Latest News Headlines from in and around the Philippines
News Headlines in and around the Philippines
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Facebook delivers more news in News FeedSAN FRANCISCO—Facebook is boosting its efforts to put more news in its News Feed. That is, real news from the news media, rather than status updates from friends. The world's biggest social network, cognizant of its growing importance for discovering news, said in a blog post on Monday that it is revising the way it delivers information to its billion-plus users. "People use Facebook to share and connect, including staying current on the latest news, whether it's about their favorite celebrity or what's happening in the world," said the blog post from Facebook engineering manager Varun Kacholia and software engineer Minwen Ji. "We...
Keep on reading: Facebook delivers more news in News Feed
John Kerry to visit Philippines this monthWASHINGTON—Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the Philippines this month to reaffirm the US commitment to helping the Southeast Asian nation rebuild after a devastating typhoon. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry spoke Tuesday with Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario who thanked the US for its "overwhelming support" in the wake of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) that struck the central Philippines Nov. 8, killing nearly 5,600 people and displacing 3.8 million. The US has provided about $60 million in aid. Kerry told Del Rosario the US "will continue to stand by the Philippines during this difficult time."...
Keep on reading: John Kerry to visit Philippines this month
John Kerry to visit Philippines this month
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the Philippines this month to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to helping the Southeast Asian nation rebuild after a devastating typhoon.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry spoke Tuesday with Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario who thanked the U.S. for its “overwhelming support” in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan that struck the central Philippines Nov. 8, killing nearly 5,600 people and displacing 3.8 million.
The U.S. has provided about $60 million in aid.
Kerry told del Rosario the U.S. “will continue to stand by the Philippines during this difficult time.” Harf said they will also discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.
Kerry was forced to postpone a trip to the Philippines in October because an earlier typhoon was approaching.
Biden heads to China amid air zone tensionsBEIJING—US Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Beijing on Wednesday amid rising friction over a Chinese air zone, needing to tread between bolstering ties with the rising power and underscoring alliances with Tokyo and Seoul. His trip—which began in Japan and ends in South Korea – follows weeks of furor after Beijing declared an "air defence identification zone" (ADIZ) covering East China Sea islands also claimed by Japan. The decades-old dispute between the historic rivals flared after Tokyo bought some of the islands from their private owners in September 2012. Since then, Beijing has sent ships and aircraft to nearby waters while Japan ...
Keep on reading: Biden heads to China amid air zone tensions
Small plane crashes in Puerto Rico; 2 bodies found
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A small cargo plane crashed near Puerto Rico’s northern coast, killing the two U.S. citizens who were aboard, officials said Tuesday.
Investigators had not yet identified the pilot and the passenger, Emergency Management Agency spokesman Carlos Acevedo said.
The plane originally flew from Florida to in the Dominican Republic either on Sunday or Monday, Acevedo said. It departed late Monday from the latter Caribbean country and was headed to Puerto Rico’s main international airport when it crashed, said another agency spokesman, Jose Cruz.
Acevedo said the plane was carrying cargo that included mail, food and beverages.
The aircraft was operated by IBC Airways, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Officials with IBC Airways did not return a message seeking comment.
The plane crashed on a small mountain in the north coastal town of Arecibo, and officials with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration were investigating whether the pilot had requested a change in altitude, Acevedo said.
An FAA statement said air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight when it was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the capital of San Juan. The agency identified the aircraft as a Fairchild SA-227-AC cargo plane but released no further details. The plane was registered and its certificate issue date was valid through 2017.
Ukraine mass protests resume after gov’t wins vote
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine appeared mired in a political standoff Tuesday, as massive protest rallies showed no sign of letting up and the government warned of its capability for force after a failed attempt to take it down.
The opposition lost its attempt to topple the government by parliamentary means when a vote of no-confidence failed by a sizeable margin.
President Viktor Yanukovych left on an official visit to China, where he is expected to sign an array of economic agreements, his office said. He is expected to be gone until Friday and the prospects for a definitive development in the next few days seem small.
Protest leaders vowed to continue their demonstrations, which have brought as many as 300,000 people to the streets of Kiev, in the largest outpouring of public anger since the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Soon after Tuesday’s vote, about 5,000 protesters gathered outside the presidential administration building, then moved to the capital’s central Independence Square, where the crowd grew to more than 10,000, according to police estimates.
The opposition called for the parliamentary vote over Yanukovych’s shelving of a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and the violent tactics used by police to disperse demonstrators protesting the decision.
Yanukovych has sought to quell public anger by moving to renew talks with Brussels. The government appears to recognize that the police violence may have galvanized long-brewing frustrations rather than stifle protests.
But while Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, attending the parliamentary session with his Cabinet, apologized for the violence, he also made a tough vow.
“We have extended our hand to you, but if we encounter a fist, I will be frank, we have enough force,” he said.
There is a question as to how long protesters’ determination will last as winter sets in and the holiday period approaches, noted Adrian Karatnycky, a Ukraine analyst at the Atlantic Council think tank.
In addition to Yanukovych’s trip to China, “these things suggest Yanukovych is playing for time,” he said.
The no-confidence measure got the support of 186 members of the Verkhovna Rada, 40 shy of the majority needed. Even if it had passed, Yanukovych would have remained president, but the prime minister and Cabinet would have been ejected.
In turn, Vitali Klitschko, the super heavyweight world boxing champion and leader of the opposition party Udar, vowed that the action would continue.
“We will peacefully blockade the government building and not allow them to work,” he told demonstrators at Independence Square after the no-confidence motion failed.
Oleg Tyahnybok, leader of the nationalist Svoboda party, accused Russia of having “an interest in a situation where more and more blood flows in Ukraine. The president should accept our conditions for preventing this scenario — he should resign and call elections for all branches of power.”
Russia wants to turn Ukraine toward its orbit and away from the EU. Azarov, like Yanukovych, has said Ukraine wants further integration with the EU, but wants to negotiate better terms and can’t bear the burden of the trade losses with Russia it would presumably suffer.
EU leaders have reaffirmed their willingness to sign the association agreement.
Ukraine is also deeply dependent on natural gas from Russia, which previously has sharply raised prices for its neighbor.
Russia opposes closer Ukraine-EU relations, hoping to draw Ukraine into a trading bloc of several former Soviet republics. But Karatnycky said the size and vehemence of the protests effective derails Russia’s desire, saying joining that bloc “would trigger a further escalation.”
In Brussels at a meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member states, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Europe and its allies have “all declined to engage in a rather overt and we think inappropriate bidding war.”
Lawmakers in Poland, a country at the forefront of EU attempts to bring Ukraine into the 28-nation bloc’s fold, adopted a resolution calling for dialogue between Ukraine’s opposition and the government. It also condemned the use of force during protests and expressed solidarity with pro-European Ukrainians.
Obama urges Americans not be discouraged by rocky healthcare rollout
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama urged Americans not to be discouraged by the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov on Tuesday and vowed to fix whatever glitches remain as he sought to restore confidence in his leadership.
Obama used a speech at the White House to address criticisms of the law and accuse his Republican opponents of attempting to gain politically from the problems surrounding his central domestic policy achievement.
Obama, whose job approval ratings have sunk as problems mounted around the healthcare system’s website, said repairs to the website have now made it work well for the vast majority of users and that “we’re are going to keep on working to fix whatever problems come up.”
“Do not let the initial problems with the website discourage you because it’s working better now,” Obama told an audience of supporters of the law. “And it’s going to keep on working better over time.”
Obama is struggling to contain the political damage from the troubled rollout of the new health law. He needs to win back support for the law’s attributes that has been lost in the weeks since the website went live on October 1.
In his speech, he said Republican lawmakers are “rooting for this law to fail” and have offered no alternative to the law other than repealing it, which he rejected as a possibility.
His message to them, he said, is “we’re not going back.”
“If you’ve got good ideas, bring them to me, let’s go,” he said. “But we’re not repealing it as long as I’m president.”
Defense chief could sign Afghan pact instead of Karzai: Kerry
(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Tuesday that Afghanistan’s defense minister or government, instead of a reluctant President Hamid Karzai, could sign a security pact enabling some U.S. troops to stay in the country after 2014.
An assembly of Afghan elders, the Loya Jirga, last month endorsed the security deal with the United States, but Karzai said he might not sign it until after elections next April.
The delay has irritated the United States and its allies, which want to get on with planning for the smaller, NATO-led training mission that is to stay on in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign troops that have been battling Taliban insurgents will have pulled out.
Kerry urged the Afghan government to sign the security deal “sooner, not later” and said this priority was backed by all NATO foreign ministers taking part in a meeting on Tuesday.
“This is not fooling around … This is serious business,” Kerry told a news conference in Brussels.
“I think it is important for the agreement to try to move forward. It doesn’t have to be pres(ident),” he said, not finishing the word. “You know, his minister of defense (Bismullah Khan Mohammadi) can sign it, the government can sign it, somebody can accept responsibility for this.
“But I think it is important, for planning purposes, for people who have been extraordinarily patient, who are trying to allocate major amounts of money to sustaining this effort in Afghanistan, to have knowledge of where they are going.”
Kerry said he had personally negotiated the agreement with Karzai and did not believe in unilateral renegotiation.
After the sacrifices made by U.S. troops and the American people to contribute to Afghanistan’s future, Kerry said he didn’t think President Barack Obama appreciated that the pact was “being left in doubt at this critical moment.”
Other NATO leaders also urged Karzai to swiftly sign the security pact, saying failure to do so could jeopardize Afghan security and up to $8 billion a year in foreign aid.
U.S. and NATO officials have warned that if Karzai does not sign the security deal with the United States promptly, both Washington and the alliance would have to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and abandon plans to leave behind a training force of around 8,000-12,000 soldiers.
The NATO-led force now has 84,000 troops in Afghanistan, the majority American. NATO is winding down combat operations, handing responsibility for fighting the Taliban to the Afghans, before most foreign combat forces pull out by the end of 2014.
“My concern is that if we are not able to deploy a training mission to Afghanistan, it may have a negative impact on the security situation in Afghanistan and furthermore it may also have a negative impact on the provision of financial aid to Afghanistan,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.
He said he looked forward to Karzai’s “timely signature” of the U.S. security pact.
Although terms of the Afghan-U.S. pact were settled after a year of wrangling, Karzai has since added conditions including the release of all Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and an end to military operations involving Afghan homes.
A senior diplomat at NATO said U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice had made clear on a recent visit to Kabul that Washington would begin planning a total pullout by the end of 2014 unless Karzai signed by the end of this year.
Kerry said, however, that Obama had urged Karzai to sign the pact by “a period of time” but had set no ultimatum.
UK assistance, investments to go beyond 'Yolanda' rebuildingMANILA - The British government is extending immediate and possibly long-term assistance to the Philippines in line with the national government’s efforts to rebuild Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan)-ravaged areas.
RLC to build 5 more budget hotelsMANILA - Listed property developer Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) said it will build at least five more budget hotels for its Go Hotels brand within the next two years.
Driver in fatal New York train crash was not drunk nor on drugs, US NTSB saysNEW YORK - Drug and alcohol tests conducted on the driver of a New York commuter train that derailed on Sunday, killing four people, have come back negative, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said on Wednesday.
PAGASA: Light to moderate rain over Bicol region and Quezon provinceThe tail-end of a cold front will bring cloudy skies, and light to moderate rain over parts of the Bicol region and Quezon province on Wednesday, state weather forecasters said.
Global Markets: Fear of stimulus taper hits stocks; bonds, yen upFear that the Federal Reserve will scale back its stimulus as the U.S. economy recovers hit world stock markets on Tuesday, with European equities falling the most since August, while safe havens such as the yen and Treasuries rose.