The wRap


Your World in 10 - November 30, 2012 Edition

Foreign affairs

1. Palestinians win UN state recognition



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Palestinians fired in the air, whistled and embraced each other after the UN General Assembly on November 29 voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a non-member state. Despite fierce opposition from the US and Israel, the assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions to enable the Palestinians to join UN agencies and sign international treaties. The vote lifts the status of the Palestinian Authority from an observer entity to a "non-member observer state" with the same status as the Vatican. The Palestinian leadership says it wants to use the "historic" vote as a launchpad for talks with Israel, which have been frozen for more than two years. But the US, Israel and Canada condemned the decision, saying that the UN upgrade creates "obstacles" to peace.

Read the full story on Rappler

Read about the opposition to the vote here





Territorial dispute

2. China to board ships in disputed waters



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After issuing new passports containing a map showing its claims to almost the whole of the South China Sea, a Chinese province granted its border patrol police the right to board and expel foreign ships entering disputed waters in the area. The southern Chinese province of Hainan passed new regulations this week allowing local police "to board, seize and expel foreign ships illegally entering the province's sea areas," the state-run Global Times reported. Hainan province administers around two million square kilometers of ocean waters including the Spratly islands, which are also claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Manila resumed its call for China to withdraw its 3 ships from Scarborough Shoal, saying they're still in the area despite Bejing's 6-month-old promise to pull them out.

Read the full story on Rappler

Read the story on Scarborough here




#PHVote

3. 13 families in party-list race



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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will allow 79 groups to run in the 2013 party-list race. The groups comprise less than a third, or 27%, of the original 289 applicants for 2013. But here's the catch: 13 organizations whose nominees come from the same families were part of those accredited by the poll body. They include Ang Mata'y Alagaan (AMA), whose first 3 nominees upon application are members of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr’s family. Also on the list is Ako Ang Batang Sora Movement, Inc. (ABSI), which counts 3 relatives of Quezon City congresswoman Mary Ann Susano among the party's 5 nominees. The Constitution created the party-list system to give the marginalized a voice in the legislative process. But powerful and well-connected parties have made their way to the system, prompting the Comelec to conduct a "purge," which did not please everyone.

Read more on Rappler here and here







Conflict

4. Syria cut off from Internet



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Syria has effectively been cut off from the Internet, according to two US technology companies which monitor web traffic. Akamai, one of the firms which monitors global traffic, said traffic stopped from 6:26 pm (Manila time) Thursday, November 29, and that this supports the observation from another IT firm, Renesys, "that Syria is effectively off the Internet." Renesys said in a blog posting that its monitoring showed "Syria's international Internet connectivity shut down." The reports could mean that the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad has cut off the networks as he cracks down on rebels in the war-wracked country. Earlier, activists in Syria said Internet and mobile telephone communications were cut in the capital Damascus, and land lines were barely functioning.

Read the full story on Rappler






Protest

5. What Christmas? Farmers take the long march



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December is usually a time of celebration, family reunions, and for the financially fortunate, shopping sprees. But for residents Casiguran, Aurora, the month of December will be spent fighting for the land they call home. Farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and other residents from Casiguran are marching to Manila to convince government to put a stop to APECO, or the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority. The project hopes to pave the way for social and economic development in Aurora and nearby provinces. But Casiguran residents describe it as "legalized land grabbing." The protesters started marching on November 24 and are set to arrive in Manila on December 10, in time for Human Rights Day. The APECO is backed by Sen Edgardo Angara, who is running for governor of Aurora in the 2013 polls.

Read the full story on Rappler





British press

6. Report calls for tougher self-regulation



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The British press had "wreaked havoc" on the lives of people, concludes an inquiry that was created by the British government to look into the ethics and practices of the British news media. BBC reported that the inquiry is calling for statutory regulation, a recommendation that has divided the coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron. The proposed new body to regulate the press should be backed by legislation, according to Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Leveson, who headed the inquiry. The inquiry was prompted by scandals that exposed British tabloids' illegal activities such as hacking phones to obtain sensational stories.

Read the full story on BBC





Business

7. No risk of a bubble; buy property now



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With the Philippine real estate market on a steady upswing and the country reporting a better-than-expected growth of 7.1%, now is the time to invest in property, Jones Lang LaSalle’s COO, Lindsay Orr, said on #TalkThursday. She advised those looking to invest to follow the infrastructure and buy residential. Orr said the market has been continuing on a steady path with no risk of a bubble in the near future. “End user demand came up by 11 to 12% over the last 3 years. If they continue to roll out developments at an ever increasing rate then sooner or later supply will outweigh demand and you will have the start of a bubble situation,” said Orr. Because of the continued demand, Manila will see new central business districts (CBDs) emerge to accommodate the growing commercial supply.

Read the full story on Rappler




South Korea

8. Crucial rocket launch postponed



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South Korean space officials suspended a crucial rocket launch on November 29, after a technical problem halted the countdown just 17 minutes before the scheduled blast-off. "It is impossible to resume the launch sequence today," Deputy Science Minister Cho Yul-Rae told reporters at the Naro Space Center on the south coast. It was to have been South Korea's third attempt to put a satellite in orbit and gain entry to an elite global space club that includes Asian powers China, India and Japan. After successive failures with the same 140-ton Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-1) in 2009 and 2010, the current mission is seen as crucial to the future of South Korea's space program. Originally scheduled for October 26, it was delayed by more than a month after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in a connector between the launch pad and the first stage.

Read the full story on Rappler





People

9. Pinay jigsaw puzzler sets Guinness record



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From Mona Lisa to Mickey Mouse, a Philippine guesthouse owner has pieced together over a thousand jigsaw puzzles, and on November 29, her collection was officially declared the world's largest. "It was just a hobby at first. It takes away my stress," Gina Gil Lacuna, 61, said as she was awarded her certificate of recognition by Guinness World Records. But the pass time, which she took up 26 years ago, turned into an obsession that has seen her collect a total 1,028 different puzzle, framed wall to wall at her two-story bed and breakfast. The puzzles form pictures of religious figures, animals and landscapes, and even Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, with the largest containing over 18,000 pieces.

Read the full story on Rappler





Entertainment

10. PH bishops endorse Breaking Dawn 2



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A film about vampires gets an endorsement from the Catholic Church. And for reasons that raised the eyebrows of pro-choice advocates. The Catholic Initiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation (CINEMA), also known as the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) film rating and classification board endorsed the vampire-themed film in its blog, for the values it promotes. "CINEMA recommends both the novel and the movie for teenagers as it brings into focus the value of marriage, the need to protect life in the womb and the importance of family," the blog read. Upon hearing the news, netizens flocked to social media to express their reactions. Most were surprised, others were annoyed, while a number of online users showed amusement. Some criticized the church for promoting Breaking Dawn 2, a film that netizens believe had anti-Catholic values.

Read the full story on Rappler