Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Fewer local jobs, rising numbers of OFW’s & fishermen plucked from stormy sea

January 22, 2009

35,000

As a consequence of the fall of the electronic industry, this is the number workers who lost their job in the major economic zone in Laguna according to reports that reached the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP.) The huge lay-offs put the pressure on workers to leave the country and seek employment abroad. It is consistent with the National Statistics Office (NSO) data showing that Philippine exports fell 11.9 percent to $3.49 billion in November, the second straight month of double-digit loss following a downward slide by 14.8 percent in October.

It is said the country lost $1.18 billion in exports, mostly from electronics ($960 million) in October to November 2008.

In a related development, the closing of Intel’s Philippine testing and assembly plant in Cavite this year will displace an additional 1,800 workers (cut down from 3,000 in November 2008) after 20 years of operation.

1,376,823

According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) employed abroad totaled to 1,376,823 last year. The number exceeded the 2007 number by about 300,000. Employment abroad has steadily increased from from 867,969 in 2003, 933,588 in 2004, 1,077,623 in 2007 and 1,376,823 in 2008. This indicates the continuing dependence of RP for jobs abroad to provide employment to its citizens.

21

The number of fishermen rescued in the stormy seas of Sabina Shoal in Kalayaan Group of Islands in January 16, 2009. All crew members of M/B Lester, they were safely brought to Puerto Princesa, Palawan after being marooned in turbulent waters for 10 hours.

P330 billion

With the goal of creating 3 million jobs and build infrastructures this year, Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo signed an additional 10% in the stimulus package bringing the budget to P330,000. The 3 million jobs represent a fourth of the 12 million presently unemployed in the country. It is doubtful if this amount is enough to offset the impact of the economic downturn. A 2009 national budget of P1.415 trillion was ratified by the congress.

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This is number of evacuees from Gaza who arrived in Manila on January 21, 2009. Another 20 is about to arrive after they crossed the Gaza-Israel border on their way to Amman, Jordan. Earlier 16 Filipinos returned to escape the bloody strife between the Israelis and Palestinians which killed more than 1,000 people in three weeks. (Photo Credit: Ian Riley; Diong)=0=

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In war-battered Gaza, Filipinos mull on the price of working abroad

January 11, 2009

With no end in sight, the red-hot Israel-Palestinian conflict completes its second week on January 11, 2009 with nearly 900 reported dead and many more wounded, about half of them are innocent non-combatants of war. Regardless of which side we may be in the decades-long hostilities, the clear message is that racial intolerance, religious bigotry, and territorial disputes don’t bring any good.

The duplicity in the exercise of diplomacy, the use of terrorism, and the rejection of a two-state solution by hardliners remain as huge stumbling blocks in bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The interference of countries that benefit from an unstable Middle East is partly to blame.

Civilians living in the Gaza Strip are in a crossfire that disrupts their lives and threatens their survival. In the bloody exchanges of a protracted cycle of violence, the innocents bear undeserved suffering. Among them are workers and migrants from the Philippines who come to this troubled part of the world mainly for economic reasons.

We can only sympathize with our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who put their lives on line to seek ways to survive and help their families back home. We can only ask for the cessation of the killings—an immediate ceasefire which is unheaded at this time.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA,) 16 Filipinos have left the war-torn area and arrived in Manila. Of the 121 still left in Gaza, 69 expressed their desire to evacuate, but the fierce fighting prevents them to do so. It is uncertain if this number includes the illegal Filipinos workers who take risky jobs in the shadows.

This brings us to the problem of our government which sorely lags behind in helping the people to be self-sufficient back home. If jobs and economic opportunities exist in the country, then there are few reasons for our kababayans to insist working in dangerous places like the Middle East. The cost to pay for family separations, isolation, and loneliness is incalculable. It’s sad that our cash-strapped government is in a losing policy of sending Filipinos abroad for the money they’ll earn for the nation’s economy. With no sign of stopping, our workers continue to suffer on their own, at times trapped in harm’s way.

Just to land a job, no matter how menial, has been a source of hope and pride among poor Filipinos who ignore the risks of travel outside the country. Yet, this is the reality of our society faces. Adding to the 10 million Filipinos already deployed abroad, a restless stream still wants to leave for the money.

The government must do better than what our officials think is good enough. There will be a season that host countries won’t justly pay for the services of Filipinos. To keep the country economically alive there’ll be a time when going abroad will be one of our most dreaded options. (Photo Credits: Aryty; Rusty Stewart x 7 photos) =0=

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Israeli air strikes leave 200+ dead in Gaza Strip

December 27, 2008

As Pope Benedict XVI calls for renunciation of violence during the holy season of Christmas, Israelis and Palestinians are on a bloody confrontation again in the Gaza Strip leaving at least 200 dead and injuring about 400 more. This is the result of heavy air strikes conducted by Israeli troops against militant Palestinian targets in Hamas-dominated territory a week after a 6-month ceasefire truce expired.

The resumption of bombings and killings on Saturday, December 27, 2008, is supposed to be Israel’s retaliation to months of Hamas’ mortar fires and indiscriminate rocket launches which terrorize about ¼ million Israelis who live in the area.

Hamas infrastructures and installations had been destroyed and many security officers were killed or hurt. Gaza residents had been on the state of panic as the death toll rose and the wounded victims flooded hospitals and clinics.

“The offensive sparked angry protests throughout the Arab world, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Vatican, the U.N. secretary-general and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair all called for an immediate restoration of calm. The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the situation.”— YahooNews.com; AP (12/28/08 Barzak, Brahim)

Hamas, the radical group considered by Israel as a terrorist organization, called for revenge, but Isreali military authorities had been firm in their stance. In spite of the call for calm, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed to widen the military offensive if needed. Israel did not set a time-line on when the air strikes would end.

The long-standing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians has taxed peace-makers for decades, but a solution has been consistently elusive. Extremist Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East who support the Palestinians call for the annihilation of the State of Israel. (Photo Credits: AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AFP; AP/ Mohammed Zastari) =0=

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Orphaned boy, broken peace

December 7, 2008

A week of investigation has yielded evidence to suggest that the Mumbai terrorist attack which killed nearly 200 people is linked with the violent Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT,) a radical Islamic group with roots in the Pakistani soil.

The horrendous suffering of innocent people cannot be completely quantified in this recent act of terrorism. It is horrible to imagine that there are people who spend time to destroy lives rather than build them.

In the aftermath of India’s worst terrorist attack, the story of Moshe Holtzberg stuck out as the most heart-rending. The two-year old Jewish tot lost his father Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and mother Rivkha in the killings at the Chabad House during the 60-hour carnage.

If not for the decision of his quick-thinking nanny, Sandra Samuel, the innocent kid could also have been shot dead too. Safely back in Isreal with his grandparents, seeing him cry is upsetting.

Moshe’s uncertain future and those like him don’t bother the terrorists. The orphaned child wails when he remembers his dead parents whose religious mission in India came to an abrupt end.

The boy’s young life seems to reflect the state of peace in the world today. It mirrors the trauma people have to endure as as they try to survive the climate of violence which seems difficult to stop. (Photo Credits: AFP/ Lorenzo Tugnoi; AP/ Hillary Levin)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “At least 82 killed & hundreds injured in terror attacks in Mumbai, India” Posted by mesiamd at 11/27/2008

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Naked chicken can’t mate

October 2, 2008

The featherless chicken developed by scientists of the Rehovot Agronomy Institute in Tel Aviv,Israel has received mixed reviews. Bred from a meaty broiler and a featherless bird, the naked chicken is thought to be genetic engineering’s answer to the costly cooling systems needed to raise fowls in places with hot weather. Without the feathers, preparing the chicken for dinner will be easier.

Yet, others disagree. Feathers are essential natural protection of fowls from changes of weather and infestations of parasites. Constrained in movement, the birds suffer. Without feathers, they become susceptible to skin diseases, mosquito bites, and sunburn. Naked chickens cannot mate because they are clumsy and unable to flap their wings.

Those concerned with the welfare of animals say humans have no business making the chickens ugly. It’s obscene to tinker with genes, produce “frankenfood” for the convenience of the poultry industry. Photo Credits: http://www.nextnature.net; xtywebworks) =0=

Iran’s Ahmadinejad & the Impotence of the United Nations

September 24, 2008

Side by side with the financial crisis rocking America, the threat of terrorism showed its ugly head when Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made a controversial speech in the United Nations (UN) in New York City today September 23, 2008, highlighting the impotence and hypocrisy of current world politics. His allusion to a pessimistic outlook of America is as though the United States is alone in its march towards a rough ride into the future.

Faced with a global economy, exploding population, dwindling resources, differing value judgments and relativist view of truth, America shares its problems with everybody. This is what is happening in the current economic crisis. The financial flu sweeping the United States is threatening to be a world pandemic of economic and political woes whose end result for the world is scary to imagine.

Wishing bad things to happen for America isn’t good to the peace and stability of its global neighbors. Just as the full-blown effects of the present US economic downturn are starting to be felt, the world waits on the edge; nobody knows how it will end. But even without this, Iran has been suffering under the current Islamic regime of Ahmadinejad. Outside the UN headquarters, he is met by protests and jeers by those who disagree with him.

The United Nations (UN) has been inutile in convincing Iran to stop its nuclear program. Effective in fighting certain world problems, UN is “forced” to give air time to Ahmadinejad whose horrific support for terrorism and promotion to destroy Israel sends goose bumps to decent people worldide. Most observers doubt Ahmadinejad’s hyperbolic rhetorics and many don’t believe his vitriol and clever pretentions. With a sluggish UN, few nations however speak up and stand against his way.

For not suspending its uranium enrichment, three rounds of UN sanctions hasn’t deterred Iran from continuing its nuclear activities. It’s this type of UN sanctions that Sadam Hussein endured until after 16 unheeded resolutions which led to the Iraq war that was supported albeit lamely by the UN.

The possibililty of nuclear war is ever more real in the current stockpiles of weapons whose oversight is increasingly becoming more difficult. Serving as a political tool and a weapon of intimidation, the acquisition of nuclear arms by unstable countries like Iran, Pakistan and North Korea is a scary step towards the planet’s destruction. It encourages terrorists and extremists to work harder to destabilize the world and make the nuclear cloud closer to reality.

With rogue nations sitting side by side in UN in “cooperation” with those committed to make the world a peaceful place, the challenge of diplomacy is ever more complex and daunting. The world body cannot even agree on who are the terrorists. Having reckless leaders like Ahmadinejad who denies the holocaust, lacks accountability, threatens Israel, and wages proxy wars (Hezbollah and Iraq) could be the signs of what lies in the future. It’s at this late hour that world is learning. Sooner or later, it must wake up and confront the reality at hand. Photo Credits: Ben Heine; Nickolette22; MihaiRomanciuc)=0=

Amidst complacency and denial, terror persists, USA & the world still on the edge

September 10, 2008

Two days before the 7th year after 911, a bipartisan report suggests that the United States is still dangerously at risk of being attacked by weapons of mass destruction (WMB’s.) Democrats critical of Pres. George W. Bush are quick to highlight the dangers. And they don’t leave the psyche of Americans traumatized by the randomness of the attack.

The report and supporting studies describe the failure of international cooperation to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, which they call a major problem. Many countries continue to ignore a United Nations mandate to prevent the spread of weapons; the ability of many countries to monitor potential bioterrorism is “essentially nonexistent,” and dangerous chemical weapons stockpiles remain in some countries, including Russia and Libya, the report said.” AP (09/09/08, BlackledgeB; SullivanE.)

In spite of moves to make the homeland secure, the nature of terrorism makes it hard to wipe out the threats. This worry is part of the legacy of 911 when the rules of engagement of war have been defined by a small group of extremists who are bent to make America and the rest of the civilized world accede to Al Qaeda’s and other Islamic toxic ideology of hate.

Bringing America down has serious implications in emerging and poor countries like the Philippines whose economies will further suffer in the midst of a threat of war, worldwide recession, dwindling resources, and exploding population. Though Pres. Bush must be credited for foiling a number of plots and in improving security during his administration, many don’t look at it this way. It is hard to see success in prevention that has an astronomical price tag.

The cost of underwriting a protective shield for Americans and the world is causing a toll on the US economy. Only when another attack as spectacular and hideous as 911 will Americans, (especially the cynical and complacent) will realize that the world they know has been turned upside down by a few rogues who wait for the singular chance to do harm and damage. Terror resonates in 911 and the attacks in Madrid, London, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Nairobi, Bali, Manila and other cities worldwide. As security experts experts have said, it’s not a question of if that another attack will be waged, but when. (Photo Credits: AP/TayloC;bp.blogspot)=0=