The wRap


Your World in 10 - August 07, 2012 Edition

Bad Weather

1. Floods put Philippine capital at a standstill



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The Philippine capital and 9 nearby provinces are at a standstill as torrential rain, and rising river water and dam levels flooded parts of Metro Manila and beyond. Classes were called off for the 2nd day on August 7 and private and public offices as well as courts were closed amid transportation woes. Around one million are affected in 11 regions, and around 20,000 were displaced. The southwest monsoon will continue to bring occasional to frequent rains over Luzon, Pagasa said in its weather advisory.


Go to Rappler's #WeatherAlert microsite for articles, photos and videos.




Legislation

2. RH Bill moves forward



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The controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, which the powerful Catholic church is opposing, can now move forward after the House of Representatives voted on August 6 to terminate the period of interpellations and debate. This means the controversial bill now has a chance to pass in the current 15th Congress as it moves on the period of amendments, or the more difficult stage of the legislative process. Anti-RH lawmakers, however, are prepared for the real battle where they said they will inject "killer amendments" or provisions that will dilute the proposed measure.


Read more on Rappler.




Bad Banking?

3. Standard Chartered NY may be suspended over Iran deals



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Was Standard Chartered Plc banking for the bad? In a rare move, the New York State Department of Financial Services threatened to strip the state banking license of the global financial institution for being a "rogue institution" that hid $250 billion in transactions tied to Iran -- a violation of U.S. law. The top bank regulator said the British bank "schemed" with the Iranian government and hid from law-enforcement officials some 60,000 secret transactions to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for over 7 years. In a statement, the bank claimed that 99.9% of its transactions with Iran complied with U.S. Treasury regulations and that the total value of transactions that weren’t in compliance was less than $14 million. The lender said it “strongly rejects the position and portrayal of facts” made by the state regulator.


Read more on Bloomberg.




Olympics

4. After 22 medals, Phelps retires from Olympics



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All-time Olympic record breaker Michael Phelps will now retire from competing in the games. Days after claiming his 22nd medal by winning gold on Saturday, he told CNN he has no desire to add to that tally in Rio, Brazil, the host of the Olympics in 2016. "I'm done, that was my last race and this is my last Olympics…I'm ready for the next chapter in my life. I have done everything I ever wanted to," confirmed the 27-year-old. The U.S. swimming icon added 4 more gold medals from the London games, He won medals at 3 consecutive Olympics after making his debut as a 15-year-old at Sydney 2000.


Read more on CNN.




Syria

5. PM's defection means Syria is 'crumbling'?



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The defection of Riad Farid Hijab, the Syrian prime minister and the most most senior Syrian figure to join the opposition, was interpreted by Western powers as a sign that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is crumbling. A US White House spokesman described these defections as a "loosening" of Assad's grip on power, while the French Foreign Minister said the Assad government was "doomed." Hijab's spokesman said that the defection was planned "for months" and encouraged other officials to do the same. Clashes have continued in the second city of Aleppo where rebel fighters are resisting a bombardment by government artillery and fighter jets.


Read more on Rappler.


and Al-Jazeera.




WhyMining

6. Philex may be fined for mine tailings leak



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In a week, the results of a scientific assessment of the environmental impact of the mine tailings leak at Benguet Province on nearby water sources will be out, according to the Environment Department and the Mining and Geosciences Bureau. Rivers will be examined for possible toxic chemicals that originated from the Padcal mine of Philex Mining Corp, the country's largest. The mine tailings pond of the Pangilinan-led firm spilled after days of rain from two typhoons that hit the region. The regulator said appropriate fines will be imposed if violations are found.


Read more on Rappler.




Flights and Weather

7. Volcano ash disrupts NZ flights but PH rain does not



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Despite the torrential rain and floods battering Metro Manila and 9 other nearby regions, major local and international flights are pushing through, major Philippine carriers said on August 7. Western Luzon is experiencing torrential rains and rising river and dam water levels, but it's business-as-usual for Philippine Airlines (PAL), its budget arm, AirPhil Express, as well as Cebu Pacific. New Zealand is also experiencing natural 'calamity' as a volcano - Mount Tongariro - spewed out an ash cloud 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) high, disrupting flights. The Civil Aviation Authority said international flights were not expected to be disrupted as they cruised above 20,000 feet.


Read more on Rappler.




Obituary

8. Goodbye, Robert Hughes



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Robert Hughes, one of the world's most famous art critics, a historian and writer, died in New York after a long illness. He was 74. He left Australia for Britain in the early 1960s, writing for publications such as The Times and The Observer before landing a position as art critic for Time magazine in 1970, where he made his name. Despite living overseas for more than 50 years, Hughes never relinquished his citizenship and became a prominent supporter of Australia's republican movement.


Read more on Rappler.




Social Media Star

9. 'NASA mohawk guy' goes viral



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It wasn't just the first images of the landing of the most sophisticated spacecraft Curiosity on Mars that went viral on August 6. The 32-year-old NASA flight director Bobak Ferdowsi also became the new internet celebrity as the earth-made rover made it to the other planet. Dubbed the "NASA Mohawk Guy," Ferdowsi quickly caught the attention of viewers witnessing the NASA landing as images of his patriotic hairdo -- a blue and red mohawk with yellow stars on the side of his head -- and pearly white smile immediately circulated on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.


Read more on the Sydney Morning Herald.




Medal

10. How much does an Olympic gold medal cost?



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With a minimum 6 grams of gold and a large chunk of silver, the Olympic gold medal alone costs about about £450. But that amount does not reflect the tears, fears, and the cold cash that are invested in the games. Take the Great Britain team. When it went to Beijing, the team benefited from £235 million investment in training program and an extra £165 million spent. With 17 medals garnered, these amounts translate to a spending of about £10 million per medal. But for the likes of Australia, which is placed 24th in the medals ranking in London, an official said "The real cost to us is the money is the difference between silver and gold."


Read more on BBC.