Archive for January, 2009

Octuplets spark debate on medical, socio-economic, & moral issues of assisted pregnancies

January 31, 2009

The birth of 8 babies to an unmarried California woman who already have 6 children and lives with her parents sparked controversies which cover medical, social, economic, moral and rearing issues. The unusual multiple births by caesarian section of octuplets by 33-year old Nadya Suleman didn’t come without the help of fertility treatments. This is according to Angela Suleman, the 31 week-old babies’ grandmother who said her daughter, the mother has been “obssessed” of having children. In spite of having delivered babies in the past, she chose in-vitro fertilization because of clogged fallopian tubes.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) usually involves implanting fertilized embryo (blastocyst stage,) normally no greater than six, usually 2 or 3 in the womb. If more than two embryos take, the patient is given the choice by her physician to keep the babies or kill some of them in an abortion-induced reduction procedure. Many doctors focus on giving the best medical care and they feel it’s not their duty to dig on abortion issues (rights of the unborn) or prescribe how many children their patients must have. Suleman opted to keep all babies whose number was erroneously determined by ultrasound as 7.

Certain religious believers and anti-abortion advocates decry the practice of pregnancy reduction by doctors. Although Suleman rejected the offer to have any of her babies aborted after they were artificially set to develop in utero, there are strong objections on the medical and ethical judgment of implanting the 8 embryos on her who already have six children. There are those who believe the fertility doctor must be investigated and sanctioned for a breach of standard practice.

In 30 years of practice, “I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children,” or ever heard of a similar case, said Dr. David Adamson, former president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California.—Yahoo.News/ AP (01/31/09 Watkins, T; Neergaard, L)

There are strong doubts if the unmarried Suleman has the capacity to care for the 6 boys and 2 girls born premature along with 6 older children, ages 2 to 7. It is unclear whether she is employed, though she lives with her parents who are not financially stable. The parents filed bankruptcy last year with more than $900,000 liabilities. Records show Suleman kept a psychiatric techinician license in 1997 to 2002.

The premature octuplets who are currently cared for in a Kaiser Permanente hospital surely need specialized care. With skyrocketing medical costs in a state teetering towards financial insolvency, many critics fear Suleman may not be able to sustain the duties of a single mom— the physical, psychological, social, and economic demands of rearing 14 dependents. If she can’t keep up with the burden of motherhood, she may require public assistance and the effects on the children are hard to know. It is likely the cost of rearing them will be passed on to taxpayers and society in general. (Photo Credits: byaconnel73170; Ekem PD)=0=

UPDATE: February 2, 2009. Many critics believe the doctor didn’t make good ethical judgmentt in placing at least 8 embryos on Nadya Suleman whose mother Angela is critical of her daughter’s “obssession” to have babies.

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Iraq unveils a shoe monument

January 30, 2009

We can forget Imelda Marcos’ shoes for a while. Iraqis are still elated and angered by the shoe thrown at Pres. George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last December 2008 by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi. A brown shoe sculpture seems a funny retaliation by a culturally sequestered people who appreciate al-Zaidi and boil mad on the former US president even if they have been liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule.

Surely, the Iraqis have strong reasons to be mad. The cost of war is high in places of ethnic strife and tribal clashes. Many human lives have senselessly been lost in the name of freedom. 5.1 million people were displaced and about an equal number of children were left without parents.

To vent their anger and send praises for the jailed shoe-thrower who dreams of getting an asylum status in Switzerland, Iraqis and children from the Tikrit Orphanage helped sculptor Laith al-Amiri make a symbolic shoe monument. A brown footware with a raggedly brown surface was mounted on a white cloth so the people could see and ponder.

Whatever thrill one gets in looking at the oversized shoe, the use of children to make a political point is disturbing. There is negatism and darkness young minds can’t miss when they see the controversial shoe. The footware is less likely a symbol of disrespect and misplaced rage, but more a reminder of the derision the Muslims have for USA and Pres. George W. Bush.

Lacking gratitude after being saved from Saddam’s terroristic regime, some Iraqis have taken the low road of the warring militants who succeed in teaching generation(s) of children on selective memory and tough love. The faith-based beliefs against the “infidels” are still the driving force of hatred against the Western civilization. There are those who have become one-track thinkers— intolerant, violent, self-righteous, and unforgiving in their political views. This is one reason why the culture of violence kills the innocents. And peace is so elusive in that part of the world. (Photo Credit: CNN) 0=

UPDATE: Feb. 1, 2009. Iraqi officials ordered the dismantling of the shoe monument in the Tikrit Orphanage. They say government facilities must not be used as a venue to air political views.

Imminent eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt reminds us of Mayon and Pinatubo

January 30, 2009

The snow-capped Mt. Redoubt in Anchorage, Alaska is showing signs of restiveness that makes eruption probable. Residents living close to the 10,200 foot volcano are on alert as they set aside gears and provisions for the imminent volcanic eruption. Having seen showers of ash and pyroclastic debris in the past, the people there prepare masks and goggles, the first line of defense to protect their eyesight and breathing.

This isn’t unfamiliar to our kababayans in Bicol where Mt. Mayon displays periodic volcanic activity which forces the evacuation of villagers from its slope and gulleys. The PhilVolcs and government officials coordinate with the community to avoid loss of life and property during such emergency.

Farther north in Luzon Island of the Philippines is Mt. Pinatubo also blows its top with tons of lava and subterranean debris shooting up in the air. Ash deposits and later lahar destroy towns along its path.

In June 1991, the Mount Pinatubo brought hardship and misery in the neighboring provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. The eruption forced indigenous tribesmen, the Aetas, to scamper from their mountain dwellings as volcanic debris rolled and covered lowland settlements, reaching as far as the environs of Manila. Pinatubo’s gigantic eruption destroyed crops and agriculture land, countless homes and villages making it one of the biggest eruptions in memory. (Photo Credits: Blastard; DiffusedPixel; US Geological Survey PD) =0=

Mount Mayon and Mount Pinatubo


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In spite of a collapsing financial world, $18.4 billion were spent for greedy bonuses in Wall Street

January 30, 2009

If there is consolation to American taxpayers damaged by the economic meltdown, Pres. Barack Obama criticized billions of astounding spending. He decried as “shameful” and “irresponsible” the $18.4 billion bonuses distributed during the past year for workers in Wall Street. Yes! In spite of a 44% cut on yearend perks given to the money merchants, the amount clearly shows the extravagance and greed of the people who are partly to blame for the financial crisis. A staggering $18.4 billion was spent as giveaways in spite of the $700 billion bail-out they asked and handed over by the government because of a crumbling economy.

This news doesn’t help the effort to bring back trust in the system. The disclosure speaks of top officials still engaged in reckless spending, some using large amounts of money in the shadows to continue their vice.

Amidst joblessness, home sales slump, and poor stock performance, Obama is facing the challenge of making the public believe. Congress has just approved the $825 billion “stimulus package” which is basically another big spending to mitigate the damaging effects of the financial mess. More enraged Americans fear that unless transparency and ethical practice in business is restored, there is little reason to hope that confidence will come back and the economy will be fixed in due time. (Photo Credits: Epicharmus x 2)=0=

DOH’s plan to spend P90 million for random drug testing

January 30, 2009


The Department of Health (DOH) plans to spend P90 million on random drug testing for high school and college students. Supposedly, the money is earmarked to develop manpower and laboratory resources for the test which is expected to give teeth to the fight against drugs in the country.

On the basis of trying to find out the prevalence of drug abuse the Commission of Higher Education (CHED,) DOH and its secretary Dr. Francisco Duque believe the testing is justified. They chorused it is needed in setting up strategies in controlling the problem as Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo steps up her campaign against illegal drugs.

According to Inquirer (01/29/09 Pazzibugan, D,) the test will be done in the next 7 to 9 months on 87,000 students from 8,750 high schools and 2,000 colleges nationwide. Based on past random drug testing, about 0.8% of 8,670 high school students and 0.5% of 7,499 college students tested positive for drugs. Notably, those who tested positive (majority use marijuana) aren’t a lot compared to many Filipinos who are sick and in need of urgent medical attention.

Does it mean that the government is willing to spend P1,034.48 for every student in order to track down about 696 students, the 0.8% who are expected to be positive in the test? If they find out who are positive, do the authorities have additional money to “treat & rehabilitate” them? Will the money for drug testing be better used for other serious health problems that involve a larger number of people who may need more medical attention—-i.e. tuberculosis, malaria, dengue? Or can funds be used to improve the facilities of schools?

Why is testing being planned for the teachers and not for other professionals? Why doesn’t the government directly run after the drug dealers? How come only the students and teachers are being singled out to undergo the test? Why can’t they not include the regular workers, unemployed, drivers, military personnel etc.? What are the safeguards that medical information culled from the testing will be handled confidentially and not be used or abused for other purpose? Isn’t privacy violated and civil liberties invaded when this testing is done?

The above questions may help in deciding if the controversial drug testing plan is worthwhile to pursue. At this time of economic crisis, wise spending can go a long way in helping the neediest. If a law on drug testing is to be applied fairly, it must cover the entire population and not single out a particular group. Organizations like the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) have valid reasons to oppose the rationale and legality of this plan. (Photo Credit: Mooosh; Suntoksabwan; Latin Snake) =0=

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“Not as a lecturer or as a judge,” EU thinks RP must do more to curb corruption

January 28, 2009

Many huge corruption charges in the Philippines involve officials in the highest corridors of power, but almost all of them remain as accusations displayed like dirty laundry for the public to bear. At the cost of the country’s credibility, almost no one gets punished. The entire nation keeps a blind eye of the growing list of scandals whose outcomes are often tip in favor of the crime doers.

For a long time, corruption comes like a foul odor ignored by the government and its citizens. The stench is allowed to stay, follow its course, until it dissipates in the wind. That’s the usual course that has incrementally robbed the country of its shame and dignity. The public is tired, perhaps, about to give up on corruption—for even with laws in place, there is little accountability. There is almost no public outcry of protest.

Illegal deals and criminal transactions occur right on the face of a Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo. Circumventing the law is common, perpetrated by criminals in broad daylight without embarrassment. The hideousness of the corrupt practices has prompted foreign entities like the World Bank (WB) and European Union (EU) to sound their alarm; they point to government deals that smell too stinky to brush aside. The latest is the WB disclosure of fraud in its bank-financed projects.

The president’s husband Jose M. Arroyo, just like in the past, has been linked to greedy collusion schemes. The latest is with the E.C. De Luna Construction Corp, one of the contractors named by the World Bank for rigging the bidding process of road projects funded by foreign money. Officials of the foreign bank are dismayed by the scale of corruption that is traced way back in 2007.

Careful not to rub the sense of shame of Filipinos, WB’s corruption charges which point the complicity of Chinese partners, suggest that the international community can’t just watch the dirty way the government is run. Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo continues to play the charade for the nation.

The EU also sounded its concern by offering the Philippines help to fight corruption. Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the European Commission said in a Commission of Human Rights meeting in Manila that the EU “sees corruption as a symptom of poor governance and lack of transparent, accountable management, and control system. —Philstar (10/28/09, Clapano, JR)

There it is. MacDonald is right in saying that officials, the civil society and media must work together to fight corruption in government by observing “transparent electoral processes and supporting parliamentary and judicial oversight.” The country can’t live with perversion of integrity that is out in the open and politicalized for everyone to see, but can’t do something against it.

Even if the outside world wants to help the Philippines solve corruption, it is still the people who must first reject and work against it. There is no shortage of anti-corruption laws. They are just waiting to be enforced, not by officials who are themselves corrupt, but by those who are committed to move the country ahead.

The fight against corruption needs ethical leaders to help government officials and business leaders reform their ranks. They need moral rejuvenation and accountability which must be taught and applied in the community. With the nation’s fate at stake, there is deep shame when foreigners remind Filipinos of their freedom, duty for country, and moral responsibilities. (Photo Credits: Almostevil665; wdbphoto) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo” Posted by mesiamd at 1/29/2009; “On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008

Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

January 28, 2009

“The 2006 World Competitiveness Survey by the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development ranked the Philippines 60th on bribery and corruption among 61 countries surveyed. In the 2007 report of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, using a grading system with 10 as the worst possible score, the Philippines got 9.4, worsening sharply from its grade of 7.8 in 2006.

The problem of corruption in the Philippines is getting worse, and it appears that it is not just a problem of perception but an actuality. The corruption cases are increasing not only in number but in the amount of money involved. In the past, the big cases involved tens of millions of pesos; now, the figures run into hundreds of millions and even billions.” —-Inquirer (06/30/08, Editorial, Worsening Corruption)

1. Filipino & Chinese bid-rigging cartel in bank-financed projects exposed by World Bank

2. Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante’s P728 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam diverting agricultural funds for the 2004 election campaign of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

3. $329 Million Philippine National Broadband Network-Zhong Xing Telecommunications Deal (NBN/ZTE mess)

4. The $2-million IMPSA (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima) alleged bribery case involving Justice secretary Hernando Perez to rehabilitate the 750-megawatt Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power complex in Laguna.

5. The allegedly overpriced P1.2-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Construction

6. Commission on Elections’ P1.3-billion poll computerization program

7. Pres. Joseph Estrada Plunder Conviction and the Controversial Hasty Pardon

8. “Hello Garci” alleged Election fraud of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

9. Unexplained Wealth of Government and Military Officials—some of them take tasks of “investigating” corruption

10. Money Laundering Schemes like the “Euro Generals Scandal”

11. Maj. General Carlos Garcia’s amassed P143 million wealth in AFP

12. The P500,000 cash-gift distribution (bribe?)in Malacanang Palace in 2007

13. Tax Evasion, Special Purpose Funds & Public Procurement Anomalies

14. Killings, tortures, and disappearances of journalists, plain citizens, and perceived enemies of government

We probably know the brazenness of corruption to a point of surrender. So we either ignore them or we shield ourselves from truth by pretending wrong-doing and perversion will go away. We have our own psychological adaptations that work for sometime just the way we’re tempted to run away from moral rectitude and brush aside responsibility.

The brave among us however face reality as it comes. No matter how hard and hurting, we understand the need to correct our errors. We know life is a succession of battles where courage, tenacity, and optimism are required and apathy has no place. We need integrity as a hedge against fraud; honesty is a positive force to renew society. Consider the corruption in the world. What can we do about it? (Photo Credit: Zero Q)=0=

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RP’s awesome underground river and Bicol’s pollution

January 28, 2009

The search for “the new seven wonders of the world” is on and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is attracting more attention. The underground waterway in Palawan is among the leading nominees in the category of forest, national parks, and nature reserves. In fact, it has taken the top lead ahead of the great Amazon Rainforest of South America and the astounding Subdarbans Delta in Bangladesh and India.

The unique Philippine underground river grabbed the top spot after a successful campaign to gain points on the first round of voting. The contest which drew 261 nominees in 7 categories had been the brainchild of the New 7 Wonders Foundation, a group established by the Swiss-Canadian aviator Bernard Weber. From January 1 to July 7, 2009, the contest’s second voting will select 77 nominees and 21 finalists They will be announced on July 21, 2007 by a panel of jurors to be led by Federico Mayor, a former UNESCO director-general.—- Inquirer (01/27/09, Anda, R)

Obviously, the stunning below-the-ground river system located southwest of the archipelago is a cause of happiness for Filipinos who take pride in their homeland’s beauty—-a cluster of 7,100 emerald isles in Asia. The popularity of the tropical underground attraction highlights the need for kababayans to be part of the conservation campaign in order to protect the country’s natural treasures.

Nature preservation is most timely for the Filipino people. In Bicol, because of improper waste disposal, the effects of pollution have reached the coastal towns of Masbate. Shown in Bicol Mail (01/22/09,) are graphic photos of filthy garbage washed to shore. The damage on the towns makes a good argument in favor of environmental protection. Discarded plastics, papers, and human wastes floating at sea have certainly fouled the environment. Garbage poses a huge health hazard to humans and all living things which thrive in the area. =0=

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Obama’s popularity plunges from 83% to 68% a few days after assuming presidency

January 27, 2009

If only to augur the things that are to come, in less than a week Pres. Barack Obama’s approval rating dropped by 15 points. From a sky-high 83%, the new score fell to 68%. The long honeymoon predicted for the widely popular president is challenged by the worsening outlook of the economy.

The patience of the American people may not hold in spite of the dramatic changes Obama offers the public. Abandoning some blind credulity, supporters are now looking closely at the programs and plans the administration is selling the nation. Bashing the past administration, there is effort to paint a rosy liberal governance to replace the old. But it seems inadequate in reversing the public’s lack of trust.

According to the Gallup poll, the drastic fall of Obama’s support suggests the herculean task and towering expectation the president is facing. His words and actions are under urgent scrutiny as dark clouds threaten to choke the immediate future of the country.

In spite of the media’s commitment to bring the glib president in the best light, there are many Americans who feel wary. They see something corrupt and negligent. For being remiss of their duties, politicians and community leaders aren’t as trustworthy as before. And it is causing a toll on Barack Obama.(Photo Credit: Sebastian Niedlick/ Grabthar; Spudart) =0=

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“Filipinos rated most committed to work”

January 27, 2009

The “employee engagement” is supposed to be a measure of “commitment” and “drive” of a worker to achieve a company’s goal. It runs high among Filipinos. That’s according to a recent survey conducted on workers of some top corporations in the country by Watson Wyatt, a global consulting agency. At 77%, the employee engagement for the Philippines has improved from by 4% since 2007. The score is good among countries of the Asia-Pacific region!

Beating of China (66%,) India (75%), Indonesia (71%,) Thailand (72%,) and Malaysia (67%,) RP’s laudable score appeared in the Philipine Daily Inquirer (01/27/09, Dumlao, D)— a business news item entitled “Filipinos rated most committed to work.”

I find the report flattering. Only the workers of top corporations have been included in the poll. The survey outfit admits there are no international standards to determine the socio-political and cultural factors that are unique for each country which may influence the score. Such limitations hardly dispel the doubts of readers.

Whatever this survey is worth, I like to know if there is any difference in the score of workers in the public sector compared to those who are in the government. It would have been better if all in the labor force (not only the corporate employees) were represented in the survey. It would have been more revealing if those in the farms and those employed abroad were included. The result might be more accurate in characterizing the “commitment” of the entire Filipino labor force. (Photo Credit: Bikoy; Neil Alderney 123)=0=

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