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- ‘I’m the victim’ – Napoles
Janet Lim-Napoles, currently detained at the Ospital ng Makati, is now singing a different tune. In two affidavits, signed on May 12, 2014, Napoles named over 100 lawmakers who allegedly received kickbacks in exchange for disbursing their PDAF funds to bogus NGOs. Napoles added that she was made out to be a scapegoat for these very same lawmakers. “I am the victim of a wrong system in society that I thought was normal and legal because this became the practice for a long time.” She added that she could not have been the mastermind because she just followed the requests of the senators and congressmen. Napoles also asked the Ombudsman to grant her immunity and put her under the Witness Protection Program. Senators and other lawmakers have mostly denied Napoles’ claims.
Read the full story on Rappler here.
- ER Ejercito out, new Laguna governor takes office
After failing to get the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO), Laguna governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito was removed by the Commission on Elections on Tuesday, May 27. Taking his place is Laguna vice governor Ramil Hernandez, who was sworn in on the same day in Mania. Ejercito, who was disqualified by Comelec on May 21 for overspending in the 2013 elections, had asked the SC to stop the Comelec from enforcing its decision. The SC subsequently asked Comelec to comment on Ejercito’s petition, but did not issue a TRO. Ejercito’s lawyer said the Comelec decision to proceed with the oath-taking of Hernandez was an “act of discourtesy” towards the SC.
Read the full story on Rappler here and here.
- Thai troops arrest former minister, coup critic
Thai soldiers swooped to detain a former cabinet minister on Tuesday, May 27, after he emerged from hiding to become the first member of the ousted government to publicly denounce a military coup. Chaturon Chaisang, education minister under the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, was marched out of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand by soldiers. The veteran politician criticized the coup organizers as “inexperienced” and warned of the potential of the army to “be more cruel than you might expect.” Chaisang had disobeyed an order for all officials to report to the military junta. Since formalizing the coup on May 22, the Thai military has ordered a ban on broadcast media as well as political gatherings. It has however reduced curfew hours to midnight until 4 am. Previously it had been 10 pm until 5 am. On Monday, the military junta said they received the Thai King’s blessing.
Read the full story on Rappler.
- US plans full Afghan withdrawal by end of 2016
US President Barack Obama announced plans on Tuesday, May 27 to pull out all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016. Obama said around 9,800 US troops will stay in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if the Afghan government signs a bilateral security agreement. This number would be further halved by the end of 2015. After more than 12 years of war – the longest in American history – Obama says he hopes to bring it to a “responsible end.” Obama recently flew on a secret trip to Afghanistan on US memorial day to visit the troops stationed there.
Read the full story on Rappler and CNN.
- Beleaguered ex-MRT exec denies nepotism charge
Former Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 general manager Al Vitangcol denied nepotism influenced his decision to award a service contract to a supplier partly owned by his relative. He told congressmen in a hearing on Tuesday, May 27 that his uncle-in-law had divested from the company, PH Trams, that won the MRT maintenance contract. Vitangcol said it was he himself who asked his uncle-in-law to leave PH Trams after finding out that he was an incorporator. PH Trams bagged a 9-month contract for the upkeep of MRT 3 in 2012 as part of a joint venture with CB&T JV. Transportation officials also told the congressional committee that the MRT Bids and Awards committee proceeded with a simplified bidding in order to speedily procure a maintenance provider for the MRT trains. Vitangcol was previously implicated in an extortion try by the Czech ambassador to the Philippines.
Read the full story on Rappler.
- Edward Snowden: ‘I was trained as a spy’
Edward Snowden, the 30-year old whistleblower who revealed how the US collects communications data in bulk, said he was ‘trained as a spy.’ In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Snowden said the US claims that he was a “low-level systems administrator” was misleading. He added that he had worked undercover and overseas for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Department of Defense at all levels. “I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top,” said Snowden. He currently lives in Russia after being given temporary asylum.
Read the full story on NBC.
- Pregnant woman stoned to death by her family
A pregnant woman was stoned to death by members of her own family in front of a Pakistani high court on Tuesday, May 27. The woman, 25-year old Farzana Parveen, and her husband were on their way to the court when she was confronted by her father and relatives who were angry at her for marrying out of love. The family members initially tried to snatch her away but Parveen fought back. They then started beating her and pelting her with bricks. The father surrendered after the incident and called the murder an “honor killing.” “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” Mujahid, the police investigator, quoted the father as saying. Honor killings are a feature of Islamic Pakistan’s culture, where women are murdered for causing dishonor to the family. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.
Read the full story on Rappler and The Guardian.
- The electric plane has arrived
The electric plane E-Fan, made by the Airbus Group, made its public debut at the Berlin Air Show in an eerily quiet display of what’s to come for the aviation industry. The two-seater aircraft is powered entirely by electricity, with two 30-kilowatt electric motors and a 6 kW wheel motor. Its lithium-ion batteries are fitted into the wings of the plane. It also has built in safety features such as a backup battery and a parachute. But don’t expect the E-Fan to take you around the world just yet. It has a flying time of only one hour. Airbus said it built the plane to explore the potential of electric-powered commuter planes that can ferry 70-80 passengers over a 3-hour route.
Read the full story on Scientific American.
- Blatche Filipino citizenship needs Aquino approval
American NBA veteran Andray Blatche may soon call himself a Filipino, once President Aquino approves his citizenship papers. On Monday, May 26, the Philippine Senate passed a bill to grant citizenship to the 6-foot-11 Brooklyn Nets center. Malacanang did not comment on whether the President would approve the bill or not. However a press release issued by the Senate on Monday said the the passing of the bill had the effect of “clearing the way” for the eight-year NBA veteran to compete at the World Cup in Spain, which starts in August.
Read the full story on Rappler.
- Billboard and Twitter partner to launch real-time charts
Pop music tracking company Billboard and Twitter launched on May 27 Real-Time Charts, a listing of the most popular songs being shared on Twitter in the US. The Trending 140 chart tracks up-to-the-minute ranking of songs shared in the US. Another chart, the Emerging Artists, ranks up-and-coming artists by the number of times each song was shared over the past 24 hours. The public can view the charts, share them on social media and listen to the song via Spotify or other music streaming sites.
Read the full announcement on Billboard.