December 31, 2013 Edition

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  1. Most Filipinos welcome New Year with hope

    RESILIENCE. A boy rests on his destroyed house along the shore in Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

    A Social Weather Stations survey showed 94% of Filipinos welcome the new year with hope. This is despite a turbulent year for the Philippines, which saw massive destruction from the strongest typhoon on record and the biggest corruption scandal in recent history. The finding is a slight increase from 92% recorded in 2013. SWS says New Year hope is “widespread in all areas,” with Luzon being the most hopeful at 97%, followed by the Visayas at 93% and Mindanao at 92%. Based on previous data, Filipinos are more “hopeful” than “fearful” at the end of every year. Since SWS first conducted the survey in 2000, Filipinos’ New Year hope has not gone below 80% with the lowest level ever recorded at 81% in 2004, the year of a turbulent presidential election.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Aquino on New Year: Let’s stay united

    UNITY. President Benigno Aquino III asks Filipinos to remain united in 2014. File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

    With two and a half years left in his term, President Benigno Aquino asked Filipinos to remain united in 2014. In his New Year’s message, Aquino praised the government’s accomplishments in 2013, and said reforms will continue if Filipinos work together. Aquino also alluded to the consecutive calamities that hit the country in 2013. He said people’s resilience and bayanihan spirit will overcome any disaster in 2014. The president also recounted what he considered his administration’s successes in the past year. These include increased global confidence in the anti-corruption campaign; cases filed against lawmakers who abused their pork barrel; the highest GDP growth in Southeast Asia and new investment grade statuses; synchronization of the ARMM elections with the national polls; and a signed annex on power sharing of Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. 2013 Asia’s year in space

    THE ASIAN SPACE RACE. The year marked a race for space supremacy in Asia. (L-R) AFP/ISRO; AFP/Jiji Press; AFP/Korea Aerospace Research Institute; and AFP/Stringer

    2013 is the year Asia’s economic powerhouses made their way into space: South Korea placed its first satellite in orbit, Japan launched a new three-stage rocket and India sent a probe to Mars. China led the pack, carrying out a manned trip as a prelude to assembling a space station by 2020. Analysts say these feats reflect the financial clout of these countries’ economies, but they also warn about a potential intra-Asian space rivalry. The biggest worry: militarization of space. US expert John Logsdon said the United States is concerned about China’s military space capabilities because “they could threaten the ability of the United States to operate its national security space systems free from threat of interference.” Other analysts also noted the US and Russia are starting to perceive China as a potential threat.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Oscar nominated filmmaker apologizes for ‘excessive children’ case

    Photo from AFP

    Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou faces fines and public criticism for violating China’s strict family planning rules. According to a CNN report, Yimou admitted to having three children with his wife, breaking the rule limiting urban couples to one child. Speaking on national television, Zhang apologized for having “excessive children.” Zhang’s case comes as China recently adopted new rules loosening the strict one-child policy. The filmmaker is known for his films “Red Sorghum,” “Hero,” and the Oscar-nominated “Raise the Red Lantern.” Zhang also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Zhang’s breach of the policy has set off a firestorm among netizens who resent how the rich and famous in China defy rules and policies. But the filmmaker has defenders too. “He can afford to raise children and at least his children won’t endure hardships.”

    Read the full story on CNN.

  5. Pedophile’s conviction overturned, 11 year old ‘in love’

    Italy’s highest court overturned the conviction of a 60-year-old man for having sex with an 11-year-old girl, because the verdict failed to take into account their “amorous relationship.” Pietro Lamberti, a social services worker, was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison for sexual acts with a minor. The verdict was later upheld by an appeals court. But Italy’s supreme court ruled that the verdict did not sufficiently consider “the ‘consensus’, the absence of physical force and the girl’s feelings of love.” Lamberti was caught naked in bed with the girl whose family trusted the social worker. The news sparked heated reactions on social media against the Italian justice system.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Good Morning America anchor, Prisoners actress come out

    Photos From AFP

    “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts used a Facebook post to acknowledge that she’s gay. CNN reports, First lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support to the 53 year old Roberts: “I am so happy for you and Amber! You continue to make us all proud. -mo”. It’s a little bit more complicated for an actress who came out in November – actress Maria Bello. The 46-year-old actress revealed in a column she wrote for the New York Times, she’s been romantically involved with her female best friend – but considers the father of her 12-year-old son, Jack, her partner as well. Bello stars in the suspense movie “Prisoners” and appeared in film “Coyote Ugly” and tv show “ER” to mention some. She said in the column, maybe the true “modern family is just a more honest family.”

    Read the full story on CNN and NY Times.

  7. Prince William to go back to school

    Photo from AFP

    Britain’s Prince William is going back to school to learn farming to prepare for the time his father becomes king. The Duke of Cambridge will attend a 10-week agriculture management course at the University of Cambridge. The course is expected to help him when he takes over responsibility for the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate that includes farmland, from Prince Charles. The learning program was customized for the prince. Prince William’s active military service came to an end in September after more than seven years.

    Read the full story on CNN.

  8. One third of Americans reject evolution

    Evolution image from Wikipedia

    A survey by the Pew Research Center showed one-third of Americans reject the idea of evolution. The 33% of those surveyed said “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” This percentage remained steady since 2009, but more Republicans have also grown skeptical about the theory of evolution. Four years ago, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats say humans evolved over time. The new poll shows Republicans who believe in evolution went down to 43%. Reuters reports a quarter of those surveyed said “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things.”

    Read the full story on Yahoo News.

  9. Love of speed haunts Schumacher

    File photo by Damien Meyer/AFP

    German driver Michael Schumacher left behind a legacy when he retired in 2012, but his love for speed haunts him today – after skiing on unmarked slopes in France led to a serious head injury. Schumacher remains in critical condition after he fell on the slopes and hit his head on a rock. As a Formula One racer, the seven-time champion was known for his daring overtaking maneuvers, his win-at-all-costs attitude, and willingness to take huge risks in pursuit of victory. After the Sunday accident, doctors keep Schumacher in medically induced coma to promote the healing process. Traumatic brain injury causes the brain to swell, but it causes more pressure on the brain because it is trapped inside the skull. This restricts critical functions like blood supply and can potentially damage the brain stem. In a report, CNN said doctors sedate patients to reduce the brain’s energy requirements, allowing it to rest.

    Read the full story on Rappler and CNN.

  10. Apple CEO gives himself $4M slap on wrist

    Photo from AFP

    Apple CEO Tim Cook docked $4 million of his pay in the face of Apple’s underperforming stock price. CNN reported Apple decided to align Cook’s pay with the company’s performance in the S&P 500 index. In its filing, Apple said the decision was made out of a “strong desire to set a leadership example in the area of CEO compensation and governance.” Apple’s stock fell 26% between August 2012 and August 2013, forcing Cook to forfeit 50% of his stock grants at risk. The stock grants were worth $4 million. With Apple’s stocks rebounding, CNN reports Cook may keep the 40,000 shares scheduled to vest in August 2014, valued at about $22.4 million.

    Read the full story on CNN.

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