MERS cases declining before haj – Saudi minister

By: Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Reuters, Interaksyon
MECCA — A recent surge in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a sometimes deadly virus, in Saudi Arabia has ebbed in the run-up to Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage, Health Minister Khaled al-Falih said on Thursday.

As pilgrims poured into Mecca from around the world, the Health Ministry said it had confirmed two more cases of the disease in Riyadh on Thursday, but the number of cases has declined since last month, Falih said.

Most medical staffers touring hospitals and medical centers around Mecca on Wednesday covered their noses and mouths with masks, as did traffic policemen and army personnel deployed to secure the flow of busses carrying pilgrims into the holy city.

“With the help of God and then with the measures taken by the ministry of health we hope to prevent the virus from getting to the pilgrims,” said Falih in a news conference.

So far around 1.2 million Muslims have arrived in the kingdom for haj.

In past years it has drawn up to 3 million pilgrims, but authorities have limited numbers in the past two years because of construction work around the Grand Mosque.

Saudi Arabia has banned the slaughter of camels around the holy cities during the pilgrimage. The animals have been found to carry the virus and scientists say they are the most likely source of primary infections of people.

Seven people in the city of Medina who have been infected by MERS have been moved to Riyadh as a precaution to avoid any spread of the disease near the pilgrimage sites, Falih said.

“The spread has begun to shrink and we are optimistic the days of spreading are gone and are behind us,” said Falih.

The kingdom has mobilized 25,000 medical staff from different cities into Mecca for the haj season.

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Studies on kissing, ‘huh?’ among comic awardees

By: Richard Valdmanis, Reuters, Interaksyon

BOSTON — Researchers who studied the consequences of intense kissing, the global use of the word “huh?” and how badly bee stings hurt on different parts of the body were among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes for comical scientific achievements.

The annual prizes, meant to entertain and encourage global research and innovation, are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpart to the Nobel Prizes, which will be announced next month.

Among the 10 awards, three went to teams of researchers that revealed that nearly all mammals regardless of size take about 21 seconds to pee, showed it is possible to partially un-boil an egg with chemicals, and used math to determine how a North African emperor from the 17th century fathered 888 children in just 30 years.

Other teams earned prizes for attaching a weighted stick to a chicken’s rear end to demonstrate how dinosaurs might have walked, and for showing that acute appendicitis can be diagnosed by how much pain a patient feels when driven over speed bumps.

Researcher Michael L. Smith shared the physiology and entomology prize for arranging honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, revealing that one of the most painful locations was on his penis.

Former winners of real Nobels handed out the spoof awards at the ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, organized by Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals. The ceremony included a three-act mini-opera about a competition between the world’s millions of species to determine which one is the best.

The Ig Nobel medicine prize went to two teams of researchers who conducted experiments to study the biological effects of intense kissing, which include decreasing skin allergies, and the literature prize was given to researchers who showed that the word “huh?” appears to exist in every language.

Ig Nobel prizes this year also went to researchers who showed many business leaders developed a fondness for risk-taking after surviving natural disasters in childhood, and to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police for offering to pay policemen more money in exchange for not taking bribes.

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Nietes, Donaire to invade Philippine capital

Longest reigning Filipino World Champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes and  five-division World Champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will highlight the double main event of ALA Boxing Promotion’s “Pinoy Pride 30”. Expected to take place this coming March 28 “Pinoy Pride 30, D-Day”, also features undefeated super bantamweight IBF Intercontinental champion Prince Albert Pagara. The three Filipino fighters vowed to give fans an exciting night of non-stop action at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines.

 Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (34-1-4, 20 KOs), who at the age of 20 started his career as a professional boxer is now the longest reigning Filipino Champion surpassing the record held by Filipino Boxing Hall of Famer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. Elorde reigned in the junior lightweight division for seven years and three months in the 1960’s while Nietes still holds his WBO title at 105 pounds since 2007. Come March 28, Nietes will make his next title defense against Mexican challenger Gilberto Parra (19-1, 17 KOs) who is ranked no. 13.  Nietes fights to extend his legacy in the WBO world light flyweight division by keeping the winning streak as long as he can.
It’s not over yet! That’s what Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire  (33-3, 21 KOs) wants the world to know. Coming from a devastating loss to WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters, the Filipino Flash is back and returns to his home country to fight at 122 pounds. His loss to the Jamaican power puncher prompted him to go back a division weight lower where he once ruled before losing to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux. Vying for super bantamweight weight championship title, Donaire will face Brazillian William Prado (22-4-1, 15 KOs). Nonito earned 2012 Fighter of the Year Award and has won world titles at 112, 118, 122 and 12 pounds as well as interim belt at 115 pounds. Although he grew up in the United states, he shares the same hometown with Filipino boxing icon and Fighter of the Decade Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao in General Santos City, south of the Philippines. This will be his fourth time to fight in his native land Philippines and for the first time since 2009. Asked whether he is thinking about retirement in the near future, he said a loss to this fight might prompt him to hang his gloves for good and that there is no reason to go on with his career if he can’t even keep up with this level of a fight. However, report says, an impressive win would possibly secure him a ticket to a title fight  in Macau, China in July where he will be the main event as promised by Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
A fight also to be considered a highlight will be exhibited by the reigning International Boxing Federation Intercontinental super bantamweight champion Prince Albert Pagara against Mexico’s Rodolfo Hernandez (26-5-1, 24 KOs). Prince Albert Pagara (22-0-0 15 KO), a crowd favorite, is a hardhitting boxer from ALA stable who is currently the no. 1 fighter in the Philippines for the super bantamweight division and is quickly rising up in status in the international boxing scene. He is one of the sparring mates of Nonito Donaire during the latter’s two-week training at the ALA Gym in Cebu in preparation for the March 28 match. According to Donaire, Albert Pagara hits hard and fights well as a sparring mate and with the impressive skills, is set for a promising career ahead of him. Meantime, Rodolfo Hernandez is no easy prey with 24 out of 26 wins coming by way of knockout. This is certainly a kind of fight that will put boxing fans at the edge of their seats.
One defends legacy, one fights for redemption, and one strives to be the next star. “D-Day” initiates On March 28, Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines.
Undercard fights feature Ryo Akaho of Japan vs Prosper Ankrah of Ghana and AJ “Bazooka” Banal of Philippines vs Junior Bajawa of Indonesia.

Pinoy Pride 30 is promoted by ALA Boxing Promotions, the Philippines’ premier boxing outfit.

See 8CountNews story here.
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PNoy won’t say sorry over Mamasapano incident’

Political analyst Edmund Tayao believes President Benigno Aquino III will not say sorry over the bloody Mamasapano operation even following the release of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Board of Inquiry (BOI) of its report on the incident.

“I don’t think that the President would even consider that,” Tayao said, explaining that the word “sorry” has already been associated with the previous administration.

The BOI, in its report, said the chain of command in the PNP was violated when the President, former PNP chief Alan Purisima, and former Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas “kept information” on the January 25 anti-terror operation “to themselves.”

The BOI said Aquino, who “gave the go-signal” for Oplan Exodus, “allowed the participation” of Purisima in the planning and execution despite his suspension.

He also “bypassed” the PNP chain of command when he directly dealt with Napeñas, instead of PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina.

“And even if it (saying sorry) happens right now, it becomes stale or if not useless. Perhaps what we can expect is at least for the President to really pinpoint to who or what is the culpability of his good friend, the former chief PNP,” Tayao said.

See ABS-CBN story here.

— ANC Dateline Philippines, March 14, 2015

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Ateneo Lady Eagles rip La Salle for 2nd straight UAAP crown

The UAAP season 77 women’s volleyball tournament champions, the Ateneo De Manila University. Photo by Mark Cristino for
By Camille B. Naredo,
MANILA – The Ateneo Lady Eagles completed one of the most dominant campaigns in recent UAAP women’s volleyball history by sweeping rivals De La Salle Lady Spikers in Game 2 of the Season 77 Finals to secure a second straight championship Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In front of a crowd of 20,705 fans, Ateneo weathered a tough challenge from the Lady Spikers to take Game 2, 25-22, 25-17, and 25-23 to finish the UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament with a perfect 16-0 win-loss record.

The last UAAP team to finish with a perfect record was La Salle in 2004, who finished 14-0 and was awarded the outright championship.

Two-time Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez was again the rock for Ateneo, scoring 20 points on 19 attacks, but she got plenty of help from her teammates as Michelle Morente, Bea de Leon, and Amy Ahomiro all scored 10 points.

“Every championship since high school, sobrang iba ‘yung feeling, sobrang sarap sa pakiramdam, but this championship, iba talaga,” said Valdez.

Ahomiro anchored the Lady Eagles’ net defense and was later named Finals MVP.

“I’m pretty much speechless. I’m so shocked and I’m so blessed to have this opportunity,” said Ahomiro, who credited Ateneo’s charismatic head coach Tai Bundit for giving them the confidence and strength throughout the season.

“Last year, he just gave us confidence, and this year, we were as one. We were on the same page the whole time,” she said.

View ABS-CBN story here.

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Zab Judah to spar with Floyd Mayweather starting Monday


“Come Monday, we’re going to work,” stated two-division former world champion Zab Judah, who confirmed that he’ll be reporting to training camp to spar with undefeated pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather as he prepares for his upcoming May 2 mega-fight with Manny Pacquiao. Although Judah hasn’t fought since December of 2013, the fast handed southpaw has continued to train in hopes of making an eventual return to the ring.
Judah and Mayweather shared the ring back in April of 2006. There were many who had Judah winning the first four rounds of that fight until Mayweather was able to adjust and dominate down the stretch. There’s no doubt that Judah will provide good work for Mayweather.
Read Fighthype’s story here.
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La Salle loses Galang to injury


The De La Salle Lady Spikers suffered a blow when their star player Ara Galang sustained an injury during their do-or-die game against the National University Lady Bulldogs on Saturday.

The Lady Spikers were leading the fourth set, 23-20, when Galang suffered an awkward landing following a hit against the Lady Bulldogs.

The 5’9” outside hitter was crying in pain while she was stretchered off the court.

This, however, did not dampen La Salle’s spirit as it went on to beat NU, 3 sets to 1, to advance into the UAAP women’s volleyball finals against the Ateneo Lady Eagles.

View ABS-CBN’s original story here.

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