The wRap


Your World in 10 - March 8, 2013 Edition

Security

1. Kidnapped peacemakers say they're safe



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Video footage posted on the Internet March 7 shows some of a group of 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers seized by Syrian rebels the previous day, with one of them saying they were safe and being cared for. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted the video which shows 6 uniformed members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and an officer who identifies himself as a member of the Filipino battalion of the UN. The men had been patrolling the sensitive Golan armistice line with Israel on March 6 when they were seized. The Philippine government said negotiations are underway to secure their safe release.

Read the full story on Rappler




Sabah

2. It's ours, insists Malaysian PM



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The status of Sabah is not open to discussion and the region will continue to be a state within the Federation of Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak said. "The question of Sabah within Malaysia should not be disputed by anyone. Let not anyone underestimate Malaysia's commitment to have Sabah within Malaysia forever," he added. The statement comes on the day Malaysia rejected a call for a ceasefire by the leader of Filipino armed men holed up in Sabah for more than 3 weeks now. Malaysian police also said the week-long offensive against the armed group has killed 52 Filipinos.

Read the full story on Rappler

Read a related story on Rappler




North Korea

3. UN issues new nuke sanctions



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The UN Security Council on March 7 imposed new sanctions against North Korea amid escalating tensions as the North threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US. The council unanimously passed a resolution, agreed by the US and China, which added new names to the UN sanctions blacklist and tightened restrictions on the North's financial dealings, notably its "bulk cash" transfers. These will "bite hard," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said. Unperturbed, North Korea announced it was voiding non-aggression pacts with South Korea and severing a hotline with Seoul.

Read the stories on Rappler here and here







Catholic Church

4. Aquino, bishops agree on truce



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More than two years since pulling out from the negotiating table over the Reproductive Health (RH) issue, Catholic Church officials have agreed to cease hostilities with Malacañang — for now. But it remains a shaky truce. On March 5, President Benigno Aquino III broke bread with high-ranking officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) —their first meeting since the scuttled dialogue over the RH controversy in 2011. They agreed to “set up a structure or mechanism” that will allow a continuous dialogue between both sides and avoid what happened in the past. The Office of the President will put up a liaison office that will facilitate continuing talks between both sides.

Read the full story on Rappler




#PHVote

5. Not all reinstated overseas voters will get ballots



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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to reinstate the hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos whose registration as voters it earlier deactivated. Not all of them, however, will be allocated ballots when voting period runs from April 13 to May 13. In Comelec Resolution 9653 -- the same resolution that restored 238,557 overseas absentee voters to the voters' list -- it was resolved that only 20% of these voters will be allocated ballots The resolution was promulgated on March 5, but copies were made available only on March 7.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Business

6. Auction terms for world's largest wet steam field



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The bidding terms for the 640-megawatt Unified Leyte geothermal power complex, which is acclaimed as world’s largest wet steam field, is out. At stake is a contract as independent power producer administrator (IPPA) of the contracted capacities of the geothermal titan that is beating at the heart of a geothermal reservation in Leyte province. On March 7, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the IPPA contract for the geothermal power complex will be auctioned off is designed to allow industries, electric cooperatives and large power to participate

Read the full story on Rappler




Politics

7. Senator, ex-police chief will be Aquino's 'fireman'



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President Benigno Aquino III has made plans for two retiring allies in the Senate -- Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan. He has a special task in mind for Lacson. He wants him to become his administration's "fireman," who will look into government's potential problems before they blow out of proportion. Lacson was chief of the national police before he became a senator. As senator, he is also known for his exposés. Pangilinan, on the other hand, will focus on the agricultural sector, according to the President.

Read the full story on Rappler





Social networks

8. Facebook unveils redesigned News Feed



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Facebook announced a redesigned version of its News Feed - the section of the social networking site where you get updates about posts from people and pages you follow. The focus of the redesign is to “reduce clutter” so users can focus more on stories and content they care about. The new look was completely built from scratch and is not a revision of the old one. Content is front and center - photos, news articles and even maps get top billing.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Science

9. Russia finds 'new bacteria' in Antarctic lake



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Russian scientists believe they have found a wholly new type of bacteria in the mysterious subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Thursday, March 7. The samples obtained from the underground lake in May 2012 contained a bacteria which bore no resemblance to existing types, said Sergei Bulat of the genetics laboratory at the Saint Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics. "We are calling this life form unclassified and unidentified," he added.

Read the full story on Rappler.




Entertainment

10. American Idol boys vie for Top 10 spots



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Compared to the show-stopping performances of some of the girls during the American Idol Season 12 semi-finals round last March 6, the boys’ round on March 7 was a bit of a disappointment. The girls’ slate being stronger than the boys’ has been acknowledged by many AI watchers, even the Idol judges themselves. In fact, many believe that the first female American Idol to win since Jordin Sparks in 2007 may just be from this batch.

Read the full story on Rappler.