Items filtered by date: Monday, 07 August 2017

Google Has Fired The Employee Who Wrote An "Anti-Diversity Manifesto"

The engineer had written a lengthy memo titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" that spread quickly among employees before being leaked to the press.

Google has fired James Damore, the software engineer who wrote a manifesto against the company's diversity policies that went viral within the company over the weekend.


Brian Snyder / Reuters


Damore was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes," he told Bloomberg on Monday night. Damore later confirmed his dismissal to BuzzFeed News.

"Google has super flexible (illegal) policies that they can twist to fire anyone they want," he said.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

On Saturday, a lengthy memo titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" written by Damore spread quickly among employees before being leaked to the press.

The document argued in favor of a biological basis for the difference in the number of men and women in the tech industry based on pseudoscientific statistics and assertions such as women suffering from "neuroticism" more than men. Damore's LinkedIn profile says he has received advanced degrees in biology.

Damore argued that the company should not offer programs for racial minorities or women and that "ideological diversity," — including more conservative viewpoints like Damore's — was more important than hiring more people of underrepresented racial minorities or women. Damore wrote that politically conservative Google employees faced discrimination.

"We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," he wrote. "I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership."

Google executives said on Sunday that they do not "endorse, promote or encourage” the author's viewpoint. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Damore had violated the company's code of conduct.

Damore's opinions garnered both support and disagreement on Twitter:

Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post ignited an investigation into sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the rideshare company, tweeted her disappointment with his supporters

Some of Google's own engineers tweeted their disgust with Damore's opinions

Silicon Valley, and Google in particular, has faced increasing scrutiny for its treatment of women. The search giant is currently under investigation by the US Department of Labor for gender discrimination in the workplace.

One department official testified in court that the federal agency has found "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce." Google has denied the allegations.

  • Published in U.S.

Grand jury subpoenas issued over meeting between Trump Jr., Russian lawyer – sources

Russian lawyer natalia veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr. (Reuters file photos)

WASHINGTON — Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a sign that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is gathering pace.

The sources added that Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to help investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Russia has loomed large over the first six months of the Trump presidency. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked to tilt the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Mueller, who was appointed special counsel in May, is leading the probe, which also examines potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia.

Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign, while regularly denouncing the investigations as political witch hunts.

Mueller’s use of a grand jury could give him expansive tools to pursue evidence, including issuing subpoenas and compelling witnesses to testify. The impaneling of the grand jury was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesman for Mueller declined comment.

A grand jury is a group of ordinary citizens who, working behind closed doors, considers evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing that a prosecutor is investigating and decides whether charges should be brought.

“This is a serious development in the Mueller investigation,” said Paul Callan, a former prosecutor.

“Given that Mueller inherited an investigation that began months ago, it would suggest that he has uncovered information pointing in the direction of criminal charges. But against whom is the real question.”

U.S. stocks and the dollar weakened following the news, while U.S. Treasury securities gained.

Damaging information

News last month of the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who he was told had damaging information about his father’s presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, fueled questions about the campaign’s dealings with Moscow.

The Republican president has defended his son’s behavior, saying many people would have taken that meeting.

Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.

Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said he was not aware that Mueller had started using a new grand jury.

“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said. “The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly. … The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.”

John Dowd, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said: “With respect to the news of the grand jury, I can tell you President Trump is not under investigation.”

A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.

Lawyers for Trump Jr. and Kushner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One source briefed on the matter said Mueller was investigating whether, either at the meeting or afterward, anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign since March 2016.

Another source familiar with the inquiry said that while the president himself was not now under investigation, Mueller’s investigation was seeking to determine whether he knew of the June 9 meeting in advance or was briefed on it afterward.

  • Published in U.S.

‘YOU CANNOT SAY THAT’ | Trump tells Mexico president to shut up on border wall row

US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena-Nieto (Reuters files)

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump pressured the Mexican president to stop voicing opposition in public to his plan to have Mexico pay for a border wall, according to transcripts of phone calls published on Thursday that gave an insight into Trump’s attempts to influence foreign leaders in his first days in office.

The Washington Post published texts of sometimes fraught calls with Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just days after the Republican took office on January 20.

The substance of the calls has previously been reported but the lengthy transcripts reveal Trump, whose first elected office is the presidency, trying to use a mixture of bluster, tough talk and charm as he fully enters the world of diplomacy.

Trump argued with Turnbull over refugees in an acrimonious call on Jan. 28 which the new U.S. president told his counterpart was “unpleasant.”

In a January 27 call, Trump pressed Pena Nieto to avoid saying in public that Mexico would not fund the planned border wall. But he complimented the Mexican leader’s “beautiful words” and said he hoped Mexico would change its constitution to allow Pena Nieto to extend his stay in office.

The proposed wall, aimed at preventing illegal immigration to the United States, is a bone of contention between Mexico and Washington. Pena Nieto has repeatedly rejected Trump’s promise that Mexico will end up paying billions of dollars for its construction.

‘You cannot say that’

Trump told the Mexican leader in the call that “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that,” according to the transcript.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said.

Pena Nieto had earlier scrapped a plan to hold talks with Trump in the United States due to tensions over the wall and trade. The two men have since met, holding talks at a summit of the Group of 20 nations in Germany last month.

The White House has said the U.S. government will pay for the wall initially to get the project off the ground but that Mexico will eventually reimburse it for the work.

Both the White House and Mexico’s foreign ministry did not have any immediate comment on Thursday about the release of the call transcripts.

It was the latest in a series of leaks from inside Trump’s administration which have angered the president. The Republican won some sympathy over leaks from a political opponent on Thursday.

“I am alarmed at leaks of conversations between two heads of state,” Democratic U.S. Senator Brian Schatz wrote on Twitter. “It doesn’t matter what I think of this president, this is terrible.”

In the conversation with Pena Nieto, Trump said both leaders were “in a little bit of a political bind” due to Trump’s campaign pledge to build the wall and have Mexico foot the bill.

“I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period,” Trump said.

He suggested that the two men avoid the issue of paying for the wall when asked.

“They are going to say, ‘Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘We will work it out,'” Trump said. “It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay,'” the U.S. president said.

Pena Nieto said he understood Trump’s position on how to refer to paying for the border wall and suggested seeking “a creative way to jump over this obstacle.”

Toward the end of their conversation, Trump responded effusively to a comment by Pena Nieto about the Mexican leader’s wish for a constructive relationship with the United States.

“Your words are so beautiful. Those are beautiful words and I do not think I can speak that beautifully, okay?” Trump said.

“I want you to be so popular that your people will call for a constitutional amendment in Mexico so that you can run again for another six years,” he said. By law, Mexican presidents can only serve one six-year term.

‘Drug-infested den’

In comments likely to upset voters in New Hampshire — an important early voting state in the U.S. presidential election primaries — Trump described the state as “a drug-infested den.”

“I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den,” he said, complaining that drugs from Mexico are damaging the United States. While Trump won the Republican primary there, he narrowly lost the state to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the general election.

New Hampshire officials from both parties lashed out at Trump, with several saying his push to repeal the Obamacare healthcare law would worsen the nation’s opioid crisis.

Speaking to Australia’s Turnbull, Trump became irritated that the United States was expected to honor an agreement made by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, to accept as many as 1,250 refugees held in Australian processing centers on remote Pacific islands.

Trump said that would make him look bad given his campaign promises to reduce the number of refugees entering the United States, according to the transcript.

“This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country,” Trump said.

He told Turnbull that their conversation was the most difficult he had held that day, after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin and others.

“I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump said. “Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”

  • Published in U.S.

Meralco still unbeaten, improves to 4-0 after rout of Kia

PBA Media Bureau

The Meralco Bolts kept their immaculate slate intact after clobbering Kia Picanto, 112-97, in the Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup Sunday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Import Allen Durham collected an impressive triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 13 dimes while Chris Newsome added 19 points, five boards and seven assists for the Bolts who improved to league-best 4-0.

Baser Amer also scored 17 points as Garvo Lanete chipped in 14 markers to help Meralco keep Kia (0-5) winless in the season-ending conference.

After an 11-all tie, the Bolts launched a 15-4 attack to end the first quarter with a 26-15 edge. Meralco never looked back as its lead ballooned to as big as 24 points.

Markeith Cummings finished with 20 points and seven rebounds for the hapless Kia.

The scores:

MERALCO 112 – Durham 25, Newsome 19, Amer 17, Lanete 14, Caram 8, Dillinger 8, Nabong 7, Hugnatan 6, Chua 4, Faundo 4, Hodge 0, Daquioag 0, Sedurifa 0.

KIA 97 – Cummings 20, Celda 17, Khobuntin 13, Yee 11, Nimes 8, Corpuz 8, Revilla 6, Deutchman 5, Paniamogan 4, Camson 3, Ballesteros 2, Elorde 0, Teng 0, Salva 0.

Quarters: 26-15, 57-41, 82-66, 112-97.

  • Published in Sports

Rain or Shine sends veteran gunner Jeff Chan to Phoenix

PBA Media Bureau

After eight years with Rain or Shine, sniper Jeff Chan is headed to another team.

The Elasto Painters have traded their seasoned gunner to the Phoenix Fuel Masters in exchange for Mark Borboran and a 2020 second round pick.

Atty. Mamerto Mondragon, team manager of the Elaston Painters, confirmed the news to InterAksyon. The trade is expected to be announced by the PBA on Monday.

“It was already agreed as early as Saturday, but it was only approved now,” Mondragon said.

Rain or Shine team owner Raymond Yu explained why the team decided to acquire Borboran, a 6’4″ swingman, and let go of Chan who, at 33, is still one of the league’s best shooters.

“We still need long players as we have two of our best players loaned to the national team,” said Yu, referring to Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan who are part of Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup.

“With Borboran, we think he still have a lot to contribute plus he will give us additional size.”

Yu added that Chan’s departure would mean more playing time for former two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap, who play the same position as Chan.

  • Published in Sports

An SMB exec believes injured June Mar should just skip FIBA Asia Cup. Here’s why.

Sports5 photo

It’s not worth the risk.

That’s the belief of San Miguel Beermen team manager Gee Abanilla on the possible scenario that will see star center June Mar Fajardo suit up for the Philippine national men’s basketball team in the FIBA Asia Cup this week despite a calf injury.

“The Kraken”, who joined the Gilas Pilipinas delegation in Lebanon, earlier expressed his desire to play if his condition gets better. He’s expected to miss at least two weeks of action due to his injury.

But Abanilla believes that Gilas Pilipinas will benefit more in the long run if Fajardo decides to just rest and not aggravate his injury.

“It’s not a complete tear, but it could lead to that if we’re going to force him to play. Right now, the advice is for him to take a one week rest and one week rehab. He had a previous tear on the same calf,” Abanilla said.

“In fact, even yung left calf ni June Mar, may tear na rin, according to the doctor.

“Looking at long term, I think it would be wiser if June Mar will skip playing the FIBA Asia tournament, which is not a qualifying tournament for the World Cup or the Olympics. Gilas will be needing him more in future tournaments to come.”

While the FIBA Asia Cup is billed as the continent’s premier tournament, it does not longer serve as a qualifier for world-level competitions. Instead, a six-window home-and-away qualifying will be played starting in November this year.

With Fajardo away from home, the San Miguel staff sent him his therapy equipment to fast-track his recovery.

“Our physical therapist is in close contact with the physical therapist of Gilas,” Abanilla said. “Magkakaibigan naman yang mga yan. We’ve decided to send the Normatec (massage machine) so he could continue his rehab there in Lebanon.”

But Abanilla said he won’t be surprised if Fajardo decides to play for Gilas Pilipinas which needs him against taller Asian rivals.

“Actually, si June Mar rin naman makakapag-decide niyan if kaya niya lumaro,” added Abanilla. “Knowing June Mar, he’s been playing in pain for many games. Kaya niyang mag-tiis.”

  • Published in Sports

REVIEW | Cycling drama ‘Requited’ freewheels towards vagueness

Anna Luna and Jake Cuenca in 'Requited.'

Despite a story that’s brimming with potential, Nerissa Picadizo’s “Requited” never really hits its stride because of its weak script.

“Requited” is the story of Matt (Jake Cuenca) and his journey from Manila to Pinatubo by bicycle. The film starts strong, almost quiet except for the beautiful music of Chi Capulong and the constant sound of the pedals and chain at work. The first few minutes are practically silent, camera squarely on Jake Cuenca, as he goes from Ortigas down EDSA to SM North EDSA and then out into the provincial highway.

There is an energy being built here through the silence and the use of distance that Matt has covered through biking alone. He is running from something. His cell phone rings but he never answers it. He even breaks it before he continues until his friend Sam (Anna Luna) catches up with him. This should be the payoff for that build up, but sadly it flounders away.

The story progresses without any control of the dramatic tension that was built at the beginning. Matt and Sam are on tenuous ground. He is obviously in love with her and she knows it but she’s with someone else. He blames her for not being a good friend, she gets mad at him for being so angry all the time. But nothing else really happens.

Early on, we see that Matt is dealing with an illness, something that is implied as being terminal. It’s the reason for this trip, it’s the reason for the scars on his wrist, and his anger. But the film attempts to prolong the information and replaces this with mood.

The pair continue their travels, stopping by at convenience stores, roadside carinderias, and motels to sleep over. They are always broaching the issues that are evidently there but they never actually deal with them.

There’s a lot of scenes of just Matt and Sam biking through the province but unfortunately this does not serve as a metaphor for anything that’s going on. It does not give us any real look inside these characters’ internal world.

In fact, the film as a whole, is literal. The lead characters’ conversations are shallow; more for the audience’s benefit than for theirs. Often, the camera brings attention to itself and reminds us we are watching a movie. It is unnecessarily shaky in the scenes when they hit rocky ground and most of their shots biking on the highway are taken from the same angle the whole time, reminding us of how difficult it is to shoot in such conditions.

It’s because the film is so literal and because it constantly reminds us that it is a film that, when the finale hits, what should be a dramatic highpoint made everyone in the cinema laugh. All that built-up dramatic tension misfires because the scene wasn’t plotted properly and the storytelling didn’t help us get invested in these characters. Its supposedly dramatic climax made people laugh instead of cry.

It’s unfortunate, though. Jake Cuenca and Anna Luna are amazing actors. Chi Capulong’s musical score is beautiful. The sound design is strong. But there was a whole world that was going on in the film that the director wasn’t able to bring out.

“Requited” could have been affecting. But it’s too literal in its storytelling, and its characters are too vague for us to care about their journey. There’s a story here that is worth telling but it still needed to be refined before hitting the open road.

“Requited” is a full-length feature film entry in the ongoing Cinemalaya Film Festival and is now screening at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ayala Cinemas. For screening schedules, visit or


Taylor Swift watches jury selection for trial against Denver DJ

Taylor Swift. (Reuters)
DENVER | Taylor Swift sat next to her lawyers at a federal courthouse in Denver on Monday as jury selection began for a trial pitting the pop star against a Colorado radio personality over allegations the former disc jockey fondled her four years ago during a photo shoot.

Swift, 27, one of the top-selling U.S. singers, wore a black jacket and white top in court as she watched the proceedings.

She is expected to take the stand during the trial in U.S. District Court to testify about the incident, which resulted in broadcaster David Mueller’s firing from Colorado music station KYGO-FM.

The litigation centers on Swift’s allegations that Mueller slipped his hand under her dress and grabbed her bare bottom as they posed during a meet-and-greet session before her June 2, 2013, concert in Denver.

“It was not an accident, it was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life,” Swift said of the incident during a deposition.

Mueller, 55, sued first, claiming Swift falsely accused him of the groping and pressured station management to oust him from his $150,000-per-year job at the station, according to the lawsuit.

Swift countersued for assault and battery and that became part of the same trial.

A crowd of Swift supporters was expected to attend the proceedings.

Maya Benia, 20, a fan from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had been waiting outside the courthouse since 5:30 a.m. MDT (1130 GMT). She could not stay for the trial because of a doctor’s appointment but had a letter she hoped someone would relay to the singer.

“It is a thank-you to her for consistently being there for me over the years through all my hospitalizations and also a thank for survivors of sexual assault and her being able to use her voice when others couldn’t,” Benia said.

Mueller denies anything inappropriate occurred during the brief backstage encounter in which he stood on one side of the pop star and his girlfriend on the other. His lawsuit said Swift’s accusation is “nonsense.”

Mueller is suing under tort claims of interference with contractual obligations and prospective business relations. Jurors will determine what monetary damages, if any, he is entitled to if Swift is found liable.

In court filings, Swift said her representatives informed KYGO management about the incident but she did not demand Mueller be fired.

The radio station investigated and two days after the incident fired Mueller for violating the morality clause of his contract, court documents show.

The judge has placed a gag order on all parties and attorneys for both sides did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Swift, one of the most successful contemporary music artists, earned $170 million between June 2015 and June 2016 following a world tour and her best-selling “1989” album, according to Forbes Magazine.


FOREST CITY | A metropolis of the future rises in Malaysia

Perspective scale model of the Forest City development project in Iskandar, Malaysia.
For the Chinese developer Country Garden Pacificview, the city of the future would have residents from different parts of the world, plants covering the surfaces of buildings, and a multi-layer mobility system where pedestrians and cyclists own the main roads, and cars are relegated to underground.

And this is exactly what’s being accomplished in the company’s 20-year flagship project Forest City, located along the coast in the special economic zone of Iskandar in Malaysia. Neighboring Singapore is less than 30 minutes away by car.

The residential and commercial mixed-use development occupies 20 square kilometers of reclaimed islands and 10 square kilometers of the main island.

Southeast Asian journalists were invited to visit the township over the weekend, where they toured the Harbor Commercial Street, a retail area with duty-free shops, restaurants, and boutiques; stayed in Phoenix Hotel, a luxury accommodation with 283 guest rooms, restaurants, and meeting rooms; and looked at the first of four Industrialized Building System factories that would supply the prefabricated parts to be assembled on-site in Forest City homes.

Reporters also viewed the lavish, seaside Peony Littoral villas, with the biggest unit being a three and a half-storey house that occupies 6,500 square feet (approximately 600 square meters). Priced at 19 million Malaysian ringgit (about PhP224 million), it has six bedrooms, a bespoke elevator, a balcony, and a garden. Some 233 units will be completed by the end of 2018. All have been sold to buyers mostly from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan.

With a US$100 billion investment, the development of Forest City began two years ago. After an environmental impact assessment, the first phase of reclamation began in March 2015. It opened in March 2016.

It is sparsely populated for now, with only employees, construction workers, shopkeepers, security guards, and some tourists bustling about.

But Country Garden Pacificview president and chief strategy officer Dr. Runze Yu envisions that, by 2020, residents will have already moved in, and the community will be a much livelier one.

A duty-free shopping mall will have opened; all three golf courses – including one designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus – will be up and running; and a landmark building will be ready for entrepreneurs to build their businesses in.

International school Shattuck-St. Mary’s will also be on its third year of operation by then.

“Everybody is talking about smart cities, but they don’t have a concrete (example),” says Yu, who leads regional strategy and business development for Forest City. “We studied every part of the world for smart cities. And the conclusion is, it’s always public sector-driven. We never saw a single successful case led by the private sector. So we want to be the first to try.”

Residents can look forward to living in a forest-like environment, with rooftop gardens, sky gardens, and coastal mangrove parks.

“They will be ready for the future climate change and sea level rise. Also, there’s a public space for the citizens in Forest City. So it’s very beautifully done,” Yu says. He also assures that the reclaimed area is “safe and geologically stable.”

As in the Phoenix Hotel, plants will cover the buildings’ surfaces to purify the air, lower indoor temperature, and reduce outdoor noise. There will be rainwater harvesting facilities, as well.

Houses will have smart electric and water meters, smart lighting and locks, automatic plant watering, an interconnected video intercom system, and a smart identification system along with the rest of the community for security.

As for its multi-layer mobility system, all roads, interchanges, and car parks will be underground. Pedestrians and bicycles will occupy the surface, and they will be only a few moments away from public transportation. There will be a light rail transit system, as well.

“The whole idea is to separate non-motorized transportation from the cars,” Yu says.

Forest City will be a prime model of “a green and smart futuristic city,” he adds.

The developer aims to attract eight industries: Tourism and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions); healthcare; education and training; regional headquarters; near-shore finance: e-commerce; emerging technology; and green and smart technology.

This year, Yu targets the tourism sector, in particular, given that Forest City’s duty-free center will be fully operational by November, and a jetty is being built in front of the hotel.

The “residential part” of the project is going smoothly, he says. “That’s why I need to produce more content for them. Even before actual homeowners are moving in, tourists should have something to do here.”

Yu hopes that young entrepreneurs will find a home in Forest City to build their businesses and enjoy cheaper living expenses compared to Singapore.

He also wants to lure nurses, doctors, hospital managers, and other professionals for a medical care hub and wellness center.

He disclosed that the project has sparked interest from at least one Philippine developer group, which paid a visit recently. Yu does not divulge the name, but has this to say: “They tried to get inspired, I would say, because this is a reclamation project. Not everywhere you can get the opportunity to reclaim.”

He adds that there are “follow-up discussions” with the group.

Yu says he and Country Garden chairman Yang Guoqiang met President Rodrigo Duterte during a lunch meeting with other companies in Hong Kong a few months ago, where the latter welcomed them and all other investors to the Philippines, where corruption “has been greatly reduced.”


No rants this time: Duterte tells Tillerson he’s a ‘humble friend’ of America

President Duterte welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Malacañang Palace Monday (Aug. 7, 2017). REUTERS

MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called himself a “humble friend” of the United States on Monday, taking a break from his notorious hostility towards Washington to grant a warm reception to visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Duterte’s often profanity-laden tirades against the United States has become his trademark during his year-old presidency, but he appeared happy to meet Tillerson, who was in Manila to attend a regional security meeting dominated by North Korea’s missile tests, and maritime squabbles.

“I am happy to see you … and you have come at a time when the world is not so good, especially in the Korean peninsula, and of course, the ever nagging problem of South China Sea,” Duterte told Tillerson at the presidential palace.

“I know you’re worried there, because you also have domestic problems … We are friends. We are allies,” said Duterte.

“I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia,” he said.

The maverick leader makes no attempt to hide his grudge against the United States, which he has repeatedly chided for what he says is a history of hypocritical foreign policy, and for treating the Philippines like a dog.

He last year announced to China his “separation” from Washington, has complained about being given “hand-me-down” US military hardware, and once invited American investors jittery about his remarks to pack their bags and leave.

But Duterte’s biggest anger was directed at former President Barack Obama, whose administration spoke out against his signature war on drugs, a fierce crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

Duterte’s warm words for Tillerson indicates Philippines-US ties under US President Donald Trump may be in better shape.

Though Duterte still vents about Washington, he has spoken positively about Trump, who praised him for doing “an unbelievable job on the drug problem”.

Trump in an April phone call told Duterte he would invite him to the White House. But when a US lawmaker recently said he would try to block that, Duterte said he would never go to the United States because “I’ve seen America and it’s lousy”.

Duterte said he and Tillerson discussed “many things” on Monday, but he did not give details.

The defense treaty alliance between the two countries remains strong and US forces have been providing the Philippines with technical assistance to fight militants allied with Islamic State. He last year repeatedly threatened to eject US military trainers and advisers.

Asked prior to his meeting if helping the Philippine military meant the United States was endorsing the government’s bloody anti-drugs campaign, Tillerson said the two were unrelated.

“I see no conflict, no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of other human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter-narcotics activities,” he said.

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