The wRap


Your World in 10 - November 14, 2012 Edition

Sottogate

1. Sotto apologizes to Kennedys but denies plagiarizing



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Senator Tito Sotto apologized to the Kennedy family during a privilege speech Tuesday, November 30 following the release of an open letter signed by Kerry Kennedy accusing Sotto of “flagrantly” and “deceptively” plagiarizing a 1966 speech by her father Robert F. Kennedy. In a September 5 speech the Senator used portions of Kennedy’s speech but translated them to Filipino. “If it upsets the Kennedy family, then I’m sorry.” The senator however insisted that he did not commit plagiarism. Also on Tuesday 37 members of the academe filed an ethics complaint against Sotto before the Senate Ethics Committee. Sotto called the complaint “persecution” and “obfuscation”.




Read more on Rappler here and here.




Transparency report

2. Google: Government surveillance on the rise



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Is your government watching you via the Internet? According to Google’s recent Transparency Report, requests for access to Google data by governments the world over have spiked in the first half of the year. Google says 21,000 requests were made from January to July 2012. Of that figure, almost a third came from the US government which filed 7,969 requests. India (2319), Brazil (1566), France (1546), Germany (1533) and the UK (1425) round off the top 6. The Philippines was not on the list. Google says it did not include statistics from countries that filed less than 30 requests for user data in criminal cases during the reporting period. It did note however that from January to June 2012 Google received a “request from the office of a local mayor to remove five blogs for criticizing the mayor”. Google says it did not remove the content in response to the request. Turkey topped the in terms of non-court related take down requests, the US had the most court related take down requests.




Read Rappler's story here.
Read Google's transparency report here.
See statistics for the Philippines here.
Read Google's blog entry on government requests here.




Syria in crisis

3. France recognizes anti-Assad opposition coalition



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France has taken a big step forward to recognize Syria’s opposition coalition as the legitimate governing authority over the Syrian people. Last Sunday opposition groups met in the Qatari capital city of Doha to form the coalition put in place to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Arab states in the Middle East already recognize the opposition government while the US and Britain have signified their intention to support the coalition. French President Francois Holland made the announcement during a press conference in Paris saying that the coalition represented “the future government of a democratic Syria”.



Read more on BBC News.




Debt rising

4. National debt hits P5.213 trillion



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The total outstanding debt of the national government has reached P5.213 trillion pesos as of September 2012 or about P55,457 each of the 94 million Filipinos. According to the report by the Bureau of Treasury, the rise is due to the increase in domestic not foreign debts as a result of loans due to finance expenditures such as education and public health made to local investors. Domestic debts climbed to P3.184 trillion in September of 2012 from 2.78 trillion the same time last year. Foreign borrowings declined from P2.028 trillion from P2.089 trillion.
The Aquino administration hopes to slash the budget deficit to P279 billion this year or 2.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) and to P241 billion or 2% of GDP in 2013.


Read more on Rappler here.




Extramarital affairs?

5. Obama backs Petraeus General



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President Barack Obama expressed “faith” in General John Allen despite a recent report involving the high ranking general in a “flirtatious” email exchange with a Florida socialite. According to a spokesperson for Obama, the newly re-elected president “thinks very highly of Gen. Allen and his service to (the US), as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan.” Allen served as deputy commander to General David Petraeus, the former CIA director who resigned this weekend after the FBI uncovered his extramarital affair with biographer. Allen was appointed Supreme Allied Commander of Nato forces in Europe but his confirmation hearing initially set for this Thursday has been put on hold. Gen Allen who currently leads 68,000 troops in Afghanistan says he has done nothing wrong.


Read more on BBC News here.




Derailed

6. Will FOI pass the 15th Congress



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After almost two hours of discussions and debates on procedural matters the House Committee on Public Information failed to make it forward Tuesday, November 13. The meeting was only the second committee meeting tackling the bill this year. One more meeting is scheduled for November 27, should it push through Congress has only 18 working days left to approve the bill before it adjourns for the Christmas break on December 21. Members of the Right to Know Right Now! Coalition which were present during the heading believe the bill is now dead in the 15th Congress. Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, one of the principal authors of the bill expressed disappointment in the committee leadership blaming it for its inability to schedule committee hearings.
The bill aims to make the bureaucracy more transparent and compels government agencies to provide the public with documents on matters related to public interest. President Benigno Aquino III earlier vowed to push for its approval, but changed his mind.


Read more on Rappler here.




New word

7. GIF is 2012 Oxford American Dictionaries’ Word of the Year



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Animated GIFs - those image files that contained several frames that made an image look like a short video clip—were a big hit during the late nineties and are making a comeback on social networking sites like Tumblr. Which is probably why the Oxford American Dictionaries has chosen it as its 2012 word of the year. According to the dictionary, the word GIF is a verb that means to create a GIF file (an image or video sequence). GIF beat out other words including YOLO for this honor.



Read more on Rappler here.
Read more on Oxford Dictionaries.




Doping scandal

8. Doping hotline set up for whistleblower cyclists



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After the Lance Armstrong doping scandal rocked the cycling world the International Cycling Union (UCI) has setup a doping hotline for cyclists who want to blow the whistle on fellow riders. In an online statement made on its website UCI head Pat McQuaid said the hotline will be confidential and will take time to build trust but he hopes that eventually it will “accelerate the change in culture that we need in our sport." In the UCI announcement McQuaid also rejected complaints by some riders that the governing body had not followed up their tip-offs. "I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the UCI did act on information provided in the past and it will always do so in the future, within the bounds of what is legally feasible," McQuaid said.



Read more on Rappler here.




Social media

9. Post elections, Mitt Romney bleeding fans on Facebook



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While President Barack Obama set social media records with his post-election “four more years” post, Mitt Romney is losing fans on Facebook, and he is losing them fast. The website DisappearingRomney.com has been setup to track this drop. On Saturday Mashable reported Romney was losing 847 friends an hour. Last time Rappler checked his page was losing an average of 6 fans per minute. Romney however still has around 12 million Facebook fans. Romney’s last post made Sunday was a photo of him with with the message, “From the bottom of our hearts, Ann and I thank you for your support, prayers, efforts, and vote. We are forever grateful to every one of you.”


Read more on CNN.




#MoveBacolod

10. ‘Si Tatay, Si Nanay, Si Toto kag si Inday’



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Bacolod is the next stop in Rappler’s Move chat series. Happening today, November 14 the event will tackle an important issue in Bacolod -how power-sharing among the old rich is accomplished most conveniently through politics, and how political realities make it difficult to dismantle dynasties. Speaking during the event are Rappler CEO & Executive Editor Maria Ressa, Citizen Journalism Director Chay Hofileña, Special Projects Director Michael Josh Villanueva, and Multimedia Reporters Patricia Evangelista and Ayee Macaraig. Former Bacolod City Councilor Lyndon Caña will also speak about the legal issues related to political dynasties. The event takes place at the MM Auditorium A of the University of St. La Salle from 1-5pm. Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #MoveBacolod or follow along on our live blog.