The wRap


Your World in 10 - April 18, 2013 Edition

#PHVOTE

1. Palace names Comelec commissioners



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Less than a month before elections, the head of a poll watchdog and a transportation executive will help steer the poll body, the Palace confirmed on Thursday, April 18. President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Luie Guia, executive director of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), and Al Parreño, a board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), as new Comelec commissioners. Guia and Parreño enter the Comelec amid obstacles from the Supreme Court, which, in fact, have prompted poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr to say he wants to quit. The Comelec has lacked two Commissioners since February, when former commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco ended their terms.

Read the full story on Rappler.




TERRORISM

2. Suspect in US ‘ricin’ mailings arrested



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A letter addressed to US President Barack Obama that appeared to contain ricin, a lethal toxin, has been intercepted, and a suspect has been arrested. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Wednesday, April 17, the letter was intercepted at a mail screening facility inside the White House the day before. It was the same day that a letter sent to Sen Roger Wicker showed traces of ricin. The FBI said the letter had preliminarily tested positive for the deadly poison and that additional tests would be carried out to confirm the presence of ricin. In a statement, the FBI also said initial investigations showed there was “no indication of a connection” to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Read the full story on Rappler.

A related story is on Rappler.

More information is available on the BBC.




EXPLOSION

3. Texas plant explosion leaves hundreds injured



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A major explosion at a fertilizer plant outside the Texas town of Waco Wednesday, April 17 (Thursday, April 18 in Manila) left hundreds of people injured, and was so powerful it set fire to nearby buildings, authorities said. The West Fertilizer facility had an anhydrous ammonia explosion, Waco Assistant Fire Chief Don Yeager told AFP by phone. The cause was not immediately known. Fire departments from nearby jurisdictions rushed to the scene in the town of West, north of Waco, where the blast was so powerful it knocked down some nearby buildings, and set fire to others, Yeager said. The injured were being rushed to local hospitals, Yeager said. Local media report 60 to 70 people died in the explosion, and hundreds others injured.

Read the full story on Rappler.



ELECTIONS

4. Election watchdogs side with Comelec on airtime



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Two poll watchdogs, the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), are siding with the Commission on Elections in its interpretation of airtime limits. They said the Supreme Court ruling which earlier ordered the implementation of campaign airtime limits, will break the intent of the law and leave poor candidates as casualties. The Comelec had previously ruled that candidates running for a national position can run political ads on all TV stations for not more than 120 minutes. This was challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) by GMA-7, TV-5, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, and Sen Alan Peter Cayetano. They insisted candidates were entitled to 120 minutes for each station. The SC however ordered the Comelec from implementing its airtime limits, prompting Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes to threaten to resign. IPER executive director Ramon Casiple said the SC ruling will benefit only affluent candidates.

Read the full story on Rappler.




NORTH KOREA

5. North Korea lists conditions for talks



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North Korea laid out conditions Thursday, April 18, for any talks with Seoul or Washington, including the withdrawal of UN sanctions and a guaranteed end to South Korea-US joint military drills. "If the US and the South enemies... genuinely want dialogue and negotiation, they should take these steps," the North's National Defence Commission said in statement. The conditions are almost certain to be rejected outright by both South Korea and the United States, who have themselves made dialogue conditional on the North taking steps towards denuclearization.

Read the full story on Rappler.




MARGARET THATCHER

6. Anger, applause at Thatcher’s funeral



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Cheers and jeers greeted the coffin of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as it passed through London on Wednesday, April 17, mirroring how split public opinion was over her leadership. Thatcher travelled to St Paul’s Cathedral on a horse-drawn gun carriage. Ill-wishers were outraged by the decision to grant her a full ceremonial funeral that was estimated to cost about US$15 million. Many felt it was wrong to spend a lot of money at a time of deep spending cuts. They disagreed with the Iron Lady’s radical free-market reforms during her 11-year premiership. On the other hand, Thatcher’s admirers said she had transformed the economy and restored Britain’s position as a major world power by the time she stepped down in 1990.

Read the full story on Rappler.

A related story in on the BBC.




BUSINESS

7. Apple plunges as supplier slashes profit forecast



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Apple shares plummeted more than 5% Wednesday, April 17, after Cirrus Logic, a supplier of Apple components, slashed its own profit guidance, suggesting its Apple business had weakened. Apple shares closed at US$402.80, down $23.44 or 5.5%, after briefly dipping below $400 earlier in the session. The decline robbed Apple of its crown as biggest US company by market capitalization. Apple is now worth $378.25 billion, compared with oil giant ExxonMobil's $385.68 billion. Shares in Apple are well below their 52-week peak above $700 in September as the California tech giant faces tougher competition from South Korea's Samsung and others in the busy smartphone and tablet technology space.

Read the full story on Rappler.




ASEAN

8. PH to push for Code of Conduct at ASEAN Summit



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Will the time be ripe for the creation of a Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) at the 22nd ASEAN Summit? President Benigno Aquino III will once again urge ASEAN countries to draft a COC that will be used to implement the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea when he attends the 22nd ASEAN Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on April 24 to April 25, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez said. The ball will be in China's court. Hernandez said the ASEAN has already agreed on elements to be included in the COC, details of which will be presented to China in the upcoming Summit.

Read the full story on Rappler.




SPORTS

9. Pacquiao, Donaire to face new foes



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Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, who both lost their last fights, are looking to stir things up by facing new opposition. Promoter Bob Arum has set aside plans of immediate rematches with the boxers who defeated the two boxers. In December 2012, Pacquiao was knocked out by long-time nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, while Donaire lost via unanimous decision on April 14 to two-time Olympic gold medallist Guillermo Rigondeaux. One opponent within the Team Donaire’s radar is Puerto Rican Juan Manuel Lopez, a former Featherweight champion. If negotiations succeed, Pacquiao may be up against Mike Alvarado, who recently defeated Brandon Rios in March. Arum wants to bring the next Pacquiao fight to either Singapore or Macau.

Read the full story on Rappler.




LIFE AND STYLE

10. Vibrating fork to combat obesity debuts



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Eat too fast and this electronic fork vibrates. French inventors of the HAPIfork, which comes in blue, green and pink, said the electronic fork can help combat obesity and digestive issues. The gadget went on sale on Wednesday, April 17, on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website. Contributors who donate at least US$89 to Kickstarter get a HAPIfork, the invention of Frenchman Jacques Lepine. The invention is based on research that says people living in a fast-paced world can lose weight by eating more slowly.

Read the full story on Rappler.