“In conjunction with Earth Day, the Dutch electronics company Philips released a revolutionary new light bulb designed to last 20 years. Do you think when the guy thought of this, a light bulb went off over his head?” – Jimmy Kimmel
Even Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines, calls Communist China’s claim to Panatag Shoal a historical absurdity:
“Chinese historical claims since ancient times amount to an absurdity as this would be like Italy claiming as its sovereign possession all areas previously occupied by the Roman Empire.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Chairman Joma Sison are of one mind on the issue.
In response to a self-serving position paper where the Red Chinese Embassy claimed “Huangyan Island (China’s name for Panatag Shoal) has been the traditional fishing area of Chinese fishermen for generations,” and “It is China that first discovered this island, gave it the name, incorporated it into its territory, and exercised juristiction over it”, the DFA said:
“Historical claims must be substantiated by a clear historic title. Fishing rights are not a mode of acquiring sovereignty. Neither could it be construed that the act of fishing by Chinese fishermen is a sovereign act of a State, nor can be considered as a display of State authority.”
Chairman Sison adds that if Red China can cite historical records then the Philippines can cite pre-historic records:
“Archaeological evidence shows that the islands, reefs and shoals at issue have been used by inhabitants of what is now the Philippines since pre-historic times.”
But Red China stands by a map with a nine-dash line that it presented to the UN on May 7, 2007, the day after Vietnam and Malaysia asserted sovereignty over their respective continental shelves. The nine-dash line is a u-shaped squiggle between the southeast asian landmass and the Philippine archipelago. Red China claims it owns everything inside that wavy doodle.
The issue then is the provenance of the map and the u-shaped nine-dash line. I asked a forensic expert to look into it as my own little pro bono contribution towards easing tensions between the Philippines and Red China.
The forensic report is hereby submitted for your perusal and evaluation:
Upon a careful examination of the aforesaid ancient map, I have reached the following conclusions;
First, the map is authentic. However, there is evidence that it was tampered. If, as the Chinese Embassy claims, the map was drawn by the famous Chinese Imperial cartographer Hao Shao centuries ago, then the lower left corner area of the map would have the chop of Fu Manchu and not the smiling face of Mao who only became China’s emperor in 1949;
Second, I was suspicious of the u-shaped nine-dash line because it did not look as old as the map itself. I applied chemicals to the line, to see if there was anything hidden beneath it. The test proved negative. However, the line moved after it came into contact with the chemicals. Suspecting that it was not actually a part of the map, I put a tweezer to it and I was able to lift the entire u-shaped object without any difficulty. Hence the wavy object is not an integral part of the map;
Third, laid flat and straight the u-shaped object measures about 10 inches. I snipped off a quarter inch from it and put that under an electron microscope. What I saw surprised me so I conducted additional tests on the object. The tests confirmed what I observed using the electron microscope. The object is a dried noodle string. Subsequent DNA and carbon testing suggests that the said noodle may have slipped from Mao’s chopsticks sometime in 1949;
Fourth, Mao was a sloppy noodle slurper.”
I presented the forensic report to Comrade Shu Li, the Embassy apparatchik who wrote the self-serving position paper on Panatag. Caught off-guard, he begged for time to consult with his ambassador, Her Excellency Madame Suzie Wong, before giving me a response. He called back two days later.
Below are excerpts from the transcript of my phone conversation with Comrade Shu Li:
Shu Li: “China not intelested in explolation and exploitation of oil on Huangyan Island. China only catching shak for shak fin soup and dumpling, you see?
MB: “But you have to ask for our permission, you have to abide by international law.”
Shu Li: “Communist China lespect intelnational law but hungly stomach know no law like youl plesiden Elap always say, okidoki?”
MB: “Is that it?”
Shu Li: “Ha? Ok, I undelstand. So solly, so solly. Ok, Chinese Embassy invite you to noodle soup.”
MB: “No thanks.”
Shu Li: “Ha? No eat shak fin? Ok, we eat Yang Chow flied lice, vely delicious also, okidoki?”
MB: “It’s FRIED RICE, you land-grabbing commie PLICK!”
From the DAILY BEAST comes this gripping report on a mafia don, a missing teen-ager, and the Vatican.
- Why a known-mobster like De Pedis is buried on the grounds of a Vatican church has been the object of much speculation since 1997, when a church maid revealed the tomb’s existence to an inquisitive journalist. The Vatican was always cagey about why the mobster was buried in one of its churches, and ultimately, the church’s silence spurred countless conspiracy theories. Now, thanks to shocking Vatican letters leaked in the Vatileaks scandal that is rocking the Holy See, the Italian police are less interested in why he’s buried there. Instead, they want to open the tomb to see if the remains of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi are interred with those of the mobster.
Orlandi was the daughter of a prominent non-clerical Vatican employee who worked in the Vatican’s special events office that organizes papal functions and Catholic celebrations. She disappeared without a trace after leaving her Vatican apartment for music lessons on the afternoon of June 22, 1983. Her lessons were in a music school adjacent to Sant’Apollinare church, and the last witnesses to see her alive told investigators the girl crawled into a dark green BMW, though that lead could never be corroborated. Her disappearance came at a tense moment for the Vatican, and nearly everyone associated her presumed kidnapping with a wider scandal. In 1981,Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman, shot Pope John Paul II, nearly killing him. Orlandi’s parents received a series of phone calls from thugs who said they would give back their daughter if the Vatican released Ali Agca. The calls soon stopped and the Orlandi family was left wondering if their daughter was alive or dead.
There was trouble in Mendiola Bridge this morning. The Kilusang Magbubukid were holding a rally asking the president to increase the price of palay. Then the Kilusang Manggagawa arrived to ask the president to raise the minimum wage to P125 a day. They broke through the police lines and went straight for the Palace gates.
A couple of weeks ago their allied groups, Piston and co., held a transport strike asking the president to lower the price of gas and at the same time raise jeepney and bus fares. Other leftist groups are also asking the president to lower the price of water and electricity.
Okay naman lahat na hinihingi nila. Kaya lang pwede bang gawin lahat yun ng sabay-sabay? At kaya bang kontralahin ng president ang presyo ng langis, utilities, bigas, commodities, transportation atbp. ng walang sakripisyong kapalit sa mga social services o nang hindi magkakaroon ng higanteng deficit?
Why can’t those leftists come up with a comprehensive economic plan that would create an economy of high wages and low prices without any hidden costs? Siguro mas okay yun kesa sa mag-nguynguy ng mag-nguynguy sila.
Estrada and BInay were running mates in 2010, Estrada forgot to vote for Binay and Binay forgot to campaign for Estrada. But that’s water under the bridge now. 2013 is prelude to 2016 and the two politicians decided that by banding together they will be able to achieve their political goals. Estrada wants one of his sons to become president or vice president by 2016 or later, Binay wants to become president by 2016 or sooner.
Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan formed a coalition called United Nationalist Alliance. The UNA senatorial slate speaks for itself: Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan, JV Ejercito, Milagross Magsaysay, Migz Zubiri, and any one of Binay’s children who are not yet in government.
Joey De Venecia is also part of the ticket. But he’s not like the ones listed above. He sacrificed a lot to do the right thing. He turned down a huge “buy-out” from Abalos, cost his father the Speakership, and neglected his businesses because there were certain lines he would not cross. Same thing with Koko Pimentel. He could have run in 2010 and surely won but he chose to pursue his election protest against Zubiri because he believed he won in 2007 and proving that was more important than winning a senate seat in a subsequent election. That’s principle, something that Legarda and his own father, both also filed election protests after losing elections, thought was not as valuable as winning a senate seat.
Ernesto Maceda describes Binay’s role in the coalition, “He does not just play an active role. He is the sole decision-making authority.” The sole decision-making authority. That’s quintessential Binay as mayor of Makati. The irony of a dictator leading a party called Partido Demokratiko Pilipino is lost to UNA members.
The issue in the coming polls, if we go beyond the politics of personality, will be between two philosophies. One says the way to progress is through national unity, never mind if it is a union between the good, the bad, and the ugly. The other believes that the only way to progress is through Daan Matuwid. Magpakatino muna tayo bago tayo ay magsama-sama sa ilalim ng isang partido because blending black and white only produces a drab gray.
Greening the tax system
Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III
Green taxes, fees, and user fees are essential components of a sustainable economy. Green taxes perform three important functions, namely:
1. They generate significant revenues, which contribute to financing development, promoting equity, and maintaining macroeconomic stability.
2. They correct for the external costs of market failure. Specifically we refer to failure to capture the costs of economic activities, including consumption that damage the environment or threaten the well-being of future generations. The taxes capture (or internalize) the full costs of the negative effects or spillovers.
3. Similarly, green taxes serve the sumptuary objective of altering people’s consumption behavior by increasing prices of goods that are environmentally harmful.
Biodiversity, environmental sustainability, and slowing down climate change are all public goods. In fact, amidst climate change, these are all global public goods. In order to provide public goods, government intervention is inescapable. And it goes without saying that green taxation is one of the principal tools for collective action, be this at the national level or the supra-national level.
Green taxes do yield substantial revenues, for the goods and transactions they cover are part of the day-to-day lives of peoples. Every one has a carbon footprint; almost everyone cannot avoid using non-renewable resources. The full costs of such consumption, ordinarily not reflected in the market price, can only be accounted for through taxation.
Thus even a modest tax rate translates into big revenue gains. In turn these additional revenues can be used not only to protect the environment in particular but likewise to finance development in general, especially in developing countries.
Take the case of the carbon tax. Its main objective is to address the market failure (or the negative externality) that leads to environmental damage. At the same time,the potential revenues from a carbon tax are huge. A Carbon Adaptation Tax, as proposed by the Swiss Government in 2009, could generate global revenues, which are expected to be around USD 48.5 billion per annum. These revenues could be raised according to the “polluter pays” principle through a levy of USD2 per ton of CO2 on all fossil emissions, with a tax-free emission level of 1.5 tons of CO2 per capita.
Progressive taxation is a cardinal principle. That is to say, the rich or the better-off classes have to pay higher taxes or higher tax rates than the poor or the lower income group.
One can argue that green taxes are generally progressive. After all, it is the rich or the upper-class people who have a much bigger carbon footprint than the poor. They ride airplanes; they own gas-guzzling SUVs; they turn on air-conditioning units 24/7; they have all the latest entertainment gadgets that use up a lot of energy; and they wear precious metals mined from the mountains of Africa and Asia.
But of course, the poor also consume non-renewable resources and engage in activities (e.g., cutting wood for cooking or doing slash and burn for a living) that also destroy the environment.
In this context, even the poor must be subject to green taxation and regulation. After all, such taxation and regulation will ultimately be for their benefit, since they are the most adversely affected by the problems arising from climate change and environmental destruction.
Nevertheless, policymakers can find ways to moderate the impact of the tax that affects the poor. For example, a tax imposed on petroleum can be designed in a way that poor farmers or fishermen can purchase fuel at a lower rate through, say, a voucher system. Further, the price increase in transportation from a tax hike in petroleum can be offset by a subsidy for energy-efficient mass transportation.
Carefully designed, a green tax system can contribute to reducing environmental degradation, raising public revenues and altering consumer’s behavior without adversely affecting the poor.
Sta. Ana is coordinator of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).
This piece will be part of a report of the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives, which will be presented at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. For more information about the Civil Society Reflection Group, visit: http://www.reflectiongroup.org/.
This story from the bible makes Jesus look self-indulgent and Judas a champion of the poor. Consequently, Judas can claim that he turned Jesus over to the chief priests because Jesus was betraying the poor.
Below are two versions of the incident known as Jesus’ anointment at Bethany, from the Apostles Mark and John:
- Mark 14:
3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
10And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.
1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (Is John bad-mouthing Judas?)
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.