The wRap


Your World in 10 - January 29, 2013

Penalties and Disasters

1. Hawaii vs Tubattaha reef crashes: Fine difference



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When the USS Port Royal, a guided missile cruiser, ran aground near the Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii in 2009 and destroyed about 890 square meters of coral reef, US Navy shelled out US$15 million (about P610-M based on the current exchange rate) to the State of Hawaii, noted the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The possible stark difference the US Navy will pay the Philippines for the recent grounding of the USS Guardian minesweeper at the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park near Palawan has come to light. Based on preliminary assessments, the vessel damaged at least 1,600 sqm, almost twice the area destroyed 4 years ago in Hawaii. Philippine laws, however, mandate the US Navy to pay a mandatory fine of P12,000 (about $300) per sqm of damaged coral, plus another P12,000 for rehabilitation efforts. This means that the Americans will be charged a minimum penalty of P38.4 million or $960,000, a mere 6.3% of what they had to pay for half of the damage in Hawaii.


Read more on Rappler here and here.




Credit Rating

2. Roubini campaigns for investment grade for PH



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World renowned economist and "Dr. Doom" Nouriel Roubini will speak at an investment summit in Manila where he is expected to make pronouncements that are expected to be catalysts for the much anticipated ratings upgrade of the Philippines in 2013. He has been transparent about his message to his Manila audience on January 30. He said in a tweet the Philippines "should get an upgrade to investment grade…as its economic, fiscal, financial and policy fundamentals are much improved." In Davos where he is coming from, he said in a Bloomberg interview that the Philippines, as well as Indonesia, are doing more to reform and grow their economies than the "hyped up" BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poors have rated the Philippines one notch below investment grade.


Read more on Rappler here and here.




Economic Growth

3. Among post-Marcos presidents, PNoy grew economy fastest



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President Benigno S. Aquino III bested all post-Martial Law presidents, including his mother, Corazon C. Aquino, in taking the Philippines economy to new highs in their first 2.25 years in office. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Mr. Aquino notched the highest annualized rate of GDP at 4.5% in his first 9 quarters of service, while President Fidel V. Ramos saw the slowest GDP growth at 3.4%. NSCB noted that each president faced different economic conditions during their term.


Read more on Rappler.




Where's free speech?

4. Guilty! RH advocate face prison term for 'Damaso' act



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A Manila court found prominent tour guide and reproductive health advocate Carlos Celdran guilty of “offending religious feelings," a provision of the Revised Penal Code, for his "Damaso" act in 2010. For disrupting a service at the Manila Cathedral by holding up a placard with the word “Damaso” on it, in reference to the villainous priest in Jose Rizal’s famous novel “Noli Me Tangere,” Celdran was sentenced to a prison term of not less than two months and 21 days and not more than one year, one month and 11 days. His lawyer Marlon Manuel said they will appeal the charge and cite the 1987 constitution, which guarantees free speech. Manuel noted that the last time a Filipino faced a similar case was in a trial way back in the 1930's.


Read more on Rappler here and here.




Tragedy

5. Brazil club fire: Investigations, arrests as nation mourns



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While friends and family members bid farewell to their loved ones who were among the 231 killed in the January 27 nightclub fire in south Brazil, the police on January 28 arrested 4 suspects. Detained were two owners of the Kiss club and a pair of musicians who starred in the ill-fated pyrotechnic show blamed for sparking the inferno in the university town of Santa Maria. The club did not have valid operating permits and that its emergency exits led only to the main entrance, which became a deadly bottleneck. Most of the victims died of smoke inhalation in their desperate bid to escape. The tragedy forced officials to defend readiness to host the Olympics in 2016 and World Cup in 2014.


Read more on Rappler here and here.




Dutch Rule

6. Queen Beatrix steps down after 33 years



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The 75-year-old Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, a monarch who won widespread admiration for her skill at navigating controversy, announced on January 28 that she would abdicate in favor of her son Crown Prince Willem Alexander, 45, at the end of April after 33 years in power. In a televised address, she said the country should be in the hands of a new generation. Her abdication ends more than 100 years of female reign on the Dutch throne. Future king Willem Alexander has worked hard to polish his image since his beer-drinking student days when he was known as "Prince Pils." He is a trained hydrological engineer and has been closely involved in development aid. His brother Friso remains in a coma after a skiing accident. The royal family faces increasing scrutiny of its finances and its ceremonial role in politics has been recently circumscribed, but few call for its abolition. The Dutch monarch's powers are limited by the constitution.


Read more about Queen Beatrix on Rappler.
Read more about future King Willem Alexander on Rappler.





In Denial

7. 'Narcissist' Armstrong still hasn't hit bottom



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Lance Armstrong's revelations during the Oprah interview and his dubious mea culpa did not fully account for his propensity to lie, The Atlantic said. His behavior showed a "narcissistic personality disorder," a diagnostic label more often used to vilify social pariahs like Bernie Madoff or Anders Behring Breivik, that works as a defense mechanism to ward off unconscious feelings of shame, defect or inferiority. Armstrong is still engaged in damage control, and has yet to feel authentic guilt for the hurt he inflicted on people. Like an alcoholic still in denial, he may need to "hit bottom" and lose everything before he can begin, the Atlantic stressed.


Read more on The Atlantic.




Enduring Appeal

8. 'Pride and Prejudice' is 200 years old



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Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" fans on January 28 marked the yearlong celebration of the 200th year of publication of one fiction's most popular romantic couples: Mr. Darcy and Elizabet Bennet. The novel's wittiest lines, the silliest fools, the most lovable heroine and the handsomest estate were commemorated in a 12-hour read-a-thon, lectures, film screenings, pop-up theatrical performances of scenes from the novel, exhibitions of rare editions, essay contests, BBC's meticulous reconstruction of the Netherfield Ball, and Twitter posts of favorite lines from the book. The Economist chimed in and measured the frequency of mention of both well-loved characters. It found that associating Elizabeth with being the "world's sweetheart" gave her a steady mention in books and journals through the decades. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, dipped in popularity during the second-wave feminism, then bounced back in the 1990's, thanks to a BBC television series featuring Colin Firth in a wet shirt and Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones's Diary." Although out of copyright and available for free on e-readers, it is estimated that Pride and Prejudice sells up to 50,000 copies each year in the UK.


Read more on the New York Times, New Yorker and The Economist.




History and Heritage

9. Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts burned, smuggled



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Even as the residents of Mali's fabled desert city of Timbuktu were jubilant as French-led forces drove the Islamist militants away, fears soared for the city's cultural heritage. A building housing between 60,000 and 100,000 manuscripts from the ancient Muslim world and Greece was set aflame, and some items smuggled out, during the Islamists' brutal 10-month rule. The Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research's building was opened in 2009 following a bilateral agreement with South Africa to promote the conservation, research and promotion of the manuscripts as African heritage. Timbuktu, a town so etched into Western imagination as a metaphor for exotic remoteness, that many never knew it really existed until its seizure by radical Islamists in April 2012 thrust it into the spotlight


Read more on Rappler.




Smartphone market

10. Blackberry 10 may give RIM a 'comeback' story



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Research In Motion’s imminent demise has been put on hold. The smartphone maker may become relevant again via BlackBerry 10, which is already creating Apple-level buzz in the run up to its January 30 delivery. A few who have seen a sample unit said the new keyboardless smartphone is not "the disgracefully ugly bricks they were" but is "truly beautiful, elegant hardware. It "looks a lot like an iPhone 5 from some angles but at the same time, feels decidedly BlackBerry," shared a Gizmodo writer. RIM's goal is not to out-innovate the iPhone, noted Fortune. Rather, in a market controlled by Apple and Google, RIM is simply in a battle with Microsoft for the 3rd spot. Forrester analyst Charles Golvin explained, "Any spot beyond No. 3 doesn't matter."


Read more on Gizmodo and Fortune.