The wRap


Your World in 10 - March 7, 2013 Edition

Filipino Peacekeepers

1. 21 Filipino peacekeepers taken by Syrian rebels



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21 United Nations (UN) peacekeepers from the Philippines were seized by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights on Wednesday, March 6. Armed Forces spokesman Col Arnulfo Burgos said those kidnapped included 18 soldiers and their 3 officers.The Golan Heights is situated between Syria and Israel. A spokesman of the rebels who numbered about 30 said the peacekeepers will remain in custody until Syrian forces pull out of the area. Abu Kaid al-Faleh of the rebel Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade threatened to treat the UN troops as prisoners, accusing the UN Disengagement Force of working with the army to suppress the insurgency. About a million Syrians have fled since a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted two years ago. The rebels took control of the northern city of Raqa and claimed that Assad could be ousted “within a month” if Western nations supported the insurgency. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has appealed to the Syrian rebels to release the Filipino peacekeepers.

Read the full story on Rappler.
The story on the Philippine government’s appeal is on Rappler.
More details are on the BBC.




Sabah Conflict

2. Kirams declare ceasefire in Sabah



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The Kiram family declared a ceasefire in the Sabah standoff on Thursday, March 7. The ceasefire, which took effect at 12:30 pm Philippine time, aims to 'avoid more bloodshed and crimes' against Filipinos in the area, the Kirams announced in a press conference in Taguig. Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson of the Sultanate of Sulu, said the followers of the sultan will not take any action and will stay wherever they are now. The family now hopes the Malaysian government will reciprocate the ceasefire declaration.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Business

3. PAL is profitable again in 2014?



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There is reason to rejoice for the country’s flag carrier. It expects to start turning in a profit by 2014. Philippine Airlines president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang cited 3 reasons for the positive outlook: the acquisition of new and fuel-efficient aircraft, route expansion, and the impending lifting of flying restrictions to the US and European Union member-countries. Once the restrictions are lifted, PAL will be able to offer more flights to the US through its more fuel-efficient aircraft. The restrictions were a result of security concerns by the International Civil Aviation Organization of the United Nations. PAL is eyeing new flights to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

Read more on Rappler.




World

4. Venezuelans bid Chavez good-bye



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Weeping supporters lined the streets of Venezuela, mourning the passing of President Hugo Chavez. The 58-year-old populist leader died on Tuesday, March 5, from a respiratory infection following a fourth round of cancer surgery. Citizens gathered to pay homage to a man whose oil-funded socialist revolution pleased the poor but displeased the rich. Losing his almost two-year battle with cancer, Chavez lay in a half-open casket which was paraded from the hospital where he died to a military academy in Caracas. After a 7-hour trip, the coffin of Chavez was positioned in the hall as people chanted, “Chavez livees, the struggle goes on.” New elections will be called within 30 days, even as the government has announced 7 days of mourning.

Read the full story on Rappler.
Other details are on the BBC.




Atimonan Killings

5. Who stood to benefit from Atimonan killings?



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His involvement in the illegal numbers game jueteng allegedly pushed Supt. Hansel Marantan - the head of the Atimonan checkpoint operation - to hatch a plan that led to the killing of 13 men on January 6. That, plus intelligence failure, led to the killing of "innocent" victims at a police checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon two months ago. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reached this conclusion in its investigation of the killing of 13 suspected criminal gang members on January 6 in Atimonan, Quezon.

Read more on Rappler.




Tourism Business

6. PH 'rising star' in travel, tourism



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The government's "Its more fun in the Philippines" campaign bore fruit as the Philippines advanced 12 notches in the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index released on Thursday, March 7. The country's ranking improved to 82nd overall out of 140 countries with a score of 3.93 in 2013, making it a 'rising star' in the industry and the 'most improved' country in the Asia and the Pacific region.


Read the full story on Rappler.




Egyptian Elections

7. Egypt court orders cancellation of April 22 legislative vote



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Egypt's administrative court on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of controversial parliamentary elections scheduled for April 22, throwing the country deeper into political crisis. Judge Abdel Meguid al-Moqanen said Islamist President Mohamed Morsi had ratified a new electoral law for the country last month without sending it to the Supreme Constitutional Court for its approval, as required by the constitution. Consequently, the administrative court referred the law to the constitutional court and cancelled Morsi's decree calling for elections.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Science and Nature

8. Particle looking 'more and more' like Higgs - scientists



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The subatomic particle whose discovery was announced amid much fanfare last year, is looking "more and more" like it could indeed be the elusive Higgs boson believed to explain why matter has mass, scientists said Wednesday, March 6. More analysis is needed, however, before a definitive statement can be made. One property in the analysis that will allow several teams researching the particle to declare whether or not it is a Higgs is called spin, and scientists are trying to determine if the particle they have has spin-zero, which will allow it to be known as a Higgs. "All the analysis conducted so far strongly indicates spin-zero, but it is not yet able to rule out entirely the possibility that the particle has spin-two," said CERN.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Women's Issues

9. Why menstruation is an issue



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Aid agencies and governments must tackle issues surrounding menstruation because ignoring it undermines the quality of life of women and girls especially in poor countries. Menstruation is the “unspoken, silent hygience and sanitation issue,” Archana Patkar, program manager of the United Nations’ Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, said. Worldwide, there are an estimated two billion women between the ages of 12 and 50 who menstruate, and at any given time, 340 of them are menstruating. Yet the lack of access to sanitary napkins, poor education about this monthly women’s cycle, inadequate washing and disposal facilities undermine women’s schooling, work and health. “Menstruation is a biological phenomenon which is responsible for future generations. We wouldn't be here without it. So it's really strange that we have all this silence, shame, secrecy and taboos around it,” Patkar said.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Life and Style

10. Bolshoi dancer admits to acid attack



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Pavel Dmitrichenko, a leading soloist of the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, has admitted his involvement in the acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin. He signed a written confession, along with other suspects who had all been arrested, Moscow police said on Wednesday, March 6. Dmitrichenko, according to the police, masterminded the attack, while his accomplice Yury Zarutsky, was the one who flung acid into Filin’s face and Andrei Lipatov, the driver at the scene, in January. Filin, a former Bolshoi star dancer himself who became artistic director, is fighting for his eyesight and risks permanent facial disfigurement. He has been moved to Germany for rehabilitation treatment. The incident exposed bitter infighting and long-held grudges between dancers and managers at the world famous dance company.

Read the full story on Rappler.
More details on BBC.