Exceeding expectations, the Philippine economy grew 7.1% in the third quarter of 2012, the the fastest in Southeast Asia, and the second-fastest in Asia. In a press conference on Wednesday, November 28, National Statistical Coordination Board Secretary-General Jose Ramon Albert said the better-than-expected growth was driven mainly by the services sector, supported by "the 5 consecutive quarters of sustained accelerated growth of the industry and the seemingly weather tolerant agriculture sector. A recent Harvard article provides context for this growth, saying the root of optimism stems from a "new standard of governance" which has helped restore confidence in the economy.
A US federal judge ruled Tuesday that major tobacco companies that spent decades lying to the public about the dangers of smoking must now begin a public advertising campaign that admits they lied. The case of racketeering was brought to the Justice Department in 1999. US District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote that the new advertising campaign would try to right the "past deception" going back to at least 1964. The ad campaign could last for as long as two years. The companies are expected to appeal. One of the statements the companies must use states: "A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes." Another says, "Smoking kills, on the average, 1,200 Americans. Every day."
Read more on Reuters.
A photo of a Philip Morris executive whispering to Senator Bong-Bong Marcos during contentious hearings which affect the Philippines' tobacco industry is highlighted by sin tax advocates as inappropriate. Marcos says the executive was offering him data which he already had from government agencies. He says it's not surprising that a tobacco lobby exists and is working on bringing their perspective to lawmakers. The sin tax bill has been marked as priority legislation by President Aquino and aims to raise tens of billions of pesos for health care.
Read more on Rappler.
146 paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt and other masters acquired by the late President Ferdinand Marcos remain missing according to a report by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) released Tuesday November 27. Marcos, an art aficionado used stolen funds to acquire millions of dollars worth of these paintings only to distribute them to cronies before fleeing to the United States after theEDSA revolution in 1986. Last week, nephews of Imelda Marcos' personal secretary were indicted in New York over an alleged conspiracy to sell a Monet and 3 other paintings to an art gallery in London for $32 million dollars. The PCGG has asked for the four paintings to be returned to Manila. President Benigno Aquino III will decide if the paintings will be exhibited or sold with proceeds remitted to the national treasury.
Read more on Rappler.
Hundreds of Egyptians filled Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday, November 27 in protest of blanket powers that President Mohamed Morsi had awarded himself by virtue of a constitutional decree last week. The decree prohibits high courts from repealing presidential proclamations. Earlier this week spokespersons for Morsi clarified that "he did not give himself judicial power" and that it only applied to "sovereign matters." Despite this, protestors want Morsi to take back the decree or step down. On Tuesday Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party, through its Twitter account called the protests underwhelming saying that it showed a "lack of support among Egyptians."
Read more on CNN.
The body of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was exhumed on Tuesday, Nov 27 to resolve questions surrounding the cause of his death. According to records, Arafat died of a stroke resulting from a blood disorder in 2004, but Palestinian officials believe Arafat was poisoned, and that Israel was behind the plot. Independent teams from France, Russia and Switzerland retrieved samples and will conduct their own tests to determine if traces of polonium-210 were present in his system at the time of his death. Earlier this year researchers in Switzerland had discovered high levels of the toxic element in Arafat's personal belongings. The investigation is expected to take several months.
Read more on BBC.
What's the role of social media in national politics? Is Japan ready for an on-line face-off before next month's general elections? Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe challenged Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to an online debate because it would be "interactive and open to the world." He says doing it on television would have "restrictions" and limited airtime which wouldn't exist online. He called for the debate to be held on Thursday.
Read more on the Wall Street Journal.
After a 4 month search for the successor of long time CNN president Jim Walton, a name emerges - Jeffrey Zucker, the former chief executive of NBCUniversal, who was replaced when Comcast took over the company in 2011. Zucker now produces Katie Couric's daytime talk show. A whiz kid producer who helped start a 16 year winning streak for the "Today" show, Zucker had ups and downs in his rise up the corporate ladder. If named, Zucker would take over a company in search of its identity in a quickly evolving market - one that's seen its ratings share drop as it stuck to its journalistic roots.
Read more on the New York Times.
Following their 2-1 loss to Thailand last Saturday, the Philippine Azkals kept their Suzuki Cup dreams alive with a 1-0 win over Vietnam Tuesday, November 27 in Bangkok, Thailand. The last minute goal was courtesy of Chieffy Caligdong in the 85th minute. Caligdong a substitute, took advantage of fresh legs to convert a pass from Angel Guirado. The win puts the team a step closer to the semifinals. A win against Myanmar next on Friday will guarantee them that spot. In 2010, the Azkals bested then Suzuki Cup defending champions Vietnam in what is known as one of the tournament's biggest upsets ever. The win catapulted the team into then ation's consciousness.
Read more on Rappler.
Remember the ending scene of "The Dark Knight Rises" where the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Blake discovers the Bat Cave? Some speculated this scene left the door open for Levitt's character to assume the BatMan role or the role of Nightwing (the identity Robin used when he decided to go solo). Now the website HitFix.com is reporting Levitt has signed on to play the role of BatMan in the 2015 film Justice League and could possibly suit up for a new BatMan movie before that. In a separate report Hollywood.com says Levitt's reps have refuted the rumor. Would you like to see JGL as the next batman?
Read more on Hifix.
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