The wRap


Your World in 10 - August 28, 2012 Edition

#SalamatJesse

1. Philippines bids Robredo final goodbye



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The Philippines bids the well-loved and respected Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo final goodbye on Tuesday, August 28. President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet led the state funeral rites for Robredo in a packed Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia in Naga City, which he calls home and touched lives after serving as mayor for over 18 years. Residents said it felt like the Peñafrancia festival, which Robredo regularly attended as a devotee. The city has turned into a sea of yellow, with Nagueños proud of the city's accomplishments and of Robredo donning yellow T-shirts painted with Robredo's face and the words "Mabalos, Jesse" or "Proud Nagueño." The President conferred on Robredo the Philippine Legion of Honor with the rank of Chief Commander (posthumous). He will be laid to rest at the Eternal Gardens Memorial Park after his body was cremated. Robredo's plane crashed on August 18 off Masbate on his way home to Naga to be with his family during the weekend, as he always does. It was his last travel home.


Read more on Rappler.


Watch the final rites here.




New Chief Justice

2. Day One: New CJ Sereno starts 18-year term



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Lourdes Sereno, 52, starts her first day as Chief Justice of the country. In a statement, she said the Supreme Court must return to the "dignified days of silence" when its "justices were heard, read thru their writings" - a stark contrast from the style of her predecessor, Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was ousted in an impeachment court. Sereno said the High Court is not a "political branch of the government" and that it should be "sober and carefully balanced" in arriving at its decisions. This, she explained, heightens the need for the court to be shielded from "the susceptibility of misinterpretation." Sereno presides over an en banc session on August 28, marking a historic first: a lady chief justice leads the highest court of the land. One of her challenges is to fix the Court and restore public trust in the third branch of the government.


Read more on Rappler.




Technology Giants

3. Samsung vs Apple: How does it affect you?



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The US$1-billion patent court case victory of Apple against Samsung will affect smartphone users. If you own a Samsung phone in the US, note this: The 8 banned phones include the Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T model, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile model, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail. A CNN report said customers who own the devices don't need to worry that anyone will take their phones away, but expect software updates that tweaks how they look and work -- for example, changes to zooming action. If you own any Android phone, not necessarily a Samsung model: The Apple-Samsung verdict could affect all smartphone titans, but Android maker Google is the first on that list. Apple could go on to sue Google and its phone partners. If you're looking to buy a new phone and are worried about buying a Samsung: The final ruling on this trial could come long after your new smartphone becomes old hat. If you own or are interested in buying a Samsung tablet: This category is a bright spot. The jury ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablets did not infringe on Apple's design patents for the iPad. This means the Tab's hardware style and icon layout are allowed to stay the same.


Read more on Rappler, CNN and Reuters.




Aircraft Orders and Diplomacy

4. PAL aircraft order in focus after diplomatic disputes



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Local carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced on Tuesday, August 28, that it has placed US$7-billion order for 54 new aircraft from Airbus -- a move that, according to Reuters, adds to the list of impact of the diplomatic dispute between the Philippines and China, and US's role in that dispute. Analysts had said that Airbus - originally a consortium between France, Germany, Britain and Spain - benefits from this rocky relations between China and Asian nations as European nations push for major contracts for Airbus in Asia. The territorial spat in the South China Sea appears to have made a dent on the chances of American firm Boeing to secure all the planned 100 aircraft orders from PAL. Reuters said there had been significant "commercial and political pressure" on PAL to secure a deal with Boeing. Both aircraft makers are locked in a global contest for market share. Philippine carriers are implementing expansion and refleeting plans to deal with jet fuel price hikes and aggressive industry growth targets.


Read more on Rappler and Reuters.




Peace Talks

5. Colombia seeks peace with FARC rebels



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The Columbian government will pursue formal peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest guerrilla group, President Juan Manuel Santos announced. The FARC, which calls itself "the people's army" defending peasant rights, has battled about a dozen administrations since appearing in 1964. "We have had exploratory conversations with the FARC to seek an end to the conflict," President Santos said in a televised speech, adding that they are also considering holding peace talks with a National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, a second rebel group. These efforts started months ago, when Santos met with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez who was asked to begin a mediation process. As part of the deal to hold talks, the government has agreed that leaders of FARC would not be extradited to other countries to stand trial. Details of the accord are still being worked out, but the negotiations could take place in Cuba or in Norway, Al Jazeera reported. Santos said that the military would not be giving up any territory to the FARC once negotiations began.


Read more on Al Jazeera.




China Power

6. 'Get used to China's checkbook diplomacy'



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Live with China's "checkbook diplomacy" because that is now a fact of life," Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on August 28, referring to the efforts of China to cull support from the Pacific region amid a seeming contest with Taiwan for diplomatic influence. Citing some US$600 million in pledged "soft loans" with long interest-free periods to nations such as Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands since 2005, Carr urged the Pacific region to learn to live with Beijing "developing all the accoutrements of a major power" because defense modernization also means a big aid budget. "My message really is that Australia and New Zealand have got to live with the fact that China will want to deliver aid in this part of the world (and) there is nothing we can do to stop it. It's a fact of life." The China-Taiwan rivalry saw some Pacific nations constantly change allegiance between Taipei and Beijing in return for increased aid, until Taiwan elected the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008. Carr's was attending the Pacific Islands Forum, a grouping of mainly small island states, along with resource-rich Papua New Guinea and the dominant regional powers Australia and New Zealand, both US allies.


Read more on Rappler.




Gambling and Crime

7. Sands casino helping organized crime move funds to Macau?



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The Philippine gambling and gaming operators may find a lesson or two from the ongoing crime investigation involving giant casino firm Sands. Controlled by billionaire and prominent Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson, Sands is under investigation by U.S. and Nevada regulators for supposedly allowing some US$100,000 funds of an individual linked to an Asian organized crime to be transferred from Sands' Venetian Las Vegas to the Sands Macao on January 31, 2009. These money transfers were based on documents filed by a former Sands employee and had raised bribery concerns under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Sands told the court the transaction was a mere accommodation for junket or VIP customers who gamble in various branches of the casino firm. Sans said it merely advanced a credit to a customer in one location to reflect funds that the customer had deposited at another property. Money did not move overseas, but credit was made available overseas, it said. The Nevada regulators are concerned that these practices involving organized crimes bring the state into "disrepute." The Las Vegas Strip market has been overshadowed by Macau, which is now the largest casino market in the world.


Read more on Reuters.




Mining

8. The end of mining boom in Australia?



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Debates are ongoing on whether the mining boom that has propelled Australia's economy for the past decade is over. This concern was sparked by pronouncements by Australia's Resources Minister Martin Ferguson that the unprecedented boom, which helped Australia dodge recession during the global financial crisis, have passed. Cited among reasons for the prediction are falling commodity prices, the gloom in the eurozone and weakness in the United States economy, as well as fears of slowing growth in China -- a major market for iron ore and coal. However, analysts say that the lucrative scramble to unearth the vast nation's resources is not over yet. A BBC writer said that delay in the construction of mine expansion by giant BHP Billiton may indicate that expansion efforts by industry players may have probably peaked, but this does not mean that the mining investment boom is over and that there are about another one to two years to run. The BBC said the pick up in export volumes flowing from the surge in mining investment in iron ore, coal and liquid natural gas will start to get underway around 2014-15. Nonetheless, realists are saying it's about time Australia depends on other pillars of economic growth. Mining investments have accounted for roughly two percentage points in the country's economic growth, while other sectors have suffered under the weight of higher-than-otherwise interest rates and a surge in the Australian dollar to 30-year highs.


Read more on Rappler and BBC.




New Bill

9. Anti-Asian? Canada's new $100 bill criticized as racist



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The Bank of Canada wants to introduce new bills that are harder for counterfeits to copy, but the draft images on the proposed new $100 bill has gotten the flak for being racist. Businessweek reported that the first image on the bill was criticized for featuring an Asian woman looking into a microscope. A focus group reportedly said this reinforced the stereotype that Asians excel in science, while others questioned why other ethnicities were not represented. When the bank released the bill -- this time, with the new image of the Caucasian woman -- the Chinese groups got mad at the monetary authorities for reportedly not representing minorities on currency. The central bank finally said in a statement it will not redesigning the note, but apologized for those who were offended not by the image but by the bank's handling of the issue.


Read more on Businessweek.




Women Power

10. Celebrities, world leaders among most powerful philanthropists



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Singer Jennifer Lopez and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde topped Forbes magazine's list of Most Powerful Female Philanthropists in 2012. Forbes said the list comes from a survey of the philanthropic work of 2012′s most powerful women who have donated millions of dollars in art, helped innumerable individuals through international humanitarian organizations and raised consciousness (and cash) for causes they value. The list includes Helen Clark who oversees the United Nations Development Program's $5 billion annual budget; Drew Gilpin Faust who was named the first female president of Harvard in 2007; Angelina Jolie of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation that donated millions to causes, including Doctors without Borders, the Global Health Committee, and $100,000 in June to the UNHCR to assist Syrian refugees; Solina Chau who directs the $8.2 billion Li Ka Shing Foundation and the "third son" of La Ka Shing, the richest man in Asia; Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who oversees up to $400 million grants a year, and; Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen who is also a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), credited with planting over 500,000 trees in Brazil.


Read more on Forbes.