The wRap


Your World in 10 - February 22, 2013 Edition

Territorial Rights

1. No Sabah claim for now



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With an ongoing standoff in Sabah, now is not the time to discuss the Philippines' historical claim over the region, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on February 21. The country's top diplomat stressed that the priority of the government is to get the 180 Filipinos holed up in Lahad Datu "back home safely" without violence from either Philippine and Malaysian security forces. The group itself is not armed, but their escorts are, and that there are women and civilians among them.

Read the full story on Rappler



Inclusive Growth

2. 2013 jobs outlook bleak



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Despite the Philippines' high economic growth of 6.6% in 2012, Filipinos are less optimistic there will be available jobs for them in 2013. A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey in December said outlook on the availability of jobs in the next 12 months, while still "fair," scored +10, down 7 points from +17 in August. The survey, however, showed joblessness among adults fell to 24.6% in December 2012 (equivalent to 10.1 million), from 29.4% (11.7 million) in August. This meant that around 24.6% of the adult population had no jobs.

Read the full story on Rappler



Papacy

3. 60% of US Catholics OK with 3rd World pope



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About 60% of Catholics in the United States think it would be a good idea if the successor of Pope Benedict XVI would come from South America, Asia or Africa, a Pew Research Center poll said. Another 20% didn't care if the new pope hails from a developing region of the world. Just 14% thought it was a bad idea. Pew's Forum on Religion and Public Life interviewed 1,504 Americans of all faiths, including 304 Catholics, on February 13-18 by telephone, on the heels of the German-born pontiff's resignation announcement on February 11.

Read the full story on Rappler



Trade Relationship

4. PH key market for American food, beverage



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The Philippines has become the largest market for U.S. food and beverage products in Southeast Asia as a surging economy and rising tourism are seen stoking demand for American goods in 2013, a report by the U.S. agriculture attaché said. “U.S. consumer oriented food and beverage exports to the Philippines have increased an estimated 12% in 2012 to a record $850 million and have doubled since 2009,” the report said. “The Philippines remains the largest U.S. food and beverage market in Southeast Asia, and one of the fastest growing in the world,” the report said.

Read the full story on Rappler



Dangerous Rocks

5. Time for Europe to beef up asteroid vigilance



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Europe must strengthen its watch for dangerous space rocks, the head of the European Space Agency's (ESA) asteroid surveillance program said on February 21, a week after a meteor struck Russia in a blinding fireball. Nicolas Bobrinsky, in charge of ESA's 4-year-old Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program, said his unit would inaugurate a center in Rome on May 22 to coordinate observatories' sightings of passing asteroids.

Read the full story on Rappler



India Violence

6. Bombing in Google, Microsoft host state kills 20



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Twin bombings killed at least 20 people on February 21 outside a popular cinema and bus stand in the Indian city of Hyderabad, provoking safety fears among Australia's touring cricket team. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the perpetrators of the "dastardly act" would be punished. It came with the nation on alert after the recent hanging of a separatist unleashed protests in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. The evening bombings targeted a mainly Hindu district in Hyderabad, a hub of India's computing industry in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh which hosts local offices of Google and Microsoft among other Western IT companies.

Read the full story on Rappler



Drug Watch

7. Mexican security forces behind disappearances



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Members of Mexico's security forces were involved in the forced disappearances of more than 140 people during the country's offensive against drug cartels, a human rights group says. A February 21 Human Rights Watch reports paints a dim portrait of Mexican military and police forces, which the group says sometimes acted in conjunction with organized crime. Of the nearly 250 specific cases of forced disappearances that the human rights group reviewed from 2006 to 2012, security forces are implicated in at least 149, the report said.

Read more on this report from CNN



Terrorism and Medical Research

8. Bird flu research proceeds amid funding conditions



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U.S. health authorities outlined the conditions for funding research on the H5N1 bird flu virus a month after scientists lifted a yearlong pause on the work that was imposed amid concerns it could be used by terrorists. These conditions include a requirement to demonstrate that a virus that scientists plan to create in a lab could evolve naturally, and that safety and security risks can be managed. The conditions are aimed at enabling research that would help the world prepare for a rapidly spreading form of H5N1. The virus has infected 620 people in 15 countries since 2003, killing 60% of them, according to the World Health Organization.

Read more on this report from Bloomberg



Bomb Plot

9. 3 British Muslims guilty of rucksack bomb plot



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Three British Muslim men were found guilty on February 21 of planning a string of bombings that prosecutors said could have been deadlier than the July 7, 2005 attacks on London's transport network. Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were convicted of being "central figures" in an Islamist extremist plot to set off 8 rucksack bombs and possibly other timed devices in crowded areas. Police said it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered in Britain since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs in drinks bottles.

Read the full story on Rappler



Online Learning

10. Coursera expands university roster



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Adding to earlier news of Coursera offering college credit recommendations for some of its courses, the online learning initiative announced it is growing even further with the addition of 29 new universities to its roster. The new universities bring the number of institutions offering free online courses through Coursera to 62. As 16 of the 29 additions are international universities, Coursera will also be getting new courses from them in French, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian, potentially expanding the learner base of Coursera even further.

Read the full story on Rappler