Posts filed under ‘news’
MIKEINMANILA EXCLUSIVE: UPDATE 3
13 bikes, 3 ATVs, SUVs, sports cars, guns galore and more recovered in a major raid. Second raid recovers around two dozen more bikes. NBI in Northern Mindanao identifies alleged owner of car dealerships as professional rider and car & bike dealer, report says 25 cars and 18 bikes recovered in major transpacific anti-grand theft auto raid.
The story reads like a plot for Die Hard Six, for Skip Woods, the writer of Die Hard 5, GI Joe The Rise of Cobra, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.It’s often said the best stories are true to life. For the plot, which would also fit on Fox’s ‘The Good Guys’, it starts from the simple recovery of a stolen vehicle — a motorcycle, a Martin Brothers original. Key figures: a ‘major writer’ based in Texas who works in Hollywood.
He loves his bike, a custom Martin Brothers bike. He loved long drives and would head out from wide open spaces in California to flatlands and expanse of open space of the Southwest to Texas. Reality paints a better picture than film here… he and his bike he loved – a man free to roam.
The bike and him were inseparable, then, his bike was stolen in Houston Texas.The writer, Skip Woods, like any other victim went to Police, who traced the bike theft to a gang that ships expensive American-made motorcycles like Harleys and his Martin Brothers custom to Asia via Mexico and Los Angeles.
Not content to go out and buy a new one with insurance money, he hired private investigators, Orion Support Inc., who traced the bike and upon that, the custom bike was seen in Asia in the Philippines.
Tuesday, led by local Philippine National Police Provincial Director Buboy Mijares, Agent Wency Galindez of NBI Cagayan De Oro, along with US Law enforcement – at least one FBI agent and OSI private invetigators – the team searching for the rare bike found much more than Skip’s bike.
Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby who leaked the name of a CIA agent who was critical of the White House actions that led to the war in Iraq will still face probation a huge fine and civil suits that will most likely hound him for the rest of his life. The public figure’s worst nightmare is often the stripping of the ability to work within the corridors of power and end of high-profile life and the wheeling and dealing that goes with it.
‘Scooter’ doesn’t walk – he is punished -the executive clemency action by the President is a privilege he has – something perhaps he can wield in the weeks months and more ahead if any other white house insiders face trouble on his watch.
Would i have been better to put him behind bars for thirty months? that’s somethings lawyers debate on – I mean paris hilton got a reprieve and lesser jail time in a way because some felt the popularity and notoriety of being tough on those who walk the lights and places of power should be made to suffer more in sentences – something of making an ‘example’ of them.
But justice is supposed to be fair – regardless of social stature – wealth and or influence. In similar circumstances others might have been fined or have collar placed on them and home arrest. Or so the President says in his statement.
So While not ‘Scott free’ Libby will scoot away from jail and try and to rebuild his life an family. An outcast fallen and perhaps stripped of all if not most of his power and influence and forever etched as the man who leaked a name of as some call it – those oh so secret ‘carte blanche’ untouchables of Langley – whose identities are protected to the grave even if at times their actions run against all that is enshrined in a document whose main essence is “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” except those whose names must be kept secret? Even if their actions run against those wants of their commander in chief?
Sadly there is a new aristocracy in America made of privileged lawyers and fringe groups and others who lord it over the rest of the People. But take comfort in this thought that this will nt last forever. Since after all – “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”…
SO Scooter, punished, humiliated, and most likely a life story for Hollywood in the works – did not get away with his actions. He is punished and the President’s clemency act – his only reprieve will go forth into the night – Independence declared and lesson learned that his liberty and freedom to pursue his happiness comes on Independence day.
Here’s GW’s statement:
Grant of Executive Clemency
The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby’s request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.
I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.
From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department. Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.
After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.
This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak. Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.
Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.
Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. I have made my own evaluation. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.
Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.
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Fil-am friendshp Party at Sofitel
Every year the American community of Manila gathers to celebrate Independance day and Fil-Am friendship day. Last year the events took place at the International School in Taguig. It was a fun picnic and as ussual there were marching bands, kids games, a party and fun for all. I featured it on FYITv.net and my youtube site:
This year the event takes place at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
International Poll Watchers in Mindanao: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia
A group of 21 poll watchers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have set up shop in Mindanao to look over the Philippine election process,
The observer mission is being coordinated by the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) and supported with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Asia Foundation.
In all some 219 observers from the US, EU, Canada, the UK and the UN are looking at the conduct of the election process. Some have also come to learn how to watch and what to look for in election related issues and concerns for when elections take place in their own countries.
For this group of mostly Muslim observers during their deployment in the ARMM, the observer team members will be hosted by six local Muslim civil society groups that have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on April 3, 2007.
The goal is make sure that this group gets a chance to see what is going on and report any irregularities if any are found in the conduct of the polls. The observers for this group from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia – come from countries that do also have elections – however have very different government systems –
Hence each of the observers do bring some issues from their home countries that does show more localized understanding than many western observers – Pakistan for example – is run by former general who took power after a coup. Bangladesh – just had a major upheaval with local political reform being meted out by a sweeping move at anti-corruption and very public arrests of old styled political figures and oligarch’s there. Thailand – well – we all so that coup however peaceful – it still does not have democratically elected leadership at this time – although elections are promised and expected soon there and a major Islamic insurgency is ongoing. Indonesia – like the Philippines is dealing with post dictatorship adjustments to democratic space – and so far it has done well – its government is elected. Malaysia is a democracy – but – still has some post Mahathir issues – reform there seems close at hand with the changes made so far and freedom given to people like Anwar Ibrihim.
Sri Lanka is also facing insurgency – seperatists Tamils hold a mjaor section of the country – but for the most part is a democracy: .
Reports from Nigeria indicate that South Korean and Filipino hostages working for Daewoo construction in troubled southern Nigeria were released.
The group was released at after five days in captivity. Reports claim The group is now in Port Harcourt. There’s been no word on another nine foreigners are still being held.
‘Hostages released’ in Nigeria
ABC Online, Australia – The Yonhap news agency has quoted South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Ho-young, as saying the hostages were released after talks with their kidnappers. …
Hostages released in Nigeria after negotiations
Focus News, Bulgaria – The Philippines on Monday had rejected appeals to negotiate directly with the gunmen, who have not been identified. Foreign Undersecretary Esteban Conejos …
South Korea’s state-run news agency Yonhap quoted government officials confirming the release and saying that the men were exhausted but safe.
Three of the hostages were executives from Daewoo Engineering and Construction and eight Filipino workers from the same company, were kidnapped last Thursday after a gunfight at their construction site in the southern Rivers State.
The kidnapped Koreans include Chung Tae-Young, a 52-year-old Daewoo managing director who was on a business trip to the area, and two top Daewoo officials in Nigeria, according to Daewoo spokesman Huh Hyon. It was the third time Daewoo workers have been taken hostage in Nigeria.
Police in the Philippines think a earlier attempt to bomb a police station on April -and – The suspect they have in that failed attack on a Police Station is behind todays bombing of a billard hall at the Tucurong City market
– Police are hunting down is id ntified as Edris Sabal for the failed bombing. Sabal is suspected of having links to the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists from Indonesia led by Umar Patek and Dulmatin – both men are on the US governments most wanted terrorist lists.
Today’s bombing followed the discovery of another explosive in Banga, South Cotabato on Friday.
As well as a Bomb being dellivered exploding on a motorcycle as would be bombers tried to transport it. two men were killed in the blast.
The blast Tuesday comes six days before the Philippine midterm elections and two weeks after the US, UK, and Austalian embassies in Manila warned its citizens to avoid going to public areas in Mindanao after it received information of an imminent terrorist threat.
JI terrorists, politics could be behind Tacurong blast – report
GMA news.tv, Philippines – Meanwhile, as of 9:30 pm Tuesday, there had been no travel advisory from foreign embassies in the Philippines due to the blast. – GMANews.TV.
Tacurong has been targeted by bomb attacks in recent years,
In January 2003, eight people were killed while 33 others, two of them children, were critically wounded after an unidentified man hurled a grenade at the city’s plaza filled with New Year revelers. Two months later, another blast in Tacurong killed a man and wounded two others. In October 2006, two people died and at least four people were injured when a bomb went off at a public market in the city.
Five killed in bomb attack in southern Philippines Reuters AlertNet
At least three dead in bomb blast in southern Philippines (Roundup) Monsters and Critics.com
Five Killed in Bomb Attack in Southern Philippines Javno.hr
all 19 news articles »
It is known as part of area called the ‘classroom’ by counter terrorism experts in Asia. A majority Christian city that was built on the outskirts of large American agribusiness plantations of Dole and Del Monte – aside from successful bomb attempts over 70 foiled attempts have been foiled and items recovered show a roadmap of bomb making that reaches Iraq, Afghanistan, and, Indonesia – based – on bomb designs. A large number of IED R&D design work is done in the area which is about a two hour drive from a major rebel conflict zone.
The 90 day long Philippine election campaign period for the mid term polls for Congressional and local positions has so far resulted in 75 election related murders.
A briefing given by the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported.
“The PNP, as of May 1 the fatalities included two lawmakers (congressmen), a vice-governor, two mayors, three city councilors, 19 village chairmen and 16 village officials.” Senior Supt. Samuel Pagdilao Jr added that, “Another 32 casualties were supporters of the political candidates or civilians who happened to be in the area when the attacks took place.”.
Police officials however are quick to point out that 75 election related murders however violent this may seem is actually an improvement over past elections. “The number of casualties is still low compared to the 189 reported killed and 279 wounded in the 2004 campaign period”. PNP Spokesman Gen. Pagdilao clarified; overall the situation has improved since the last election.
Partly the decision by the Philippine election commission or COMELEC to place 60 cities and municipalities and two provinces were placed under ‘Comelec control is seen by Police as major reason for the drop in half violent incidents and killings.
Far from Over: 2 weeks till Election Day .
The Philippines Police is at a higher alert level during the election period with assault teams backing up armed police in the streets and mobile and fixed checkpoints spread throughout several areas of COMELEC control.
In part to keep warring political factions with heavily armed bodyguards from clashing, “417 cities and municipalities tagged as areas of immediate concern while 216 cities and municipalities were listed areas of concern.”.
Political clans and Warlord Politics:
In some parts of the Country there are those who still rule ‘warlord style’ a throwback to the 1950’s over parts of the country far from the public eye, In some cases even in urban areas with either private militias of bodyguards or often using, ‘active duty’ Military or Policemen.
To the “private Warriors’ whose pay and lifestyle are augmented by the nearly feudal system of old ‘Politics of patronage’.
But while these groups are often in far flung areas.
It is when rival political groups clash the outcome can be extremely violent. In the Central Luzon Province of Nueva Ecjica, an example of what happens when heavily armed political groups cross paths was displayed the often ugly side of ‘politics of the gun’ at it’s worst.
“The shootout in Jaen, Nueva Ecija between the camps of Nueva Ecija congressman Rodolfo Antonino and former Jaen Mayor Antonio Esquivel left four people dead and 14 more wounded – one of the bloodiest election related incidents this campaign.” Babe Romoldez, a columnist of Philippine Star newspaper wrote in in a Op-Ed piece, ” There’s no question a lot of business activity depends on the result of the elections, but of equal concern is for the process to be perceived as clean and honest. Unfortunately, election-related violence is getting more intense, “
The clash between warring political groups has led led to the deployment of 1,000 combat troops to the province and COMELEC (Commission of Elections) control.
In another election related killing a Mayor attending a complaint haring was gunned down on the streets of the Philippines second largest city of Cebu, while even on the campaign trail – violence has become part of the campaign, “Another violent incident involves San Carlos City, Pangasinan mayor Julian Resuello, who was fatally shot during a rally on Saturday. This further intensified perceptions that election violence is getting out of hand”
Local Government Politcal reform urged:
Political patronage which according to some of the top leaders of major LGU’s is often funded by graft ridden political cronyism and illegal ‘rackets’ that is typical at the local level of Government in areas far from the capitol – and – even sometimes in towns and cities of the major metropolitan zenes.
Barely two weeks remains in the campaign till election day on May 14th, In the last week the violence has escalated with 22 new incidents reported – this coming alongside three active insurgent groups clashes with government forces has led the US, UK, and Australia as well as many EU countries to issue warnings to their nationals living or visiting the Philippines to exercise extreme caution and avoid all Political gatherings.
“It is a cycle that needs to be broken, Political leaders to stay in power are expected by the people to hand out ‘favors’, You need funds to do this – so those not wealthy enough become forced to fund these activities with graft. Which leads to ineffective projects and governance,” A leading local official said on condition of anonymity, “Reforms are needed at the local level of politics too, or in the end it will be warfare every time there is an election as groups battle for control of local economies through political feuds and violence.”
With 75 Dead and 12 days to go and at least another week till winning candidates will be proclaimed the danger of more violence looms of violence is in the air already as political rivals claim victory amidst threats of more violence if their candidates do not win.
‘The threats of violence echo all the way down line from all sides of the politcal spectrum if they don’t win from the leaders at the top down to the lowest councilor.’ A senior national police official declining to be named told the author, “I’m more worried about what happens after the votes are counted and how that goes – if it goes bad – scenes of violence on large scale in some places might happen.’
Police officials privately fear the worst but say they expect if the polls are credible post-election violence ‘Won’t happen’. One thing is certain, as the frenzied campaign period is nearing climax, expect election-related deaths to soar as the Philippine Political warfare nears the homestretch.