The wRap


Your World in 10 - April 2, 2012 Edition

Political capital

1. Aquino's satisfaction rating drops below +50



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The March 10-31 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that the net satisfaction rating of President Aquino dropped 9 points to +49 from +58 in December 2011.

The results also showed that President Aquino's performance dipped to a "good" from previous classification of "very good."

The lower classification was largely due to Balance Luzon area, where President Aquino's rating dropped the most -- 15 points lower to +45.

Also noteworthy was the 13-point drop to 35% when respondents were asked if the president was serving the poor. About 52% -- down from 55% when asked in September 2010 -- said he was serving the interests of the middle class, the sector that urged him to run for president in the 2010 polls.

Read more from BusinessWorld and Rappler.




Next Asian tiger?

2. After historic elections, Myanmar transforms economy



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Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's popular prisoner-turned-politician and democracy icon, has likely won a seat in parliament after the April 1 elections.

But the harder work is about turning around the economy of the country, which is among the poorest countries in Asia after decades of conflict, mismanagement and isolation.

While many entrepreneurs who are risk-averse have yet to change their mindset about Myanmar -- most still see the country as closed to foreign investment, full of obstacles and languishing under a military government -- several businessmen from all over the world, including Philex Mining of the Philippines, have spotted big opportunities.

Quick changes may come over the next few years on rising demand for imported products, particularly from Thailand, as the people's economic situation improves. For example, hotel rooms and flights are insufficient.

Suu Kyi’s miracle-working powers are expected to be flexed soon to address the country’s economic and social problems. Central to those problems are the military’s economic privileges.

Watch CNN's report, read Forbes' piece and BusinessWeek's analysis.




North Korea

3. PH protest vs rocket launch tackled in Asean summit



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The Philippine government's diplomatic protest against the planned rocket launch by North Korea will be tackled at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members. The 2-day meeting in Cambodia starts Monday, April 2. The US and other nations have previously said the planned launch is a disguised missile test and would breach a United Nations ban on missile launches by North Korea. A top US diplomat has previously said that debris from the launch are expected to land off the Philippines. President Aquino will attend the Asean meeting.

Read more on Rappler.




Oil and world peace

4. Soaring oil prices and peace in Asia



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Been there and done that. Skyrocketing oil prices have toppled leaders, including Suharto's 32-year rule, while governments, like the Philippines', face mounting pressure to maintain or grant new subsidies. The downside is a major political risk: upheavals. There are already protests going on in the streets of Malaysia and Indonesia, the 2 Asian countries that are trying to salvage their gaping budget deficit, no thanks to fuel subsidies that benefit mainly the middle class. The art of balancing the political and budgetary powers is in full display again.

Read more on Rappler.




New mood

5. 'Hate' button on Facebook?



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When the 'Like' button was announced by Facebook in 2010, Mark Zuckerberg predicted there would be over 1 billion 'Likes' within 24 hours. Now, TechCrunch reports that the Facebook founder is considering a 'Hate' button and reportedly expects 2 billion 'Hates' on the first day.

Studies by the social media site have apparently shown that people have more to hate on the internet than like. There's also reportedly a debate on whether the new button would be called "Hate" or "Dislike."

Other buttons reportedly being considered are "Love," "Who Cares," and "Meh."

Facebook currently earns a major part of its revenues from the Like button.

Read more on TechCrunch.




Political economy

6. From HK to Vietnam: Crackdown on erring execs?



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The politically connected chairman of Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin) was given a 20-year prison sentence over a scandal involving $43 million losses for the state-owned firm.

Pham Thanh Binh, who was appointed to the top post by his friend, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and 8 more Vinashin executives were convicted for the controversial purchase of ships without government approval and 2 failed power plant projects for the world's-biggest-shipbuilders-wannabe.

Their fate came after 2 of Asia's richest -- the Kwok brothers in Hong Kong -- were arrested on allegations of improper business deals. The Kwoks are in the property business in Hong Kong, where citizens are growing restless over hikes in property and other costs of living, resulting in the recent ascension of a new chief executive who has expressed opinions contrary to the interests of the tycoons.

Read about Vietnam's executives on BBC.co.uk

Read about the Kwok brothers on Rappler.




Happiness agenda

7. UN assembly raises the happiness economics to new heights



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Happiness research is now one of the hottest fields in development economics, thanks to Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index (GNH), which replaces the traditional Gross National Product (GDP) as gauge of national progress. A high-level meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Monday, April 2, tackles GNH, raising the concept to new heights. The GNH, which is partly a critique of modernization theory, suggests that human welfare does not necessarily advance with material wealth. While Bhutan has become a favorite among Western policymakers and development experts seeking enlightenment on the secrets of national happiness in an age of globalization, Bhutan's own Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley admits he faces major challenges in a country where about a quarter of the population of 725,000 lives below the poverty line. Thinley said, "Making others happy is a painful and often difficult task."

Read more on Rappler and Global Public Square.




Biopic

8. Kutcher to play Steve Jobs in biopic



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This is no April Fools wheeze: Ashton Kutcher of "Two and A Half Men" fame will be playing Steve Jobs in a forthcoming movie of the Apple CEO's life, according to Variety. The indie movie, which will tell the story of Jobs from his days as a wayward hippie to co-founder of one of the biggest American firms, will be directed by Michael Stern who is reported to star in the show too. Production of this movie -- reportedly titled "Jobs" -- will allegedly start in May.

Read more from Variety, Business Insider, and Rappler.




Boxing icons

9. Nonito Donaire, the new Manny Pacquiao?



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Since boxing icon Manny Pacquiao is now contemplating retirement as he pursues other passion, including Philippine politics, another Filipino boxer is considered as the perfect one to take his place: Nonito Donaire. Donaire is already world-renowned, and considered a "student of sweet science," as well as a "thinking fighter." The possibilities for Donaire, also known as the 'Filipino Flash,' are endless. Watch out for his further ascent on the world stage.

Read more on Rappler.




Holy days

10. Holy Week officially starts



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Holy Week has officially started on Sunday, April 1, as Christians the world over celebrated Palm Sunday. Filipinos flocked to churches all over the country, holding palm branches during a procession that commemorates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

Read more on Christian Post and Rappler

Rappler offers a multimedia tour of 14 Catholic Churches in a virtual Visita Iglesia starting April 1. The visual treat includes Stations of the Cross, clips of Bible passages and 360-degree images of beautiful churches. Technology and faith can mix.

Read more on Rappler

Financial markets and most retail shops in the Philippines are closed starting Holy Thursday, April 5.