NBI probes leak on PGMA’s hospitalization RE: Breast implant

Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) began Monday a probe into the leaked information on President Arroyo’s hospital stay at the Asian Hospital last week.

The NBI has already taken statements from three individuals at the hospital regarding the possible violation of the rule on doctor-patient confidentiality.

Meanwhile, all Monday appointments of the President were cancelled, with Palace officials saying it is still in connection with her self-imposed quarantine and her recent hospital stay.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde earlier denied that Malacañang ordered the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa City to find out who told media about medical procedures done to the President while she was on self-imposed quarantine at the hospital last week.

“It is not true [that we ordered it]. If Asian Hospital is doing an investigation, they are doing it on their own and we did not request it,” Remonde told radio dzMM.

The press secretary said the President will continue to visit the medical facility because her gynecologist works there. Mrs. Arroyo also undergoes medical check-ups at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City.

He also refused to comment on Mrs. Arroyo’s failure to attend a scheduled visit to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in Makati City for a signing ceremony. A statement on the PSE website read: “Please be notified that Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s visit to PSE Ayala on Monday, July 6, 2009, is canceled.”

Remonde has been under fire since last week after he denied and then later clarified news reports that Mrs. Arroyo had checked in at the prestigious hospital to have her breast implants removed. “Si Presidente ba mukha na iyong tipo ng babae na magpapaganun (Is the President the type of woman who would do that [breast augmentation])?” the press secretary told reporters.

He later made an about-face about the breast implants, saying that she had them done 20 years ago. He denied, however, that these were the reason why she was hospitalized.

Palace officials earlier said Mrs. Arroyo volunteered to quarantine herself after a two-week trip despite relaxed Influenza A (H1N1) quarantine guidelines from the Department of Health. It was later learned that Mrs. Arroyo attended the golden wedding anniversary of a top foreign affairs official before going to hospital.

Remonde insisted that Mrs. Arroyo checked in at the hospital for self-quarantine, “and at the same time, to take the opportunity to get complete medical check-ups.”

She said the President was declared in good health after biopsies were conducted on lumps found on her breast and groin.

“The result of the biopsy is negative. The President is in good health. That’s the best proof of her health,” he said, adding that she is scheduled to meet her Cabinet on Tuesday,

He said Mrs. Arroyo will again be leaving the country to attend a meeting of foreign leaders at th 15th Non-Aligned Movement Meeting from July 15 to 16 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Don’t lecture us: Arabs tell Obama

by Jailan Zayan Jailan Zayan

CAIRO (AFP) – “Obama is just a prettier face. I’m sure his intentions are in the right place but I don’t expect much from the man,” a Cairo electrician said on Wednesday as US President Barack Obama began his much-anticipated Middle East trip.

Newspapers, analysts and ordinary Arabs warned Obama — whose election was hailed across the region — against emulating the policies of Bush by lecturing Muslims on democracy, and also urged him to be tough with Israel.

Obama began his tour in Saudi Arabia and will deliver a speech in Cairo on Thursday to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, after eight years of fraught ties under his predecessor George W. Bush.

“Don’t be biased towards Israel, don’t interfere in countries’ internal affairs and don’t give lessons in democracy,” said an editorial in Egypt‘s state-owned Rose El-Youssef newspaper.

The chief editor of Egypt’s state-owned Al-Ahram, Ossama Saraya, said Obama faced demands from his team to “put pressure on the Muslim world under the pretext of democratisation and respect for human rights.

“There’s nothing more absurd than putting more pressure on the Arab-Muslim world,” Saraya said.

Washington’s key Arab allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly come under criticism from international rights organisations for their poor human rights records.

“He can’t help the Palestinians because of the closeness of ties between Israel and America. He can’t improve the situation here (Egypt) because he’ll never convince the regime to change,” said taxi drive Mohammed Abdullah.”

Hamas, the Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip boycotted by the West as a terrorist group, urged Obama to put “real pressure” on Israel.

“We will judge this visit on the basis of what he will say and concrete measures that he will take,” spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.

In Amman, the Jordan Times hoped that Obama — whose electoral promise of change has grabbed hearts in the troubled Middle East — should deliver on his pledge.

“If Obama fails in his mission of peace, the parties, and the world, might just as well prepare for more suffering and turmoil.”

In Lebanon, where Sunday’s parliamentary election will be monitored closely by Washington as it pits a Western-backed majority against a Hezbollah-led alliance backed by Syria and Iran, reactions were divided.

The Americans are testing the waters,” said travel agent Moufeed Shbeir. “Obama is trying to take a different route than Bush, but we’ll have to wait and see the results: are they going to bomb Iran?”

In non-Arab Iran, the head of North American Studies at Tehran University said Obama should have gone to the largest Muslim nation in the world — Indonesia — to address Muslims.

“I personally think Obama has made a mistake by choosing Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I don’t think this is going to go down well in the Muslim and Arab world,” Sayed Mohammad Marandi told AFP.

“Symbolically speaking, he could have gone somewhere like Indonesia,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Riyadh newspaper warned Muslims against having high expectations. “The Islamic world should not think that Obama is coming to be an ally or a supporter,” an editorial said.

United Arab Emirates Vice President Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum warned Obama that the worsening economic situation would strengthen extremism in the Islamic world.

“Those young men, who are increasingly bored (due to growing unemployment), will be easy prey for those promoting extremism and hostility, mainly against the United States,” he wrote in Al-Khaleej.

Beirut-based analyst Paul Salem, who heads the Carnegie Middle East Centre, said he expected Arabs to be disappointed by Obama’s speech.

“What they want him to say is more than what he’s going to say,” he said.

“They want him to say that he’s going to come down hard on the Israelis, that he’s going to confront the settlement policy and that he’s going to push the Israelis to withdraw from the West Bank.

“Of course that is what every Arab would like to hear.”

On the streets of Cairo, which were getting a facelift ahead of Obama’s speech, citizens were more concerned about traffic jams than regional diplomacy on Wednesday.

“What’s he going to do for us? Lower the price of bread? If he does, then he’s welcome here,” said 38-year-old cafe worker Ahmed Abdel Salam.

Oprah Loses No. 1 Spot

The world’s Most Powerful Celebrities

She’s rich. She’s talented. She’s beautiful. And now Angelina Jolie is the most powerful celebrity in the world.

Thanks to the release of several blockbuster movies and an endless sea of media buzz, Jolie has dethroned Oprah Winfrey to top this year’s Celebrity 100 list, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s ultra famous.

Jolie raked in $27 million in the past 12 months thanks to a movie schedule that included “Kung Fu Panda,” “Wanted” and the not-yet-released spy thriller “Salt.” Even more impressive: The publicity she garnered following the birth of her twins, as well as the consistent headlines she grabs for her philanthropic efforts and her relationship with actor Brad Pitt, who ranks No. 9 on the list.

In Pictures: The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities

Winfrey drops to No. 2 on the list. The media maven has pocketed $275 million in the last year, making her the list’s top earner. Though viewership for her daily chat fest, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” continues to erode, her earnings remain unchanged from a year ago. In addition to Winfrey’s monthly magazine, she has a three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio. Early next year, the self-made billionaire will roll out the lifestyle-themed Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications.

In a year filled with humbling bank failures and violent stock market swings, the earning power of the 2009 Celebrity 100 remained remarkably resilient. The cumulative earnings of the 2009 list totaled $4.1 billion, up slightly from last year’s $4 billion haul.

The primary reason celebrities are still making big money: Many stars are locked into long-term performance and endorsement contracts. If the economy does not improve, expect the downturn to catch up to the A-list next year.

The Celebrity 100, which includes film and television actors, models, chefs, athletes, authors, and musicians, is a measure of entertainment-related earnings and media visibility (exposure in print, television, radio and online). The earnings estimates consist of pre-tax income between June 2008 and June 2009. Management, agent, and attorney fees are not deducted.

Rounding out the top five on the list are pop icon Madonna ($110 million), singer Beyonce Knowles ($87 million), and golfer Tiger Woods ($110 million).

More Galleries on Forbes.com

The Material Girl banked the majority of her millions on the road. Her “Hard Candy” tour rounded out 2008 as the year’s top-grossing international tour, raking in $280 million across 17 countries.

Knowles’ haul came from album sales, tour performances, films, a fashion collection, and a lengthy list of endorsement deals.

Woods’ pile of cash came mostly from endorsements, appearance fees, and a lucrative gig designing golf courses. He spent most of the year sidelined with a knee injury.

Among the newcomers on this year’s list: “Twilight” scribe Stephanie Meyer (No. 26) and country crooner Taylor Swift (No. 69). Meyer, who sold 29 million books and created a vampire frenzy, earned $50 million during the year-long period. Swift was the top-selling U.S. artist of 2008, banking $18 million off of a tour, album sales and endorsement deals.

Barack Obama joins the list as the first sitting head of state to land on the Celebrity 100. The President’s historic election last year helped him sell millions of books. He debuts on this year’s list at No. 49, with book earnings of $2.5 million for the 12-month period.

To make room for the new entries to the list, 37 bold-faced stars fell off. Among them: J.K. Rowling and Johnny Depp. Rowling lacked a new “Harry Potter” book, while Depp failed to release or collect on an installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Edited by Matthew Miller, Dorothy Pomerantz, and Lacey Rose