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  • Bongbong: No pressure to pass Bangsamoro law
    MANILA - The head of the Senate committee in charge of deliberations on a bill creating a new Muslim-led autonomous region in Mindanao does not feel pressured to pass the measure as soon as possible, despite a June deadline that Congress leaders recently set.
  • Benitez group ups settlement offer to STI
    MANILA – The Benitez family has increased its settlement offer to STI Holdings to P644.44 million in its attempt to end the ownership dispute over the Philippine Women’s University (PWU).
  • PNoy honors Malta prince
    MANILA - President Aquino honored the visiting Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, conferring him with the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Grand Collar (Raja) in a ceremony at the Palace.
  • Huawei plans big push to sell its phones, wearable devices in US
    SAN FRANCISCO/BEIJING - Two years after U.S. legislators branded it a national security threat, China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is planning a campaign to win over U.S. consumers, rolling out new mobile phones and wearable devices backed by a marketing effort.
  • VIRAL: 'Milkman' brings the goods
    A short film poking fun at gangsters and a childhood favorite food has gone viral on social media, garnering thousands of views.
  • Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ opens with $19.1 million to win U.S. box office

    Will Smith and Margot Robbie (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

    (Reuters) – Will Smith’s new action drama “Focus” booted the kinky sex tale “Fifty Shades of Grey” for its perch atop U.S. and Canadian weekend box office charts, racking up $19.1 million in ticket sales.

    Smith, in his first leading role since 2013′s “After Earth,” plays a seasoned con artist who meets up with an aspiring con artist, played by Margot Robbie, in the romance-caper film hybrid.

    “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, an adaptation of a popular comic series which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth about a spy agency’s training program and a global threat by a tech genius, also outpaced “Grey” to claim second place with $11.8 million.

    Third place on a weekend that saw business hampered by rough winter weather in the south and midwest again went to the family-friendly “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”, based on the popular television show about a talking animated sponge. It sold $11.2 million in tickets.

    “Grey,” the smash hit adaptation of the best-selling novel which stars James Dornan and Dakota Johnson as the libidinous couple, took in $10.9 million, landing in fourth from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. The film is closing in on $148 million at the domestic box office since opening just over two weeks ago.

    Rounding out the top five, “The Lazarus Effect,” which stars Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde as researchers trying to resurrect the dead, took the No. 5 spot on its opening weekend with $10.6 million in sales.

    “This was a rather slow weekend at the box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box office tracking firm Rentrak, noting that Oscar winners such as “Still Alice” and “Birdman” had received a good boost from Sunday’s awards.

    “The severely inclement weather in the south and midwest threw off our number,” said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros, the Time Warner unit that released “Focus.”

    “When you look at the markets not hit by weather, we did really well,” Goldstein said, adding that the film had played especially well with younger audiences, where “word of mouth will really help.”

    International box office would further boost the film’s fortunes, Goldstein said.

    Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures released “Fifty Shades of Grey”. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was released by 20th Century Fox, the unit of 21st Century Fox. “The SpongeBob Movie” was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

  • 11 of Forbes’ richest are Filipinos

    11 Filipinos are among “The Richest People on the Planet 2015” by Forbes.

    For its 29th Annual Billionaires List (www.forbes.com/billionaires), Forbes found the 1,826 who made it to the list had an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion.

    HENRY SY Sr. / Photo courtesy of Forbes

    Ranking 73rd is 90-year old mall tycoon  Henry Sy. With a net worth of $14.2 billion, his rank went up from 97th in the previous year. One of Sy’s most recent ventures is the City of Dreams Manila resort and casino which opened in December 2014.

    Forbes recognized Sy as a self-made man with “humble origins”, who “studied retail at his father’s elbow in the family convenience store”.

    Other Philippine nationals who made it to the list are:

    • #254 John Gokongwei, Jr. with $5.8 billion net worth
    • #291 Enrique Razon, Jr. with $5.2 billion net worth
    • #330 Andrew Tan with $4.8 billion net worth
    • #369 Lucio Tan and George Ty, both with $4.4 billion net worth
    • #405 David Consunji with $4.1 billion net worth
    • #690 Tony Tan Caktiong with $2.7 billion net worth
    • #810 Lucio and Susan Co with $2.3 billion net worth
    • #1054 Robert Coyuito, Jr. with $1.8 billion net worth
    • #1190 Manuel Villar $1.6 billion net worth

    The youngest among the Filipino billionaires is Razon at 54. He is the chairman and CEO of International Container Terminal Services, one of largest port operators in the Philippines and worldwide.

    Bill Gates, with a net worth of $79.2 billion, remains to be the first on the list, the place he has held for 16 of the past 21 years.

    “His fortune grew $3.2 billion since last year to $79.2 billion, despite a gift of $1.5 billion in Microsoft MSFT +0.07% shares to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2014,” Forbes said.

    Second is Carlos Helu of Mexico while American investor Warren Buffett is reclaimed the third spot from Spain’s Amancio Ortega, now at fourth.

    The list was first released in the March 23, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine. About 1,191 were self-made billionaires; 230 inherited their wealth; while 405 inherited at least a portion of their assets but are still growing it.

    For the full list, videos and more, visit www.forbes.com/billionaires.

  • Senate subpoenas exchange of text messages between Purisima, Aquino
    MANILA, Philippines --- TheSenate has subpoenaed the shortmessage service(SMS)conversationsof resigned Philippine National PoliceChiefDirector General Alan Purisima on the fateful day ofthe Mamapasano operation last January 25where44 elitepolicemen were killed while serving warrants of arrest to two suspected terrorists.   Senator Grace Poe,head of the Senatecommittee on public order, said her committeeissued the subpoena to Napoleon Nazareno, president and chief executiveofficer of Smart Communications lastThursday, Feb. 26.   In a two-page subpoena duces tecum, thecommittee "commanded and required" Nazarenoto submit immediately upon receipt to thebodythe trans...

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  • Bong Revilla on his way to visit son Jolo at Asian Hospital
    MANILA, Philippines---Detained Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. is on his way to visit his son Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla who has been confined at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City since allegedly shooting himself accidentally.   Revilla's convoy left the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame at around 1:30 p.m.   The senator, who was detained for plunder due to his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam, was allowed by the Sandiganbayan First Division to visit his son from 3 p.m to 8 p.m on Tuesday.   He earlier asked the Sandiganbayan for a three-hour furlough.   The vice governo...

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  • Madonna plans global tour for new album

    Madonna (AFP Photo?Robyn Beck/Files)

    NEW YORK (AFP) – Madonna on Monday announced concerts across North America and Europe to support her new album, her first extensive shows since a high-grossing and controversy-filled global tour in 2012.

    The pop superstar will start a 35-date tour to accompany her “Rebel Heart” album on August 29 in Miami, with concerts across North America as well as a show in Puerto Rico before she heads to Europe in November.

    Madonna’s last scheduled concert is on December 20 in Glasgow, but a statement from concert promoters said that she would soon announce additional dates in Asia and Australia.

    If they go ahead, the concerts in Australia would be her first in more than two decades. She canceled dates in Australia in 2012 as part of her “MDNA” tour.

    The “MDNA” tour — in which Madonna played 88 shows across North America, Europe and Asia, as well as Latin America — grossed more than $300 million.

    It also generated frequent controversy, with the Material Girl using the platform to raise her voice on issues from gun control to gay rights and Europe’s far right.

    The announcement of the latest tour comes after the 56-year-old Material Girl prepares for the March 9 release of her 13th studio album, “Rebel Heart,” in which her sound moves increasingly in a hip-hop direction.

    Madonna abruptly released six songs from the album in December after early versions leaked online in what the singer described as “artistic rape” in comments on Instagram that she later deleted.

    Madonna gave what may be a preview of her new tour at the Grammy Awards in February, where she dressed in a revealing red outfit reminiscent of a matador’s as dancers pranced about in bull horns.

    More recently, Madonna was in the spotlight as she fell at the Brit Awards and said she suffered whiplash. Madonna blamed the fall on her extravagant Armani cape.

  • Peanuts may reduce risk of death, heart disease

    Eating peanuts, in small amounts, may reduce the risk of mortality, especially death from cardiovascular disease, a new study Monday showed.

    The report compiles research from people of varying races, including Caucasians, African Americans and Asians, all from low income backgrounds.

    Researchers found that consuming peanuts regularly reduced mortality among men and women from all groups, and suggests that eating the nuts — which are relatively affordable — can be an inexpensive and nutritious way to reduce mortality and cardiovascular disease around the world.

    The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine includes more than 70,000 Caucasians and blacks in the United States and some 130,000 Chinese people in Shanghai.

    “We found that peanut consumption was associated with reduced total mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality in a predominantly low-income black and white population in the US, and among Chinese men and women living in Shanghai,” said senior author Xiao-Ou Shu, associate director for Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC).

    There was a reduced risk of total mortality of in 17 to 21 percent of participants, the study showed.

    The risk of death from cardiovascular disease was slashed by between 23 and 38 percent.

    But co-author William Blot warned that because the data was from observational epidemiological studies and not randomized clinical trials, “we cannot be sure that peanuts per se were responsible for the reduced mortality observed.”

    “The findings from this new study, however, reinforce earlier research suggesting health benefits from eating nuts, and thus are quite encouraging,” added Blot, who is also associate director for cancer prevention control and population-based research at VICC.

    Peanuts are less expensive and more widely available than many other nuts, and are eaten by many cultures around the world.

    The nutritious nuts — which are actually legumes — are high in and unsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, and anti-oxidants and can boost cardiovascular health with as little as 30 grams eaten weekly.

    “The results suggest that including a modest amount of nuts as part of a well-balanced diet may be of benefit,” said Peter Weissberg, director of the British Heart Foundation, who did not participate in the study.

    “The data do not show that the more peanuts you eat the lower the risk of a fatal heart attack, so people should not start eating large quantities of nuts, particularly salted nuts, in the hope that it will protect them from heart disease,” he added.

    Previous research has focused on white upper class research subjects.

    The participants in this latest study were observed for between five and 12 years.

  • Bong Revilla leaves Crame to visit son Jolo at hospital
    Detained Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. on Tuesday afternoon left the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame to visit his son, Jolo, at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City.
  • At least 2 Pinoys among new MERS-CoV cases in Saudi
    At least two Filipinos were among the new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ministry of Health said.
  • ‘Birdman’ returns to select PHL cinemas on March 4
    Filming “Birdman” (Award Winner for Best Picture), which also won Alejandro González Iñárritu as Best Director award, was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of Michael Keaton’s career. He also got a Best Actor nomination out of it.
  • Google selling wireless plans to get more people online

    BARCELONA, Spain — Search giant, self-driving car developer, smartphone and tablet maker. Turned data plan provider?

    Google wants more people to get online so they can search around and click on its ads. And it’s shaking up the telecom world to do it. The company said Monday at the wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, that it will soon sell data plans for smartphones and tablets in the U.S. The announcement confirmed leaks and media reports in late January that Google planned to enter the telecom market.

    More information will be released “in the coming months,” Sundar Pichai, Google Inc.’s senior vice president of products, said during his presentation.

    The move into the wireless market mirrors what Google has been trying to do for hard-wired Internet access at home. The Mountain View, California, company currently sells an ultra-fast fiber-optic Internet service in a handful of markets scattered across the U.S. in an attempt to pressure long-established broadband providers to improve their prices and cut their prices.

    Google conceivably do something similar for wireless by offering discounted data plans that would pressure major carriers such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications to offer better deals and services or risk losing customers to a powerful rival.

    “Any time there is a new entrant with the resources and imagination of Google, it most definitely could shake up the market,” said Gartner analyst Bill Menezes.

    Pichai downplayed the competitive threat that Google might pose.

    “We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale,” he said. “Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the ecosystem should evolve and hopefully will get traction.”

    Pichai compared Google’s latest move to its decision to launch its own line of Nexus smartphones, which he said Google uses not to compete with other smartphone makers, but to introduce innovations in mobile hardware.

    Finding a way to provide a “seamless” Internet connection when a device moves from Wi-Fi to cellular coverage as one example of goals Google would like to target, Pichai said. He also noted that Google is also working on “Android Pay,” a mobile payment system similar to “Apple Pay,” that will work across all Android-powered devices.

    Google plans to be a “mobile virtual network operator,” which means it will lease space on an existing system. Pichai didn’t name Google’s wireless partners, but previous media reports have identified Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. Neither of those carriers has confirmed those plans yet.

    Selling Google access to their wireless networks would help Sprint and T-Mobile recoup some of their extensive investments. If Google’s entry into the wireless market is successful, the company may even try to take over Sprint or T-Mobile, Menezes said. “This could end up being a ‘try it and then buy it’ strategy,” he said.

    T-Mobile already has been lowering its prices and rolling out other wireless plans that have undercut the status quo. Some of those changes have prodded AT&T and Verizon to take steps that have helped their existing customers save money.

    Google is constantly looking for ways to get more people online in an effort to drive more traffic to its Internet-leading search engine, Gmail and YouTube video site. All those services display the ads that generate most of Google’s revenue. Google also collects commissions on millions of ads distributed to other sites.

    The company is using solar-powered drones and a fleet of high-altitude balloons to beam Internet service in some parts of the world.

  • Big Bang, 2NE1 among winners in 2015 YouTube Music Awards

    Big Bang and 2NE1 in Manila (Photos by Jonathan Hicap)

    K-pop groups Big Bang and 2NE1 are among the 50 acts honored in this year’s YouTube Music Awards.

    “These YTMA artists were chosen by you,” YouTube announced on its official blog. “Thanks to your love, they showed the biggest growth in views, subscribers and engagement over the last six months. That’s what makes them artists to watch on YouTube in 2015, and YTMA winners.”

    Other honorees are Alt-J, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Big Sean, Brad Paisley, Charlie XCX, Dej Loaf, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Ella Henderson, Fifth Harmony, FKA Twigs, Florida Georgia Line, George Ezra, Hoodie Allen, Hozier, Hunter Hayes, J. Cole, Jason Derulo, Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar, Kiesza, Kurt Hugo Schneider, Lady Gaga, Lindsey Stirling, Martin Garrix, Max, Megan Nicole, Meghan Trainor, Miggs, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Nicky Jam, OK Go, One Direction, Pentatonix, Pharrell Williams, Rihanna, Sam Smith, Sia, Snoop Dogg, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Tinashe, Tori Kelly, Tove Lo, Troy Sivan and Tyler Ward.

    Collectively, YouTube said, these artists earned more than 47 billion views and 164 million subscribers with 1,600 videos uploaded in the last six months.

    Instead of holding an awards ceremony like it did in 2013 in New York City, where Girls’ Generation’s “I Got A Boy” won “Video of the Year,” YouTube will hold an online event on March 23.

    “We’re doing something never before seen on YouTube – dropping a collection of exclusive, new music videos from established and emerging artists, all at once,” the site said, adding, “We’ve selected some of the most original music video directors alive today to produce these new videos and enlisted VICE to produce the entire program.”

    Among those taking part in the event are Cahoots, Charli XCX, Ed Sheeran, Martin Garrix, MAX, Migos, Megan Nicole, Nicky Jam and Shamir.

    YouTube added, “These artists will even pull some of you into the action, inviting you to go behind the scenes at shoots, be a part of their videos and more.”

  • BFP Naga has fire protection equipment for only 16 of 56 firefighters
    While its personnel are prepared to fight fires, the Bureau of Fire Protection in Naga City sorely lack the proper firefighting and rescue equipment.
  • Michael Jordan becomes first billionaire athlete
    MANILA, Philippines -- Michael Jordan is not only recognized as basketball's greatest of all time, he also became the first billionaire athlete.   According toforbes.com, "His Airness"soared into the prestigious billionaires club,joining 289 other newcomers.   Jordan's most valuable asset, his stakein the Charlotte Hornets franchise in the NBA, isestimated atabout $500 million.   Apart from being the majority owner of the Hornets,the 52-year-old Jordan, who won six championships with the Chicago Bulls, also has been earningloadsfrom The Jordan Brand.   "Most of his cash comes from Nike payouts on his iconic brand. The Jordan brand grossed a...

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  • NASA spacecraft making first visit to dwarf planet Ceres

    PASADENA, California — A NASA spacecraft is about to reach the end of a nearly eight-year journey and make the first rendezvous with a dwarf planet.

    The Dawn craft will slip into orbit Friday around Ceres, a dwarf planet the size of Texas. Unlike robotic landings or other orbit captures, the arrival won’t be a nail-biter. Still, Dawn had to travel some 3 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) to reach the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

    “It’s been a roller coaster ride. It’s been extremely thrilling,” project manager Robert Mase of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Monday.

    Robert Mase, right, project manager for the Dawn mission at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, speaks at news conference, with Carol Raymond, deputy project scientist at JPL, left, at JPL in Pasadena on Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Ceres is the first of two dwarf planets to receive visitors this year. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is barreling toward one-time planet Pluto where it will arrive in July. Dwarf planets are worlds that are spherical in shape. But unlike traditional planets, dwarf planets share the same space with other similar-sized celestial objects.

    Launched in 2007, Dawn made the first stop of its journey at the asteroid Vesta. It beamed back more than 30,000 images of the rocky world inside the asteroid belt before heading to its final destination.

    Dawn began its approach to Ceres in December, and last month it snapped pictures of the dwarf planet that revealed two mysterious bright spots inside a crater. Scientists will have to wait until the craft spirals closer to the surface in the coming months to get sharper images. It will get as close as 235 miles (400 kilometers) above Ceres’ surface, or roughly the distance of the International Space Station above Earth.

    Last year, European researchers not connected with the mission detected water plumes spewing from two regions on Ceres. The source of the plumes remains unclear.

    Deputy project scientist Carol Raymond said the shiny patches — possibly exposed ice or salt — were a surprise and could be related to the plumes. Dawn carries an instrument that should be able to detect the plumes if the surface is still active.

    “The team is really, really excited about this feature because it is unique in the solar system,” Raymond said of the spots. “We will be revealing its true nature as we get closer and closer to the surface. So the mystery will be solved, but it is one that’s really got us on the edge of our seats.”

    The $473 million Dawn mission is the first to target two different celestial objects to better understand how the solar system evolved. It’s powered by ion propulsion engines, which provide gentle yet constant acceleration, making it more efficient than conventional rocket fuel. With its massive solar wings unfurled, it measures about 65 feet, the size of a tractor-trailer

    Vesta and Ceres reside in a zone between Mars and Jupiter that’s littered with space rocks that never grew to be full-fledged planets.

    The two are “literally fossils that we can investigate to really understand the processes that were going on” during the formation of the solar system, Raymond said.

    Dawn entered orbit around Vesta in 2011 and spent a year photographing the lumpy surface and taking measurements of the second massive object in the asteroid belt from different altitudes.

    Unlike rocky Vesta, Ceres —discovered in 1801 and measuring 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) across — is thought to possess a large amount of ice and some scientists think there may have been an ocean lurking below the surface.

    Dawn will study Ceres for 16 months. At the end of the mission, it will stay in the lowest orbit indefinitely, said Mase, adding that it could remain there for hundreds of years.

    Scientists will get a glimpse of another icy dwarf planet this summer when New Horizons arrives at Pluto. Once considered the ninth planet, Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet in 2006, seven months after New Horizons was launched.

  • Los Angeles officials vote to aid immigrants despite injunction vs. Obama exec order
    LOS ANGELES -- The County Board of Supervisors voted this week, to help eligible immigrants apply for President Barack Obama's contested executive deferred action program, even as the fate of the President's signature immigration initiative remains unclear. In a 4-1 vote, Supervisors Hilda Solis, Shiela Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Don Knabe voted on creating a task force to determine how LA County can better assist immigrants eligible for Obama's planned expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and implementation of Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), two programs that would offer temporary protection for an estimated five million undocumented ...

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  • Mexico fines mine $1.5 million for spill, lets it reopen

    FILE – In this Aug. 12, 2014, file photo, the Sonora River, contaminated by the spill of about 10 million gallons of copper sulfate and heavy metals from the Buenavista copper mine, makes its way through the hills near the town of Mazocahui in the northern state of Sonora, Mexico. (AP Photo/El Imparcial, Julian Ortega, File)

    MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities have fined a mining company about $1.5 million for an Aug. 7 spill of copper sulfate and heavy metals that contaminated two rivers in northern Mexico.

    The Attorney General for Environmental Protection found 55 violations at the Buenavista copper mine in the northern border state of Sonora.

    The office said Monday the violations have been corrected and the mine will be allowed to reopen work areas that were ordered closed following the spill. The mine operated by Mexican conglomerate Grupo Mexico has also been ordered to pay $133 million into a restoration and remediation fund.

    About 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of copper sulfate were spilled into the rivers and some ultimately traveled to a reservoir behind a dam that supplies water to the capital of Sonora.

  • Nepal official says human waste on Everest a major problem
    KATHMANDU, Nepal --- The chief of Nepal's mountaineering association says human waste left by climbers on Mount Everest has become a problem that is causing pollution and threatening to spread disease on the world's highest peak. Ang Tshering told reporters Tuesday that the more than 700 climbers and guides who spend nearly two months on Everest's slopes each climbing season leave large amounts of feces and urine, and the issue has not been addressed. He said Nepal's government needs to get the climbers to dispose of the waste properly so the mountain remains pristine. Hundreds of foreign climbers attempt to scale Everest during Nepal's mountaineering season, which began this wee...

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  • Fil-Am martial arts wunderkind wants to be an actor
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Ten-year-old Filipino-American Matthew McFarlin, who was recently crowned as Choi Kwang Do martial black belt state champion in Michigan, dreams of someday becoming an actor. A second-degree black belter, Matthew, topped the Speed Drills and Patterns and was second in Air Shield Attack to top his division at the 2nd Annual Choi Kwang Do Festival attended by over 160 black belts, including some of the best Choi competitors throughout the state and in the world. The youngest competitor in the black belt category, the Pinoy martial arts wunderkind also helped his local club to second place finishes in the Demo and seven-man black belt competitions. Organizers s...

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