By Alex P. Vidal
“Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn’t misuse it.”—Pope John Paul II
I AM not a billionaire but if ever I become one, I will never do the stupid thing of wasting my $250,000 (P13.750 million) for an idiotic expedition (sea, air, land) and get killed as a result.
Of course, this is only my own opinion.
As of this writing, there was no confirmation yet that the five people—composed of three billionaires or “super rich” on board the Titan submersible that went missing since June 18 while on its way to the Titanic wreckage site—were dead, but after more than three days and their oxygen was reportedly diminishing fast, only a miracle can save them.
We’re hoping, of course, they managed to stay alive while rescuers were desperately combing the area “two times the size of Connecticut” even after more than 72 hours have passed.
We’ve been glued to the television watching the updates of the rescue mission since June 19.
I initially thought it was a minor story until major news networks started to air non-stop “breaking” reports and overshadowed the Hunter Biden controversy that dominated the prime-time news since over the weekend.
A Canadian aircraft was reported to have detected underwater noises in the search area of the missing submersible, but subsequent searches “yielded negative results,” the US Coast Guard said
Crews searching for the Titan submersible claimed they heard banging sounds in 30-minute intervals, according to an internal government memo. The banging continued for hours after additional sonar devices were deployed, it said.
Rescuers were in a race against time to find the 21-foot vessel–roughly the size of a minivan–that was touring the wreckage of the Titanic when it disappeared.
It started its descent Sunday morning and lost contact with its mother ship about an hour and 45 minutes into its trip, authorities said. Those aboard include a British adventurer, a French diver and a Pakistani father and son. They were identified as:
-HAMISH HARDING. The British billionaire and chairman of aviation company Action Aviation is among those missing. Dubai-based Harding had posted on social media that he was proud to be heading to the Titanic as a “mission specialist”, adding: “Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023.”
-SHAHZADA DAWOOD and his son SULEMAN. Their family have confirmed they are on board. Shahzada is vice chairman of one of Pakistan’s largest conglomerates, Engro Corporation, with investments in fertilizers, vehicle manufacturing, energy and digital technologies. According to the website of SETI, a California-based research institute of which he is a trustee, he lives in Britain with his wife and two children. Shahzada’s interests include wildlife photography, gardening and exploring natural habitats, while Suleman is a fan of science fiction literature, according to a statement from the Dawood Group.
-PAUL-HENRI NARGEOLET. The 77-year-old French explorer, whom media say is one of the five on board, is director of underwater research at a company that owns the rights to the Titanic wreck. A former commander in the French Navy, he was both a deep diver and a mine sweeper. After retiring from the navy, he led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987 and is a leading authority on the wreck site. In a 2020 interview with France Bleu radio, he spoke of the dangers of deep diving, saying: “I am not afraid to die, I think it will happen one day.”
-STOCKTON RUSH. The founder and CEO of the vessel’s US-based operating company OceanGate is also on the submersible, according to media reports. “It is an amazingly beautiful wreck,” Rush told Britain’s Sky news of the Titanic earlier this year. “Rush became the youngest jet transport rated pilot in the world when he obtained his DC-8 Type/Captain’s rating at the United Airlines Jet Training Institute in 1981 at the age of 19,” according to his biography on OceanGate’s website.
If a Filipino in the US has committed a crime and will seek the help of any bigwig from the Philippine Consulate, the bigwig or his underling who will assist the suspect to escape from US authorities will be in trouble.
The US Department of State has issued a statement it was “committed to deterring and promoting accountability for extraordinary foreign government involvement in aiding fugitives to evade the U.S. justice system.”
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken siad “Under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, I am announcing a new policy of visa restrictions on foreign government officials and agents who have intervened in a manner beyond the reasonable provision of consular services to assist fugitives accused or convicted of serious crimes to evade the U.S. justice system.”
Such individuals are subject to the “Fallon Smart Policy.” Immediate family members of such individuals may also be subject to this policy.
This policy is named in honor of Fallon Smart, a 15-year-old who was killed in a hit-and-run incident in 2016.
The foreign national accused of causing Fallon Smart’s death fled the United States to avoid being tried for manslaughter.
The visa restriction policy announced recently is specific to foreign government officials and agents, and their immediate family members, as described above.
The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support aspirations of fair judicial process and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
It is foolish to despise money. We all work for money. We all want all we honestly earn.
Money means advantages for ourselves and those we love.
Of course, there are higher aims in life than money, but to attain those aims we need first to settle the money question intelligently.
We ought to earn our money honestly, to save it carefully, to spend it prudently, and to invest the surplus wisely so as to insure ourselves against sickness and loss.
If we get the money question straight in our minds it will do much toward realizing our happiness and success.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed