Stephen Hawking: This is the most dangerous time for our planet

the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, finding that the Instagram nirvana is not available there, they seek it overseas, joining the ever greater numbers of economic migrants in search of a better life. These migrants in turn place new demands on the infrastructures and economies of the countries in which they arrive, undermining tolerance and further fuelling political populism.

For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

Opinion piece on The Guardian

New Nokia phones: Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual Sim

Nokia is back! The first new phones from the former number 1 mobile manufacturer now built by HMD, are out. These are not smart phones though, rather new feature phones that gives a glimpse of what HMD can do.

Meet the Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual Sim:

Nokia 150 and 150 Dual SIM specs:
2.4-inch QVGA TFT display (240 x 320 pixels)
Expandable storage via microSD card, up to 32GB
VGA rear camera w/ LED flash
Bluetooth 3.0
FM radio
MP3 player
1020mAh removable Li-Ion battery (BL-5C)
Nokia Series 30+
118.0 x 50.2 x 13.5 mm
81 g

It has an MP3 player, built-in radio, Bluetooth and a VGA camera. The best part, it has a battery life of 22 hours!
Priced at $26 USD or roughly Php1,300 before taxes, the new phones will be available early next year.

Soon though, we’ll see the new smart phones from Nokia, I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a bit of excitement myself. Check out HMD’s website for more info about these new feature phones.

Facebook users in the Philippines can now report links as fake news

Finally! With the rise of social media and the dominance of Facebook came the rise of hoax stories or fake news stories/articles which in turn was used as propaganda for hate, discrimination, abuses and manipulation of public opinion. In response, Facebook introduced a feature back in January 20, 2016 which allowed users to flag or report a news story as a hoax or fake. This feature back then was only available to users in the United States. Erich Owens, Software Engineer, and Udi Weinsberg, Research Scientist for Facebook explained in a post:

We’re always looking to people on Facebook to tell us how we can improve this experience. We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news. Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook.

Now it’s available for users in the Philippines where the proliferation of fake news stories have become the weapon of choice for political operatives in influencing public opinion and the national discussion whether they are supportive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his much criticized and controversial war on illegal drugs and recently, his ordering of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a national shrine for its fallen heroes, or critical of his policies.

Various personalities and groups have taken to Facebook to drum up support for Duterte or voice their criticisms which is important in a democracy. However, things have become out of hand as both supporters and critics have directly or indirectly used and produced fake news stories for their cause. In the end though, the level and quality of public discourse has suffered. As manipulation of information, statistics, photos even blatant fabrication of fake stories and lies has led to abuse and widening of divisions and disagreements, hatred and mass psychosis. It has become harder to tell what is true from what is a lie.

To report a link on Facebook as fake news:

1) Click on the “v” menu in the upper-right corner of the post. A menu pops up, choose “Report post”
Fake news on Facebook

2) Choose “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook.”

3) Now select “It’s a false news story.”

4) Next options for unfriending, unfollowing or completely blocking your friend or page that posted the hoax or fake news. There’s even an option of messaging your friend to let him or her know that you think the link is hoax or fake.

Good job! You just helped Facebook identify which content is a hoax or fake news. The links you report won’t be deleted but will be marked with a message warning people that many others on Facebook have reported it. Hopefully, this will help in cleaning up our news feeds and taking back the Internet.

Looking for a new social bookmarking tool

In my effort to get back my blogging mojo, I re-opened my account to see if the service is still alive so that I can start using it again to save the links that I find interesting and useful for later on. Seeing that the service has become a shell of its former glory back when social media primarily meant blogs and blogging and Facebook was just a rising star, it dawned on me that I need a new or a different bookmarking service. Googling for it reminded me of Google Bookmarks (duh!) being a Google fan, it would be easy to dump and fall back to this one. But this list of social bookmarking sites drew my attention to Pinterest. Knowing it’s the most popular service in this niche and how it has replaced in the “social bookmarks” plugins nowadays, it’s a better option than Google Bookmarks. I’ll give it a spin for a couple of weeks and see if it will grow on me or how it will fit in with my blogging routine.

Oh and is so like a zombie it can’t even export your bookmarks anymore.

Android Malware: Gooligan – Is your phone infected?

You may have heard or read about it online, a malware has been found to have infected more than 1 Million Android devices and that number goes up by as much as 13,000 devices per day. This was reported by tech security firm Check Point:

Our research exposes how the malware roots infected devices and steals authentication tokens that can be used to access data from Google Play, Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, G Suite, Google Drive, and more.

Gooligan is a new variant of the Android malware campaign found by our researchers in the SnapPea app last year.

The malware has spread through 3rd-party Android app stores for a number of reasons: less stringent security measures compared to Google’s Play Store, free versions of paid apps are usually found in these 3rd-party app stores and majority of the apps are available for free.

Gooligan malware is part of an online campaign to steal Google account tokens that can be used for other nefarious deeds aside from the obvious stealing of one’s Google account. Check out the infographic below to see the big picture:

How gooligan campaign works
Image by Check Point

They have an online tool that lets you check whether or not your Google account has been compromised which means your device has been infected by the Gooligan malware or not. I checked out my primary Google account and was glad that it is still remains intact.

They also have a list of apps that have been confirmed to carry the Gooligan malware. So check it out and your device’s list of installed apps to see if you’re phone has been infected or not. The most effective way to protect your phone is simple: do not download apps from 3rd-party app stores. Avoid side-loading apps or manually installing apps on your device specially if you’re unsure of where it came from. And even if you’re on the Google Play Store, do some research first before downloading an app.

Google is already aware of this issue and have taken steps to combat this malware.

Read Check Point’s report on the Gooligan malware for more information. Be safe. Be smart.

Andres Bonifacio: Sa Marahas Na Manga Anak Nang Bayan

To commemorate the 153rd birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, Father of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, I share the full text of one of the manifestos, issued in his name to the Katipuneros after suffering a series of defeats from the Spanish advances in Silang, Zapote and Batangas sometime between February and March 1897:

Sa Marahas Na Manga Anak Nang Bayan:
Ang inyong ipinakilalang katapangan sa pakikihamok sa kaaway na mga Kastila buhat pa ng simulan itong panghihimagsik, ay siyang nagsasabing mataas na di ninyo ikinasisindak ang ugong ng paghahanda at pagsalakay dito ng hukbong akay ni Polavieja, na sa kaunting pan ahon ay nagpakilala na ng malabis na kaduagan at hamak na kaasalan ng alipin sa kanyang pagpapahirap at malimit na pagpatay sa makapal na kalahing hindi nagsisilaban. Yaong pagpapasunog nito sa mga bayan, yaong paglapatasngan at pagdungis sa capurihan ng mga babai na di na pinacundanganan ang canilang cahinaan, yaong pagkitil ng buhay ng mga matatandang hindi na macausad at sangol na sumususo pa, na cailan may hindi aasalin at gagawin ng sino pa mang lalaking may puri at may tapang, ay humihingi ng isang masiglang paghihiganti at matinding caparusahan.

Sa inyong pamimiyapis mangyayaring abutin ang cayo’y tanghalin bangkay sa gitna ng parang ng pakikidigma; ngunit ito’y isang kapurihang inyong maipapamana sa ating Bayan, sa ating lahi, at sa ating angkan.
Dapat naman ninyong mabatid, na ang kadahilanan ng ating paggugugol ng lalong mahalaga sa loob at sampu ng ingat na buhay, ay ng upang tamuhin at kamtan yaong linalayong Kalayaan ng ating Bayang tinubuan na siyang magbibigay ng buong caginhawaan at magbabangon ng ating kapurihan na ilinugmok ng kaalinpinan sa hukay ng kadustaang walang makatulad.

Sasagi kaya sa iniyong loob ang panlolomo at aabutin ang panghihinayang na mamatay sa kadahilanang ito? Hindi, hindi! Sapagka’t nakikintal sa inyong gunita yaang libolibong kinitil na buhay ng mapanganyayang kamay ng Kastila, yaong daing, yaong himutoc at pananangis ng mga pinapangulila ng kanilang kalupitan, yaong mga kapatid nating nangapipiit sa kalagimlagim na bilanguan at nagtiis ng walang awang pagpapahirap, yaong walang tilang pag agos ng luha ng mga nawalay sa piling ng kanilang mga anac, asawa at matatandang magulang na itinapon sa iab’t ibang malalayong lupa at ang katampalasanang pagpatay sa ating pinakiibig na kababayan na si M. Jose Rizal, ay nagbukas sa ating puso ng isang sugat na kailan pa ma’y di mababahaw. Lahat ng ito ay sukat ng magpaningas sa lalong malamig na dugo at magbunsod sa atin sa pakikihamok sa hamak na Kastila na nag bibigay sa ating ng lahat ng kahirapan at kamatayan.

Kaya mga kapatid, igayak ang loob sa pakikipaglaban at paasasahan ang pagtatagumpay, sapagka’t na sa atin ang tunay na katuiran at kabanalang gawa; ang Kastila, isyang kasuklamsuklan na lahing dito’y napasuot ang taning ipinaglalaban, ay ang maling katuirang panggagaga at panlulupig dito sa di nila bayan.

Sa lahat ng ito, ng malubos ang kabanalan at kapurihan ng ating lahi, ng tanghalin ng Sandaigdigan ang kamahalan ng ating kalooban, ay huag nating tularan ang kalabang Kastila sa pagkahamak ng asal na ugaling gamit sa pakikidigma, huag tayong makipaghamok sa kaibigan lamang pumatay, kundi sa pagtatanggol ng Kalayaan ng ating Bayan, at abutin sa mahigpit na pagkakayakap nating mga anak ng Bayan, ay maihiyaw ng buong lakas na Mabuhay! Mabuhay! Ang Haring Bayang Katagalugan!

Andres Bonfacio

Source: Aguinaldo and the Revolution of 1896: A Documentary History, by Pedro S. de Achutegui, S.J. and Miguel A. Bernad, S. J., Ateneo de Manila, 1972. p. 328

As part of 20 Speeches that Moved a Nation by Manuel L. Quezon III, 2002

US Supreme Court: Same-sex marriage is a right

Ripples of the landmark decision of the US Supreme Court upholding same-sex couple’s right to marry have covered the entire world specially online. In a vote of 5-to-4 the Justices have ruled that the US Constitution grants same-sex couples the right to get married in all 50 states. A resounding victory for the gay rights movement. The New York Times has a good breakdown of the decision which highlights opinions from the Justices who dissented in the case.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

As the LGBT community celebrate this historic victory, observers have taken notice of the decision’s ramifications both to US domestic issues but to other countries that are faced with the same controversial issue of gay rights. The Atlantic has a good rundown of how the decision would have an impact in the US – changes to adoption laws, religious freedom and more importantly, what it means to oppose gay rights.

Here in the Philippines, a growing LGBT community has been working for more recognition for their rights. The last time the issue of gay rights have been debated on the national level was when the Ang Ladlad party-list was disqualified by the COMELEC based on religious and moral grounds during the 2010 national elections. The case was brought to the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of Ang Ladlad because of the COMELEC’s reliance on the Bible and Koran in their decision, not a recognition of gay rights.

Last May, openly-gay lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III filed a petition in the Supreme Court to strike down provisions of the Family Code that prohibit same-sex marriage. The case is still pending before the High Court but given that our justice system follows or uses the rulings of the US Supreme Court as a precedent or reference in deciding cases as our democratic and government institutions and laws are patterned after theirs, it’s interesting to see how the case will develop and how our own Supreme Court will decide now that American counterparts have crossed this bridge.

The debate for LGBT rights have always remained on the sidelines for years, now that the US has joined other countries in allowing same-sex marriage, will the Philippines follow suit soon?

2016 Presidential Elections – Grace Poe could be the real alternative to Trapos

Those who know me and my politics may be surprised by the title of this post. The words to follow may even be more surprising but since Binay’s resignation from the Cabinet has signaled the start of the election season, it’s high time we begin to seriously consider our options for the upcoming Presidential elections in 2016.

Surveys not withstanding, Binay would not get my vote. Let me take this moment to tell the world that I love my wife, very much. It’s no longer an issue of whether the allegations of massive corruption and plunder are true or not, Binay for me simply represents another family from a collection of oligarchs who is eager for its turn to use the highest office in the land to simply enrich themselves further and entrench their political dynasty on the back of millions of poor Filipinos.

Mar Roxas? Just look at the sad and tragic state of Yolanda survivors now and you’d be afraid of what will happen to the rest of the country if he ever becomes President. Also, the problems of the MRT now began during his term as DOTC Secretary.

So Why Grace Poe? Fellow blogger and now columnist Tonyo Cruz lays down the basic reasons why an independent Grace Poe would be our best chance of getting our country out of this sh*t hole it has been led straight into by the Aquino administration:

In one of the hearings she called on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, I personally saw Senator Poe lead with remarkable intelligence and humility as she asked resource speakers her questions and as she listened to their answers. So much unlike other pompous senators, her manner of leading the hearing was very organized but open-minded. Her questions were well thought of. She jots down notes and remembers important points that beg for follow-up questions. She showed and expressed appreciation for correct or better ideas regardless of the source, and thus commanded respect from the invited resource persons.

The FOI Bill remains a bill, despite Poe’s brilliant leadership in the Senate. Why? Because President Aquino and his allies in the House of Representatives continue to block the very idea of an FOI Law.

That it is unfortunate that President Aquino refused the passage and enactment of an FOI Law is a gross understatement. Not only is it unfortunate, it is one of the President’s gross acts of betrayal on his much-hyped “Daang Matuwid.”

In the Senate’s Mamasapano Massacre investigation, Senator Poe stood out along with a few other senators from some of their colleagues who loudly and unapologetically chose to be anti-Muslim, ignorant, and hysterical.

And who could forget Poe’s low-profile, under-the-radar quest to know the plight of MRT commuters? The public won’t forget that powerful gesture of empathy, and her repeated demands for government to rescue commuters from the awful MRT service.

Recently, Poe also spoke against over-dependence on the US as the Philippines fights Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea. Such patriotic stand provides a sharp contrast with the unapologetic pro-US mendicancy of the Aquino administration.

On these issues, Poe chose to be on the side of progress and to be an agent of change and empowerment.

With a lot of good things going for her: she has beaten Binay in the presidential surveys, the issue about her citizenship being a non-issue, and the clear lack of a palatable choice between traditional politicians represented by the Aquino-Conjuanco, Roxas and Binay, it is the best time for people wanting real chance, people who have been frustrated by the false hope of PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid” to rally around Grace Poe and mount a real people’s candidate with a progressive and pragmatic platform of government.

Tonyo Cruz: National ID and SIM Card registration are a scam

There’s no problem with having multiple ID cards. The real problem lies in the services linked to those cards: declining budgets, quality, coverage, scope, rising fees, and more expensive premiums. Also: the corruption and mishandling of state workers’ and private sector workers’ pension and health insurance funds. Those are the problems begging to be solved.

There’s no problem either with non-registration of SIM cards. The real problem lies in the failure of authorities to use all tools at their disposal to dismantle, arrest, and prosecute syndicates. Not to mention the massive surveillance reportedly done by the US National Security Agency against Filipinos.

If the National ID and mandatory SIM card registration get approved, the people who would be happiest are the crooks – the criminals and their forgers for the new business, the scammers in and out of government, the identity thieves, and those responsible for our real problems: the dismal state of basic services and crimes going unpunished.

The public should be warned: The National ID and mandatory SIM card registration are scams.

Tonyo Cruz gives compelling reasons why the proposed National ID and SIM card registration would be an added burden to ordinary Filipinos. Not only an added burden, it would be another tool for violation of rights and oppression.