Archive for February 4, 2011

WILL BELARUS BE THE START OF MAFIA STATES?

February 4, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

The month of February is the 2nd month of the year. 2 in numerology signifies change, whether this be change for the better or for worst. So let me take up with you the matter of change in states from legitimate to mafia regime.

 

The question worth reflecting is: is it possible for a mafia state to gel in the foreseeable future? We are witnessing today the rise to the executive department of a mafia power in Belarus, so let us continue to observe the events in that country.

 

By mafia state is meant the rise to power of a mafia group—a group engaged in organized crime—to state power and sustaining that power in the long run. Such a rise would then demolish the accepted rules of the game of governance, though the mafia regime may show semblance of legitimacy through electoral victories.

 

During the incumbency of any mafia regime, it is possible that mafia operations across the country concerned will become the norm more than the exception. Mafia groups will then declare cities and/or regions within the country as their enclave, and bless those elected and appointed officials there being the strategic powerbrokers.

 

From the advent of the Great Depression through the recovery era of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, around five (5) cities in the United States were reputedly under the control of mafia groups. Had such a trend gained momentum in the manner of a domino effect, city after city and then state after state in the USA could have fallen into mafia hands, and it would just be a matter of time before the federal government itself will become the enclave of the most powerful mafia godfather in America.

 

The scenario of a mafia USA didn’t take place as early enough the trend towards a domino effect was nipped in the bud. Humbled by the power of central government that jailed the topnotch mafia lords, the mafia then became subordinate operators that can be tapped by Establishment rouge elements for sabotage and assassination operations, e.g. the assassination of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.

 

Fast forward to the year 1998, when the Philippines’ presidency of Joseph Estrada gelled. A scary regime it was, as Estrada himself was a growing mafia lord and his Mafiosi pals expropriated the presidential palace by night as a ‘midnight cabinet’. So corrupt was that regime, that the damage it had done to crime solution, fiscal balance, and good governance seem irreparable. It was overthrown in January 2001, and so the mafia state was nipped in the bud before it would calcify in the long run.

 

As the Philippine mafia was basking in power in 1998-2000, Colombia was showing a peculiar situation. Though its central government was no mafia at all, drug lords were literally the power brokers there. Drug lords were the real government in Colombia, while the central government was only the virtual government. It took about a decade for the legitimate state to re-assert its power and efface the power of the mafia lords who eventually faced squid tactics of elimination.

 

The situation of a mafia state almost calcified in Russia during Yeltsin’s incumbency as president. So sudden was the shift to capitalism then, as state enterprises were ordered privatized (from their original state-owned status). The only people with huge funds to buy state firms were the mafia families in Russia, so that before Yeltsin bowed out of power 80% of Russia’s corporate world was already in the hands of mafia lords.

 

That conundrum in Russia was reversed only with the ascent to power of Putin and the FSB (former KGB). The FSB knew that the emerging oligarchs of a capitalist Russia were actually mafia lords. It is within the context of dominating mafia power that the state sampled some oligarchs for jailing as a signal to all mafia groups that their powers are delimited. At a certain juncture, the mafia there knew that it cannot mutate to a political power broker without suffering the consequences.

 

Yet no matter what measures are done to clip mafia power, sooner or later there will be one state in the world where a long-term mafia state will succeed. It seems that Belarussia is the first such state to endure if ever. As of today though, forces in Germany and Poland are already working out to stamp out the Belorussian mafia from an enduring power entrenchment, and so the events there are worth watching.

 

A mafia state is like a ‘pacman fever’ (to recall that old video game), that once it is entrenched and endures through time, it can gobble up experientially other states as well. Those most contiguous to it could be the first to be infected. That is why Poland and Germany are bothered so badly, they are mobilizing resources for an overthrow of the mafia presidency in Belarussia.

 

[Philippines, 02 February 2011]

 

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AFRICA ON FIRE!

February 4, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Africa is on fire. From north to south, east to west of the continent, politico-military turbulences are taking place, hence tending to confuse and scale up fear among the ordinary folks of the continent.

 

You can go ahead and harbor your own perspective in explaining the causes of the conflicts there. You can see the conflicts from a domestic vantage point, thus explaining turbulence based on internal factors such as religious, ethnic, and geopolitical factors. You can also choose to explain them from the vantage point of a globalist, thus explicating the turbulences as offshoots of global synarchy of chaos fomented by the financier oligarchs of the West.

 

At a time when a new millennium is accelerating momentum, bringing forth glad tidings of prosperity and relative peace, hot fires are taking place in Africa. Whether a single set of explanations would suffice to comprehend the predominance of negative imagery in the continent would be subject of debates. What is clear first of all is that the continental imagery tends to recline on the negative which bodes ill for the Africans.

 

To name a few representative projections of the turbulences: growing protests in Tunisia; contested poll results in Cote d’Ivory, spiraling into civil war proportions; paper governance in Somalia where pirates abound as offshoot of a failed state; still unabated turbulence in Zimbabwe, spilling off millions of migrants to South Africa; Sudan’s split between North and South as a result of religious and ethnic divergences; and, brewing conflict between Copts and Muslims in Egypt.

 

Those representative turbulences alone demonstrate that in every corridor of the continent—north, east, west, south—turbulence is the pattern. The anarchy practically overshadows or masks the peace, cooperation and development now going on in countries that have struggled hard to depart from the path of failed states that were balkanized by internecine wars.

 

Let us take the case of the Sahara. A gigantic effort to green the historically desert region has been going on for years now, which to me is a milestone event that will reverse the age-old desertification. With the turbulences going on in the cardinal corridors of the continent, who would now care to examine and extol the very admirable eco-balancing inter-country efforts in the pan-Sahara?

 

Tanzania and Ghana would also be worth your enquiry. Both countries are undertaking development efforts, with external investors showing great interest in both countries as showcase of cross-border direct foreign investments. Ghana is most especially important to my beloved Philippines, as many of its leaders were schooled by top universities in Manila. Who would ever care for such exemplary developments in both countries, with the media perpetually presenting staccato and crescendo of turbulences in the continent?

 

Africa is indeed on fire, all of its representative regions have their respective versions of hot spots, so the situation must first of all be accepted by all stakeholders there. There must be no denying about the hot fires and brewing caldrons, so that the alternative courses of action can be configured, and the compass of peace be identified and executed.

 

As an external observer who is keenly interested in seeing Africa accelerate its development and poverty-reduction, I am very supportive of efforts by all stakeholders in the continent to forge ahead the agenda for stamping out hot fires, contain brewing caldrons, and prevent other fires from igniting in the foreseeable future. Africans who wish for my moral support can go ahead and let me sign advocacy positions that need the support of solidarity groups and individuals outside of the continent as I’ve done in the past.

 

Watching those exemplars of positive development in the continent, I am optimistic that Africans will be able to transcend their predicaments, imbroglios, and anarchies in due time. I hope that the fast rising ‘emerging markets’ in other continents would expand and diversify on their support for peace and development in Africa, and reinforce their deployment of grassroots volunteers to the continent.

 

To all concerned Africans, Love & Peace! You shall overcome!

 

[Philippines, 01 February 2011]

 

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ZEST FITNESS GYM: PHILIPPINES’ POWERLIFTING TOPGUN

February 4, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang araw sa kapamilyang global! Good day to global community fellows!

 

This year 2011 will mark the 21st year that this analyst (sociologist, economist, political analyst) and self-development guru has been practicing powerlifting as a regular physical regimen. Being a former competitive athlete in national powerlifting Class A (equivalent to ‘professional’) in Ph, I will dedicate this note to the Zest Fitness Gym, the topgun powerlifing gym that made me into a national athlete and consistent gym weight burner.

 

This is the narrative of my physical history, fellows. I’ve been doing gym weight training for 21 years now, with no signs that I’d be dropping off powerlifting as my regular physical regimen. I owe it to the Zest gym this love for weight training and the scientific rigor that goes with that training.

 

I used to jog and swim for eight (8) years prior to my plunge into weight training in 1990. In 1982 I almost lost my life, neglectful as I was then for two (2) straight years of living an active professional and civil life but without a physical program. I contracted falciparum malaria along the way and almost died of it, and so the decision came to me never again to be remiss in my physical fitness programming.

 

Within a week I would jog for a day or two, and then in between jogging I would swim for at least a day or two in a week. I would jog for around 30-45 minutes, and swam 20 laps in the Olympic pool. My exercises were largely survival training types or non-competitive. I began to pump some weights in ‘86 through ‘89 to give some firmer shapes to my muscles while I continued with the jog & swim regimen.

 

Then in 1990 I decided to go straight gym or indoor workouts. I simply scorned the days when I couldn’t jog or swim due to heavy rains or inclement weather as the rains restrained me from getting exposed to the elements. So in 1990 I decided to go regular gym workouts, since I can do the workouts even if the stormy day is already whistling Signal No. 2 typhoon beacons.

 

I was then residing in Cubao, Quezon City, and from there I took a ride to University of the Philippines (Diliman) to do workouts at the PRO Gym. Barely just six (6) months in weight training then, I stumbled into the Zest gym just near my residential area. I was surprised that there was one gym there where topgun powerlifters trained, and it was just around 12 minutes walk from my home.

 

The gym got me curious about powerlifting, as I was then doing the typical body-building program. An orientation chat with Ramon ‘Mon’ Dabuque, owner and chief trainor of Zest, convinced me sufficiently to try out with the program. Powerlifting builds mass, power and agility, and that was enough to make me try it and linger on with it till now.

 

Sports science provided the core ‘best practices’ to the Zest weight training, a fact that fascinated me a lot. Being a former weightlifter at the University of the Philippines and a national athlete, Mon Dabuque was very meticulous in doing research and testing the applications of certain programmed practices. Even our diet regimen had to pass the rigors of R & D tested regimen for athletes.

 

It was through Zest, with its bounty of sports science magazines and literature, that informed me highly about the combinations of macrobiotics (65% carbo, 20% protein, 15% fats), sufficient microbiotic supplements (vitamins, minerals), and catalytic boosters. That knowledge was to be added to my arsenal of knowledge packages about health & wellness, at a time when I was already an advocate of alternative health paradigms.

 

The program for us athletes then was a combination of the Bulgarian program, Hawaiian program, regular (generic) powerlifting basics, and Mon Dabuque’s innovative experimental program. Scientific and very rigorous, couples of weakling types dropped out of the regimen, while couples of others, myself included, proceeded to take the challenge of winning head on via the rigorous and disciplined regimen.

 

The beauty with scientific programming is that even if the trainee doesn’t possess ‘muscular genetics’ (low muscular intelligence), the trainee can still be transformed into a topgun powerlifting athlete. Sports science is the cutting edge, and I am witness to the power of scientific training under a brilliant trainor/instructor. Many of us athltetes, myself included, possessed sloppy frail body types with no muscular genetics and yet made it to the top as national-level athletes while just new into powerlifting.

 

In less than a year of powerlifting training, I decided to try it out in the National Powerlifting Novice Competitions in 1991, and wondrously landed as Bronze Medalist on the Lightweight division. Emboldened by the victories of our Zest Team and the medal I won, I worked hard for a year to qualify for the National Class A Powerlifting Competitions in 1992, and landed as Silver Medalist in the Middleweight division.

 

During both competitions, I was witness to how the Zest Team lionized the greatest number of medals and bested all other gyms in the total Team scores. PH’s topgun powerlifters—Mon Dabuque, Tony Taguibao, Eddie Torres, Allan Paje, Erlina Pecante—whom we can correctly classify as ‘world class’ athletes today, are from Zest.

 

To be able to qualify as a national-to-international class athlete, one has to carry a total of over 7 X his/her body weight, by adding altogether his/her performance in Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. On my last competition, with body weight at around 68 kilograms, my Deadlift was 210 kg, Squat at 167 kg, and Bench Press at 92 kg. I was near that mark just barely 18 months or so into powerlifting, thanks to scientific training.

 

I also became a member of 200 Club, comprising those who can carry a load of over 200 kilograms in any event—I did it in deadlift. Later, I would learn that Eddie Torres and Mon Dabuque became members of the 300 Club, enabled as they were to carry a load breaching 300 kilograms in their deadlift and/or squat. I was truly ecstatic at my own feat, just 18 months into powerlifting then, and felt edified to have been a Team Mate with the topguns who also became my friends.

 

I was about to train for the Asian Powerlifting in 1993 when PH was entitled to send a double team (meaning two athletes per weight division). Unfortunately, I was knocked out cold by lingering tonsillitis, decidedly had to undergo surgery, and eventually led to the huge drop in my performance. Late that year, after surgery, I decided to retire from competitive sports, and focus instead on using power training as my regular physical fitness regimen.

 

Twenty-one years later, I still am a consummate gym worker amid my advancing age. Let me express herewith my gratitude to Zest gym and its core trainor Mon Dabuque, and my continuing appreciation and admiration of topguns Mon Dabuque, Eddie Torres, Erlina Pecante, Tony Taguibao, Allan Paje, and my other Team Mates.

 

To Zest Gym, Mabuhay!

 

[Philippines, 01 February 2011]

 

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs anytime!

 

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