August 2012

Dear Normal People, This is what the Internet is…

A website is an office or space in Web server. For many companies, and for many people it is a front door to the world. That Web server is a building in a city. The Cluster (which is a group of servers) is a city, and the Data Center, which is a group of clusters is your province or state, and a federation of which forms part of a country, i.e. one owned by AOL, Amazon, Rackspace, MediaTemple and others. Read more

Sen. Sotto busted for serial plagiarism

Seems like the lachrymose senator Sotto plagiarized material for his anti-RH Bill speech from five bloggers and not just one as earlier reported. (Read Raissa Robles, “Did Sen. Sotto copy from 5 bloggers?” HERE)

Recall that Sen. Sotto denied he plagiarized.

    In an interview on Headstart on ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel, Sotto said he did not plagiarize in his “turno en contra” speech against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. Sotto guested on the show on Thursday, August 16.

    “Itong blogger na sinasabi nila, eh pareho kami ng pinagkunan eh. Ang pinagkunan namin si Natasha Campbell-McBride. And in my speeches, even in my first speech and my second speech, I’ve always said, every now and then sinisingit ko, hindi po ako nagdudunong-dunungan ha. Hindi po galing sa akin ito.” (This blogger they’re mentioning, we got it from the same source. Our source is Natasha Campbell-McBride. And I’ve always said, I’m not pretending to be wise. This does not come from me.)

    “Bakit ko naman iko-quote ang blogger? Blogger lang iyon. Ang kino-quote ko si Natasha Campbell-McBride.” (Why should I quote a blogger? She’s just a blogger. I’m quoting Natasha Campbell-McBride.)

But Sen. Sotto’s chief of staff admitted that portions of Sotto’s speech was plagiarized.

There’s an interesting exchange summarized in Rappler between Sen Sotto’s chief of staff, Atty Hector A. Villacorta, and one of the bloggers whose work was plagiarized.

Below is the actual exchange referred to in the Rappler articler.

The blogger, Sarah Pope, wrote:

    It seems one of your esteemed Senators, Tito Sotto, plagiarized a blog post I wrote on February 23, 2011 entitled How The Pill Can Harm Your Future Child’s Health, lifting entire sections of the article basically word for word that were delivered in a speech to the Senate Floor regarding the possible passage of the highly controversial Reproductive Health Bill.

    What’s worse, Senator Sotto is denying the charge of plagiarism, saying in an interview with ABS-CBN:

    “Why would I quote the blogger? I was quoting Natasha McBride.”

    Nice touch Senator. You almost had me convinced you were a nice guy with the tears and all. Many of your citizenry have emailed me assuring me that was a put on, and I’m starting to think they are right.

    A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it doesn’t get you off the hook; it just makes you a lying thief.

    On the bright side, I am thrilled that your lapse of moral judgment has brought much needed attention to the fact that the birth control pill can have devastating consequences to a woman’s long term health and possibly those of her children and even grandchildren. Gut dysbiosis is a serious condition that has multi-generational consequences that women need to be educated about and completely aware of before making the very personal decision to use them.

    It was indeed brave of you to take this controversial position. Kudos to you for that.

    By the way, I am truly sorry for the loss of your son. As the mother of two sons myself, I can only imagine the pain and devastation you have felt from such an experience.

    While this has been a highly charged and hopefully enlightening experience for all involved, it’s time now to set the drama aside and get back to fighting the good fight by continuing to educate people about how their food and pharma choices affect not only themselves, but also those they dearly love.

    And although my attorney will likely try to persuade me otherwise, for now I’m moving on as I’ve got work to do.

    Women of the Philippines: I am terribly sorry my blog was used and twisted against you. You deserve the choice to use The Pill if you want or need to based on your particular circumstances. While I want you to know that this choice has health consequences, I in no way would ever condone taking this choice away from you! Mabuhay!

    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sen. Sotto’s chief of staff posted the following comment, using the account name Lezel:

    August 16, 2012 at 8:18 am

    i am atty hector a. villacorta. i am the chief of staff of senator tito sotto. i understand you felt slighted that your blog was not attributed to you which became part of the speech of the senator. let me say that after asking my staff, indeed, your blog was used but only in quoting also from the same book of dr. campbell- mcbride. we are both indebted to the book’s author but if you wish that you also be credited with the contents of the book, let this be your affirmation. i can do it and by this message, i am doing it. hope it satisfies you. but if it does not, what would you want us to do? what have we done to deserve your incriminating words. the senator did not lift it himself, we did. did you want us to tell him to admit what he did not do? who would you like to crucify for this oversight? all the unborn wants very much the right to be born and they need everybody’s help, including yours. remember, rizal was the seventh child of 11 children of teodora alonso and francisco mercado. be on our side. please, and don’t deflect the debate to this matter of plagiarism. it is so out of sync in this great debate. join us in the side of life and truth. forgive us our single trespass. we had no malice, we thought you would be happy about it. there was no injury. hope this makes you feel better. warm regards.

    Atty. Hector A. Villacorta

    Chief of Staff
Office of Senator Sotto

Sarah replied 29 minutes later:

    Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist
    August 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I don’t like the fact that my blog was used without my permission against the education of the women of the Philippines and their reproductive rights. That is the issue and it was indeed plagiarism. If his staff did it, he condoned it. He is responsible for your actions. My BLOG was quoted, not Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I put her work in my own words and you copied my words.

    A woman needs to know that the Pill can indeed harm her but this is NO REASON to take away this choice from her in the first place.

    I do not agree with Senator Sotto’s position on this issue and he twisted the message of my blog to suit his own purposes against the women of the Philippines.

    No, your lame comment does not make me “feel” any better.

And Lezel replied, an hour later, this time without Atty. Villacorta’s name at the bottom:

    August 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

    dear sarah;
    a blog is meant to be shared and we shared it.

By the way Sen. Sotto finally explained what he meant when he said The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty. (READ HERE)

    Last Monday, I mentioned that I will show how the RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty. My point in stating that is we should not be pushed over by any state or international organizations in determining what is best for our country. Hindi po porque ginagawa na nila sa kanilang bansa, ay dapat gawin din natin. Tandaan natin na may iba’t iba tayong kultura, kasaysayan at tradisyon, at higit sa lahat, pangangailangan. Sino sila para magdikta sa atin? Hindi tayo gaya nila na iba ang pagpapahalaga sa pagkakabuklod-buklod ng pamilyang Pilipino at pagpapahalaga sa buhay ng tao.

Okay. There are “outside” forces who advocate artificial contraception. And there are “outside” forces who advocate against it. However, the point, Mr Senator, is neither of those forces can compel us to do what they want. Whatever we decide to do will be our choice. So there is no violation of sovereignty at all. Maybe you don’t understand what the word sovereignty means. Or maybe that was your voice but you were not doing the talking.

Sen. Tito Sotto: The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty

Tito Sotto at Matnog, Sorsogon Municipal Health Office

Yesterday, Sen. Tito Sotto delivered the first installment of his four-part speech against the RH Bill, designated SB 2865 in the Senate. (Read Here)

He enumerated his 7 objections starting with this:

    1. The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty, the Philippine Constitution and existing penal laws;

The RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty ????

I was waiting for the good senator to expound on it but he did not. Maybe someone out there knows what he meant by that.

Can anybody out there explain how the RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty?

Image credit: source: Facebook.

Our Romney Moment

When Mitt Romney went to Israel and wondered out loud about the role of “culture” in explaining the income disparities that exist between the Jews and Palestinians, he was branded a racist. But his intent was not to court the Jewish community back home who almost always vote Democrat, but to engender support from the evangelical Christians who constitute one major wing of the Republican Party.

He followed this up by attacking President Obama for winding back welfare-to-work reforms introduced by the Clinton-Gingrich consensus in the 1990s. These claims were roundly criticised for being untrue, but yet again, the point was not to be accurate, but to create clear points of distinction between himself and the president due to his inability to do so over Obamacare, the single most reviled policy by the GOP.

What is going on in American politics is a battle for the very soul of the nation. Americans due to their history are a nation that believes in self-reliance. Any attempt to improve the welfare of citizens through the government is frowned upon. So fundamental is this principle sewn into the fabric of the nation’s psyche that the centrepiece program of the Obama presidency was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. Its constitutionality was affirmed on a mere legal technicality.

Every country develops a kind of cognitive bias, it seems, which gets woven into its collective identity. Call it culture; call it institutions, but I believe the general point Romney was trying to make, albeit callously undiplomatic, is essentially true.

In Australia, for instance, the idea of “the fair go”, that each individual should be given equal footing to pursue his or her dreams and aspirations, is part of the social contract that binds the citizenry to each other and their government. This is why when PM Gillard introduced a carbon tax, the struggling blue collar heartland of her Labor Party base could not understand why as it posed a risk to their ability to have a fair go.

The same can be said about the Philippines and its devout adherence to Catholic beliefs in considering the passage of a reproductive health bill. The fact that the nation is still divided over this issue demonstrates Filipino aversion towards any form of state intervention in what is considered a private affair.

If the RH bill is passed, and it most likely will be, at least in the lower house, then you can be sure that the campaign to unseat those who support it will be vicious in the 2013 congressional elections. This is why while some legislators will in private support the measure, publicly they will tend to stand with the opposite side.

That is why a bi-partisan coalition, which is what existed when then minority leader Edcel Lagman who co-authored the bill locked arms with the administration, is so essential. During the prime ministership of Kevin Rudd, Ms Gillard’s predecessor, support for an emissions trading scheme had the backing of then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Unfortunately, both these bi-partisan agreements were put asunder in the lead up to the vote. Both Messrs Lagman and Turnbull were dismissed by their respective party-mates and replaced by people who chose to use the issue to wedge the voters and the government. In Australia, Tony Abbott, a former seminarian took the helm of the conservatives, while in the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo, a devout Catholic pulled the strings to have her nominee replace Lagman.

As she fights for her political life and personal exoneration, it is clear that she intends to harness anti-RH sentiments in the community to rally to her cause as she awaits trial for various high crimes. If the clergy who have been quite obliging to her in the past stand shoulder to shoulder with her on this issue, they might mobilise formidable resources to oppose the government in the courts and in the congressional races. Already, the Liberal Party faces stiff opposition in the senatorial derby from the UNA Coalition whose leader in the upper house is staunchly opposed to the RH bill.

What this means is that if the bill is defeated before this congress adjourns, it will have a harder time when it reconvenes after the elections. Those who support this bill should not be disheartened, because the struggle to promote their cause is not a matter of merely changing the law of the land, but of fundamentally altering the psyche of the nation.

Those peering from the outside will always wonder, what is so reprehensible about offering universal health care to Americans? Or why is putting a price on carbon so revolting to Australians? The same could be asked about Filipinos as to why they are still so divided over the issue of reproductive health.

As floods ravage the country causing mudslides, floods and misery all around, the question is how will it manage the deadly cocktail of grinding poverty, population growth and environmental degradation without a reproductive health law and program?

To outsiders, it would seem like a matter of good common sense and prudential risk management to have such policies and programs in place. To those that belong to such cultures, however, nothing could be farther from the truth.