The wRap


Your World in 10 - May 7, 2012 Edition

Elections and economy

1. Voters punish leaders behind austerity measures in Europe



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Six countries in Europe held their elections on Sunday, May 6 -- France, Greece, Serbia, Germany, Italy, Armenia. Going by the poll results in 3 of the eurozone's largest economies (France, Greece, Germany), voters punished incumbent leaders who had a role in region-wide austerity measures aimed at saving them from deep economic crisis that has shaken world markets. In France, Socialist Francois Hollande, who is expected to push for more stimulus-minded approach, defeated Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency. Greeks punished the two main parties in the parliamentary elections that had a hand in forming a national salvation government that shielded the country from bankruptcy and kept Greece in the EU.

An economist said the poll results show the wide gap between politicians and voters who are sending a worrying message: They are not ready for reforms. These leadership changes will likely have consequences on the region's continuing efforts to deal with financial and economic mess they are in, and the ripple effects on the rest of the world.

Read more about the French election results on Rappler. Check CNN's coverage.

Read more on the Greek election results on Rappler, New York Times, and CNN.

Read more on what's at stake in these elections in Europe on Washington Post and Reuters.




Uncertainties

2. Markets fall as Europe votes against reforms



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As financial markets woke up to news of the defeat of European leaders that backed the austerity measures in France, Greek, and Germany, the euro went tumbling in Asia and equity markets followed not long after. France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel, the two main leaders in the region's austerity-before-growth policy amid economic slowdown and financial mess, faced tough times at the polls as voters punished them for their financial-turned-social sufferings. With the changing of the guards, markets are worried the last batches of the phased reforms would not push through, creating more uncertainties.

Read more on Rappler, Forbes and Business Insider.





Spratlys

3. PH and China in business partnership at disputed sea?



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While the Philippines and China are in a military and diplomatic standoff in the Scarborough shoal in northern Philippines, the story could be different further down south -- at the Recto Bank a few kilometers east of Palawan where a rich gas resource has just been confirmed. Aquino said he is open to an agreement with China that would allow a commercial partnership on one hand and a political discussion on the other. The chairman of local firm Philex Mining, which has a unit that was granted by the government the right to explore the Recto Bank, is currently in China to talk to Chinese state oil company.

Read more on Bloomberg.





Corporate governance

4. 'Shareholder spring' to intensify this week



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Shareholders are up in arms over increases in executive pay amid sufferings from economic downturn in the United Kingdom. In recent annual stockholders meetings of giant corporations like insurer Aviva, over half of the shareholders voted against the company's remuneration report, which has proposed pay packages for the top brass. Named after the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, "shareholder spring" will likely intensify this week as investors also challenge executive pay at the scheduled shareholder meetings of William Hill, Ben & Jerry's ice cream maker Unilever and gas group Centrica.

Read more on Rappler and Guardian.




Impeachment

5. #CoronaTrial resumes



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After a 3-week break, the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona resumes Monday, May 7. How the defense and prosecution, as well as the senator-judges will handle the newly discovered foreign currency deposits of Corona amounting to some US$10 million uncovered by the Office of the Ombudsman will likely keep Filipinos tuned in to TV or social media for the impeachment trial afternoon coverages. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he wants to finish the trial by end-May, even if that target means finishing the Monday-to-Thursday hearings late in the evening.

View coverage and analysis of Rappler here.




Presidential partner

6. First Lady of France: From Carla Bruni to Valérie Trierweiler



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Step back, Carla Bruni. It is Valérie Trierweiler's turn as First Lady of France. Following the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in the recently concluded national elections, Socialist François Hollande takes the reins of a country that's in a region trying to get up from an economic slump. Trierweiler, a 47-year-old journalist who tweets and twice-divorced mother of 3 teenagers, may likely be fit for the role. Unlike Bruni who is a millionaire heiress and former supermodel turned folksinger, Trierweiler comes from a modest family in eastern France and says she wants to keep on working to support her children since she does not want to be paid for by the state. Trierweiler has, like Hollande, styled herself as the antithesis of "bling" on the campaign trail. The couple are not married and she prefers to be called Hollande's "companion" than "partner."

Read profile stories on Valérie Trierweiler on Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald.




Peace and protests

7. Russians getting bolder in anti-Putin protests



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Russians took to the streets of Moscow during the weekend in another round of anti-Putin protests. This suggests that demonstrators are less afraid of confronting the police, says the New York Times, noting that there were at least 20,000 people who tried to march toward Kremlin to show discontent against president Vladimir Putin and his government. Putin has recently been inaugurated for another term - his third so far. Unsurprisingly, parallel pro-Putin protests were also held, with the police reporting 30,000 attendees.

Read more on New York Times.




Movies

8. 'Avengers' smash box office records with $200-M weekend receipts



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The Marvel film featuring superheroes Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Hawkeye earned a whopping $200.3 million in its opening weekend, setting a new record high. "Avengers" overtook previous record-holder Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which opened with $169.2 million.

Read more on Time.




Social media spying

9. FBI urges Facebook, Gmail to allow spying on criminals



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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been asking executives at Facebook, Gmail, Skype and other social media and Internet giants to give the agency easier backdoor access to spy on suspected criminals. This as more communication shifts online, proving laws allowing phone lines wiretapping less useful. An alternative is to pass a law requiring these sites to rework their code for easier surveillance of communication via instant messaging, VoIP and emails.

Read more on Mashable.




Celebrity behavior

10. Now showing: Boxing, wrestling at NAIA



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There was no need for pay-per-view or wait for TV replays of the Mayweather-Cotto professional boxing match. On Sunday, May 6, the web was filled with news reports, pictures, heckling and opinions on a brawl among celebrity couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto, and journalist Mon Tulfo. As each gave their who-did-what claims on various media, a video taken by an eyewitness who was at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) was very telling as it showed the celebrity couple mauling Tulfo who snickered when he finally stood up. Netizens took to social media to share their thoughts, including some side remarks against inefficiency of Cebu Pacific Air, which failed to bring the celebrity couple's baggages. Others couldn't help but do their own memes to make fun of the incident.

Read more on netizens' reactions on Rappler.