February 11, 2014 Edition

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  1. Most Filipinos support PH case vs China on territories dispute

    A survey showed most Filipinos support the unprecedented case filed by the Philippines against China over disputed territories in the South China Sea, or what the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea. In the December 2013 Social Weather Stations survey, 73% of respondents are aware of the dispute between the two countries over the Spratly Islands. 82% of Filipinos agree with bringing the dispute to international arbitration through the United Nations. An overwhelming 93% of respondents say the Philippines should defend its territory and natural resources through lawful means. Trust in China has been negative since 2012 when tensions escalated after aggressive moves by Beijing. China uses its 9-dash line to claim the entire South China Sea, overlapping areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

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  2. Still ‘unsafe,’ PH fails to get US aviation upgrade


    The Philippines failed to get a much-coveted aviation rating upgrade from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which still found the country “unsafe” in a recent audit. This means Philippine carriers are still banned from opening new routes or mounting additional flights to the US. In January, an FAA team visited the country to review compliance of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) with international safety standards, and left giving an unfavorable exit interview.

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  3. Enrile admits meeting Napoles conduit Ruby Tuason

    Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

    Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile admitted meeting with pork barrel conduit Ruby Tuason over lunch, but denied it was to receive kickbacks from her in the pork barrel scam. Whistleblowers said Tuason was the conduit for lawmakers who supposedly funneled their pork barrel funds to the fake NGOs of alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. After leaving the country in August, Tuason returned Friday and turned state witness, corroborating statements that Enrile and Sen Jinggoy Estrada received kickbacks from the scam. In her affidavit, Tuason said she personally delivered cash to Enrile’s former chief of staff Gigi Reyes. Tuason said they met in restaurants in Taguig and Makati, and Enrile would sometimes join them when they were “almost done” with the transaction. But on Monday, Enrile said he only met with Tuason sometime between 2006 and 2007 for a property transaction.

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  4. Registered overseas Filipino workers swell to 6.3 million

    File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

    The latest tally of the foreign affairs department showed the number of registered overseas Filipino workers or OFWs reached 6.3 million up from the 2.2 million registered OFWs in 2011. In its December 2012 tally, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas said the number of Filipinos abroad reaches more than 10 million — including undocumented Filipinos and permanent residents. In June 2013, the International Organization for Migration said the number of OFWs has been constantly increasing. Over 67% of OFWs head for countries in the Middle East. OFWs have been a key driver of the Philippines’ economic growth, with their  remittances accounting for around 10% of the country’s gross domestic product.

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  5. Indestructible balls for indestructible dreams

    Can sports pave the way for peace? Sulu-based marines started Football for Peace because they wanted to teach the youth of Sulu a way out of the cycles of violence and poverty. Program founder Lt Col Stephen Cabanlet said the program gave impoverished children a crack at a decent future. He said, “The vision was not only for the children to be a good football player but more importantly, a good citizen.” The campaign expanded to other provinces like Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Zamboanga. Thousands of balls have been donated but with rough fields and heavy use, the balls never seem to last long. Responding to the need for stronger balls in the football clinics, One World Futbol and Chevrolet Philippines donated 2,400 indestructible footballs. The balls can survive the harshest environments, never go flat and don’t need to be pumped. The Marines are now looking for ways to support the college education of the children who join their football clinics.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Flood warnings up in London amid political row

    Ben Stanstall/AFP

    Britain’s Environment Agency issues severe flood warnings after the River Thames burst its banks, threatening lives in the affluent counties of Surrey and Berkshire to the west of London. The government’s response to the floods draws criticism and has become a full-blown political row. Many people in Somerset blame the floods on the failure of the Environment Agency to dredge local rivers. Communities minister Eric Pickles said he was sorry they took the advice of the agency, adding, “We thought we were dealing with experts.” Environment Agency head Chris Smith hit back, accusing ministers of holding back funds. Smith said the Treasury limited the amount the agency could spend on flood management in Somerset.

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  7. Trade winds temporarily slow global warming

    Image courtesy NASA's AQUA/MODIS satellite

    A study found that an unprecedented spike in Pacific trade winds slowed down global warming significantly in the past 12 years, but the effect is temporary. Australia’s weather agency said a dramatic acceleration in equatorial trade winds blowing from the Americas to the West Pacific had boosted circulation of the ocean. Lead author Matthew England said, “In a way it’s locking away energy we’ve obtained from greenhouse gas into the subsurface ocean and that’s what causes the hiatus (in global warming).” The plateau in global warming at a time when “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have shot up to record levels” had puzzled scientists. He says the pause in surface warming doesn’t mean that global warming has stopped at all. He adds, “We see Arctic sea ice melting to record low levels, the land ice sheets across the world are melting rapidly, ocean temperatures continue to warm.”

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  8. Oldest star found

    Photo by David Paterson, ANU

    Australian astronomers said they found a star 13.6 billion years old, making it the most ancient star ever seen. Scientists believe the star was formed just a couple of hundred million years after the Big Bang. Stefan Keller of the Australian National University said the Methuselah star is relatively close to Earth, lying in the Milky Way, around 6,000 light years from the planet. One way of determining the age of a star is iron content: the lower its iron content, the older it is. Keller says the star, which was discovered using the SkyMapper telescope, is so ancient that the amount of iron present is less than one millionth that of the Sun.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Zoo gets death threats after killing healthy giraffe

    Staff at a Danish zoo received death threats after the euthanasia of a healthy giraffe, CNN reported. The killing took place despite a petition signed by thousands of animal lovers. The Copenhagen Zoo said it “euthanized” Marius to avoid inbreeding and to make room for more genetically valuable specimens. A veterinarian shot Marius with a rifle as he leaned down to munch on rye bread, a favorite snack. After an autopsy the giraffe was cut up in front of an audience that included children and fed to the zoo’s lions, tigers and leopards. American zoo officials said this is not standard practice for their facilities. Many people expressed revulsion on the zoo’s Facebook page. Hope Welch posted: “I find the killing of innocent baby giraffe Absolutely Barbaric. And to do it in front of children just desensitizes them to brutal killing of animals. Shame on you!”

    Read the full story on CNN.

  10. Lone Filipino in Sochi mortgaged house to compete

    Photo by Andrej Isakovic/AFP

    With no government help, the lone Filipino Olympian in the Sochi winter games mortgaged his home to compete in the international arena. In an interview with the Catholic News Service, the mother of 17-year-old figure skater Michael Christian Martinez said she reached out to the President of the Philippines for financial help, but did not get any response. She added, “My house is mortgaged. It’s a crazy investment… I don’t even think anyone at the President’s office knows there’s a Filipino skating in the Olympics.” The teenager did receive help from sponsor Manny V. Pangilinan and other coaches and donors. Martinez, the first Filipino Winter Olympian in 22 years, is vying to become the first Filipino to win a medal at the games. He will see his first action on the ice on Thursday, February 13 for the men’s short program, the qualifying round where the top 24 skaters will advance to the free skate program.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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