February 25, 2014 Edition

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  1. US envoy to PH: no such thing as China’s 9-dash line

    Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

    US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said China’s 9-dash line is not valid for resolving claims of disputed territories. China uses the line to claim the entire South China Sea. The 9-dash line overlaps with the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. In a forum Monday, Goldberg echoed the statement of American diplomat Daniel Russel before the US Congress earlier this month, the first time the US publicly rejected China’s 9-dash line claim in the South China Sea. Goldberg’s statement came as news broke out that Chinese ships used water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen from the Panatag Shoal last January 27. Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista said the military prioritizes the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, but added the Philippines won’t condone violence against local fishermen. He said, “We will assert our rights. We hope that international opinion can weigh down China.”

    Read the full story here and here.

  2. Marcos’ chief guard: Lies told about my father

    Irwin Ver, the son of Fabian Ver, the alleged mastermind of Benigno Aquino Jr’s assassination, recounted the tumultuous days leading to the ouster of strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Irwin, who was also the chief of President Marcos’ guards, disputed the “lies” told about his late father. He told Rappler the relationship between Fabian and Juan Ponce Enrile was never hostile. Enrile was Marcos’ defense minister who turned against his boss along with then General Fidel Ramos in the Edsa people’s uprising. Irwin said his father “revered” Enrile and were on speaking terms with the minister, a fellow Ilocano, after Edsa. He also belied allegations made in Enrile’s book “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir”.

    Read more here and here.

  3. Russia denounces West for Yanukovych ouster

    Russia denounced the West for supporting the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency, accusing Western powers of supporting “terrorists” and “extremists” in taking over Ukraine. Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said the interim government lacked legitimacy and added it will be hard for Russia to work with the new leaders. “If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government,” Medvedev said. He also accused the West of showing no concern for the fate of Ukraine. Russia’s statement came as the West prepares to help Ukraine stabilize its economy, after Russia earlier said it will freeze $15 billion in cheap loans. The new interim leaders said the country needs $35 billion over the next two years. Yanukovych’s rule collapsed over the weekend, following months of violent protests in the capital Kiev over his refusal to agree on a trade deal with the European Union under Russian pressure.

    Read the full story on The Guardian.

  4. Egyptian caretaker government resigns ahead of elections


    The military-installed government of Egyptian prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi said it has resigned, ahead of a presidential poll which will likely bring army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power. Sisi has not yet announced his candidacy, but aides said he will make the announcement soon. Beblawi’s government was appointed in July after Sisi ousted Islamist Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected and civilian president. Following Morsi’s ouster, the new administration was criticised for its handling of security and the economy. Beblawi said his government would remain in a caretaker role until interim president Adly Mansour approves the resignations. Government spokesman Hany Saleh said the move would not affect foreign relations or internal stability.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Ugandan President says homosexuals are ‘disgusting’

    Isaac Kasamani/AFP

    Uganda’s president remains defiant after signing a tough anti-gay bill despite warnings and pressure from Western donors. The law outlaws the promotion of homosexuality, imposes lifetime jail terms for repeat homosexuals, and requires people to denounce gays. In interviews after he signed the law, Yoweri Museveni called homosexuals “disgusting,” mercenaries, and prostitutes. Museveni, a devout evangelical Christian, told CNN being homosexual is “unnatural” and is not a human right. The signing of the law came despite fierce criticism from US President Barack Obama and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who warned the law was “formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power.” Several foreign donors cut aid to Uganda over the law, but Museveni said the West should not force its beliefs on his country.

    Read the full story on CNN and Rappler.

  6. Pentagon proposes to shrink US army to pre-war levels

    US Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler/US Dept of Defense photo

    The Pentagon plans to scale back the US Army to its lowest levels since 1940, before the American military dramatically expanded after entering World War II. Signaling a shift after more than a decade of ground wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended shrinking US forces from 520,000 active duty troops to between 440,000 and 450,000. In a speech outlining the proposed defense budget, Hagel said military leaders no longer plan to “conduct long and large stability operations” after Iraq and Afghanistan. Hagel said it was time to “reset” military spending for a new era, adding the move will “fully reflect” a transition away from a war footing that has been in place for 13 years. A senior defense official said the proposed 13% reduction in the army would be carried out by 2017.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Pope creates new Vatican finance ministry to improve transparency

     File Photo

    Pope Francis on Monday created a new finance ministry in a move to increase transparency and boost funds for the poor. Australian Cardinal George Pell will head the “Secretariat for the Economy,” tasked to prepare an annual budget for the Vatican and impose international accounting standards and reporting practices. In a statement, the Vatican said the move will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor.” This comes following a wave of scandals at the Vatican bank. The new ministry will be governed by a 15-member council of eight clergymen from different parts of the world and seven lay international financial sector experts.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Hero’s welcome for Olympian Christian Martinez

    Michael Christian Martinez became a household name the moment he carried the Philippine flag at the 2014 Winter Olympics. After an impressive figure skating stint, he came home to a hero’s welcome. Martinez told the audience in a mall, “What I have done in Sochi is the same effort and commitment that our other athletes have done in the Summer Olympics.” He told his countrymen not to forget the other athletes, ”Let us not forget all our other athletes (who are also) heroes. I share this honor and glory with all the Filipino athletes.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on review

    The Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone isn’t the stunner that Rappler’s Tech Editor Josh Villanueva expected. There’s nothing fresh about the way it looks nor is there one key feature that screams innovation. But through the sum of its new parts it still positions itself as a smartphone that many users will want in 2014 with its superior camera, fingerprint scanner and water resistance.

    Read the full review on Rappler.

  10. Online trolls are sadists

    If you’ve seen malicious, derogatory comments online, chances are you’re looking at the post of a troll. A study said online trolls are sadistic, psychopathic, and deceitful in real life. Researchers in Canada also say online trolling “correlated positively” with the so-called “Dark Tetrad” of personality, particularly sadism. Respondents answered questionnaires designed to assess their personalities and Internet use – including trolling. The researchers analyzed the responses for correlations between online behavior and respondents’ tendencies to exhibit the so-called “Dark Tetrad” personality variable – narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. Researchers say the correlation between sadism and trolling is “so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.” Online trolls make up only a small percentage of the entire online community.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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