November 29, 2013 Edition

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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

  1. PH growth slows down but still on target

    Philippine Q3 GDP growth is slower than the growth rates recorded in Q1 and Q2

    The country’s growth slowed down in the 3rd quarter in the aftermath of 10 storms, not including Yolanda, international name Haiyan. The National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) announced the country’s gross domestic product grew 7% in the third quarter. The third-quarter figure was slower than the 7.6% growth in the 2nd quarter and the 7.7% growth in the first quarter. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Haiyan’s impact on the GDP will be “quite significant.” But he added, “we still expect for full year GDP to come close to 7%.” The services sector remains the main driver of growth, expanding 7.5%, on the back of strong real estate and renting activities. The agriculture sector posted a 0.3% growth due to damage wrought by 10 tropical storms. Officials claim it will still be one of the fastest growing economies in the region, next only to China, which grew by 7.8% in the September quarter.

    Read the full story on Rappler

  2. China sends fighter jets into East China Sea

    DISPUTE. China, Japan, and South Korea intertwined in a airspace and territorial scuffle.

    China sent fighter jets into East China Sea Thursday, stoking the fires of a territorial dispute with Japan.  CNN reported, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force flew warplanes, including Su-30 and J-11 aircraft, into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that Beijing announced last week. In a statement posted on the Chinese defense ministry’s website, Air Force Spokesman Col. Shen Jinke said the jets conducted “routine air patrols…and fulfill the air force’s historic mission,” The declaration of the ADIZ was met with fierce resistance by Japan and the United States. On Thursday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his nation’s Self Defense Force had used ships and planes to patrol the East China Sea. US officials say the U.S. Japan Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the disputed islands, known as Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, believed to have large oil reserves nearby. Two unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers recently flew through the area.  Encounters between Chinese and Japanese planes and ships took place repeatedly over the past year.

    Read more on CNN

  3. PH Foreign Affairs: China threatens status quo

    THREATENING PH? China's first aircraft carrier, the 'Liaoning' sits berthed at the naval base in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning province on Sept 25, 2012. File photo by AFP

    The Philippine Foreign Affairs department slammed China’s move to send it’s sole aircraft carrier to the South China Sea. Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the move raises tension and violates the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Hernandez added, “Its deployment does not contribute to regional stability… Instead it serves to threaten the status quo.” Beijing’s newly commissioned aircraft carrier Liaoning was accompanied by two destroyers and two missile cruisers. The deployment followed China’s recent establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, an area that contains disputed islands Diaoyu to the Chinese and Senkaku to the Japanese. But President Benigno Aquino III contradicted the Foreign Affairs spokesman. “Why should anybody consider it a threat?” Downplaying the deployment, the President told reporters “Let’s not play it up.” He says it will take up to 3 years for the carrier to run full steam, adding the Chinese are still learning carrier operations. The comments followed a shift in the President’s stance from last year’s hard hitting position that culminated in the Philippines filing a case with an international tribunal.

    In a TV interview, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the ADIZ poses a threat to the Philippines. Del Rosario said he fears China “will control the air space” in the disputed South China Sea. Beijing is requiring all international aircraft passing through the ADIZ to issue a flight plan with the Chinese government – an order that Japan and the US reject.

    Read more on Rappler here and here

  4. Thai protesters cut power to police HQ

    ANTI-THAKSIN. Anti-government protesters shout slogans in front the national police headquarters during a demonstration in Bangkok on November 28, 2013. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

    Thai opposition protesters cut the power to the national police headquarters Thursday, ignoring a plea by the prime minister to end their rallies after she survived a no confidence vote in parliament. The nearly month-long demonstrations are the biggest since mass protests 3 years ago which degenerated into the kingdom’s worst civil strife in decades.

    Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra received a much-needed boost as her allies overwhelmingly rejected the censure motion against her 297-134. The opposition Democrat Party accuses Yingluck of acting as a puppet for her brother, the ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Hours later, the demonstrators cut off the electricity to the national police headquarters in Bangkok. The building shifted to running on generator power. It was unclear how police would respond, but so far they have avoided confrontation with the demonstrators.

    Read more on Rappler

  5. Saudi Arabia cleric says ban on women drivers guards against evil

    DEFYING BAN. An image grab taken from a video uploaded by Saudi activists on YouTube on October 26, 2013 allegedly shows a fully veiled woman driving in Riyadh during a planned nationwide day of defiance of the ban on women driving. AFP/Youtube

    The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia justified a ban on women drivers saying it  “protects society from evil.” In a speech, the kingdom’s most senior cleric Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, dismissed the issue of giving women the right to drive. He said, “It’s not one of society’s major concerns.” His comments came as activists said they had been assured by Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef that the controversial ban is being reassessed. “We expect a royal decree that gives us this right,” advocates said. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, drawing condemnation from the international community. At least 16 women were stopped by police during a driving protest day last month, and were fined along with their male guardians. Saudi women are also forced to cover themselves from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.

    Read more on Rappler

  6. Singaporean hackers arrested for attack on President’s website

    SINGAPORE ‘HACKTIVISTS.’ Activist hacker group Anonymous is seen through the internet government website of Singapore Prime Minister Office circulated online on a smartphone in Singapore on November 7, 2013. Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP

    Two Singaporean men have been arrested for allegedly defacing President Tony Tan’s website during a recent rash of cyber attacks.The website was hacked about an hour after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s website displayed mocking messages from hackers’ group Anonymous. Police said the two attacks are unrelated to each other. Police did not reveal the identity of the two suspects aged 17 and 42, but Singaporean businessman Doolson Moo had earlier told the Straits Times newspaper that he did it to “test for vulnerabilities.”  He said his accomplice was a 17-year-old student he knew through Facebook. The arrests on Thursday come after another Singaporean was charged in court for hacking a municipal council’s website. Singapore strictly regulates the traditional media, but insists the new licensing rules do not impinge on Internet freedom.

    Read more on Rappler

  7. PH President promises Christmas without power interruptions

    RUINS. The San Vicente Parish in Maribojoc, Bohol, 20 October 2013. Photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler

    President Benigno Aquino III promised Bohol residents recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake a bright Christmas without power interruptions. Aquino Filipino, “By December, we expect the brownouts to end.” Bridges and power lines were damaged during the strong quake, affecting communication and transportation in the province. Power lines in Bohol were already being repaired when Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Visayas. Since then, Bohol has been experiencing rotating power interruptions. Haiyan also damaged a Leyte geothermal plant and over 200 transmission towers of the Visayas grid.  Lines connecting the Luzon and Visayas grid were also damaged.  Petilla has appeals to Luzon power consumers to cut down on their consumption to help power the Visayas in December. The energy secretary earlier said he would resign if Yolanda-ravaged areas remained power-less by December.

    Read more on Rappler

  8. New HIV strain causes AIDS faster

    DISEASE. A view of blood samples of people living with HIV in a laboratory at the AIDS Research Center of the Treichville hospital in Ivory Coast. Photo from AFP

    A new and more aggressive strain of HIV discovered in West Africa causes significantly faster progression to AIDS. Researchers at Sweden’s Lund University said the new strain of the virus that causes AIDS, called A3/02, is a fusion of the two most common HIV strains in Guinea-Bissau. It has so far only been found in West Africa. Scientists say the new recombinant strain is about two-and-a-half years faster than one of the parent [strains].” Recombinant virus strains originate when a person is infected by two different strains, whose DNA fuse to create a new form. The study warns that such strains may be spreading fast undetected by the medical community, especially in regions with high levels of immigration, such as Europe or the United States. They add, the good news is that medicines available today work on all the variants.

    Read more on Rappler

  9. 8 achievers honored at Do More Awards

    RECOGNITION. Rappler and Rexona team up to award individuals who do more. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

    Eight individuals who go beyond the call of duty were recognized at the Do More Awards. An athlete, an artist, a civic servant,  an entrepreneur, a celebrity, an innovator, an online personality and an influential overseas Filipino worker (OFW) were chosen by the public and a panel of 8 judges as achievers in their respective fields.  The awards were presented by Senators Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino, Rags2Riches founder Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, football star Phil Younghusband, actor and restaurateur Marvin Agustin and online thought leader Bianca Gonzales. The 8 winners were culled from the judges’ vote, 60%, and public vote, 40%. Senator Bam Aquino, in the night’s closing remarks, said the year 2013 brought problem after problem to the Philippines, causing despair and inertia. People who provide solutions are the country’s best shield against hopelessness.

    Read more on Rappler here and here

  10. Why no one does selfies like NASA

    IN SPACE. NASA crew pose for a photo in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Photo from NASA's Instagram account

    With 361,000 followers and counting, NASA takes self-portraits to new heights. CNN reported, in less than three months, the space agency became one of the most popular accounts on Instagram, giving an “insight into the day-to-day lives of astronauts and NASA’s work unraveling the mysteries of the universe.” Starting the account September 6, the agency said it will give “an out-of-this-world journey through images of Earth and beyond.” Some posts went viral. The account’s first post highlighted the launch of the agency’s LADEE research robot. But what got social-media’s attention was an “ill-fated photobomber” known as #nasafrog.

    Visit NASA’s Instagram account here.

    Read more about this story on CNN here and here

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