August 14, 2013 Edition

Valerie Castro

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  1. Probers to charge lawmakers; Cardinal weeps over scam

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    The current investigation into the pork barrel scam will lead to the filing of graft charges against lawmakers in a few weeks, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. A source privy to the probe told Rappler that more senators and congressmen than those initially identified by a whistleblower have been found misusing their Priority Development Assistance Fund. Rappler’s own investigation found at least 49 lawmakers whose PDAF coursed through a government agency were found to have been misused by NGOs over a 5-year period. The pork scam has bothered Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who cried at a press conference where he denounced the scandal. He challenged politicians and their conduits to visit the homes of the poor.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Israel frees Palestinian prisoners

    epa03823878 Palestinian people greet and celebrate freed Palestinian prisoners who arrive in a bus at the Erez crossing, between Israel and Gaza in the Northern Gaza Strip, 14 August 2013. Israel released 26 long-held Palestinian prisoners in a planned goodwill gesture hours ahead of a scheduled round of peace talks in Jerusalem. EPA/ALI ALI

    Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners on August 14, hours before the two sides were to hold new direct peace talks amid a growing row over settlements. A group of 15 crossed into the Gaza Strip at about 1:40 am (2240 GMT) and were mobbed by relatives as they got out of a bus next to the border. At about the same time another 11 prisoners arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah to a welcome from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and thousands of cheering, dancing supporters. The 26 were the first batch of some 104 long-term detainees who are to be freed in stages as part of a US-brokered deal which brought Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table on July 30 for the first time in nearly three years.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. ‘Pact with the devil,’ say critics

    STOP US INTERVENTION: Militant groups troop to the Armed Forces headquarters to protest increased presence of US troops. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/

    Militants and a lawmaker cautioned the Aquino government against entering into another agreement with the US on access to US forces and equipment in the Philippines. Both governments began on August 14 the first round of talks on a plan to increase US presence here. It’s a “pact with the devil,” says Akbayan Rep Walden Bello, noting that “the very same sovereignty that we try to protect would be the first casualty.” The militant group Bayan also said it’s naive for the government to think the US will fight with it in case of an armed conflict with China. Americans will always pursue their own interests, the group said.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Typhoon damage reaches almost a billion

    AURORA AFTER LABUYO. A handout photograph dated and released 13 August 2013 by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) shows areas affected by Typhoon Utor (Labuyo) in Aurora province, north of Manila, Philippines. Photo by EPA/NDRRMC

    Typhoon Labuyo (international codename Utor) which hit northern Luzon last August 12 damaged more than P800,000 worth of infrastructure and agriculture. The death toll also rose to 6, while 5 people remained missing. A total of 3,750 houses were damaged across 5 affected regions. Labuyo is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. Aurora and Quirino, and the municipalities of Candelaria, Sta Cruz and Masinloc in Zambales, are all under a state of calamity.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Crackdown on pro-Morsi groups; dozens dead

    ANGER IN CAIRO. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsi take part in a sit-in protest outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo on August 12, 2013. Photo by AFP/Khaled Desouki

    Tensions mounted in Cairo with police launching a crackdown on supporters of ousted Egypt president Mohamed Morsi. Dozens are killed as clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of Morsi. At least 10 people were also injured in the violence in Cairo’s Giza neighborhood. A pro-Morsi march had taken off from Nahda square to Faisal Street in Giza where residents began to pelt the marchers with rocks. Earlier in another area of the capital, police fired tear gas to break up clashes that erupted between Morsi loyalists and residents. The violence comes after the expiry of a government ultimatum to dismantle the sprawling protest camps.

    Read the full story on Rappler

  6. North Korea unveils its ‘homemade’ smartphone

    SMARTPHONE. This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 11, 2013 shows a close-up of the new touch-screen mobile phone

    North Korea has unveiled what it says is a domestically-produced smartphone. Industry analysts say the “Arirang,” built around Google’s Android OS, is likely manufactured in neighboring China, however. The existence of the phone, named after a famous Korean folk song, came to light during a factory inspection by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at the weekend. During the tour, Kim was given a detailed briefing on the “performance, quality and packing of the Arirang hand phone,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. Some analysts suggest the “Arirang” is aimed at getting North Koreans to use an officially-approved phone that can be properly monitored.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. GMA: Hello, PLDT and Globe

    A security guard for local television network GMA talks on his mobile phone outside the company's offices in Manila on March 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO / JAY DIRECTO

    To help boost its bottom line, TV giant GMA Network Inc wants to distribute media content to telecommunications companies Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), led by Manuel V. Pangilinan, and Globe Telecom Inc. of the Ayala group. GMA chairman and CEO Felipe Gozon said the company is in talks with the two telcos for content partnerships. GMA booked higher first-half profit, thanks to political advertisements during the election period, but its second-quarter performance was lackluster. Gozon clarified that any partnership that will be signed will only cover content. “There are no mergers and acquisitions. There is no buyout.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Bill proposes exams for journalists

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    A bill creating a Magna Carta for Journalists proposes exams for journalists who want to be accredited as media practitioners. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is asking its author, Sen Jinggoy Estrada, to withdraw this measure. Estrada’s bill, filed in July, seeks the creation of the Philippine Council for Journalists, a body that will accredit journalists and administer the “Professional Journalist Examination.” Journalists who fail or do not take the annual regulatory exam will be categorized as non-accredited journalists. The NUJP said it “cannot subscribe to the notion of subjecting journalists to accreditation for purposes of regulating the profession; not by any state agency and no, not even through peer accreditation.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Heavy teen drinking linked to dementia

    Teenager and heavy drinking

    Heavy drinking and drug use in teenage years may boost your chances of developing dementia before the age of 65, Swedish researchers said Tuesday. Alcohol abuse emerged as the strongest of 9 risk factors that could be traced as far back as adolescence, according to a study of 488,484 Swedish men conscripted for military service between September 1969 and December 1979 at an average age of 18. In the 37 years following their conscription, 487 of the men were diagnosed with young-onset dementia (YOD) at a median age of 54 years. 68 percent of the YOD cases identified could be attributed to one or more of the 9 factors. Other risk factors the team identified included a stroke, drug use, depression, having a father with dementia, a short stature, and high blood pressure.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. George Lucas, wife, celebrate birth of daughter

    NEW, INTIMATE CHAPTER. The 'Star Wars' creator with wife, Mellody Hobson

    George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson have a new baby girl, The Huffington Post reports. Everest Hobson Lucas, as the couple have named her, is their first biological child. The baby who was delivered via surrogate follows after Lucas’ adopted children, Amanda, 32, Katie, 25, and Jett, 20. Lucas and Hobson began dating in 2006 and were married in June this year. The birth of Everest marks a new, more intimate chapter in Lucas’ own personal saga as a filmmaker and entrepreneur.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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