February 18, 2014 Edition

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  1. Govt lags on poverty reduction, job creation

    Photo by Jez Aznar/AFP

    The government said it’s on track to achieve its economic goals, but it’s falling behind on its social goals like reducing poverty and creating enough jobs. The Philippines grew 7.2% in 2013, the fastest-growing economy in Asia after China but Socieconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the poorest families are being left behind. With only two years left of its 5-year plan, the government on Monday unveiled its updated mid-term plan. Among its goals: achieving economic growth of 7-8%, bringing down the unemployment rate to 6.5-6.7%, cutting underemployment to 17% and bringing down incidence of income poverty to 18-20%, all by 2016.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Lacson: some of us turned against the honor code

    The Philippine Military Academy brought hundreds of alumni back to Baguio City for its annual homecoming.  But the star of the day was keynote speaker Panfilo Lacson, former chief of the Philippine National Police, former senator, and now Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery. He said many of the alumni had become corrupt despite the honor code which says, “Do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so.” He said, “Every single day of our lives after graduation becomes a test of endurance, not of physical but moral strength.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. ‘Not much improvement’ in water quality

    Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

    It’s more than 5 years since the Supreme Court ordered government agencies to clean up Manila Bay, but “nothing much has improved” in water quality. Manila Bay Coordinating Office executive director Noel Gaerlan said coliform levels — an indicator of water quality — is rising, indicating the water is more polluted. The Writ of Continuing Mandamus for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay urged the government in 2008 to restore Manila Bay water to class “B” level, which means it can be fit for swimming. The ideal coliform level for this water class is 1,000 MPN (most probable number per 100 milliliters), but Gaerlan said the bay’s current coliform level is in the millions. He cited the growing population in Metro Manila and the lack of water treatment facilities as reasons why the government is having a hard time cleaning up the bay.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Opinion: Legitimacy in crisis

    Narong Sangnak/EPA

    “If no one agrees to the rules, it’s hard to play the game.” Veteran journalist in Asia A. Lin Neumann said in Rappler’s “Though Leaders” that it is “most acutely seen now in Thailand, but the dynamic is evident in Malaysia, Cambodia and even Indonesia.” Neumann said that in Thailand “Thaksin represents a fundamental threat to the Democrats not because he is corrupt but because he shifted power from the Bangkok status quo to his machine.” He says Thailand’s crisis of legitimacy risks doing permanent harm to the country’s future. In Malaysia, Neumann said the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition is using dangerous racial politics to make the Chinese and Indian minorities feel like strangers in their own country. In Indonesia, he said the “emergence of Jakarta Gov. Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the country’s most popular politician is a challenge to the legitimacy of veteran leaders.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. UN: evidence of torture could lead to charges vs Kim Jong Un

    Photo by Ed Jones/AFP

    The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea said in its report that North Korean leaders employ murder, torture, slavery, sexual violence, mass starvation and other abuses to prop up the state and terrorize “the population into submission.” CNN reported “a stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse” revealed a portrait of a brutal state which the report described as unparalleled in the contemporary world. The group said it would refer its findings to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution. It also sent a letter warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he could face prosecution for crimes against humanity.

    Read more of the story on CNN and Rappler.

  6. Building collapse traps dozens


    Ten people were killed and at least a dozen trapped after an auditorium collapsed Monday at a resort in the southern South Korean city of Gyeongju. As many as 450 students were believed to have been attending a concert in the building when the roof caved in. Police feared the toll could rise, with around 400 rescuers on the scene searching for more students trapped inside the collapsed structure. Television footage showed fire officials using torchlights to search for the victims, as injured students are carried away on stretchers. The collapse appeared to have been caused by heavy snow which piled up on the roof of the auditorium.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Tourism reaches new high

    File photo by KD Suarez/Rappler

    Singapore’s tourism industry reached a new high in 2013. The sovereign city-state welcomed a record 15.5 million visitors last year, up 7.2% from 2012. Its tourism board also reported a new high of Sg$23.5 billion ($18.7 billion) in revenues, an increase of 1.6% over 2012. Although it lacked white-sand beaches and other natural wonders of its neighbors, Singapore’s wide array of man-made attractions and shopping centers has successfully drawn tourists. It also boasts of a low crime rate and reputation of cleanliness.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. ‘Scary moms’ drive Japanese figure skating

    Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

    Japan’s Olympic figure skaters point to one reason behind the country’s figure skating success: scary moms. Japan’s three women figure skaters at the Olympics – Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami – all come from Nagoya, in the Aichi Prefecture. Asked how the region produced Olympic contenders, 19-year-old Murakami said, “The mothers in Aichi are very enthusiastic. Some of them are very scary actually. It’s not just the coaches who crack the whip but those mothers.” Asada also added that there was a real skating culture in Nagoya. Japan’s 1992 Olympic silver medalist Midori Ito also came from the area. The three skaters competed in this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, finishing fifth in the team event.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Filipino gamemaker’s ‘Pretentious Game’ finds steady audience

    It’s a story of love, loss, and heartache. It’s also a platformer, a puzzle game and a continuing tale stretching across multiple chapters. Pretentious Game explains nothing to players about the control scheme or how to progress. Players eventually realize that the story itself is the clue to moving forward. Pretentious Game, built by gamemaker Bari Silvestre took home the Director’s Choice Award from Casual Connect San Francisco 2013. Silvestre says the game has a steady audience, remaining in the top 50 of the Family and Puzzle genres of the game apps with over 250,000 downloads.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Card-carrying Mensa 3 year old

    Three-year-old Alexis Martin has just been named the youngest person in Arizona’s chapter of Mensa. A CNN report said the girl started reading when she was two years old. She has an IQ of over 160. She did so well on her IQ test, the doctors had a difficult time calculating it.

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