Prisoners return to Philippines jail after escaping home to help their families


When Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped the roof off of Leyte Provincial Jail and filled the cells to neck height, 600 prisoners swam to the wall-tops and walked away. Now, nearly half of them have returned, including prisoners facing charges as serious as murder. The men went home and helped their families cope with the damage to their homes and towns, then came back to prison because (in the words of returned prisoner Danilo Tejones) "I want my case to be finished so that I can get free legally."

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Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) slams Philippines, may be most powerful typhoon to ever hit land


Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines (13:00 UTC 07/11/2011). Image captured by the geostationary satellites of the Japan Meteorological Agency and EUMETSAT.

The powerful storm named Super Typhoon Haiyan (or Super Typhoon Yolanda, as it is referred to within the Philippines) hit the central islands of the Philippines on Friday, with reported wind speeds of 190 to 195 miles per hour at landfall. For comparison, a commercial airplane takes off at speeds in the range of 160mph.

Haiyan is reported to be the strongest typhoon in the world in 2013, and may be the most powerful recorded tropical cyclone to ever hit land.

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Thin-skinned, plagiarizing Philippines Senator criminalizes "libel" with last minute stealth-attack on cybercrime bill

Philippines Senator Vicente Sotto III has been embroiled in a series of plagiarism scandals -- most recently, he gave a speech including phrases from a Robert Kennedy, Jr address, without credit or acknowledgment -- and has attracted a lot of vocal online criticisms. He was also instrumental in the passage of a broad, censorious "cybercrime" bill, and he warned his critics (whom he derides as "professional fault-finders") that "Once the cybercrime bill is enacted into law, they will be accountable for what they say or write."

Now it seems he has made good on this threat. The signed version of the Philippines Cybercrime Bill classes "libel" with spam, child pornography, and other crimes, thanks to an amendment he introduced -- though this amendment was never debated.

Who inserted that libel clause in the Cybercrime Law at the last minute?

Republic Act No. 10175: AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES (Thanks, Charles!)

Breakdancing Filipino traffic-cop

Here's a Filipino traffic-cop performing his duties while breakdancing, to the great delight of a large and excited crowd.

Filipino Traffic Cop Doing His Job Like A Boss (via 3 Quarks Daily)

WIPO's secret, corporate-run trademark enforcement meeting

The World Intellectual Property Organization is hosting an off-the-books meeting in the Philippines on trademark enforcement, with speakers from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, the Swiss Watch Federation. The meeting wasn't announced on WIPO's website, and it exclusively features speakers who support greater enforcement, with no one speaking for moderation and balance.

WIPO's own "Development Agenda" requires the organization to "approach intellectual property enforcement in the context of broader societal interests and especially development-oriented concerns, with a view that 'the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.'"

It's hard to see how holding secret meetings run by major corporations who support more invasive searches, restrictions on the resale of goods, and more private enforcement rights uphold that principle.

Hostess life: "What I learned by being a migrant sex worker in Japan"

Bloomberg News has published a two-part, first-person investigative piece by Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, on the lives of Filipina sex workers in Tokyo, Japan. To study the living and working conditions of these "hostess bar" migrant laborers, Parrenas became one.

The Bloomberg pieces are excerpts from her new book “Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo,” released this week by Stanford University Press.

Here is part 1. And here is part 2.

The Bloomberg excerpts are fascinating, as is the book, for providing an unusual glimpse inside a world most of us will never witness first-hand.

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Man undergoes extensive plastic surgery to look like Superman


A Filipino man named Herbert Chavez has undergone extensive surgery to make himself look like Superman: a nose job, a chin implant, collagen in his lips, and (randomly) hip implants.

Pinoy goes under knife to look like Superman

(via Neatorama)

Women's sex-strike ends civil war (sex vs violence)

Women in Mindanao, Philippines ended a violent, armed, intervillage fight by going on a "sex-strike" until their husbands stopped killing each other, as confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Women's 'sex strike' ends fighting in Mindanao villages - UNHCR