January 21, 2014 Edition

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  1. 3rd PH Senator linked to scam lambasts Aquino

    In a combative and dramatic hour-long privilege speech Monday, Senator Bong Revilla revealed how President Benigno Aquino III, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad intervened to oust former Chief Justice Renato Corona. He derisively called Roxas “Boy Pick-up”, since the Interior secretary picked him up and drove him to Malacanang. The senator quoted the President as saying, “Friend, I appeal to you. Please give me this. He needs to be impeached.” Twenty out of 23 senators, Revilla among them, convicted Corona in May 2012, who was accused of failing to accurately declare his assets. Revilla said he is afraid they will again meddle in the prosecution of officials implicated in the pork barrel scam. He says the administration is using the issue to destroy opponents in the 2016 polls. Revilla is reportedly eyeing the presidency in the next elections. Revilla maintained his innocence. He branded the whistleblowers as liars, accusing them of faking his and his staff’s signatures. He said he got his wealth from his 30 years in show business.

    Read more of the story on the following links:

    Revilla Hits Aquino for “Crooked Justice’

    Watch Sen Revilla’s Privilege Speech

    Revilla Slams Aquino Admin

  2. Palace, whistleblower’s lawyer react

    Malacanang confirmed President Aquino met with Senator Revilla, but denied asking the senator to vote for the conviction of former Chief Justice Corona. In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the President met with Revilla to address reports senators were being pressured by certain groups to influence the impeachment trial. Coloma said Aquino asked Revilla to decide the case on its merits. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and prosecutor Levi Baligod hit Revilla’s speech, saying the senator belittled the evidence gathered by the Department of Justice. Baligod, the legal counsel of whistleblower Benhur Luy, said the speech was “all for show” and added an important piece missing in the senator’s speech. He said, “[Revilla] did not explain the misuse of his PDAF. That’s the missing element of his speech: Where did his PDAF go?”

    Read more here and here.

  3. Netizens amused: And the Oscar goes to…

    How did netizens react to Sen Revilla’s privilege speech? For most of them, it was an entertaining show. Netizens were quick to weigh in on Revilla’s speech – most of the sentiments were negative. Many netizens compared his speech to a show or film while other sentiments on his speech range from apathy, cynicism to anger. Others thought Revilla was trying to divert the issue by passing on the blame. Twitter user Rae Emmanuel commented, “Digging skeletons. That is the tempo of Revilla’s speech. Just like Enrile’s and Jinggoy’s.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. China’s economic growth slows down


    China reported its economy grew 7.7% in 2013, matching its 2012 rate — its worst rate of growth since 1999. The world’s No. 2 economy maintained its slow growth, with economists expecting the trend to continue as investment slows down. The Wall Street Journal reported China’s leaders have recognized the need to change its growth model, addressing issues like pollution, corruption, and wasted spending that inhibit economic growth. China can look forward to international trade in 2014, as economies in the US and Europe improve. The World Bank forecast a growth of 4.6% in world trade this year.

    Read the full story on Wall Street Journal.

  5. Widow terror suspect hunted

    Screengrab from CNN

    As the Winter Olympics in Sochi draw near, police handed out fliers to hotels warning about a female terror suspect believed to be in the city. CNN reports the fliers identify Ruzanna “Salima” Ibragimova, described as the widow of a member of a militant group from the Caucasus region. On Sunday, a video posted on a jihadist website showed two young men – believed to be suicide bombers in last month’s Volgograd twin blasts – threatening the Games next month. The video said, “We’ve prepared a present for you and all tourists who’ll come over…If you will hold the Olympics, you’ll get a present from us for the Muslim blood that’s been spilled.” Russian President Vladimir Putin assured the international community that the Olympics will be safe, but a US official said Monday two warships and several aircraft are on standby to help evacuate American officials and athletes if needed.

    Read the full story on CNN.

  6. UN rescinds invitation to Iran in Syria peace talks

    UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

    UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Monday, January 20, excluded Iran from this week’s Syria peace conference after it refused to back calls for a transitional government to end the country’s war. The talks start in the Swiss town of Montreux on Wednesday, January 22. The UN secretary general was forced to act after the Syrian opposition threatened to withdraw from the talks if Iran takes part. Iran is a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The main opposition welcomed Ban’s move and said it would be in Switzerland this week. The Syrian government and the opposition will start talks in Geneva on Friday. The conference faces major obstacles with fresh attacks and Assad’s refusal to consider standing down – a key demand of the Syrian opposition. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Assad bluntly ruled out a power-sharing deal, insisting the talks should focus on what he called his “war against terrorism”. Russia, a key sponsor of the Geneva talks and an Assad ally, said Iran’s absence would be an “unforgivable mistake.”

    Read the full story here and here.

  7. Animal rights group: dolphins face death at Japan cove

    Animal rights group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says more than 200 dolphins captured in Japan’s Taiji Cove will likely be killed, in an annual event marking Taiji’s dolphin hunting season. In a live stream provided by the conservation group, the dolphins, including babies and a rare albino calf, are shown frantically trying to escape nets as fishermen close down on them. Local officials defend the hunting of dolphins as a traditional practice, and accuse the conservation group of using the issue to raise funds and gain attention. The prefectural government sets an annual “catching quota,” with more than 2,000 dolphins and porpoises allowed for the hunt this year.

    Read the full story on CNN.

  8. X-Factor winner granted license to sing in Israel

    Image courtesy of Reshet TV/X Factor Israel page on Facebook

    The 47-year-old Filipina carer who won Israel’s X-Factor talent show has been granted a license to earn a living as a singer. Rose Fostanes won the talent competition last week with her soaring rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” but Israeli immigration officials said her visa did not allow her to work professionally as a singer. On Monday, Interior Minister Gideon Saar issued a statement granting Fostanes permission to work as a singer in Israel.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Actors and actresses who starve themselves

    Photos From Wikipedia and E! Online

    BBC culture columnist Lisa Schwarzbaum pointed to a “disturbing trend” in Hollywood of drastic diets for a movie and awards. She cited Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”, Christian Bale in “The Machinist” and Oscar-winning role “The Fighter”, Michael Fassbender as IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands, Matt Damon in “Courage Under Fire”, “50 Cent” and “All Things Fall Apart”, Tom Hanks in award winning role in “Philadelphia” and “Cast Away”, Adrien Brody in award winning “The Pianist”, Anne Hathaway for “Les Misérables” and Natalie Portman for Oscar best actress role in the “Black Swan”.  Schwarzbaum calls it is a “grotesque form of physical vanity.” She said, “We are in a disturbing pop cultural moment when starvation has become a movie-star stunt in the service of Oscar.”

    Read the full story on BBC.

  10. Rosetta awakens from slumber

    Image courtesy ESA

    The European probe Rosetta woke up Monday after a 31-month hibernation to explore a comet. Europe’s most ambitious space mission, the craft was launched in 2004 to meet up with a comet in August 2014 and carry out experiments that should reveal details on the origin of the Solar System. Previous probes were mostly flybys. If Rosetta succeeds, it would be the first to track the evolution of the comet on a daily basis. Rosetta was placed in hibernation in June 2011 because it was too far from the sun to power its solar array.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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