July 29, 2014 Edition

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  1. Aquino appeals to supporters during SONA

    An emotional President Benigno Aquino III appealed to supporters even as he toned down his criticism of those who have been opposing him. Steering clear of controversial issues, particularly his clash with the Supreme Court and the country’s dispute with China over the South China Sea, he however said, “I have a full conviction to face the critics because I know there are only a few of them while there are so many of us.” Delivering his second to the last State of the Nation Address when his approval ratings have declined sharply, he also said his successor should be someone who will continue the reforms that his administration began. “The Filipino is worth dying for. The Filipino is worth living for. If I may add, the Filipino is worth fighting for,” he said at the end of his SONA.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. Muslims observe gloomy Eid

    Muslims in Asia marked the end of Ramadan amid suffering in the Islamic world. In his message for Eid al-Fitr, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, “Hundreds of people are being killed every day in Islamic countries,” highlighting the situation in Gaza. Even in Muslim-dominated Malaysia, festivities were muted as the country continued to grieve over the crash of two Malaysia Airlines planes. One crashed over eastern Ukraine, while another jet has mysteriously disappeared. In the Philippines, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission urged the public to observe Eid al-Fitr with “happy thoughts and without burden or grudges” in their hearts.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    A related story on the Philippine celebration of Eid is also on Rappler.

  3. Aquino: Important to pass Bangsamoro law by 2014

    President Benigno Aquino III during his State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 28, stressed the importance of Congress passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the end of 2014. He said it will allow the Bangsamoro Transition Authority – the body led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and tasked to oversee the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to a Bangsamoro political entity – more time to show positive results. In the Senate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, chair of the local government committee, said Congres might need to move the target deadline to early 2015. Aquino ally Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the Senate committee on peace, said of the 2014 target deadline, “It’s a bit tight, but we can still make it.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Remains of some flight MH17 victims lost forever

    Not all the remains of the 298 people who died in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 may be recovered. Dutch police chief Gerard Bouman told parliament in The Hague on Monday, July 28, “What we found in the body bags in Ukraine was indescribable. The contents were horrible…Bits and pieces all mixed, big and small, were found in the bags.” Unarmed Dutch and Australian investigators failed to reach the crash site because of heavy fighting Monday. Even the personal belongings of the victims supposed to be handed over by Ukrainian separatists had not reached Dutch officials.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Countries with MH17 victims agree on joint prosecution team

    Ukraine and 11 countries that lost citizens in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed have agreed to set up a joint team of prosecutors to explore the filing of criminal charges. The countries that included The Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia, the United States and Ukraine met in The Hague under Europe’s judicial cooperation agency Eurojust, to discuss their joint strategy. The United Nations said on Monday, July 28, the shooting down of MH17 on July 17 may constitute a war crime.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Liberia seals borders in face of Ebola threat

    After the spread of the deadly Ebola virus to two of West Africa’s biggest cities – Freetown and Lagos –  Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the closure of the country’s land borders. The virus has left at least 670 dead across the region since the start of 2014 and has infected 1,200 more. Liberia itself has seen 129 deaths, with victims suffering from severe fever and muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and even organ failure and non-stop bleeding. The Liberian government said it will set up preventive and testing centers at the Monrovia international airport, a provincial airport and 3 major crossings – areas exempted from the closures. First detected in 1976, Ebola is believed to be carried by animals hunted for meat, bats in particular. The virus has killed 56% of those it has infected in the present outbreak.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. UN’s Ban Ki-moon: Gaza in ‘critical condition’

    Calling for an immediate stop to violence, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Gaza is in a “critical condition.” Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, Ban criticized both Israel and Hamas militants for firing at civilian areas. Over a thousand Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed as a result of the offensives. A compound where Gaza’s main hospital is, was hit by an Israeli air strike after Ban spoke. He told reporters, “In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.”

    Read the full story on the BBC.

  8. Oil depot fire rages out of control

    Raging since Sunday night, a huge fire at an oil depot outside Tripoli spread to another fuel storage site on Monday, July 28. If left uncontrolled, authorities said the blaze could spark a “disaster with unforeseeable consequences.” The fire was caused by a rocket that hit a tank containing more than 6 million liters of fuel. Firefighters had been trying to kill the fire but ongoing fighting has forced them to flee the area. The oil depots are 10 kilometers away from Tripoli on the road to the international airport, which rival militias have been fighting for since middle of July.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Napoles transferred to Taguig jail

    Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, was moved from her detention center at Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna late Monday evening to a Taguig jail. Escorted by several units of the Philippine National Police (PNP), she arrived at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig at about 11:20 pm. She will undergo booking procedures and be brought to a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility within the camp. Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas earlier said the PNP would follow a commitment order issued by the anti-graft court on Friday, July 25. Napoles faces plunder and graft cases.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  10. NASA rover breaks distance record

    Opportunity rover has clocked more miles on Mars than any man-made vehicle to reach another celestial body. The solar-powered robot has gone 40 kilometers on Martian terrain since arriving on the Red Planet in 2005. Opporunity is exploring the Endeavor Crater on Mars. Previously, the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover held the distance record, after it landed on the Moon in 1973. What Opportunity rover has achieved, according to Mars Exploration Rover Project manager John Callas, is “so remarkable,” considering that it was “never designed for distance.”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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