Residents flee Jisr al-Shughour town after rebels took control of the area

Syrian jets pound insurgent-held town - monitor

Reuters - Syrian jets carried out at least 20 air strikes on the town of Jisr al-Shughour in northwestern Syria on Sunday, a group monitoring the war said, one day after it was seized by Islamist fighters clos…

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  • Police teargas protesters against Burundi president seeking third term

    Police teargas protesters against Burundi president seeking third term

    By Patrick Nduwimana BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - Burundian riot police on Sunday forcibly dispersed crowds protesting against the president seeking a third term, a decision critics said is unconstitutional and could rekindle turmoil after a decade of calm in the East African state. Witnesses said police used water cannon and tear gas and in some cases live bullets to scatter demonstrators in four districts of Bujumbura after President Pierre Nkurunziza's government banned protests for or against his move. At least one police officer and a protester were injured in the disturbances. Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party nominated Nkurunziza as its presidential candidate on Saturday, prompting hundreds of civil society groups to condemn the move as a "coup" against the constitution, which limits leaders to two terms in office. More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 8 minutes ago
  • Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory in the Spratly islands and in building an airstrip suitable for military use and that it may be planning another. More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 13 minutes ago
  • Ukrainian-born Blavatnik tops UK rich list, Queen falls out of top 300

    Ukrainian-born Blavatnik tops UK rich list, Queen falls out of top 300

    By Andrew Osborn LONDON (Reuters) - Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik has become Britain's wealthiest man, a "rich list" published annually by The Sunday Times newspaper showed on Sunday, but Queen Elizabeth slipped down the rankings despite her net worth growing. Boosted largely by rising stock markets, the newspaper said the super-rich had doubled their collective wealth since the 2009 economic crisis and that the wealthiest 1,000 people based in Britain were now worth 547 billion pounds ($830.67 billion), up from 258 billion in 2009, an increase of 112 percent. The opposition Labour Party accuses Prime Minister David Cameron of governing in favour of the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Britain has 117 sterling billionaires, the list showed, more than any other country except the United States and China, and London has more billionaires (80) than ever before and more than any other city in the world. More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 44 minutes ago
  • India's Ratan Tata buys stake in Chinese phone maker Xiaomi

    India's Ratan Tata buys stake in Chinese phone maker Xiaomi

    Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of the holding company of India's Tata conglomerate, has acquired a stake in Xiaomi Technology [XTC.UL], a deal that is likely to bolster the Chinese phone maker's presence in the world's third-largest smartphone market. Financial details of the unspecified stake bought by Tata in Xiaomi, the first by an Indian, were not disclosed in the statement issued by the Chinese company on Sunday. Xiaomi, the No. 3 global smartphone maker, was valued at $45 billion after a December funding round. Tata, a respected business leader who was the chairman of salt-to-software Tata Sons for more than two decades, has previously invested in Indian start-ups, including online retailer Snapdeal. More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 19 minutes ago
  • Nokia denies return to phone manufacturing

    Nokia denies return to phone manufacturing

    Finland's Nokia denied reports in Chinese media that it planned to return to manufacturing phones. "Nokia notes recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China. These reports are false," Nokia said in a statement posted on its website. "Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets." However, Nokia has said it is looking into returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing. More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 34 minutes ago
  • Factbox - Foreigners in Nepal at time of deadly earthquake

    Factbox - Foreigners in Nepal at time of deadly earthquake

    MUMBAI (Reuters) - Here are details released by some foreign governments on citizens who found themselves in Nepal at the time a strong earthquake hit on Saturday, killing more than 2,200 people. The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country's trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, several hundred of those on Mount Everest. For the full story, click on: Countries are listed in alphabetical order. - AUSTRIA: Foreign ministry says around 250 Austrians in Nepal, no reports so far on any casualties. ... More »

    Reuters - 3 hours ago
  • Nepalese dig for quake survivors as toll exceeds 2,200, big aftershock …

    Nepalese dig for quake survivors as toll exceeds 2,200, big aftershock …

    By Gopal Sharma and Sanjeev Miglani KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu Valley, killing more than 2,200 people, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. A big aftershock between Kathmandu and Everest unleashed more avalanches in the Himalayas. "Another one, we have an aftershock right now. Oh shit!" said Indian climber Arjun Vajpai over the phone from Makalu base camp near Everest. More »

    Reuters - 3 hours ago
  • Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in …

    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in …

    The Philippines on Sunday called on neighbouring Southeast Asian nations to push for an immediate halt to China's reclamation in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested territory in the Spratly islands in the South China Sea and may be planning another. In a speech to foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario did not name China directly, but said its "northern neighbour" was quickly advancing with its massive reclamation. More »

    Reuters - 3 hours ago
  • Euro accession a turn-off for Polish voters

    Euro accession a turn-off for Polish voters

    By Marcin Goettig WARSAW (Reuters) - One of the most vocal advocates of Poland's adoption of the euro, President Bronislaw Komorowski, has ditched the issue as he campaigns for re-election next month, a sign of how toxic it has become for voters. On the evidence of Komorowski's campaign, the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe is unlikely to join the troubled currency union for years. Just last October, the 62-year-old said it would be harder for Poland to wield international influence if it stayed outside the euro zone, and called for more public debate. "Komorowski could have lost votes if he had stuck with his line." An aide to the president who declined to be named said: "The presidential campaign is not a time to conduct a debate on the euro, because it is not the president who will be adopting the euro in Poland," adding: "Quick adoption of the euro is not on the table." While Poles rank among the most enthusiastic supporters of the European Union, Greece's debt woes and the chance that it could leave the 19-nation euro zone have put them off the single currency. More »

    Reuters - 4 hours ago
  • Injured flown from Everest, aftershock triggers new avalanches

    Injured flown from Everest, aftershock triggers new avalanches

    By Sanjeev Miglani KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The first rescue plane carrying people injured in an earthquake-triggered avalanche that ripped through tents on Mount Everest arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday shortly before a strong aftershock rocked India and Nepal and triggered more snowfalls. Survivors on Everest described a cloud of rock and ice that smashed into base camp, and many climbers were still on the mountain when an aftershock triggered a new series of avalanches on Sunday. "Another one, we have an aftershock right now. More »

    Reuters - 4 hours ago
  • ASEAN, EU to seek jump-start of free-trade talks

    ASEAN, EU to seek jump-start of free-trade talks

    Southeast Asia and the European Union (EU) agreed on Sunday to take steps toward resuming stalled talks on a free-trade agreement between the two regions. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the EU had launched negotiations in 2007, but broke them off in 2009 amid disagreements largely centering on European concerns over ASEAN member Myanmar’s human rights record. "Senior officials of ASEAN and EU will meet towards the end of the year to take stock and explore the way forward and report back to the ministers," the two sides said in a joint statement. The statement was released in Malaysia following discussions between delegations on the sidelines of ASEAN's annual diplomatic gathering, hosted this year by ASEAN chair Malaysia. More »

    AFP News - 5 hours ago
  • Earthquake aftershock hits Nepal and India, magnitude 6.7

    Earthquake aftershock hits Nepal and India, magnitude 6.7

    NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) - A strong earthquake aftershock struck India and Nepal on Sunday, shaking buildings in New Delhi and triggering an avalanche in the Himalayas. The United States Geological Survey said the tremor was 6.7 magnitude, less than the 7.9 quake that struck the region on Saturday killing at least 1,900 people. "Another one, we have an aftershock right now, oh shit," Indian mountaineer Arjun Vajpai told Reuters by telephone from advanced base camp on Mount Makalu, 20 km (12 miles) from Everest. Screams and the sound of an avalanche could be heard over the phone line Vajpai was speaking on. More »

    Reuters - 5 hours ago
  • Sweets and soup vanish as Pakistan aims for halal export boost

    Sweets and soup vanish as Pakistan aims for halal export boost

    Fruity sweets and packets of chicken soup that fall foul of halal laws are disappearing from Pakistan's shop counters as the country looks to clean up its Islamic food credentials to boost exports to rich Gulf states. At the start of the year the government published a list of around 20 imported food products it said were not halal, or permitted under Islamic law. Shops in Pakistan, an Islamic republic where 97 percent of the population are Muslims, already do not stock pork or alcohol -- with a few extremely rare exceptions for foreigners and the small Christian minority. So amongst other things, Pop-Tarts are off the shelves in many stores, along with imported jelly, sweets and several European brands of chicken soup. More »

    AFP News - 5 hours ago
  • India's SMEs still to be convinced by business-friendly PM

    India's SMEs still to be convinced by business-friendly PM

    While Narendra Modi may be the toast of India's titans of industry, bosses of the army of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are beginning to grow impatient for change a year into his premiership. In a paean to Modi for the latest edition of Time magazine, US President Barack Obama hailed the prime minister for pursuing "an ambitious vision... to unleash India's true economic potential". His domestic cheerleaders include some of the biggest names in Indian business such as the industrialist Gautam Adani who rarely left Modi's side during the premier's recent trip to France and Germany. Ankit Sethi, the founder and managing director of the VibeTech India outsourcing firm, said Modi was concentrating too much of his efforts on "benefiting giant corporations". More »

    AFP News - 6 hours ago
  • Rescue plane reaches Kathmandu with Everest injured

    Rescue plane reaches Kathmandu with Everest injured

    KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The first rescue plane carrying people injured in an avalanche at the Everest base camp arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday carrying 15 climbers who survived the collapse triggered by Nepal's worst earthquake in 81 years. The earthquake killed more than 1,900 people including at least 17 who lost their lives on Everest. (Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Douglas Busvine) More »

    Reuters - 6 hours ago
  • Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation
    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory …

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea
    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area. …

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  • Pilgrimage in Batan Island Pinay Solo Backpacker
    Pilgrimage in Batan Island

    Its ruggedly enchanting topography and the serene atmosphere makes Batanes seems such a friendly place. No wonder, it is flocked by tourists during the Lenten season. …

  • VERA Files: DFA misleading public in Sabah for Spratlys issue The Inbox
    VERA Files: DFA misleading public in Sabah for Spratlys issue

    Note Verbale No. 15-1979 sent to Malaysia, the basis of VERA Files’ story, stated that it is reviewing the Aug. 4, 2009 protest (No. 000819) it filed with the United Nations.  The Philippines’ August 2009 protest, contained in two pages, singles out North Borneo or the old name of Sabah. Contrary to what DFA’s comment that putting out the story was a disservice to the country, VERA Files released the story in the interest of the public to help it fully understand the issues involved. …

  • The Chusueys: Good argument for  family business The Inbox
    The Chusueys: Good argument for  family business

    At the helm is the patriarch, Henry Chusuey. His wife Ana, twelve years his junior, is the company treasurer. Helping Henry and Ana (“Henann”) expand their empire are their two sons, Alfonso and Hendrick.   Alfonso, 29, is neither an architect nor engineer, but takes charge of construction in all properties while  Hendrick , 25, takes care of sales, marketing, advertising and PR. Henann own the imposing 1400- room Boracay Regency Hotel in the world-famous island. …

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