August 4, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. Ebola “moving faster than efforts to control it”

    The World Health Organization warned west Africa’s Ebola epidemic was spiralling out of control and could spread to other countries, causing “catastrophic” loss of life and severe economic disruption. WHO chief Margaret Chan told the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia the response had been “woefully inadequate,” saying the outbreak was “moving faster than our efforts to control it”. Aid workers warn it is ignorance over Ebola, rather than the virus itself, that is pushing up the death toll. While the virus can kill its victims within days, the pathogen itself is not particularly robust and can be seen off with soap and hot water. Epidemiologists point out that Ebola is relatively difficult to catch and isn’t even airborne. The virus requires contact with the body fluids of a victim. Though there is no vaccine, experts say it is treatable. But in a country like Liberia where remote communities are superstitious and often rely on witch doctors, damaging myths have built up. Click on the link below for Fast facts on Ebola.

    Read about WHO’s warnings on Ebola on Rappler.

    Read on how ignorance is pushing up the death toll in Liberia.

    Fast facts about Ebola.

  2. Earthquake, explosions, hit China and Taiwan

    More than 367 people died and nearly 2,000 were injured when a strong earthquake hit southwest China’s Yunnan province Sunday. A massive relief operation is underway in the mountainous region as President Xi Jinping called for “all-out efforts” in the wake of the magnitude of 6.1 quake. In another part of China, the death toll from car parts factory explosion climbed to 71, Sunday. The Saturday blast in Kunshan, near Shanghai, also left 186 injured, many with severe burns and respiratory problems. An investigation showed the blast was caused by the ignition of dust from the production process. Safety experts say dust suspended in the air in the right concentration can cause explosions. US-based workers’ rights group China Labor Watch said proper measures could have prevented the accident as authorities detained five company officials. Witnesses say the blast tore the clothes off workers while the burns turned their skin grey or black. In nearby Taiwan, another blast, triggered an investigation. The deadly gas explosions rocked the island’s densely populated second city, as residents accused local authorities of failing to avert the tragedy. The gas explosion sparked massive fires which tore through Kaohsiung’s Cianjhen district late Thursday, July 31, killing at least 28. The worst gas explosion ever in Taiwan left a yawning trench hundreds of metres long down major thoroughfares.

    Read the full story on the China quake on Rappler.

    Read the story on the China car parts plant explosion on Rappler.

    Read the story on the gas explosion in Taiwan here.

  3. MILF asked to help in probe on “killing video”

    Series of screenshots show a man being kicked by men in military uniform then dragged to the center of the field

    Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to share with the military any information it might have on the brutal killing of a man by men in uniform caught on video. “We are checking on that. If the MILF knows some details about it, they can give us information. If these [allegations] are true, we will look for them (soldiers).” The 4 minute 8 second video shows a man repeatedly kicked and soldiers taking turns firing their high-powered firearms 109 times.  At some point, we hear a man shout in Tagalog: “That’s enough! That’s enough!”

    Read the full story on the AFP’s reaction.

    Read the full story and watch the video here.

  4. German weekly reports Israel spied on Kerry during talks

    Israel eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during doomed peace talks with the Palestinians last year. German news weekly Der Spiegel reported at least one other secret service listened in on Kerry’s conversations as he tried to mediate. Kerry regularly spoke by telephone with high-ranking officials from the Middle East during the negotiations that finally collapsed earlier this year. Spiegel, citing “several sources among secret services”, said that while Kerry used secure lines, he also used normal telephones with connections that were vulnerable to tapping. The report said “Jerusalem used this information in the negotiations.” Kerry, who flew to Israel last week, attempted to mediate during the current Israeli military offensive in Gaza which claimed more than 1,700 lives in the 26-day confrontation.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. UN: Jihadists takeover of Iraqi town may lead to “humanitarian tragedy”

    File photo by EPA

    The capture of the Iraqi town of Sinjar by jihadist fighters sent up to 200,000 people into flight. The United Nations said this may lead to a “humanitarian tragedy,” fearing for the “physical safety of the civilians.” Particularly alarming was the fate of refugees who fled to the Jabal Sinjar mountains and could be trapped in an area completely surrounded by jihadist fighters. The UN statement said, “The humanitarian situation of these civilians is reported as dire, and they are in urgent need of basic items including food, water and medicine.”  Sinjar was controlled by Kurdish troops but they withdrew on Sunday, the second consecutive day of losses. The government troops also relinquished the town of Zumar and two nearby oilfields Saturday.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Fresh strike on a UN school kills 10

    At least 10 people died in a fresh strike on a United Nations school in Gaza Sunday, shortly after Israel confirmed it had begun withdrawing some troops from the war-torn area. It was the third time in 10 days that a UN school sheltering displaced Palestinians had been hit. An Agence France-Presse correspondent said there were scenes of chaos at the site, with rescuers trying to evacuate the wounded and adults carrying young children away from the strike zone. Efforts to broker a truce to end the fighting remains elusive, with Israel refusing to send negotiators to talks in Cairo attended by a Palestinian delegation and senior US and Egyptian officials. On Sunday, Israel’s army announced it had begun withdrawing some troops, with a military spokesman saying the ground operation was “changing gear.” More than 1,700 people have been killed in more than 3 weeks of fighting.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

    Read more on the 25-day conflict.

  7. Huge sacrifices for kids chasing Korean pop dream

    It’s not easy to break into South Korea’s best-known cultural export: K-pop. For rising Korean artists, sacrifices must be made to stay on top of their game. Aspiring K-pop stars spend hours rehearsing, grooming and performing under record label minders who keep them on a strict training schedule. For members of the K-pop band Billion, the path to stardom means days of practicing synchronized dance moves, watching their figures, and missing holidays with their families. But they say they have been lucky to have made it this far, with a debut album released last March. The K-pop industry is dominated by three groups, and the hunt for talent is extremely competitive. Agencies recruit kids as young as 13, and monthly tests are held to determine who will earn a slot in a band. Billion’s lead manager Park In-Seo said the industry is a “survival tournament,” with agencies investing anywhere between $500,000 to $1 million to launch a band.

    Read more on Rappler.

  8. Stop sharing USB flash drives

    CNN reports German security researchers found that USB-connected devices can be reprogrammed to pose as another device. This means it could pose as a keyboard or a network card, allowing it to take control of a user’s computer or reroute Internet traffic. This puts users at risk of identity theft and bank fraud, among others. But researchers said the problem could extend to phones as well: infected phones charged through a laptop could compromise the user’s computer. Current antivirus software won’t catch it, because reprogrammed USBs are technically not computer viruses, just devices posing as a different one.

    Read the full story on CNN.

    USB Image from Shutterstock

  9. Data show market for tablets shrinking

    Is the market for tablets declining? Sales grew 11% last quarter according to tech consultancy IDC, but it’s nowhere near the 60% growth rate the market posted two years ago. Meanwhile, iPad sales declined 9% last quarter. CNN reports the industry is facing three big problems: smartphones are getting bigger eclipsing the need for tablets; there isn’t much incentive to buy a new tablet every two years; and companies aren’t buying tablets. But analysts think tablets could get a second wind, with a huge growth opportunity looming for corporate tablet sales. Apple is set to deliver iPads to IBM, which will load the tablets with apps specific for industries like banking, health care, travel, and insurance.

    Read more on CNN.

    Man holding Ipad Image from Shutterstock

  10. Fire and water online challenges end in tragedy

    A teenager is recovering from second-degree burns caused by pouring rubbing alcohol on himself and igniting it, after participating in a “fire challenge” that has been spreading on social media. On sites like Facebook, users dared others to set themselves on fire or douse themselves in ice water. Those challenged are called on to donate money to charity if they fail to complete it within a day. News outlets in Germany earlier reported that a man was crushed to death while he was taking part of the “cold water challenge.” Reports said a huge bucket holding thousands of liters of water was being hoisted to dump over a group of men when the digging machinery toppled. One man died and five others were injured. It was reportedly the latest in a series of fatalities related to the challenge. On Twitter, users criticize the challenge participants, with one saying: “Are humans getting more stupid or is this just my perception?”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

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