MARAWI CITY, Philippines — It had only been a week since Mohammad Ali Acampong finished renovating his house when bombs and bullets struck Marawi City.
Two years ago, pro-Islamic State militants took over in a bid to carve out their own “Wilayah,” or province, forcing nearly 100,000 people to flee in what became the Philippine military’s toughest and longest conflict since World War II.
Acampong, a local government official, and his family of eight, left his three-story lakeside house.
“When the chaos began, our life suddenly became really difficult,” Acampong, 42, told Reuters.
“We had a comfortable life before. Now we live in between shelters, enduring heat, the lack of water, the lack of everything.”
Marawi was once one of the most picturesque cities in the Philippines.
About half of it is now charred concrete and skeletons of buildings, the effects of 154 days of airstrikes and artillery fire by the military, and booby traps the rebels laid everywhere to keep people at bay.
The Acampongs now live in a tiny temporary housing unit on the city’s outskirts, competing with thousands of families for water and other basic utilities.
At least 500 other families live in plastic tents, like Asnia Sandiman, 25, who produces made-to-order clothing with a government-issued sewing machine.
“The tent is fine until it rains and it gets so cold, or until the heat is so bad,” Sandiman said.
“My deepest hope is that we are allowed to go back to Marawi but honestly, I would take any permanent address just to get out of here.”
Hundreds of militants, 165 soldiers and at least 45 civilians were killed in the five-month conflict. President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2017 declared the city liberated and its rehabilitation officially underway.
But there is little sign of progress.
Bangon Marawi (Rise Marawi), an interagency task force in charge of reconstruction, has a deadline of 2021 for rebuilding and remains confident of meeting that.
“We could only go as fast as legally possible. We can’t make shortcuts,” its field office manager, Felix Castro, said.
“It takes a while in the beginning but it will be quick once it starts.”
Except for stray dogs and soldiers on guard, Marawi’s commercial center has been abandoned. There is no sign of the promised rehabilitation.
Thousands of people are in limbo following a conflict that no one saw coming.
Most are jobless and dependent on relief goods, like Noronisah Laba Gundarangin, a mother of three, who lives with four other families in her sister’s home.
The 73,000 pesos ($1,385) her family received from government agencies isn’t enough for a small business. They have debts to pay and children to feed.
Gundarangin, 40, wonders what happened to all the help and money pledged by the international community when the war was in the spotlight. The authorities say not all of that has materialized.
“I know billions (of pesos) were donated to Marawi, but they go through so much bureaucracy that by the time it reaches us, they are pennies,” she said.
The task force commander, Eduardo del Rosario, on Monday said obstacles to progress were debris, unexploded ordnance and unsafe structures, but said those should all be cleared by November, with some construction to start in September.
While awaiting that, the task force has been allowing people to return to see the place they once called home. Now they call it “ground zero.”
Acampong gave his consent for his house to be demolished. He returned recently and found a papaya tree growing in its place.
“It’s painful because we had nothing to do with this war. We were just caught up,” he said.
“Everything we’ve worked hard for, all the big and small investments, are now all gone.”
“Every day, it’s like this. Waiting and waiting, as if waiting for death.” (Reuters)
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggested Thursday that inflation will pick up in the coming months but that it would likely prove temporary and not enough for the Fed to alter its record-low interest rate policies. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note had jumped from below 1% at the end of last year to roughly 1.4% Wednesday — and then surged above 1.5% during Powell’s remarks. Stock investors, too, dumped shares in the midst of Powell's remarks, in which he suggested that the Fed would need to see both a near-full recovery in the job market and a sustained rise in inflation above its target level before considering a rate hike.
Camden County JailA prominent Lake of the Ozarks real estate agent and self-described “cheer mom” has been arrested for allegedly trying to put a hit out on her former mother-in-law. Prosecutors in Camden County say Leigh Ann Bauman, 43, offered to pay $1,500 to people in St. Louis to make her former mother-in-law’s death “look like an accident.” She was reportedly concerned about the woman causing problems with her relationship with her kids.Bauman was recorded discussing the scheme, according to a press release from the Camden County prosecutor’s office. She was given multiple opportunities to change her mind when asked by a witness-turned-informant if she was sure she wanted to carry out the killing, prosecutors said, but she moved ahead with it, at one point acknowledging that she was a Christian but noting she could always ask for forgiveness later.The realtor also is said to have made no secret about her alleged plans. After sending a text message to her daughter that said, “Your grandmother will die,” Bauman allegedly plowed ahead with the plan and pushed for her former mother-in-law to be killed in the small town of Hermann.Her alleged murder-for-hire plot fell apart when an attorney for a person who was solicited to hire people to carry out the killing contacted the Missouri Highway Patrol. She was arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is currently being held without bond in the Camden County Jail.“We’re very appreciative of what the witness did in this case,” Camden County Prosecutor Caleb Cunningham said Friday. “We encourage anyone to contact law enforcement if there’s a crime or suspected crime.” “A local realtor had several political connections and the witness was aware of these political connections,” Cunningham said. “Out of an abundance of caution, DDCC was used to avoid any hint of impropriety,” he said, referring to the Missouri Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control.Bauman, who describes herself as a realtor, an artist, an entrepreneur, and a “cheer mom” on her Facebook page, frequently posted online about her “track record of success.” While she was most well-known as a realtor, with nearly 20 years in the industry, she also apparently set a world record in a boating race last year. Her LinkedIn account also mentions work in pharmaceutical sales and an acting and modeling career, with appearances on Days of Our Lives and in Nike commercials.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The day after he single-handedly delayed the U.S. Senate's debate on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill for 11 hours, Republican Senator Ron Johnson said on Friday that he could retire from office when his term expires. The 65-year-old Republican, who was first elected to the Senate during the Tea Party surge in 2010, had pledged to spend only two terms in the Senate.
NASA’s newest Mars rover hit the dusty red road this week, putting 21 feet on the odometer in its first test drive. The Perseverance rover ventured from its landing position Thursday, two weeks after setting down on the red planet to seek signs of past life. “This is really the start of our journey here,” said Rich Rieber, the NASA engineer who plotted the route.
Experts feared the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's slightly lower efficacy rate would lead to an impression of a two-tiered system. That has been exactly the case in Detroit, where the mayor just rejected a shipment of the company's vaccine. CNN reports that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) declined an allocation of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, saying the other available vaccines are better. "Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best," he said. "And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the City of Detroit get the best." Stat News' Matthew Herper called this a "bad plan." It's true that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials showed a 72 percent efficacy rate, while Moderna and Pfizer, the two other approved coronavirus vaccines, have a rate of about 95 percent. But health experts say it's still an excellent option, and has other perks like only requiring a single shot and frequently leading to fewer side effects, reports The New York Times. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said people shouldn't overthink which one to get, and explained the vaccines can't really be compared head-to-head because of different trial circumstances. Besides, experts note, the raw numbers don't show the full picture. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine prevented all hospitalizations and deaths in its large clinical trial, meaning the slightly lower efficacy rate really only points to mild to moderate disease. Detroit's mayor, however, said the city has been able to meet demand with just its supply of Pfizer and Moderna doses, but CNN notes Duggan's administration only expanded vaccine eligibility to residents ages 50 and older with chronic medical conditions on Thursday. Duggan said he would accept Johnson & Johnson doses later on if all other doses are distributed and there are remaining residents who want a vaccine. More stories from theweek.comWhat Republicans talk about when they talk about the 'working class'Why the Dr. Seuss 'cancellation' is chillingBernie Sanders is forcing other senators to go on the record about a $15 minimum wage
Criminal ComplaintA Trump appointee, who was still employed at the State Department when he allegedly bashed police at the U.S. Capitol with a riot shield and egged on a crowd of insurrectionists, has been arrested for his role on Jan. 6.Federico Klein, a 42-year-old State Department staff assistant with top security clearance, is facing a slew of charges, including unlawful entry and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, according to a criminal complaint first obtained by The New York Times. Prosecutors allege Klein, who also worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” before assaulting one officer with a riot shield—and using that stolen police equipment to wedge open a door into the Capitol to allow insurrectionists inside. “We need fresh people, need fresh people!” Klein, who is wearing a red MAGA hat, is heard yelling in a YouTube video as people stormed the building and police strained to hold back the crowd. Criminal Complaint During his initial court appearance on Friday, Klein’s appetite for chaos had subsided. After Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui read Klein his charges, Klein made it known he wasn’t happy about the conditions in a D.C. jail. “I wonder if there’s a place where I can stay in detention where I don’t have cockroaches crawling over me while I attempt to sleep... I mean, I really haven’t slept all that much, your honor. It would be nice if I could sleep in a place where there were not cockroaches everywhere,” Klein said, according to The Washington Post.Prosecutors argued on Friday that Klein should be detained pending trial because he assaulted an officer. A federal defender, however, insisted that Klein’s charges don’t amount to a crime of violence and he should be released under appropriate conditions. Criminal Complaint Klein’s arrest on Thursday night in Virginia, first reported by Politico, marked the first time a member of the Trump administration has faced charges in connection with the deadly siege. More than 300 people have been charged in connection with the riot that followed a speech by Trump in which he flogged the false claim that he had won the November 2020 election.According to the complaint, Klein was identified by people who saw the FBI social-media campaign with photos of rioters at the Capitol. The FBI also noted that he still had top-secret clearance for his work in the office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs until his resignation on Jan. 19.Another tipster flagged Klein's Facebook account to the feds, which was under the name “Freddie Klein,” according to court documents. On Klein’s Facebook page, he is seen in photos among a group covered in MAGA gear—and in another enjoying several Miller High Lifes.According to a ProPublica database of Trump appointees, Klein worked as a special assistant in the Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs after joining the State Department on Jan. 22, 2017, where he was paid $66,510.‘It’s Not Fair!’: Rioter Who Posed in Pelosi’s Office Loses It in CourtA LinkedIn profile identified as Klein’s also states he has been politically active in the Republican Party since at least 2008, when he began volunteering for campaigns. Klein worked for the Trump campaign just prior to going to work for the State Department. Klein’s mother, Cecilia Klein, told Politico that her son had admitted to being in D.C. on Jan. 6—but told her that he was only “on the Mall. That’s what he told me.”“Fred’s politics burn a little hot... but I’ve never known him to violate the law.… While I believe, as he said, he was on the Mall that day, I don’t have any evidence, nor will I ever ask him, unless he tells me, where he was after he was on the Mall,” she added.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Rosa Woods - Pool/Getty ImagesMeghan Markle has said she was not allowed to make her own choices when she was a member of the royal family.The comments were made in a new preview clip from Oprah Winfrey’s eagerly-awaited interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, which dropped Friday morning on CBS This Morning.In the new clip, Meghan said that she had not been “allowed” to give an interview before.In the clip, Oprah told Meghan that she recalled calling her before her wedding and asking for an interview.Meghan said, “I recall that conversation very well. I wasn’t even allowed to have that conversation with you personally. Right? There had to be people from the [communications team] sitting there…”Oprah then said, “You turned me down nicely…What is right about this time?”Meghan replied, “Well, so many things. That we are on the other side of a lot of life experience that’s happened. And also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then. That wasn’t my choice to make. So, as an adult who lived a really independent life, to then go into this construct, that is, um, different, than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say, ‘Yes, I am ready to talk.’ To say it for yourself... To be able to just make a choice on your own, to be able to speak for yourself.”Meghan’s new comments appear to reiterate a frequent complaint of hers that she was denied her voice and agency when she was a member of the royal family.The new clip came as tensions between Meghan and Harry and Buckingham Palace boiled over into all-out war, with reports in the British media suggesting multiple witnesses were ready to come forward and give evidence to a hastily-announced inquiry into alleged bullying by Meghan of her staff at Buckingham Palace.Meghan’s friends responded to the bullying claims by launching a social media counterattack against Buckingham Palace today, calling her a “warm, kind, caring person.”In a previous clip, Meghan accused the palace of “perpetuating falsehoods” about them.An emotional Meghan said, “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Fox NewsFor thoughts on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s harassment scandal, Fox News daytime show Outnumbered on Friday turned to Tyrus, who is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit from his former Fox Nation co-host Britt McHenry.“As far as, all women should be heard and respected, and then you need to have the investigation and then results of the investigation. Uhh, we need to respect those,” the Fox contributor said, when asked for his thoughts on the accusations against Cuomo, before quickly pivoting to the controversy over the governor’s alleged cover-up of coronavirus-related nursing home deaths.Later in the broadcast, Tyrus was asked to comment on why many prominent Democrats have not commented on the three women accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment. “It’s so important that we respect the process of the investigations and not be quick to pass judgments but at the same time, that's kind of across the board for everything,” he declared, adding: “This is not a fortunate situation but the investigation will be compelling and will give us the answer that we need.”Britt McHenry: Fox News Is Promoting My Harasser Tyrus While It Buries MeMcHenry, who recently made her first on-air Fox appearance in more than a year, alleged that the network has sidelined her while promoting and protecting Tyrus, whom she accused of sending lewd and inappropriate texts. Late last year, a judge denied Tyrus’ motion to dismiss McHenry’s lawsuit and said the case would move forward. Tyrus has continually denied the allegations and Fox has maintained that McHenry’s claims are “without merit.”Fox News turns to Tyrus, who is currently being sued by a Fox colleague for sexual harassment and retaliation, to weigh in on the Andrew Cuomo sexual misconduct scandal. pic.twitter.com/GzZSYOpYOp— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 5, 2021 Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.