The wRap


Your World in 10 - December 28, 2012 Edition

Kidnapping

1. Social media and ransom



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The Abu Sayyaf has turned to social media for ransom. This is evident in the video it took of its kidnap victim, Australian Warren Rodwell, which is seen on YouTube and shared on Facebook. Authorities are now investigating a mobile number that appears on the YouTube account. Intelligence sources told Rappler they are certain the YouTube account belongs to the Abu Sayyaf because of past activity – it was created May 11, 2010 with video seen more than 25,000 times - and because of the accounts it connects and the network it has created. The owner of the mobile number is prepared to bargain, according to a source in touch with him. He said the asking price is US$2 million, but if half of that is delivered, the kidnappers are willing to hand Rodwell over to anyone, including a middleman who is then free to demand the full amount.


Read the full story on Rappler






Military

2. 'Stormin Norman' dead at 78



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Norman Schwarzkopf, the US general who led 1991 Operation Desert Storm, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has died at the age of 78. Schwarzkopf, an American hero known popularly as "Stormin Norman," died in Tampa, where he retired after his last military posting as commander-in-chief of US Central Command. Former president George H. W. Bush, himself sick in intensive care in Texas, was first to issue a statement mourning the loss of the man he chose to lead the war that came to define both of their careers.


Read the full story on Rappler






U.S. Affairs

3. Lawmakers deadlock on 'fiscal cliff'



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US President Barack Obama rushed back to Washington on December 27 in a last ditch bid to halt America's slide over the "fiscal cliff," only to find lawmakers blaming each other for looming failure. The mood has soured on a possible plan to prevent hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes and deep automatic spending cuts from kicking in January 1. Obama had called the nation's top lawmakers, but they showed no sign of compromise. Experts say a failure to strike a cliff compromise by New Year's Eve could plunge the world's biggest economy into recession, and wrangling over the debt ceiling will only exacerbate fiscal uncertainty.


Read the full story on Rappler






Disaster

4. Quinta death toll rises to 11



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The death toll of tropical storm Quinta was raised to 11 as more bodies were found after the flooding in Visayas, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRM) said on December 28. Two people are still missing in Batangas and Capiz. Most of the victims drowned in the floods and 5 came from Iloilo, while Eastern Samar registered 4 and Capiz and Leyte one each. Three of the fatalities in Eastern Samar belonged to the same family and perished when a tree fell on their hut and crushed them near Maydolong. The death toll from the latest storm was relatively low as the public, alarmed by the huge number of fatalities left by Typhoon Pablo, were quick to take precautionary measures.


Read the full story on Rappler




Security

5. Fewer drone strikes in Pakistan, but Yemen is new target



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US drone strikes against Islamist militants decreased in Pakistan's tribal regions for the second year in a row but intensified in Yemen, according to figures compiled by the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank. In Pakistan, 46 strikes were carried out in 2012, compared to 72 in 2011 and 122 in 2010. But Yemen saw an equally drastic increase in the clandestine attacks, with strikes against Al-Qaeda militants rising from 18 in 2011 to 53 in 2012. The US does not provide any information on the strikes, which are deeply unpopular in the Arab world. President Barack Obama, who has increased the use of drones compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush, only incidentally recognized their existence at the end of January in an online exchange.


Read the full story on Rappler






Economy

6. Filipinos' household savings close to P1T



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Filipino households' savings increased by 6.3% in 2012 -- reaching P909.8 billion and making it the prime savings driver in the economy. It's the 4th consecutive year when Filipino households became the primary savings driver. Bangko Sentral officials attribute this to sustained inflows from overseas Filipinos. Overall domestic savings -- households, government, non-financial corporations and financial corporations -- increased by 6.8% to P1.85 trillion this year.


Read the full story on Rappler






Health

7. Ailing ex-leaders: Mandela, Bush, Mubarak



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South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was recovering at his Johannesburg home, convalescing and receiving further care after a nearly three-week hospital stay. The revered 94-year-old had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital on December 8, undergoing treatment for a lung infection and gallstones. In the US, former President George H. W. Bush remained in an intensive care unit December 27 after persistent fever, although family members say he's alert. The 88-year-old Bush was admitted to the ICU at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, last December 22. In Egypt, a state prosecutor ordered imprisoned former dictator Hosni Mubarak transferred to a military hospital due to deteriorating health. Mubarak, serving a life sentence over the killings of protesters, was briefly taken to the hospital last December 19 after he fell in his prison bathroom and hurt his head.


Read the stories:
Mandela
Bush
Mubarak








India

8. Name, shame rapists



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The Indian government said it will post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to publicly shame them, in a new measure to combat growing crime against women. Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, India's junior home minister, said the campaign would begin first in New Delhi, where the brutal gang-rape of a student on December 16 by 6 drunken men has sparked nationwide protests. The announcement came a day after India said it had launched a judicial probe into the attack on the 23-year-old student who was airlifted to Singapore from a hospital in New Delhi December 26. Doctors in Singapore were still battling to save her life following the horrific injuries she sustained.


Read the full story on Rappler






Media

9. Fight secularism: Pope turns to Twitter, other media



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Pope Benedict XVI has galvanized Catholics at the close of 2012 to go on the offensive over key faith issues, forging new alliances and fighting secularism in the West with a media campaign. The 85-year-old pope joined Twitter this month, and while his tweets of faith may have sparked derision among some Twitter users, they brought the Vatican widespread visibility among the digital generation. In June, the Vatican also hired American Fox News correspondent Greg Burke to help modernize its communications strategy. The Pope also took the unusual step of writing an editorial for Britain's Financial Times newspaper, urging business and political leaders to adhere to Christian ethics and moral codes in their daily lives.


Read the full story on Rappler




Film Festival

10. Honors for Nora Aunor, Brillante Mendoza



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On the day director Brillante Mendoza complained that "Thy Womb" was being pulled out of theaters, he received his first Best Director award from the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). "Thy Womb" lead actress Nora Aunor also got her 8th Best Actress award during the December 27 ceremony. The film, which is not doing well in the box office, tells the story of the peace loving Badjaos who are based in Mindanao. "Thy Womb" also won Best Cinematography and Original Story. Mendoza appealed to the fans of Nora Aunor to watch the film even if it's shown only in 27 theaters. The director said movie houses were pulling out the film in favor of more commercial productions.


Read the full story on Rappler