June 30, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. Jinggoy insists he is innocent at arraignment

    The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan enters a not guilty plea in behalf of Senator Jinggoy Estrada for plunder and graft charges. Estrada arrived at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan shortly past 8 am Monday, without handcuffs and wearing a Barong Tagalog. Arriving with him was co-accused Janet Napoles. Estrada faces plunder and graft charges for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in development funds through fake projects. A no-show was Estrada’s former appointments secretary Pauline Libayen, who is still at large.  Estrada’s lawyer, Alexis Abastillas said in a text message, “The accusations against Sen Jinggoy are baseless and unsubstantiated.” Estrada has cried political persecution in what he regarded as selective prosecution of opposition senators.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read more on this at Rappler.

  2. Graft court’s Justice Ong recommended for dismissal for Napoles ties

    A probe body has recommended the dismissal of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong for his links to Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a multi-billion fund diversion scam. The Supreme Court is expected to either accept or reject the recommendation during its en banc session on Tuesday, July 1. Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, tasked by the High Court to undertake the probe, recommended that administrative charges be filed against Ong for gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety, saying she “impaired the image of the judiciary.” A report on the Philippine Daily Inquirer said the findings also concluded Ong allowed himself to be Napoles’ contact in the Sandiganbayan and he accepted money from her for fixing a case. Ong chairs the Sandiganbayan 4th Division, which acquitted Napoles in 2010 in the questionable purchase of 500 Kevlar helmets by the Philippine Marines. The graft court Sandiganbayan, is handling its most sensational cases to date – the plunder and graft charges against at least 3 Philippine senators and their alleged conduit Napoles. Ong has inhibited himself from these cases

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read more on the decision in PDI here.

  3. ISIS declares ‘caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq

    Kamal Akrayi/EPA

    Jihadists in Syria and Iraq announced Sunday the establishment of a “caliphate,” a system of rule that ended 100 years ago. In an audio recording distributed online, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL) declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “the caliph.” US President Barack Obama warned Sunday that “battle-hardened” Europeans who embrace jihad in Syria and Iraq threaten the United States because their passports mean they can enter the country without a visa. According to latest estimates, there are nearly 800 French citizens, 200 Belgians and 400 British fighting in Syria and Iraq. In the Philippines, police stepped up security at key installations and public areas in the country’s volatile south. Authorities said they received reliable information on a “possible terrorist threat” in Davao, the country’s third largest city. The Philippines and the United States are hunting terrorists linked to the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) who are hiding in the Philippines. The JI is the Southeast Asian arm of Al-Qaeda.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read the story on Obama’s statement on the threat to the US here.

    Read the story on the security alert in the Philippine here.

  4. Widodo lead cut in presidential race

    Romeo Gacad/AFP

    Indonesian elections front runner Joko Widodo cut his edge from a 25-point lead to just four points over his main rival former general Prabowo Subianto. The fall came in the wake of rumors the 53-year-old governor of Indonesia’s capital city was ethnic Chinese and a Christian, not a Muslim. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population where ethnic Chinese had faced persecution in the past. Widodo easily refuted the claims, but lackluster support from factions within his party, questions about his ability to lead and a shift in TV media support added to his number’s decrease. The Wall Street Journal reported the race is gripping the nation of 250 million people ahead of the July 9 polls, adding uncertainty for investors in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The two candidates offer similar solutions for Indonesia’s slowing growth rate. Widodo is a plain-talking former furniture exporter who was rated one of Indonesia’s best mayors. Prabowo himself is reeling from the backlash of a music video featuring an Indonesian rock star wearing a Nazi-style uniform, opening up a sensitivity over his military record. Prabowo had admitted ordering the abduction of democracy activists during the Suharto dictatorship.

    Read the full story on The Wall Street Journal.

    Read related story on why the race matters to the Philippines here.

    Read more on Widodo’s campaign here.

    Read more on Prabowo’s music video that backfired here.

  5. Hong Kong democracy poll closes at nearly 800,000 votes

    Polls in an unofficial vote on electoral reform in Hong Kong closed Sunday with almost 800,000 taking part, a quarter of 2012 registered voters. The ballot was dismissed by Chinese state media as “an illegal farce.” The referendum, partly online and partly at physical ballot boxes, offered voters options on how the next chief executive should be chosen. China has promised universal suffrage by 2017 but has ruled out voters choosing candidates. Democracy advocates fear only those sympathetic to Beijing will be allowed to run. The chief executive is currently selected by a 1,200-strong pro-Beijing committee.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Defrocking of ex Vatican envoy for sex abuse a first in history

    File photo of Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski by AFP

    For the first time in history, a Roman Catholic ambassador was defrocked for sexual abuse. The Vatican’s former envoy to the Dominican Republic was stripped of his priesthood after being convicted of sex abuse by a church tribunal. Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, following claims that he sexually abused a number of children in the slums of Santo Domingo. Once his canonical conviction is definitive, he will face the Vatican City’s criminal tribunal, which could sentence him to prison. The Church has faced a decade-long series of scandals over abuse by priests and lay officials. The United Nations condemned the Vatican in January for allowing systematic cover-ups by reassigning priests suspected of child abuse to other posts. Pope Francis has vowed to crack down on abuse in the Catholic Church.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Thousands attend Singapore’s gay rights rally


    Thousands of Singaporeans attended an annual gay rights rally celebrating sexual diversity in the city-state, despite fierce opposition from religious conservatives. Organizers said 26,000 people attended the event, making it one of Singapore’s biggest public rallies in recent times. The 4-hour, carnival-like rally featured musical performances by Singaporean artists, cheered on by a crowd of straight and homosexual Singaporeans wearing pink – the color chosen by organizers to represent the freedom to love. Participants brushed off countermovements by Christian and Muslim conservatives opposing the growing gay rights movement. Singapore’s officials have avoided taking sides and instead urged Singaporeans to practice restraint in debating LGBT rights.  Sex between men is a crime under the Singapore penal code. The law dates back to British colonial rule and carries a maximum penalty of two years, but it is not actively enforced by authorities.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Serena Williams upset in earliest exit in 9 years

    Photo by Valdin Xhemaj/EPA

    World number one and five-time champion Serena Williams crashed to her earliest defeat at Wimbledon in 9 years on Saturday. Williams, the top seed, lost her third round tie to Alize Cornet 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. So far, the 17-time Grand Slam champion has failed to get beyond the fourth round at any of the three majors this year. Cornet, who defeated Williams in Dubai earlier this year, celebrated her victory by kissing the turf in jubilation. She said, “To beat Serena at Wimbledon, wow, it is just a dream. It is the biggest upset in the tournament because she is the world number one and has won here so many times.” In stark comparison, top seeds Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova all secured fourth round spots.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Brazil vs Chile breaks Twitter record

    Photo by Felipe Trueba/EPA

    Saturday’s World Cup game between Brazil and Chile set a new Twitter record, generating 16.3 million tweets – the most ever for a live event on the social network. The game saw the World Cup hosts get through to the quarter finals after a tense encounter that went to extra time, with Brazil finally winning 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out. The final moments of the match generated 388,985 tweets a minute, breaking the previous record during the Super Bowl, when 382,000 tweets were sent per minute. Twitter said more than 300 million messages were sent about the tournament since the group stages of the football competition began, with the event “already becoming one of the most talked about events on Twitter of all time.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. Facebook’s secret study manipulated emotions

    A study detailing how Facebook secretly manipulated the news feed of some 700,000 users to study “emotional contagion” drew anger anger on social media. In 2012, the social network tampered with the news feed algorithm to study how positive and negative posts affected users’ mood. The study showed the manipulated users reacted depending on the positive or negative messages they were exposed to. Results of the study spread when online magazine Slate and The Atlantic website wrote about it on Saturday. The authors of the study said their institutional review boards approved the research “on the grounds that Facebook apparently manipulates people’s News Feeds all the time.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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