Novermber 8, 2013 Edition

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

  1. Yolanda hits East Visayas at signal #4

    Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan) hits Eastern Samar early Friday, November 8, and is now lashing the Visayas, Bicol, and northeastern Mindanao. State weather bureau PAGASA said the typhoon hit Guiuan, Eastern Samar at around 4:40 am,, and is currently traversing a wide swath of Philippine territory, from northeastern Mindanao up to southern Luzon. The typhoon then crossed the Leyte Gulf, and made its second landfall in Leyte at around 7 am. An estimated 54 million residents are affected in the 40 provinces and regions, including the Philippine capital of Metro Manila, that will be within Yolanda’s reach. Thousands of residents in the region spent the night in evacuation centers, as they brace for the worst part of the typhoon.

    It is then expected to exit land early Saturday morning, November 9.

    Here are the links related to the story:

    Yolanda Updates

    Yolanda Evacuation Centers

    Yolanda Live Blogs

    Cancelled Flights Today

    Class Suspensions Today

  2. Surges and landslides in the path of supertyphoon

    A total of 68 localities brace for storm surges, some reaching more than 5 meters (16.5 feet) high. Project Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH) released a list of areas in the Philippines that may experience storm surges – floods caused by tides due to a tropical cyclone – from November 8 to November 9. Storm surges form when high-speed winds brush up against the ocean surface, causing water to pile up higher than the normal sea level. Based on the data, Eastern Samar will experience the highest storm surge. Matarinao Bay will see a 5.2-meter or 17-foot storm surge. Poro Island in Biliran will see the second highest storm surge – at 4.7 meters or 15.4 feet. For coastal communities, a storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property caused by a hurricane.  Yolanda not only threatens the Visayas region, it also renders areas in Caraga region in Mindanao vulnerable to landslides and floods. According to data provided by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), among the regions affected by Yolanda, Caraga has the highest percentage of municipalities and barangays where landslides and floods will likely occur.

    Here are some related stories.

    Yolanda Storm Surges

    Areas Prone to Floods and Landslide

    Yolanda Critical Map

  3. Janet Napoles deflects Senators questions

    Senators struggled to extract information from Janet Lim Napoles Thursday, as the woman who stole an estimated 2.1B in pork barrel funds through bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) faced a Senate inquiry. “I don’t know”, “I have no idea what the whistleblower is talking about”, and “I invoke my right against self-incrimination” became a familiar refrain as the day wore on. At times feisty, other times disengaged, Napoles denies every accusation thrown her way.

    The biggest denial: she is the mastermind of the scam that convinced lawmakers to channel their pork barrel to her fake NGOs in exchange for hefty kickbacks. She says at one point, “If there was such a kickback like you say, do you think a lawmaker or chief of staff would sign a voucher? That’s a lie. There’s no voucher and there is no exchange of money.” A former employee immediately refuted her statement, saying Napoles ordered the shredding of vouchers that documented their receipt of commissions. She admitted owning the luxurious Ritz-Carlton apartment in downtown Los Angeles but insisted the money came from her husband’s coal business in Indonesia. When Senator TG Guingona asked to describe her wealth, she floored the gallery with a massive understatement. “Just right.”

    Here are some links related to the story:

    Napoles Deflects Senators’ Questions

    Napoles: I’m not wealthy, ‘just right’

    Napoles: I pity senators; Luy: She’s lying

    Senate probe: ‘Napoles shredded evidence’

  4. Miriam to Napoles: Tell all or be assassinated

    The supposed brains behind the pork barrel scam got free legal advice from no less than Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago in Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Inquiry. After listening to Napoles’ denials for hours, Santiago told Napoles there’s a difference between saying she does not know the answer and invoking her right against self-incrimination. Santiago, known for her fits of temper said in good humor, “I just asked you who you spoke with and you say, “I invoke my right?!” Halloween is over, there are no more ghosts.” Santiago advised Napoles to tell all and turn state witness, warning her that there are serious consequences to her silence. “If [Sen. Juan Ponce] Enrile is the most guilty, say it now so they won’t have you killed… Don’t underestimate Enrile. That old man still has venom.” The senator told Napoles that only by turning state witness can she avoid 20 to 40 years imprisonment in the plunder case. “I will give you this counsel: Tell the truth before the senators affected have you assassinated.”

    Read more on Rappler.

  5. EU: Homosexuality can be grounds for asylum

    The European Union Court of Justice ruled Thursday that men and women avoiding imprisonment in their home countries because they are gay may have grounds to seek asylum  in the EU’s 28 nations.  Globally, more than 70 countries have laws that could imprison people on the basis of sexual orientation.  Ruling on the cases of 3 people from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal seeking asylum in the Netherlands, the EU court said these laws “may constitute an act of persecution per se.”  It added that someone gay can’t be expected to hide to avoid persecution because it would mean renouncing a “characteristic fundamental to a person’s identity.

    Read the NY Times.
    Asylum background image from Shutterstock.

  6. US Senate passes gay rights bill for workers

    Photo retrieved from Wikipedia but must be attributed to:

    The US Senate approved on Thursday what the Washington Post calls “a historic piece of gay rights legislation.”  Voting 64 to 32 in what the New York Times calls “a bipartisan show of support that is rare for any social issue,” the Senate approved a ban on discrimination in the workplace against gay and transgender employees.  It’s the first time ever that the Senate voted to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the US’ nondiscrimination law. While it’s a step forward for gay rights, the bill’s expected to face stiff opposition in the House: Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said he opposes the bill.

    Read the full story on NY Times and Washington Post.

  7. FDA to ban trans fat

    TRANS FAT BAN. The US Food and Drug Administration says partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are not generally recognized as safe for use in food. File photo by Stan Honda/AFP

    US regulators on Thursday, November 7, took steps to ban trans fat from processed foods like microwave popcorn and frozen pizzas, saying the artery-clogging oils are not safe for humans to eat. The FDA said its finding was based on “available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels.” The agency opened a 60-day comment period before the move can become final. Once final, PHOs would be considered food additives and could not be used in food unless regulators authorized it. The FDA said its decision would not affect trans fat that occurs naturally in some meat and dairy products, but rather to PHOs that are added to processed foods. Consumer groups hailed the move as a major step toward eliminating a type of fat blamed for heart disease.

    Read the full story on NY Times and Rappler.

  8. Philippine Volcanoes all set for Singapore Sevens

    PINOY PRIDE. The Philippine Volcanoes are hoping to repeat their 2012 feat and finish in the top 3 of the Singapore Sevens. Photo: HSBC Asian Sevens Series

    Fresh from back-to-back wins in Thailand and India, the Philippine Volcanoes goes to Singapore to compete in the final leg of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series. The country’s national rugby team missed out on a Cup Division spot in the past 3 tournaments. This time, they’re hoping a refreshed and fortified team will result in a better finish. The Philippines are in Pool C of the tournament and will see action on day one against Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Wins in both these games will set up a Cup Quarter Final showdown with either Singapore or China. This 2013 Asian Sevens series will also serve as the ranking series for the 2014 Asian Games, which will be held in Korea next September. The Singapore Sevens will be played on November 9-10.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. US economy beats expectations at 2.8% growth in Q3

    view of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI

    The US economy grows 2.8% in the third quarter, surprising analysts who expected the world’s largest economy to grow only 1.9%. It was the strongest pace of GDP growth in a year. But analysts forecast a weaker fourth quarter, after a Washington budget battle forced a 16-day government shutdown in October that cut an estimated $24 billion from the economy. The White House welcomes the good news, but Scott Hoyt of Moody’s Analytics warns about the repercussions of Congress’ decision to use stop-gap budget and debt ceiling measures to reopen the federal government and avoid a debt default. Hoyt says the government shutdown will cut a half percentage point of growth in the fourth quarter.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. TWITTER: How to do an IPO right

    PUBLIC COMPANY. Microblogging site Twitter seeks to raise over $1.6 billion in IPO. File photo by AFP/Fred Tanneau

    Twitter hit Wall Street with a bang on Thursday, November 7 as an investor frenzy quickly sent shares surging after the public share offering for the fast-growing social network. In the first exchanges, Twitter vaulted 80.7% to $47, a day after the initial public offering (IPO) at $26 per share.

    While some analysts cautioned about the fast-changing nature of social media, the debut led to a stampede for Twitter shares. Twitter offered 70 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange, generating $1.82 billion, and gave underwriters a 30-day option to purchase an additional 10.5 million shares. The IPO assigned a market value of around $14.4 billion to the company whose messaging service has become a hugely popular tool for celebrities, journalists, political leaders and others. With the over-allotment it should be the second-biggest tech IPO after Facebook’s $16 billion effort last year and ahead of Google’s 2004 offer, which raised $1.92 billion, according to research firm Dealogic.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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