of income.

P5.5B for generators

Gary Olivar, deputy presidential spokesperson, said the calamity funds would be used to purchase generating sets that were initially estimated to cost P5.5 billion.

“The importation of gensets, maybe even power barges, which have much higher mega wattage will require calamity funds that will be mobilized by the declaration of a state of calamity,” Olivar said.

The House committee on energy, chaired by Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, a son of the President, has placed the national government’s calamity fund at P10 billion.

At a public hearing at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City, the committee Thursday came up with a resolution urging Ms Arroyo to allocate P5.5 billion to address the power deficiency in Mindanao and to use the remaining P4.5 billion for the agriculture sector.

The fund will come from the budget of the Office of the President and from the calamity fund that will be available upon the declaration of a state of calamity by the President.

Trip to Tawi-Tawi

The resolution was passed before Ms Arroyo declared a state of calamity.

Ms Arroyo flew to Tawi-Tawi to inspect the construction of three bridges, inauguration of a water supply improvement project, and then to Zamboanga del Norte to inspect a road project.

She was accompanied by Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Mindanao Development Authority, who confirmed to reporters by text that she had approved the recommendation to declare a state of calamity on the island.

The government had backtracked on a move to declare an emergency in Mindanao and call for a special session after Congress leaders said it would be difficult to muster a quorum in the heat of the campaign season.

Declaring an emergency would have allowed state-owned National Power Corp. to purchase or lease generating sets needed to produce 160 megawatts (MW) in additional capacity for Mindanao.

Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes said it would take 2-4 months to purchase and set up the generating sets.

The rotating brownouts in Mindanao is a result of a huge shortfall in power supply on the island. Because of the dry spell, the generating capacity of hydroelectric power plants, Mindanao’s main sources of electricity, has dropped to less than 10 percent, according to Reyes.

Boosting LGU efforts

Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez said Ms Arroyo’s declaration “will just reinforce moves of local government units to mitigate the impact of El Niño.”

“We’ve been going around town to see the actual effects on farmers, etc. We’ll declare state of calamity in the province next week after completion of the report. We can’t declare without basis,” Dominguez said.

For short-term solution, the national government should buy generators to meet Mindanao’s power demand, according to the governor.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan, however, questioned the declaration.

Why not in Isabela?

“Why this declaration when there is a bigger crisis in Isabela or Tuguegarao, which are hardest hit by El Niño? Why in Mindanao when sectors are moving to solve the problem? Is she experimenting with Mindanao again, testing the waters for a nationwide declaration?” Ilagan asked.

Earlier in Davao City, Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council, said the Agus and Pulangi (hydroelectric) complex was in a very critical state that even the rain expected to come in June would not be able to remedy it.

No power on May 10

“With the way things are going now, the whole Agus plant will shut down and it will cause the whole of the Mindanao grid to collapse. And that will be 45 days from now. And if that happens, there will be no power during the election,” Lao said.

Lao, vice chair of the Mindanao Energy Power Alliance, belied the claim that the energy problem in Mindanao would be over once the rain comes in June.

He said the problem that Mindanao was facing was worse than what it encountered in 1990 and 1998.
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« Reply #1571 on: March 12, 2010, 05:03:54 AM »

    
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In This Section Most Emailed Most Read

    * Arroyo declares state of calamity in South
    * RP’s Sy, Tan in Forbes list led by Mexican
    * Slim: Businessmen can’t be Santa Clauses
    * Palace lauds Verzosa; Aquino fears he may be retired
    * Analysts: Rise in killings portent of RP’s most violent election yet
    * Election violence from 1992 to 2007


More Stories »
News

   1. 4 more Edsa sections to be closed Friday
   2. Ruffa on row with Kris: Time to bury hatchet
   3. Cops rescue Chinese-Filipino businessman seized in Bago City
   4. Now, it’s Madrigal’s turn: Villar offered me P1B
   5. Ocampo jumps on Villar slip, denies link to NPA
   6. Media need multiple platforms, revenue streams to thrive

News

    * Now, it’s Madrigal’s turn: Villar offered me P1B
    * Legarda says Roxas asked her to withdraw
    * Mapagu is new Army chief
    * Pacquiao says speed key vs bigger Clottey
    * Ruffa on row with Kris: Time to bury hatchet
    * 25 allies of Pineda off to HK, Macau
    * Hired assassins and the gun ban
    * Police official hurt in QC ambush
    * Arroyo declares state of calamity in Mindanao
    * New Philippine eagle hatched

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RP’s Sy, Tan in Forbes list led by Mexican


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:28:00 03/12/2010

Filed Under: Earnings, Company Information, business, Personal Finance, Personalities

MANILA, Philippines—The families of mall magnate Henry Sy ranked 201st and tobacco king Lucio Tan 582nd on a list of the world’s billionaires, which was topped by a frugal Mexican who prefers to use paper notebooks rather than the computers he sells.

Mexico’s telco tycoon Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, jumped past Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to become the first person from a developing nation to top the list, according to Forbes magazine. The list has long been dominated by Americans and Europeans.

The 70-year-old Slim amassed a $53.5 billion fortune.

The 2010 Forbes list has 1,011 billionaires.

$4.2B for Sys

With their net worth swelling to $4.2 billion, the Sys were 201st on the list, up from 234th last year, when their net worth was at $2.7 billion.

The Sys are at the helm of the Philippines’ largest mall chain SM, which has 36 malls nationwide, and Banco de Oro Unibank. SM Investment, the family’s listed holding company, has expanded into gaming and is set to open a “Las Vegas-style casino complex” near Manila Bay this year.

Tan and his family slipped to 582nd this year, from 522nd last year, even as their net worth increased to $1.7 billion, from $1.4 billion in 2009.

Tan owns the Philippines’ largest cigarette maker Fortune Tobacco, Asia Brewery and Philippine Airlines, as well as mines and banks. He also owns real estate in Hong Kong.

The Sys and the Tans were also the only Filipinos to make it to the 2009 and 2008 Forbes lists of the world’s billionaires. In 2007, the family of Jaime Zobel de Ayala was ranked 349th with a net worth of $2.6 billion.

Slim’s philosophy

The rise of Slim, an immigrant shopkeeper’s son who has bought a $250-million stake in The New York Times, is part of an increased presence on the list of billionaires from emerging countries, said Forbes’ reporter Keren Blankfeld.

Slim’s net worth surged in the past year as his cell phone holdings rebounded in value. He is the first non-American to top the list since 1994.

Speaking to reporters in 2005, Slim described his philosophy.

“Wealth must be seen as a responsibility, not as a privilege. The responsibility is to create more wealth. It’s like having an orchard; you have to give away the fruit, but not the trees,” he said.

Arturo Elias Ayub, an executive at Slim’s Telmex telephone company and the billionaire’s son-in-law, expressed satisfaction that a Mexican businessman was now at the top of the list.

No champagne

But Slim is not breaking out the champagne.

“This is a number brought out by a magazine that doesn’t concern us, or worry us,” Elias Ayub said, echoing Slim’s 2007 comment about the top spot that had eluded him for years: a Spanish phrase—“me es impermeable”—that roughly translates as “I’m impervious to that.”

Slim is known for wearing inexpensive suits and rarely using the computers his companies sell, preferring old-style paper notebooks. A baseball fan, his indulgences are largely limited to cigars and diet soft drinks.

While he owns—either personally or through his foundations and museums—an impressive collection of art, he works out of a set of somewhat dowdy, 1970s-style offices.

Thrifty eye

A civil engineer by training, Slim has bought up troubled or government-owned companies of all types, fixed them up and resold them for huge profits.

That kind of thrifty eye for undervalued businesses has served him well, especially after the market downturns in recent years.

“In periods of crisis, he has always invested, and now we are beginning to see the fruits of that,” Elias Ayub said.

Blankfeld said the 2010 top 10 list—which includes two billionaires from India and one from Brazil—reflects the increasing presence of developing nations.

Charging Asians

The list includes 97 fresh billionaires, 62 of them charging out of Asia, a region that saw booming stock markets and several large public offerings in the past year.

The donations of both Gates and Buffett also played a role in their decline to the No. 2 and 3 spots.

“A big reason for that is they are both very philanthropic,” Blankfeld said. “They’ve given away so many billions of dollars.”

Slim has also donated to several causes, but not on nearly the same level. In January, he announced a $65-million donation for genetic research on cancer, Type 2 diabetes and kidney disease in Mexican and Latin American populations.

More than 50 million of Mexico’s 107 million people live in poverty, defined as not having enough money to meet housing, transport, education and other normal expenses. Extreme poverty—defined as not having money to buy enough food—afflicted 19.5 million people here in 2008.

In that landscape, Slim’s $53.5-billion fortune has drawn frequent criticism.

“This is shameful,” said Mexico City resident Ernesto Villanueva, 45. “This is part of what is wrong with the Mexican political system and the corruption in the circles of power, that allow there to be a few rich people and millions of poor.”

Slim’s world

Slim’s conglomerate of retail, telco, manufacturing and construction companies so dominate the Mexican commercial landscape it is often easy for Mexicans to find themselves talking over a Slim-operated cell phone at a Slim-owned shopping center waiting to pay a bill to a Slim-owned company at a Slim-owned bank.

If the line is too long, they can catch a quick coffee at a Slim-owned restaurant.

Slim’s Telmex company, which controls 83 percent of land phone lines in Mexico is also the leading Internet service provider. Another of his firms is the leading cell phone operator, and he wants to get into convergence services to offer television and interactive media.

He also owns the Sears and Saks retail stores operating in Mexico.

Dog-eat-dog system

After living for almost two decades in the shadow of Slim, some Mexicans say his wealth is an understandable—and perhaps inevitable—outgrowth of Mexico’s lopsided, dog-eat-dog economic system.

“He was intelligent enough to get to where he is, while we, as a people, have never known how to unite ourselves,” said Mexican student Manuel Santibañez. “We are always looking out for ourselves.”
Reports from AP, Reuters and Inquirer Research
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« Reply #1572 on: March 13, 2010, 05:01:46 AM »

It’s drizzling or showering, whatever, it’s raining

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:12:00 03/13/2010

Filed Under: Weather, Climate Change, Global Warming

MANILA, Philippines—It was a respite from the heat but not the silver lining everyone was hoping for.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said rain that came down in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon Friday morning did not mean an end to the El Niño phenomenon. And it certainly did not mean an end to the dry season and the accompanying hot weather.

Nathaniel Cruz, Pagasa deputy administrator for administration and operations, told the Inquirer that Friday’s rain showers, the first to occur in seven weeks, were “transient.”

“The rains are due to a passing cold front. We expect a return of warm weather in a couple of days. While the rains were a welcome respite from the heat, we will again slowly feel the heat of the dry season,” Cruz said.

A cold front is an area where cold winds from the northern hemisphere meet the warm winds of the equator, bringing cloudy weather and passing showers.

Rainfall still below normal

Cruz said rainfall was still below normal.

“If we compute the amount of rain that fell today, it’s still below the normal amount that we should be getting at this time of the year. This is expected because we are still [experiencing] El Niño,” he said.

Cruz also said he would check with their personnel in northern and Central Luzon who reported that the skies in their areas were clear and temperatures were rising.

Drizzle

According to Rene Paciente, Pagasa weather forecaster, the rain gauges in their weather station at the Science Garden in Diliman, Quezon City, measured that 2 millimeters of rain had fallen between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday.

In Port Area in Metro Manila, reading for the same period was 4 mm. In Clark, the measurement was at 0.8 mm.

“This is strictly a drizzle,” Paciente said.

Pagasa also received the following readings: 8 mm in Baler, Aurora; 31 mm in Casiguran, Aurora; 9.8 mm in Tagaytay City; 3 mm in Tayabas, Quezon; 1 mm in Sangley Point in Cavite; 4 mm in Calapan, Mindoro; 6 mm in Ambulong, Batangas; 5 mm in Tanay; 23 mm in Infanta, Quezon; .8 mm in Daet, Camarines Sur; and 3 mm in Virac, Catanduanes.

Last time it rained

“The eastern parts of Luzon got a lot of rain,” Paciente observed.

He said the last time it rained in Metro Manila was on Jan. 23.

Paciente also said they expected clear skies in the western sections of the country in the coming days. “It could be a little cloudy but with little chance of rain.”

The eastern sections could experience passing showers and light rain, he added.

Early dry season

The dry season came earlier than expected last month instead of March. Temperatures also reached the 34 and 35 degrees Celsius range, which usually occurs during the middle of the dry season in April and May when temperatures could soar to 36 and 37 degrees Celsius or more.

The early onset of the dry season had been blamed on the El Niño phenomenon, the unusual warming of the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean which would cause abnormally hot weather and droughts.

Because of the heat, water levels in the country’s major dams had dropped, nearing critical levels.

Losses in the agricultural sector had been piling up with the most recent reports quoting losses at around P8 billion.
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« Reply #1573 on: March 14, 2010, 04:53:59 AM »

Vatican fights to distance Pope from child sex scandals


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 03:49:00 03/14/2010

Filed Under: Churches (organisations), child abuse

VATICAN CITY--The Vatican fought attempts to link Pope Benedict XVI to child sex abuse in a counteroffensi ve on Saturday against widening pedophilia scandals.

"It is clearly evident that in the past few days there are some who have sought -- with a dogged focus on Regensburg and Munich -- elements to personally implicate the Holy Father in questions of abuse," spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

"It is clear that these efforts have failed," he said on Radio Vatican.

On Friday, the pope's former diocese of Munich confirmed a report that, as an archbishop in 1980, the pontiff approved housing for a priest, who was accused of forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex.

Six years later, the priest was given a suspended prison sentence for child sex offenses. The archdiocese said he still works in Bavaria, with no known repeat violations.

The disclosure added to a growing scandal in Germany that had already come close to Pope Benedict's brother Georg Ratzinger, a former choirmaster.

The first revelations emerged in January when an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted systematic sexual abuse of pupils by two priests in the 1970s and 1980s.

Among other boarding schools implicated is one attached to the Domspatzen ("Cathedral Sparrows"), Regensburg cathedral's thousand-year-old choir which was run for 30 years by the pope's older brother.

Ratzinger, 86, said on Tuesday that the alleged sexual abuse in the 1950s and 1960s -- before his time -- was "never discussed".

However, in the latest revelations, a former choirboy Thomas Mayer told German magazine Der Spiegel that he had been raped by older members of the choir and that Ratzinger had violent fits of outrage during rehearsals.

"Ratzinger, I saw him extremely angry and irascible during rehearsals," Mayer said. "Several times I saw him throw a chair at the male voices, which I was part of." Once he was so angry that he spit his dentures out.

Ratzinger recently acknowledged that he had "given slaps" at the beginning of his tenure and that he had always had a "bad conscience" about it and felt "relieved" when a law banning corporal punishment was made in the early 1980s.

A proliferation of abuse scandals across Europe has prompted deep soul-searching among church leaders, not least in Germany where 19 of the 27 dioceses have been implicated in allegations.

Vatican spokesman Lombardi said on Saturday that the pope "encouraged" "recognizing the truth and helping victims" in cases of abuse, adding that the line of the Church was not "to cover up these offenses but ... to judge and adequately punish" offenders.

Most of the priests concerned are not expected to face criminal charges because the alleged crimes took place too long ago. But there have been growing calls for a change in the law and for the church to pay compensation.

A senior Vatican official sought to downplay the child sex abuse scandals in an interview with a newspaper.

Charles Scicluna told Italian newspaper Avennire, which is close to the Vatican, that 300 "cases of priests accused of pedophilia" had been counted between 2001 and 2010 out of 400,000 priests and other clergy overall.

"Of course it's too much, but it has to be acknowledged that the phenomenon is not as widespread as is being made out," he said.
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« Reply #1574 on: March 14, 2010, 04:55:22 AM »

    
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    * Pacquiao feasts before scales check; Clottey on the dot
    * Pacman victims predict he’ll win
    * Filipino boxers set stage for Pacquiao’s bout




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Pacquiao heavily favored over Clottey

By Roy Luarca
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:28:00 03/14/2010

Filed Under: Pacquiao, Boxing, Sports Events

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          o What debate? Aquino, Villar camps in the dark
          o Aquino meets with Quiboloy and obtains absolution
          o Foreign observers say RP vote lacks transparency
          o Student linked to lost graduation funds
          o It’s drizzling or showering, whatever, it’s raining
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GRAPEVINE, TEXAS—FILIPINO BOXING ICON MANNY Pacquiao wants to add another glowing chapter to his fabled ring career, but Joshua Clottey, the Ghanian warrior who has nothing to lose in this fight, longs for lasting recognition.

On Saturday (Sunday in Manila), Pacquiao, regarded as the best fighter of his generation, stakes his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown against Clottey, a dangerous and durable fighter who has yet to be knocked out.

Though smaller and lighter, the 31-year-old Pacquiao has been tagged by oddsmakers as a heavy 8-1 favorite to retain his crown and hand Clottey his first ever knockout defeat.

But Pacquiao, who has stopped his last four opponents—David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto—refuses to predict a knockout, even during Friday’s weigh-in held outside the main entrance of the new and imposing Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Pacquiao, who will be fighting in front of the largest crowd of his career, told the throng outside Cowboys Stadium that he is hopeful of a knockout.

“I can’t promise a knockout, but I want to put on a good show for the people who support me all the time,” Pacquiao told some 2,500 mostly Fil-American fans who trooped to one of the world’s largest domed structures for the official weigh-in of the fight card dubbed simply as “The Event.”

The 32-year-old Clottey, after an initial unofficial try, stepped on the scales first and registered an exact 147 pounds, confirming suspicions that he had to struggle to make the weight. He was seen running and skipping rope in a thermal suit on Thursday, the eve of the weigh-in.

Pacquiao, the only fighter to win seven titles in as many weight divisions, came in lighter as expected at 145 and three-quarter pounds, though this will be the heaviest he has weighed in since he started fighting at 106 lb 15 years ago.

In his 15 years as a professional, Pacquiao has recorded 50 wins (including 38 knockouts), three losses and two draws. More impressive is that he has swept his last 11 fights, mostly against some of boxing’s biggest names, including De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto and Mexico’s best—Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera.

His last defeat was a decision at the hands of Morales in 2003.

Named Fighter of the Decade by both the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Philippine Sportswriters Association, Pacquiao also held world titles in the flyweight (112 lb), featherweight (126), super bantamweight (122), super featherweight (130), lightweight (135) and light welterweight (140) divisions.

Clottey, a big welterweight who has fought at 154 lb twice, is highly motivated knowing that a win over Pacquiao will rank him among Ghana’s greatest fighters—Hall of Famer Azumah Nelson and former world champions Ike Quartey, Joseph Agbeko, David Kotei and Alfred Kotey.

‘I’m ready to shock world’

“I’m bigger and stronger,” said Clottey, who is expected to bulk up to 160 lb at fight time. “I’ve never lost to a southpaw, I have my game plan and I’m ready to shock the world.”

Noted for his granite chin, Clottey is a former International Boxing Federation welterweight titlist with a 35-3 record, including 21 knockouts.

Clottey, who enjoys a 2-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage, also dismissed knockout predictions by Pacquiao’s chief trainer, Freddie Roach, saying that much bigger foes have failed to stop him.

The only other time a Filipino and a Ghanaian disputed a world title was in 1963 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City when Hall-of-Famer and boxing great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde won over challenger Love Allotey by 11th round disqualificati on in their junior lightweight tussle.

Two other Filipino prospects, bantamweight Eden Sonsona and featherweight Michael Farenas, are seeing action in the untelevised undercard of the pay-per-view fight card being staged by Top Rank headed by Bob Arum in partnership with Texas billionaire Jerry Jones, owner of the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys and the $1.2-billion stadium being bruited about as the eighth wonder of the world.

Sellout crowd

Jones said a sellout crowd of 45,000 is within sight on Friday, announcing during the weigh-in that party passes tickets worth $35 each will be out for sale.

Owing to his superstar status Pacquiao will get a guaranteed purse of $12 million apart from his shares in pay-per-view and gate receipts. Clottey will receive his biggest paycheck ever of $1.5 million.

Ariel Pineda, lead singer of international rock band Journey, will sing the Philippine national anthem.

Sonsona will see action against Colombian Mauricio Pastrana and Farenas will battle American Joe Morales.

The main supporting bout will pit former champion and Pacquiao victim David Diaz against Mexican WBC lightweight titlist Humberto Soto.

Both fighters appeared relaxed at the weigh-in and when Clottey tried to engage Pacquiao in a stare-down, the Filipino boxer just looked down and laughed and then joked with members of Clottey’s camp.

Post-fight party

Pacquiao also talked about his plans after the fight in which, win or lose, he will host a bash and sing with a band.

“After the fight we will have a party,” Pacquiao said.

Clottey’s trainer Lenny DeJesus said his fighter should reach about 160 lb by the time he steps in the ring, giving him a possible 10-lb weight advantage over Pacquiao.

“I will be the stronger than any fight before,” underdog Clottey said. “I am ready.”

Promoters are expecting a sellout crowd for the first fight card in the new stadium, which opened last year. The stadium is the home of American football’s Dallas Cowboys and has been modified to suit a boxing ring which is dwarfed by the size of the venue.

The fighters’ images will be shown on a 72-foot-tall, 40-million-dollar high-definition jumbo telescreen, making it possible for those in the nosebleed seats to see what is going on in the ring.

Greatest fighter of his era

Pacquiao has looked unstoppable in his last three fights and he isn’t showing any signs of losing power as he fights bigger and stronger opponents.

His plan is to wear down the 32-year-old Clottey on Saturday so he can finish him off in the later rounds.

“He is the greatest fighter of his era,” said Roach. “He has seven world championships. When people say who is the next Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines that is a lot of pressure to put on somebody.

“You might have a couple more champions from the Philippines but you are not going to get another guy that’s going to win seven world titles in our lifetime. He is a ‘once in a lifetime’ deal.”

Clottey’s only losses have been to world champions—Miguel Cotto in June 2009 by a close decision, disgraced boxer Antonio Margarito in 2006 and Carlos Baldomir by a controversial disqualificati on in 1999.

Margarito, who was caught using illegal hand wraps under his gloves for a fight against Cotto, also attended the weigh-in, as did actor Robert Duvall, who joined the two on the main stage.

The fight will start about 10:15 p.m. Dallas time (12:15 p.m. Sunday in Manila) and organizers expect it to be shown live to 80 million homes worldwide. With a report from AFP
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