June 17, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. US and Iran rule out cooperation on jihadists advance


    Iraqi government forces fight to stop the advance of Sunni militants after winning control of the city of Tal Afar and two villages northeast of Baghdad. Washington said it was weighing the use of drone strikes against the jihadist fighters. The situation is so alarming, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was open to cooperating with arch-foe Iran to resolve the week-long crisis. The Guardian reported US and Iraqi officials confirm they had a “brief discussion” on the sidelines of nuclear talks in Vienna, but both said military cooperation was not in the agenda. Jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also referred to as ISIL) reportedly killed scores of Iraqi soldiers in a “horrifying” massacre that has drawn international condemnation. CNN analyst Charles Lister said ISIS is a formidable, fanatical force bent on rapid results. He noted the jihadists had quickly gained recruits, cash and  weapons in the offensive. A visiting fellow of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, Lister added ISIS has a weakness– the uprising is made up of an unstable alliance with Sunni groups, which may fail in the long term once ISIS’ brutality stats.

    Read more on Rappler.

    Read more on the prospects of US-Iran cooperation on The Guardian.

    Read more on the “weakness” of the ISIS on CNN.

  2. Taliban warns foreign firms

    File photo by Saood Rehman/EPA

    The Pakistani Taliban on Monday warned foreign firms to leave the country and vowed to hit back after government tanks, troops and jets were deployed in a long-awaited offensive on their stronghold. Pakistan’s major cities braced for revenge attacks by tightening security at key installations and ordering soldiers to patrol the streets, while hospitals in the northwest prepared for casualties. The offensive against the main bastion of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants was launched a week after a brazen attack on the country’s main airport in Karachi. Pakistan’s allies, particular the United States, called for an operation in the mountainous tribal territory to flush out the groups. Analyst Ayesha Siddiqa said the offensive appeared to target only those militant groups who were causing trouble for Pakistan, rather than insurgents as a whole.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  3. Revilla visits vote-rich barangays ahead of arrest

    As he awaits arrest following his indictment in the pork barrel corruption scandal, Senator Bong Revilla visits his supporters in Metro Manila and his home province of Cavite. The senator, who has not abandoned plans to run for president in 2016, insisted it was a thank-you tour and not early campaigning. On June 9, Revilla delivered a privilege speech at the Senate featuring a music video he created that was widely criticized by netizens. But Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez defended the senator, saying the speech was for Revilla’s mass supporters. Revilla is one of 3 senators facing plunder and graft charges for allegedly pocketing millions in development funds.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Watch Revilla’s privilege speech here.

    Watch Revilla’s music video here.

  4. Court prohibits Jinggoy, 13 others from leaving PH

    Rappler photo

    The Sandiganbayan bars Senator Jinggoy Estrada, businesswoman Janet Napoles and 13 others from leaving the country. The court’s 5th division issues a hold departure order against the 14, who are accused of conniving to pocket millions in lawmakers’ development funds. On Friday, the anti-graft court raffled the cases to divisions in the Sandiganbayan – the start of the biggest corruption cases ever handled by the court in recent history. The anti-graft court also told the Supreme Court that it doesn’t see the need to create special divisions for the high profile cases in reply to a request of the Ombudsman. The exact day for the arrest of 3 senators charged with graft and plunder remain a guessing game, but their special jail at the central police camp in Quezon City is ready for them anytime.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read more on the debate on special divisions on Rappler here and here.

    See photos of the detention center for the senators on Rappler.

  5. On the Napoles children and plunder

    File photo obtained by Rappler

    The children of the alleged architect of the country’s biggest corruption scandal asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to dismiss the graft case filed against them. Jo Christine and James Cristopher, the oldest of 4 children of Napoles, denied any involvement in the illegal diversion of public funds. But why were the Napoles children included in the charges? The graft charges against the two are based on affidavits of former Napoles employees-turned-whistleblowers, who divulged details showing the children pocketed P900 million ($2.05 million) worth of government money from the highly discretionary Malampaya fund that was meant for victims of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng. Napoles on Monday also claimed before the courts that  she cannot be charged with plunder because as a private individual, cannot be charged with plunder because there is no proof of a conspiracy to defraud the government, adding the Ombudsman “conveniently used the word conspiracy, even when there is no proof” in approving her indictment for plunder.

    Read the full story here.

    Read Napoles’ defense here.

  6. Suu Kyi rejects warning from election commission

    File photo by Fred Dufour/AFP

    Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejected the warnings of the election commission to modify her language towards the military ahead of next year’s polls. The former political prisoner has been campaigning to amend a military-drafted constitution that bars her from becoming president. The 2008 constitution blocks anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from leading the country — a clause widely believed to be targeted at Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British. Last month, Myanmar’s top election body warned her against using language that “challenges the army” during her rallies. Speaking in Kathmandu, Suu Kyi said, “It is not the work of (the) elections commission to warn me or other leaders of what we should say or what we should not say.” The 68-year-old Nobel laureate was released from two decades of house arrest in 2010.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. World famous elephant ‘Satao’ killed by poachers in Kenya

    Photo from Tsavo Trust press release

    One of Africa’s last ‘great tusker’ elephants, a 50-year-old elephant named Satao, has been shot dead by poachers in Kenya. Kenyan-based NGO Tsavo Trust said poachers used poisoned arrows to shoot Satao, before cutting off its face and stealing the tusks. Satao was famous for its giant tusks that weighed more than 100 lbs and touched the ground. In a statement, the NGO said, “Today it is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries. A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece.” It is estimated that close to 100 elephants have been killed this year by poachers, but wildlife conservationists believe the number is much higher.

    Read the full story on Forbes.

  8. F1 champion Schumacher out of coma, leaves hospital

     Photo by Diego Azubel/EPA

    Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma. On Monday, he leaves the French hospital where he was confined since a devastating ski accident at the French Alps in December last year. His spokesperson Sabine Kehm says the Formula One racer will “continue his long phase of rehabilitation.” Schumacher was placed in a medically-induced coma after hitting his head on a rock in a ski accident.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Sentiment maps to enhance travel in UK

    Photo from TransportAPI.com

    UK transport and technology experts unveiled a digital platform that maps the emotions of people using different types of public transport in real time in the hope of improving the commuter experience. Developers say it will be a “customer-led services which are being responded to in real time.” The developers say the “sentiment mapping” project would also provide transport operators with a better understanding about the needs of their passengers and enable them to respond better in emergencies. Still in its infancy, the team launched a live tool visualization of passengers’ sentiment based on Twitter, covering the area between London and Milton Keynes.

    Read the full story on CNN.

  10. Prince George starts walking

    Two months shy of his first birthday, Prince George showed the public he has mastered the skill of standing on his own two feet and walking. This is the first time he has been photographed walking. Crawling around, grabbing his mother’s ankles and clearly intrigued by the horses, the future king looked like he was having fun at a charity polo match Sunday, Father’s Day. The prince now has a full head of blonde hair and looks strikingly like his father, the Duke of Cambridge, when he was a young boy. The Telegraph reported a ComRes poll showed the Duke and the Queen are significantly more popular than the UK’s best-known politicians. The Duke is more popular than his grandmother, while Prince Charles trails 20 percentage points behind them both. The Duke’s public profile has been boosted in recent years with his marriage to commoner Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, and the birth of his son on July 22 last year.

    Read the full story on The Telegraph.

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