October 31, 2013 Edition

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  1. New report says Manila is a US ‘listening post’

    SPY POST? A map leaked by fugitive intelligence officer Edward Snowden showed the US Embassy in Manila as one of 90

    A top-secret map leaked by fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, published by German news magazine Der Spiegel on Tuesday, listed Manila as one of 90 surveillance facilities at embassies and consulates around the world. Of the 90, at least 74 – including Manila – were listed as “staffed locations,” while at least 14 others are unmanned. Two other facilities serve as technical support centers. There are no details yet on the extent of the operations in Manila, but the report said the facilities are used by the United States to monitor communication networks and phone calls, under the joint Central Intelligence Agency-National Security Agency group called the “Special Collection Service.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Aquino defends Disbursement Acceleration Program

    'I'M NOT A THIEF.' President Aquino defends his administration's government spending mechanism in a televised address on October 30

    In a 10-minute speech on Wednesday, October 30, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III reiterated past explanations by him and his Cabinet officials on the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the necessity of his office having discretionary funds for emergency purposes. Aquino urged Filipinos not to be distracted from what he said was the real issue: the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen. Critics have come out, noting that the the issue is whether the DAP is constitutional or not, a case for the Supreme Court to decide.

    Read the full story on Rappler.
    Read more on Aquino’s speech on Rappler.

  3. China arrests 5 over Tiananmen ‘terror attack’

    CRIME SCENE. Chinese men wearing masks are seen outside the Forbidden City at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, 28 October 2013. EPA/Rolex dela Pena

    Chinese police captured 5 suspects over a “terrorist attack” in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. This is the first time authorities have admitted to such a strike taking place in the capital. Beijing police said on a verified social media account that 3 people in the sports utility vehicle which crashed in the symbolic heart of the Chinese state and burst into flames on Monday, all of whom died, were from the same family – one man, his wife and his mother. The car had a license plate identifying it as from the restive western region of Xinjiang, police said, and the names given for the trio sounded like ones used by the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority. Another 5 people have been arrested in connection with the case, police said.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Current US deficit falls to half of 2009 peak

    BUDGET DEFICIT. The US budget shortfall plunges to half of 2009's. Photo by AFP/Mladen Antonov

    The US budget deficit plunged 37.5% in fiscal 2013 to less than half its level 4 years ago on sharp spending cuts and surging revenues, the Treasury said Wednesday, October 30. The shortfall for the year ended September 30 was $680 billion, down from $1.1 trillion last year and from more than $1.4 trillion in 2009, when the government spent heavily to battle recession. Receipts rose 13.3%, to $2.77 trillion, helped more by personal income taxes while the corporate tax take lagged forecasts, the Treasury said. Meanwhile, spending fell 2.4% to $3.45 trillion. The $84 billion decrease was close to the amount required by the tough sequester spending cuts implemented in March.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. EU, US trade spying accusations

    PY NEST? A tourist photographs the embassy of the United States at Pariser Platz in Berlin, Germany, 28 October 2013. EPA/Maurizio Gambarini

    Europe and Washington traded spying accusations Wednesday, October 30, as envoys met to seek ways to rebuild trust after shock revelations about the scale and scope of US surveillance of its allies. A German intelligence delegation and a separate group of EU lawmakers were in the US capital to confront their American allies about the alleged bugging of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone. The visit coincided with the latest in a series of newspaper reports based on leaked National Security Agency files, this one alleging US agents hacked into cables used by Google and Yahoo. President Barack Obama’s spy chiefs are on the defensive over the reports, arguing that all countries spy on one another, and that the allies should discuss a new working relationship.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Putin more powerful than Obama – Forbes

    MOST POWERFUL LEADER. Russian President Vladimir Putin dethrones US President Barack Obama as the world's most powerful leader according to Forbes. Photo by EPA/Maxim Shipenkov

    Move over Barack. Russian President Vladimir Putin has surpassed US President Barack Obama to the title of the world’s most powerful leader in the Forbes list of 72 powerbrokers released on Wednesday, October 30. It marked the first time in 3 years that Obama has dropped to second place as US-Russia relations dipped to a new low. “Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president–latest example: the government shutdown mess,” Forbes said. China’s President Xi JinPing ranked No. 3, followed by Pope Francis, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at No. 5.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. NSA hacked Google, Yahoo data links

    Eye image from Shutterstock

    Documents obtained from Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned whistleblower, show that communication links connecting Yahoo and Google data centers around the world have been penetrated. Instead of directly targeting servers, the NSA intercepted data as it flowed through fiber optic cables and other network equipment connecting the two companies’ data centers. The data harnessed, which included metadata, text, audio and video, were sifted by a program called Muscular, jointly operated with the British Government Communications Headquarters. The NSA obtained access to Google and Yahoo user accounts via a court-approved program known as Prism. Both Google and Yahoo said they have not provided government agencies access to their systems.

    Read the full story in the Washington Post.

    More information is available from the BBC.

    Eye image from Shutterstock

  8. How to keep ‘Undas’ garbage-free

    KEEP THE 'BASURA MONSTER' AWAY. The EcoWaste Coalition stages a tableau on October 30 to show citizens the ghastly effects of a garbage-ridden 'Undas.' Photos by Jose Del

    As the country prepares to observe All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on November 1 and 2 respectively, the EcoWaste Coalition formulated its own version of “cemetery etiquette.” In 2012, the Metropolitan Development Authority said it collected 76 truckloads of garbage from 10 major cemeteries in just two days, including 20 truckloads from the Manila North Cemetery. Anticipating garbage and other toxic materials again being left behind by those visiting the dead, the environment group recommended, among others: bringing waste-free meals; using clean-burning and lead-free candles; bringing your own water jug; and avoiding littering, dumping or burning trash in the cemetery.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Less teen interest in Facebook, mobile market growing

    After shares rose 15% on Wednesday, October 30, Facebook stocks lost steam following the social networking company’s admission that teenagers are losing interest in the site. Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman was reported by CNN as saying during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call with analysts, “We did see a decrease in [teenage] daily users [during the quarter], especially younger teens.” He added however that usage among overall American teens was “stable.” The New York Times reported that outlook is better when it comes to mobile devices as users migrate to them. Facebook’s mobile ad market is growing quickly, as market projections say it will account for 15.8% of worldwide mobile ad spending in 2013, up 5.35% compared to 2012.

    Read the full story on CNN.

    Read a related story in the New York Times.

  10. Mobile concert hall designed

    Screengrab from Youtube

    Ark Nova, a plastic, balloon-like structure that looks like a lopsided, purple doughnut, is the world’s first portable, inflatable concert hall. It seats an audience of up to 500 on rows of mounted wooden benches. Conceptualized and designed for the victims of the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, the plastic, balloon-like structure was the handiwork of Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and London sculptor Anish Kapoor. In September 2013, it made its debut for a special edition of the Lucerne Festival in Matsushima near the city of Sendai, where the tsunami hit two years ago. The artwork was first planned by Michael Haefliger, director of the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, and Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic who is half Japanese.

    Read the full story in the New York Times.

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