April 29, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

  1. Obama: no commitment on PH-China row

    Malacanang photo bureau

    US president Barack Obama is in Manila for a 2-day state visit. Obama arrived Monday for an overnight stay, with an expanded bilateral agreement meeting on defense and security as his main agenda. Just hours before his visit, the two countries signed a military deal that will give American troops wider access to military bases here, amid tensions between the Philippines and China over disputed territories in the South China Sea. In a joint press conference, Obama insists the focus is not on China. “Our goal is not to counter China; our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected, and that includes in the area of maritime disputes.” Obama also says it supports the Philippines’ peaceful route to resolve its dispute with China, but did not say the US would defend the Philippines if it were attacked by the Asian superpower. “We don’t even take a specific position on the disputes between nations… We don’t think that coercion and intimidation is the way to manage these disputes.” In Tokyo, Obama vowed to protect Japan if it were attacked by China.

    Obama will spend the second day of his trip with Filipino troops at the military headquarters in Taguig and is expected to visit the World War II American cemetery in the same city before returning to the United States.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Watch Day 2 of Obama’s state visit here.

  2. Obama toast to basketball, Pacquiao and friendship

    Screengrab from Rappler video

    In a refreshing shift from the formalities of the day’s events, United States President Barack Obama’s toast at the state dinner in his honor was light and casual, and focused on his country’s friendship with the Philippines. He emphasized the two countries’ common interests – specifically basketball, world champion Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao – and their appreciation for Filipino-Americans.”We feel our spirit, our kalooban, in a friendship between our peoples that expresses itself in so many ways. There is our mutual obsession with basketball. There is our mutual admiration for Manny Pacquiao – even if, sometimes, his fight against Americans doesn’t turn out the way we’d like. There is our shared pride in the millions of Filipino-Americans who contribute to our nation every single day,” he said. Obama also took a moment to praise White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, a Filipina who grew up in Manila and cooks lumpia and adobo for the First Family.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. US and PH sign deal to increase bases access

    Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    Hours before Obama’s arrival in Manila, the Philippines and the United States signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA. The EDCA allows American troops more access to Philippine military facilities. Philippine Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre said there is no ceiling for the number of American troops who can visit the Philippines.  The EDCA also allows the US to construct facilities, upgrade infrastructure, and store defense and disaster preparedness equipment. The buildings and infrastructure will become Philippine property. US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg said the US does not intend to set up military bases in the Philippines. The details of the framework agreement will be negotiated and announced at a later date. The EDCA is seen as the most significant part of Obama’s Philippine visit. The Philippines earlier sought military assistance from the US to boost its weak defenses as the US refocuses its attention on Asia.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Was the PH Senate sidelined in military deal?

    File photo by Adrian Portugal/Rappler

    Did the executive branch bypass the Senate in signing a military deal with the United States? The deal, which would give US troops increased access to Philippine military bases, was signed Monday morning ahead of US President Barack Obama’s state visit. Senators Frank Drilon and Ralph Recto said the Senate was not consulted on the positions of the defense department and foreign affairs department. Senator Miriam Santiago hit the signing of the deal, calling it ‘guile in diplomacy’ and an ‘unfair surprise on the Senate.’ Senate defense committee chairman Sonny Trillanes said the Philippine panel negotiating the deal briefed his committee about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), but not all senators were part of the briefing.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read more on Rappler.

  5. Ferry captain’s escape from sinking ship captured on video

    Photo by South Korea Coast Guard/EPA

    South Korea’s Coast Guard released a video showing 69-year-old captain Lee Joon-seok, wearing a sweater and underpants, hastily escaping from the bridge of the tilting ship before it sank on April 16. The 10-minute video taken by rescue officials and aired on TV showed the open decks of the ship nearly empty, as crew repeatedly instructed passengers to stay in their cabins until it became impossible for them to evacuate because the ship was tilting too much. All 15 of the surviving crew responsible for sailing the huge ferry are in custody, facing charges including negligence and abandoning passengers. The video attracted caustic online comments. “Look at the captain running out of the ship without his pants on. How pathetic. Can’t believe he didn’t think about all the children trapped there while he rushed so quickly to save his own life,” said one user.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Abbot: ‘Highly unlikely’ surface wreckage will be found

    Lukas Coch/EPA

    For more than 40 days, planes and ships scoured the southern Indian Ocean in an unsuccessful bid to locate Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. On Monday, April 28, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the search would now enter a new phase with authorities searching the ocean floor over a much larger area, but admitted it was “highly unlikely” that any surface wreckage will be found. He added, “By this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become water logged and sunk.” Since the plane disappeared, the search involved dozens of planes and ships combing the search and the use of a submersible Bluefin-21.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Tornadoes rip through Southern US

    Brandon Dill/EPA

    New storms hit Mississippi and the US Southeast Monday, threatening millions of people a day after tornadoes killed 17 and ripped up homes in nearby states. The US National Weather Service said parts of Alabama are at high risk of severe storms, with a moderate risk affecting portions of Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi. More than 49 million people live in these areas, with around 1.4 million of them in high-risk areas. In the hardest-hit parts of Arkansas, emergency crews intensified their search for survivors. 14 people were killed in the state. Forecasters warned some of the new tornadoes could be “intense,” with “very large hail and damaging straight line winds” also likely.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Palin: ‘Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists’

    Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said waterboarding should be considered the United States’ way of “baptizing” terrorists. In a speech to the National Rifle Association, Palin said if she were in charge, she would bring back the controversial practice. US President Barack Obama called it a form of torture, where victims’ faces are covered with a cloth and water poured over it, to simulate the feeling of drowning. Palin said it should be used on “enemies who would utterly annihilate America” or those who were plotting terrorist activities. The Washington Post reported Palin as saying, “But you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable — not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” Obama banned the practice, but former president George W. Bush defended the practice after the Sept 11 attacks in 2001.

    Read the full story on the Washington Post.

  9. Scientists make insulin-producing cells through cloning

    File photo by Oregon Health & Science University/EPA

    Scientists said they used cloning technology to make embryonic stem cells that produce insulin and could potentially treat diabetes. Dieter Egli of the New York Stem Cell Foundation said the team transplanted a nuclei of cells taken from a diabetic woman to create stem cells. Egli said the research showed they are now “one step closer to being able to treat diabetic patients with their own insulin-producing cells.” It is not the the first study to create stem cells in this way, but it was the first to use cells sourced from a diseased adult person to produce therapy-specific cells. The creation of embyonic stem cells has been controversial, as until fairly recently stem cells could only be obtained from human embryos.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Facts about Clooney’s fiancee

    Who’s Amal Alamuddin, the woman who snagged Hollywood’s most notable bachelor George Clooney? Little is known about the Lebanese-born British beauty, who reportedly started dating the actor in October. CNN listed down the facts: She’s a well-respected attorney. Alamuddin’s profile on the site The Legal 500 says she “specialises in international law, human rights, criminal law and extradition.” Some of her clients included the Royal Court of Bahrain and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. She was named one of the 21 hottest female barristers in London on the blog “Your Barrister Boyfriend.” She’s fluent in both Arabic and French, and graduated from the New York University School of Law. CNN noted, “She’s discreet. Alamuddin, 36, hasn’t been speaking out about her relationship with the 52-year-old star.” Alamuddin may not be talking but her Doughty Street law firm is clearly excited about the news and released a statement congratulating the couple.

    Read the full story on CNN.

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