The wRap


Your World in 10 - December 14, 2012 Edition

Health and politics

1. Aquino to certify RH bill as urgent



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Three session days left before Congress takes its holiday break, President Benigno Aquino III gives the Reproductive Health bill another boost by deciding to finally certify it as urgent. This last-minute presidential move speeds up the legislative process. It allows Congress - both the House of Representatives and the Senate - to possibly pass the bill on third and final reading as early as Monday, December 17. Despite earlier calls by his allies, Aquino had hesitated to certify the bill as urgent. On December 3, he met with members of the House over lunch and urged them to muster a quorum to formally start the period of amendments. He said he was in favor of the bill but fell short of ordering them to toe the line. The Catholic Church is expected to intensify its lobby against the measure.

Read the full story on Rappler





Security

2. China defies U.S over North Korea



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China resisted US-led pressure to sanction its ally North Korea for launching a long-range rocket, arguing that any response from the United Nations should be "prudent" and measured. The US demanded further action from China -- Pyongyang's foremost patron -- and US allies pressed for stronger sanctions, after the UN Security Council condemned North Korea for carrying out Wednesday's banned launch. But foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that China believes any UN response "should be prudent, appropriate and conducive to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and avoid the escalation of the situation."

Read the full story on Rappler






Human rights

3. CIA tortured terror suspect - EU court



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In a landmark judgment, the European court of human rights said the CIA tortured a German citizen linked to terrorists, sodomizing and beating him, the Guardian reported. The unanimous ruling also found the Macedonian police guilty of abusing Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin who was suspected of having links with terrorist organizations, the Guardian added. The newspaper said "it is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture." Masri was arrested in Macedonia in December 2003 and transferred to the custody of the CIA who flew him secretly to Afghanistan.

Read the full story on Rappler





Thailand

4. Ex-PM Abhisit charged with murder



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Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was charged with murder on December 13 over a civilian's death during a crackdown on anti-government rallies two years ago. Abhisit and his then-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban were formally charged at Bangkok's Department of Special Investigation, making them the first officials to face a court over Thailand's worst political violence in decades. "The DSI has charged Abhisit and Suthep on section 288, which is murder. They both denied the charge," senior Democrat Party lawmaker Thavorn Senniem said. About 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in a series of street clashes between "Red Shirt" demonstrators and security forces, which culminated in a deadly army operation in May 2010 to break up the protest.

Read the full story on Rappler






Casino war

5. Okada slaps Wynn with libel



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The company of controversial Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada filed an Internet libel case versus his partner-turned-bitter foe, Steve Wynn, in Manila for "maliciously" leaking to the press a report adversarial to Okada. In a December 13 disclosure to the Japanese stock exchange, Okada-led Universal Entertainment Corp. said the group filed a criminal complaint against Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts where Okada was vice chair and biggest shareholder, at a local court in Parañaque City. This is the latest in a string of cases that the Okada group has filed against Wynn in connection with the latter's US$2-B project at the Pagcor Entertainment City, an upcoming casino and entertainment complex at the Manila Bay. The Okada camp earlier sued Reuters for libel.

Read the full story on Rappler





Syria conflict

6. Assad regime collapse inevitable?



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Saying it's "only a question of time," NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is predicting that the Assad regime is "approaching collapse," according to CNN. Opposition groups in Syria earlier said it had captured a military base near the capital, Damascus. Rasmussen's remarks come days after President Barack Obama extended US recognition to Syria's rebel coalition. The regime has not shown signs of backing down, however, as US officials accused it of firing ballistic missiles at rebel camps. On December 13, at least 24 civilians, including a large number of children, were killed in two separate car bombings southwest of Damascus.

Read the full story on CNN





Business

7. Another Filipino mall in China



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The Philippines' largest mall operator is set to expand its presence in China to 5 malls. On December 14, SM Prime Holdings Inc. will open SM City Chongqing, a one-building structure with 5 levels located in Yubei District in South China. The new mall has a gross floor area of 149,080 square meters, of which 85% has already been awarded to various tenants. Robust sales of China- and Philippine-based malls boosted SM Prime's January-to-September net profits by 15% to P7.4 billion. The opening of SM City Chongqing brings the total SM mall chain in both China and the Philippines to 51 with a combined Gross Floor Area of 6.3 million sqm.

Read the full story on Rappler





Media

8. After KO, Pacquiao in hot water over aides



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The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has asked Manny Pacquiao to take action against his aides who reportedly assaulted Getty-Images photographer Al Bello when he was trying to take photos of a knocked out Pacquiao in Las Vegas on December 9 (Manila time). The NUJP said Pacquiao's trainer, Buboy Fernandez, and his adviser, Michael Koncz, were allegedly incensed by Bello's attempts to take photos of Pacquiao knocked out on the canvas, in his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Photos from Yahoo! Sports show Koncz grabbing Bello by the shirt and Fernandez going after him at ringside, even after Bello had left the area. Bello said the pair punched and kicked Bello. “It is clear that Bello was merely performing his obligations as a photojournalist and, besides, had every right to take pictures of the fallen Pacquiao," the NUJP said. "Koncz and Fernandez had absolutely no reason to attack him and their doing so was actually in the nature of a criminal act, just as Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach had no right to order Bello to stop taking photos, although Roach later apologized for doing so, according to the photographer," it added.

Read the full story on Rappler






Technology

9. Google Maps app for iPhone



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The long-awaited Google Maps app for the iPhone has been released, and Google has a post up informing people that the app is rolling out worldwide. The app was released in the US on December 13, and is a fully native app. Google will also be coming out with a "Google Maps SDK for iOS and a URL scheme to get third party applications to launch the Google Maps app and perform searches, direction requests and display map views." In Manila, telco giants Globe and Smart also launched the iPhone 5 in simultaneous events. With the launch, the rival companies said they're banking on data services to boost their financial future.

Read the full story on Rappler

Read the full story on the iPhone 5 launch here





Entertainment

10. 'Lincoln,' 'Argo' top Golden Globe nominations



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Steven Spielberg's presidential drama "Lincoln" topped the Golden Globes nominations with nods in 7 categories, followed by "Argo" and "Django Unchained" with 5 each. "Les Miserables," romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" and Osama bin Laden hunt movie "Zero Dark Thirty" by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow were tied in third place with 4 nominations each. After a US presidential election year, Spielberg will be hoping to fare better with "Lincoln" than he did with last year's epic "War Horse," which was nominated for 6 Oscars and two Globes but went home empty-handed. The Golden Globe winners will be announced in January next year.

Read the list of Golden Globe nominees here