Whale Sharks and Waterfalls [Oslob, Philippines] – GOT #16



Traveling to the Philippines? How about some fun with nature. On our recent trip, Jo and I visited Oslob, Cebu. What makes this place famous is the ability to jump in the water and swim with whale sharks. They’re not predatory, and in fact, giant fishes that are fairly harmless. It’s an amazing experience and one that I recommend. Nearby there’s also a great waterfall worth your time.

AirAsia Updates; Xiaomi Makes Money; China Blocks Gmail


Debris and bodies have been recovered from the downed Air Asia flight and China’s Xiaomi brings home the bacon. Plus the Great Firewall takes down gmail.

Debris and bodies have been recovered from the downed Air Asia flight and China’s Xiaomi brings home the bacon. Plus the Great Firewall takes down gmail.

NOTES: http://goo.gl/knURvP

Search continues for QZ8501; ISIS Family?; Floods in Philippines; Bird Flu in Hong Kong


The search continues for the missing Air Asia flight and Indonesian authorities thwart a group bound for ISIS. Plus a flood hits the Philippines, forcing thousands to flee and bird flu warnings are issued in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The search continues for the missing Air Asia flight and Indonesian authorities thwart a group bound for Syria. Plus a flood hits the Philippines, forcing thousands to flee and bird flu warnings are issued in Hong Kong.

Missing Air Asia Flight

While the search for missing Air Asia flight 8501 was suspended Sunday night, it resumed early Monday morning with the addition of vessels and aircraft from a number of nations.

An Emergency Call Center is available for those seeking information about relatives or friends who may have been on board the flight. That number is +622129270811.

Reports have come in of debris being found, but nothing has been confirmed and the working hypothesis of those in charge of the search, is that the plane is at the bottom of the sea.

Authorities stop six from joining ISIS

Jakarta Police continued their crackdown on citizens it believes are attempting to leave the country and join the Islamic State. Authorities arrested six at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Saturday allegedly en route to Syria. Police say those attempting to travel, received their funds from an unknown source.

Philippines Floods

A tropical storm dumped rain in the Philippine’s Surigao del Sur province. The storm first struck early Monday morning around 4am local time. Some 4,000 people were moved to emergency shelters, Governor Johnny Pimentel told the press. This is one of the most flood-prone regions of the Philippines, and their effects are made worse by the impoverished life many farmers lead.

Hong Kong issues alert over Bird Flu

A woman infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu transitioned into critical condition over the weekend in Hong Kong, prompting hospitals to raise alert levels. According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection, ten people had previously been diagnosed with the flu; three of which died.

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Filipino Prisoners Live Like Kings; Bird Flu in Japan; US-Philippines Discuss Marine; Indonesia IS Recruits


Some prisoners in the Philippines are living like kings while Japan struggles with bird flu. Plus the US Marine charged with murder may be transferred as Indonesia reports an uptick in ISIS recruits.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Prisoners live like kings

A recent raid uncovered drug lords in Bilibid prison living in luxury cells, complete with stripper bars and jacuzzis. According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, there were 20 premium villas outfitted with air conditioning, including some with methamphetamine.

“The military should take over the prison, and all the people involved from top to bottom must be fired,” said Dante Jimenez, founder of the Manila-based watchdog group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in an interview with AFP. The Bilibid prison was designed to house 8,900 prisoners, but currently has an inmate population of 23,000.

Japan struggles to contain bird flu outbreak

Bird flu was detected at a poultry farm in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan, after which government agencies began screening poultry and sanitizing chicken coops. It’s also been detected in cranes in Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, dating back to November.

In 2011 a bird flu outbreak was responsible for an economic loss of 10 billion yen in the region. Kagoshima prefectural government also held an emergency meeting to discuss how best to prevent the virus’ spread.

Philippines wants custody of US Marine

A US Marine stands accused of murdering a transgendered woman in October. PFC Pemberton has been in US custody since the crime took place, but was recently transferred to a Filipino jail. Now, the Philippines is seeking formal custody, although the US isn’t keen on letting it happen.

Indonesia reports more fighting with ISIS

Indonesia estimates 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq, fighting with the Islamic State; fifty more than the previous month. Wawan Purwanto, an expert with the Anti-Terrorism Management Agency, said that most are not coming from Indonesia itself, but rather from countries abroad where they are working.

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The Sydney Siege; Murder in Malaysia; US Marine Charged with Murder


The Sydney Siege; Murder in Malaysia; US Marine Charged with Murder

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Sydney Siege

It began sometime before 8am Monday morning, when at least one perpetrator took hostages at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe located in Sydney’s Martin Place. Witnesses in the area heard loud bangs that sounded like gun shots. Patrick Byrne, a producer at Channel Seven whose newsroom is opposite the cafe, said, “We raced to the window and saw the shocking and chilling sight of people putting their hands up against the panes of glass at the cafe.” Now, the situation is over.

Murder in Malaysia

A 44-year-old mother-of-three is recovering in a Kuala Lumpur hospital after her husband chopped off her hands and feet with a meat cleaver before hanging himself. Reportedly the woman is now in stable condition and has been moved to general care after being in the ICU.

US Marine Charged with Murder

A US Marine has been charged with the brutal murder of a transgendered woman in the Philippines. Pfc. Scott Pemberton is accused of killing Jeffrey Laude, who was also known as Jennifer in October. “We will not accept anything less than justice,” the victim’s sister, Marilou Laude, said.

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Hong Kong Protests, Typhoon Hagupit, Japan’s Election, Xi’s Graft Hunt, and more


Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

Typhoon Hagupit storms over Philippines, the upcoming Japanese election, and Hong Kong streets are cleared. These stories and more are on the December 12th edition of Asia News Weekly.

The Hong Kong protests fade

For nearly three months, the residents of Hong Kong took to the streets demanding electoral reform. They denounced the plan to vet and presumably stack a list of viable candidates in 2017 ahead of the city’s first open vote with pro-Beijing supporters. The peaceful movement was dubbed the Umbrella Revolution and this week it came to an end.

Asia News Weekly host Steve Miller recaps the week’s events, even as Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, calls for more action, “It’s to demonstrate what we’re taking part is an act of civil disobedience action. That means although the government and police might use furious action on the protestors, we still resist till the last moment. It’s not simply for us to be arrested, but to demonstrate our spirit and we will resist till the last moment.”

Typhoon Hagupit

In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan raged across the Philippines, resulting in the death of more than 7,300 souls. This week, it was widely feared that another typhoon, following roughly the same path, would unleash a similar wave of destruction in an area still struggling with recovery.

“Our job really is to calm them down to minimize any of the negative repercussions from an event such as this. So I’m pressing everybody: The checklist of what has to be done, preferably should have been done yesterday,” Philippine President Aquino said last week before Typhoon Hagupit struck.

While there were some unfortunate losses of life from this natural disaster, Miller provides context on why this storm didn’t provide the same results as Haiyan and the possible impact for Filipinos still recovering.

Japan’s Election

Sunday, December 14th, Japan heads to the polls in a snap election called by Prime Minister Sinzo Abe. He dissolved the lower house of Parliament following a tour of top-level Asian summits and is using this vote to seek validation of his economic policies amidst a recession worse than previously thought.

Miller shares the latest poll results and projections, and even thought the LDP is predicted to retain its power in the Diet, what it means for the future of Japan remains unanswered.

Xi’s China Crackdown

Over the past two years, President Xi Jinping has initiated a number of programs aimed at extending China’s influence and cleaning up politics to solidify his control across all levels of power. In what some experts have said is his biggest and boldest move yet, Xi arrested former public security czar Zhou Yongkang. Zhou represents the highest level official to be taken down in Xi’s war on graft. What happened, how did Zhou’s fall from grace occur, and why the story sounds more like a steamy soap opera are all explained.

The Weekly Brief

Michael Farrell returns to the podcast with a short round-up of other stories from the region. In The Weekly Brief, Farrell gives gruesome details on Chinese organ harvesting practices, an update on a Swiss man escapes from the Abbu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines, how cheap instant coffee is supplanting tea as Aisa’s go-to beverage and more.

Asia News Weekly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Philippine Bomb Blast; Shanghai Stocks Dive; Uighur Students Convicted; Hong Kong Clearing Set


Philippine Bomb Blast; Shanghai Stocks Dive; Uighur Students Convicted; Hong Kong Clearing Set

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mindanao Bomb Blast

At least nine were killed and twenty injured when a bomb exploded on a commuter bus in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao. Officials say the explosion occurred as a bus operated by the Rural Transit company passed a university in the town of Maramag. Many of the victims were students. Buses operated by Rural Transit in the past have been targeted before. Muslim extremists and gangs have been blamed in the past for such attacks.

Shanghai’s Stocks Take a Dive

Shanghai’s stock market take a 5.43% dip in value. While alarming, the market is up nearly 40% from the year, but such a radical change does raise some concerns and regulators have warned investors to be wary.

Tohti’s Students Convicted

Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, who was convicted earlier this year of separatism and sentenced to life, was painted as an influencer on seven of his students, who received jail terms as well. A Chinese court has given jail terms of between three and eight years to the students. Chinese authorities have not commented on the sentences, but six of the students belong to the Uighur minority, which complains of government persecution.

Hong Kong To Clear

A ruling Tuesday by Hong Kong’s High Court gave authorities permission to tear down street barricades at the main Admiralty protest site. The injunction was published in local media stated thousands of police will work with bailiffs to clear the tent city Thursday.

The order only gives permission to dismantle a portion of the Admiralty site, but authorities are expected to clear the entire area and reopen traffic. The South China Morning Post reported police will also break up a smaller protest site in Causeway Bay.

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Leung set to clear Protesters; Philippines recovers; DPRK lifts wage ceiling; China refuses arbitration


Leung set to clear Protesters; Philippines recovers; DPRK lifts wage ceiling; China refuses arbitration

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Force unavoidable in Hong Kong

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said “furious resistance” is expected from some protesters in the Admiralty area when bailiffs execute a court order to clear part of the protest site.

Leung told reporters, “I think we should be prepared, both psychologically and operationally, that towards the end of the illegal occupation there will be fewer people taking part and they tend to be more radical. This seems to be the pattern in illegal social movements in other countries. Maybe during the clearance or when police help bailiffs to execute the order, there would be some rather furious resistance.”

It’s expected the city will move on the area Wednesday.

Homes destroyed from Typhoon Hagupit

Mass evacuations before Typhoon Hagupit arrived this past weekend helped to ensure there was no repeat of the mass casualties in the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan last year.

“There is a collective sigh of relief. The initial assessment is that there are no casualties. We were better prepared… up to 50,000 people were packed in evacuation centers,” said Jerry Yaokasin, vice mayor of Tacloban.

The powerful storm as resulted in at least twenty deaths and heavy rains are expected in the area throughout the day.

North Korea ends wage ceiling

North Korea has removed the limit for wages paid to its workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the facility operated in conjunction with South Korea.

According to a state-run website, this removes the cap put in place by a 2003 law that said North Koreans would be paid at least $50 per month and raises couldn’t exceed 5 percent of the monthly wage. The lifting of the raise limit might cause problems at the jointly run complex, as all salaries are negotiated through consultations between North and South Korea on an annual basis.

China bemoans Philippines for arbitration referral

China chided the Philippines for challenging its territorial claims in the South China Sea through international arbitration. The archipelago referred the matter to The Hague earlier this year, and China stated it would not submit to arbitration to resolve the dispute.
“By initiating compulsory arbitration at this moment, the Philippines is running counter to the common wish and joint efforts of China and ASEAN member states. Its underlying goal is not… to seek peaceful settlement of the South China Sea issue, but rather, by resorting to arbitration, to put political pressure on China,” said the official Xinhua news agency.

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TAB: China’s killer drones, APEC begins, and US skips Philippines


China reports the ability to use laser to target shoot down drones. APEC begins in Beijing. The US Navy skips dropping anchor in Philippines due to anti-American sentiments.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

China’s Xinhua news agency is reporting China has successfully tested a domestically developed laser defense system specifically designed to target and destroy low-flying unmanned drones. In a statement released by the China Academy of Engineering Physics the device is able to shoot down various small aircraft within a two-kilometer radius and can do so in five seconds after locating its target. “Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage,” said Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment, a group under the academy supervising the project.

The United States and the Philippines ushered in a new base sharing agreement earlier this year, designed to bolster the archipelago’s defense of their territorial waters in the South China Sea. That relationship was recently put at risk when a US Marine allegedly killed a transgendered woman in Olongapo City last month. The fall-out from that event continues as nine US Navy vessels scheduled to arrive now through December, have canceled their port calls due to “anti-American sentiments.”

Guided by China Vice Foreign Minister and Chair of the 2014 APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting Li Baodong, APEC Senior Officials from member economies will meet to finalize a package of new growth-enhancing measures today. The APEC meeting is scheduled through Tuesday, November 11th and will be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping who’s chairing the event and 20 other heads of states from nations.

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TAB: Hong Kong protests get violent, the Koreas meet, and US Marine arrested for murder


The latest from Hong Kong as authorities crack down, North and South Korea meet, and a US Marine is arrested for murder in the Philippines.

October 16, 2014

What started off as police calmly removing barricades to free up traffic turned violent on Wednesday, as hundreds of police systematically and forcibly removed protesters from where they had been holed up. Perhaps the most alarming footage that surfaced from the day was video footage by local television station TVB, showing six plain clothed officers dragging a protester into the darkened entrance of a building, where they beat him for four minutes.

North and South Korea held senior-level military talks on Wednesday, discussing a pair of incidents last week where both sides exchanged fire. Generals and government officials from both sides met for five hours in Panmunjom and first such discussion since 2011.

A U.S. Marine has been charged with murder in the death of a transgender woman who was found strangled in the Philippines. Jeffrey Laude, who is also known as Jennifer, was found naked with her head in a toilet in an Olongapo hotel room shortly after midnight Sunday.

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Show Notes

Thumbnail: Alcuin Lai