February 27, 2014 Edition

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  1. Aquino reforms not enough – experts

    Experts and businessmen said February 26 that while they give credit to President Benigno Aquino III for the Philippine economy’s fast growth, they believe his reforms did not go far enough or were too slow. Economic growth in the Philippines has been among the highest in Asia in recent years, but 22.3% of families still lived in poverty, barely changed from the figure in 2009. The experts said the government should create more investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and mining. The country still lags far behind its peers in the region in  foreign direct investment, they added.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Is it here to stay? Blackout hits Mindanao

    File photo by John Javellana/Rappler

    A massive power outage hit large parts of Mindanao early February 27. Areas affected by the blackout include Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro City, and Sultan Kudarat. This has raised fears of a serious power supply problem in the summer. Malacañang gave assurances the government was taking necessary steps to prevent this from happening. The Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a power rate hike by the Manila Electric Company. Various areas in disaster-hit provinces are also still without power.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. Obama threatens full US troop withdrawal

     Jewel Samad/AFP

    US President Barack Obama told Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai that he is now planning for a full US troop withdrawal because of the Afghan leader’s repeated refusal to sign a security pact. The US threat was the latest twist in a long political struggle with Karzai, who appears intent on infuriating Washington until the day he leaves office, sometime after elections in April. The Obama administration said its preferred option is to leave behind a residual US force when its combat teams depart Afghanistan after America’s longest war at the end of this year.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Ukraine rival groups fight it out

     Photo by EPA/Maxim Shipenkov

    The capital of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking Crimea peninsula was rocked by a wave of secessionist sentiment February 26, as pro-Russian protesters brawled with supporters of Ukraine’s new interim authorities. Thousands of pro-Moscow residents and Muslim Crimean Tatars backing the new leadership in Kiev held competing rallies outside the regional parliament in Simferopol. There are fears that Ukraine’s pro-Moscow East could push for partition following the weekend ousting of Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.  Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a snap check of the battle-readiness of the armed forces in the west and center of the country, including the area bordering Ukraine.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Dangerous buses not paying taxes

    File photo by EPA

    Seven bus companies whose units have figured in the most dangerous accidents have turned out to be threats to public coffers as well. Data showed that these bus operators either did not file income tax returns in 2012 or did not have tax identification numbers at all. At least 11 more bus companies on the “most dangerous” list declared earnings of P737 million ($16.7 million) but paid only P5.48 million ($125,000) in taxes. The government’s latest “Tax Watch” campaign ad showed the 2012 tax payments of bus operators which a government regulatory agency listed as “most dangerous” in terms of death, injuries, and damage to properties.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Napoles leaves jail for check-up

    Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles left her detention center February 26 to take medical tests in a police hospital. Test taken in October 2013 showed an ovarian tumor and a drop in Napoles’ hemoglobin count. Blood tests also show elevated levels of CA 125, a biomarker for ovarian cancer. Napoles has been denied bail twice. The results of her February 26 the ultrasound contradict the October 2013 CT Scan. With 100 policemen deployed to secure travel, officials estimate Napoles’ trips from Laguna to Manila costs P120,000 each ($2,700).

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Qantas to sack 5,000 employees

    Photo courtesy of Qantas.

    Struggling Australian carrier Qantas said February 27 it will axe 5,000 jobs in a major restructure after posting a first-half net loss of $210 million. The carrier also flagged “significant changes” to its fleet plans and network, and a reduction in capital expenditure across the next two financial years. Following a profit warning in December 2013, Moody’s and S&P both downgraded Qantas’ credit rating to “junk” status. Qantas has since been working on its finances to convince the government it deserves a debt guarantee.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Hard-hitting Hong Kong editor attacked

    Apple Daily/AFP

    The former chief editor of a Hong Kong newspaper whose dismissal triggered protests over press freedom and Beijing’s influence was critically ill after being hacked in broad daylight on February 26 by two men. Known for hard-hitting political investigations before being removed from his post in January, Kevin Lau would undergo extensive surgery on his lungs and legs. Lau was replaced by an editor from Malaysia seen as pro-Beijing, prompting protests by staff who feared an attempt to stifle the paper’s investigative reporting. Media groups urged police to pursue Lau’s attackers.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Wind farms can fight hurricanes

    Photo by Michael Josh Villanueva

    Huge offshore wind farms can protect vulnerable coastal cities against devastating cyclones like Katrina and Sandy by tempering winds and ocean surges before they reach land, a study said. Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study is the first to demonstrate that wind farms, deployed on a grand scale, can buffer violent hurricanes. “The little turbines can fight back the beast,” said Cristina Archer, an associate professor of Earth sciences at the University of Delaware.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Coach Tim Cone wins 16th PBA championship

    Photo by Dennis M. Sabangan/EPA

    San Mig Super Coffee Mixers won back-to-back championships at the Philippine Basketball Association and gave their coach Tim Cone his 16th title, the most for any PBA coach in history. The San Mig Cofffee Mixers defeated Rain or Shine, 93-87, February 26 in a neck and neck battle marred by a threatened walkout. It’s the second straight championship for the Mixers, who won the season-ending Governors Cup last season, and opened this season with a bang.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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