Rappler Newscast | April 18, 2013
Today on Rappler.
- A fertilizer plant in Texas explodes in a massive fireball-- up to 15 are dead.
- US President Barack Obama condemns the defeat of gun reforms in the Senate.
- Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes warns senatorial bets to advertise at their own risk.
Story 1: DEATHS, INJURIES IN TEXAS PLANT BLAST
A massive explosion at a fertilizer factory in the town of West, Texas kills an estimated 5 to 15 people-- according to the local police.
The blast happens Wednesday -- Thursday in Manila.
KWTX Television initially reported 60 to 70 dead, citing local emergency services director George Smith.
The blast destroys dozens of homes, forcing more than 130 people from a nearby nursing home to evacuate.
At least 100 patients are admitted to hospitals.
Witnesses say the explosion sent a huge fireball into the air.
Waco Assistant Fire Chief Don Yeager tells AFP it was an anhydrous ammonia explosion.
The United States Geological Survey says the blast had a force equivalent to a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.
West Mayor Tommy Muska tells CNN, "It's like a nuclear bomb went off."
There are fears a second fertilizer tank at the West Fertilizer plant could explode.
The explosion comes just before the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Waco siege, a deadly confrontation between federal authorities and heavily armed members of a religious group.
The siege ended with the group’s compound burned down following a 51-day standoff.
Story 2: OBAMA ON FAILED GUN REFORM: 'SHAMEFUL'
United States president Barack Obama accuses senators of caving to the gun lobby after a bid to expand background checks for gun buyers is blocked in the Senate by Republicans and some conservative Democrats.
This was the most significant effort to change gun laws since the December 2012 massacre of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.
Obama appears defiant and angry, calling the defeat of gun reforms in the Senate "shameful."
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders not just to honor the memory of their children but to protect the lives of all of our children. A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn't worth it…It’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun…And a few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.
Obama says senators caved to pressure and were scared the wealthy gun lobby would come after them in future elections.
But he vows to continue fighting for reform, calling the defeat of gun reforms "just round one."
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it.
Story 3: NORTH KOREA LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR TALKS
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges North Korea to consider the South's offer of dialogue about the future of the closed Kaesong industrial zone.
He says, "I firmly believe that the recent offer of dialogue by the Republic of Korea is genuine and hope that the DPRK takes it seriously."
North Korea previously dismissed the South’s offers of talks as a quote -- "crafty trick."
On Thursday, the North lays out pre-conditions for dialogue with Seoul or Washington.
The National Military Commission wants an apology for --quote-- “provocative acts” against North Korea.
North Korea also demands the withdrawal of UN sanctions imposed after the North’s nuclear test in February and a guarantee to end South Korea-US joint military drills.
South Korea rejects the North’s --quote-- “incomprehensible” demands and urges Pyongyang to choose engagement with the international community over provocation.
Story 4: #PHvote WITH JUN MAGSAYSAY
After a 5-year break from politics, Jun Magsaysay is running again for the Senate under the administration slate Team PNoy.
The former senator is known for leading a 2006 Senate probe into the 728-million-peso fertilizer fund scam during the administration of Gloria Arroyo.
The investigation found that funds set aside for fertilizers were diverted to support the 2004 campaign of then president Arroyo.
Magsaysay says the case is now with the Sandiganbayan.
JUN MAGSAYSAY, TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL BET: It slept for 6 years during the last administration but on November 2011 the Ombudsman raised it up already before the Sandiganbayan, it's been there for almost a year and a half. So I wish that the Sandiganbayan will get on with it.
In 2000, Magsaysay was named the “Internet Man of the Year” after he passed the e-commerce law.
He says it is a --quote-- “quantum leap” in the modernization of the industry.
Magsaysay also comments on the controversial anti-cybercrime law.
MARIA RESSA: What does Jun Magsaysay think of the anti-cybercrime law? Are you for or against it?
JUN MAGSAYSAY, TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL BET: As it is now, I'm against it. The House and Senate versions were good. Generally it was acceptable. We have to protect our ID, our credit cards and our transactions. But in the bicameral conference committee between the House and the Senate, someone inserted a provision to criminalize libel and that spoiled the whole measure.
Jun Magsaysay’s decision to run has been interpreted by his niece-in-law, United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate Mitos Magsaysay, as an attempt to take away votes from her.
The former senator though says two Magsaysays running for the Senate is --quote-- “incidental.”
Story 5: PALACE NAMES NEW COMELEC COMMISSIONERS
President Benigno Aquino appoints the head of a poll watchdog and an information technology expert to the Commission on Elections.
Luie Guia, executive director of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, and Al Parreño, board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, are named the new Comelec commissioners.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda says both were chosen based on their previous work experience.
They fill in the vacancies left by former commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco, who retired in February.
Guia was an executive assistant under former Comelec chair Christian Monsod, and a consultant to former Commissioner Regalado Maambong.
In an interview with Rappler, Guia says he aims to modernize Comelec and strengthen its bureaucracy.
Parreño specializes in litigation involving IT, which Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes says is quote -- “what we really need.”
Brillantes also says the appointments will expedite Comelec processes, adding, "Now we can move faster.”
Story 6: SC: IT WAS A TRO ON COMELEC AIRTIME LIMITS
The Supreme Court clarifies it issued a temporary restraining order -- not a status quo ante order -- on the airtime limits set by the Commission on Elections.
On Tuesday, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the high court issued a status quo ante order which reinstates the airtime limits for candidates of 120 minutes per TV station and 180 minutes per radio station.
A status quo ante order seeks to undo an act or policy already implemented while a TRO prevents its implementation.
Te apologizes for the mistake.
He says, "I was told of the order and that the status quo as of 2010 was to be observed. I assumed, wrongly.”
Lawyer Marlon Manuel says there is little difference between the two in terms of its effect.
Story 7: BRILLANTES WARNS BETS DESPITE AIRTIME TRO
Despite the TRO on airtime limits, Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes tells election candidates to advertise at their own risk.
Brillantes says in Filipino, "If the petitioners are sustained, then it's okay. But what if they aren't?"
He adds, “What if we're right? On my part, until now I believe we're right.”
The Comelec chair says they cannot run after candidates while the TRO is in effect.
But he says --quote-- "the meter will run again” as soon as the TRO is lifted.
Story 8: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 2, A letter addressed to US President Barack Obama that appeared to contain ricin, a lethal toxin, is intercepted.
The US Secret Service says the letter to Obama is intercepted at a mail screening site Tuesday, the same day a letter sent to Sen Roger Wicker also showed traces of ricin.
On Wednesday, special agents arrest Paul Kevin Curtis, believed to be the man who mailed the letters.
At number 6, Cheers and jeers greet the coffin of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as it passed through London Wednesday, mirroring how split public opinion was over her leadership.
Ill-wishers are outraged by the decision to grant her a full ceremonial funeral that was estimated to cost about US$15 million.
Many felt it was wrong to spend a lot of money at a time of deep spending cuts.
Critics disagree with Thatcher’s radical free-market reforms but admirers say she transformed the economy and restored Britain’s position as a major world power.
And at number 7, Apple shares plunge more than 5% Wednesday after Cirrus Logic, a supplier of Apple components, slashes its profit forecast, suggesting its Apple business weakened.
Apple shares close at $402.80, down 5.5%.
The decline robs Apple of its crown as biggest US company by market capitalization.
Apple is now worth $378.25 billion, compared with oil giant ExxonMobil's $385.68 billion.
Newscast production staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|