Journalist critical of Philippines’ Duterte pays bail

Maria Ressa’s (pictured) Rappler has been hit by a string of government efforts to shut it down since the site took a critical tone on Duterte. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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Journalist critical of Philippines’ Duterte pays bail

  • Maria Ressa’s Rappler has been hit by a string of government efforts to shut it down
  • Ressa surrendered to a Manila court on Monday, posted the equivalent of $1,100

MANILA: The journalist who leads a news site that has battled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte paid a cash bail Monday on a tax fraud charge she says is an effort to intimidate the publication.
Maria Ressa’s Rappler has been hit by a string of government efforts to shut it down since the site took a critical tone on Duterte, in particular his internationally condemned drug war that has killed thousands.
Ressa surrendered to a Manila court on Monday, posted the equivalent of $1,100 and was ordered to return Friday for arraignment on charges that Rappler provided false information to tax authorities.
“They (the charges) are politically motivated and... they are manufactured,” she told journalists outside court. “Rappler pays the right taxes.”
Campaigners condemned the charge, which is one of several tax fraud cases the government filed against Rappler and Ressa last week while she was out of the country.
The charges are “part of the Duterte administration’s campaign to harass, threaten and intimidate critics,” said Human Rights Watch Philippines researcher Carlos Conde.
“The attacks on Rappler are consistent with the way the Duterte administration has treated other ‘drug war’ critics,” he said.
Duterte bristles at criticism of his signature campaign to rid the nation of drugs, which police say has killed nearly 5,000 alleged dealers and users who resisted arrest.
Some of the crackdown’s highest profile critics have wound up behind bars, including Senator Leila de Lima, who is jailed on drug charges she insists were fabricated to silence her.
The government accuses Rappler Holdings Corp., Ressa and the site’s accountant of failing to pay taxes on 2015 bond sales that it alleges netted gains of 162.5 million pesos ($3 million).
The bonds, called Philippine Depositary Receipts, are at the heart of a case that led the Philippines’ corporate watchdog to void the news site’s corporate license in January.
Duterte has also attacked other media outfits that criticize him, including top newspaper, The Philippine Daily Inquirer and major broadcaster ABS-CBN, threatening to also go after their owners over alleged unpaid taxes.
The government said the charges were the consequence of wrongdoing, not retribution. “You violate tax laws, then you will be prosecuted,” Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.


Google Doodle serves up falafel in quirky animation

Updated 18 June 2019
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Google Doodle serves up falafel in quirky animation

  • It is believed falafels originated in Egypt, where they were called ta’ameya and made of fava beans
  • The popularity of falafel then moved towards the Levant area, where the use of chickpea became a staple

DUBAI: One of the Middle East’s favorite dishes has been featured in a Google Doodle as the site apparently took a break from the Women’s World Cup.

Google had been running a series of doodles about the major sporting event, but on Tuesday – apparently randomly - focused on what the search giant described as the “best thing that ever happened to chickpeas.”

We don’t know why they chose Tuesday to run the Doodle – June 12 having been International Falafel Day.  

But the Middle East’s claim to these mouthwatering balls of chickpeas, onions, herbs and spices is undeniable.

Here's a simple step-by-step guide to making falafels, posted by food blog Food Wishes:

It is believed falafels originated in Egypt, where they were called ta’ameya and made of fava beans, about a thousand years ago, by Coptic Christians who ate them during lent as a meat substitute.

Another version of the story suggests that it goes further back to Pharaonic times – traces of fava beans were said to be found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, according to website Egyptian Streets, and that there were paintings from ancient Egypt showing people making the food.

The popularity of falafel then moved towards the Levant area, where the use of chickpea became a staple.

Over the years, many variations of falafel were invented, with global fast food chain McDonalds joining in the falafel craze with its McFalafel.

Popular Iraqi-American comedian Remy Munasifi, attracted more than 1.5 million views for a song about falafels he posted on his YouTube account “GoRemy.’