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AFP Organization, Services, and Units / Re: BRP Suluan (MRRV-4406)
« on: November 07, 2019, 08:30:00 PM »
62 survive ferry mishap off Sibonga, Cebu

By: Dale G. Israel - @inquirerdotnet
Inquirer Visayas / 05:25 PM November 07, 2019

CEBU CITY –– Rescuers picked up 62 survivors in a ferry mishap off Sibonga town, south Cebu on Thursday.

Lt. Junior Grade Michael John Encina, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard in Central Visayas (PCG-7), said all 62 passengers and crew members were safe.

“There are no reported missing persons,” he said.

MV Siargao Princess, a passenger vessel, was carried away by the waves on Thursday morning.

The passengers abandoned the fast craft, which eventually capsized some three to five nautical miles off Sibonga.

The PCG-7 received the distress call from MV Siargao Princess at 11:15 a.m. after it encountered huge waves, with seawater already seeping inside the passenger vessel.

For at least two hours, passengers, including children, were all drifted at sea onboard a raft and wearing their life vests.

An initial investigation from the Coast Guard revealed that the front hatch cover of the vessel was detached causing water to seep into the vessel.

MV Siargao Princess dipped to its front and eventually sank.

A total of 59 people were rescued by the Coast Guard personnel and transferred to the Cebu City port aboard BRP Suluan.

Three other people, who swam towards the shore, were brought to the provincial hospital in Carcar City.

Encina said the fast craft left Loon town in Bohol en route to Sibonga around 9 a.m. when it encountered “big waves that caused the ship to take in water.”

Based on the manifest, MV Siargao Princess left Loon with 55 passengers and seven crew members.

Encina said an investigation would be conducted to find out what caused the fast craft to capsize.

Policewoman Maria Teresa Sanchez, one of the passengers, was grateful that all passengers survived the tragedy.

“We are very thankful. This is a huge miracle,” she said in Cebuano in an interview over radio DyLA.

Sanchez, who is assigned in Calape town, Bohol, was supposed to attend a training at the Philippine National Police Regional Training Center in Sibonga.



China controls around 80% of the global rare earth element trade. And the only thing standing in the way of a complete monopoly is a small firm with mining operations in Australia and a processing facility in Malaysia: Lynas Corporation.

Over the course of the last few years, a concerted effort has been underway to stop Lynas’ operations in Malaysia led in large part by members of the ethnic Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP).[v] Malaysia’s Minister of the Environment, Yeo Bee Yin’s husband “runs IOI Property Group, part of a conglomerate with deep ties in China.” [vi] Also involved is a coalition of environmental activist groups speculated to be covertly supported by China.[vii]

The Lynas saga has been watched with increasing scrutiny by the global investment community not just because of its position as the sole non-Chinese producer of a strategic element, but also because the Lynas facility in Malaysia has become somewhat of a weathervane for Malaysia as an investment destination in general.

In August, the Malaysian government granted Lynas a six-month license to continue operations, when a three-month term is the norm. This unusual move has created a lot of uncertainty in the market and political risk insurance rates are edging higher for investments in Malaysia as a consequence. Further, as global companies diversify their supply chains out of China, Malaysia’s inbound investment has been markedly weak.

If Lynas is forced to cease operations in China, the $800-million facility would be a key asset for sale. But very few companies in the world have the experience and expertise needed to operate such a facility and the most likely candidates would be found in China – a situation that would effectively hand that country complete control over the rare earth trade.
China has also secured a foothold into the Philippines’ telecommunications sector – with the consortium of China Telecom and companies owned by Dennis Uy, an ethnically Chinese businessman from Davao with close personal links to Duterte, beating out other consortiums that included bidders from South Korea, Vietnam, Norway, the U.S., and Japan. To many observers, the conclusion was foregone before it even got underway, with then-presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stating in December 2017 that Duterte wanted the government to ensure that China Telecom would begin its Philippine operations by the first quarter of 2018.[ix]

China has further apparently secured de-facto control over the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), with the Daily Tribune reporting last week that NGCP is in effect a “Chinese dummy.”

Recently, the World Bank cut its 2019 GDP growth estimate for the Philippines from 6.4 percent to 5.8 percent.[xi] In fact, the World Bank now expects GDP growth to miss government targets for the next three years: “2019’s [growth] will be lower than the 6-7 percent goal; the projected 6.1 percent for 2020 will be below the 6.5-7.5 percent target, and the forecast for 2021 of 6.2 percent will be lower than the 7-8 percent target range.” The downward revision was attributed in part to “the sharp slowdown in investment growth in the first half.”[xii]

Foreign investors have become skittish about doing business in the Philippines in part due to the continuing uncertainty over the second package of tax reforms under the proposed Comprehensive Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act (CITIRA), a key policy agenda of the decidedly pro-China Secretary of Finance, Carlos ‘Sonny’ Dominguez III – who also happens to also be from Davao and have close personal ties to the President.

But it’s not just legislative uncertainty that’s spooked investors – the growing perception that the Duterte Administration actively favors China over other sources of investment has made the Philippines less attractive in the eyes of many investors. That “sharp slowdown” refers to five consecutive months of falling FDI, with July 2019 (which is the latest available period) seeing a reduction in inflows of 41.4 percent compared to the same period last year.[xiii]

Dragon Economy / Re: China and rare earth minerals
« on: October 25, 2019, 01:32:14 AM »
Full Article here

Rare earths are colorful metals derived from 17 hard-to-mine chemical elements, which are crucial elements of mobile phones, flat screen televisions and more than 200 other consumer electronic devices that we use every day. China already controls 90% of the global export supply of these materials, with the only other source being a little-known facility in Malaysia. And, according to Cohen, that lone alternative source is under pressure and threat from Chinese interests.

The only other alternative is the Malaysia-based production facility of Australian company Lynas, which is the world’s “only major producer of rare earth minerals outside of China.” The company mines rare earth elements in Western Australia and processes them in a facility near the city of Kuantan, on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.

So what has sustained the ‘Stop Lynas’ campaign despite the lack of clear environmental justification? According to Cohen, the influence of Chinese interests over local politics cannot be ruled out. China has proved adept at co-opting local politics to suit its geopolitical ambitions. “One of the most potent tools for Beijing [has been] to cultivate close ties with political elites,” said AidData, a U.S.-based watchdog that monitors development funding.

Last year, Xu Yousheng, deputy director of the PRC’s United Front Work Department stated that overseas ethnic Chinese “should strive to become active promoters of mutual political trust and mutually beneficial relations between China and neighboring countries.” It is perhaps more than coincidental then that many ‘Stop Lynas’ politicians are members of the ethnic Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Minster of Environment Yeo Bee Yin has been calling for Lynas’ closure for years, despite all evidence being against Lynas causing environmental problems. Yeo’s billionaire husband, Lee Yeow Seng, is from one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families and runs IOI Property Group, part of a conglomerate with deep ties in China. Recently, Minister Yin has rebuffed calls for her to resign over conflict of interest issues related to the ongoing forest fire crisis in Indonesia. IOI has significant palm oil interests in that nation and is said to be among the companies behind the haze that had been affecting much of the region, including the Philippines.

War on Drugs / The hunt for Asia’s El Chapo
« on: October 15, 2019, 07:30:06 AM »

As the investigation into the syndicate deepened, police concluded that crime groups from across the region had undergone a kind of mega-merger to form Sam Gor. The members include the three biggest Hong Kong and Macau triads, who spent much of the 1990s in open warfare: 14K, Wo Shing Wo and Sun Yee On. The other two are the Big Circle Gang, Tse’s original triad, and the Bamboo Union, based in Taiwan. In the words of one investigator, the syndicate’s supply chain is so complex and expertly run that it “must rival Apple’s.”

Information Technology & Cyber Security / How The U.S. Hacked ISIS
« on: September 28, 2019, 03:59:34 AM »
In August 2015, the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, the military's main cyber arm, were at a crossroads about how to respond to a new terrorist group that had burst on the scene with unrivaled ferocity and violence. The one thing on which everyone seemed to agree is that ISIS had found a way to do something other terrorist organizations had not: It had turned the Web into a weapon. ISIS routinely used encrypted apps, social media and splashy online magazines and videos to spread its message, find recruits and launch attacks.

Donald had to find a team of specialists to do something that had never been done before — hack into a terrorist organization's media operation and bring it down. Most of the forces flowed in from Joint Forces Headquarters, an Army cyber operation in Georgia. Donald also brought in experts in counterterrorism who understood ISIS and had watched it evolve from a ragtag team of Iraqi Islamists to something bigger. There were operators — the people who would be at the keyboards finding key servers in ISIS's network and disabling them — and digital forensics specialists who had a deep understanding of computer operating systems.

The battle against the group had been episodic to that point. U.S. Cyber Command had been mounting computer network attacks against the group, but almost as soon as a server would go down, communications hubs would reappear. The ISIS target was always moving and the group had good operational security. Just physically taking down the ISIS servers wasn't going to be enough. There needed to be a psychological component to any operation against the group as well.

"This cyber environment involves people," Neil said. "It involves their habits. The way that they operate; the way that they name their accounts. When they come in during the day, when they leave, what types of apps they have on their phone. Do they click everything that comes into their inbox? Or are they very tight and restrictive in what they use? All those pieces are what we look at, not just the code."

Neil is a Marine reservist in his 30s, and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Operation Glowing Symphony was his idea. "We were down in the basement at the NSA, and we had an epiphany," he said. He had been tracking ISIS's propaganda arm for months — painstakingly tracing uploaded videos and magazines back to their source, looking for patterns to reveal how they were distributed or who was uploading them. Then he noticed something that he hadn't seen before: ISIS was using just 10 core accounts and servers to manage the distribution of its content across the world.

Link to full article:

Military History / These Portable Runways Helped Win the War in the Pacific
« on: September 11, 2019, 01:21:23 AM »
Low-tech and still used today, “Marston Mats” were among the most important inventions of World War II.

In 1941, a month before Pearl Harbor, General “Hap” Arnold of the U.S. Army Air Corps visited Camp Mackall in rural North Carolina, and stood in a soft pitch of pine tar at the edge of its airfield. The general was there to watch tens of thousands of paratroopers take flight in a massive war game called the Carolina Maneuvers. Arnold called it “the year’s greatest achievement in aviation warfare,” but he wasn’t referring to the exercise, or the half-million troops, or even the aircraft, but rather the “Marston Strip” on which they landed.

Marston Matting got its nickname from the nearby town of Marston, North Carolina, where it was produced. The concept had come from the Carnegie Illinois Steel Company, who under an Army contract designed temporary flight strips to run alongside U.S. highways. The mats were a simple way for crews to quickly put down a runway on any ground, paved or unpaved, where there was none, which came in handy in the remote islands of the Pacific.

Its official Air Corps name was PSP for perforated (or pierced) steel planking. “Marston,” or the incorrect but widely used “Marsden,” was tested at Langley Field in Virginia and perfected during the Carolina Maneuvers.

The steel mat came in rolls of interlocking 10-foot sections, which were ringed with hooks and slots for easy assembly by strong men using sledgehammers. A completed airstrip ran 3,000 feet long and 150 feet wide.

Each mat was pierced with 87 holes to allow drainage, which also reduced its weight to 66 pounds per section. A later aluminum version came in at just 32 pounds and could be laid down at a trot. Marston was often laid over the local vegetation, which varied depending on the location from loose straw to palm fronds. The sandwich of steel and vegetation absorbed moisture and cut the dust kicked up by heavy aircraft.

The first PSP airstrip took a pokey 11 days to install. By the end of World War II an airfield could be carried across the Pacific within a single cargo hold of a Liberty ship, and could be ready for aircraft to land 72 hours after unloading.

At first the U.S. had Marston to itself, but eventually the invention was shared with its Allies, including Russia under the Lend-Lease program.

Two million tons of temporary runway were produced in WWII to bring American airfields to each island captured from the Japanese. Marston has been used in every war since. Matting reclaimed from the jungle also has found new uses in guardrails or footbridges, while in the U.S., government surplus is sold for use in cattle chutes and warehouse floors.

I have a personal fond memories with "Marston Mats", since my grandfather used this in his old house as a gate, and up until this year when the lot was sold. When we demolished the right portion of the perimeter fence, we were surprise to see 2 interlocking mats still holding on.

Battling for Israel, volunteers fought in an aircraft that should have been grounded.

No one loved the Avia S-199 at first sight. Perched on narrow, splayed-out landing gear, the Czech-built fighter had a sinister look that made pilots and potential buyers wary. And when airmen became better acquainted with the long-snouted warplane, the wariness turned to distrust.

The single-engine S-199 was a product of the Avia Company in Czechoslovakia, which had tooled up to produce Messerschmitt Bf 109s for the German Luftwaffe just as World War II ended. After the war, the company opted to manufacture a version of the Messerschmitt fighter for the Czech air force.

The Daimler-Benz DB 605 V-12 engine, which had propelled the Bf 109, was no longer available, so Avia installed the heavier but less powerful Junkers Jumo 211F, the same engine used in the Luftwaffe’s versatile Heinkel He 111H medium bomber. To match the Jumo engine, Avia mounted the Heinkel’s massive oar-shape propeller, which would turn out to be a dangerous combination for the small airframe of the S-199. For the clunky fighter, Avia, not surprisingly, found no buyers other than the Czech air force.

But in the spring of 1948 another customer appeared. The nascent state of Israel was poised to declare its independence. Looming on Israel’s borders were the armies of five surrounding Arab countries, ready to invade the new nation. Israel urgently needed weapons, armor, munitions, and, especially, military aircraft. Neither of the world’s two largest owners of surplus war assets—the United States or Great Britain—was sympathetic. The U.S. Department of State strictly enforced the Neutrality Act, which banned the sale and shipment of war materials to countries engaged in armed conflict, such as Israel. Britain’s government was even less friendly, not only imposing an embargo on arms to Israel but also supplying aircraft and training to the Arab air forces.

Israel was desperate. Although volunteer airmen had smuggled a handful of surplus transports and training aircraft past the embargo enforcers, they had failed to score any fighters. Israel turned to cash-strapped Czechoslovakia, which was selling arms on the international market. In secret talks, the Czechs let it be known they would sell 25 Avia S-199 fighters to Israel.

No one representing Israel liked the deal—or the ersatz Messerschmitt. The price was outrageous: $180,000 for each fighter, including weaponry, pilot training, and support equipment. Meanwhile, the superior North American P-51 Mustang was selling in the United States for a mere $4,000. But the Mustang—and every other modern fighter—was off limits. Israel’s de facto head of state, David Ben-Gurion, personally gave the order: Buy the Czech fighters. Send pilots to learn to fly them—now.

Lenart’s inaugural flight was the beginning of a turbulent relationship. To the volunteer pilots, the Czech fighter seemed to have a vicious streak, like an attack dog turning on its handler. The narrow landing gear made the S-199 difficult to keep aligned during takeoff. Directional control was made even worse by the enormous torque of the propeller. The Czechs called the S-199 mezec, meaning “mule.” The Israeli air force gave the fighter a more menacing name: messer, Yiddish for “knife.”

The volunteers had barely begun training when, on May 15, the radio in their Czech quarters broadcast the news that Israel’s war of survival had begun. “We heard that Tel Aviv had been bombed from the air,” remembered Ezer Weizman in the 1976 book On Eagles’ Wings. Weizman, who would later command the Israeli air force and eventually be elected president of Israel, recalled the airmen’s reaction to the broadcast: “ ‘That’s enough,’ we proclaimed. ‘We’re going home.’ ”

Commitment fees: BRT delay costs city government P23M
Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento, Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - August 27, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The delayed implementation of the multi-billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Cebu City has caused the government almost P23 million of commitment fees and denied the public of immediate use of the transport system, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

It incurred P7 million in 2018, P6.4 million in 2017, P6.1 million in 2016, and P3.3 million in 2015.

The delay was attributed to the slow procurement process, right-of-way acquisition, and project viability issues, among others, which resulted in low disbursement or utilization of loan proceeds that might require loan validity extensions and hence, the incurrence of additional commitment fees.

A commitment fee, as defined in the report, is a fee levied on undisbursed portion of the loan, payable in the currency in which the loan is denominated. This fee can be collected or capitalized based on the loan agreement when the loan becomes effective. It is charged by a foreign lending institution on top of the interest charges and other fees as embodied in the agreement.

Hopefully no more (FFBNW) for this two new corvettes considering the price. No public document yet for the design and features, and is this a separate project from the OPV which Austal is interested in?.

Not really related to the acquisition project. But just notice DND is still using yahoo email address instead of email address. Is there any plan to have all government agency to use * cTLD as their official email address instead using yahoo or other 3rd party free email provider.

Humor / Re: Comparing Apple, Google, Samsung, and Huawei phones
« on: June 12, 2019, 12:30:55 AM »
Hahahaha and its using 5G amazingly fast (fast to suppress any news relating to tiananmen).

AFP Organization, Services, and Units / Re: BRP Jose Rizal launched
« on: May 30, 2019, 10:44:44 PM »
Thanks Adroth, I appreciate posting the bid docs.

Good to know it has passed the bidding committee. Hopefully the other bids for the ammo of 75 & 30mm would be awarded before the acceptance or delivery on Sep 2020, it shouldn't be that difficult anyways since we are already using it on the other assets.

Another concern is the VLS, how long it will take us to get it. Figure cross, hopefully sooner that later.

AFP Organization, Services, and Units / Re: BRP Jose Rizal launched
« on: May 30, 2019, 05:55:07 AM »
I'm just curious if the new frigate will already have the mistral & c star missiles included?. Or it included on the separate bidding together with the shell of the 76MM?.

AFP Organization, Services, and Units / Re: BRP Suluan (MRRV-4406)
« on: April 19, 2019, 08:08:21 PM »

A male Scottish national on board a sailing boat was rescued after being injured while sailing around five nautical miles east of the shores of Catmon town in Cebu, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
According to PCG personnel aboard BRP Suluan (MRRV 4406), Ronald Cruickshank, 64, who was aboard a sailing boat named “My Hawkeye” made a distress call on Thursday morning.

Cruickshank apparently requested for medical assistance due to head and back injuries he sustained while he was on board the sailboat.  A coast guard response was immediately dispatched toward the distressed yacht, rescuing Cruickshank and rushing him to the Danao Provincial Hospital for treatment.

Authorities said that the boat was drifting north toward the Visayan Sea when the foreigner made the distress call. He reportedly encountered problems with the boat’s mechanics. The yacht was eventually towed to Danao port in Cebu.

Humor / Re: The Latest in Stealth Tech?
« on: April 04, 2019, 09:10:25 PM »
Happy April fool's day ;D ;D ;D

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