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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The cult of Noynoy Aquino
By Carlo Ople

Photo by Noemi Lardizabal Dado
Some Rights Reserved.

I’ve written so many negative and harsh articles on almost all of the Presidentiables. Most of the time, people cheer on especially if the issue is a big one. I noticed one thing though people tend to have blind faith when it comes to Senator Noynoy Aquino. It’s as if he’s made a cult out of his supporters and they rush to defend him blindly as if he’s some sort of appointed savior. Allow me to just categorically say that I find this behavior frustrating, inept, and just plain stupid.

I wrote an article recently about how Noynoy Aquino has to answer the questions being raised against him, especially with the surfacing of old news clips of him defending the dispersement of the farmers in Hacienda Luisita, which eventually resulted into a bloody massacre. Some people screamed that it was black propaganda. They put more weight on the blogger writing negatively about Noynoy than the content of the actual post.

Let me just set the record straight. Noynoy Aquino is riding on a campaign of integrity and character. He keeps on saying that this election is a battle between the “good” and the “evil” (therefore saying that he’s good and everyone else is bad). If that’s the case, then all the more reason for him to answer these issues. The Hacienda massacre is no joke. We’re talking about people dying and getting shot at. It’s about children losing their parents and vice-versa. If someone who claims to be a person of integrity and character defends that, then our value system must be totally screwed up. The more his campaign harps on how his campaign is a moral one, then the need for him to resolve this grows as well.

Black propaganda becomes black when the material being passed around has no substance and truth. What makes the recent issue credible and NOT plain propaganda is that fact that it is supported by news clippings. If you’re the type that just dismisses stuff like this and would jump in and rabidly defend Noynoy, then it’s about time that you get inducted to the “Cult of Noynoy”. Now that you’re part of the cult, go out and buy the official Cory watch. Stop using your Nokia and get one of those Cory phones. Oh, let’s not forget the black shirt with the yellow Pilipinas map design (which Bench ripped off from Collezione). Go ahead and tie a yellow ribbon on your car too.

I’ve already received word that one of my friends has photocopies of the actual clippings which was used in the video. I’ll read through the entire material and write a follow-up entry. I am hoping that the Noynoy blogger event will finally push through in January so that we can get answers directly from the horse’s mouth.

To end, let me just say that if you really want to help this country, then don’t be stupid and defend your candidate like a faithful guard dog. Ask questions, challenge the campaign staff, and push him/her to take action. Don’t forget that more than a supporter of Noynoy, you are also a Filipino and I don’t think nationalism entails blind whole-hearted trust to your candidate of choice. Put that passion and energy into actual things that can help the country and maybe then you can make a real difference.

Disclosure: I am not employed or am doing any consultancy work for the Presidential candidates. I worked before for Senator Roxas and Escudero’s offices as their consultants but I am no longer connected to them. The only candidate I am clearly and openly working for is my auntie, Susan “Toots” Ople, who is running for Senate in the 2010 elections. Please feel free to visit for more of my articles.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Dad Ever Makes Kid His Own Hobbes Doll
By Paul Tassi

We’re not usually a “awww, how cute” kind of site here, but sometimes things are just too good to pass up.

Such is the case with this Father of the Year who made his kid his own Hobbes doll, which unless you’re a moron you will remember from the greatest comic strip ever written, Calvin and Hobbes. You don’t see stuff like this very often, because Bill Waterson never licensed ANY Calvin and Hobbes merchandise, despite the massive success of the comic. Not even those stupid like Calvin Pees on Chevy window stickers. You don’t want to know how many lawsuits there have been about those.

Also, spike that kid’s hair up, and he’s totally Calvin. Calvin with a hypnotic blue-eyed stare!

Check out two more pictures of the adorableness after the jump:

Russians in Manila for the holidays
By Rudy Santos
The Philippine Star

A Russian family poses for photographers upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday. Rudy Santos

MANILA, Philippines - A Russian chartered flight with 87 tourists from the eastern regions of Kamchatka and Kresnoyarsk arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
(NAIA) yesterday to celebrate the Christmas of the Orthodox Church on Jan. 6 and New Year in the country.

The tourists, who are avoiding the harsh Russian winter, arrived on a Tupolev 204 jetliner. Winter temperature in Russia has fallen between –15 and –20 degrees Celsius.

Anton Kurichkin, 22, and his girlfriend Anya Isaeva, 20, signed up for the winter charter program to experience the surfing sites in the Philippines.

“We like snowboarding in winter but sometimes, we become bored with too much snow and ice,” Kurichkin said.

Joining the group are members of the Kamchatka Divers Association.

This is the second time the country is hosting a chartered flight from Russia’s eastern region.

Russian travel agency Sputnik pushed aggressively for this charter, canceling their regular chartered program to Thailand in favor of the Philippines.

Sputnik spokesperson Tatyana Diigina said there are many Russian tourists who want to visit the country but the agency could only manage to assemble a group enough for one planeload a year. Individual Russian tourists, however, have been visiting the Philippines all year round.

Natalia and Vladimir Bolkov, with their two-year-old son George, are spending 20 days in the country.

“You see, we are only in shirt and light clothes instead of thick leather jacket and coats. We really love your climate,” Vladimir said.

He said they are also looking forward to shopping in Metro Manila malls.

“(We plan to shop) until we run out of money. Anyway, we have 20 days to relax,” he said.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano said the second winter charter program from Eastern Russia is expected to lead to more visits by Russian tourists.

“Despite the absence of direct flights from Russia, the winter charter program for Kamchatka and Kresnoyarsk ensure that more Russians are given the opportunity to discover the many wonders of our 7,107 islands,” he said.

Monday, December 28, 2009

There'll be nowhere to run from the new world government
'Global' thinking won't necessarily solve the world's problems, says Janet Daley
By Janet Daley

The committee to save the world: Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and other leaders at the Copenhagen climate talks

There is scope for debate – and innumerable newspaper quizzes – about who was the most influential public figure of the year, or which the most significant event. But there can be little doubt which word won the prize for most important adjective. 2009 was the year in which "global" swept the rest of the political lexicon into obscurity. There were "global crises" and "global challenges", the only possible resolution to which lay in "global solutions" necessitating "global agreements". Gordon Brown actually suggested something called a "global alliance" in response to climate change. (Would this be an alliance against the Axis of Extra-Terrestrials?)

Some of this was sheer hokum: when uttered by Gordon Brown, the word "global", as in "global economic crisis", meant: "It's not my fault". To the extent that the word had intelligible meaning, it also had political ramifications that were scarcely examined by those who bandied it about with such ponderous self-importance. The mere utterance of it was assumed to sweep away any consideration of what was once assumed to be the most basic principle of modern democracy: that elected national governments are responsible to their own people – that the right to govern derives from the consent of the electorate.

The dangerous idea that the democratic accountability of national governments should simply be dispensed with in favour of "global agreements" reached after closed negotiations between world leaders never, so far as I recall, entered into the arena of public discussion. Except in the United States, where it became a very contentious talking point, the US still holding firmly to the 18th-century idea that power should lie with the will of the people.

Nor was much consideration given to the logical conclusion of all this grandiose talk of global consensus as unquestionably desirable: if there was no popular choice about approving supranational "legally binding agreements", what would happen to dissenters who did not accept their premises (on climate change, for example) when there was no possibility of fleeing to another country in protest? Was this to be regarded as the emergence of world government? And would it have powers of policing and enforcement that would supersede the authority of elected national governments? In effect, this was the infamous "democratic deficit" of the European Union elevated on to a planetary scale. And if the EU model is anything to go by, then the agencies of global authority will involve vast tracts of power being handed to unelected officials. Forget the relatively petty irritations of Euro‑bureaucracy: welcome to the era of Earth-bureaucracy, when there will be literally nowhere to run.

But, you may say, however dire the political consequences, surely there is something in this obsession with global dilemmas. Economics is now based on a world market, and if the planet really is facing some sort of man-made climate crisis, then that too is a problem that transcends national boundaries. Surely, if our problems are universal the solutions must be as well.

Well, yes and no. Calling a problem "global" is meant to imply three different things: that it is the result of the actions of people in different countries; that those actions have impacted on the lives of everyone in the world; and that the remedy must involve pretty much identical responses or correctives to those actions. These are separate premises, any of which might be true without the rest of them necessarily being so. The banking crisis certainly had its roots in the international nature of finance, but the way it affected countries and peoples varied considerably according to the differences in their internal arrangements. Britain suffered particularly badly because of its addiction to public and private debt, whereas Australia escaped relatively unscathed.

That a problem is international in its roots does not necessarily imply that the solution must involve the hammering out of a uniform global prescription: in fact, given the differences in effects and consequences for individual countries, the attempt to do such hammering might be a huge waste of time and resources that could be put to better use devising national remedies. France and Germany seem to have pulled themselves out of recession over the past year (and the US may be about to do so) while Britain has not. These variations owe almost nothing to the pompous, overblown attempts to find global solutions: they are largely to do with individual countries, under the pressure of democratic accountability, doing what they decide is best for their own people.

This is not what Mr Brown calls "narrow self-interest", or "beggar my neighbour" ruthlessness. It is the proper business of elected national leaders to make judgments that are appropriate for the conditions of their own populations. It is also right that heads of nations refuse to sign up to "legally binding" global agreements which would disadvantage their own people. The resistance of the developing nations to a climate change pact that would deny them the kind of economic growth and mass prosperity to which advanced countries have become accustomed is not mindless selfishness: it is proper regard for the welfare of their own citizens.

The word "global" has taken on sacred connotations. Any action taken in its name must be inherently virtuous, whereas the decisions of individual countries are necessarily "narrow" and self-serving. (Never mind that a "global agreement" will almost certainly be disproportionately influenced by the most powerful nations.) Nor is our era so utterly unlike previous ones, for all its technological sophistication. We have always needed multilateral agreements, whether about trade, organised crime, border controls, or mutual defence.

If the impact of our behaviour on humanity at large is much greater or more rapid than ever before then we shall have to find ways of dealing with that which do not involve sacrificing the most enlightened form of government ever devised. There is a whiff of totalitarianism about this new theology, in which the risks are described in such cosmic terms that everything else must give way. "Globalism" is another form of the internationalism that has been a core belief of the Left: a commitment to class rather than country seemed an admirable antidote to the "blood and soil" nationalism that gave rise to fascism.

The nation-state has never quite recovered from the bad name it acquired in the last century as the progenitor of world war. But if it is to be relegated to the dustbin of history then we had better come up with new mechanisms for allowing people to have a say in how they are governed. Maybe that could be next year's global challenge.

Op-Ed Columnist
Heaven and Nature
Published: December 20, 2009

It’s fitting that James Cameron’s “Avatar” arrived in theaters at Christmastime. Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a crass embodiment of capitalistic excess wrapped around a deeply felt religious message. It’s at once the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, and the Gospel According to James.

But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

In Cameron’s sci-fi universe, this communion is embodied by the blue-skinned, enviably slender Na’Vi, an alien race whose idyllic existence on the planet Pandora is threatened by rapacious human invaders. The Na’Vi are saved by the movie’s hero, a turncoat Marine, but they’re also saved by their faith in Eywa, the “All Mother,” described variously as a network of energy and the sum total of every living thing.

If this narrative arc sounds familiar, that’s because pantheism has been Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now. It’s the truth that Kevin Costner discovered when he went dancing with wolves. It’s the metaphysic woven through Disney cartoons like “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas.” And it’s the dogma of George Lucas’s Jedi, whose mystical Force “surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”

Hollywood keeps returning to these themes because millions of Americans respond favorably to them. From Deepak Chopra to Eckhart Tolle, the “religion and inspiration” section in your local bookstore is crowded with titles pushing a pantheistic message. A recent Pew Forum report on how Americans mix and match theology found that many self-professed Christians hold beliefs about the “spiritual energy” of trees and mountains that would fit right in among the indigo-tinted Na’Vi.

As usual, Alexis de Tocqueville saw it coming. The American belief in the essential unity of all mankind, Tocqueville wrote in the 1830s, leads us to collapse distinctions at every level of creation. “Not content with the discovery that there is nothing in the world but a creation and a Creator,” he suggested, democratic man “seeks to expand and simplify his conception by including God and the universe in one great whole.”

Today there are other forces that expand pantheism’s American appeal. We pine for what we’ve left behind, and divinizing the natural world is an obvious way to express unease about our hyper-technological society. The threat of global warming, meanwhile, has lent the cult of Nature qualities that every successful religion needs — a crusading spirit, a rigorous set of ‘thou shalt nots,” and a piping-hot apocalypse.

At the same time, pantheism opens a path to numinous experience for people uncomfortable with the literal-mindedness of the monotheistic religions — with their miracle-working deities and holy books, their virgin births and resurrected bodies. As the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski noted, attributing divinity to the natural world helps “bring God closer to human experience,” while “depriving him of recognizable personal traits.” For anyone who pines for transcendence but recoils at the idea of a demanding Almighty who interferes in human affairs, this is an ideal combination.

Indeed, it represents a form of religion that even atheists can support. Richard Dawkins has called pantheism “a sexed-up atheism.” (He means that as a compliment.) Sam Harris concluded his polemic “The End of Faith” by rhapsodizing about the mystical experiences available from immersion in “the roiling mystery of the world.” Citing Albert Einstein’s expression of religious awe at the “beauty and sublimity” of the universe, Dawkins allows, “In this sense I too am religious.”

The question is whether Nature actually deserves a religious response. Traditional theism has to wrestle with the problem of evil: if God is good, why does he allow suffering and death? But Nature is suffering and death. Its harmonies require violence. Its “circle of life” is really a cycle of mortality. And the human societies that hew closest to the natural order aren’t the shining Edens of James Cameron’s fond imaginings. They’re places where existence tends to be nasty, brutish and short.

Religion exists, in part, precisely because humans aren’t at home amid these cruel rhythms. We stand half inside the natural world and half outside it. We’re beasts with self-consciousness, predators with ethics, mortal creatures who yearn for immortality.

This is an agonized position, and if there’s no escape upward — or no God to take on flesh and come among us, as the Christmas story has it — a deeply tragic one.

Pantheism offers a different sort of solution: a downward exit, an abandonment of our tragic self-consciousness, a re-merger with the natural world our ancestors half-escaped millennia ago.

But except as dust and ashes, Nature cannot take us back.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bride marries arriving groom at Texas airport
Wearing jeans and sweater, husband-to-be said he was speechless, thrilled
The Associated Press

Robyn Moore with her fiancee, William Acosta, right, exchange vows at the Corpus Christi, Texas International Airport on Monday, after his arrival from Toledo, Ohio.
George Gongora / AP

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A woman in a wedding gown surprised her fiance by greeting him at a Texas airport along with a justice of the peace. Robyn Moore and William Acosta exchanged vows Monday at Corpus Christi International Airport after he got off a plane arriving from Toledo, Ohio.

Photos were taken near a Christmas tree at a security checkpoint.

Acosta, who was wearing jeans and a sweater, says he was speechless and thrilled by the wedding Moore planned.

Moore says she and Acosta "spent half our relationship in airports."

The couple got a marriage license last week and planned to tie the knot this month, at a site to be determined.

Moore and Acosta met in 2008 in Dallas, where she lived and he was on a business trip. They plan to live in Toledo.

911 caller: Husband won’t eat dinner
Authorities reviewing woman’s frequent use of emergency number
The Associated Press

KERRVILLE, Texas - Prosecutors planned to review the case of a woman authorities claim has called 911 30 times over six months for non-emergency reasons, including a call to complain that her husband refused to eat his dinner.

Last Friday, the woman allegedly made a pair of calls to 911, including a hang-up and another where a woman was heard screaming.

Police were dispatched to the residence and officer Paul Gonzales said she told police that "her husband did not want to eat his supper." A police report said the 53-year-old woman was also yelling "about things that happened two weeks ago."

The woman now faces charges of 911 abuse.

Murphy's funeral to take place on Christmas Eve

© John Spellman/Retna Ltd.
Brittany Murphy

Late actress Brittany Murphy is to be buried on Christmas Eve.

The "Clueless" star passed away on Sunday after suffering a cardiac arrest at her Hollywood Hills home at the age of 32.

According to, her funeral is to be held on Dec. 24 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Hollywood Hills, California. The service is listed as "strictly private."

Release of information about the cause of Murphy's death has been deferred pending toxicology results, although an autopsy on her body was completed on Monday, Dec. 21. Officials previously stated they believe the star died from natural causes.

Bizarre Tongue-Eating Parasite Discovered Off the Jersey Coast
by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn,
New York on 09. 9.09
Travel & Nature

Photo via Clever Cherry

There's been a spate of amazing animal discoveries recently--the giant rat-eating plants found in the Philippines, a huge woolly rat discovered in a volcanic crater--and now, yet another creature has emerged that could be right out of a sci-fi film. It's a bizarre creature that survives by eating its hosts' tongue and then attaching itself inside the mouth.

The sea-dwelling parasite attacks fish, burrows into it, and then devours its tongue. After eating the tongue, the parasite proceeds to live inside the fish's mouth. There's a horror film waiting to be made about this thing. Surprisingly, the fish doesn't seem to suffer any severe impediment--just the loss of its tongue--and seems to have no trouble surviving with its new, far uglier tongue.

Photo via BBC

While the isopod, a kind of louse, has been known to exist for a while now, discoveries of live specimens is rare. The BBC reports that "Fishermen near the Minquiers - islands under the jurisdiction of Jersey - found the isopod, a type of louse, inside a weaver fish." So no, the tongue-eater wasn't found in that Jersey. The Jersey Shore is still tongue replacing creature-free, if you stateside Northeasterners were worried about the thing ruining your late summer vacationing.

Not that you'd have to be too concerned anyways--the isopod isn't a threat to humans in the slightest, though it's reportedly vicious, and can deliver quite a little bite. One of the fishermen who found the creature described it thus: "Really quite large, really quite hideous - if you turn it over its got dozens of these really sharp, nasty claws underneath and I thought 'that's a bit of a nasty beast'." And while it can't seriously hurt people, it evidently doesn't like them: "It doesn't affect humans other than if you do actually come across a live one and try and pick it up - they are quite vicious, they will deliver a good nip."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Polish police find stolen Auschwitz gate sign
Nazi’s ‘Work Sets You Free’ slogan disappeared three days earlier
The Associated Press

This two photo combination shows above: a Polish Police handout showing the entrance to the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz Birkenau, without the Nazi infamous iron sign inscription declaring "Arbeit Macht Frei", German translated to "Work Sets You Free", which was stolen from the entrance of the former Auschwitz death camp, Polish police said, in Oswiecim, southern Poland, Friday, Dec. 18, 2009. The photo below shows an exact replica of the sign, produced when the original received restoration work years ago, which was quickly hung in its place, Friday Dec. 18, 2009.

WARSAW, Poland - Polish police found the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign that was stolen from the gate of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz after an intensive three-day hunt and arrested five suspects, police said early Monday. The sign was found cut into three pieces.

Police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo said that the sign was found Sunday night in northern Poland, the other end of the country from the southern Polish town where the Auschwitz memorial museum is located and where it disappeared before dawn Friday.

Padlo said police detained five men between the ages of 25 and 39 and took them for questioning to Krakow, which is the regional command of the area that includes the Auschwitz museum.

Another police spokesman, Dariusz Nowak, said the 16-foot sign, made of hollow steel, was found cut into three pieces, each containing one of the words. The cruelly ironic phrase means "Work Sets You Free" and ran completely counter to the purpose of Auschwitz, which began as a concentration camp for political prisoners during the Nazi occupation of Poland and evolved into an extermination camp where Jews were gassed to death in factory-like fashion.

The police refused to divulge any details of the circumstances in which the sign was found or to speculate on the motive of the perpetrators. They were expected to disclose more at a news conference in Krakow planned for 0800 GMT (3 a.m. EST) Monday.

The sign, which topped the main gate at the Auschwitz memorial site, was stolen early Friday, setting off an international outcry at the disappearance of one of the most chilling and best known symbols of the Holocaust. State authorities made finding it a priority and appealed to all Poles for assistance.

Museum authorities welcomed the news with huge relief despite the damage done to the sign. Spokesman Pawel Sawicki said conservation experts will have to determine how best to repair it and that the museum authorities hope to restore it to its place as soon as possible.

Sawicki said the museum staff did not yet know who carried out the theft or why and were themselves waiting for more information from police.

More than 1 million people, mostly Jews, but also Gypsies, Poles and others, died in the gas chambers or from starvation and disease while performing forced labor at Auschwitz, which Nazi Germany built in occupied Poland during World War II. The camp was liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945.

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Poland to act to find "these twisted criminals that desecrated the place where over a million Jews were murdered."

"The sign is of the deepest historical importance to the Jewish people and the whole world, and is a tombstone for more than a million Jews," Netanyahu said.

L.A. Coroner: Brittany Murphy Dead at 32
By Sharon Waxman and Lew Harris

© Jean Baptiste Lacroix/
Brittany Murphy

Actress Brittany Murphy has died, according to the Los Angeles coroner's office.

The 32-year-old actress, who starred in "Clueless" and with Eminem in "8 Mile," was declared dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to Selena Barrows, an investigator with the coroner's office.

"We have a preliminary death report of someone with the name of Brittany Murphy," Barrows told TheWrap. The report came from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

The news was first reported by

TMZ said multiple sources reported that the actress had gone into cardiac arrest and could not be revived on Sunday morning.

Barrows said cardiac arrest could mean any number of things, and was not an indication of the cause of death.

However, Murphy's suspected excessive use of drugs had been the subject of widespread speculation, and was even the subject of a parody sketch on a recent "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update.

The Los Angeles City Fire Department said a 911 call was made at 8 a.m. from the Los Angeles home of Murphy's husband, Simon Monjack. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Born in Atlanta, Murphy started acting in regional theater at age 9; by age 13, she had signed with a manager and began appearing in television commercials. Her first roles were on TV series such as "Murphy Brown" and "Parker Lewis Can't Lose," which led to her breakthrough film, 1995's "Clueless."

She had five movies currently in production, including "Poor Things," with Rosario Dawson; "Shrinking Charlotte," with Kathleen Turner; and Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables," with Stallone, Jet Li and Jason Statham.

In 2005, she signed on as the spokesmodel for Jordache Jeans. She has been named to both FHM's 10 Sexiest Women List, and Maxim's Hot 100.

In 2006, she released the single "Faster Kill Pussycat," which became a club hit on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart. She also covered Queen's "Somebody to Love" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland" for the film "Happy Feet."

She married screenwriter Monjack in 2007; before that, she was engaged to talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz, and production assistant Joe Macaluso. In late 2002, she dated Ashton Kutcher, with whom she co-starred in the film "Just Married."

Kutcher late Sunday morning tweeted about Murphy's death: "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine. My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Taunton second-grader suspended over drawing of Jesus
Father angered by forced psychological evaluation of boy, 8
By Gerry Tuoti,
Staff Writer
GateHouse News Service

Submitted Photo
A Maxham Elementary student was suspended from school for drawing what he says depicts Jesus on the cross. His name was removed from the drawing based on the family's wish to protect the boy.

Taunton — A Taunton father is outraged after his 8-year-old son was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a stick-figure picture of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The father said he got a call earlier this month from Maxham Elementary School informing him that his son, a second-grade student, had created a violent drawing. The image in question depicted a crucified Jesus with Xs covering his eyes to signify that he had died on the cross. The boy wrote his name above the cross.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion,” the incredulous father said.

He requested that his name and his son’s name be withheld from publication to protect the boy.

The student drew the picture shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat site in Attleboro. He made the drawing in class after his teacher asked the children to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas, the father said.

“I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent,” said Toni Saunders, an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center.

Saunders is working with the boy’s parents after a mutual acquaintance referred them to her.

“When I got that call, I was so appalled that I had to do something,” Saunders said.

“They weren’t looking at the fact that this is an 8-year-old child with special needs,” she added. “They made him leave school, and they recommended that a psychiatrist do an evaluation.”

The school, in fact, required the evaluation before the boy could return, the father said.

Maxham School principal Rebecca Couet referred all questions on the matter to the superintendent’s office.

Superintendent Julie Hackett said district policy prevents her from discussing a “confidential matter regarding a student.”

“Generally speaking, we have safety protocols in place,” Hackett said. “If a situation warrants it, we ask for outside safety evaluations if we have particular concerns about a child’s safety. We followed all the protocols in our system.”

Hackett refused to specifically discuss the student’s drawing or the school’s reaction to it.

The father was flabbergasted when he learned his son had to undergo an evaluation.

“When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing,” he said.

The man said his son, who gets specialized reading and speech instruction at school, has never shown any tendency toward violence.

“He’s never been suspended,” he said. “He’s 8 years old. They overreacted.”

The boy made the drawing and was sent home from school on Dec. 2. He went for the psychological evaluation — at his parents’ expense — the next day and was cleared to return to school the following Monday after the psychological evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others.

The boy, however, was traumatized by the incident, which made going back to school very difficult, the father said. School administrators have approved the father’s request to have the boy transferred to another elementary school in the district.

This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.

The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dallas doctor Malcolm Perry, who worked on JFK and Oswald, dies at 80
By Scott Farwell
The Dallas Morning News
11:27 PM CST on Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dr. Malcolm O. Perry

Drs. Malcolm O. Perry and Robert McClelland began their friendship in July 1958 at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where they slept on bunk beds and spent hours with their hands in patients – one clamping off arteries while the other stitched up holes.

It was a time of exhaustion and adrenaline. And it was a time of history.

Drs. Perry and McClelland were two of the four doctors who struggled to save a mortally wounded President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

Saturday in Tyler, Dr. Perry died at age 80 after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

Dr. McClelland said his friend, a surgeon and professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center, rarely spoke of the assassination, except in his official government testimony.

Even so, Dr. Perry's early account of the president's injuries gave rise to conspiracy theories that persist today – that the small wound near Kennedy's Adam's apple could have been an entrance wound, suggesting a shot from the grassy knoll instead of the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

Dr. Perry later told the Warren Commission that he believed the bullet hole was an exit wound, supporting the single-gunman and magic-bullet theories that were the foundation of the government's investigation.

"Malcolm never wanted to talk about it," said Dr. McClelland, who helped Dr. Perry insert a breathing tube in the president's trachea that November afternoon. "I think he had a bad experience with the press right after, and I think that may have colored his lack of willingness to talk."

Drs. Perry and McClelland worked sweltering summers at Parkland as young men, and later as professors shared an office and secretary at UT Southwestern Medical School.

"It was a very intense experience taking care of a lot of very sick patients in an un-air-conditioned hospital," said Dr. McClelland, 80, who still spends most days teaching young doctors.

"Dr. Perry was a real help to me, physically, mentally and in every way other way. He was standing by my side all the time. I'm not sure I could have made it without him."

Dr. Perry was eating lunch in Parkland's main dining room on Nov. 22, 1963, when an emergency page came over the hospital's speaker system. When he picked up the phone, the operator told him the president had been shot.
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By the time the 34-year-old physician arrived in the emergency room, Kennedy was already there.

He was joined by Drs. Charles J. Carrico, Charles Baxter and McClelland, who – after Dr. Perry's passing – is the only surviving member of the historic surgical team.

"Of course, it was an extremely intense experience," Dr. McClelland said. "It sounds a bit callow, but you can't respond emotionally in those situations. You go into professional mode. If you let your emotions sweep you away, I don't think you can do your work like you should."

Minutes later, after the president was declared dead, the wide-eyed doctors gathered around a coffeepot at a nearby nurse's station.

Secret Service agents handed them note pads and asked each of the physicians to write his impressions of the president's injuries. Years later, those notes became key evidence for the Warren Commission's investigation of the assassination.

"We just kind of sat there, and I can't even remember what we said," Dr. McClelland said. "It was just kind of an astonished looking at one another – 'Were we really just involved in that? Is this a nightmare? What just happened?' "

The mind-numbing weekend continued to play out two days later when Dr. Perry and Dr. McClelland rushed into an emergency room to find the body of Lee Harvey Oswald after he was shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

The young doctors took turns massaging the Marine-trained rifleman's heart while Dr. Tom Shires tried to stop the bleeding.

Dr. McClelland said Oswald, unlike President Kennedy, had a slim chance of survival.Doctors were able to stop bleeding from major arteries deep in the body – the aorta and vena cava – and were searching for other wounds when his heart gave up.

"Oswald had had so much damage to his heart from the severe shock that he arrested, and even with open chest massage we couldn't get his heart started again," Dr. McClelland said. "It was possible that he could have been salvaged, but not so with the president."

Dr. McClelland said he and others dealt with Oswald's death in a more dispassionate way.

"He was the assassin rather than the president, so there wasn't quite the sadness," he said. "There was a fair amount of general horror over that weekend."

In time, Dr. McClelland said, the public interest faded and the men continued with their careers.

Dr. Perry was born Sept. 3, 1929, in Allen and was raised by his grandfather Dr. Malcolm O. Perry, for whom he was named.

He grew up inspired and intrigued by medicine, earning degrees from the University of Texas and Southwestern Medical School and finishing his residency at Parkland in 1962.

"He told me his chief father figure was his grandfather," Dr. McClelland said. "I think his parents separated about the time he was born, and for whatever reason, his mother left him in the care of his grandfather in Allen. And Malcolm worshipped the ground his grandfather walked on."

Dr. Perry, a private pilot and avid golfer, became a faculty member at UT Southwestern from 1962 to 1974, serving as professor and chief of vascular services. He held similar positions at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Cornell and Vanderbilt universities. He returned to UT Southwestern in 1996 and retired as a professor emeritus in 2000.

He is survived by his wife, Jeannine, and their children, Jolene Perry Yousha and Dr. Malcolm O. Perry III, a urologist in Allen. After Dr. Perry's cremation, the family plans a private memorial service.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

To Conrado de Quiros, about Noynoy Aquino...
By JR dela Cruz

The following article was written by JR dela Cruz, the former head of Ninoy Aquino's fraternity in UP (Upsilon Sigma Phi). JR just graduated from the UP College of Law and just took the bar.

He wrote this article to put a couple of important points across to Conrado de Quiros, a columnist that I and others revere.

Call a spade a spade, and a pig a pig.

Conrado de Quiros, you are the man. Few opinion writers in the Philippines can lay claim to your impeccable writing style, to your uncanny choice of words, and the thing I love most – your sardonic wit, which not only amuses but also almost always hits the point. After the death of Cory, however, after that moving eulogy you wrote (that eulogy ought to be immortalized, side by side with the apocalyptic ‘May Araw Din Kayo’), you have dropped all pretense of humor and subtlety and have suddenly turned into Noynoy Aquino’s biggest propagandist.

I have great respect for you, Mr. de Quiros, but I just do not, cannot, and will not buy all the “Battle-of-good-vs.-evil, Noynoy-is-our-Messiah-slash-Obama (please lang, sir. Wag naman.)” propaganda. I don’t buy all this contrived madness the Kapamilya network, “civil society” and the grand old Partido Liberal are trying to ram down our throats.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing personal against Noynoy. I’ve met him once, and he is obviously a nice guy. If I was voting for student council president, or maybe even mayor, I probably wouldn’t hesitate to vote for him. By all indications, he is indeed one damn good person, as you, Mr. de Quiros, would put it. But really, is one damn good person what we need right now? Is nice enough to take us out of the mess we are in? Is his amiable personality enough to gloss over the fact that he has spent most of his years in Congress doing, well, not much, and that, just like the lot of them, he is a politician taking advantage of this singular opportunity – of all things, his mother’s death – to be president?

The bigger man, the wiser man, the one damn good person would, after seeing the multitude of mourners outpouring their devotion for his mother, have declined the temptation to be goaded into running; in Tagalog, hindi siya magpapabuyo. Certainly, a good man would have at least waited a little longer and not announced his candidacy right after the ritualistic 40 days after the passing of his mother, making it seem like he was just obliged to comply with Filipino tradition so as not to look insensitive, but at the same time that he couldn’t wait a day more since he’s thrown his hat in the race too late and must thus make up for lost time.

For in his years of public service, in his whole life, really, can Noynoy honestly say he thinks himself competent enough to be president? Or is it more likely that the crowd at his mother’s wake, and his slew of very able advisers – pardon the digression, but Drilon, Abad, which side are you on lately? – emboldened him into that way of thinking? While in his “period of discernment”, I was hoping that for at least once in my life, I would witness a true statesman, selfless, wise, like the previous generation witnessed Ninoy. He would’ve been that statesman had he declined, knowing he knows nothing and being truly wise for it. Alas, the blinding allure of power, the buoying wave of his mother’s (not even his own) supporters, was too strong to resist. If this doesn’t reek of political opportunism, I don’t know what does.

I agree, we shouldn’t vote purely on competence. But that shouldn’t stop experience from reminding us what happens if we vote for an incompetent president. What happens is we vote a hundred thousand advisers with him/her. What happens is after three years in office, we try to take him/her out again, realizing we made a mistake. If we’re unsuccessful, we call it a coup attempt. If we’re successful, we call it Edsa Dos. What happens is we pin our hopes on another popular icon, another shining symbol, without realizing that we’re being f*cked by the same people over and over again.

I agree, Mr. de Quiros, we do need someone we can trust. But I don’t see how that someone is Noynoy at all. On what action, on what defining issue, on what aspect of his life, save for being born into his name or being born in Hacienda Luisita, should we base our trust in him? If the name and the land bear it all, why then don’t we throw all our support behind Kris Aquino, or yes, Gilbert Teodoro? A press briefing right after the announcement of the Noynoy-Mar tandem is very telling.

Asked how different he was from Teodoro, his second cousin, Noynoy, probably caught off guard, only managed to say that he hoped not to “engage in meaningless arguments but rather on how we intend to push our beliefs in how to govern the country and convince people who has a better plan and platform of government between us”. Yeah, right. Evade the question, give a motherhood statement.

His running mate, correctly realizing that the answer his partner gave was so lame, butted in saying that it was apparent Aquino had difficulty answering the question because after all, he and Teodoro were relatives. Mar then offered his own answer, saying that the difference is “Secretary Gibo said he believed in the programs and policies of GMA and that he would continue them, and Sen. Noynoy does not want the crooked, the wrong. He does not want mulcting and plundering. So, he will do what is straight and true. That’s their difference."

First of all, to dismiss as meaningless argument the most compelling argument he can make – that of differentiating himself from his cousin – tells us that maybe he himself recognizes that there is not much of a difference between them. Second, for Mar to say that Sen. Noynoy does not want the crooked, the wrong, the mulcting and plundering only exposes his and his running mate’s hypocrisy. Didn’t Noynoy sign the impeachment complaint against Pres. Estrada in 2000, become Deputy Speaker of an Arroyo-JDV Congress in 2004, run for Senate under Erap in 2007, and now isn’t he in the middle of talks with Erap again? Now you tell me who’s a better man, one who flip-flops between two crooks or one who remains loyal to a crook despite her dismal popularity? To paraphrase Orwell, it’s like looking from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, only to see that it is impossible to say which is which.

You denounce, Mr. de Quiros, Ronnie Puno for having served three masters who delivered this country to the dogs – Marcos, Erap, Gloria – conveniently leaving Cory and Ramos out of the enumeration, as if 1986-1998 were such glorious years in our nation’s history. But really, how different is Ronnie Puno from the posse who currently surround Noynoy? We want a prime example? Let’s look no further than Drilon, the Chairman of Noynoy’s party and one of his closest supporters. Let’s see. He served as Justice Secretary and Executive Secretary of Cory, Justice Secretary of Ramos, Senate President of Erap, ran under Gloria’s “People Power Coalition” in 2004, before bolting once again and re-emerging now behind Noynoy Aquino. How many masters has he served? What makes him better than Ronnie Puno? Again, between the two of them, it’s impossible to say which is which.

All I am asking, Mr. de Quiros, is that you call a spade a spade, and call a pig a pig. If it is a choice of the lesser evil and not a battle of good versus evil then say it. Expose each and every candidate to the people so that we may make an informed decision. Do not stoke our pent up anger at the present administration and our outpour of emotion for the late president into an emotional vote for Noynoy. Sayang e. Magagamit nanaman yung mga tao. Magagago nanaman. Turn it instead into an indignant demand to our candidates for something new, something real. They have never faced that anger. They have not been made accountable for their past actions. Because what we always try to do is to look for that symbol, that pearl, regardless whether that pearl lies among the swines. You are an opinion writer, yes, and are thus entitled to espouse one candidate over another. You are a friend of the late president and of the Aquinos. But I hope you realize that you also represent for many from our generation someone to look up to, and we do not have much left. Please, for the sake of a truly informed electorate, for the sake of political maturity, stop the propaganda and heed this call.

I still love you, Conrado de Quiros. And I love Ninoy. Cory, I am indifferent to. But we all know what will happen if Noynoy wins in 2010.