February 21, 2014 Edition

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  1. Filmmakers ‘escape’ from Abu Sayyaf

    File photo courtesy of Niño Tan.

    Eight months after they were abducted by Abu Sayyaf Group, Nadjoua and Linda Bansil “escaped” in Patikul, Sulu, in southern Philippines Thursday. Rappler sources said the bandits were forced to free the sisters after a series of military operations in the area. The Bansils were working on an independent film about coffee growers in Mindanao when they were seized in June 2013. The kidnappers originally demanded P50 million (about $1.2 million) in ransom. As of posting they were in the custody of Sulu Governor Sakur Tan.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. PH high court erred on e-libel, says senator

    Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

    Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an expert on constitutional law, is encouraging netizens to rally against the Supreme Court’s “erroneous” ruling declaring online libel as constitutional. Posing “a very significant constraint” on the fundamental rights to free speech and free expression, the ruling also violated two principles of constitutional law against vagueness and overbreadth, she said. Santiago said the SC failed to understand that the Internet has a different set of dynamics compared to traditional media, and so they should be treated differently. “Here, we have a case where, unfortunately, of jurisprudence trailing after technology.”

    Rappler has the full story.

  3. No bunkhouses, if rehab czar could help it

    File photo by Jay Directo/AFP

    If his appointment to head rehabilitation efforts after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) came much earlier, former Senator Panfilo Lacson would have opposed the idea of bunkhouses, he told Rappler. He would have preferred giving families construction materials so they could repair their houses in non-dangerous sites, or build new shelters in resettlement areas that mayors could provide – instead of cramming 72 to 96 families in one bunkhouse. It turns out, the largest number of homes that were destroyed by Yolanda was not in Eastern Visayas, believed to be the hardest-hit and which recorded the highest number of casualties. There are more families left homeless in Western Visayas.

    See the figures broken down on Rappler.

  4. Customs bureau sues importer of garbage from Canada

    File photo by Rappler

    The Bureau of Customs filed complaints against the importers of garbage disguised as assorted plastic scrap from Canada. “The Philippines is not a dumping site,” said BOC chief John Sevilla. Adelfa Eduardo, owner of Chronic Plastics, was charged for violating the Tariff and Customs Code and the Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act. The company’s customs brokers Leonora Flores and Sherjun Saldon were also charged. The shipments, valued at P3.9 million, arrived in Manila in batches from June to August 2013. The company declared them as recyclable plastic scrap materials, but they turned out to be mixed and unsorted plastic, household garbage, and even used adult diapers.

    The full story on Rappler.

  5. Fresh registration for all voters proposed

    Photo by Michael Bueza/Rappler

    The voters’ list that the Philippines is using every election is about 20 years old – updated and “cleansed” here and there occasionally, but still used in both massive and piecemeal cheating. It may be time to scrap the list altogether and conduct a general re-registration of all qualified voters, according to Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms. Should the new list-up push through, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be exempted since its roster of voters was cleansed in time for 2013, where a quarter of a million unqualified and double registrants were delisted.

    Read the details on Rappler.

  6. More than 60 killed in deadliest day in Ukraine protests

    Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP

    More than 60 protesters were shot dead Thursday in the deadliest day of anti-government protests in Ukraine, opposition medics said, as rival sides traded accusations of sniper attacks and diplomats tried to broker an end to the crisis. Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych appeared ready to concede to one of the protesters’ main demands by suggesting to visiting EU dignitaries that he may be ready to hold early elections. While opposition medics said more than 60 protesters had been shot dead by police on Thursday alone, Kiev authorities put the death toll from 3 days of violence at 75. The bloodshed prompted EU officials to slap travel bans against Ukrainians responsible for ordering the use of force. Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said an agreement was also reached at an emergency EU meeting in Brussels to impose asset freezes on those with “blood on their hands”. Meanwhile, US Vice President Joe Biden warned Yanukovych that the United States was ready to impose sanctions on officials guilty of ordering troops to fire on protesters. Washington already put 20 top Ukrainian officials on a visa blacklist and threatened further sanctions, which could include asset freezes.

    Read the full story on Rappler.  

  7. Divided Koreans meet after 60 years apart

    Photo by Yonhap/AFP

    Several hundred elderly South and North Korean relatives clung to each-other, rocking and weeping, and trading photos and faded memories as they met after 60 years Thursday at a reunion for families divided by the Korean War. The emotional gathering at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort was the result of tortuous, high-level negotiations between Pyongyang and Seoul, which had nearly broken down over the North’s objections to overlapping South Korea-US military drills. Nearly all the participants had brought photographs, either tattered, black and white images of the family before it was split up, or brand new color snaps of their current families. These were then passed around, stroked, and cried over.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Another heart surgery live tweeted, this time from Toronto

    More hospitals, it seems, are embracing the public engagement potential that social media brings. Using Twitter, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada tried to educate the public about cardiac disease and the importance of heart health on Thursday. It live tweeted the bypass surgery of a 57-year-old man that lasted for about 4 hours. Photos, updates, and answers to questions were posted by @Sunnybrook using the hashtag #SBheart. Live updates on medical procedure was pioneered by the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston, in the United States, in 2012. It live tweeted an open heart surgery and, later that year, a brain operation.

    The Globe and Mail has a report.

  9. How much has your country sent to the Philippines?

    Pew Research Center, the prolific fact tank based in Washington, DC, has come up with a remittance map that shows how much countries sent or received from the others in 2012, based on World Bank data. International migrants sent $529 billion in remittances back to their home countries, with the United States as the top sender and India as the top receiver. The data showed that $610 million in remittances were sent from the Philippines to other countries in 2012, while the country received the following from countries where there are a significant population of Filipino migrants or contract workers: $10.604 billion from the US; $2.801 billion from Saudi Arabia; $2.032 billion from Canada; $862 million from Australia; and $639 million from the United Kingdom.

    Explore the map and tables here.

  10. Prostitute linked to Hugh Grant most expensive ‘scoop’

    Photo by Carl Court/AFP

    Britain’s News of the World tabloid paid out £250,000 in 1995 for an exclusive interview with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown (real name Estella Marie Thompson) after she was caught performing oral sex on actor Hugh Grant. This was revealed in the phone-hacking trial of former editor Rebekah Brooks on Thursday in London. Brooks, who has since left the Rupert Murdoch-owned title, said, “It was probably one of the biggest expenses that I had ever dealt with.”

    Read the full story here.

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