Opinion & Community

Stephen Fry faces blasphemy probe after God comments

Officers are understood to be examining whether the British comedian committed a criminal offence under the Defamation Act when he appeared on RTE in 2015.
Fry had asked why he should "respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world.... full of injustice".
He later said he was not "offensive towards any particular religion".
According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, no publicised cases of blasphemy have been brought before the courts since the law was introduced in 2009 and a source said it was "highly unlikely" that a prosecution against Fry would take place.
25,000 euros fine
Appearing on The Meaning of Life, hosted by Gay Byrne, in February 2015, Fry had been asked what he might say to God at the gates of heaven.
Fry said: "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery? It's not our fault? It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"
He went on to say that Greek gods "didn't present themselves as being all seeing, all wise, all beneficent", adding "the god who created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish".
The Irish Independent reported a member of the public made a complaint to police in Ennis in the same month the programme was broadcast. He was recently contacted by a detective to say they were looking into his complaint.
The viewer was not said to be offended himself but believed Fry's comments qualified as blasphemy under the law, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 25,000 euros (£22,000).
The law prohibits people from publishing or uttering "matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion".
The government said at the time it was needed because the republic's 1937 constitution gives only Christians legal protection of their beliefs.
'Absolutely astonished'
Fry's representatives have been contacted for a comment.
Speaking to the BBC in 2015, Fry said he had been "absolutely astonished" by some of the reaction on social media to what he had said on the show.
He said: "I don't think I mentioned once any particular religion and I certainly didn't intend, and in fact I know I didn't say anything offensive towards any particular religion."
A police spokeswoman told the BBC: "We are not commenting on an ongoing investigation."

 

BBC News

Several dead as gov't troops, Abu Sayyaf clash in Basilan

Four soldiers were killed in clashes with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sumisip, Basilan Saturday night
Two suspected members of the bandit group were also killed.
Capt Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command said four soldiers died in two related encounters against the bandits in Sumisip.
Basilan Gov. Jim Salimman also confirmed this Sunday.
Salimman said government troops established checkpoints in several areas in Sumisip which were identified as possible exit points of Abu Sayyaf fighters.
He said an encounter with armed men ensued in one of the checkpoints, which left two suspected bandits dead.
The military however said it is still confirming reports that Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in encounters with government troops.
Petinglay said, the military has been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan in a bid to crush the terrorist group within six months.
They also set up a food blockade in several areas in Basilan to limit food supply to the hideouts of the bandit group.

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News

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Lopez tells Cayetano, Lacson: Read PH Constitution

MANILA (UPDATED) - Former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Friday urged Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Panfilo Lacson to read the Philippine Constitution, as she argued that the basic laws of the country back her mining crackdown.
“I request Cayetano and Lacson to please read the Philippine Constitution…They’re telling me I’m not fit, maybe they’re not fit,” she said in an interview on DZMM Friday.
Lopez, who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA) Wednesday cited several provisions of the Constitution to prove her point.
“The country is ruled by the Philippine constitution… Mining is a social justice issue,” she said.
“A constitution is not just a piece of paper. It’s breathing, it’s the rule. It’s the soul of our country,” she added.
Cayetano, in a statement on Friday, said he did not vote for Lopez because she is unwilling to comply with institutional processes.
"Unfortunately, the Secretary was adamant in defending her illegal actions. She is not fit to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources," he said.
"She would have embarrassed the President in no time."
However, Cayetano said he hopes the President will appoint another secretary like Lopez.
"I hope that the President will appoint another Ms. Lopez with the same zeal, yet still mindful of the requisite that one must be faithful to the mandate and dictates of our laws and processes," he said.
Lacson, meanwhile, said he did not confirm Lopez because the environment advocate was not fit for the job.
“[S]he admittedly arrogated unto herself the authority which is not prescribed under the existing laws of the land. That makes her potentially dangerous as a department head,” Lacson said.
Lopez, however, argued that existing mining laws of the country were not beneficial both to the government and the poor.
"I’d like to say that the current laws on mining are not advantageous to the government or to the Filipino in terms of fiscal regime because the money all goes to the miners," she said.
"Who is not fit for the job if they (lawmakers) think for the mining industry and not for the poor, why are they there? Why are they there?" she said, adding in jest that senators should also go through appointment process.

ABS-CBN News

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DLSU Lady Spikers defeat Ateneo Lady Eagles, retain UAAP title

The DLSU Lady Spikers climbed out of a 2-1 deficit to defend their UAAP Women's Volleyball title, 19-25 25-14 18-25 25-18 15-10, in a packed Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
The Lady Spikers forced a fifth and deciding set before racing to take a huge lead in the race to 15.
Kim Dy proved to be clutch anew, scoring 19 points off 15 kills and three blocls. Tin Tiamzon added 16 markers off 13 attack points, while Desiree Cheng tallied 12. Season MVP Majoy Baron added 10 markers, while graduating team captain Kim Fajardo scored six.
What La Salle gave up on attack points (56-52) and blocks (9-5), it recovered in aces (12-6).
It was also a total team effort for Ateneo, who was led by Michelle Morente with 16 points. Bea De Leon and Jho Maraguinot scored 14 points apiece, while Ana Gopico had 10.
The Lady Spikers' Desiree Cheng has been declared as most valuable player of the 79th UAAP women's volleyball. —ALG, GMA News

Another oil price rollback seen next week —DOE

Oil firms are expected to implement another round of rollback in the prices of petroleum products next week, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Saturday.
"There will a rollback... 70 to 90 centavos for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene," Energy Undersecretary Felix Fuentebella said in a text message.
Estimated downward adjustments in pump prices may still change on Monday upon the completion of the whole week assestment of oil trading, Fuentebella noted.
He said the rollback is due to oversupply.
Latest data from the DOE show diesel prices in the country currently range from P27.75 to P32.96 per liter, and gasoline from P38.25 to P50.40 per liter. —ALG, GMA News

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'WE NEED TO SEE ACTION FASTER' Fil-Am chef Angela Dimayuga demands Ivanka Trump to walk the talk

Mission Chinese Food’s Filipina-American executive chef Angela Dimayuga is standing by her decision to decline a feature for the website of US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka.
Dimayuga made the snub public via Instagram, posting her response to the offer in full. The chef wrote plainly that she is "for women who actually empower other women."
As it bears the Trump name, Dimayuga discredited the sender's claim that Ivanka's website is "non-political."
She further wrote in her response, "As a queer person of color and daughter of immigrant parents, I am not interested in being profiled as an aspirational figure for those that support a brand and President that slyly disparages female empowerment."
In an interview with the online arm of New York Magazine, Dimayuga firmly stated, "If she (Ivanka) is trying to move in a positive direction, we need to see action faster."
"As a woman, as a queer Filipino with immigrant parents, all the things within my personal politics are important to me: women’s rights, immigrant rights, gay rights," Dimayuga added.
Ivanka Trump has been attending events as an advocate of women's rights, but has been met with jeers in light of her father's personal actions and endorsement of questionable policies.
The first daughter was recently parodied in sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Love" in a skit called "Complicit" — a reference to her passive response to her father's behavior. —ALG, GMA News

Malacañang after Quiapo twin blasts: Stay alert, report suspicious movements

Malacañang on Sunday called on the public to stay alert and be cautious in sharing information, following the twin explosions in Quiapo, Manila, that killed two persons and injured six others.
“While investigation is now ongoing, we ask the public to remain alert and immediately report to authorities any suspicious activity or movement,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“Also, we urge our people to refrain from forwarding news from unverified sources that may cause undue alarm and panic,” he added.
Two persons were killed and six others, including two policemen, were injured in the explosions, which took place on Norzagaray Street, near the Manila Golden Mosque.
The first explosion took place before 6 p.m., killing two persons and injureding four others.
The two policemen were injured in the second plast, which happened at past 8:30 p.m. as they were processing the site of the first blast.
Norgazaray Street remained on lockdown on Sunday as forensic and ordnance police teams continue to secure and process blast sites.
Abella said they were “saddened by the loss of lives brought by yesterday’s night explosions,” and “likewise wish for the immediate recovery of those who were wounded.”
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said a suspect has been arrested by the Manila police, and the bomb attack was again suspected to be related to a clan war.
The twin explosions came a week after another bomb attack in Quiapo, where 14 people were hurt.
That incident happened as the Philippines was hosting the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/ALG, GMA News

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Over 1k Pinoys in Saudi Arabia’s western region receive exit visa

JEDDAH – More than one thousand undocumented overseas Filipinos in the western region of Saudi Arabia have already claimed their their exit visa, over a month after the Saudi government launched an amnesty program for undocumented foreign workers.
Consul RJ Sumague said more than a hundred of those who received earlier their exit visa have already returned home with their air fares shouldered by the Philippine government.
As of last Thursday, Sumague said some 2,500 OFWs who had sought the Philippine Consulate's assistance have been endorsed to the deportation center.
He said the endorsement has helped speed up the processing of the exit visa.
Late last week the Consulate endorsed another 280 undocumented Filipinos for visa processing, bringing to 800 the total number of those being endorsed for visa processing.
Sumague reminds those who are applying for amnesty to keep their mobile phone open all the time for consulate calls regarding their endorsement for deportation.
“Sayang ang slot 'pag hindi sumisipot ang mga tinatawagan, dapat sinasamantala natin ang pagkakataong ito,” Said Sumague
Sumague calls on all undocumented Filipinos in the Kingdom to avail of the 90-day amnesty program that began on March 29.
The Amnesty program aims to clear the statuses of undocumented foreign workers in the Kingdom as requirement for exit visa. —LBG, GMA News

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Cassini probe find vast void between Saturn’s rings

The unmanned Cassini spacecraft, after completing two passes in the vast, unexplored area between Saturn's rings has discovered not much else there, researchers at NASA said.
Scientists have been surprised to find that not all that much -- not even space dust -- lies between Saturn's iconic rings.
"The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after the probe's first pass.
The rings themselves are made of fast-moving particles of ice and space debris.
The 22-foot-tall (6.7 meter) Cassini spacecraft launched in 1997 and began orbiting Saturn in 2004.
Cassini made a first pass to explore what lies between the rings in late April and a second one on May 2, at a speed of about 77,000 miles per hour relative to the planet.
The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn's atmosphere is about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers).
Cassini is expected to make a total of 22 dives between the rings and the planet before making a death plunge into the gas giant in September.
Cassini is a 20-year-old joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. —Agence France-Presse

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