The wRap


Your World in 10 - February 25, 2013 Edition

End of an Era

1. Last term for Castro



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It’s the end of an era: Raul Castro announced Sunday he will step down as Cuba’s president after he finishes a final 5-year term. “This will be my last term,” Castro said, setting 2018 as the end of the Castro era. He said he aims to set two-term limits and age caps for political office, including the presidency. This marks significant change for a nation led by Castro or his older brother Fidel since Cuba’s 1959 revolution. He named rising political star Miguel Diaz-Canel first in the line of succession.

Read more on Rappler






Pope and the Church

2. Pope delivers final mass as scandal erupts



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Pope Benedict XVI celebrates his last Sunday prayers in St Peter's Square on February 24 ahead of his formal resignation on Thursday. With his voice breaking with emotion, the pope says God told him to devote himself to quiet contemplation but says this does not mean he would "abandon" the Church. He thanks the crowd with a final unscripted call, saying, "We will always be close!" In recent days, speculative reports of gay sex scandals in the Vatican dominated headlines in Italian news. The reports say three trusted Cardinals appointed by Benedict had put together an explicit report of Vatican officials who had been put in compromising positions and were vulnerable to blackmail by outsiders. Vatican experts say the explosion of bad press is fed by carefully orchestrated leaks meant to weaken some papal contenders. The Vatican Secretariat of State issued a rebuke Sunday, calling it “deplorable” that “unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories” were circulating ahead of the conclave. Analysts agree the reports highlighted the backbiting in the Vatican that Benedict was unable to control, and provided a hint as to why he is stepping aside for a younger, stronger leader. Benedict is the second pope to resign in the Church's 2000-year history.

Read more on Rappler, New York Times and CNN.







Democracy

3. People Power 27 years later



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Rappler looks back 27 years to the event that was the mother of all “People Power”, the 1986 Edsa revolution. Showing just how much things changed at the surface -- technology, infrastructure, reinvented politicians, it also shows how much values, vices and problems stayed the same-- political dynasties, human rights abuses, floods, traffic, noontime comedians and news anchors are still there. Another piece on the book "Light from My Father's Shadow" by former Liberal Party stalwart Lito Atienza chronicles the infighting in LP in 1986. The argument: who should run against Marcos in the snap elections, Ninoy widow Cory Aquino, Doy Laurel or Jovy Salonga? Like the Juan Ponce Enrile Memoir, Atienza’s book comes from very partisan lenses but gives a first-person account of a time in history that changed the country forever.

Read more on Rappler here and here




Standoff

4. Sultan of Sulu claims historic land as deadline ticks



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With the ongoing standoff in Sabah, self-proclaimed Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III says he will ask the US government for help to reclaim the territory from Malaysia.
Kiram's spokesman Abraham Idjirani says the 1915 Kiram-Carpenter Agreement assured American protection “should a problem arise in Sabah between the Sultan of Sulu and other foreign countries."
About 180 Filipinos -- the heirs of the sultan of Sulu and his followers -- sailed to Sabah on February 12 to pursue their claim on the territory.
They refuse to leave Sabah even after the government dispatched a humanitarian ship on Sunday to repatriate women and civilians.
The Sulu sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the current standoff between the Filipinos and Malaysian security forces.
The Philippines has not pursued its claim since 1964.

Read more on Rappler here, here and here






Oscars

5. Hollywood's biggest night: Argo leads winners



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Period thriller film "Argo" led the winners of the 85th Academy Awards, in a star-studded ceremony that highlighted many of Hollywood's most memorable films through the years. Ang Lee won Best Director for "Life of Pi"; top acting awards went to Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") and Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook." The night, hosted by comedian Seth MacFarlane, was also studded with musical performances of Oscar-winning songs, the presence of Hollywood legends such as Barbra Streisand and William Shatner, and a surprise appearance by US First Lady Michelle Obama via videolink, direct from the White House.

Read more on Rappler




Elections

6. Topless feminists harass Berlusconi as Italy votes



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Three topless feminists lunge at Italy's Silvio Berlusconi as he arrives at a polling station in Milan to vote in a key general election on Sunday.
The women broke through a line of journalists and jumped over some tables in an attempt to reach the Italian politician.
They had the slogan "Basta Berlusconi" ("Enough With Berlusconi") scrawled on their backs.
The three were quickly detained by police and dragged away in a chaotic scene.
The scandal-tainted Berlusconi is leading a centre-right coalition in the election and polls indicate he will come second to the centre-left.

Read more on Rappler and Reuters




Suicide Bombings

7. US troops ordered out of Afghanistan after suicide bombs



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The Afghan government bars US troops from operating in the province of Maidan Wardak after complaints that Afghans working for the Americans tortured and killed villagers in the area.

The province is seen as a crucial area in the attacks against the Taliban.
The action reflects a distrust of international forces -- a sentiment held by many Afghans, who feel both the US forces and the Taliban are responsible for continued violence in the country.
On Sunday, two Taliban suicide bombers kill 3 members of Afghan security forces in two attacks, but police foil a third attack after shooting the would-be assailant in Kabul.
In the day's first attack, a suicide bomber rams an explosive-laden car into the walled compound of a National Directorate of Security branch in the town of Jalalabad.
This was followed by an attack on a police base in Puli Alam, 70 kilometres south of the capital.
The Taliban claims responsibility for the two attacks, but denies involvement in the foiled attack in Kabul.

Read more on New York Times and Rappler




Technology

8. Firefox launches phones in the Philippines



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The Philippines will be one of the first countries to get the first smartphone running the new Firefox OS - the world’s first fully open mobile platform.
The Firefox smartphone OS is an extension of the personalized web experience provided by the popular internet browser.
The new OS will run apps like Facebook and Twitter, but Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs says these won't be distributed in just one app store, in keeping up with Mozilla’s aim to “free the web.”
ZTE and Alcatel will manufacture the first two Firefox OS phones, the ZTE Open and the Alcatel One Touch Fire.
The new smartphones are expected to be released summer of 2013.

Read more on Rappler




#PHvote

9. Twitter map visualizes weak party system in PH



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Comscore named the Philippines the social media capital of the world beginning in 2010. The question now is can social media activity give new insights about political systems and the electoral outcome? Using algorithms to color-code communities formed online during the launch of national campaigns for the May 2013 elections, Rappler gains insights about the lack of political party lines. The two opposing political coalitions are actually part of the same community! Stay tuned to Rappler as we take the elections apart based on Filipinos’ behavior on social media.

Read more on Rappler




Viral

10. Michelle Obama moves



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A video of First Lady Michelle Obama grooving with a dressed-in-drag Jimmy Fallon on his comedy talk show goes viral over the weekend.
In the video, the pair perform a routine dubbed "Evolution of Mom Dancing" to promote Obama's "Let's Move!" youth fitness and nutrition campaign.
Obesity is a major health problem in the United States, with one in three adults and almost one in five children overweight.
The clip has already been viewed more than 850,000 times since being posted Friday.
It's gotten rave comments about the first lady and her family.
One user comments, "For the first time, we have a first lady with soul."

Read more on Rappler here and here