October 25, 2013 Edition

Valerie Castro

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

  1. NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders

    A classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden shows the National Security Agency got the numbers of 35 world leaders from officials in other US departments.  The Guardian reports, confidential memo reveals the NSA asked senior officials in the White House, State Department and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the politicians’ phone numbers to a surveillance program that included monitoring phone calls and email. One unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders.

    On Wednesday, Merkel called US President Barack Obama to say that if the reports were correct, it amounts to a –quote– “breach of trust” between international partners. In response, White House spokesman Jay Carney says, “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.” Earlier this week, France and Mexico wanted the US to answer new allegations it tapped millions of phone calls.

    Read the full story here and here.

  2. Big data, privacy and other issues at the Internet Governance Forum

    'CREEPY VIOLATIONS.' Human rights groups warn against the implications of using big data on privacy and free expression. Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

    The Internet Governance Forum in Bali, Indonesia from October 22-25 is the 8th international meeting – and the first held in Southeast Asia – focused on Internet policy and governance. This week’s meetings came in the middle of a global conflict: did the United States spy on more than 30 world leaders?  Many sessions focused on privacy and big data – the pros and cons – from companies to nations, putting the United States, China and Google in the hot seat.  Technology is disrupting every industry and poses a challenge in governance and policy for nearly all countries around the world.  It is redefining traditional power imbalances (gender equality among them) and providing new ways for the voiceless to join a global conversation.

    Rappler’s Ayee Macaraig live tweeted the conference, collected along with other participants in Rappler’s live blog.  Here’s a wrap of the discussions on big data and possible invasion of privacy.  Read the rest of her series on #IGF2013 Forum here.

  3. What the earthquake left behind in Bohol

    Dramatic pictures of the Earth-altering power of the 7.2-magnitude quake have emerged from the island of Bohol. The quake left behind a spectacular rocky wall that stretches for kilometers through farmlands. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology geologist Maria Isabel Abigania told Agence France-Presse a “ground rupture” pushed up a stretch of ground by up to three meters (10 feet), creating a wall of rock above the epicentre. “Our people have walked 5 kilometers (3 miles) so far and not found the end of this wall.” She adds there are no reports of people getting swallowed up in these cracks. The fault runs along a less-populated area. The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of chains of islands frequently hit by earthquakes.

    Meantime, the squabble for relief goods in Bohol pits a mayor with the head of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). A former priest and communist rebel, Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr grabbed headlines after he drove away a PNRC team distributing relief goods to town residents. Online readers and local media vilified Evasco, criticized him for using relief goods for political gain in his town of about 20,000 people. The 69-year-old mayor said he has nothing against the PNRC, only the politicians behind it.  The mayor said they were distributing relief goods through a centrally coordinated system when the Red Cross team arrived in Maribojoc and “insisted on their own random distribution.” He said the result was bedlam. He asked the Red Cross to turn over the relief goods to the local government for “equitable” distribution, but the Red Cross refused.

    Read more here and here.

  4. PH backtracks on protest against China on Panatag

    NO PROTEST. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says the government has 'no determination of the facts' on the concrete blocks allegedly installed by China. Photo courtesy of the DFA

    From wielding a “substantive piece of information” over a month ago, the Philippine Foreign Affairs department backtracks and says it has no “determination of the facts.” Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario admitted the Philippines is not ready to file a diplomatic protest over concrete blocks allegedly installed by China in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Del Rosario’s admission came after the President said he is not convinced that China placed the blocks in disputed area in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). President Benigno Aquino III contradicted his defense officials, who repeatedly claimed that China placed at least 75 concrete blocks in the shoal. Talking to reporters in Brunei on October 9, Aquino said a closer inspection showed barnacles and moss covering the concrete blocks. He said this means the blocks weren’t dropped or “placed there recently.” “We don’t accuse until we have proof,” Aquino said.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. PH tax agency takes steps in corruption scandal

    The Bureau of Internal Revenue or BIR is checking the assets of lawmakers implicated in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam. Tax head Kim Henares says the ongoing probe is limited because they do not have a court order to look into bank accounts. Rappler earlier looked at the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of several respondents in the plunder complaints and found possible discrepancies between their known sources of income and their declared wealth. The BIR earlier filed tax evasion cases against suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, her husband, and her daughter. On Thursday, the BIR filed tax evasion charges against the brothers of Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. Based on BIR computations, MGNP Inc owed the government taxes amounting to P190.14 million. MGNP deprived the government of taxes amounting to P190.14 million. MGNP is in the business of buying and selling properties.

    Read more here and here.

  6. Twitter gives IPO price range

    The social media company planned to sell 70 million shares priced at $17 to $20 each. The New York Times reports the offering would raise about $1.3 billion and would value Twitter at about $10 billion, excluding options. The NYT says this makes Twitter more than three times as big as AOL, but only a fraction of Facebook, which has a market value of more than $127 billion. Analysts had been expecting Twitter to raise its price per share because of its fast growth. In August, Twitter valued itself at $20.62 per share.

    Read more on NY Times.

    Stocks Image (background) from Shutterstock.

  7. TV white space and the Internet

    ComScore called the Philippines the social media capital of the world in 2010, but only about a third or 35 million Filipinos have access to the Internet.  The telecommunications companies say it’s a challenge to build what’s needed for cellphone signal to reach the most remote areas.  Yet, the Department of Science and Technology says it’s possible.  Its head, Secretary Mario Montejo promises Rappler 99% Internet penetration rate by 2015.  Now Microsoft’s Tovia Va’aelua talks about the partnership between DOST, USAID and Microsoft which aims to do just that by using TV white space.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. One third of Americans get news from Facebook

    One third of Americans get news from Facebook

    A new study by the Pew Research Center released Thursday, October 24, 2013 shows about a third of Americans surveyed get their news on Facebook. However, nearly 80% of those who responded said they weren’t looking for news.  They stumbled upon the news while they were checking what their friends were doing or sharing photos.  The study also said that heavy news consumers did not describe Facebook as an important source of news.

    Read more on the Washington Post and see this infographic on www.journalism.org

  9. The budget game and other insights from the pork barrel

    Is the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers the great equalizer it was intended to be? In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that pork barrel is constitutional because it recognizes that “members of Congress, far more than the President… are likely to be knowledgeable about the needs of their respective constituents.” Going by data on PDAF releases from 2010 to 2013 Rappler’s investigative team shows pork barrel funds do not appear to help equalize the distribution of scarce resources.  Also play Rappler’s budget game to get an idea of how whether your priorities match the Philippine government’s.

    Read the full story here and here.

  10. Who inspires you?

    It’s far easier to sit and complain than it is to act and help solve problems.  There’s certainly no shortage of problems in the Philippines, and these 24 men and women are redefining the world around them, sending ripples and inspiring others to do more.  It means they take risks, make themselves vulnerable, commit themselves to act.  Rappler and Rexona bring you the #DoMoreAwards, crowdsourced nominations of the men and women who inspire you.  Hundreds of these nominations were cut down by a distinguished panel of judges, who themselves push the boundaries.  Now the stories of the three finalists per category are here, ready to inspire you.  Read, watch and vote.  Their stories encourage excellence and inspire us to be better – to do more.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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