The wRap


Your World in 10 - August 17, 2012 Edition

Row with Britain

1. Assange wins asylum in Ecuador



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Ecuador has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who sought refuge in the country's embassy in Britain to avert extradition to Sweden. The move has triggered a diplomatic row between Britain and Ecuador and will be the subject of a meeting this Sunday of the South American regional bloc. "The Ecuador government, loyal to its tradition to protect those who seek refuge with us at our diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Mr Assange," Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said at a news conference August 16. Patino said his government reached its decision after Britain, Sweden and the United States refused to provide guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the United States where he fears trial for the release of a trove of classified US documents. He said if Assange were extradited to the US, he would not receive a fair trial.

Read the full story on Rappler




Cut and paste

2. Sotto aide admits copying blogger



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The chief of staff of Sen Vicente "Tito" Sotto III finally admitted that parts of his speech against the Reproductive Health bill on August 15 were copied from a blog by a foreign author who calls herself the “Healthy Home Economist.” Lawyer Hector A. Villacorta, Sotto's chief of staff, wrote Sarah Pope a response in the comments section of her blog in which he said: "I understand you felt slighted that your blog was not attributed to you which became part of the speech of the senator." Villacorta admitted the plagiarism hours after Sotto denied it. Pope herself went online to say the senator indeed copied parts of her blog supposedly citing the ill effects of contraceptives, which Sotto abhors.

Read the full story on Rappler





Pre-Eid?

3. 53 killed in Iraq attacks



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A wave of attacks across Iraq killed at least 53 people on August 16, amid warnings that insurgents would mount deadly attacks ahead of the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Officials reported more than a dozen explosions and shootings in 15 cities and towns nationwide that also left more than 250 people wounded as Iraqis readied to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival on August 20. The deadliest violence struck in and around Baghdad, where 26 people were killed in a series of bombings.

Read the full story on Rappler




Battles rage

4. UN ends Syria mission



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The United Nations called an end to its observer mission in Syria on August 16, while activists reported more bloodletting in an attack on civilians in the main battleground of Aleppo.The UN decision was announced as the international community piled the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime to end 17 months of fighting that is now threatening to entangle neighboring Lebanon. Major powers have long been at odds how to end the increasingly brutal battle for Syria, and the withdrawal of the observers follows the collapse of a peace plan drawn up by outgoing peace envoy Kofi Annan.

Read the full story on Rappler




Most wanted

5. Bounty targets 4 fugitives



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Philippine President Benigno Aquino III raised the reward money for 4 high-profile fugitives in the hope it would lead to their arrest. The targets are retired Maj Gen Jovito Palparan, wanted for the forced disappearance of student activists; ex-Palawan Gov Joel Reyes, wanted for the killing of a broadcaster; former Rep Ruben Ecleo Jr, wanted for killing his wife; and businessman Delfin Lee, wanted for swindling homeowners. Critics have accused the Aquino administration of going soft on these fugitives, especially Palparan who is said to enjoy protection in the Army.

Read the full story on Rappler





Conflict

6. Maguindanao clashes displace 45,000



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The United Nations has said deadly clashes between soldiers and a Muslim rebel group in Maguindanao, Philippines, had displaced up to 45,000 people. Arjun Jain, head of the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees office in Mindanao, said nearly half of the displaced were living in poor conditions in makeshift evacuation camps such as schools and madrassas. He said there were also concerns about safety, referring to reports that rebels had infiltrated the evacuation camps disguised as refugees. Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked several army detachments in Maguindanao last week, triggering gunbattles that left at least 5 soldiers dead.

Read the full story on Rappler





Tanking

7. Facebook hits all-time low



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Facebook has already lost almost half of its value since its debut in the stock market last May 18. On August 16, its stock hit an all-time low of US$19.69, and ended the day 6.3% lower at $19.87, according to BBC. This was triggered largely by company insiders dumping their shares as the first locked-up period, which stops sales by early investors, ended. Concerns have also been raised about Facebook's revenue streams. Facebook's biggest challenge now is to raise revenue out of mobile devices.

Read full story on BBC





Religion

8. Homily on iPad? Not so fast!



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All sorts of business over the world are replacing their paper manuals with iPads, but what about the Catholic church? Definitely not at the altar, according to Albay Bishop Joel Baylon. While the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has yet to issue its official policy regarding these gadgets, Baylon believes iPads should not be used to celebrate Mass. Baylon discouraged his fellow priests from using electronic Bibles, Missals on iPads, or other tablet computers to replace the Holy Books. These devices are not made for the Eucharist, he noted.

Read the full story on Rappler





Virtual war

9. Japan TV pulls out Korean drama



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A Japanese television station said Wednesday, August 15, that it was postponing the airing of a South Korean drama series starring an actor who took part in a swim to a group of islands at the center of a territorial row. BS Nippon Corp said it would replace "A Man Called God," which features popular actor Song Il-Kook and was to due air from next week, with a re-run of another South Korean drama series. A team of South Koreans reached the islands on Wednesday, finishing a 220-kilometer relay swim from the east coast, less than a week after President Lee Myung-Bak visited the disputed chain, provoking ire in Tokyo.

Read the full story on Rappler





Business savvy

10. Plaque on Obama's first kiss



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"On this site Barack Obama first kissed Michelle Obama." Owners of a Chicago shopping center, site of where President Obama first kissed his future first lady in 1989, have set up a 3,000-pound boulder to commemorate the spot. The move was prompted by an interview with Obama in which he talked about eating ice cream on the curb in his first date with Michelle. "I kissed her and it tasted like chocolate,” Obama told O magazine.

Read the full story here