May 8, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. PH disaster rehab efforts is disaster in itself

    Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

    The Philippines’ rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) proves to be a disaster in itself 6 months on.  A governance and climate change specialist said the country’s system is “designed to fail for massive disasters.” The government, he said, have to improve on the “most important matters,” namely providing permanent housing and immediate jobs for the survivors of one of the world’s strongest typhoons. Authorities has not even “paid attention to the next disaster.”  The government has yet to draft a overall rehabilitation plan. The President’s secretary for rehabilitation efforts said two things slow down government efforts: too much bureaucracy and too little authority given the rehabilitation czar.

    Read the second part of Rappler’s report assessing the progress of rehabilitation efforts.

  2. In Photos: The struggles of tyhphoon-ravaged communities

    File photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler

    More than 6,000 dead, 1,000 still missing, 7 million still suffering. The numbers are staggering, but the images are more heartbreaking.  A Rappler team puts together the painful images of devastation left behind by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which some say are unlike anything the country has seen since World War II. But there are inspiring portraits of hope as well. Be moved by this special report.

    Rappler’s research team also gives you all the numbers you need to get an idea of the extent of work needed to help the communities, mostly in the Visayas, rise again, half a year after the super typhoon.

  3. Philippines arrest Chinese fishermen ‘to uphold sovereignty’

    Photo from

    The maritime force of the Philippine National Police arrested 11 fishermen from China whose vessel off the coast of Palawan province were found to have 500 endangered species of turtles. The foreign affairs department said the apprehension was made “to enforce maritime laws and to uphold Philippine sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone.” The Chinese vessel was intercepted 60 nautical miles from mainland Palawan, well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile EEZ. The Chinese government demands the release of the fishermen who, it said, were in an area that where it has “undisputable” sovereign rights. The incident occurred as the  government announced the plan of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to ask fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) leaders to work toward a quick finalization of a Code of Conduct (COC) for the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when they meet in Myanmar over the weekend. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei are locked in a maritime dispute with China over various parts of the sea.

    Details of the Palawan incident in Rappler’s report.

  4. Expats’ spouses can now get work visas in the United States

    In an effort to retain highly skilled and specially trained professionals, the United States is changing its visa rule that prevents the spouses of these workers from working while in the US. The current rule has discouraged talented professionals in science and technology from accepting jobs in the US because their spouses, prohibited from finding work, wouldn’t agree to settle in the US. With the change in visa rules, spouses of people with so-called H-1B visas who have applied for permanent residency ‘green cards’ can also apply for permission to work. H-1B is a limited-term working visa that employees obtain when they are sponsored by their companies. “By sensibly improving these rules, we can help ensure that the most talented foreign innovators conduct their break-through research right here at home,” said Bruce Mehlamn, head of the Technology CEO Council, a business group bringing together major tech firms like IBM, Dell and Intel. It will take effect after a period allowing for public comment after the change is published in the Federal Register.

    Read the full story here.

  5. 25 injured as fire hits explosives HQ

     Photo by Marga Deona/Rappler

    Fire of still-undetermined cause burned the entire Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) headquarters of the Philippine Army in Taguig City on Wednesday, May 7, injuring 25 people. Explosions from the site were heard not just in the nearby plush area of foreign embassies, corporate offices, and residential condominiums, but also in the country’s premier commercial district in Makati on the other side of the highway.  The injured persons – including 4 officers, 9 enlisted personnel, and 12 personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection – were treated at the Philippine Army General Hospital within the camp.

    Watch videos of the incident on Rappler.

  6. 10 senators endorse plunder charges vs colleagues

    Photo by Adrian Portugal/Rappler

    Ten senators – half of the blue ribbon committee – approved the committee report that recommended the filing of plunder charges against individuals implicated in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, including 3 of their colleagues. Neophyte Senator JV Ejercito was one of those who signed the recommendation against his half brother, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and fellow opposition senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr.  The minority senator said that he signed the report with the reservation that it is incomplete. He said the investigation should include all non-governmental organizations that employed such scheme to siphon off lawmakers’ development funds, and not just the organizations linked to alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

    Read on Rappler the full report on the senators’ recommendation, as well as Ejercito’s explanation of his decision.

  7. Constitutional Court kicks out another Prime Minister Shinawatra

    Narong Sangnak/EPA

    Thailand’s Constitutional Court dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power, along with 9 Cabinet officials who endorsed her move. The court ruled unanimously that Yingluck acted illegally by transferring a top security official in 2011. “Therefore her prime minister status has ended…. Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister,” presiding judge Charoon Intachan said in a televised ruling. The court has played a key role in deposing Yingluck’s brother, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in turbulent chapters of Thai politics. The latest ruling threatens to unleash a new wave of political unrest in the kingdom, where the Shinawatras’ party have swept regular elections for over a decade. Shortly after the court ruling, the Thai Cabinet appointed a new caretaker prime minister – Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Commerce.

    Read the full report on Rappler.

  8. Powerful countries deploy help to rescue schoolgirls from Islamist militants

     Image from Amnesty International's Twitter account

    Four countries – the United States, United Kingdom, China, and France – have offered help to trace and rescue more 200 schoolgirls who were abducted 3 weeks ago by Islamist militants. The terror group Boko Haram, which condemns Western education,  has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the girls, and announced in a video that it was selling off the girls or taking them as brides. The US and France are sending specialist search teams to Nigeria, while London has agreed to deploy “satellite imaging capabilities.” China promised to supply “any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services” to Nigeria. Since then, Boko Haram elements have attacked another town, razing scores of buildings and killing around 300 civilians, taking advantage of the absence of soldiers, who had been deployed to search for the kidnapped girls.

    Read the full report on Rappler.

    Celebrities and netizens have also launched the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to express solidarity with the kidnapped teenagers.

  9. New Zealand imposes complete ban on ecstacy-like drugs

    Admitting that a partial ban on synthetic drugs was a mistake, Wellington announced that “all psychoactive products” would be banned across the country starting Thursday, May 8. “It will be an offense to possess, supply, or sell them,” Health Minister Tony Ryall said. The new law says supply or manufacture of the drugs can result in a two-year jail term or fine of up to NZ$500,000 ($433,000). Earlier, families of users, including teenagers, argued that psychoactive drugs – products that have the same effect as ecstasy – were not safe. Prime Minister John Key admitted allowing a limited number of such drugs in the market was a mistake. “In hindsight, we probably should have taken the ultra-conservative view and said no, we’ll get rid of the whole lot in one go,” he said.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Young athletes continue to battle it out on Day 5 of biggest sports event

    Some 6,000 athletes from public schools across the Philippines continue to compete in 20 events in the 57th Palarong Pambansa – the biggest sports event in the country, and undoubtedly the launching pad for remarkable careers in professional sports for many. For the third straight year, Rappler partners with the Department of Education in increasing the country’s awareness of and interest in the wealth of young and local athletic talents in the Philippines.

    Today’s live blog of the event, Day 5, is here. You can read all the exciting, inspirational, and heart-warming stories from the fields in Rappler’s special #Palaro2014 page.

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