The wRap


Your World in 10 - April 8, 2013 Edition

Tension in the Koreas

1. South Korea backtracks, launch no longer 'imminent'



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South Korea says North Korea may be preparing for a fourth nuclear test, with stepped up activity detected at its main test site. The situation is very similar to the situation seen ahead of the third nuclear test, carried out in February. How is the US responding? President Obama’s former director for weapons of mass destruction Gary Samore says the key is “proportional retaliation without triggering a general conflict.” The new “counter provocation” plan involves calculating the trajectory of a missile within seconds and shooting it down if it is headed for South Korea, Japan or Guam, an American territory. But they plan to do nothing if it is headed toward open water, even if it goes over Japan. Officials say President Obama ruled out striking the missiles on their launchers — when they are easiest to destroy — unless there is evidence they have nuclear warheads. Less than 24 hours later, though, South Korea takes it back and says what it saw were "routine activities."

Read more on Rappler here and here.


Read more on
The New York Times.




Chaos

2. China pushes for peace in Asia, warns NK against 'chaos'



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The escalating tension in the Korean Peninsula prompts long-time ally China to make an indirect criticism of North Korea. In a speech, China’s new president, Xi Jinping says no country in Asia “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain.” Speaking before the Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi named no nation directly. Analysts say China is conflicted over its socialist ally. Pyongyang's new leader, Kim Jong Un, has clearly offended Beijing as seen in new economic sanctions designed to squeeze Kim. But analysts believe China needs its buffer against U.S. forces in the Korean Peninsula and will never turn its back on North Korea. Yet Chinese public opinion is turning against North Korea, with some academics openly calling for China to turn its back on a socialist neighbor. The U.S. is also putting pressure on China to rein in its ally. Still, there was no clear evidence that Mr. Xi was talking about North Korea. The Wall Street journal quotes a senior editor at a Communist Party newspaper who says "It could be the U.S. It could be Japan... China is also angry with the Philippines."


Read more on
Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.




Outbreak

3. 6 dead in a week: China moves to contain bird flu



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China confirms three more cases of bird flu on Sunday as authorities tried to curb a deadly outbreak by banning live poultry sales and disinfecting schools. Of the three cases, two were elderly men in Shanghai who are receiving treatment. The new cases of the H7N9 strain of avian influenza brought the number recorded in China to 21. Six people died, including four in the city of Shanghai, which recorded 10 cases of the disease. Chinese authorities downplayed fears of human-to-human transmission of the virus. The World Health Organization also said there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, but added it was crucial to find out how the virus infects humans. Experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic. China has sought to improve transparency surrounding H7N9, after being accused of covering up the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed about 800 people globally.


Read more on Rappler.




Secret Deal

4. CIA & Pakistan in secret drone deal



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A back-room deal between the CIA and Pakistan set the stage for a covert drone war that started under the Bush administration, grew and became a cornerstone of Barack Obama’s war against terrorists, and is now the subject of a fierce debate. The New York Times says the United States used a Predator drone to attack and kill Nek Muhammad, a Pakistani enemy of the state in 2004. Pakistan’s military claimed credit for killing him. In exchange, Pakistan gave the US permission to use its airspace to carry out drone attacks.


Read more on The New York Times.




Mideast Peace?

5. Kerry to restart Mideast peace talks?



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US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Palestinian leaders to talk about the Syria crisis. His visit gives him a chance to restart Middle East peace negotiations that have been stalled for over two years. Kerry is on a 10-day overseas trip, stopping first in Istanbul to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. A State Department official says Kerry would encourage Turkey and Israel to normalize their relationship to allow for deeper cooperation. This comes after Israel apologized in late March for the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a 2010 raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship. The apology ends a nearly three-year rift between Israel and Turkey -- two key US allies in the region -- but they have not yet exchanged ambassadors and fully restored their diplomatic ties. Talks between Turkish officials and Kerry will also include the issue of Syrian refugees as Turkey keeps its borders open to people fleeing the conflict. The huge flows -- some 190,000 refugees since the start of the conflict -- place a massive burden on Turkish resources. A US official says Kerry would stress the need to keep the borders open.


Read more on
MSN NZ.




April 15 Tax Deadline

6. More tax revs to hike PH growth 3% - Purisima



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The Tax-Man cometh! For Filipinos, take the April 15 tax deadline seriously because the Bureau of Internal Revenue is serious about collecting up to P300 billion pesos more just by increasing compliance. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima says that figure could hike the country’s growth rate up to 3%. For decades, individual income tax collections lagged behind other countries at around 4-6%. In 2010, it increased to 8%, but decreased again in succeeding years. Purisima says he focuses on 3 goals: increasing income tax from professionals; increasing compliance on real estate taxes; and curbing smuggling.


Read more on
Rappler.


Read the full transcript and watch the full interview here.




Suicide

7. Rick Warren's son, 2 Filipino students commit suicide on weekend



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The youngest son of prominent US evangelical preacher Rick Warren committed suicide after a long struggle with mental illness. In a statement, the Saddleback Valley Community Church said Matthew Warren, 27, died on Friday following years of battling depression. The statement paid tribute to Matthew Warren as "an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many." In a letter from Rick Warren, the pastor said his son killed himself after suffering "a momentary wave of despair at his home." He added: "In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided." In the Philippines, two male college students committed suicide in two separate incidents in Batangas City and Nasugbu town on Friday. Police say the two -- a mechanical engineering student at Batangas State University and a freshman of De La Salle Dasmariñas -- shot themselves reportedly because of academic problems.


The decision to take one's life is a complex one, influenced by many factors. Psychologist Margie Holmes discusses the topic in two episodes of #AskMargie: here and here. Grief counselor Cathy Babao adds to the discussion in #TalkThursday: Anatomy of a Suicide.


Read more on
Rappler.


Read more on
ABS-CBNnews.com


Watch the video on
Rappler.




#OpIsrael

8. Anonymous hacks Israel for Holocaust Memorial, minimal damage



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Hackers associated with activist group Anonymous launched an attack on Israeli websites, but Israeli cyber experts say the damage is minimal. The group reportedly hit the websites of the premier's office, the defense ministry, the education ministry and the Central Bureau of Statistics, but all appeared to be running normally. The finance ministry said Sunday the Israel government's websites are available to the public.


National Council for Research and Development head Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel says the damage to the website was "more or less non-existent." Ben Israel, who founded the National Cyber Bureau, said it was because of the country's preparedness to fend off cyberattacks. Israeli data protection consultancy Cyberia co-founder Guy Mizrahi also confirmed several Israeli websites had been under a "significant attack" for the past few days, with hackers stealing data or leaving messages. In November, Anonymous claimed it had downed the databases of nearly 700 Israeli sites in protest over the confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.


Read more on Rappler.




National Games

9. Palarong Pambansa: Building future champions



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The stage is set for the biggest sporting event in the country. Dumaguete City gears up to welcome 10,000 athletes from all over the country for the Palarong Pambansa 2013.


Palarong Pambansa, now on its 56th year, is the largest sports gathering in the Philippines and also the biggest grassroots events in the nation. It is the culmination of the year-long athletic events student-athletes from public and private elementary and high schools go through. Through the years, the games have produced well-known names in sports. Among them are Azkals co-captain Chieffy Caligdong, athletics legends Elma Muros and Lydia de Vega, then-tennis star and now prominent sportscaster Dianne Castillejo, actor and swimmer Enchong Dee, and PBA stars Danny Ildefonso, Willie Miller and Samboy Lim. In an interview with Rappler, Chieffy says he owes his career in football to the games. He says the Palaro gathers all the best young talents to compete and elevate the level of sports in the Philippines. Asked about his message to the young athletes, Chieffy says: "Always push and challenge yourself everyday... Just do your best and people will notice."


Read more on Rappler here, here and here.




Beauty Contest

10. Vote for your Binibining Pilipinas



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Fiipinos take their beauty pageants seriously. Binibining Pilipinas, the oldest and largest, turns 50 this year and chooses the country’s representatives for Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Tourism and Miss Supranational. From now until April 14, take a look at the contestants and make your choice.


Read more on Rappler.