Endorsing Obama

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US Democratic Party candidate for president Barack Obama, whom US tracking polls say is leading Republican Party candidate John McCain by anywhere from seven to three points, is way ahead of his rival in newspaper endorsements.

As of Wednesday this week, 231 US newspapers from Alabama to Wisconsin had endorsed Obama compared to 102 for McCain. According to Editor and Publisher, a US journal that covers the publishing industry, the combined circulation of the Obama newspaper endorsers is 21 million readers, compared to seven million for the newspapers that have expressed support for McCain.

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In its flesh, blood and bones

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Everyone who’s had to travel by air knows the drill by now. You go through tedious security checks at the airport, which include taking off your shoes and having them as well as your cell-phone, laptop, belt, jacket and anything else you’’e hand- carrying x-rayed. If it suits the security detail at the metal detector gate, you might even have to submit them to visual inspection and clumsy rummaging.

The rule applies to all in this supposed age of terrorism — unless you’re a police official. In that case, your hand-carried bags won’t be checked, as indeed those of the members of the Philippine National Police delegation to the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg in Russia were not.

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The usual victim

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A “Right of Reply” law is likely to be passed before Congress goes into Christmas recess this year. As most journalists know—or should—such laws compel media organizations to publish the reply of persons who believe themselves to have been unfairly treated by the media. They make mandatory the professional and ethical responsibility of journalists to present all sides in an issue.

The proponents say the law would be to the public’s benefit. Don’t you believe it. Both the House bill (HB 3306) and the Senate bill (SB 2150) which passed that body by a vote of 22 to 1 last June, do include among those who have the right of reply “all persons natural or juridical… accused directly or indirectly of committing or having committed or of intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life.” Such persons “shall have the right to reply to the charges” whether these appeared in print or in websites, or were aired over radio and TV.

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“The first thing we do…”

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“…Let’s kill all the lawyers.” An old lawyer joke, killing all lawyers wasn’t necessarily Shakespeare’s advocacy for a better society.

This particular line does appear in the playwright’s Henry VI (part 2), and must have drawn a raft of laughs when first said, lawyers being as unpopular among ordinary folk in 16th century England as they are now in many countries. But because the intention was uttered by Dick the Butcher, one of Shakespeare’s most villainous characters and a murderer, it’s usually argued (by lawyers, who else) that he was condemning the idea, and was actually defending the profession as “the protector of truth and order”.

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Writ on water*

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It’s a common occurrence, and sad for this country and its poor and marginalized. A student activist graduates — and sooner rather than later becomes one of the people he or she used to rail against. Or some civil society type once committed to the bitter and dangerous struggle for change throws up his hands and joins those he says can’t be defeated anyway.

In too many instances are both forms of surrender driven by self-interest. But these acts of selfishness are often cloaked in some lofty principle.

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