Category Archives: Politics

Gun stock prices increase

Gun Stock Prices Seeing Big Inceases

In financial news, there is one sector that is experiencing a surprising boost in stock prices due to a number of factors that are both old and new. Gunstocks like Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger (RGR) both saw 5% increases during trading on Monday, December 7.

It’s not unusual to see top gunstocks in this sector experience price increases during the holidays, especially the week after “Black Friday.” The extra boost these stocks saw on Monday was due in large part to last week’s mass shooting in San Bernadino (14 dead, 21 injured). President Barack Obama’s immediate call for stricter gun controls in a speech he delivered to the American people also added fuel to the fire. He spoke about both terrorist threats to the nation and continued gun violence on the streets of America.

In recent years, there has been a rash of mass shootings with most of them involving some type of assault weapons. In response, liberal factions, including President Obama, have tried to seize on the opportunity to get gun concessions from public sympathy. To date, President Obama’s rhetoric and calls for stricter gun controls related to background checks and assault weapons have been met with strong resistance from the National Rifle Association and conservative groups from around the country that stand behind the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

On the year, Smith and Wesson has already seen a 113% rise in its stock price while Sturm, Ruger follows close behind at 67%. With the political environment keeping gun control at the top of the debate list, current trends within this sector are likely to continue. Anytime Americans sense a threat to gun ownership rights, investors see an opportunity to pick up shares in companies that are likely to see a big boost in revenues as gun enthusiast clamor to pick up those items that might become banned.


China’s Reclamation in the South China Sea

What makes it a headline

What new and hot in the world todays is the reclamation in the South China Sea by, of course, China. For some time now, China has been doing some construction on some of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. It is said that the purpose is to improve and maximize the functions and potentials of the said islands and reefs, as weel as of the living conditions there. The reclamation has been going so fast, and that doesn’t make some countries happy.

Several other countries also have their eyes set on the Spratly archipelago, such as Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam. But what makes the particular reclamation case by China becomes the spotlight? It may be the fact that China has reclaimed a lot, over 2000 acres in the South China Sea. That number exceeds all of the combined reclaimation in the said sea by the rest of the claimants. It also surpasses what noted in the entire history of the region is. Moreover, it may be the fact that China did all of that in only the last 18 months.

Many countries are concerned whether China will stop shortly, or whether the project of its will go on further. The stretch of water concerns big countries around the world, such as US, Japan, and other ASEAN members. These countries are worried not only about the marime conditions and safety. They are also alert about China’s behavior that seems to risk disorders in the region.

The United States consider that behavior of China’s as “out of step with internaitonal norms.” For Japan, it speaks out that the current condiotion may affect the peace and balance in the region. It also states that China, as well as other countries reclaiming in the South China Sea, should behave more responsibly.


Hillary Clinton will run for president

After many weeks of speculation and political analysts debating over the question, Hillary Clinton has officially confirmed last Sunday that she will be running for the top spot of the US government.

The first information released was through an email sent by John Podesta to her supporters. Shortly after, came a video that was released on YouTube titled “Getting Started” which now totals over 2 million views.

In a bold PR move, Mrs. Clinton took the back seat to focus on ordinary people, featuring people from all walks of life, financial income and even sexual preference.

“I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president,” Clinton said in the video.

Shortly after the release of the video, the campaign staff sent out a press release providing additional information regarding her next steps.

Clinton also took to twitter saying “I’m running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. –H”.

Clinton, 67, is seeking a fourth chapter in what is already an unprecedented career in American politics. She previously served as secretary of state and US senator for New York, as well as first lady when her husband, Bill, served two terms at the White House in the 1990s.


7 Filipinos everyone needs to know

Henry Sy, Enrique Razon Jr., Benigno Aquino, Katherine Luzuriaga, Socorro C. Ramos, Lucio Tan, Beatrice Campos.
You may not know all of the above names, but these 8 Filipinos are shaping the country’s political and economic history and have greatly contributed the country’s international footprint. From politics to business and community developments, the Philippines is growing into a regional powerhouse, producing textbook success stories and paving the way for healthy growth and sustainable development in South-East Asia. Western professionals and business leaders have a need to understand the forces at work and appreciate the complexities of a dynamic and promising market if they wish to partake in the regional business. So, what better way of doing so than by learning about the key people driving the economy and shaping the culture?

So here they are:

Henry Sy
Sy is the richest man in the Philippines with a whopping $12.7 billion net worth. The 90-year-old self-made man has passed the torch to his children, who now run his empire. The “Retail King” has interests in retailing, real estate, hospitality, banking, mining, education, as well as healthcare services. He is best known for establishing the very popular SM Mall, the 10th largest supermall chain in the world. He is the chairman of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., the holding company that owns and operates all of his business interests. Sy is also the owner and Chairman of Banco de Oro, the largest banking group in the Philippines.

Enrique Razon, Jr.
This billionaire is Chairman and CEO of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), the Philippine publicly traded port-handling giant Razon took over from his father in 1995. The company currently operates a network of ports in 22 countries. He is also the owner of Solaire Resort & Casino, a five-star complex located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque in the Manila Bay. The very successful resort is expanding, adding a few hundred more rooms, a shopping mall and a theater to its operations. 54-year-old “Ricky” is also known to be an avid golf fan.

President Benigno Aquino
The president of the Philippines, also known as P-noy (short for President Noynoy), is of course, the most influential Filipino today. He is the son of two extremely popular and admired public figures in his country. His father, Senator Benigno Aquino died fighting for democracy. His death spurred the people’s power revolution which saw an end to Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship. Aquino’s mother also marked the country’s history. President Corazon Aquino was elected by the people to take over the presidency in 1986. She is known by Filipinos to be a religious, charismatic and just leader. P-noy did not have his mind set on politics, until after the death of his mother and strong public demand for his candidacy. He subsequently ran and won the 2010 elections.

Katherine Luzuriaga
This scientist may be American, but she definitely earned her spot in this list for the amazing contributions she has made to medical research. Born of a Filipino father, Katherine Luzuriaga was part of the research team that mesmerized the world by discovering the first ever functional cure for HIV. They were able to administer this breakthrough cure to a baby born of an HIV positive mother. 39 days after birth, the baby was declared HIV-free, after having been administered the cure 30 hours after birth. The MIT educated wonder-scientist was featured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world.

Socorro C. Ramos
The second woman on the list has been an invaluable contributor to Philippine culture. She has overcome countless challenges and lived through occupation and dictatorships, thriving thanks to her exceptional salesmanship and unconditional love for books. Socorro C. Ramos is the matriarch of National Bookstore, the Philippines’ leading bookstore chain which also sells office supplies and greeting cards. In 1965, she and her husband Jose set up a nine-story building along Avenida Rizal which became the very first National Bookstore. The Ramos family has steadily grown its business over the years. She is the personification of a success story. Since she started as a bookshop clerk when she was 18, she worked her way to owning and operating a company that employs 2’500 people and has become a legend in Philippine business history.

Lucio Tan
Probably the most controversial businessman in Philippine history, Lucio Tan has built a vast empire over the years, having made his first millions in the tobacco and alcohol industries. In and out of courts for years, Tan has managed to stay on top of his problems, even after the discovery of illicit agreements he had with President Marcos in the early 1980’s that preserved his monopoly and ensured legislative reforms would not get in the way of his business.
Be as it may, Tan, who mopped floors to pay for his education, has to be credited for his tenacity and business acumen. Today, he has stakes in more than a dozen major companies, among which Air Philippines, one of the fastest growing carriers in the country.

Beatrice Campos
Beatrice Campos ranks number 19 in Forbes Asia’s 40 Richest Filipinos. She is the widow of Jose Campos, who died in 2006 and was one of the co-founders of United Laboratories (Unilab), the country’s largest pharmaceutical company, established in 1945. The Campos family also has a controlling stake in Del Monte Pacific, headed by the son Joselito. Today, Beatrice Campos’ conglomerate produces over 300 prescription and over-the-counter drugs.


Charlie Hebdo Attack in Paris (France)

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newspapers, which was targeted by gunmen on Wednesday (07.01.2015). Two gunmen (with Kalashnikovs) opened fire at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

The shooting was not a random spray of bullets, but more of a precision execution and took place during the magazine’s daily editorial meeting. The attack seems to be a terrorist act to avenge the Prophet Mohammed, witnesses described hearing the attackers shout “Allahu akbar” as well as “We have avenged the prophet.”




Obama will veto the Keystone XL

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says President Obama will veto the Keystone XL pipeline legislation if it’s passed by Congress.

The pipeline is currently in a final phase of review from the State Department, which has already concluded that it would have a minimal impact on the environment. But the State Department also assessed that the pipeline would create about 42,000 jobs directly and indirectly during the construction period — but just 50 permanent jobs.

On the Keystone bill, the White House claimed the legislation would prevent “the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on U.S. national interests.”



Did North Korea hack Sony

FBI  unveiled information on Wednesday that  provides a “very clear indication” that North Korea perpetrated the cyberattack against Sony that began in November.

FBI has traced the origin of threats against Sony back to North Korean because the hackers got sloppy and connected directly using IP adresses exclusively used by the North Koreans.

The bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit was also tasked to compare statements made by the Sony hackers with statements linked to previous North Korean hacks. The profilers concluded that the statements came from the same actors.

The information provided by the FBI on Wednesday is unlikely to appease cybersecurity researchers, who have remained skeptical about the attribution of the hack, given what little evidence has been released by the FBI.





Renat Kuzmin writes about defamation and other means of influencing criminal trials.

Renat Kuzmin, former Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine and international authority in matters of organized crime and anti-corruption discusses the thin line between freedom of expression and abuses of this democratic right aimed at discrediting key actors of legal proceedings and thus influencing their outcome.

The following article is based on Renat Kuzmin’s 20 page paper discussing the subject.

Renat Kuzmin, citing Professor Rozin, explains that the foundation of a strong judiciary rests on multiple factors including efficient organization, the population’s trust and the recognition of authorities by said population.

Increasingly, and in particular through the development of mass media, defamation is becoming a standalone mean to apply pressure on judges, juries and prosecutors involved in high-profile trials. In many jurisdictions, premature or biased commentary in the media are regarded as serious transgressions.

In certain countries, mass media also participates in a growing phenomenon known as “rally law”. Influenced masses take to the streets in a show of discontent, applying further pressure on political leaders who in turn influence the judiciary branch.

Renat Kuzmin goes on to describe what he says are the four principal means of applying pressure on ongoing investigations and trials:

Street rallies, protest actions, use of the crowd effect.

With a clear understanding of sociology and crowd psychology, large organized groups can become an extremely powerful tool to attain political goals or to influence public opinion (as described further), even if the instigators lack convincing, objective facts on a given issue.

Threats, intimidations, murders.

Examples abound of death threats, or even murders of judges, witnesses, attorneys and prosecutors in order to put a premature end to an unwanted investigation or trial. Renat Kuzmin describes such acts as “horrible displays of neglecting the laws and human dignity” and goes on to say that such “attempts to intimidate the judges and prosecutors, demoralize law-enforcement officers and public”.

Discrediting judges, prosecutors, judicial and law-enforcement system, discrediting current authorities.

A growing practice in Eastern Europe is to attract western attention by playing on cherished values such as human rights and freedom of expression. Western governments have an historic predisposition to lack objectivity when such moral concerns are raised. Thus supplying fodder to western media and applying further pressure on government institutions is no complicated feat.

Artificial molding of public opinion.

If efforts to trigger spontaneous dissent don’t amount to anything, some may take it a step further and organize artificial or fictitious gatherings in order to mold “society’s contempt of the whole judicial branch of power”. This constitutes illegal attempts to influence the outcome of a judgment and is discussed in further detail in Renat Kuzmin’s paper.

All of the above are widespread, abusive techniques which many powerful figures resort to in the absence of factual elements that may exonerate them. But the more tragic aspect to consider is the harm these techniques cause when they spill over into the public forum. Discrediting a government for personal interest may leave lasting aftereffects that can disrupt political balance or even national security.

The dilemma lies with the fact that all democratic states must uphold the highest standards of human rights, including respect for public demonstration and freedom of speech. This is why, in the process of democratization, many East-European countries have decriminalized libel. The solution to this dilemma probably lies within a delicate balance that would grant the public its fundamental rights, and allow a government to enforce the rule of law and take swift punitive action if need be.

Renat Kuzmin’s paper was published by the Kyiv Post on April 1st 2013 and can be found here: