December 13, 2013 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. Kim Jong Un’s uncle executed as traitor

    North Korea executed the uncle of its leader Kim Jong Un, branding the once-powerful Jang Song-Thaek a “traitor.” In a viciously-worded attack, State news agency KCNA branded Jang as “despicable human scum… worse than a dog” for attempting to stage a coup d’etat by mobilizing his associates in the military. Jang, who was married to the sister of the late Kim Jong-Il, played a key role in cementing the leadership of the inexperienced Kim. But analysts say the 67-year-old’s power and influence had become increasingly resented by his nephew. State TV this week showed photos of Jang being dragged out of his seat by two officers– an extremely rare public humiliation of a figure. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye accused Kim Jong-Un of resorting to extreme violence to cement his leadership. CNN opinion columnist Frida Ghitis said Jang was “known as something of a reformer”. He supported limited market reforms and reportedly opposed Pyongyang’s nuclear test earlier this year.

    Read the full story on Rappler and CNN.

  2. Ex-Prime Minister charged with murder

    INDICTED. Former Thai Prime Minister and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (R) addresses a news conference at the Democrat Party headquarters in Bangkok on December 8, 2013. AFP

    Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was indicted for murder Thursday for a deadly military crackdown on mass opposition protests in Bangkok three years ago. The move comes as fresh political turmoil rocks the Thai capital, with protesters backed by Abhisit’s opposition party seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and rid the kingdom of the influence of her brother, deposed former leader Thaksin. Under Abhisit’s government, more than 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were wounded in street clashes in the capital in 2010 between mostly unarmed pro-Thaksin “Red Shirt” demonstrators and security forces firing live rounds. Observers doubt British-born Abhisit, who posted bail, will go to prison given his links to the Thai elite. Many also see the case as part of the country’s political brinksmanship. Charged with Abhisit is his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, now spearheading the mass opposition protests against Yingluck. She has called for an early election in February to calm the political turmoil. Her ruling Puea Thai Party is widely expected to win the upcoming vote.

    Read the full story on Rappler and CNN.

  3. ‘Fake’ interpreter asks for forgiveness

    'FLAPPING HIS ARMS' In these combination of photos taken on Tuesday, December 10, US President Barack Obama delivers a speech next to a sign language interpreter (R) during the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. AFP/Alexander Joe

    The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral asked for forgiveness following his widely criticized signing at Tuesday’s memorial ceremony. Thamsanqa Jantjie blamed a schizophrenic episode for accusations that he was an imposter who gesticulated nonsense during the entire service. But in an interview with CNN, Jantjie said he stands by his work, adding he is a fully qualified interpreter. He said, “It has been many years I have been doing this job…My portfolio shows that I have been a champion of what I have been doing.” On Thursday, the South African government acknowledged Jantjie was “not a professional sign language interpreter.” Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister for women, children and persons with disabilities, said the government could not track down the company Jantjie worked for. She added, “We spoke to them wanting some answers and they vanished into thin air.”

    Read the full story on Rappler and CNN.

  4. Napoles’ ex-lawyer: It did not seem likely she would tell the truth

    After resigning as the lead counsel of Janet Napoles lawyer Lorna Kapunan said she is concerned about her former client and the legal strategies she is adopting. Kapunan resigned in October ahead of Napoles’ Senate testimony because of differences in strategies with a collaborating counsel. During Napoles’ appearance at the Senate, the alleged pork barrel queen was evasive. Kapunan said “it did not seem likely that she was going to tell the truth” because of “many influences.” Kapunan added she was more concerned about her now. “There does not seem to be any concerted legal effort at giving her solid advice. I had said that she is in a peculiar point in history where she can play a pivotal role either as the worst villain or the best hero this country can ever have.”  In previous interviews, Kapunan said Napoles was the scapegoat of politicians who misused their pork barrel.  She said Napoles was unfairly portrayed as the face of corruption. “People need a face for their enemy… Sadly she became that face and so did I.”

    Read more on Talk Thursday with Atty. Lorna Kapunan.
    Read related stories here and here.

  5. Poll body can’t unseat elected politicians

    An election lawyer said the Comelec does not have the authority to unseat elected officials based on deficiencies in their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE). Lawyer George Garcia said Comelec has authority over elected officials only in relation to “pending cases or petitions prior to election,” including  disqualification charges and electoral protests. But he added Comelec’s jurisdiction ends once candidates are proclaimed and are serving. In letters sent to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Comelec cites Section 14 of Republic Act 7166. But Garcia said the provision “speaks only of administrative fine for those who did not file SOCE.” Belmonte also said removal from office is a harsh penalty, adding Comelec is “over-acting” when it issued the orders. Some officials also said the poll body should have checked its record-keeping system and sent prior notices before issuing the orders.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Australia’s top court overturns gay marriage law in capital

    Australia’s High Court overturned a law allowing gay marriage in the nation’s capital. In October, the Australian Capital Territory parliament passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. But in its unanimous decision Thursday, the court ruled the national parliament – not state and territory authorities –  has the ultimate say over marriage, and whether it was extended to same-sex couples was a matter for lawmakers. The decision means the 27 couples who married since the laws came into effect a month ago will have their marriages annulled as unconstitutional. Gay rights campaigners hit the move, but the Australian Christian Lobby welcomed the ruling, saying the issue was irrelevant to most Australians and it was “time to move on.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Probe says pilot was stressed

    PROBE. In this file photo, National Transportation Safety Board investigator in charge Bill English (F) and NTSB Chairman Debroah Hersman (B) as they investigate the Asiana Flight 214 Boeing 777 crash at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, USA 09 July 2013. EPA/NTSB handout

    The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) probe on the fatal crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in July showed the pilot was stressed about touching down without a functioning instrument landing system to guide him. Three passengers died when the plane skidded off the runway in San Francisco. 182 passengers and crew were injured. In documents released Wednesday, Captain Lee Kang-Kuk said he felt “very stressful” about making a visual approach. Because the instrument landing system (ILS) at San Francisco was out of service, Lee needed a hands-on approach to land the plane. A visual approach requires looking out the window and taking cues from approach lights at the runway’s edge. Lee had 9,700 hours of flight experience, but only 35 hours in the Boeing 777.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. WHO: Cancer cases up 11%

    The logo of the World Health Organization in its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo from AFP/Laurent Gillieron

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of new cancer cases jumped by 11% in a 5-year period, reaching 14.1 million in 2012. The number of deaths also rose by 8.4% from 2008 to 2012, hitting 8.2 million. A report said the most commonly diagnosed cancers are those of the lung, breast and colorectum. But the biggest killers are lung cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer. The WHO said it expected the number of new cancer cases to rise to 19.3 million per year by 2025. A trend showed close to 57% of all new cancer cases, and almost 65% of cancer deaths occurred in the world’s less-developed regions. The report also highlighted the sharp increase of breast cancer cases — the most common cause of cancer death among women. Since 2008, the incidence of breast cancer has increased by more than 20%, while mortality was up by 14%.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Top PH destinations this December

    SOAK UP THE SUN. Honda Bay offers a tranquil seascape. All photos by Tanya Lim

    Looking for a good place to spend your holidays? This Christmas, head over to these 5 destinations for an affordable and fun holiday vacation. For the nature lover, Puerto Prinsesa in Palawan is the place to go. Considered one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, Palawan’s Underground River shares the honor with Korea’s Jeju Island; the South America’s Amazon; and Vietnam’s Halong Bay. For the weekend warrior, go to Laiya in Batangas for its long expanse of fine sand and tropical greens. For a chill kind of Christmas, Davao has much to offer, home to the highest mountain in the Philippines and the legendary Philippine Eagle. For a gastronomic adventure, eat your way around town in the City of Smiles: Bacolod, home of the Chicken Inasal and the must-try Calea. And finally, if you’re after an exciting adventure, head to Bicol to swim with the whale sharks in Donsol or go on a quad bike adventure to the foot of the scenic Mt Mayon.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Facebook’s teen problem

    After a 60% jump in revenue, Facebook looks at worrisome trends and moves to address them. It announced a “better-than-expected” third quarter earnings report that topped $2 billion for the first time.  Despite that, it also said “the number of U.S. teens using Facebook daily declined from the previous quarter.  It said the decline was “of questionable significance” and that self-reported ages of teen users may be unreliable. On Thursday, Facebook’s Instagram app launched a photo and video messaging service called Instagram Direct. It came a few months after Snapchat, a mobile app popular with teens, declined a $3 billion offer from Facebook.

    Read the full story on WSJ and Rappler.

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