The wRap


Your World in 10 - January 22, 2015 Edition

CORRUPTION PROBE

1. Back to reality for Binay



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The holidays are over and the Pope is back at the Vatican. A short-lived respite for Vice President Jejomar Binay ends on Thursday, January 22, as a Senate committee resumes its probe into corruption allegations against him, this time focusing on his deals after his stint as mayor of Makati. Star whistleblower Ernesto Mercado told Rappler that as president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), Binay negotiated for a BSP deal that resulted in millions of losses for the organization and millions in gains for him, which he allegedly used in his 2010 vice presidential bid. Binay pocketed around P188.98 million (US$4.23 million) from the deal, Mercado said.

Read the full story on Rappler.




MARITIME DISPUTE

2. In photos: China’s massive reclamation in disputed reef



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Photos obtained by Rappler show China's "massive" reclamation in Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, a rocky sandbar turned into an artificial island that is believed to become the site of a runway for China's air assets to be present in a disputed area already dominated by its ships. Taken on December 12, 2014, the photos show improvements in the reclamation site compared to the first photo published in November by security analysis group IHS Jane, the first to draw international attention to the construction of a possible airstrip and a harbor in the area. The latest photos show the presence of dredgers, cargo vessels, and fishing boats. China’s activities worry the Philippines and the US. American Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel, who is in Manila, acknowledged that Beijing’s projects in the disputed areas are “an ongoing concern not only or claimants or ASEAN” but also for the US.

Read the full story on Rappler




2013 ELECTIONS

3. Poll body violated church rights, says court



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The Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the order of the election commission in 2013 to remove a Catholic cathedral's tarpaulins in Bacolod City campaigning against candidates who supported the reproductive health law and endorsing those who opposed the measure. In a January 21, 2015 decision, the Court said the Commission on Elections violated the church’s right to free speech, expression and property, when it ordered the take-down of the tarpaulins. Comelec considered the tarpaulins election campaign materials, but the Bacolod diocese maintained they were are part of the church campaign against what was being drafted then as the reproductive health law. Despite a fierce church lobby, Congress was able to pass the law.

Read the full story on Rappler




CATHOLIC FAMILIES

4. Leave rabbits in peace



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After saying Catholics don’t need to breed “like rabbits,” Pope Francis hailed big families in the Philippines. During his weekly general audience in the Vatican City, the Pope said it was “a reason for consolation and hope to see so many numerous families who welcome each child as a gift of God.” Francis said poverty was caused not by big families but by an “economic system” that “has replaced man with god of money.” The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines took time to explain the controversial “rabbits” remarks of the Pope, saying that his message was simply about responsible parenthood.

Read the full story on Pope and the families on Rappler.

Read the full story on the CBCP statement on Rappler.




FIGHTING EXTREMISM

5. France unveils anti-terror measures



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France unveiled a raft of measures to curb radicalization and better monitor jihadists two weeks after an Islamist killing spree in Paris that sent shockwaves across Europe. Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced more than 700 million euros ($800 million) will be spent over the next 3 years on "the fight against terrorism." The attacks by known Islamists exposed weaknesses in French intelligence, and Valls said some 3,000 people with jihadist ties needed to be monitored. The number of with links to "terrorist networks" in Syria and Iraq had soared 130 percent in the past year, he said. France will create 2,680 new jobs to fight extremism, just under half of them in the intelligence services.

Read the full story on Rappler.




CEBU PACIFIC

6. Lance Gokongwei says sorry



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Cebu Pacific Air Inc chief Lance Gokongwei said he was “profoundly sorry” over the inconvenience encountered by their passengers during the holidays, blaming absenteeism as the culprit for the flight delays and cancellations that hounded the budget airline. The Cebu Pacific chief made the apology at a congressional hearing on the incident, as lawmakers mull requiring erring carriers to compensate affected passengers on top of government fines and refunds over flight cancellations. He said his airline had too few agents to handle the many passengers waiting to check in.

Read the full story on Rappler




WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

7. Political, business elite gather at Davos



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The world's political and business elite gather for their annual meeting in the glitzy Swiss ski resort of Davos starting on January 21, with the shadow of recent attacks in France and ongoing global conflicts looming large.

French President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State John Kerry will be among the 2,500 movers and shakers thrashing out the burning issues of the day next to the frozen slopes, exactly two weeks after the deadly attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Alongside top European and US leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel – whose country recently foiled an attack – the topic will be broached at a global level with Iraqi leaders including Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Kurdish leader Massud Barzani. The raging Ukraine conflict will also feature high on the agenda.

Read the full story on Rappler.




RELIGION

8. Malaysia court rejects ‘Allah’ use in newspaper



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Malaysia's highest court rejected a final bid by the country's Catholic newspaper for the right to use the word "Allah" to refer to the Christian God, in a case that has aggravated religious tensions. The Federal Court, Malaysia's highest, had ended a 7-year legal battle last June by rejecting a final appeal by The Herald weekly.

The newspaper subsequently launched an attempt to have the court undertake a rare review of last year's decision, but the Federal Court dismissed the move Wednesday. Christians have pointed to the "Allah" controversy as indicative of shrinking tolerance for minority faiths in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Read the full story on Rappler.




MICROSOFT

9. What’s a HoloLens?



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Microsoft said that it was developing an augmented reality experience it called Windows Holographic, as well as the first headset that will support Windows Holographic, called the HoloLens. Using the HoloLens headset computer, Microsoft aims to add holograms to the world around a user without the need for wires or a connection to a PC or a phone. The Verge quotes Microsoft as saying that the HoloLens is the "most advanced holographic computer the world has ever seen," sporting self-contained computing – including a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit, and its own dedicated holographic processor. The visor adds spatial sound to allow people to hear a hologram behind them.

Read the full story on Rappler.




BASKETBALL

10. San Miguel wins first championship since 2001



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San Miguel weathered an Alaska storm one last time and held on in the fourth quarter to defeat the gallant Alaska Aces, 80-78, in game 7 and win the 2015 PBA championship on January 21. It was the team’s first championship since 2001 and the 20th title overall for the franchise. The top-seeded Beermen very nearly blew their chance for a title after they had a 23-point meltdown in the second half, which has been the trend of the best-of-7 series. But they kept their cool despite being down by 6 with under two minutes remaining. Arwind Santos save the day by nailing the go-ahead 3-pointer with 43.7 ticks left to put the Beermen by a hair, 79-78.

Read the full story on Rappler