Monday, November 23, 2015

Gunfire & explosives -- and combatting extremism with 'Rick Astley'

The number of fatalities is often one of the factors which determine whether or not an incident makes it on the news. It's lamentable, but that's reality. Sure, "hundreds killed" grabs more people's attention than saying that the death toll numbers half a dozen. But then lives mean individual persons, and each person matters, so here is news about some of last week's ISIS-related attacks in Africa, regardless of the body count. Nigeria (Nov. 17 and 18), Mali (Nov. 20), Cameroon (Nov. 21)

Female suicide bombers strike Nigeria with second mass casualty attack in two days
Two female suicide bombers launched a deadly attack that killed an estimated 15 people at a packed mobile phone market in Kano, Nigeria, on Wednesday. Kano is the largest city in Northern Nigeria. The explosion ripped through Farm Centre market just after 4:00pm local time and comes only a day after a terrorist attack killed 32 and wounded 80 in the Northeast city of Yola.

Mali hotel attack: Hunt for three suspects
Malian security forces are hunting three suspects connected to the attack on a hotel in the capital, Bamako, on Friday, in which 19 were killed.
Two militants were also killed, after special forces stormed the hotel, freeing dozens of trapped guests.

Eight dead after suspected Boko Haram attack in Cameroon
Four civilians were killed in northern Cameroon on Saturday in a suicide bomb assault by suspected Boko Haram militants in which three female attackers and one man blew themselves up, security officials said.

Belgian police mount raids in Brussels and other towns
Belgian armed police mounted raids across the country late on Sunday after the prime minister announced another day of lockdown in the capital for fear a new, Paris-style mass attack may be imminent.Shortly before midnight, the public broadcaster, announcing several arrests, said the operations had concluded and the mayor of a Brussels borough that is the focus of a manhunt for a key suspect in the Paris attacks said shots had been exchanged.

And, via a story included in a previous post, Anonymous -- the group of online hackers -- is taking on ISIS online. Now the group has started its quest with a spunky method: by "rickrolling" the terrorists' online presence. If the goal is to disrupt communications between the terrorists and to foil as many attempts at promoting its cause as possible, it certainly is accomplishing much -- and with some entertainment along the way.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Federer, the weather, Anonymous hackers.... plus others

Some news can make our day, while others tend to make us stop and lament over what the world seems to be coming to. Then we can hear of some things that are just the things we need to give us a laugh for a few minutes before plunging into the next task of the day. Whatever the case, it pays to inform ourselves -- and do what we can to be part of the solution, from where we are, with what we have.

Here's a glimpse of some things that have happened during the past several weeks in different parts of the planet --

Federer hands Djokovic first loss at ATP World Tour Finals since 2011

Faith on the football field -- Fargo high school stands up for religious freedom

 ISIS claims responsibility, calls Paris attacks 'First of the Storm'

Victims bare NAIA extortion in 'tanim-bala' probe

Lego is now making extra-padded Lego-proof slippers because they feel your pain

October breaks global heat record

Abortion facility shuts down on Halloween, becomes a pro-life clinic

 9/11 hero's widow returns 'Woman of the Year' award over Bruce Jenner 'insult'

Anonymous hackers could be Islamic State's online nemesis

* Photo of Roger Federer from Tennis

* Photo of Guy Fawkes mask associated with Anonymous from  Mail & Guardian

* * * * *

If you fancy a look at another post of various headlines from a month ago, they're here

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Silver bullets for the bullet-planting

Now that I'm looking at that title up there with (almost) undivided attention, I'm certain it's more the result of too much viewing of zombie-ghost-vampire-murderer fare than a manifestation of what I actually think of the people responsible for the bullet-planting happening in Manila's main international gateway (and for the lack of action being taken to deal with the situation).

This post isn't to provide updates on the situation, but to share a couple of articles that may prove useful to anyone passing through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport while the situation is still basically the same. It pays to be informed and prepared. Go ahead and read, and feel free to share with others who may need this information:

An American shares his 4 effective tips for curbing Laglag Bala modus in NAIA  is a quick read and was supposedly written by a retired police officer.

Evidence-planting rife at NAIA -- How to defend yourself from Laglag Bala scam contains practical tips as well while providing legal information about your rights, relevant portions of the law, etc. Infographics and some videos also equip you with pertinent information. This one was written by a lawyer.

And here's something posted by a Persida Acosta on Facebook on Nov. 2, 2015 which may just come in handy (you'll never know!):

Attention OFWS/ Travellers: Re: Laglag Bala in Airport
Please call PAO hotline 929-94-36 or 029299436 in case you are being charged of alleged "laglag bala". Any incriminatory act of planting evidence can be criminally charged of "incriminatory machinations" under Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code (arresto mayor) and Section 38 of the Comprehensive Firearms Act R.A. No. 10591 Re- planting of ammunitions punishable of the penalty of reclusion perpetua(30yrs).

If you'd like an article to give you the lowdown on the issue, I believe this one dated Nov. 2, 2015 is exhaustive enough.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Reel time

I've been spending a couple of hours a week with some college students lately, and it's fun to chat with them. Well, I also got to talk with a few girls in their early 20s in a seminar I attended in September, and listening to them reminded me of just how fast I used to talk and how much I jumped from one topic to another when I was around their age. Conversing with dudes who have lived for half a century or more does have its striking moments, primarily because the wisdom they've acquired over the course of decades is evident. There's much to learn from them; the perspective they present, even from brief remarks they make about seemingly superficial topics, can make one reconsider previously held opinions.

Hanging out with fellows who are at the stage of pursuing formal education in their chosen field, on the other hand, has been delightful as well. We spent a good deal of time talking about movies and what we thought of them. I found it amusing that many of the titles they mentioned were unheard of as far as I was concerned, and I listened fondly as they gushed over what was a superb flick and why it was so, or lamented over some disappointing film that was a mistake to give the time of day.

Who's your favorite actor? What are your top movies? Such questions came up when we first delved into
the subject of the celluloid world, and just like when I'm asked what restaurant I'd like to go to, I was at a loss. It's funny, because movies are something I consider essential in life -- in a manner of speaking, of course, and not to be mistaken as being placed on the same level as food, clothing and shelter in the hierarchy of needs -- and there I was, drawing a blank when asked for my favorites. Why is that?

Well, at the risk of sounding like a page from those old slum books where you're asked about favorite food, favorite song, favorite singer, favorite everything... there really are too many to mention when it comes to movies. Of course, there are the critically acclaimed blockbusters such as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, unforgettable ones that somewhat "define" your decade (Back to the Future, among several), and the much-loved or funny but not really awards-material (for me that would be You've Got Mail, and some films that I wouldn't broadcast being a fan of due to the absolute lack of substance). And, though I don't think I've met any other fan of movies about hijacking, I thoroughly enjoy watching the likes of Air Force One, Executive Decision and, more recently, Non-Stop.

In one of our conversations, though, I remembered Argo and told my young companions how I found it to be immensely engaging (I even blogged about it here, if you'd care to read what I wrote).

Lest this becomes an enumeration of favorite movies, let me go to the point that got me started on this whole post: when I mentioned what a great team-up Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were in a lot of their movies, the girl I was chatting with was unfamiliar with Meg Ryan. I was positively amused by this and realized how old the movies I had in mind were! Well, Meg Ryan is not among your multi-awarded actors, and comical though she is in her rom-com films, she doesn't have the same caliber and/or high-profile blockbuster resume as, say, Meryl Streep, Robert de Niro or Tom Cruise. So, come to think of it, it should hardly be surprising that today's teens and twentysomethings have never heard of her.

Okay, that was the first thing that stunned me about our celluloid tete-a-tete. The other one was when I mentioned The Karate Kid, and the girl said something about Jackie Chan, so I realized she had the post-2000 version in mind. Danny LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi are it for me, and though I'm sure the movie's newer version has its merits if considered more closely, the original will always be the only one for me.

Here's a scene from the1984 movie.

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