Daily News Highlights – November 27, 2015 Edition

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  1. Philippines slams China for coral damage

    The Philippines slammed China for the “close to catastrophic” damage it has inflicted on coral reefs through its island building activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The Philippines also warned a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, that China poses “a significant threat to the marine environment.” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines presented these arguments on Thursday, November 26, the third day of oral hearings on Manila’s case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea. Valte said Kent Carpenter, one of the Philippines’ expert witnesses, “drew the conclusion that China’s actions have caused grave harm to the environment in the South China Sea due to its artificial island building activities.” Carpenter added that because of these reclamation activities, “the damage to the complex coral reef ecosystem is close to catastrophic.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Russia targets Turkish economy over downed plane


    Russia on Thursday, November 26, pledged broad retaliatory measures against Turkey’s economy in revenge for the downing of its warplane, as recriminations between Moscow and Ankara reached fever pitch. While Moscow conspicuously ruled out any military retaliation against NATO member Turkey, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he had given ministers 2 days to work out “a system of response measures” in the economic and humanitarian spheres. He said the broad punitive steps for what he termed “this act of aggression” could include halting joint economic projects, restricting financial and trade transactions and changing customs duties. Measures could also target the transport and tourism sector after Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier backed a warning to citizens not to travel to Turkey, where nearly 3.3 million Russians went on holiday last year. Russia also attacked Turkey’s agricultural sector, tightening checks on food imports over alleged safety standard violations. The move could have a major impact on the economy of Turkey, which over the past 10 months has exported agricultural produce and food worth just over $1 billion (940 million euros) to Russia.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. Global rallies to start off Paris climate meet

    Tens of thousands of people around the world are expected to rally this weekend to put pressure on the Paris climate talks, which will open under tight security on the heels of France’s worst terror attacks, organizers said Thursday, November 26. From Melbourne to Tokyo and Manila to Los Angeles, some 2,000 events of all sizes are planned in about 100 nations in a bid to push leaders to craft a pact keeping Earth from overheating. However, following the terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, authorities in the French capital banned citizens’ marches scheduled for Sunday, November 29 – the day before the summit officially opens – and for December 12, the day after it closes.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Koreas to have high-level talks in December

    The two Koreas agreed Thursday, November 26, to hold a rare high-level dialogue next month, in line with an accord struck in August aimed at easing cross-border tensions, the Unification Ministry in Seoul announced. A ministry official said the two sides would meet at the deputy minister level on December 11 in the Kaesong joint industrial zone, just inside North Korea. The agenda would include “pending issues related to the improvement of ties”, the official said without elaborating. Although any dialogue between the two Koreas is generally welcomed as a step in the right direction, precedent suggests it is still too early to hope for any significant breakthrough.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Smartmatic wins P500-M poll transmission deal

    Despite failing to transmit 23% of election results in 2013, Venezuelan firm Smartmatic won a P500-million ($10.61-million) deal to provide the same services in the presidential elections in 2016. Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez on Thursday, November 26, said Smartmatic bagged a P507-million (P10.76-million) contract to transmit election results for the May 2016 polls. Smartmatic reportedly submitted the “lowest calculated responsive bid. Smartmatic provided the same services in the Philippines’ first two automated elections, in 2010 and 2013.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Senate OKs P3 trillion budget for 2016

    The Senate approved on Thursday, November 26, the proposed P3-trillion ($63.66-billion) national budget for 2016. Out of the 15 senators present during the 3rd and final reading of the proposed appropriation bill, 14 voted in favor of it. Only one senator, Aquilino Pimentel III, voted against the proposal. The approved Senate budget bill now goes to the bicameral conference committee, where it will be reconciled with the version of the House of Representatives. The House approved their version of the proposed budget on October 9, practically without touching the version that Malacañang submitted in July. As in the House version, the Department of Education (DepEd) still received the largest allocation in the Senate bill – P 411.89 billion ($8.74 billion), which is a 28% or P90-billion jump from P321 billion ($6.81 billion) in 2015.

    Read the full story on Rappler

  7. UNICEF: Adolescent deaths from AIDS tripled since 2000

    The number of adolescents dying from AIDS has tripled over the last 15 years, most of them having acquired the disease when they were infants, according to figures released Friday, November 27, by UNICEF. AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents aged 10 to 19 in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally, the United Nations children’s agency said in its latest statistical update. “Among HIV-affected populations, adolescents are the only group for which the mortality figures are not decreasing,” the report says. “Most adolescents who die of AIDS-related illnesses acquired HIV when they were infants, 10 to 15 years ago, when fewer pregnant women and mothers living with HIV received antiretroviral medicines to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child.” Many of them survived into their teenage years without knowing their HIV status. However, among teenagers aged 15-19, 26 new infections occur every hour, and about half of the two million living with HIV in this group are in just six countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Saudi women in first election bid

    Segregated from male voters and unable to drive themselves to hustings, Saudi women begin their first-ever election campaign on Sunday, November 29, a tentative step towards better representation in the male-dominated kingdom. Around 900 female candidates are standing in next month’s municipal election, a poll that also offers a chance for female voters to elect their officials for the first time. Saudi Arabia, an Islamic absolute monarchy, has no female cabinet ministers and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. They have to cover themselves in black from head-to-toe in public, and require permission from a man in their families to travel, work or marry. Unlike other Gulf states, where women have had voting rights for several years, this will be the first time Saudi women have had a say in who gains office.

    Read the full story on Rappler.
  9. Facebook’s employees to receive extended parental leave

    Lori Matloff Goler, vice president of people at Facebook, announced on Thursday, November 26 (Philippine time), that Facebook would be extending their parental leave policy for full-time employees. This new policy update aims to give fathers and people in same-sex relationships worldwide a chance to bond with their new baby – whether biological or adopted. In her post, Goler also states that, “for too long, paid baby leave has been granted only to a mother who is giving birth. We believe that fathers and mothers alike deserve the same level of support when they are starting and growing a family, regardless of how they define family.” Facebook assures that this will not alter the existing maternity leave currently available to all employees worldwide.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Fans live and breathe ‘Star Wars’

    Michael Bender was hooked by age two. Jennifer Landa got the bug when she was nearly six. Steve Sansweet was well into his 30s when the Star Wars passion was born. All three are among the legions of hardcore fans the space epic has generated over the years and who are champing at the bit in anticipation of the saga’s latest installment – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – that hits screens in December. From the United States, to Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, the franchise has spawned a remarkable global fan base arguably unheard of in movie history and spanning several generations.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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