Opinion & Community

Palace: No deal forged between Duterte, Napoles

MANILA – Expecting a potential backlash over the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles in her serious illegal detention case, the Palace insisted the government did not strike a deal with the alleged pork barrel mastermind.

“Government is clear that there is no policy shift on how we deal with Napoles. Neither there is an agreement forged between the Duterte administration and Napoles,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement Monday.



Abella said Duterte respects the independence of the court and “has vowed not to interfere with the decisions of the judiciary or legislature.”

Citing reasonable doubt, the Court of Appeals reversed a Makati Regional Trial Court ruling and ordered Napoles' immediate release. Napoles in April 2015 was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly detaining her second cousin, pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Napoles is however facing other non-bailable cases in connection to the pork barrel scam.

CA's decision comes two months after Solicitor General Jose Calida claimed a local court “erred” in handing a guilty verdict on the alleged pork barrel mastermind in her serious illegal detention case.

In February, Duterte backed Calida’s call to acquit Napoles in her serious illegal detention case.

“I think he’s right. I agree with the -- because your job even if you are a prosecutor -- I’ve done that several times. I myself would move for the dismissal of the case,” Duterte had said.

Luy, who was employed by Napoles’ JLN Group of Companies, had testified Napoles detained him in two places to prevent him from revealing to authorities how she used bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) to get billions of pesos of pork-barrel funds from dozens of lawmakers, for fake projects. Napoles has repeatedly denied having Luy kidnapped.

OSG’s manifestation before CA prompted critics and observers to allege that the Duterte administration may have already reached a modus vivendi with Napoles.

Calida then said his office’s move to ask for Napoles’ acquittal was done in the interest of justice and Duterte "has nothing to do with this decision."

Duterte’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo also said that Napoles’ acquittal in the detention case will have no impact on her pork barrel cases, where Luy stands as a primary witness.

“In the plunder cases, it’s not only him that is being presented. Meaning to say, there will be corroborative evidence in the form of documents or corroborative witnesses,” Panelo told reporters.

“If Benhur Luy would testify in court and that can be corroborated by other witnesses and supported by documents, then it becomes credible.”

Panelo also dismissed talks the government will use Napoles to go after perceived political enemies who have not been charged with pork barrel cases.

“For as long as there is corruption and there is evidence to establish a criminal case, we will pursue the case,” he said.

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News




Senate sets up body to look into use of billion-peso intel funds

Amid threats to national security, the Senate has created an oversight committee on intelligence and confidential funds that would look into, among others, the efficiency of government institutions in providing “accurate” and “timely” intelligence information.
At least two people were killed and six others were hurt in twin explosions that rocked Quiapo, Manila Saturday night.
READ: Explosions rock Quiapo; 2 dead, 6 wounded
The proposal to create the oversight committee was contained in Senate Resolution No. 361 filed by Senator Gringo Honasan, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security. No senator objected when Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III moved to adopt the committee Monday night.
Senate President Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III, who was presiding over the session, immediately named the members of the committee — four from the majority group and two from the minority, plus the ex officio members.
The committee will be composed of its chairman, Honasan, and its members — Senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Manny Pacquiao, from the majority bloc; and Deputy Minority Leader Bam Aquino and Senator Francis Pangilinan from the minority group.
“In light of the recent threats to our country’s national security, including disturbance to peace and order by lawless elements, the importance of gathering intelligence information by concerned government agencies cannot be overstated,” the resolution said.
READ: Bato admits intel failure, but no heads rolling
The resolution noted that the same committee was also created during the past Congresses.
There is a need, it said, to reconstitute the Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds “to enable the Senate to oversee the efficiency of concerned government institutions in the production of accurate and timely intelligence information to better deal with the threats to national security, including the maintenance of peace and order, thereby providing a safety environment and secure place of abode to the people.”
The resolution also pointed out that the intelligence and confidential funds “are not subject to the regular auditing rules and procedures of the Commission on Audit.”
Congress has allotted P5.48 billion in the 2017 national budget for confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) to implement programs and activities of the government, relative to national defense, peace and order, and national security. CBB

By: Maila Ager - Reporter / @MAgerINQINQUIRER


PH to unveil works of two top artists at prestigious Venice art exhibition

The world of contemporary art will unveil to the public its newest array of artistic work this week at the “2017 Venice Art Biennale” in Italy, with two internationally-acclaimed Filipino artists Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo making doubly sure that the Philippines is amply represented.
Senator Loren Legarda, the visionary and prime mover of the country’s return to the global art exhibition in 2015, after a 51-year hiatus, said that Filipino voices were “amplified with each participation at the Venice Biennale.”
In an interview, Legarda said she was “very proud” that the Philippines would be part of the Venice Biennale for the third year in a row.

“Our realities and moments as a nation unfold with each exhibit. The world gets to hear what the country and our people have to say. We also have the privilege to listen to other nations, their discourse and their concerns. Now that we are in the Arsenale, the Filipino voice is further amplified,” said Legarda.
Legarda is the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) “Dangal ng Haraya” awardee for 2016 for being the champion of arts and culture in government.
It will be the first time that the Philippine pavilion will be housed at the Arsenale, the main exhibition venue of the biennial affair that gathers together the best contemporary artists, art patrons and enthusiasts, and cultural workers around the world.
La Biennale, which started in 1895, is “now one of the most famous and prestigious cultural organizations in the world,” according to its official website: http://www.labiennale.org/en/biennale/organization/
It says La Biennale—called as such because it is held biennialy—“stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions and research in all its specific sectors.”
Legarda said she had always envisioned the Philippines to engage in the global art conversation.
“Filipinos are talented and we have rich history that has produced a very layered storyline for our country,” said Legarda, adding:
“Our successful return to the Venice Biennale even after a long absence is proof that we always had our place in the world, we never lost it; we only have to be brave enough to seize it.”

Led by curator Joselina Cruz, the Philippine exhibit at the 57th International Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia titled, “The Spectre of Comparison,” features the works of Maestro and Ocampo.
The Spectre (or specter) of Comparison will have its vernissage—a private viewing preceding the public exhibition—on May 11 at the Arsenale in Venice. It will be viewed by the public from May 13 through November 26, 2017.
The Spectre of Comparison was chosen among 12 curatorial proposals submitted to the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale Coordinating Committee in August 2016.
The jury was composed of Dr. Eugene Tan, Director of the National Gallery Singapore; Florentina P. Colayco, President of Metropolitan Museum of Manila; Luis “Junyee” E. Yee, Jr., a pioneer of installation art in the Philippines; then NCCA Chair Felipe de Leon Jr.; and Legarda, principal advocate of the project.
The impulse and framework for the exhibition was drawn from Jose Rizal‘s Noli Me Tangere, according to a statement released by Legarda’s Office.
The statement quoted Cruz as saying that the phrase, “Spectre of Comparison, encapsulates the experience of Rizal’s protagonist, Crisostomo Ibarra, when he gazes out at the botanical gardens of Manila and simultaneously sees the gardens of Europe.”
“This point of realization suggests the loss of Ibarra’s (and Rizal’s) political innocence, this double vision of experiencing events up close and from afar: no longer able to see the Philippines without seeing Europe nor gaze at Europe without seeing the Philippines,” Cruz, the curator, explained.
With this as “spectral pivot,” Maestro’s and Ocampo’s practices as artists, “aesthetically worlds apart from each other and produced through a multiplicity of contexts, are brought together in Venice,” said the statement.
Although Maestro and Ocampo have lived and practiced their craft outside the Philippines, they have maintained active engagement with the country throughout their careers.
“Their practice and their subject matters are deeply involved with their experiences as immigrants or citizens of a new diaspora that also reflect the complexity of a contemporary Philippine identity,” the statement said, adding:
“The exhibition looks at their practices as emblematic of the experience of Rizal’s specter of comparisons, the juxtaposition of their works, the manifestation of political and social commentary from afar, as they saw the events of the Philippines and their adopted countries ‘through an inverted telescope’,” said Cruz.
A briefer provided by Legarda’s Office and the NCCA recalled that the first participation of the Philippines in the Venice Biennale was in 1964 at the 32nd Venice Art Biennale.
The country’s first pavilion presented the works of Jose Joya, painter and multimedia artist, and Napoleon Abueva, sculptor, both of whom are now national artists.
After 51 years, the country re-entered the global art exposition with the exhibit “Tie A String Around The World” curated by Dr. Patrick Flores in the 2015 Venice Art Biennale. It gained critical acclaim.
It featured the film, “Genghis Khan,” by the late national artists Manuel Conde and Carlos Francisco, multi-channel video, “A Dashed State,” by Manny Montelibano, and the installation, “Shoal,” by Jose Tence Ruiz.
In 2016, the Philippine Pavilion presented “Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City,” in its inaugural participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale. Leandro Locsin Jr., Sudarshan Khadka Jr. and Juan Paolo dela Cruz of the Leandro V. Locsin Partners curated Muhon.
Both the 2015 and 2016 pavilions were mounted only in the 18th-century building Palazzo Mora.
Besides Legarda and the NCCA, the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Tourism have collaborated to mount the Philippine pavilion this year.
Legarda said that as art was “continuously evolving and to further promote Philippine art, the country aimed to have a place among the other national pavilions. This year, the Philippine Pavilion is in the Arsenale, the historic exhibition space of the Venice Biennale art platform.”

By: Michael Lim Ubac - Day Desk Chief / @umichaelNQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Bato admits intel failure, but no heads rolling

Now comes another apology from the chief of the Philippine National Police.
Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday admitted that the two explosions on Saturday that left two people dead and six others injured in Manila were due to “failure of intelligence” on the part of the PNP.
But Dela Rosa insisted that they were not terrorist attacks and brushed aside suggestions to have the Manila Police District (MPD) director replaced.
“We are very sorry that they (perpetrators) were able to get past us. We admit that there was an explosion and we are very sorry for that,” Dela Rosa said in a press conference. “It’s really a failure of intelligence but we are saying that our intelligence efforts are focused on threat groups like the New People’s Army, the Abu Sayyaf, and the Maute—and not on personal fights.”
“As far as the motive is concerned, we don’t see any terror angle,” the PNP chief stressed.
Dela Rosa said even the US Central Intelligence Agency, “which has a large intelligence fund,” was not able to prevent terrorist attacks in America.
“But still, we are not making any excuse. We accept that,” he said.
Why MPD chief stays
He maintained that Saturday’s explosions on Gunao and Norzagaray streets were due to fights among locals and were not related to another explosion that wounded 14 people in Quiapo on April 28, when the country was hosting the 30th Asean summit.
For Dela Rosa, the successive incidents were not enough reason to sack Chief Supt. Joel Coronel as MPD director.
“If we establish that it is really a terror attack, then even if we don’t control the minds of terrorist, I might [agree] that the district director should be relieved,” Dela Rosa said. “But we saw that this was a personal fight. Do you mean that if two other persons die [in other police districts] because of personal motives, I will also have [the chiefs] relieved? I don’t think that’s fair.”
Earlier apologies
Since his appointment as the first PNP chief under the 10-month-old Duterte administration, Dela Rosa had publicly apologized or sought “forgiveness” at least four times.
In August 2016, he said sorry after telling a group of drug dependents in Bacolod City to kill drug lords and set their houses on fire.
In December 2016, during the PNP Christmas party, Dela Rosa told the gathering that included the policemen’s families: “The gift I am asking from you is to pray for us, your loved ones, the police organization, and to ask the Lord to forgive us for those who have died in the war on drugs.”
“While I am begging for forgiveness for what is happening right now, I am also begging your indulgence to please understand if the killings will continue and we will not stop our war on drugs,” he then said.
In January this year, he apologized over the kidnapping and killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo right inside Camp Crame. “I am very sorry that this crime happened and those involved are my people.”
And on May 3, Dela Rosa apologized to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for his earlier remarks questioning the CHR’s timing when it inspected the MPD Station 1 in Tondo and discovered a cramped, secret cell for drug suspects who were being held without charges or any documentation. By: Philip C. Tubeza - @inquirerdotnet—WITH INQUIRER RESEARCH


Ableton’s new website will teach you the basics of making music

Learning Music is a set of lessons you can take anywhere.

Ableton has launched a new website that aims to teach anyone the basics of making music, whether you own its Live software or not.

Learning Music is a free set of lessons on all the fundamental concepts, including beats, notes and scales, chords, basslines and song structure. The website is interactive, giving you Ableton Live-style clips in browser to practise on.

Ableton even uses real songs as examples, breaking down tracks like Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’, Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ and Robert Hood’s ‘Ride” to demonstrate how the key concepts work.

There’s also a section that Ableton calls “The Playground”, which allows you to experiment with all the techniques and create tracks. You can even export your finished music to Ableton Live.

The site is one of several intiatives from Ableton to make it easier to make music. In 2015 it published a book of creative strategies for artists, and earlier this year it launched a bite-size video tutorial series, One Thing.

Ableton’s annual summit for music makers, Loop, returns this November. Try Learning Music here.

By Scott Wilson-Factmag

Decades of data on world's oceans reveal a troubling oxygen decline

A new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe has revealed that the amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water -- an important measure of ocean health -- has been declining for more than 20 years.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology looked at a historic dataset of ocean information stretching back more than 50 years and searched for long term trends and patterns. They found that oxygen levels started dropping in the 1980s as ocean temperatures began to climb.

"The oxygen in oceans has dynamic properties, and its concentration can change with natural climate variability," said Taka Ito, an associate professor in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who led the research. "The important aspect of our result is that the rate of global oxygen loss appears to be exceeding the level of nature's random variability."

The study, which was published April in Geophysical Research Letters, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The team included researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Washington-Seattle, and Hokkaido University in Japan.

Falling oxygen levels in water have the potential to impact the habitat of marine organisms worldwide and in recent years led to more frequent "hypoxic events" that killed or displaced populations of fish, crabs and many other organisms.

Researchers have for years anticipated that rising water temperatures would affect the amount of oxygen in the oceans, since warmer water is capable of holding less dissolved gas than colder water. But the data showed that ocean oxygen was falling more rapidly than the corresponding rise in water temperature.

"The trend of oxygen falling is about two to three times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with the ocean warming," Ito said. "This is most likely due to the changes in ocean circulation and mixing associated with the heating of the near-surface waters and melting of polar ice."

The majority of the oxygen in the ocean is absorbed from the atmosphere at the surface or created by photosynthesizing phytoplankton. Ocean currents then mix that more highly oxygenated water with subsurface water. But rising ocean water temperatures near the surface have made it more buoyant and harder for the warmer surface waters to mix downward with the cooler subsurface waters. Melting polar ice has added more freshwater to the ocean surface -- another factor that hampers the natural mixing and leads to increased ocean stratification.

"After the mid-2000s, this trend became apparent, consistent and statistically significant -- beyond the envelope of year-to-year fluctuations," Ito said. "The trends are particularly strong in the tropics, eastern margins of each basin and the subpolar North Pacific."

In an earlier study, Ito and other researchers explored why oxygen depletion was more pronounced in tropical waters in the Pacific Ocean. They found that air pollution drifting from East Asia out over the world's largest ocean contributed to oxygen levels falling in tropical waters thousands of miles away.

Once ocean currents carried the iron and nitrogen pollution to the tropics, photosynthesizing phytoplankton went into overdrive consuming the excess nutrients. But rather than increasing oxygen, the net result of the chain reaction was the depletion oxygen in subsurface water.

That, too, is likely a contributing factor in waters across the globe, Ito said.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology

New technology generates power from polluted air

Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium, have succeeded in developing a process that purifies air and, at the same time, generates power. The device must only be exposed to light in order to function.

"We use a small device with two rooms separated by a membrane," explains professor Sammy Verbruggen (UAntwerp/KU Leuven). "Air is purified on one side, while on the other side hydrogen gas is produced from a part of the degradation products. This hydrogen gas can be stored and used later as fuel, as is already being done in some hydrogen buses, for example. "

In this way, the researchers respond to two major social needs: clean air and alternative energy production. The heart of the solution lies at the membrane level, where the researchers use specific nanomaterials. "These catalysts are capable of producing hydrogen gas and breaking down air pollution," explains professor Verbruggen. "In the past, these cells were mostly used to extract hydrogen from water. We have now discovered that this is also possible, and even more efficient, with polluted air."

It seems to be a complex process, but it is not: the device must only be exposed to light. The researchers' goal is to be able to use sunlight, as the processes underlying the technology are similar to those found in solar panels. The difference here is that electricity is not generated directly, but rather that air is purified while the generated power is stored as hydrogen gas.

"We are currently working on a scale of only a few square centimetres. At a later stage, we would like to scale up our technology to make the process industrially applicable. We are also working on improving our materials so we can use sunlight more efficiently to trigger the reactions. "

KU Leuven-Science Daily

10 Things to Know About Emmanuel Macron

1. Born Dec. 21, 1977, Emmanuel Macron was the youngest candidate during the 2017 presidential election in France.

2. Macron studied philosophy at Paris Nanterre University before completing his master's of public affairs at the Sciences Po and graduating from École nationale d'administration. The latter two are among the most prestigious French schools.

3. In 2014, Macron became minister of economy, industry and digital data under President Francois Hollande. Earlier in his career, Macron was an investment banker and then the secretary-general at the Elysée Palace.

4. During the French presidential campaign, Macron has supported France remaining a part of the European Union, something his rival Marine Le Pen has opposed.
5. Before Sunday's victory in the presidential election, Macron had never held an elected office. He is not currently a member of any of France's political parties, running in the presidential election as a centrist.

6. Macron has spoken about tolerance toward Muslim immigrants but has acknowledged the threat of extremists. In an April interview with RTL, he said, "The zero-risk option doesn't exist," speaking about avoiding terrorist attacks altogether.

7. Despite his lack of experience in elected office, Macron has been associated with the French establishment, and he was egged in a communist suburb last year, according to The New York Times.

8. Former United States President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced support for Macron during the election.

9. During the presidential campaign, Macron was described as pro-business and a supporter of globalization. Despite his goals, criticism has followed the political newcomer; some have criticized his pragmatism as idealism and described the platform as nebulous.

10. Macron is married to Brigitte Macron, who is Emmanuel's former high school teacher. Through marriage, he claims seven grandchildren through the three children Brigitte had in a former marriage.

By Stephen Mays , Multimedia Editor US News

Alvarez-Golovkin could be anywhere —Oscar de la Hoya

LOS ANGELES - The mouthwatering middleweight showdown between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Kazakh knockout king Gennady Golovkin is on, and Oscar de la Hoya says a stream of global venues are interested.
"I really had several calls from around the world wanting to stage the fight," de la Hoya said on Saturday night in Las Vegas, where the mega-fight was announced after Alvarez dismantled fellow Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
"I literally have a missed call from Dubai, I have a missed call from the (United Kingdom), where Anthony Joshua and (Wladimir) Klitschko just sold out (a) 90,000-seat stadium, so there's interest from all over the world," de la Hoya said.
Possible US venues for the September 16 bout include not only Vegas but also AT&T Stadium in suburban Dallas, home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.
Last year, Alvarez beat Britain's Liam Smith at the Texas venue before a crowd of more than 51,000.
Saturday night's post-fight announcement—with "Triple G" striding from ringside to join in—was the most electrifying moment at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where Alvarez dominated Chavez Jr. for 12 rounds in a non-title bout fought at a catchweight of 164 pounds.
In the buildup to their bout, Chavez had chided Alvarez for failing to make a deal to fight Golovkin.
Alvarez dumped his World Boxing Council middleweight world belt last year when the sanctioning body gave him a 15-day window to make a fight with undefeated Golovkin, now owner of the WBC, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation middleweight world titles.
Critics charged that Alvarez was afraid of the fight—or that de la Hoya didn't want to risk the top fighter in the Golden Boy stable.
But de la Hoya insisted an Alvarez-Golovkin bout was never in doubt.
"I've always stated that Triple G will happen in 2017, ever since a year ago when everyone was asking 'Why are you afraid of Triple G?'" he said.
In fact, de la Hoya said, the deal was done even before the Chavez fight.
"We restarted negotiating two weeks ago and it got done a few days ago," he said. —Agence France-Presse

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