The wRap


Your World in 10 - December 24, 2012 Edition

Christmas After Pablo

1. Storm survivors to celebrate with prayers



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Without a roof over their heads and with most of their belongings gone, residents of Cateel and Baganga in Davao Oriental have nothing else to offer except prayers for Christmas Eve. Thankful that they are still alive, residents like 53-year-old Edwina Masidog said they have all the reason to celebrate life this Christmas. “It is possible that we will have no food on our tables for Noche Buena. Rations are going low. But this is nothing. We are even planning to have parlor games for the children. We can overcome this disaster,” she said. Optimistic in the midst of loss caused by Typhoon Pablo, other residents like 18-year-old Jason Gonzales who survived as well, is hopeful they can rebuild the village chapel which, he said, would be the best way for them to “remember the birth of Christ.” Describing Pablo as just a passing experience, Gonzales said that even without the usual Noche Buena fare, they would still celebrate Christmas.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Fire Alert

2. Christmas Eve fire in Divisoria put under control



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A 3-story commercial building located between M. De los Santos and Tabora streets in front of the New Divisoria Mall caught fire at half past midnight on Christmas eve. The cause of the fire was still unknown although it spread quickly because of the fabrics, plastic toys and fireworks being sold in the building. Early reports said the fire on Sun Master Building, owned by Lucio Co, was suspected to have been caused by firecrackers. The fire alert level reached Task Force Charlie by 5:45 am. By past 10 am Monday, December 24, the fire was put under control. The estimated damage of the fire was pegged at P1 million. Divisoria is a popular destination of shoppers in search of good bargains especially during the Christmas season.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Politics

3. UNA’s top guns come to Cebu governor’s rescue



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The top leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) – Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – visited Cebu on Sunday, December 23 to show support for suspended Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia. The 3 flew on a chartered plane to visit their congressional candidate and ally who had been ordered suspended for 6 months by the Palace for grave abuse of authority. The UNA triumvirate tagged the suspension as a “power grab” and a form of “political harassment.” Binay said the suspension order is a ploy by the Liberal Party to weaken UNA’s hold on Cebu which is among the country’s top vote-rich provinces with its 2.4 million voters. Garcia meanwhile has vowed to contest the suspension order and has refused to leave the provincial capitol. She said she is willing to spend Christmas at the capitol.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Sin Taxes

4. Sin tax law takes effect January 2013



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It’s definite: the sin tax law will be implemented January 2013 after the Bureau of Internal Revenue releases implementing rules and regulations next week. There is no need for public hearings on the IRR of the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012, according to BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, since the rules don’t deviate from the law’s provisions. After the IRR is finalized, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the finance department will approve it. Finally enacted into law after 15 long years, RA 10351 will raise P34 billion in additional revenues from tobacco and alcohol next year, and P184.31 billion in the next 4 years. These amounts can cover the Aquino administration’s universal health program, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Middle East Conflict

5. More than 700 Palestinians killed in Syria conflict



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More than 700 Palestinians have bee killed in Syria since conflict erupted there close to two years ago. Palestine Liberation Organization official Zacharia al-Agha said they have asked Syrian authorities to refrain from dragging Palestinians into the conflict. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has estimated that the fighting has cost at least 44,000 lives. The Palestinian deaths include those in the Yarmuk refugee camp in southern Damascus. On Sunday, December 23, several rockets were fired into the camp which has been the site of pro- and anti-regime forces the past week. Syria claimed its military was not part of the fighting and did not intervene militarily “in any way.”

Read the full story on Rappler.

A related story on an airstrike on a bakery in Syria – one of the deadliest incidents of the conflict that killed more than 60 people – is also on Rappler.




British Royalty

6. William, Kate won’t spend Christmas with the Queen



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The Middletons will have royalty as guests this Christmas as Prince William and his wife Catherine have opted to spend the holiday with them. “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will spend Christmas Day privately with the Middleton family,” a spokesman for St James’ Palace said. The decision was understood to have the approval of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip. The couple, who is expecting a child, plans to visit the queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, eastern England, later during the holidays. Last year, the couple spent Christmas there when Prince Philip was hospitalized for a heart procedure.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Lady Premier

7. Hospitalized Thatcher ‘in good spirits’



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Britain’s only female prime minister was reported to be “in good spirits” while in the hospital recovering from a bladder operation. The 87-year-old former Conservative Party leader was admitted to the hospital on Thursday after suffering pain earlier in the week. She had to be operated on to remove a growth in her bladder. Given her age, Thatcher is likely to remain in the hospital over Christmas. Public relations executive Lord Tim Bell said he had “no idea at all” when she would leave the hospital, even as he described her operation as “minimally invasive.” After a series of minor strokes, she was instructed to quit public speaking in 2002. With dementia taking over, her public appearances have become increasingly less.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Entertainment

8. ‘Hobbit’ is No. 1 for 2nd week in a row



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“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has remained No. 1 at the US box office for two weeks in a row, raking in an estimated US$36.7 million just over the weekend. Globally, it earned $223 million, making it the biggest opening for any “Lord of the Rings” film. It collected $138.2 million internationally and $84.6 million in the US and Canada. Box office watchers said it was the biggest December opening in motion picture history. The popular epic was directed by Peter Jackson based on the classic novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. It stars Martin Freeman of British TV’s “Sherlock” fame and Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey. “Jack Reacher,” a crime drama featuring Tom Cruise was No. 2, followed by the comedy film “This is 40.” In No. 4 was “Rise of the Guardians,” followed by “Lincoln.” In No. 6 and No. 7 were “The Guilt Trip” featuring Barbra Streisand and “Monsters, Inc.” No. 8 was “Skyfall,” followed by “Life of Pi.” No. 10 was “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.”

Read the full story on Rappler.




Science

9. Scientists discover ancient Chinese medicinal herb’s secrets



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An ancient Chinese herb extracted from the root of a flowering plant called blue evergreen hyrangea has been effective against fever and malaria because of its active ingredient called febrifuginone. Researchers found that this ingredient could be pharmaceutically made as a molecule called halofuginone. This in turn prevents the production of Th17 immune cells that attack healthy cells. This is what causes inflammation that in turn leads to fever. Halofuginone, according to a study published in the journal Nature, works by blocking transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules which assemble protein bit by bit. By hampering the production of proteins that grow the rogue Th17 cells, halofuginone has treated fever from a malaria infection. It is now being studied as a means to fight inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Local Movies

10. What to catch in the Metro Film Festival



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Two movies worth catching at the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) are “Thy Womb” directed by Brillante Mendoza and “El Presidente” by Mark Meily. Having morphed from being a showcase of Philippine cinema’s finest to its worst, if not most commercially viable, the MMFF is on its 38th year this Christmas season. Mendoza’s “Thy Womb,” which stars Nora Aunor, is a tale of a barren midwife who searches throughout Tawi-Tawi for a suitable second wife for her husband. Mendoza’s brand of in-your-face social realism will be received differently by viewers out to celebrate during the holidays. “El Presidente” on the other hand, is a story about the country’s first president, Gen Emilio Aguinaldo. History buffs will surely be curious about which side filmmakers take in the Andres Bonifacio-Emilio Aguinaldo debate. The festival opens December 25.

Read the full story on Rappler.