December 4, 2013 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. Human trafficking a concern post-Yolanda

    STILL IN THE DARK. A typhoon victim prepares to sleep inside a Catholic church turned into a temporary evacuation center in Tacloban, Dec 1, 2013. Most of the city is still without electricity. Photo by EPA/Dennis Sabangan

    Thousands of women and children in the Philippines risk falling prey to human traffickers in the aftermath of last month’s catastrophic typhoon, lawmakers and the chief US aid agency warned Tuesday, December 2. A US congressman returning from a visit to the storm-ravaged island nation said that while Filipino authorities and US forces were helping vast numbers of storm victims, more attention was needed to thwart criminal opportunists taking advantage of the chaos after Super Typhoon Haiyan roared ashore. “The most vulnerable — women, children, the elderly, and those with special needs — always fare worst during disasters,” Republican congressman Chris Smith, who led the three-member delegation to the disaster zone last week, told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. Washington considers the Philippines as not in full compliance with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking. The State Department’s 2013 trafficking report describes it as a source country for sex-trafficking and forced labor, and that “child sex tourism remained a serious problem” there.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. House, Senate bolster calamity budget

    CALAMITY FUND. The House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 3, approved the P14.6 supplemental budget. Photo by Rappler

    Additional sources of funds to complete the P38.8 billion needed for the reconstruction areas ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) have become available. On Tuesday night, December 3, the House of Representatives – voting 213-6 – approved on third and final reading the P14.6 billion supplemental budget for the executive’s disaster fund. The amount under House Bill 3423 will be sourced from the unused portion of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for 2013, which was earlier declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Also on Tuesday, the Senate passed on second and third and final reading a joint resolution that seeks to extend the validity of the President’s calamity fund and departments’ Quick Response Funds (QRF) in the 2013 budget for calamity-related purposes. The P12 billion will still be available next year. A provision in the 2013 budget states that the validity of funds lapses at the end of the year but the resolution allows the national government to continue using the money until Dec 31, 2014.

    Read the full story on Rappler:

  3. More than 70% of Visayas power load restored

    POWER BACK. Critical transmission grid 'backbones' in Visayas have been energized. Photo from NGCP website

    Seventy-two percent of the power load in Visayas has been restored, according to the grid operator. In a statement on Tuesday, December 3, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said that as of November 28, 5 out of 8 priority transmission grid “backbones” that were damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) were back in operation. The transmission lines that were recently energized include the Ormoc-Babatngon line in Leyte, Babatngon-Paranas line traversing Samar and Leyte, Paranas-Calbayog line in Samar, and the Dingle Panit-an line in Capiz – all 138 kilovolts (kV). The restoration of the lines brought power back to more cities in Visayas, including Maasin in Southern Leyte, Roxas in Capiz, and Catbalogan in Samar.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. The Supreme Court, PDAF and revolution

    Dean Tony La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government writes about the implication of the recent Supreme Court ruling declaring the PDAF as unconstitutional. He writes: “The SC decision on PDAF is historic. The implications of the decision on our life as a nation cannot be underestimated. With this decision, nothing will be the same again. In the past politicians could dip their hands in government coffers with impunity and use them as if they had proprietary rights. But with the abolition of pork barrel, a whole system is eradicated that, in the words of Justice Leonen, “historically encourage dole-outs; inculcates a perverse understanding of representative democracy; encourages a culture that misunderstands the important function of public representation in Congress and does not truly empower those who are impoverished or found in the margins of our society.”

    Read the full piece on Rappler.

  5. Asia gets top spots in global education survey

    ASIAN SCHOOLING. The top 5 countries in the global education survey are all in Asia. File photo by AFP

    Asian nations cemented their top positions in an eagerly awaited report on global education Tuesday, December 3, as their students continued to outshine Western counterparts in math, science and reading. Shanghai again ranked first in math, science and reading in the 3-yearly report by the Paris-based OECD, based on surveys of more than half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries. Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea rounded out the top 5 in math skills. The so-called PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment) is the single largest study of global schooling and has dubbed the World Cup of education. This year’s survey focused on math skills, with Macao-China, Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and The Netherlands rounding out the top 10.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. French experts rule out Arafat poisoning

    NOT POISONED. A file picture taken on October 29, 2004, shows ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat saying goodbye to well-wishers as he boards a Jordanian army helicopter at dawn at the Muqatta, his West Bank offices in Ramallah. AFP PHOTO/ODD ANDERSEN

    French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning, a source close to the investigation into the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death told AFP. The French experts’ findings differ significantly from those of Swiss scientists, who said last month that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning. Arafat died at a French military hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004, with doctors unable to say what killed him. At the time, an autopsy was never carried out — at his widow’s request. But France opened a formal murder inquiry into his death in August 2012, a month after an Al-Jazeera documentary linked his death to polonium poisoning.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Know that you can help prevent hunger

    WE CAN STOP HUNGER. Join the conversation and engage in ways to help

    Out of the 7 billion people who populate the earth, about 842 million suffer from chronic hunger. That is 1 in 8 people, according to the 2013 Food and Agriculture Organization report on the State of Food Insecurity in the world. The majority of the hungry population live in developing countries where conditions of conflict, natural disasters, climate change, and poverty contribute to the persistence of hunger. The common misconception about hunger is that it persists because there is not enough food and resources to feed the world. But there are adequate resources to go around and feed the hungry. According to the World Food Programme, hunger is the world’s “most solvable problem.” The problem merely lies in access and the need to move towards more sustainable, fair, and efficient food systems. Check out Rappler’s Hunger Project, a microsite that aims to raise awareness about hunger and malnutrition in the country.

    Learn more about the Hunger Project on Rappler.

  8. Comet ISON dies after brushing with sun

    WILL IT SURVIVE THE SUN? This new view of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was taken with the TRAPPIST national telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory on the morning of Friday 15 November 2013. TRAPPIST/E. Jehin/ESO

    A comet that grabbed attention worldwide for being likened to a massive snowball in space did not survive its brush with the Sun last week, NASA confirmed on Tuesday, December 3. “Though the exact time of ISON’s death is uncertain it does appear to be no more. All that is left is a cloud of debris without a nucleus,” C Alex Young of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center told Agence France-Presse in an email. Dubbed the “Christmas Comet,” the icy giant described as a massive, dirty snowball skimmed past the Sun at a distance of just 730,000 miles (1.17 million kilometers) around 1830 GMT on Thursday, November 27. Most astronomers had predicted the comet, with an estimated diameter of some 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers), would not survive the flypast.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. British Olympic diver Tom Daley in gay relationship

    SURPRISE REVELATION. In this file photo, Tom Daley of Great Britain celebrates after finishing third in the men's 10m Platform Final during the Diving competition held at the Aquatics Center during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London, Great Britain, 11 August 2012. EPA/Patrick B. Kraemer

    British diving star Tom Daley said Monday, December 2, he was in a relationship with a man but that he still “fancied” girls as he became the latest sports star to make a public declaration regarding their sexuality. The 19-year-old, a bronze medallist at last year’s London Olympics and one of the faces used in the pre-Games publicity, made the announcement in a YouTube clip which he hoped would end “rumors and speculation.” “Come spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone and they made me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great – and that someone is a guy,” said Daley. He follows other leading divers in making a public statement about their sexuality. Australia’s Matthew Mitcham announced he was homosexual shortly before he won a diving gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, while four-time Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis came out as gay following his retirement in 1995.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Ateneo de Manila college student kidnapped, released

    TIGHTEN SECURITY. University officials ask for cooperation from the community as they tighten security after the incident. File photo by Katerina Francisco/Rappler

    A college student of the Ateneo de Manila University was kidnapped in the university’s parking lot in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, early evening Thursday, November 21. She was released in less than 24 hours. The kidnapping was confirmed by Ateneo Vice President for Administration Fr Nemesio Que, SJ, in a statement dated November 29 and posted on the school website on Monday, December 2. The student was held hostage in her own car at around 6:30 pm Thursday by several men, according to a source privy to the ongoing police probe. The men put her at the back seat and covered her face with a black bonnet. The suspects eventually left her alone in the car – which seemed to have overheated – at around 2:55 am Friday, November 22, near a Caltex station along Manggahan in Pasig City. The kidnappers took with them the student’s phone, earrings, watch, and money.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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