Sunday, June 30, 2019


Iran placed old fashioned mines on some tankers, and then shot down a spy drone, and the world (and the US left/Democrats/MSM) prepared their talking points against Trumpie boy because they assumed he'd bomb them in retaliation.

But then, Trumpieboy thought "outside the box". From Richard Fernandez:

Members of Congress had already geared up in anticipation to block the war that was sure to come. "As the prospect of a confrontation with Iran continues to rise, an increasing number of members of Congress have a new objective: ensuring President Trump does not launch a war without their approval."
But he didn't bomb anything biological.
Even though the Washington Post sources called the strike "a long-in-the-making cyberattack that took down Iranian missile control computers," it still caught conventional wisdom by surprise. Just as the Battle of the Coral Sea was the first naval engagement conducted beyond the visual range of opposing fleets, the recent exchange of strikes marks the first public battle between two nations in which only automata died.
Fenandez goes on to point out the problem with this: like economic sanctions, it hurts ordinary people, but does not necessarily topple their leaders.

On the other hand, it does weaken them enough that they are no longer a threat.

This attack got into the news, but the dirty little secret is that the US has been the target for cyberattacks for years. (for example, my OPM personnel file was one of millions hacked by China "unknown persons".)

This is why people aware of this threat were so enraged that Hillary had an insecure email server and found out that Huma took sensitive emails and information to her apartment and used her husband's computer to print them out. 

That last part especially raised eyebrows, since her husband was into porn and that is an easy way to get a malwaree virus on your computer.

StrategyPage wrote about the problem in 2007.

The U.S. Department of Defense has noted the increasing number of hackers trying, and succeeding, to get into military networks. This sort of thing has been going on since the 1980s, when a gang of West German hackers, hired by the Soviet secret police (KGB) were caught inside Department of Defense networks, stealing classified data.
But in the last few years, the hacker activity has accelerated. Currently, Department of Defense networks get probed six million times a day. 
and a more recent article (May 2009) notes that Iran has lots of these cyberwarriors.

This use of APTs was one advantage Iran had against its enemies. Decades of sanctions had made it impossible for Iran to obtain modern weapons or technology in general. But via the APTs, they created or employed they could steal much of what they wanted.
So just a variation of "spy vs spy", right?

Wrong. Everything is connected nowadays.

and if you watched DieHard4.0, you know how a cyberattack on basic utility systems could decimate the country.

(and not just a cyber attack: A half decent solar flare could do the same thing).

ZDnet (Dec2018) has an article on this that should give you nightmares.

Unlike traditional military attacks, a cyberattack can be launched instantaneously from any distance, with little obvious evidence of any build-up, unlike a traditional military operation.... governments and intelligence agencies worry that digital attacks against vital infrastructure -- like banking systems or power grids -- will give attackers a way of bypassing a country's traditional defences, and are racing to improve their computer security.
More at ZDNet here

and here is a "WAGD" scenario by an independent video maker:

presumably, I should be safe here in the rural Philippines where everyone including my maid has a smartphone, but most people have generators etc. since we get periodic typhoons, floods, and brownouts...

but actually we had a minor cyberwar kerfuffle with China a couple years ago (actually, Chinese hackers who are of course government inspired, but the Filipino hackers were just students causing mischief, but it does show how we do have the talent to do these things)., 

So if China wanted to play rough with us via cyberwar, we might be in trouble... but not completely helpless.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Business diplomacy vs China

Robert Heinlein's novels have big businesses going to war openly with entire countries: and of course they have been doing this for a couple of centuries (East India Company, anyone?).

But now China, whose "businesses" are often really government connected (i.e. the definition of fascism) are part of Trumpieboy's play with China.

The (conservative) Gateway institute discusses China's cheating on trade deals, theft of intellectual property, etc. and why Trump is trying to stop it. LINK

this will make heads explode in the US State Dept, but will make the working class in the US happy, since it was mainly their jobs who were exported there under previous administrations.

the fact that China's businesses are being used to push that country's neocolonialism is something often ignored in the US MSM, who don't get the connection.

But again John Bachelor points out how the US economic help to China has been propping up the communist gov't there

 (so they can make a profit using cheap Chinese factories of course).

Here in the Philippines, Duterte, who (contrary to what you read in the US MSM)  is popular for doing a "dirty Harry" against the druggie thugs who prey on ordinary folks, is now in trouble for being too friendly to China...and falling into China's infamous "debt trap", where China loans lots of money to a poor country and when they can't pay back, China seizes their assets.

Rappler story from March 2019 here.

No less than Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court has combed through the Chinese loan agreements entered into by the Duterte administration and found onerous provisions that imperil our nation’s “patrimonial assets.” That China is capable of imposing such conditions should come as no surprise. China, in its bid for global economic and political dominance, has wantonly trampled on the rights and sovereignty of many a developing country.
The problem is a loan for an irrigation system that could ultimately allow China to take over Reed bank and it's natural gas resources.

more about the problem HERE, in a 2018 editorial which goes into details of how China has bilked a lot of poor countries under this scheme, and is now loaning money to the Philippines.

 China's loans have a higher interest rate than getting the money from Japan, so why borrow from China? The editorial suspects corruption might be part of the reason.

So who will help these countries pay back their debts? (and remember, many of these countries are corrupt so much of the "foreign aid" will end up in someone's pockets, making western businesses and governments shy to bail them out).

John Bachelor has this interesting story about Tonga's problem with their Chinese debt:

The SundayGuardian has the story. told in the podcast: Rumors that the LDS church will bail the country out of their debt to China.

Because western countries wanted "regime change", after riots, they refused to help rebuild the infrastructure, so China moved in and took over with loans. Repayment is delayed when Tonga joins China's one road program, but the debts mean Tonga could essentially let China take over their economy.

Note: Tonga has never been a colony to anyone, and is largely Christian, but has an active LDS community of about 20 percent of the population, and the LDS help their people with education and aid projects.

So there are rumors that the "Mormon Church" will bail out the country's debt so they can remain free of China's neocolonialist bullying.

The church, however, denies this.

however in the article, it gives the amount of money owed to China:
Tonga with its sovereign debt to China which has reach its current level of around US$120 million.
that is not a lot of money for big businesses: 

And so an alternative would be that an LDS businessman could step in and help, maybe by refinancing the loans or helping with the payments.

The LDS church is business friendly, and Mormons run a lot of businesses;  and they only trust other church members, which annoyed the "gentile" businessmen when I worked in the mountain states of the USA.

But this personal connection could lead to a way to solve Tonga's debt problem:
An LDS businessman could sponsor the deal and because he would use fellow church members (who are presumably honest) to do it: and this could keep their money from being diverted by corruption.

Friday, June 28, 2019

comments on the news

I have been too busy to post: Ruby is busy getting her papers and medical clearance to study in the USA, and now I will have to change my visa here since my husband died and I have to prove I can support myself without a "sponsor". No problem: just lots of paper work. Luckily they now have a consulate type office in our province,  a lot closer than Manila.

and I don't know how to interpret the news: it reminds me of when I was in Africa how the news (mainly BBC) was spun to see Jimmy Carter as crazy and flip floppy with bad judgment, then spun to see Ronald Reagan as a warmonger cowboy trying to start World War III.

Carter, of course, was trying to spread human rights all over the world,,.he managed to get Russia to let their Jewish citizens out to come to the US or Israel, and overthrew the Shah of Iran, whose human rights abuses were ignored by the MSM since he was an ally but those of us with Iranian friends knew better... too bad that the Shah had jailed or killed or exiled most of those who could have formed a decent government, which left the theocrats in charge, who then evolved into a theocratic tyranny a la Cromwell's puritan government, or the French Revolution with the tyranny of the religion of logic.

In the same way, those who openly fought communism in the war on ideas were ignored: not just Reagan ("Mister Gorbechev, tear down this wall", "evil Empire"), but Solzhenitsyn saying live not by lies, and JP2 (whose fight against communism when he was a bishop in Poland is usually left out of the history books), telling them God exists and human have dignity.

The real miracle is that communism fell without massive civil wars: and if you don't think religion had a part in this you have been reading the wrong books. 

The miniseries Chernobyl posits that this caused the downfall of the Soviet Union: but unless you watched carefully, you would not realize this is true, not because of the lives lost or ecological disaster, but because it exposed the lies of the government, who bullied those trying to do the right thing.

Too many in charge were unable to see the truth because it went against the false narrative of the glorious revolution. 

it was the heroism of the ordinary "despicables" (scientists, military, firemen, miners, not party apparatchiks) whose lives depended on reality instead of propaganda who saw the problem.... and most of them still had common decency and commitment to do the duties of their daily lives who saved the world.

Right now there is a crisis in both the USA and in the Catholic church.

In the USA, the lies of the MSM and the party line that sees ordinary folks as despicables are not going to help. Socialism is a good idea, but where do you get the money? Tax Bill Gates? 

Or maybe clean up the banking system and corruption? Ah that last part would help: But since most of the establishment politicians got rich somehow while working for the gov't, one suspects they don't want to look too hard into this. 

As for Trumpieboy; he is a pragmatist with ADHD and multitasks, and is as honest as any other businessman, which doesn't say much. But his opposition is so over the top one has to wonder who is the puppet master orchestrating this?

For example, the latest kerfuffle is a father and daughter who drowned trying to get into the US. A powerful photo, but when literally hundreds of bodies are found every year by the border control, mostly in the desert, one does get a bit cynical. 

The reason for illegal migrants bringing their children is because President Obama, with the best intentions, changed the law to let those with children be released to be resettled until their asylum papers were reviewed. Of course, what happened is this left them free to disappear ... something that upsets a lot of working class Americans of all ethnicities, who have to compete with them for jobs and housing. (some of this opposition is inspired by racism, but it is mainly people who "lost" in the race for globalism, and now sees newcomers who broke the law getting goodies and preference).

But the bad side effect of Obama's compassion is that it also encouraged people to bring one of their kids with them, putting the kids in danger.

I am old enough to remember when a lot of Haitians were coming to American on rickety boats, and quite a few drowned. President Clinton decided they could be sent back, and 50 000 were sent to Guantanamo until this could be done... 
but the end result of Clinton's decision was fewer refugees and therefor fewer deaths from the dangerous trip.

Someone tell the hysterical press that sending refugees to Fort Sill (where Geronimo was held) is not the same as sending them to a concentration camp: I am old enough to remember when thousands of Vietnamese boat people were sent to the army base at Fort Indiantown gap for the same reason:

The refugees first went to relocation processing centers in Guam, the Philippines, Thailand, Wake Island and Hawaii before being flown to the four resettlement centers in the United States at Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Chafee in Arkansas, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and Fort Indiantown Gap. Refugees were matched with sponsors who agreed to provide food, clothing and shelter until the refugee could become self-sufficient. Sponsors also helped the Vietnamese find jobs and get their children registered in school.
Am I missing something, or is it easier for the MSM to push hysteria and propaganda than to discuss these things pragmatically, with a little insight?

Finally, I mentioned the problem of the Catholic church: not the abuse, which is serious and being covered up with pious flowery words, but the up and coming "Amazon" meeting which is openly planning to push thru a plan by fiat to allow older married men to become priests (ok with me if done properly), but that this part of the agenda is actually a way to distract the traditional Catholics into arguing about it, while the Germans and NWO types push the real agenda:

It would change church dogma to accommodate the latest fad: Eco-theology. (or the UN Rio theology). To quote Ureta:

In the closing speech of Rio 92 in Rio de Janeiro, the then-UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali declared that “for the ancients, the Nile was a god that was worshiped, as was the Rhine, an infinite source of European myths, or the Amazon rainforest, mother of all forests. Everywhere, nature was the home of gods. They gave the forest, the desert, the mountain, a personality that imposed adoration and respect. The Earth had a soul. Finding it, resurrecting it: this is the essence [of the Intergovernmental Conference] in Rio.” (A / CONF.151 / 26, vol. IV, p. 76).
And this neo-pagan UN agenda is now proposed by a Synodal Assembly of the Catholic Church!
Edward Pentin has a long and scholarly analysis here that has Ureta's objections and similar analysis from other scholars about the proposed document.

Musical interlude of the day

Monday, June 24, 2019

Family news

So we got up this morning at 4 am to drive to Manila so I could arrive at immigration at 8am to get my permanent visa renewed. (I had to go in person for the new photo ID card... usually Joy just submits the application yearly for me, but for the new ID I had to go).

And when we arrived, we found it was "Manila day".

No, not a holiday in our area, but apparently a "non working" holiday for government offices to celebrate the 448th anniversary of the founding of Manila.


So we had to drive back, which took longer because the traffic is heavier during the day.

Oh well: It wasn't a complete waste: On the way home we stopped at a restaurant that serves TexMex and I had a burrito. Not the best burrito I've eaten, but the first one I've eaten since I moved to the Philippines.

This afternoon, I went back to bed for awhile while Ruby went back to the doctor to complete her medical exam for her US Student Visa.

The bad news: We will have to drive all the way back tomorrow morning to get the paperwork done.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

World policeman no more?

the ending of High Noon shows the sheriff, after fighting the bad guys almost by himself (since the townspeople refused to help him), throws his badge into the ground and leaves town.

So when Trumpieboy refused the advice of the military to kill people to venge himself on Iran's attack of a spy drone (something that could start another war where America would be the one doing the fighting, of course) it sounds like Trumpie is channeling his inner Will Kane... 

Let me explain.

For the last 60 years, the USA has been the world policeman. The leftists lament all those US troops all over the world, but they sort of overlook the alternative.

But the US Voters got tired of being ridiculed and hated for doing this hard job, which is why you got first President Obama and now President Trump. 

President Obama tried his best to make peace, and Iran betrayed the deal.

So now Trumpieboy is in charge, and doxing the bad guys in the Middle East, the establishment US state department, the Military industrial complex, the establishment MSM. and of course, the Mullahs who watch CNN and believe what they hear.

Blocking the straits of Hormuz is the Mullah's "trump card" (pun intended) since they could block the export of Middle Eastern oil to the world and destroy the world's economy. This is not a new gambit: My son in law was there with the US Navy before the Gulf wars when the Mullahs were trying to pull the same trick. 

But things have changed: can you say "Fracking" children?

the US is now a leading exporter of petroleum/natural gas...

Richard Fernandez has an interesting take on what is really going on in the Straits of Hormuz....

The problem is normally posed in terms of U.S. difficulty in keeping it open. ...
But actually closing the Strait would be political, if not national suicide. Most of the oil passing through Hormuz (about 11/17ths) is bound for the Straits of Malacca en route to China, Japan and Korea.
If Tehran actually closed the Straits, by mining it, for example, they would essentially be blockading China....
Interestingly Trump seems willing to let the Iranian threat serve as a goad for international action. "President Donald Trump said Friday that if Iran were to block the Strait of Hormuz, “it’s not going to be closed for long,” but he did not elaborate on whether the United States had an obligation to keep open the international shipping gateway, which is critical to the oil industry." (Emphasis mine). With the U.S. nearly a net exporter of oil the pressure is actually on Asia to keep Hormuz open.

translation: The mullahs think that blocking the strait would harm the USA, but it would raise oil prices, which would help the US, (who is now energy independent and exporting oil/natural gas) and also Russia, who exports their petroleum to Europe (and who could make a bundle selling it to China).

Complicating the matter, of course, is China's artificial islands in the West Philippine sea: there are reportedly huge reserves of natural gas under those shoals, which is another reason that China has been trying to take over the region for years. If China would stop pushing around the Philippines and make a deal with a China friendly Duterte, between the natural gas resources there, and the expansion of Chinese influence into the petroleum rich Central Asian countries, China might soon be able to lower their own imports from the middle East.

I don't know much about the Central Asian republics who used to be part of Russia but are now in China's long term plans for a new silk road.

John Bachelor has had a dozen podcasts about this region lately, but I have been too busy to listen to them.

I am also slowly working my way through Austin Bay's book Cocktails from Hell (I am slowly reading it on scribd) which goes into summarizing the complexities of multilateral complicated issues of war and peace in today's world. 

To quote Bill Clinton: It's the economy stupid.

People pushing the "Russia Russia RUSSIA" conspiracy theory forget that Trumpieboy has had business contacts in many countries, and even though many of these are under his son, who runs the company, he is aware of the complexities of how international finance and economics work, and often has personal contacts that are important in international business,  and so he has a different point of view than many in the diplomatic community.

Hence, the use of economic rather than military pressure on rogue regimes.

Now if only the DNC/MSM would notice things are changing: alas, they are stuck in the 1970s, when the leftist students just decided everything the US did was bad, and everything that the communists or their minions did was good (ignoring the Great Leap forward, the Red guard atrocities, the Gulag, etc. etc.).... 

Yes, I am being sarcastic...but with their children taking over the Democratic party, such simplistic ideas are still with us... which is why Joe Biden, not the socialist types who are running for president, is actually more popular among the hoi polloi, who will probably ignore the MSM's hit jobs on him.

But that's another topic for another time.

Philippine news

The big headlines today are that beloved actor Eddie Garcia has died after a fall while filming a tv series.

“We lost an icon today,” tweeted actress Bela Padilla. “This is truly heartbreaking. Rest easy, sir. I love all the conversations I was blessed to share with you, and I will remember you fondly forever.” “You will be missed and forever remembered,” said Jodi Sta. Maria on Twitter. “I pray you find peace and rest in the arms of our Lord. You are in a better place, Sir.”

in other news: Phil Health and fake billing for dialysis is the latest scandal. LINK1 LINK 2

Why is this important?

Well, for one reason, it explains why Ex pats here can't get Medicare to pay for their medical care here, even though it is cheaper than the USA.

the danger of fake billing is the problem. Luckily, at least one Medicare advantage card, and some private insurances, will let you get care here, but they are very very expensive. I had private insurance that allowed only certain hospitals and physician groups, mainly in Manila, to be paid for, but I never used it because I was never sick enough to go there (I live in the provinces so it is a two to three hour drive to Manila). So I have dropped it, figuring I will pay from my savings.

and not just exPats: Manila has first class hospitals and could be a center for medical tourism if you could get more insurance to cover care here.

there are a lot of ex pat Yanks here: mostly servicemen or men married to local gals who retire here, but also "Balikbayan" returning locals with US citizenship, like my husband.

This is an ongoing problem: His niece Emie has to pay for her own dialysis treatment, which she now can get locally (we are getting more sophisticated here in the provinces), whereas if she moved back to Chicago, she'd get it for free.

Then we have the ongoing drug war: This article is about a new book telling the tale of a world wide Drug pusher who lived in the Manila area. LINK

corruption let him get away with it, and the reporter notes that the major drug lords are still around, criticizing Duterte for this by saying only of low level dealers are targeted. However, like most reporters, he doesn't notice the drop in the crime rate has helped the non elite, because the low level druggies are the guys behind the crime commited against unimportant people,( which is why Duterte is popular).

Wired article here. note this conversation:

Pepe turns to the second part of the deal: the trade of his Colombian cocaine for Paul’s methamphetamine, a sample of which Paul has shipped to him from his base in the Philippines.
“Let me ask you a question,” Pepe says. “Sure.” “You are not Filipino, why the Philippines?” “Same reason you are in Liberia. Basically, as far as Asia goes, it’s the best shithole we can find, which gives us the ability to ship anywhere. It’s the best position in Asia. And it’s also a poor place. Not as bad as here, but we can still solve problems.”
“You are cooking your shit in the Philippines?” Pepe says. “Actually, right now we manufacture in the Philippines and we also buy from the Chinese. We’re getting it from North Korea. So the quality you saw was very high.”

Wikipedia tells how they lured him to Liberia to arrest him because it's easier to extradite people from there.

and I'm sure a lot more criminals like that guy are living here, because although Duterte is trying to clean up the swamp, corruption is deeply embedded in the culture, and of course is funding his opposition, who cry "human rights" when they mean "ignore the bribes and kickbacks".

The Philippines was and still is in danger of becoming a Narco state like Mexico.

Ten percent of our population work overseas. Planes here leave every day taking OFW to jobs all over the world (and many are poor and could be bribed to smuggle drugs in their luggage).


in other news: the 22 Filipino sailors on those stricken tankers hit by Iranian mines are safe. 

and when Iranian's proxy terrorists lob missles into Saudi, they will probably hit foreign workers there, many of whom are Filipino;

“The Philippines expresses its appreciation to friendly governments for the rescue of Filipino seafarers. At the same time, the Philippine government condemns the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport and on the oil tankers. Attacks on civilian installations and commercial shipping can never be justified,” the DFA said in a statement. Read more: 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

More Contaminated Blood pressure medicine discovered

CNBC notes another batch of Valsartan, a medicine used for high blood pressure and heart failure, has been found to be contaminated with small amounts of a cancer causing chemicals.

But missing from the story: Where was it manufactured?

From Sciencemagazine.

In this case, the valsartan recall was originally traced back to a problem with the material from Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. 
Remember that name: ZHP.
That’s the Chinese manufacturer of the first recalled batch.
however, it wasn't just ZHP: the newest batch recalled? That was made in India.

the article goes into details about manufacturing, but if you continue reading you find (TADA!) the source of the problem:

But how do you get N-nitroso compounds from the amines, and why was the solvent switched?....
ZHP themselves appear to have introduced a cheaper, higher-yielding route using just sodium azide and zinc chloride in an aprotic solvent like DMF...

italics mine. 

In other words, it was done to make a higher profit, and they didn't care if people die. 

The Science magazine link goes into the chemical details of the problem. 

But then the author blames the drug companies for not figuring out that someone was corrupt enough to do such a thing and trying to catch them at it.
The Science magazine article naively wonders what is behind the problem.
 So we’re going to have to think about the way that synthetic routes in the generic API business are monitored, it would seem. People seem to have missed that changing the chemistry for the sartans could lead to this problem, so what else are we missing?
again, italics mine.

Anyone here in Asia could tell you what you are missing: corruption.

Just like what happened in dozens of other fake medicine /fake dog food additives/fake heparinfake baby formula or the Panama cough medicine deaths: scandals from deliberate actions by those in charge of the factories: it was deliberate, not accidental, and it was done to make money.

But it isn't just China: after ZHP got away with it, apparently other manufacturers found they could do it too, and decided they could get away with it too.

The problem for my US readers? The dirty little secret is a lot of the world's medicines are outsourced to third world factories who can manufacture it cheaper. True, if it has a brand name company supervising the third world factory, you are safe from simple carelessness and shoddy manufacturing problems, but if the one who owns the factory is smart and corrupt, he will figure a way to get around the quality control inspections.

something to remember when Trumpieboy threatens tariffs on Chinese goods.

World Health Organization article on this problem estimates one out of ten medicines sold in third world countries are fake, counterfeit, substandard or have toxic additives.:

No countries remain untouched by this issue — from North America and Europe through to sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America. What was once considered a problem limited to developing and low-income countries has now become an issue for all.
With the exponential increase in internet connectivity those engaged in the manufacture, distribution and supply of substandard and falsified medical products have gained access to a global market place. This extends both to consumers and business forums. ...
However, it is in low- and middle-income countries and those in areas of conflict, or civil unrest, where health systems are weak or non-existent that bear the greatest burden of substandard and falsified medical products.

a slightly longer version of this article is posted to my medical blog. 

Chicken post of the day


and then you have books about those who care for chickens:

stories below the fold

BBC article on the NXIVM sex cult in New York State.
more here.

This is not a big story, except for the VIP's involved in it, and this includes the family of a bigshot Senator...


BBC was allowed a tour of Muslim reeducation concentration camps.


StrategyPage: the refugees no one wants.

ISIL included using women to terrorize other women and are trying to take over refugee camps.

The Nazis did the same thing with POW's and refugees after WWII...

the problem: Some are from western countries whose laws are so strict that they will not end up in jail but free to spread terrorism in their adopted countries. So no one wants them back.

The Pope had a bishops meeting on the family to give him cover for allowing divorce and making the Eucharist a feel good symbol for anyone who wants it. The bishops rejected his agenda, so he arranged to put it in a footnote that they missed when they approved of the huge document, and then let his minions change things locally based on the footnote..

Well, if you think that was bad, just wait til you see his plan for the "Amazon" synod. 1Peter5 has a report (and if you think he is worried, you should read the trad sites).

He is pretending the church has never evangelized other cultures and is using this idea to push unqualified men to become married priests, not to mention another attack on the Eucharist and approving the idea that any religion is okay, and since love is all you need, any relationship is okay too.

 Next stop: womenpriests of course.

to paraphrase the Game of Thrones: Schism is coming....


in contrast, GetReligion has another report from the WaPost on Evangelicals working with criminals in the slums of Brazil.

and they link to this article which explains why Protestantism is exploding in Latin America. (and here in the Philippines), and then note:

Brazil isn’t the only place where evangelical pastors are working with gangs. A year ago, the Economist wrote of churches in El Salvador that are trying similar things. NPR did a similar story. A very impressive piece from, tells how evangelicals have changed the prison culture also in El Salvador.
You have to hand it to the pastors willing to work with such a clientele that they deserve every convert they get. I suspect there are a lot more pastors like this working in places other than El Salvador and Brazil. I’m hoping reporters will ferret them out.


protests continue in Hong Kong... peaceful and singing.

from the Economist

BEFORE THE tear gas and the rubber bullets, there was music. At the protests in Hong Kong over the past week, people have regularly broken into song. For those gathered outside government headquarters, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”, a popular Christian hymn, has been a favourite. “Do You Hear The People Sing?”, a tune from “Les Misérables” and the unofficial anthem of protests in Hong Kong in 2014, has also made a reappearance.

and the song is banned on China's music streaming services.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hong Kong demonstrations and Ramming fishing boats

I don't know if these are being covered in the US MSM (I've been too busy to watch tv), but the ongoing demonstrations against China trying to bully Hong Kong (and in the long term take over her institutions) are huge:


GetReligion blog has this post about the movement, and refers to the blog Shanghai list who notes that this hymn is the anthem for many of the protesters, that that the local churches are involved, including Cardinal Zen who said a mass for them,


the Inquirer editorial discusses the protest and compares it to the "People power" demonstrations here that threw out Marcos.

he notes that although the bill was being pushed as a way to extradite criminals and pointed to a murderer as an example, the ordinary folks know it is about more than that.

Today the people of Hong Kong have come out in the millions to make their government heedful of their sentiments. They are resisting the measure that will allow the arrest and extradition of dissenters and others who refuse to toe Beijing’s line; by their great numbers they are voicing objection and, at the same time, fighting for the civil rights to which they are entitled as residents of the semiautonomous territory. They are struggling against Beijing’s encroachments and are determined to hold it to its promise of “one country, two systems.”
Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


in other news, Duterte is trying to quiet the anger of locals after a Chinese boat deliberately rammed and sank a Filipino fishing boat. 

Inquirer story here tells of how the fishermen were rescued, not by the Chinese boat who rammed them and left them clinging to wreckage and didn't try to help them, but  fishermen from VietNam who were nearby rescued them:

 The Chinese vessel that rammed and sank the Filipino fishing boat abandoned 22 fishermen who had to hold on for dear life in the open sea while waiting for help.
Based on reported accounts of Filipino fishermen, two of their boats approached the Vietnamese vessel spotted about 5 nautical miles away from the incident. This was confirmed by the Vietnamese captain. “At around 1 a.m. on June 10, the Vietnamese fishing boat was anchored and all of its crew fast asleep when they were awakened by the voices of foreigners. Using a flashlight, the captain made out two small boats without lights approaching his. Two men speaking a foreign language waved their hands, requesting help,” the report said.
The Vietnamese captain was cautious at first because he “feared” that those asking for help could be pirates. But it turned out that the two fishermen were soaking wet and shivering, which led them to think that there might have been an accident at sea.
The two Filipino fishermen used hand signals to ask for help and pointed towards Recto Bank. It took about an hour to get to the site of the incident because of poor visibility. When they got there, they found 20 Filipino fishermen trying to survive. Read more: 

Duterte is pushing for a joint Philippine/Chinese probe of the incident to calm down local anger. He has been trying to make friends with China, but China keeps playing tricks to destroy trust in their promises, something they are doing to a lot of countries in SE Asia and elsewhere. (e.g. investing in companies or projects to help the local economy, but instead giving jobs to illegal Chinese when locals could do the job, militarizing artificial islands in our economic zone, and "giving" money for development projects, which if not paid back will let them take over our resources).

so why didn't the Chinese rescue the fishermen? They claim they were afraid of being "beseiged". Huh?

Here Duterte is going against popular opinion (whereas the drug war, hated by the SJW types, is popular), and his opposition is pushing him to do something.

the Chinese have been threatening Philippine fishermen from their traditional fishing areas in the West Philippine sea, both by coming near to them and by roping off the area (underwater shoals, which sometimes later they convert to artificial islands by digging up the sea bed).

This is the first confirmed sinking incident, but the Chinese military has proposed doing the same thing to American ships who pass nearby in international waters that they are claiming in recent years.

StrategyPage had a long article discussing this last month: LINK

China created the current crisis over who controls Pagasa Island and nearby sandbars. The Chinese have put a record number of ships around the island, most of them Chinese fishing boats pretending to be fishing but in reality members of the Chinese naval militia which is being used in unprecedented numbers here. China insists it has not ordered its naval militia fishing boats to physically block Filipino commercial or military ship from getting to Pagasa. But it has become more difficult for Filipino fishing boats to operate in areas they had long worked.
and notice the huge protests by ecology loving green organizations against Chinese destruction of the coral reefs and ecosystem: (/s)

Uh, anyone? Anyone?

Movie of the week

not actually a film, but a Canadian miniseries based on the classic book Anne of Green Gables.


alas part two is not posted: but watch it now before the copyright cops find it.

there were three miniseries on the books, plus a miniseries about Tales of Avonlea, based on other books and short stories about this area.

The first two were wonderful, but the third one was loosely based on later stories and the book about Rilla: the script was awkward and miscast since Anne would have been too old for the plot.....

Ironically, my sons loved the series: They were adopted as older children and could identify with Anne's mistakes and adjustment problems in her new home.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Family news

Ruby is busy getting her medical papers etc. for her US student Visa.
The US consulate is closed, so all the application has to be done on line.
The bad news? They are fixing the wires again, (replacing the termite eaten poles with concrete poles, and replacing the tangled drooping wires with cables) so both electricity/ TV cable/ Landline telephone and internet are going on and off, and right now the internet is very slow.
She is also renewing her Filipino passport, which can be done here.

Kuya is at the farm supervising the preparation of the rice fields.

Me, I am retired. Ah, the life of leisure.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Greece vs Rome

I quote Professor Mary Beard in an earlier post, and now we hear Boris Johnson, ex mayor of London, is running for the next PM of England.

If you want to see them in action, here is a debate by these two characters over which is best: Greece or Rome.

Follow the money

The Manila Times article (10-2017) about the suspicious funding of the anti Duterte press here notes:

THE National Endowment For Democracy (NED), accused of being a channel for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) propaganda and destabilization operations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, has stepped up its funding for three local media outfits that have been publishing articles in the Internet very critical of President Duterte and his administration....
Even if NED wasn’t a CIA conduit, it is an institution funded by the US government, and therefore advances US interests....While these moneys may seem small, an NGO activist in Europe pointed out this was the same pattern in Ukraine several years back.

In the USA, in case  you didn't notice, it is not evil CIA types (as far as I know) who are manipulating the distortion of free speech: it is the self appointed technocrats at the tech companies who, after purging their own ranks of those with non PC ideas, (e.g. James Damore and Brian Eich come to mind),  are banning or demonetizing groups and individuals whose speech they dislike, under the guise of hate speech.

SJW pushback against individuals silenced many conservative voices, and even gotten individuals fired for opinions taken out of context (e.g. Roger Scruton Lawrence Summers,) being harassed or unable to give speeches (Jordan Peterson or Camille Paglia) or held up to the world to be mocked for trivial things that had nothing to do with their job (Dr Matt Taylor)...

But then you got Trumpie boy, and there are many voices who feel a bit freer to say non PC things: not just the tiny number of bigots but a lot of ordinary folks whose opinions would have been considered normal up to ten years (or ten months) ago but are now called "hate speech" (which is now defined so broadly that an anti abortion Mother Teresa would be called a hater of women).

In the past, ordinary low level bloggers/ opinion essays would have only faced bullying/name calling by the twittermobs.

But now the social media is pushing back: with quite a few main stream conservatives being banned or demonetized from various social media site.

and what will come next? Andrew Klaven worries: after giving examples of such censorship, he notes:
But as 2020 approaches...panic is beginning to set in and the next phase of Operation Don’t Speak is in play: a massive and collusive move to define mainstream right-wing speech as hateful and shut it down.

Is this true?  Place conspiracy theory here. (duh). 

Or maybe have someone check on who is funding all these liberal groups, because I have read a lot of conjecture, but most of it is on sites I don't quite trust.

If democracy dies in darkness, then where are the exposes? Or did I miss them?

but the social media/tech types are not the only ones trying to censor critics who oppose the uberliberal/progressive agenda.

The Pope has just told his "ambassadors" not to blog and not to criticize him or his policies. 

However, until he posts an "Index of forbidden books Blogs", he will have to put up with people reading Lifesite news or watching Michael Voris on youtube, or reading interviews by more dangerous folks like Archbishop Vigano, or those feisty guys who just released a paper about a paper  noting that gender theory is a cultural and ideological revolution that goes against the beliefs and teachings of the church.

However, the Pope has a way to go to shut up all those who oppose his long term goals, so this is an ongoing story.

The Pope is not enamoured on people who use logic against his ideas, but since the church insists God is Logos and logical, he has a problem.

But would logic and quoting scientific data work in the secular world?

Not from what I read in the hysterical commentary against traditional values.

Few of the modern day Red Guard of the alt/L are acquainted with logic.

And many in the twittermobs or even in the MSM suffer from "concrete thinking", and unable to recognize abstract thinking, humor, or nuance.

This is why another way to fight back is doxing and satire.

A recent example of this was some bozo in Boston said he was going to hold a "Straight pride" parade.... to be led by the flaming gay provocateur Milo(!), 

no, that's not a picture of Milo: His husband is black.

And lawsuits might work too, especially when the person being destroyed is a private citizen, as the recent bakery vs Oberlin college court case for libel showed.

All of this is, of course, a free speech issue. So maybe the law professor/author of a new book on freedom of speech in the tech world should be quoted.

An excerpt from law professor Glenn Reynold's new book discusses how twitter distorts thinking and society. And he discusses why using anti trust laws that are already on the books, or by passing new laws, might slow down the monolithic control of the new media.

Although antitrust is out of fashion, the huge tech companies constitute interlocking monopolies in various fields, and often support one another against competitors – as Paypal, for example, cut off money transfers to YouTube competitor BitChute, and Twitter competitor Gab.
Antitrust regulation would also dilute the political power of these big companies, and that’s a real issue. Old-time monopolies like those broken up by Teddy Roosevelt concentrated economic power (in industries like railroads, steel, or oil) and gained political power as a result.
But the very nature of social media companies’ monopolies amplifies their political power even before they start hiring lobbyist.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Black Tudor?

A lot of the PC "integration" of TV and movies is being done to promote political correctness, but the dirty little secret is that in the past, often minorities (racial, religious, and ethnic minorities) were ignored in historical films.

Example: The joke of "Blazing Saddles" was a black sheriff, but the reality was that blacks  were present in the west, but were "whitewashed" out of traditional western films: For example, the inspiration for "the Lone Ranger" may well have been Bass Reeves, a Black sheriff who learned several Amerindian dialects and worked to clean up "Indian Territory", aka Oklahoma, after the civil war... 

So if you are watching Starz "The Spanish Princess", you might be startled to see that one of the women in Princess Katherine's entourage was black, and part of the plot is her romance with another Moor who is a soldier who also came with the Princess to England.

And yes, that is actually true.

From The Decider:

When you think of Tudor England, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and bloody beheadings probably spring to mind. That’s thanks to countless dramatic adaptations and docu-series about those dramatic days. One thing that’s often been cut from the narrative, though, are the people of color whom historians know lived in London and contributed to the Royal Courts of the day.
Starz’s The Spanish Princess is trying to amend this by putting the Moorish members of Catherine of Aragon’s court front and center in the story. Stephanie Levi-John co-stars in the series as Lina, Catherine’s real life lady-in-waiting, whom we know was a woman of color blooming in the courts of the Tudor rose.
“Hundreds of people of color lived and worked quite happily with the indigenous English people in that period,” The Spanish Princess writer and executive producer Matthew Graham told Decider during Winter TCA. “Lina was real, she married Oviedo. We wanted to tell their story, because their story definitely existed, it was just in the sidebar of history.”
much of her story is based on composites of other women, since little is known about her private life.

refinery29 notes:

Like most of the other characters in The Spanish Princess, Catalina “Lina” de Cardonnes is based on a real person. Only three things are known about Lina. First, that she served as Catherine of Aragon's lady-in-waiting for 26 years, weathering the many years Catherine spent cast-aside and destitute. Second, that she Lina married a Moorish crossbow-maker man named Oviedo, who is played by another charismatic stand-out, Aaron Cobham. Third, that she was a Black woman.
The presence of people of African ethnicity in London during Elizabethan times was brought to the attention of many recently when a document was found discussing if they should be deported .... 

However, it is not certain this was done (Indeed, one historian has extensively documented the lives of 200 people of colour in Elizabethan London)...
and since many may have been Muslim may have worked both for and against them, since this historian notes many converted to Protestantism during Elizabeth's time.

BBC's History Extra has an article about England's complicated relationship with Islam, the Barbary Pirates, the Ottoman Empire, and Spain during Tudor times, and how this alliance with Islamic countries influenced Elizabethan culture, from Shakespeare's Othello to sugar, spices silks, and Persian carpets.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Pope Francis changing things again

The Italian saying is Traduttore, Traditore,  or "translator, traitor": That no translations really are accurate. Part of it is because the word one uses to translate is not equivalent, and sometimes it is because the nuance and cultural background of the word is not in the translation.

For bible translations, often there is a lot of controversy: Do you use "gender neutral" pronouns? Ah, but what if the verse is prophetically pointing to Christ, not just a generic person, and the gender pronoun obscures this? Or how do you translate "give us this day our daily bread" for cultures where bread is not eaten (here in the Philippines, that word used is the generic for "food" which obscures that it is a reference not just to regular food, but to spiritual food and to the Eucharistic bread).

then there are the "hard sayings" so beloved of militant atheists, who often take them out of a cultural context, or pretend they are to be taken literally when they are allegories, but others times there are "hard words" that are really just not politically correct in today's merciful world (compare and contrast: Who am I to judge vs "millstone").

So the Pope is busy changing the Our Father, insisting that God never leads people into temptation.

Uh Matthew 4:1 anyone?

Not my area of expertise, but on the other hand, why is Francis busy upsetting people when no body is really upset with the original translation and it doesn't have to be done?

Is this merely Francis' hubris showing again, or is this a "wag the dog" way to change the subject at a time when the US Catholic bishops (who he shut up last year) are again trying to get rid of the problems of corrupt bishops? 

So one has to be amused when he is corrected, not by a bishop (who are supposed to be the teachers of the faith) and not by theologians and other experts in biblical studies, but by Professor Mary Beard (of Caligula fame) in the Times literary supplement.,,,

“Not a good translation” was what puzzled me. Now of course we do not know what Jesus originally said in Aramaic, but in the Greek of Mark’s gospel, what he says is: μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν μὴ is the ‘not’, ἡμᾶς is ‘us’.
The key verb (here used as a negative command) is εἰσενέγκῃς, coming from a nasty irregular Greek verb that would be be transliterated into English as ‘eisphero’, and it means ‘bring into’, ‘carry into’, ‘introduce into’. And εἰς πειρασμόν means ‘into a test’, ‘into a temptation’, ‘into a trial’.
Certainly no ‘falling’ here! Now, I admit, that my knowledge of Greek is not based in the New Testament, but I really think that Mark is pretty clear here, and it is along the lines of the old version.
Pope Francis may not like it theologically, but it looks as close as you can get to the earliest (Greek) version we have.

if you go to the comments, you get a lot of interesting comments.

The top comment notes that this part of the prayer is a reference to the Old Testament, where God sent the children of Israel into the desert to be tested and by the way also provided them with their daily bread.

headsup Lifesite news.



EWTN discusses the corrupt bishops here.

Family news: dog hospital edition.

Joy is at a trade fair in Manila: this is how they make contacts for customers, both private and commercial.

Ruby had a church practice Wednesday but joined her mother yesterday to help. They are staying over night in Manila with relatives.

Kuya sent the truck with a delivery this morning, but will be at the farm part of the day checking on field preparation on our land and by the farmers who grow for us. We are organic, so only organic fertilizer and minerals are used, and plowing the weeds under, not herbicide.

(the dry method of growing rice uses herbicide and produces less greenhouse gas, but we grow the traditional organic way).

I am well, at home. 

The bad news? Dogs. 

My room is the dog hospital. We have Babibaby here with her puppy in the bathroom, but George, our Labrador, also wants to sleep here now (he was always an outside dog until he got sick). The bad news? Last night he had a nosebleed all over my room... I kicked him out but an hour later he wanted back, and the bleeding had stopped so I left him in; ten minutes later he vomited old swallowed blood in the bathroom, which I had to clean up the mess.


I will let the maid clean up the blood all over the rest of the house. Luckily, the floors are stone/marble and clean easily.

To make things worse, Kuya's small but nasty watchdog is courting one of our female dogs, and bit one of our adolescent puppies who is just old enough to think of courting her too.

Since she was George's girlfriend, that meant he also was trying to chase Bruno away from his paramour, even though he is fixed and can no longer make puppies.

I finally chased them all out of the house and locked the door, so got some sleep... until the driver came to get the truck for the deliveries, and I had to bring them back in so he wouldn't get bitten. That was 6 am.

The cook came at 6:30 to cook breakfast and get money to buy food, and started cleaning up the rest of the mess, but I told her that the maid, her daughter, who arrives at 8 am, should do it.

the only good news:

The puppy's eyes are open and he started to bark. As soon as he starts wandering outside his box he will get moved outside where it is easier to clean up his messes.

Mama cat is thinner: it looks like she had her kittens. Alas, she is semi feral so hid them somewhere in the house, I think in the storage room closet. So we'll have to keep that door partly open for her.

The monsoon rains are here, so it is less hot now  so I can open the windows instead of running the aircon 24/7. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019


You know the story of the Alamo, and you know the story of Thermopole, but do you know about the last stand of the Sikhs in the Battle of Saragarhi?


Wikipedia article here:

Three films, a documentary, and a miniseries have been made about the incident. Here is one:

Elephants or people?

my husband loved to watch National Geographic TV shows about Africa.

Me, not so much, because often they came with snide remarks against locals who were moving into the animal's habitat, and hey, they are talking about my friends you guys. (I worked in Africa as a young doctor). I love animals, but excuse me for thinking there is a hint of racism behind the push to save the wild life that ignores the plight of local farmers. 

A recent article from the WAPO discusses the farmers who are harmed by elephant overpopulation, this time in Namibia:
Nderiki and her husband had been married 65 years before he was killed by an elephant in 2014. Like nearly everyone else in this cluster of villages, it has been years since her fields weren’t trampled and eaten up by what she calls “the giants.”
She used to grow more than 100 bags of sorghum in a season. Last harvest, she salvaged three.
Growing resentment toward the animals among farmers here and around Botswana is upending the country’s politics and prompting the reversal of policies that turned tourism into Botswana’s second-biggest earner after diamonds.
part of the problem: Tourism. 
The furor has also spilled into a larger debate over race in a country where white foreigners and the descendants of colonialists control much of the conservation and tourism sectors while many who live outside the national parks eke out a living on government subsidies....
and the green eco friendly tourism types don't like the idea of culling the overpopulation of the elephants.
The country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi... said that in his view, the numbers of elephants are now “far more than Botswana’s fragile environment, already stressed by drought and other effects of climate change, can safely accommodate,” leading to a “sharp increase” in conflict between humans and elephants. He believes a limited, permit-based return to hunting can solve the crisis.....

headsup AnnAltnouse.

the problem is blamed of course on Global warming.

But back in the 1970s it was blamed on overpopulation, because Ehrlich's book "The Population Bomb" was a best seller.

So organizations have been there at least 50 years pushing population control on the locals....when I worked in Africa, 40 years ago, every village had a "pill lady", but until we got a grant from oxfam, to dig wells, most villages got their water from rivers or water holes that became very polluted in the dry season.

Ah but wait a bit: There is another drought going on. These droughts are periodic in the area.

NYTimes article from 1992:

Zimbabwe kills starving elephants for food.

Faced with the worst drought in southern Africa this century, the wildlife authorities at a national park here are proceeding with what they call the grim but essential step of killing thousands of elephants and impalas so other animals as well as starving people can survive.

nor is this the first time this happened: the article relates what happened in Kenya when they decided not to cull the herds:

Mr. Wright of the World Wildlife Fund said a situation comparable to the one here developed in Kenya in the early 1970's.
The wildlife authorities decided then not to kill elephants during a drought in Tsavo National Park, even though they were deemed too numerous and many people living in the area of the park were in need of food. In the end, thousands of elephants died of thirst and hunger, and that in turned stirred resentment among the peasants living nearby, Mr. Wright said. When the good weather came, the elephant population in Tsavo never recovered because the angry peasants cooperated in poaching.
So global warming? Or the el Nino cycle?

Periodic droughts are not unknown in that area: and the collapse of the infrastructure, combined with a population explosion in the cities, has led to water shortages in cities there: another problem to be discussed in another post.

but again this is not a new problem:

Article on the "great famine" of the 1870s.

The Great Drought actually was several droughts, Singh found, beginning with a failure of India's 1875 monsoon season. East Asia's drought started in the spring of 1876, followed by droughts in parts of South Africa, northern Africa and northeastern Brazil. There were also droughts in western Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia. The length and severity of the droughts prompted the Global Famine...
One of the problems of much of South and East Africa is not just the monsoon type rain cycle, but the geology that makes the soil thin and easily exhausted. This leads to desertification and loss of topsoil.

Here is a technical article on the desertification of Africa.

so how does one fight this type of desertification?

China to the rescue?
There is a Chinese project to fight desertification in Namibia.

China has reversed the expansion of its deserts. An average of 4,400 square kilometers of desertified land has been restored each year since 2000, according to statistics. "China is at the forefront of sand prevention and control," Liu said. "It is urgent to share our methods with other parts of the world."
a longer version of this article is posted on my Africablog.