August 29, 2014 Edition

Valerie Castro

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

  1. UN peacekeepers hostaged by Syrian rebels; PH troops restricted

    Photo from the Philippine Army

    Syrian rebels, including fighters from the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra front, have detained 43 Fijian UN peacekeepers on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, while 81 Filipino peacekeepers were “currently being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.” This happened just days after the Philippines had finalized plans to pull out its troops given the increasing security threats in the area. Twice in 2013, rebels had held hostage peacekeepers monitoring the armistice line between Israel and Syria, and were released safely. Six countries are contributing to the 1,200-strong United Nations Disengagement Observer Force: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

    Read the full stories on the Fijian and Filipino peacekeepers on Rappler.

  2. PH Chief Justice laments budget cuts on courts

    The Chief Justice of the Philippines held a rare press conference to express her dismay over budget cuts imposed by the presidential palace on the judiciary. The budget department has slashed by 30% the proposed budget submitted by the Supreme Court after the tribunal struck down parts of the executive’s controversial spending program – a decision repeatedly assaulted by President Aquino in public events. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno warned that a national budget “terribly imbalanced” against the courts will hugely affect the disposition of cases, especially since Malacañang removed the allocation for the electronic court project that in past years have streamlined case workflows. The judiciary is one of the least-funded institutions in the Philippines.

    Read the full report on Rappler.

  3. Largest Muslim rebel group vows to block ISIS in the Philippines

    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, has condemned extremist jihadists in Iraq and Syria, and vowed to stop the spread of their “virus” into the Southeast Asian nation. “The MILF condemns barbarism and savagery whether done by other groups including the ISIS (Islamic State) or even by its (MILF’s) own members,” the MILF said. It said “it is the power, moderating line, and influence of the MILF that hinders the birth of a truly strong radical group” in the southern island of Mindanao. After decades of armed rebellion that claimed tens of thousands of lives, the MILF signed a peace agreement in March that commits the group and the national government to create an autonomous Muslim region.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Aquino: Arrest of ex-gov’t officials wanted for murders soon

    President Benigno Aquino III said authorities have reported “developments” in tracking down some of the Philippines’ most wanted fugitives, such as former Surigao del Norte Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr, who was found guilty of killing his wife in 2002, and former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, who are implicated in the murder of broadcast journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega in 2011. In the past, Aquino had also made a statement about having good leads on another high-profile fugitive, retired Major General Jovito Palparan, before he was arrested in August.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Suspension on firm behind biggest mining disaster in PH lifted

    Photo from Philex

    The Philippines’ mines bureau lifted the suspension order on Philex Mining Corporation’s Padcal mine in Tuba, Benguet, two years after a breach in its drainage tunnel caused a disastrous spill of mining sediments into Benguet rivers. The company paid P1.034 billion (US$23.6 million) in fine for discharging 20.7 million tons of tailings to the Balog and Agno Rivers – the biggest mining disaster in the country in terms of volume. It also paid P188.6 million ($4.3 million) to the Pollution Adjudication Board for the environmental damage caused by the spill, and an additional P5 billion ($114.4 million) for the clean-up of waterways polluted by the spill.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Ebola-hit countries more isolated as airlines suspend flights

    More airlines suspended flights to the 3 nations at the center of the west African Ebola outbreak, leaving them isolated and making it more difficult for the United Nations to do its work in addressing the epidemic. So far, Air France, British Airways, and Brussels Airlines have either completely suspended or significantly limited their flights to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria, Liberia, where a total of more than 1,400 people have died since the Ebola epidemic erupted early this year. Only Royal Air Morocco has vowed to stick to its normal flight schedule – once a day to Conakry and every other day on average to Monrovia and Freetown.

    Read the full story on Rappler. The World Health Organization has insisted that trade and travel restrictions are not the answer to the international health emergency.

  7. Thai court dismisses murder charges vs ex-PM in 2010 crackdown

    Saying it has no jurisdiction to hear cases on acts committed by individuals while holding public office, a criminal court in Bangkok dismissed charges of murder and abuse of power against former Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his ex-deputy over a bloody crackdown on opposition protests in 2010. Scores of demonstrators died under Abhisit’s government in street clashes between mostly unarmed demonstrators and security forces firing live rounds in Bangkok. The court said only the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions could try the cases. Prosecutors had accused Abhisit and Suthep of issuing orders that resulted in murder and attempted murder by the security forces. Both suspects denied the charges.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  8. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie wed in France

    After living together for almost a decade, Hollywood’s popular couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tied the knot in a “non-denominational civil ceremony” in the southern French village of Correns. They obtained a marriage license in California from a local US judge, who traveled to France to conduct the wedding. “It was very much a family affair,” a spokeswoman for the couple said in a statement. Jolie was walked down the aisle by her eldest sons Maddox and Pax. Her daughters Zahara and Vivienne threw petals, while the couple’s other two children Shiloh and Knox were the ring bearers.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  9. Twitter makes performance-tracking feature available to all users

    The microblogging site Twitter has made the analytics dashboard – a system that helps users determine how well a tweet performs after it’s been sent – available to all users with good standing and public accounts. The feature used to be available only to advertisers and verified users. The accounts have to be at least 14 days active and primarily tweet in English, French, Japanese, or Spanish.

    Read on Rappler how you can take advantage of the Tweet Activity Dashboard.

  10. Business leaders build schools, subsidize kids in Pakistan

    A group of business leaders in Pakistan, known as The Citizens’ Foundation, will receive this year the Ramon Magsaysay Award, referred to as Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, for having built 1,000 schools in a little over a decade. The group started using members’ personal money, and eventually corporate donations, to build schools, subsidize children of poor families, and help teachers in far-flung communities after they realized a “emergency” in Pakistan, where about 5 million children were out of school. They have so far sent 145,000 street children, including girls, to school.

    Read on Rappler the discussion that TCF had with Philippine businessmen about funding education.

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