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- ISIS claim in Russian plane crash downplayed
Both Cairo and Moscow downplayed the claim from the Islamic State’s (ISIS) branch in Egypt that it brought down the aircraft flown by a Russian airline which crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, on Saturday, October 31. Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts had confirmed the militants could not down a plane at the 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) altitude at which the Airbus 321 was flying. Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the claim “cannot be considered accurate”. As investigators probed the disaster that killed all 224 people on board, Viktor Sorochenko, a senior official with Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, said Sunday, November 1, that the Russian plane broke up “in the air” strewing fragments across a wide area. Sorochenko, who is heading an international panel of experts, said it was “too early to draw conclusions” about what caused the Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg flight to go down. Russian officials say they need to comb through an area of about 16 square kilometers (6 square miles) in the Sinai Peninsula. Investigators have recovered the plane’s “black box” flight recorder and the Egyptian government said Sunday its contents were being analyzed.
More about the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt
Read about the search for plane crash victims
- Same old faces dominate Metro Manila mayoralty races
The 2016 mayoralty races in Metro Manila will feature the same old faces, with almost all eligibile reelectionists aiming for fresh mandates. Spouses of some outgoing mayors are joining the polls, too, in the hopes that their family would stay in power. At least 13 out of the 17 incumbent Metro Manila mayors filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the same position before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from October 12 to 16.
Read about the 2016 Metro Manila mayoralty races
- Southeast Asian haze: why is it worse this year?
For months now, large parts of Southeast Asia have been dealing with the hazardous haze coming from Indonesian fires. Experts had warned that this year’s outbreak was on track to become the worst yet due to bone-dry conditions caused by the El Niño phenomenon, which alters weather patterns across the Pacific basin. Check out our infographic to get a quick overview of the haze crisis gripping the region.
Infographic: The Southeast Asian haze crisis
- Myanmar’s Aung Suu Kyi warns of possible election fraud
Former political prisoner turned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told tens of thousands of supporters in Myanmar on Sunday, November 1, to be vigilant against election fraud during a huge show of strength a week before landmark elections. Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party is taking part on Sunday, November 8, in the first nationwide election Myanmar has seen in decades as the country slowly shakes off almost a half-century of brutal military rule. The election could potentially tip the balance of power away from the military and its ruling party allies for the first time in generations if the vote is free. The military previously ceded power to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, paving the way for this year’s historic polls. But the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), many of whose many members swapped army uniforms for parliamentary seats after a flawed 2010 election, is also brimming with confidence. The party, the former junta’s political heir, has publicly declared it expects to win 75% of votes cast.
More about the elections in Myanmar
- Meralco: Competitive Selection Process not pro-consumers
The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) may consider seeking a court order to stop the implementation of a policy that mandates all distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) in the Philippines to bid out their power requirements instead of entering into bilateral contracts. While the process portrayed as promoting lower electricity prices, Manuel Pangilinan, head of the distribution utility, said “it will create precisely the opposite.” Pangilinan said the CSP is “illogical” as it allows power generation companies (gencos) to decide whether or not to participate in the auction, leaving only a few qualified to serve the power requirements of the DUs and ECs. This gives power generation companies (gencos) the ability to dictate prices. Pangilinan cited experience in December 2013 when Meralco’s rates shot up by P4.15 per kWh (kilowatt hour) for December 2013 and P5.30 per kWh for January 2014 because it had to source power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s electricity spot market where distributors, such as Meralco, buy their power supply from gencos. At the time, gencos were accused of collusion when they did not fully offer their output in the WESM.
- PH policies on climate change and disaster management
Are you aware of the climate and disaster management policies in the Philippines? One of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, the Philippines has adopted policies in the management of calamities since the 1970s, after Typhoon Sening ravaged the country in October 1970. Typhoon Sening (international codename Joan), with reported speed of up to 275 kph, held the record of being the strongest typhoon in the Philippines for 36 years (1970-2006). It highlighted the need to establish a contingency plan for these events and prompted former President Ferdinand Marcos to order the creation of a Disaster and Calamities Plan. This created the National Disaster Control Center. There has been considerable changes since then. The National Disaster Control Center has been reorganized and is now known as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). More recently, in 2014, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 174 which institutionalizes the Philippine Greenhouse Gas inventory management and reporting system and enable the country’s transition towards a climate-resilient road to sustainable development.
Learn about the relevant Philippine policies on climate change and disaster management through our timeline
- Tacloban City to unveil 2 memorials for Typhoon Yolanda’s 2nd anniversary
To commemorate the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan), two memorial markers will be unveiled in Tacloban City in ceremonies to be held on November 7 and 8. The first memorial is in the coastal village of Anibong where a ship was washed ashore by storm surges, and second one is constructed near the Tacloban Astrodome. Typhoon Yolanda, which made landfall in Eastern Visayas on November 8, 2015, brought strong winds and whipped up storm surges that battered areas such as Tacloban City. It left thousands of people dead and a number of properties destroyed.
More about the ceremonies to commemorate Typhoon Yolanda
- German talks over European refugee crisis falter
At least 13 migrants seeking to reach Europe drowned off Greece on Sunday, November 1, as political talks in Germany, the EU’s top destination for refugees, failed to produce a consensus on how to handle the influx. Two boats making the hazardous crossing from Turkey capsized in the Aegean Sea off the Greek islands of Samos and Lesbos, leaving at least 13 dead including 6 children, with many more missing, officials said. In Berlin on Sunday, Germany’s ruling coalition failed to resolve major differences over the country’s refugee policy as it grapples with the biggest wave of arrivals since the aftermath of World War II. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the talks would resume on Thursday, November 5, after two rounds of weekend negotiations between Merkel and the leaders of her CDU party’s two coalition partners ended without a breakthrough. While most Germans initially backed Merkel’s open-doors policy for those fleeing war and persecution, a growing backlash has piled pressure on the chancellor and exposed rifts within her conservative bloc.
Read about the talks in Germany over the refugee crisis
- Jennifer Lawrence back as Katniss in ‘Hunger Games’ finale
Jennifer Lawrence is back as bow-and-arrow badass Katniss Everdeen, leading her rebels deeper into the fight against injustice in their dystopian world in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, which opens around the globe on November 18-20. This is a farewell of sorts as the movie marks the final chapter in the hugely successful saga that saw Lawrence catapulted to fame. The series, adapted from the teen novels of Suzanne Collins, tells the story of Katniss’ battle to survive in a reality TV-style life-and-death game in a post-apocalyptic future state. In last year’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 she not only battled for her life, but became the symbol of a revolution. In the finale, she tries to lead the rebellion against the totalitarian government of District 13.
Read about the ‘Hunger Games’ farewell
- ‘Eat Bulaga’ hosts asked to apologize for Muslim Halloween costumes
Popular noontime show Eat Bulaga has been asked to apologize after hosts Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto and Joey de Leon appeared in the show’s Halloween special aired on Saturday, October 31, wearing Muslim clothing. This offended the local government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and drew flak from some Facebook users. ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman in a statement that equating the Muslim garb as a costume to be feared, in the way that zombies and ghouls are to be feared, “betrays an insensitivity” on the part of the hosts of the longest running noon-time variety show in the Philippines. Demanding an apology from the producers and hosts, Hataman added that “What Eat Bulaga did in its Halloween Special was a mockery of and an affront to the image of the Muslim, apparently in the name of entertainment.” Sotto is running for reelection as Senator in the 2016 elections.
Read about the furor over Eat Bulaga’s halloween special