The wRap


Your World in 10 - July 19, 2012 Edition

Chaos

1. Syria 'spinning out of control'



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US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Syria is "rapidly spinning out of control" and warned Syria to protect its stockpile of chemical weapons. Jordan's King Abdullah II warns his northern neighbor was on the brink of civil war and that its large stash of chemical weapons could fall into al-Qaeda hands. The battle for the capital reaches its fourth straight day with a bomb killing President Bashar al-Assad's key security aides, close to Assad's own residence. The defense minister, a key al-Assad ally, the head of the crisis team on the uprising and al-Assad's brother-in-law were killed with others seriously wounded. The government said the attack was the work of a suicide bomber, but an officer from the Free Syrian Army said it was a remotely detonated explosive. Will anyone intervene? UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to "shoulder its responsibility" as the UN Security Council prepares to vote Thursday on possible sanctions against the Syrian regime.

Read more about the bombing, Jordan's fears and the UN vote Thursday - all on Rappler.



Flashpoint

2. China sets up government in South China city, PH town 'no match'



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Security analysts around the world warn the most dangerous flashpoint in the world may be the South China Sea. Now China's setting up a prefectural-level city government and military controlling three areas contested by the Philippines. Facing off against China's better funded Sansha City is one of the Philippines poorest municipalities, Kalayaan, in Palawan. International law expert Dr. Suzette Suarez says China's "intentional display of power and authority over the territory" can prove its ownership over contested areas.

Read more on Rappler



Provocation

3. Israel blames Iran for bombing



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Tensions rise in the Middle East after Israel accused Iran of orchestrating the bombing of a bus with Israeli tourists in a Bulgarian resort town Wednesday. It killed at least seven people and injured 30 others. "All signs point to Iran," says Israeli Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying Israel will retaliate. This "is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world. Israel will react strongly to Iran's terror." US President Barack Obama said the attack was "completely outrageous" and said the US would "stand with our allies and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators." Iran blames Israel for the assassination of 5 Iranian nuclear scientists over the past three years. Now the US and Israel say Iran is retaliating, pointing to numerous plots and attacks on Israeli diplomatic missions and tourists since the start of 2012 in countries stretching from Thailand to Georgia. The US and Israel have linked these incidents to Iran and the Iranian-backed militia, Hezbollah. The unravelling of Syria adds a new twist: Israel fears Hezbollah and Iran will take advantage of the chaos in Syria to launch cross border attacks into Israel.

Read more on the Wall Street Journal.




Bottleneck

4. PPP deals bottleneck, engine for 8% growth rate target, PNoy explains



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Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran says 8 infrastructure projects planned under the public-private partnership program (PPP) are crucial to achieving the country's growth targets this year. However, only one small PPP project has been approved, making businessmen critical of the slow pace of implementation of what was trumpeted as the Aquino administration's engine for growth. In an interview aired Wednesday night, President Benigno Aquino III explains he is having second thoughts about the original strategic plan laid out by his government on the PPP.

Read more about the projects which could raise GDP up to 2% and about President Aquino's doubts on Rappler.



Education

5. State colleges get 50% increase in budget, new ways of learning



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Education is key to building the next generation, particularly in today's fast-changing landscape. Seeming to recognize this, the Aquino administration reflects this priority in its proposed budget for next year. If approved by Congress, the 2013 budget would increase the budget of state universities and colleges (SUCs) by almost 50% - from P25.85 billion in 2012 to P37.12 billion in 2013. Ideas about education are also changing - from the more structured traditional classes to what one school calls blended learning.

Read more about the budget increase and one school's idea of 'blended learning' - all on Rappler.



Online Lessons

6. Ivy leagues offer free online courses



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You've played games online (called MMORPG - massive multi-player online role playing games). Now try taking classes, called MOOC, massive open online courses! You can take online courses from expensive Ivy League universities in the United States. This week, a dozen highly ranked universities, including Princeton, Stanford and University of the Pennyslvania signed on with Coursera, a new venture offering free classes online. The best news is it's free. Ivy Leagues going online started last fall, with Stanford offering a free online course in artificial intelligence that drew 160,000 students. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology started a free class project, MITx, in December. Last May, MIT teamed with Harvard to create free online classes, edX, similar to Coursera.

Read more on the New York Times



Publishing

7. Skyrocketing sales for E-books in 2011



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Sales of e-books more than doubled in 2011 to bring in some $2.07 billion for the US publishing industry. The data was released by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group, which showed e-books grew from $869 million in 2010. Last year, e-books only accounted for 6% of overall publishing revenues. There's more room for growth though because traditional hardcover or paperback still represents the bulk of publishers' net revenue at $11.1 billion for 2011.

Read more on Rappler



Outbreak

8. WHO-DOH probes cholera outbreak in Catanduanes



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The World Health Organization and the Department of Health are investigating a cholera outbreak in Catanduanes in the Bicol region. The outbreak began in January this year, according to Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag. Since then, more than two thousand cases were monitored in Catanduanes' 11 towns. Most of the cases were found in Virac, the capital, as well as in San Andres and Pandan. WHO and DOH want to understand the causes of the outbreak to try to figure out how to contain it.

Read more on Rappler



New Moon

9. First synchronized start of Ramadan in Philippines



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The symbol of the Islamic faith is the crescent moon - the new moon. Expected Thursday, July 19 around 6 pm in the Philippines, this moon will signal the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the time of fasting, cleansing and renewal. Moon-sighting committees in Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Cotabato will be watching the night skies closely and - for the first time ever, the Philippines will synchronize the start of Ramadan throughout the country. In the past, western Mindanao started Ramadan ahead of other Muslim areas.

Read more on Rappler



Basketball

10. Jeremy Lin moves to Rockets



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It's official: Jeremy Lin is moving from the New York Knicks and joining the Houston Rockets, who offered him a three-year $25.1 million deal. The Knicks had the right to match the deal, but declined because the Rockets deal included a third-year balloon payment of $14.9 million, which would have cost the Knicks at least $35 million in luxury-tax penalties if they attempted to match it.

Read more on Rappler