Items filtered by date: Monday, 05 June 2017

Can Google teach kids not to troll?

by Heather Kelly/CNN


Kids are creative when it comes being cruel online.

On Instagram, they'll post a group photo from a party and tag someone who wasn't invited to make them feel bad. They use music sharing apps to cyberbully each other in the comments of a song. Kids are even on Twitter (TWTRTech30) "subtweeting" each other, making comments about people without directly using their names, just like the grownups do. 

Google wants to teach children how to protect themselves online and, hopefully, be a little less terrible to each other. 

The company is teaming up with educators and internet safety groups for Be Internet Awesome, a new campaign aimed at making middle and elementary school students into responsible digital citizens. 

The centerpiece of Google (GOOG)'s program is an engaging game called Interland. It covers how to spot phishing and other scams, good password habits, not sharing personal information, kindness and conflict resolution. The game is available online for anyone to play. 

"A lot of it is just ignorance," said Jennie Magiera, chief innovation officer for a school district outside of Chicago. "We can get to them early, [and] teach them what trolling is." 

Related: Trolls, eat cake. How one woman is taking aim at online harassers

Part of Magiera's job is making sure students and teachers "know how to use technology for good and not evil." An expert in digital citizenship tools, Magiera was an early tester for Be Internet Awesome. After getting sucked into the game herself, she was also an unexpected success story. 

"I have a master's degree and I just learned more about password safety from this game from fourth graders [than I knew before]," said Magiera. 

Using the Be Internet Awesome classroom curriculum, teachers guide students through Internet basics. Later the kids hone their skills by playing Interland. 



To cross "reality river," they have to correctly answer questions about accepting friend requests from strangers, spotting fake news, and recognizing email scams. In another level, they are on a quest to spread good vibes, nix the bad, and report bullies. 

Many adults could benefit from the lessons in the game as well. A lack of online literacy might be one reason many parents don't think to have "the talk" with their kids about online behavior. Magiera finds many parents aren't even aware that kids under 13 aren't allowed on most social media sites. Parents may also mistake their child's technical proficiency with actually understanding the intricacies of online interactions. 

"Educators and parents are the first line of defense to create responsible digital citizens," said Stacey Finkle of the International Society for Technology in Education. The organization worked with Google to make sure the game met its standards. 

More awareness and empathy can reach kids who are mean online because they don't know any better or are following a stronger personality, said Magiera. But a class can't prevent everyone from growing up to hurl insults on Twitter or in internet comments sections. 

"There are some kids who are dealing with deeper issues or challenges that cause them to bully," said Magiera. "A cyberbullying curriculum isn't going to be a high enough tier of intervention." 

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HP gets in on the external GPU hype with a pretty, large box

by Jacob Kastrenakes  

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales

The Verge 


The external GPU may be the standout of the bunch (at the very least, it takes up the most room). It’s called the HP Accelerator, and it’s mostly just a big box with a power supply and space to hold a single graphics card and a hard drive. It also includes several additional ports, including four USB 3.0 and a single USB-C, and connects to a laptop over Thunderbolt 3.

Products like the Accelerator are meant to be plugged into a laptop to transform it into a much more powerful machine. It lets you leave some of the power of a desktop at home, while still running everything off of a relatively standard laptop.

HP’s solution is a pretty nice alternative to something like Razer’s Core. It’s not clear yet if it’ll support the same breadth of graphics card options, but HP’s Accelerator stands out for including a slot for an external hard drive, too. It’s also much cheaper, at $299.99

Unfortunately, HP isn’t going to guarantee the Accelerator will work with anything but its own laptops. Mike Nash, who heads HP’s consumer PC division, says that there's been too much variation in how Thunderbolt is used for HP to make any promises about compatibility with other companies' PCs.

Still, it’s a nice option for gamers using HP’s equipment. And it could be useful for anyone who wants to do video editing at their desk, too. The Accelerator goes on sale in August.

HP is also launching two displays for gaming. A 25-inch display with AMD’s FreeSync, 1080p resolution, and two USB 3.0 ports will be available for $279.99. Then stepping way up, there’ll be the 27-inch model with a QHD display, those same two USB ports, and Nvidia’s G-Sync. HP says response time can get as low as 1 millisecond on both. The 27-inch goes on sale this week, and the 25-inch comes out at the end of the month.

And finally, HP is also launching a gaming mouse and a mechanical keyboard. The keyboard has Cherry MX Red switches and sells for $129.99. And HP now has its own mouse, instead of a co-branded SteelSeries model like it launched last year. The new model has adjustable weights and will sell for $59.99. Both accessories launch today.



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Everything Sony Told Us About the Future of PlayStation

by Matt Peckham/TIME


Pull your gaze from Nintendo's bedazzling Switch for a moment and consider Sony's now widespread PlayStation 4. Console sales have in general outperformed the most buoyant analyst and pundit prognostications. Not merely because of Nintendo's overnight dark horse, or its scarce as hen's teeth NES Classic. Sony's PlayStation 4 is having some belt-notching moments of its own.

Sony now says its flagship games platform has sold-through—meaning to buyers and not just stores—close to 60 million units worldwide since its launch in November 2013. That, according to Sony global game development boss Shawn Layden, is the fastest pace set by any PlayStation, life-to-date, including the all-time industry record holder PlayStation 2. 

"As you'll recall, last year we performed the daredevil stunt of launching three new pieces of hardware in 60 days. Probably won't do that again," quips Layden during a sit-down with TIME. He's talking about the $399 PlayStation 4 Pro (a souped up PlayStation 4 that outputs way snazzier graphics), PlayStation VR (a $399 virtual reality headset that couples with the PlayStation 4 for wraparound alt-reality experiences) and a slimmer, sleeker $299 version of the baseline PlayStation 4. All three arrived last fall, and Sony says sales have been booming.

PlayStation VR now boasts more than one million units sold worldwide, up from about 900,000 in February 2017. According to Sony, it's been sold out from day one. "We don't see it as a fad, it's a brand new medium, not only for gaming entertainment, but non-gaming entertainment," says Layden. And of every five PlayStation 4s Sony sells, Layden says one is a PlayStation 4 Pro, a laudable achievement given its $100 price premium, enthusiast target demographic and the nascency of the 4K television market (where it's real allure lies).

"It is way ahead of our expectations," adds Sony global sales chief Jim Ryan. "As with PSVR, and I suppose in forecasting these things we haven't done a very good job, the product is in desperately short supply. So that's one-in-five under severe constraint." 

All of the rumors of the demise of the console are very much premature," says Layden. "In fact if you're watching [sales tracker] NPD for PS4 and Xbox One sales, you put those together and console gaming has never been as big and vibrant as it is right now. And that's just here in the States." Zip across the pond, and the story tilts further in Sony's favor. "It's been pleasing that in North America, we've been 2-to-1 against Xbox," says Ryan. "But in Europe, it's really been fortress PlayStation by at least 3-to-1 in unit sales."

"It's also the breadth of type of games," he continues. "And once you get up in the heady heights of 100 million units, you're talking of a different audience altogether, where having this range of stuff like Detroit: Become Human and FIFA and Call of Duty and Star Wars, it makes the job a whole lot easier."

Layden says the Japanese publishers are also coming back, listing off recent games like Resident Evil 7NiohNier: AutomataPersona 5 and Final Fantasy XV as examples. "That's super important for us," he says. "I think a lot of Japanese developers lost their way chasing the mobile games yen, if you will, but they're coming back to console in a major way. And speaking of, we'll have some big announcements at E3 in that precise vein."

This notion of mid-console refreshes—an enthusiast-angled limbering act you could argue Nintendo pioneered with its perennial Game Boy, DS and 3DS revamps—has a flip side. The PS4 Pro's power has been effectively slaved to the baseline PlayStation 4. Games on the PS4 Pro, while graphically sharper and lusher, must be functionally identical to the experience as had on the standard model. It's a leave-no-consumer-behind mentality that's so far been echoed by the competition: Microsoft's revved up PS4 Pro rival, codenamed Project Scorpio and due later this year, will likewise observe gameplay parity with the Xbox One.


"Because the games need to play on both Pro and standard PS4, there can't be a radical departure between the two experiences," says Layden. "But I think we've hit a happy medium by enriching the visual experience, and developers enjoy having that extra oomph while knowing they're making games that play well on all 60 million PlayStation 4s. I guess we're trying to have our cake and eat it too."

Would Sony back away from that requirement if sales leveled off down the line? "Today, my answer is that we're going to stay the course," says Layden. "There's still a lot of juice to squeeze out of the PlayStation 4 platform, full stop. So ensuring PlayStation 4 games play on both consoles is our winning formula right now."

Another winning-so-far formula few saw coming is Nintendo's notion of a games console you can play anywhere you like, shifting from your hands to your TV in seconds. In 2005, Sony began its own foray into handheld gaming with a device it dubbed the PlayStation Portable. The PSP sold in excess of 80 million units, and in 2012, a followup dubbed the PS Vita arrived—a contemporaneously mighty mobile, but one that sold a fraction as many units. In light of what Nintendo seems to be illustrating, that there is appetite for a consumer device that preserves the higher-end console experience on the go, would Sony ever revisit a once formidable bailiwick?

Layden calls the Switch "a great success for Nintendo" and admits that "it's definitely what that fanbase has been waiting for." But he sees the system as less a rival than a complementary traveler, claiming that Switch sales have had no discernible impact on the sell-through for PlayStation 4. "When you look at our numbers, I think it shows that a lot of gamers are a two-console family," he adds. "And quite often those two consoles are PlayStation and Nintendo sitting side-by-side." 

Layden says Sony still views the Vita as a viable development platform: Though new Western releases have slowed to a trickle, he notes games are still being made for it in Japan. But for now, a Vita successor isn't in the cards. "To be honest, the Vita just didn't reach critical mass in the U.S. or Western Europe," he says. "I don't know if it was that it was more technology people had to carry around, or more things to charge, or whether their phone or tablet were taking care of that. But once the content slowed in that pipeline, it became hard to keep the Vita as a going concern."

Another concern occasionally raised by PlayStation devotees involves the company's once-ubiquitous PlayStation 2. While Sony has in recent years devoted resources to bringing a handful of popular older titles to the PlayStation 4, the better part of that library is lost to time. For now, it seems that's where it'll remain. "When we've dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much," says Ryan. "That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?"

By contrast, the company says it intends to double down on things people do want to playnamely the explosive eSports phenomenon. "It's a subject that is occupying us quite a lot these days, and something we're looking at very carefully," says Ryan. "We're trying to find precisely what the role of the platform holder is in that value chain. Seeing how we can actually make the whole eSports thing bigger, better, different and bespoke to PlayStation is something you're going to be hearing quite a lot about in the next year or two."

Speaking of broadening its messaging to a growing competitive elite, Sony says it's aware some have made noises about a boutique version of the company's acclaimed DualShock 4 controller in the vein of Microsoft's own Xbox One Elite gamepad. "The idea of a premium interface in exactly the same manner as we now have a premium console has a lot of logic to it, and there are such products already available in the market from third parties," says Ryan. "But it's definitely something we continue to look at."

To questions about where other technologies like PlayStation VR go from here, Layden stresses virtual reality's non-gaming possibilities. "We have Hollywood luminaries and TV show runners, places like the Smithsonian and [NASA's] Jet Propulsion Laboratory looking into what the technology can do for them. And recently you may have seen Vince Gilligan, the show runner for Breaking Bad, has leaked some information that we're working together, which we are, in bringing a Breaking Bad experience to virtual reality." What exactly is that going to be? "I have no idea, but Vince has shown that he can deliver," says Layden.

Sony doubtless intends to push its phase one VR ideas as far as the market will bear, but the pressure to iterate is fierce. "Technology cycles are shortening, and there's no reason to expect VR to be any exception to that," says Ryan. "If we have aspirations to take this into a mass market space, clearly things will need to happen to the form factor, whether it's wireless or a lighter headset or all of these things."

"The key is advancing the technology without stepping off the platform," adds Layden. "We want to make sure we have a target platform developers can grow against. We'll find ways to bump it up, whether that's through the physical design of the product, which needs tweaks, of course, as everything does. But we also want to make sure we're firmly grounded in PlayStation 4, so people don't think they need something else to drive the experience."

As for the experience awaiting PlayStation buffs when the curtain lifts on Sony's E3 media event, live streaming from the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall (online as well as in select theaters) next Monday, June 12, Layden says to think of it less as a press conference than a software showcase.

"The crowd will only have to suffer I think in aggregate 90 seconds of me," he jokes. "And in the middle will be all the games."



  • Published in Tech

With the iMac Pro, Apple Rediscovers the Creative Class


AT ITS ANNUAL developer’s conference keynote, Appleintroduced the usual suite of software upgrades, with an added dose of augmented reality and the (sort of) surprise appearance of HomePod, Cupertino’s high-end Echo competitor. The products themselves, though, felt of secondary importance to the audience they were pitched to: the creative professionals that had, in recent years, faded from Apple’s view.

For the designers, developers, video editors, and other pro-grade creatives who grew up on Apple, it’s been a long, lonely stretch. The last significant update of the Mac Pro line came in 2013, in the form of a so-so cylindrical waste bin. More recently, Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro refresh seemed to ignore the second part of its name entirely, lacking performance-focused specs, and topping out at a relatively wimpy 16GB of RAM. Even Apple acknowledged that its Pro line had fallen behind, offering something close to an apology to hand-picked press outlets in April. 

At WWDC, Apple offered a reprieve from that neglect. It came primarily in the form of Apple’s hulking, space-gray iMac Pro desktop—which won’t ship until December—but also in features and demonstrations that introduced the latest iPad Pro. The message from the stage was clear: We haven’t forgotten you. And it couldn’t have come soon enough.


Back to Pro

The iMac Pro is a beast. At $5,000 for the base model it’s an expensive beast, sure. But cost aside, the mere option to max out an Apple computer with 18-core Xeon processors, high-end Radeon graphics, a 4-terabye SSD, and 128GB of memory give hardcore users the kind of macOS horsepower they’ve been sorely missing.

“I think they have sort of let it slip, homogenized across their line,” says Brett Lovelady, founder of design firm Astro Studios. “They haven’t really made me feel like, as a developer, or small business owner, that I’ve got to have the new, best tools for XY and Z functionality for people on my team. Part of that is maybe grabbing that back before it’s too far away.”

Lovelady and other creative class professionals still use Apple products, of course. Plenty of specialized software requires it, and the chasm between Mac offerings and their needs hasn’t become unbridgeable. But it’s certainly widened in recent years, thanks in part to Apple providing relatively lackluster hardware, and to Microsoft encroaching on the company’s turf.

The Surface Pro, after all, has for years provided the built-in stylus functionality that Apple only recently shunted off to the iPad Pro. And more recently, the Surface Studioredefined the scope of how desktops could behave, converting into a digital drafting table that made Apple’s years-old Mac Pro look downright wimpy. It also kindled a realization among a certain number of the creative class: This is what it feels like to be courted

The iMac Pro is still an imperfect vessel. “A couple of years down the road it could be obsolete,” says Avi Greengart, research director for Global Data, noting that it doesn’t offer expandability. You get what you get, and hope it’s still enough a few years later. Still, you can get a lot. And certainly a lot more than you could before.

The iPad Pro, too, took a good nod at professionals. While its file folders and drag-and-drop software updates appeal more broadly than just to the developers and illustrators that have Apple’s renewed attention, Apple still offered some potential red meat.

“In the creative space, sketch features, and notes, and quick access and sharing of reference material is super important,” says Lovelady. “I’m hoping maybe this product helps raise the bar on that.” 

(Photo: Apple)


Overdue as this appeal may be, it’s also not altruistic. At WWDC, Apple didn’t just outline the shiny tools it offered to its cadre of creative users. It made clear why it needs developers to embrace them. 

Apple spent precious little time today on tvOS and watchOS, two pillars of its hardware strategy. Where the company dwelled, instead, was on emerging technologies in which it’s ceded ground to not just Microsoft, but Facebook and Google as well: augmented and virtual reality. Particularly, in iOS 11 Apple will introduce ARKit, a framework that allows developers to create iPhone and iPad-friendly augmented reality experiences. 

“Across the board, VR support was added,” says Greengart. “And the demos were aimed not at VR consumption, not at playing games, but at designing those games for VR. That was another area where creative professionals who were building content for VR have been forced away from Apple. Now Apple’s saying, ‘Please come back, we understand your needs, we’re here for you.’”

It’s hard to overstate the importance of having VR and AR developers on your side. While there’s certainly a chance virtual and augmented reality will fizzle, they—along with voice assistants—represent the platform wars of tomorrow. Or today, really. If Apple doesn’t address the needs of the people creating experiences for those platforms, it risks being left behind. A framework doesn’t mean much without the hardware required to leverage it.

With the iMac Pro and iPad Pro—along with next year’s reported Mac Pro overhaul—Apple mitigates that risk. It may not have addressed the entire litany of gripes creatives have had about Apple’s recent treatment, but it took an important first step. 

In doing so, it didn’t just once again ingratiate itself to its most loyal users. It helped ensure its own future as well.




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Plot twist: the MacBook Air is still alive

 by /


The MacBook Air just won’t die. While Apple introduced a thinner, lighter MacBook Pro last year, people still want a new MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro is roughly as heavy as the 13-inch MacBook Air, but it’s still more expensive. That’s why customers still love the MacBook Air.

Instead of killing the MacBook Air altogether, Apple is keeping it around as it still sells fine. Even better, the laptop is receiving a better CPU. There’s a single line about the MacBook Air in Apple’s press release: “Apple today also updated the 13-inch MacBook Air with a 1.8 GHz processor.”

Aaaaand… that’s it. Don’t expect a retina display, don’t expect more storage or RAM. The MacBook Air is clearly on life support. It doesn’t even get Intel’s Kaby Lake processors.

If that’s not enough for you, Apple cut the price on the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar. It now costs $1,299 instead of $1,499, making it a little bit more tempting to skip the MacBook Air altogether.






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Planet is 'hotter than most stars'


Scientists have found a hellish world where the "surface" of the planet is over 4,000C - almost as hot as our Sun.

In part, that’s because KELT-9b’s host star is itself very hot, but also because this alien world resides so close to the furnace.

KELT-9b takes just two days to complete one orbit of the star.

Being so close means the planet cannot exist for very long - the gases in its atmosphere are being blasted with radiation and lost to space.

Researchers say it may look a little like a comet as it circles the star from pole to pole - another strange aspect of this discovery.

News of KELT-9b is reported in the journal Nature. Its highly unusual properties were also presented on Monday to the spring meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

"We found [KELT-9b] back in 2014, if you can believe it; and it took us this long to finally convince ourselves that this truly bizarre and unusual world was in fact a planet orbiting another star," Prof Scott Gaudi, from The Ohio State University, told BBC News.

"We know pretty well how big the planet is and how massive it is: it's about three times the mass of Jupiter and twice as big as Jupiter. 

"We know the parent star's properties reasonably well: it's about two and a half times more massive than the Sun; it's almost twice as hot as the Sun; and it's rotating very rapidly and so it would appear very flattened to our eyes."

'Hot dinner'

The planet is tidally locked to its star, meaning it always presents the same face - just as our Moon never shows its far side to Earth.

This raises the temperature on the "day side" of KELT-9b to over 4,300C - hotter than the surface of the average Red Dwarf star, by far the most common type of star in the Milky Way. 

The host star - known by the simple designation of KELT-9 - is radiating so much ultraviolet light that it may completely erode the planet's atmosphere. 

Prof Gaudi's team calculates material is being lost at a current rate of perhaps 10 billion or 10 trillion grams per second. 

If KELT-9b possesses a rocky core, this could be laid bare eventually, but a more likely end scenario is that the planet will be engulfed by the star. 

This star is what's termed an A-type object. These stars burn brilliant but brief lives. They exist for just millions of years rather than the billions of years that our Sun is expected to persist. So it may not be long before KELT-9 puffs up as it exhausts its fuel and eats the planet.

The discovery was made using a robotic telescope system that uses high-end - but standard - camera telephoto lenses attached to scientific grade detectors. 

The Ohio State University operates the system at two locations, one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere. It is a collaboration with Vanderbilt University, Lehigh University, and the South African Astronomical Observatory. 

This astronomical facility goes by the name of the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope. "We named the telescope kind of as a joke; we're poking a little fun at ourselves," said Prof Gaudi.

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WB maintains Philippine growth forecast at 6.9%


THE World Bank retained its Philippine growth forecast at 6.9 percent this year, citing positive developments that would buoy the economy, the Washington-based lender said in a report Monday.

In the Philippines, expansionary fiscal policy has boosted capital formation, while robust remittances, credit growth and low inflation have supported private consumption, according to the Global Economic Prospects describing economic developments in early this year.

The Philippine economy grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, a tad below the government target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Fiscal spending on infrastructure and other capital expenditures grew by 12.2 percent to P175.5 billion in the first three months of the year, from P104.8 billion a year earlier, on account of the armed forces modernization program and road infrastructure and health projects.

Bank lending expanded by 15.6 percent in April as loans for production activities increased, while inflation settled at 3.2 percent on average in the first four months of the year compared with government’s target of 2 percent to 4 percent.

In the April edition of Philippine Economic Update, the World Bank said the Philippine economy will remain a top performer in the East Asia and Pacific region and likely expand by nearly 7 percent in the next two to three years, with infrastructure investment to sustain the growth momentum.

In 2018 and 2019, the World Bank projected the economy growing by 6.9 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.

The commitment to increase infrastructure investment is expected to sustain the country’s growth momentum through 2018 and reinforce business and consumer confidence.

However, the World Bank said the growth prospects were subject to downside risks on the external and domestic fronts.

Rising global interest rates could weaken the peso, adversely affecting capital flows to the Philippines and driving up inflation.

Strong macroeconomic fundamentals opened some fiscal space for the government to implement public investment and social spending, but the success and timeliness of the administration’s planned tax reforms are vital to preserve fiscal sustainability.

Other forecasts
Most private financial and research institutions also retained their growth forecasts this year after the first quarter GDP numbers were released last month.

ANZ Research held forecast at 6.9 percent, noting that despite missing expectations overall growth is running strong and balanced.

London-based research consultancy firm Capital Economics said despite the slowdown in January to March, the economy is likely to continue growing at a solid pace of 6.5 percent.

DBS also maintained the GDP growth may moderate to 6.4 percent this year.

IHS Markit is forecasting that the economy will grow by 6.4 percent year-on-year, marking the sixth successive year of rapid expansion.


Narco politicians backing IS – PNP

By Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) | Updated

The Philippine National Police is conducting a case buildup against narco-politicians who are reportedly helping the Maute group occupy Marawi City, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said yesterday. AP/Bullit Marquez, File
Rody: IS planned Marawi attack, Mindanao takeover

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police is conducting a case buildup against narco-politicians who are reportedly helping the Maute group occupy Marawi City, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said yesterday.

Dela Rosa revealed the matter when asked by journalists whether the PNP has information on politicians who have been supporting the Islamic State (IS)-inspired terror group.

“We will not divulge those details for the meantime because our work is ongoing. We are doing a case buildup, that’s all,” Dela Rosa said in an interview at Camp Crame.

The PNP chief earlier backed a statement of President Duterte that politicians involved in illegal drugs are supporting the Maute group.

He said some drug lords from Metro Manila, Luzon and the Visayas held a drug summit in Marawi last year.

Some of these politicians are no longer in power but others are incumbent, he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his speech at the swearing in of municiple at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Duterte declared martial law in the Mindanao region, the southern third of the Philippines, and poured in troops backed by airstrikes, artillery fire and tanks to crush the urban insurrection. AP/Aaron Favila

Dela Rosa did not provide a specific number, but he said these personalities are local chief executives based in Mindanao – “not only in Marawi; some are from Maguindanao and other provinces.”

Some of these politicians reportedly even engaged Maute fighters in shooting competitions, Dela Rosa said, adding that this could be one of the ways the terrorists obtained ammunition.

With the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus suspended in Mindanao because of martial law, Dela Rosa said the PNP would take advantage of the situation to arrest politicians with links to the Maute.

“This is our chance to hunt down and arrest these narco-politicians,” he said over dzMM radio.

Three police officers have been killed, three were wounded and six remain missing since the Marawi crisis broke out on May 23.

Dela Rosa said the six police non-commissioned officers are believed trapped in downtown Marawi, where the fighting is still intense.

“They are trapped and could not come out because of the presence of the enemy.”

Nearly 900 policemen are deployed in Marawi and fighting alongside the military against the rebels. Police public safety forces from other regions are on standby and ready for deployment in the event additional forces are needed.

No vacation

Vacation leaves of all police officers nationwide are put on hold as part of security preparations in the ongoing Marawi crisis, according to Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy.

The PNP has been on full alert since the attack on a night market in Davao City in September last year.

The explosion prompted Duterte to place the country in a state of lawlessness.

“Since the PNP is on full alert, all vacation leaves of police officers are suspended. We ensure the safety and welfare of troops deployed in Marawi,” Cuy told The STAR.

Dela Rosa has ordered other police units in the country to be ready for deployment to Marawi City.

He clarified there is no need to send more troops in Mindanao.

He said police forces from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Central Mindanao and Northern Mindanao sent to Marawi City are enough.
At present, Dela Rosa said Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion are handling the situation well, noting they are the elite units well trained in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.

“Most of the operating battalions of SAF are there in Marawi and our force is strong. If they turn out insufficient, we have to pull out units from other regions,” Dela Rosa said.
He placed on standby all elite police forces across the country in anticipation of the escalation of clashes between government forces and the Maute group.
“I advised the regional police offices to prepare their public safety forces. Right now, they are ready, waiting for my instructions to reinforce Marawi.”

IS long planned attack

President Duterte said yesterday that ISIS or IS had long planned to infiltrate and attack Marawi City in a bid to control Mindanao as he ordered the military troops to wipe out terrorists in the region.

The recent confluence of events, starting from the time that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was anointed as “emir” of IS and then his group’s fusion with the local Maute terror group, already sounded the alarm bells about IS-backed plans in Mindanao.

“Well, anyway, let me just run you through what’s really happening. You know the rebellion now in Mindanao, it’s not Maute, it’s purely ISIS with different branch since they started it,” Duterte declared while speaking before local officials, newly appointed justices and special envoys in Malacañang.

Noting the background of the Maute brothers, one of whom went to Libya, Duterte said the Islamic groups’ control of Marawi had been long-planned.

Maute fighters, combined with Abu Sayyaf terrorists, were forced to jumpstart their plan after the military overran their secret operations while they were about to arrest Isnilon last week.

“This Marawi (attack) has long been planned. It could not be just a decision (saying), ‘let’s go to Mindanao.’ All of these are planned,” said Duterte, who declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23. Along with the proclamation, he also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

“And it’s a long time. So, I, as a student of you know what, history and maybe, (I knew that) when Hapilon was sent to Central Mindanao and he was anointed as the emir, that’s when I thought that something terribly wrong is going to happen,” Duterte added.

For him, the report already indicated a red flag.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also the administrator of martial law, pointed out how Hapilon, a member of the Yakan indigenous tribe in Sulu, was able to penetrate Marawi City – a known bailiwick of the Maranaos – even when the two groups do not mix culturally.

“Yes, Isnilon particularly, we heard from our intelligence that he has received several million dollars worth of funds from the Middle East… Culturally or whatever, these tribes do not mix. And there is only one reason there is – that he has a lot of money to distribute and buy loyalties,” he said.

Authorities believed that the Maute fighters have reached about 500, although this has been reduced by about 100 from the 10 days of fighting. Lorenzana calculated the Maute group has about 260 members with them while Hapilon provided about 100. The rest came from the local groups that joined them.

“So we were able to kill already close to 100. We don’t know yet how many more are unaccounted for,” Lorenzana added.

Duterte said yesterday he has directed the military troops to “wipe out” all the enemies.

“When I say, wipe them out, better. If you shoot him in the head, shoot it again in the heart to be sure. Otherwise, they will capture you if they would suddenly escape,” Duterte said.

About 35 soldiers have been killed while over a hundred military personnel have been injured during the operations. Over 90 Maute members, including eight foreigners, were killed in the clashes. — With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Christina Mendez


Column: Trump and the United States of Inanity

/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Chicago Tribune

I'm going to Europe wearing nothing but cowboy boots and red, white and blue underwear. 

I will speak to the foreigners in a voice that is both LOUD and sloooooowwwwww, and if they still don't understand I'll shout, "What's the matter? Don't you speak AMERICAN?!?" I will complain endlessly about small portion sizes. I will mock their odd-looking money.

I'll be an atrocious tourist, and I'll pull it off unfazed thanks to Donald Trump, president of my beloved country, the United States of Inanity. 

Trump is every international stereotype of a rude, classless, overweight, bozo American distilled to its essence, poured into an orange meat sack, topped with a bad comb-over and given a Twitter account and the (formerly) most important leadership position in the world.

He demonstrated this (again) Sunday, sending a tweet about the horrific London terror attack Saturday night that killed seven people and wounded dozens more: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'"

That's exactly what you'd expect from the president of the United States of Inanity. Tragedy hits one of our closest allies and he mocks the mayor of the city that was attacked, taking the mayor's words wholly out of context. (London Mayor Sadiq Khan had warned residents to not be alarmed by an increased police presence in the days to come.)

On Monday morning, Trump went at Khan again, tweeting: "Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his 'no reason to be alarmed' statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!"

My oafish American act could never match Trump's, so we all have carte blanche to act the fool on foreign soil without a hint of self-awareness or regret. Time to bust out the fanny packs and the crude mispronunciations of "The Louvre." 

"Hey cabbie, how much to take me to the Loover?"

"Pardon me, gar-con, do you speak American? I need directions to that Low-vree art place."

Such lines would be infinitely classier than the tweet Trump sent out first, before telling the people of England that America stands with them: "We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!"

Sorry about your little terror attack there, Britland, but I've got an unpopular, likely unconstitutional and transparently bigoted "Travel Ban" to enact! YEE-HAH! And by the way, it's not a travel ban, even though I keep saying it is and the courts keep using my words against me.

I could flip off Buckingham Palace, knock fuzzy hats off five members of the Queen's Guard and run naked through Trafalgar Square with "Soccer Sux" painted on my butt cheeks and still not be as offensive as the president trying to leverage this terrorist attack to stoke fear and promote his own agenda.

And that's exciting because, if we're being honest, I've always wanted to do all three of those things. 

In the pre-Trump era, before the country was rebranded the United States of Inanity, there's a good chance some Londoners would have watched my antics and said, "Look at that stupid American."

But now we have Trump, in his series of post-attack tweets, writing: "Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!"

A couple of things on that:

1) That's not an appropriate thing for a president to say in the wake of another nation's tragedy. Ever.

2) The exclamation point at the end makes it even worse. You sound excited.

3) You're right. The terrorists didn't use guns. And the fact that England has some of the toughest gun laws in the world likely played a role in keeping the death toll lower than it would've been if the terrorists had easy access to high-powered weapons. Which they would have if they lived in America, the country that you are supposedly leading.

The inclination to call me a stupid American because I painted my butt cheeks and ran naked through Trafalgar Square would be mitigated somewhat by the inherent idiocy of the president's tweet. Londoners would be more apt to say, "Well, he spelled 'soccer' correctly. Must be one of the more intelligent Americans."

That's the beauty of hailing from the United States of Inanity.

Upon announcing that America will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, Trump said: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

As if the Paris agreement involved only Parisians and not virtually every other country on the planet and — most importantly — the planet itself. And as if he won over the citizens of Pittsburgh, who in fact voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton. And as if that's what you'd expect from a president and not from the drunk guy at the end of the bar, hollering at the TV about "them damn furreners."

I could punch a mime and pee off the edge of the Eiffel Tower while shouting "America First!" and I would still, without question, be viewed as a higher caliber American than the president.

European vacations are now going to be a blast. We can get away with anything and still seem classy by comparison.

Thanks, President Trump! The people of the United State of Inanity salute you.


  • Published in U.S.

Study: Oklahoma has fifth-worst economy in the United States

Oklahoma has the fifth-worst economy in the United States, according to a new study.

WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 27 indicators of economic performance and strength. Oklahoma averaged out to 47th in the study ranking 49th in Economic Activity, 37th in Economic Health and 42nd in Economic Potential.

Washington and California led the way at the top of the list while West Virginia and Louisiana came in at the bottom.


  • Published in U.S.
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