Philippines storm toll rises to 200; Vice apologizes after sexual harassment cases

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Curated top stories

  • About 200 people are dead after a tropical storm in the Philippines triggered mudslides and flooding. Officials said more than 150 were missing after storm Tembin hit parts of Mindanao island. Two towns badly hit were Tubod and Piagapo, where a number of homes were buried by boulders. Disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings to leave coastal areas and move away from riverbanks.
  • The founders of Vice Media, a multi-billion dollar company focused on creating edgy content for Millennial audiences, apologized for creating an environment where sexual harassment was permitted. The apology comes after The New York Times reported the company settled four claims of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice employees. There were also several other accounts of harassment. “From the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive,” Vice founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi wrote in a statement.
  • North Korea says the latest UN sanctions against it are an “act of war” and equal to an economic blockade. North Korea’s foreign ministry also threatened to punish those who supported the sanctions. The UN voted recently to sanction Pyongyang after its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test. The sanctions sought to limit the country’s access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad. North Korea’s official KCNA agency said: “We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region and categorically reject the ‘resolution’.” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet that the vote for the sanctions proved the world “wants peace, not death.”


  • Mexican authorities launched more than 23,000 murder investigations in the first 11 months of this year, making it the deadliest period in the country’s modern history. In December 2012, then newly-elected president Enrique Peña Nieto pledged to curb the widespread violence under his predecessor Felipe Calderón. A total of 23,101 murder investigations opened in the first 11 months of this year, surpassed the 22,409 registered in the whole of 2011, according to official figures going back to 1997.  Reuters reports that Peña Nieto’s failure has damaged his credibility and hurt his centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), ahead of the July 2018 presidential election. Andres Manuel López Obrador, who is the the current front-runner in the race, has suggested an amnesty with criminal gangs to reduce the violence. (ABCNews)
  • Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont wants to return home in time for the opening session of the Catalan parliament so that he can become the region’s next president. Puigdemont fled to Belgium after a Spain opposed a unilateral declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament on October 27. He faces possible charges of sedition and rebellion (El Pais). Puigdemont said he would return to Spain if the pro-independence parties won the Catalan regional election. Puigdemont’s party Junts per Catalunya (JunstxCat) won the largest number of seats of the three pro-independence parties in the regional election on Thursday (El Pais). “If I am not allowed to be sworn in as president, it would be a major abnormality for the Spanish democratic system,” Puigdemont told Reuters in an interview, asking for a dialogue of equals.
  • Militias in the Congo Republic will hand over arms and allow free movement of trade after they signed a ceasefire with the country’s government. The agreement comes after a 15-year conflict which came to a head last year when Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 33 of the last 38 years, won the presidency once again. Under the deal, the militias trade will proceed between the capital Brazzaville and the commercial hub of Pointe Noire.
  • The Bitcoin cryptocurrency lost almost a third of its value on Friday. Bitcoin fell from USD$20,000 to below $11,000 on Friday, according to the Coindesk exchange website. The currency recovered slightly to above $13,000. During the fluctuations, three Bitcoin-related exchanges suspended certain trades. Coinbase said that trading was on again after being down for more than two hours (CNBC). Michael Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs trader, told Fortune that he was walking away from plans to start a cryptocurrency hedge fund. He predicted that Bitcoin value may fall to $8,000.

  • Openly transgender people can enlist starting January 1. A federal appeals court rejected the Trump administration’s request to stay another court’s ruling against the Trump ban on transgender military service. It is the second court to issue such a ruling this week. The most recent order came from a three-judge-panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It said the administration had “not shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on the merits of their challenge” to a district court’s order blocking the ban. (ABCNews)

What we’re reading

  • Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet, faster, even, than climate change is causing the sea to rise. This has sometimes caused rivers to flow upstream, ordinary rains to swamp neighborhoods, and buildings to slowly disappear underground–swallowed by the earth. The main cause: Jakartans are digging illegal wells, draining the underground aquifers — like deflating a giant cushion under the city. About 40% of Jakarta is now below sea level. This is in addition to increasing threats from climate change. This piece from the New York Times lays out the city’s stark future.  — Charles Anderson
  • A giant statue of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol empire, towers high above the Mongolian steppe. Ties with the nomadic past remain strong here. Associations with conquest and male dominance are very much alive there. In this context, the BBC asks what’s it like to be young and female in modern-day Mongolia?
  • Britain is building its first new nuclear reactor since 1995 and it will cost twice as much as the 2012 Olympics.  By the time it is finished, nuclear power could be a thing of the past. Holly Watt of The Guardian asks how the government struck such a bad deal?

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • Kobani was a key town on the front line of the allied battle against Islamic State guerrillas in northern Syria. It became famous as an amphitheatre of war in which artillery and bombing raids could be watched by the world’s media from just across the border in Turkey. Three years later, Kobani is back to a degree of normality. Here, Kurdish journalist and WikiTribune community member Mustafa Abdi describes his memories of his home and its ordeal in this first-hand report.

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