January 23, 2015 Edition

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  1. PH to ASEAN: China reclamation at South China Sea ‘a threat to all of us’

    The Philippines will raise China’s “massive reclamation” in the South China Sea in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Sabah in late January, emphasizing that the Beijing’s latest move in the disputed maritime territory presents “threats…in terms of its implication on freedom of navigation as well as the rising of tensions which are obviously violations of [agreements]” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said, “I will re-emphasize this and invite the concern of the ASEAN states because it is a threat to all of us.” Meanwhile, China insists that it is small countries like the Philippines which should follow international laws.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  2. It’s VP’s accuser who asked for bribes: Property firm to sue Mercado

    Alphaland Corporation, the property firm which was dragged into controversy by an enemy of Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, will sue the accuser, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, for criminal libel and defamation. The company is seeking P100 million in damages, reports ABS-CBN News Online. Mercado, a former long-time ally of Binay, alleged that Alphaland gave Binay a commission for ensuring that the firm would get the contract to jointly develop a prime property in Makati, where the Binays rule. The company denied “categorically and in the strongest possible terms” the accusations, and revealed that it was Mercado who pressured and harassed the company to give him “benefits,” which Alphaland refused to give.

  3. Boycott all SM malls, consumers urged after cutting of Baguio trees

    After mall developer SM Shoemart cut of 60 pine trees in Baguio to make way for the mall company’s Sky Park project, a group of residents at the Philippines’ summer capital launched a campaign urging Filipinos to boycott all SM malls on Sunday, January 25, in protest. Boycott SM Baguio, which spearheads the activity, has been fighting SM’s tree-cutting activities in the city since 2012. Some members say they have not set foot in SM Baguio since then. Visit the Facebook event page of the campaign dubbed “Wala Ako Sa SM Sa Linggo (I Won’t Be In SM This Sunday).”

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  4. Mining firms fined for damaging farm lands in PH province

    The Philippines’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau has ordered 3 mining firms – Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Incorporated, Eramen Minerals Incorporated, and LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated – to pay P3.2 million (US$72.36 million) to farmers in northern province of Zambales whose lands have been damaged by their unsystematic strip mining operations. Residents had complained of nickel contamination in shores and rice fields.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  5. Deadline looms for ISIS threat to behead 2 Japanese nationals

    The Japanese government said it was working to secure the release of two citizens, whom the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) group had threatened to behead by Friday, 2:50 pm Tokyo time, if a ransom of US$200 million would not be paid. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told the press, however, that “We have not been able to confirm their safety.” Jihadist footage posted online Tuesday showed a knife-wielding militant looming over two kneeling Japanese men, apparently in a desert in Syria or Iraq. The Islamists have linked the ransom to the amount of cash that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would be earmarking to help countries dealing with an influx of refugees fleeing fighting between IS and regular forces.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  6. Saudi king, key US ally vs jihadists, dies

    Saudi Arabia’s elderly King Abdullah, believed to be around 90 years old, died on Friday, January 23, and was replaced by his brother Salman as the ruler of the world’s top oil exporter and the spiritual home of Islam. Abdullah was hospitalised in December, suffering from pneumonia and had been breathing with the aid of a tube. Under Abdullah, who took the throne in 2005, Saudi Arabia has been a key United States ally in the Arab world, most recently joining the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

    Read the full story on Rappler.

  7. Yemeni president, Cabinet resign amid coup by anti-US rebels

    President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet resigned Thursday in the face of an apparent coup attempt by anti-US rebels. A Washington Post report quoted an official confirming that the president “had lost control over the military and intelligence agencies that coordinate with the United States in operations against al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate.” Hadi and his government initially had a power-sharing agreement with the rebels, but the insurgents reportedly did not keep their part of the bargain.

  8. LeBron, Durant top Forbes list of richest NBA players

    The 10 highest-earning players of the National Basketball Association will bank a combined $368 million this season, Forbes magazine reported. Of this amount, $166 million will come from endorsements; the rest, from salaries. Leading the highest-paid list are James Lebron of the Cavaliers, with a total earnings of $64.6 million, with $20.6 million as salary and the rest as endorsement fees. Thunder’s Kevin Durant is second on the list, with earnings of $54 million, $19 million of which is his salary. See the full list on Forbes.com.

  9. Measles outbreak: Don’t bring unvaccinated kids to Disneyland California

    There’s an outbreak of measles in California, caused by an unvaccinated woman who visited Disneyland in December. Dozens of cases have been diagnosed in the state, with 5 of them employees of the theme park. The park management have urged parents not to bring unvaccinated kids to Disneyland until the outbreak is contained. “This is not a trivial illness,” The Guardian quoted a California public health official.

    Rappler also has a story on the measles cases

  10. Is Winnipeg the most racist city in Canada? Officials challenge magazine’s claim

    Officials of Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba province in Canada, are smarting from a report of Maclean’s magazine, depicting the city as “deeply divided along ethnic lines” and where “native citizens suffer daily indignities and horrific violence.” The magazine’s latest issue further says: “Canada has a bigger race problem than America. And it’s ugliest in Winnipeg.” The mayor was teary-eyed when he faced the media to defend his city: “My wife is Ukrainian. I am Métis. I want my boys to be as proud of both those family lines — to be proud of Winnipeg, to be proud of who you are.” He promised, “We’re not going to end racism tomorrow, but we’re sure as hell going to try.” One of the interviewees for the Maclean’s article was quoted in a CBC News report saying that the article was presented in a sensationalist way.

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