Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Dinosaur fossil found to still have skin and more


For archeologists, discovering a nearly complete set of dinosaur bones in a dig is already considered a great find. Imagine how happy they are now to find the fossilized remains of a nodosaur (heavily armored plant-eating dinosaurs) that still has bits of skin and other organic matter intact.

The nodosaur remains were actually discovered back in 2011 by a miner and only revealed to the world on May 12, 2017, reports National Geographic.

This fossil specimen was so well-preserved that patches of its skin, armor and even what archeologists speculate to be its last meal remained, after being entombed in the earth for 110 million years.

Image: Robert Clark/National Geographic

Image: Robert Clark/National Geographic

“It was like a ‘Game of Thrones’ dragon,” says photographer Robert Clark. “It was so dimensional, like a prop from a movie.”

Image: Robert Clark/National Geographic

Image: Robert Clark/National Geographic

Clark has been shooting stories for National Geographic for a long time but he describes this fossil to be “kind of another level.”

Gizmodo reports that Caleb Brown, one of the paleontologists who has been studying the fossil since 2011 said, “This is one of the best preserved dinosaurs in the world.”

Image: Robert Clark/National Geographic

Image: Robert Clark/National Geographic

Brown and his team are currently doing CT scans to help analyze the preserved innards of the nodosaur.

Brown also explained that the nodosaur was so beautifully, preserved thanks to being submerged in an ocean and then covered with layers of sediment.

“It’s not just the texture of the skin, some of the organics are still there,” said Brown.

The nodosaur fossil is currently being displayed at Alberta’s Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology. Clark’s photos of the fossil will be released on the June 2017 issue of National Geographic. Alfred Bayle/JB

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  • Published in Tech

12 hurt in Quezon road accident

LUCENA CITY – At least 12 persons were injured in a vehicular accident along the Maharlika Highway in Calauag town in Quezon province early Wednesday, police said. Senior Supt. Rhoderick Armamento, Quezon police provincial director, said a Manila-bound Bicol Isarog bus being driven by Rufino Hernandez accidentally collided with an incoming Toyota Avanza van being driven by Eusebio Landicho in Barangay (village) Doña Aurora around 4:50 a.m. An initial investigation report said the passenger bus was negotiating a curved section of the highway when the incoming van occupied the other lane and collided with the bus. The impact caused the bus to fall and consequently turn turtle on the side of the road. Ten bus passengers and two occupants of the van sustained injuries and were brought to the Saint Peter hospital in the town center for treatment. SFM By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr. Southern Luzon


Beijing ready to employ more PH workers

President Duterte said on Tuesday that China was ready to welcome more Filipino workers and eager to start developing its infrastructure projects in the Philippines.

“They are opening the doors for our teachers, workers. They don’t have enough craftsmen and engineers,” he told a predawn press briefing at Davao International Airport on his arrival from Beijing.

Mr. Duterte met separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang before leaving China, where he attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.


Among the things they discussed were China’s promises to the Philippines.

“And I’m very happy that they are sincere. They are really … They are there to comply with their commitments to us,” he said.

Mr. Duterte made a state visit to China in October last year and returned home with $24 million in deals and grants.

After that visit, China resumed importing Philippine fruits, a major boost to the country’s agriculture.

On Tuesday, Mr. Duterte said China was determined to share its wealth, and described it as “very liberal and generous.”

“I will do it in an official pronouncement but we had … We already have about 100 million coming in and they have promised us something like another 500 million,” he said, without stating whether these were loans or grants.



Donald Trump 'shared highly classified information with Russian officials'

Donald Trump allegedly revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during an Oval Office meeting last week.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Trump shared details of intelligence gathered about an Islamic State threat that had been closely guarded within the United States government and among close US allies.

The report said that while Trump did not describe the specific source used to gather the intelligence, he provided highly classified details, apparently connected to an Isis plot related to the use of laptops on board passenger aircraft.

Top administration officials who attended the meeting swiftly pushed back on the allegations on Monday, saying Trump’s meeting with Lavrov consisted only of broad discussions surrounding counter-terrorism. 

“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a broad range of subjects were discussed, among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism,” Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said.

“During that exchange, the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.” 

HR McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said the president and Russian foreign minister “reviewed common threats from terrorist organisations to include threats to aviation.”

“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” McMaster said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters later at the White House, McMaster added to his statement by saying: “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

Russia’s foreign ministry denounced the reports as “fake”. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the US press was “not only harmful, but dangerous” and claimed the story was a planned hit against Russia.

However, the original report did not suggest Trump had discussed sources and methods. The allegation is that Trump shared some information about laptops on planes which potentially put a source at risk and was given to the US by an ally who did not give consent for it to be shared with Russia. 

After the story broke, the White House did not provide any further specifics on the meeting. US officials also confirmed the Washington Post report to other outlets amid the administration’s denials.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said the report, if true, was very disturbing. 

“Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country,” Schumer said in a statement. “The president owes the intelligence community, the American people, and Congress a full explanation.”

Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, called for a full briefing to Congress “on the extent of the damage President Trump has done in compromising highly classified code-word intelligence to the Russians.

“Even if President Trump unwittingly blew a highly classified codeword source to the Russians, that would be dangerous enough,” she said. “If the president outed a highly classified codeword source intentionally, that would be even more dangerous.”


Republican senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, warned Trump’s White House must urgently reverse the “downward spiral” it finds itself in.

“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order,” he said. “It’s got to happen.”

The Washington Post said after Trump’s meeting, White House officials went into damage limitation mode with calls to the CIA and NSA. 

The meeting was already under scrutiny because of its timing – a day after Trump’s controversial decision to fire FBI director James Comey. Comey had been leading a federal investigation into potential ties between Trump and Moscow, stemming from the US government’s conclusion last year that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election and sought to boost Trump’s candidacy.

Despite an initial insistence by the White House that Trump’s abrupt dismissal of Comey was unrelated to the Russia inquiry, the president acknowledged in an interview last week that “this Russia thing” was a factor.

Questions were raised about the timing of Trump’s meeting with the Russians, and amplified by the fact that American reporters were barred access to the Oval Office while Russian state media was allowed in. The Kremlin-backed Itar-Tass news agency subsequently shared a number of photographs of Trump entertaining Lavrov and Kislyak.

Trump’s apparent sharing of classified information with Russia drew immediate criticism across party lines.

David Kochel, Jeb Bush’s leading strategist in the 2016 presidential campaign, tweeted: 

Mark Warner, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, tweeted:

Trump’s alleged indiscretion is particularly noteworthy after he spent much of the presidential campaign criticising Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

The breach of security protocol by the president comes against the backdrop of persistent calls for an independent counsel to oversee an investigation into the way Russia mounted an extensive cyberwarfare operation to influence the election.

The US government has said Russia was behind the hacking of emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Tranches of those emails were released on WikiLeaks at pivotal moments during the election in an apparent effort to undermine Clinton’s campaign. 

Responding to the reports of Trump’s exchange with the Russians, the Democratic National Committee said: “Russia no longer has to spy on us to get information – they just ask President Trump and he spills the beans with highly classified information that jeopardises our national security and hurts our relationships with allies …

“If Trump weren’t president, his dangerous disclosure to Russia could end with him in handcuffs.”

But while Democrats have aggressively zeroed in on potential links between Trump and Russia, the reaction from Republicans has been far more muted. Even as a handful of Republicans expressed concerns over the timing of Trump’s move to fire Comey, House speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican leaders in Washington, backed the president’s decision.

“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan. “The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

Senior Republican senator John McCain told CNN: “If it’s true, it’s obviously disturbing.” But he cautioned: “Let’s wait and see what this was all about first.”

Public opinion has grown for a special prosecutor, with a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finding that nearly 80% of Americans believe an independent investigator should be appointed to examine Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

 and  in Washington, The Guardian

  • Published in U.S.

More Filipinos expect quality of life to get worse—SWS survey

Filipino optimism declined in the first quarter of 2017, based on the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

The SWS said 43 percent of those surveyed said they expect their personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months and six percent expect it to get worse.

The result yielded a net personal optimism score of +36, classified as "very high" but nine points lower compared to the December 2016 survey's +45 score.

The December 2016 survey showed that 48 percent expect their personal quality of life to improve and only three percent expect it to get worse.

The latest survey, with 1,200 adult respondents, was conducted from March 25 to 28. It has sampling error margins of ±3% for quarterly national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao.

The survey firm said the latest result is the lowest in the last five quarters, with net personal optimism scores of +40 and above.

The lowest net optimism score recorded by SWS was in September 2015 at +33.

The SWS said that in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte's bailiwick, the net optimism score also saw a huge decline at +32, which is 22 points lower from December 2016's +54.

Optimism, meanwhile, plunged by 17 points in Class E or "high" +29 compared to December 2016's "very high" +46. Net personal optimism in other socioeconomic classes stayed "very high," the survey showed.

Economic outlook

The survey also showed that fewer Filipinos or 47 percent believe the general Philippine economy will get better next year and more Filipinos, at nine percent, felt it would deteriorate. In the previous quarters, 51 percent were optimistic and only eight percent were pessimistic that the country's economy will grow.

The latest survey garnered a  net optimism of "very high" +38, five points lower than the December 2016 survey.

The SWS, meanwhile, noted that optimism of Filipinos, based on its past surveys, "have been highly negative."

The March survey also showed that net optimism of the economy stayed "very high" across geographical areas and socioeconomic classes.

Meanwhile, 35 percent of the respondents said their quality of life improved while 19 percent they it worsened, yielding a net gainers score of "very high" +16, which was the same result in the December 2016 survey.

The SWS said the net gainers scores since April 1983 "had been positive" and above +10 since September 2016.

It said the latest survey saw a decline in gainers in Mindanao, but the overall score was pulled up by the increases in Visayas and Metro Manila. —ALG, GMA News


OFWs driving property demand in Visayas, Mindanao

MANILA – Overseas Filipinos account for 60 percent of property demand in the Visayas and Mindanao, Cebu Landmasters chairman Jose Soberano III said Wednesday.

Eighty percent of demand in the high-growth regions are for residential spaces, Soberano said, ahead of Cebu Landmasters’ listing in the stock exchange.


Cebu Landmasters hopes to raise P2.9 billion from the sale of 505 million shares with an overallotment option of 75 million shares. The offer period was set on May 19 to 26.

Soberano said he was hopeful President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to build P8 trillion in new infrastructure would help boost the property sector.


LOOK: Miss World PH 2014 gets engaged at Machu Picchu

Valerie Weigmann, who represented the country in the 2014 Miss World pageant 2014, is engaged. 

The Filipino-German's fiancé, lawyer-businessman Bodie Pulido, proposed to her during their visit to Peru's Machu Picchu last month, according to entertainment columnist Ricky Lo.


The couple have been together for seven years. 

In Lo's column, he shared photos of the beauty queen's engagement. 

Weigmann finished in the top 25 of the Miss World 2014 pageant. She first shot to fame after joining "Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition" in 2008, which Ejay Falcon won.

After her stint on the show, she went on to star in TV commercials, co-host noontime shows and appear on magazines.

Weigmann is currently working as a model in New York. 


FOREWARNED: Gadgets at car windshields banned starting May 18


Gadgets, such as mobile phones, positioned at a vehicle's windshield that directly distract the line of sight of the driver will be banned starting May 18.

The Anti-Distracted Driving Law takes effect on Thursday, and violators will face penalties of up to P20,000 and revocation of their licenses.


Even hands-free devices, as long they obstruct the line of sight of the driver, would be in violation of the law.

Using cellphones for texting or making calls or sending messages while driving will also be banned.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will apprehend and issue violation tickets to drivers caught texting or calling even if the red light is on.

The law covers all public utility vehicles, private cars, government vehicles, bikes, motorcycles, skateboards, kuliglig, haba-habal, motorized wheelchairs and even horse-drawn carriages like those used by tourists in Intramuros.

Exempted are drivers reporting accidents/fires and other emergency situations.

The implementing rules and regulations on the regulation of vehicle window tint is now being drafted to help the MMDA apprehend violators of the Anti-Distracted Driving Law.

Meantime, Republic Act 10666 or an Act providing for the Safety of Children Aboard Motorcycles will take effect on May 19.

Fines are from P3,000 to P10,000 and revocation of license, and 1-year imprisonment should the violation result in death or serious injuries/ damage to property. 

Fines will be paid to Metrobank or Bayad Centers. Enforcers will not receive and should not demand that payment be made to them.

The MMDA has summoned barangay officials and tanods to discuss their training to help the MMDA in its operations.

The MMDA is eyeing barangay tanods as force multipliers so that illegal parking and other obstructions to traffic would be put in check.

Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News

Gov’t must implement mining laws

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III yesterday reiterated that as mandated under the law, the government would implement mining rules and regulations, whether critics like it or not.

Dominguez said that “those who have a beef with the country’s laws that allow mining should do themselves a favor by working on having them repealed or amended by the Congress rather than training their guns on those who believe it is part of their duty as civil servants to uphold the laws of the land.”

“If certain quarters think the law is unfair, they should work to change the law, as violation of the laws is not an option for any government official or any good citizen for that matter,” according to Dominguez, who co-chairs the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

Last week, Dominguez had noted that “one could be environment-friendly and business-friendly at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive inclinations (and only) the zealots think they are.”

The local mining industry took center stage under the Duterte administration following the appointment of environmentalist Regina Lopez as secretary of environment and natural resources.

In February, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining operations as well as the suspension of five others in 10 provinces. She later also ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements entered into by the government with mining companies.

Affected firms had complained that Lopez’s orders were issued without due process, although she had claimed that the companies had been informed about the audits.

Lopez’s appointment as head of the DENR, however, was rejected by the Commission on Appointments earlier this month.

For his part, Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said: “We are a government of laws, not of men. The Mining Act sets the terms and conditions under which mining should be conducted as well as the conditions for its suspension or cancellation. It is the duty of government officials to implement the law.”

Agabin added that “if [critics] think this [mining law] is unfair, then they should go to Congress to have it amended.”

Last week, Dominguez said the Duterte administration “will be firm but fair” while also ensuring good and strong governance in order to attract more investments in the extractive industries as well as assure sustainable forestry and mining.

“[The administration] is committed to bring forth strong, but not arbitrary, governance. It will abide by global best practices in ensuring sustainable development. All these become possible because of transparency in our processes,” Dominguez said.

“Never again should suspensions be meted out on the basis of unseen audits. Never again should honest industries be subjected to levies without legal basis,” according to Dominguez.

The MICC, co-chaired by the finance and environment secretaries, is currently undertaking a three-month review of Lopez’s orders on top of the review of all other mining contracts across the country as mandated under the law.



Aguilar scores 23 as Gilas guts Thailand

Japeth Aguilar had 23 points as the Philippines cruised to another easy victory this time against Thailand, 108-53,  in the 2017 SEABA Championships at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday.

Gilas Pilipinas allowed Thailand to hang around in the opening period, earning a modest 18-14 lead, before outscoring the visitors 90-39 in the last the quarters.

Calvin Abueva added 15 markers, while Terrence Romeo and Andray Blatche logged 11 points each. Gilas shot a high 3 percent from the field to outdo Thailand's 34 percent clip. The Philippines also dominated the boards, 50-33.

Next for Gilas is Vietnam, a team that lost a close one to Malaysia, 86-85. —NB, GMA News

  • Published in Sports
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