Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quake triggers tsunami in the Samoas, killing 82

AP – An abandoned vehicle is shown shortly after a tsunami warning was issued in American Samoa on Tuesday, …

APIA, Samoa – A powerful earthquake in the South Pacific hurled massive tsunami waves at the shores of Samoa and American Samoa, flattening villages and sweeping cars and people out to sea, leaving at least 82 dead and dozens missing.

Survivors fled the fast-churning water for higher ground and remained huddled there hours after the quake struck early Tuesday. Signs of devastation were everywhere, with a giant boat washed ashore lying on the edge of a highway and floodwaters swallowing up cars and homes.

The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck around dawn about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Samoa, an island nation of 180,000 people located about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. It struck about 120 miles (190 kilometers) from neighboring American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people.

Four tsunami waves 15 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) high roared ashore on American Samoa, reaching up to a mile (1.6 kilometers) inland, Mike Reynolds, superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, was quoted as saying by a parks service spokeswoman. He reported dozens of park workers missing.

Hampered by power and communications outages, officials struggled to determine damage and casualties.

Samoan police commissioner Lilo Maiava told The Associated Press that police there had confirmed 63 deaths but that officials were still searching the devastated areas, so the number of deaths might rise soon.

Hundreds of injured were being treated by health workers and that people are still struggling into centers seeking treatment, Maiava said.

At least 19 people were killed on American Samoa, officials there said.

"I don't think anybody is going to be spared in this disaster," said American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who was in Hawaii for a conference.

In Washington, President Barack Obama declared a disaster for American Samoa. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was deploying teams to provide support and assess damage.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi looked shaken Wednesday on board a flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to the Samoan capital of Apia.

"So much has gone. So many people are gone," he told reporters on board. "I'm so shocked, so saddened by all the loss."

Malielegaoi said his own village of Lepa was destroyed.

"Thankfully, the alarm sounded on the radio and gave people time to climb to higher ground," he said. "But not everyone escaped."

Gov. Tulafono told reporters in Honolulu that more victims could be found when rescuers reach areas that are inaccessible by roads. Tulafono said a member of his extended family was among the dead.

There were unconfirmed reports of at least five additional people dead in the island nation of Tonga, west of the Samoas, New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Bill English said.

"There are a considerable number of people who've been swept out to sea and are unaccounted for," English said. "We don't have information about the full impact and we do have some real concern that over the next 12 hours the picture could look worse rather than better."

He said a New Zealand P3 Orion maritime surveillance plane would reach the region later Wednesday to search for survivors. U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Titchen said a C-130 was being dispatched Wednesday to deliver aid to American Somoa, assess damage and take the governor back home.

On Samoa, New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need 'round here."

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said an Australian woman has been confirmed killed in Samoa, three other Australians have been hospitalized and six other Australians remain unaccounted for after the tsunami.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in American Samoa, reported at least 19 people killed in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila. Officials reported at least 50 injured.

American Samoa is home to a U.S. national park that appeared to be especially hard-hit.

Reynolds, the park superintendent, said he had been able to locate only 20 percent of the park's 40 to 50 employees and volunteers. He spoke to park service officials from Pago Pago Harbor and reported that the visitor center and offices were destroyed, according to Holly Bundock, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service.

Residents in both Samoa and American Samoa reported being shaken awake by the quake early Tuesday, which lasted two to three minutes and was centered about 20 miles (32 kilometers) below the ocean floor. It was followed by at least three large aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude.

The quake came Tuesday morning for the Samoas, which lie just east of the international dateline. For Asia-Pacific countries on the other side of the line, it was already Wednesday.

The Samoan capital was virtually deserted with schools and businesses closed. Hours after the waves struck, fresh sirens rang out with another tsunami alert and panicked residents headed for higher ground again, although there was no indication of a new quake.

Eni Faleomavaega, who represents American Samoa as a non-voting delegate in the U.S. House, said he had talked to people by telephone who said that Pago Pago — just a few feet above sea level — was flattened and several hundred people's homes were destroyed.

The dominant industry in American Samoa — tuna canneries — was also affected. Chicken of the Sea's tuna packing plant in American Samoa was forced to close although the facility wasn't damaged, the San Diego-based company said.

The effects of the tsunami could be felt thousands of miles away.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said "very weak" tsunami waves were registered off the island of Hachijojima about 10 hours after the quake. There were no reports of injuries or damage in Japan, which is about 4,700 miles (7,600 kilometers) northwest of Samoa.

U.S. officials said strong currents and dangerous waves were forecast from California to Washington state. No major flooding was expected, however.

In Los Angeles, lifeguards said they will clear beaches at about 8 p.m. in response to an advisory for possible dangerous currents.

While the earthquake and tsunami were big, they were not on the same scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, said Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey in Seattle. That tsunami killed more than 230,000 in a dozen countries across Asia.

The 2004 quake was at least 10 times stronger than the measurements being reported for Tuesday's quake, Atwater said.


Sagapolutele reported from Pago Pago, American Samoa. Associated Press writers Ray Lilley in Wellington, New Zealand; Jaymes Song and Herbert A. Sample in Honolulu and Seth Borenstein and Michele Salcedo in Washington contributed to this report.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Survivors return to Provident Village

MANILA, PHilippines - Residents started returning to their homes in Provident Village, Marikina City yesterday as government workers cleared the area of debris brought by the onslaught of typhoon “Ondoy,” which left 72 dead in Marikina alone.

However, they saw that only the foundations remained, and receding floodwaters left about two feet of mud. Able-bodied residents took turns cleaning their homes of mud as they lamented that they received no government help since Ondoy struck last Saturday.

Among those affected were the relatives of ABS-CBN executive Arlene Lim-Farol, whose house was submerged in about three feet of water.

“Everything, except the structures was destroyed,” Farol said, noting that their residence is higher than the average house in Provident Village.

The residents claimed it would take them several days to dig up the mud and bring their lives back to normal.

Marikina police chief Senior Superintendent Romeo Magsalos said some areas in the village already have electricity, but residents have run out of potable water.

“The residents’ priorities are… clean water to drink, clothing, blankets and sleeping mats. Of course, they also need food and any other basic commodities,” Magsalos told The STAR in an interview.

Despite the massive relief operations conducted by Mayor Maria Lourdes Fernando, Magsalos said they still experienced shortage in supplies of food and other necessities. He said they are still closely monitoring the situation in schools converted into evacuation centers.

Magsalos said at least 59 of the recorded fatalities were residents of Provident Village, with the bodies of seven members of a family recovered in Barangay Concepcion Uno. Six other bodies were recovered from other parts of the city.

At the height of typhoon Ondoy, Farol said her parents, siblings and neighbors took refuge on the roof of their house. She said it was her sister, who arrived on board a six-by-six truck, who rescued them. “All the 16 persons who took shelter on the high roof were accounted for,” said Farol , adding that her relatives and household helpers are safe in her house in Manila.

Farol said the ceiling of their house collapsed, “All the window screens were covered by mud. Our appliances, including the big piano, cabinets and others were in total wreck… But my parents, and family survived the raging floodwaters.”

Magsalos also bewailed the fact that the Justice Hall, which houses the local police headquarters, was submerged in chest-deep waters last Saturday. He said the floodwaters have subsided but the police headquarters has neither water nor electricity.

“All our telephone lines are busted and we cannot perform our mandate very well. But we are coping by joining other government agencies in the ongoing clearing operations,” he said.

The Marikina City government has centralized relief operations in affected areas and established headquarters under the flyover in front of the Monasterio de Sta. Clara on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.

“All those who want to ask questions, like their missing relatives and others pertinent to the calamity and those who want to donate food and other basic commodities can proceed to the place,” he said adding that donors can contact Tek de Leon at cell phone number 0920-9052914. - By Non Alquitran (Philstar News Service,

Text msg on Marikina 'dam' release belied

MANILA - Authorities on Monday belied circulating text messages that water from the "Marikina dam" would be released, causing more flooding.

Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando said there is no such thing as a Marikina dam.

One such text message says: "If you have friends and families along Marcos highway, tell them to stay on a high area because authorities are about to open Marikina Dam. It will affect Marikina, Pasig area and lower Antipolo. So please pass for faster dissemination." Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense's Anthony Golez said there are no plans to release water from any other dam at the moment.

In an interview over ANC's on the Scene Monday afternoon, Golez said proper warnings will be given before authorities release water from filled up dams.

"Talking about misinformation, I would like to inform everybody that there is an ongoing text message that dams are going to be opened, that dams are going to spilling water into the different neighborhoods. Let me tell everybody that this information is not correct," he said.

"Even before we have to release water from our dams, we follow certain protocols. As a matter of fact, PAGASA, which is the overseer of the dams, follow certain protocols that even before they release water, they need to warn the communities that are situated within the area of these dams. And after they warn them for a certain period of time, then they are educated, the people are educated which are safe, which areas are not safe," he said.

Philippines asks for help as flood toll hits 140

MANILA (AFP) - – Overwhelmed Philippine authorities appealed for international aid Monday as the death toll from once-in-a-lifetime floods soared to 140 and weary survivors sheltered in squalid conditions.

Two days after the horror storm sent torrents of water through the nation's capital Manila and surrounding provinces, the government conceded it was unable to deal with the disaster on its own and needed urgent help.

"We are appealing for international humanitarian assistance," Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a nationally televised briefing.

"The potential for a more serious situation is there and we cannot wait for that to happen."

Teodoro launched the appeal as he announced the death toll had climbed sharply to 140 people, with another 32 missing and 453,000 forced out of their flooded or destroyed homes. Related article: Looters target homes

The death toll is expected to jump even further, as local authorities reported dozens of other deaths that appear not to have been included in the government's figures.

President Gloria Arroyo described the deluge, which was the worst to hit Manila in more than four decades and left 80 percent of the city under water, as a "once-in-a-lifetime" storm.

"(It) was an extreme event that has strained our response capabilities to the limit. But it is not breaking us," she said. Related article: Disease threat

But with the threat of disease lurking over the disaster zones and relief workers in dire shortage of supplies to help survivors, other officials said authorities were not coping.

"The system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed," the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Anthony Golez, told reporters.

Authorities said some people remained stranded in their flooded homes more than 48 hours after the floods, while power and telephone services were still cut in the worst-hit areas of Manila. Related article: New storm threat

Poor drainage systems meant some places remained waist-deep in water, while vast swathes of the sprawling city of 12 million people were covered in sludge.

In schools, open-air gymnasiums and other makeshift evacuation camps, tens of thousands of people were desperately short of food, water and clothes.

At one gymnasium in eastern Manila, 3,000 people were sheltering in hot and humid conditions alongside the bodies of 11 neighbours lying in coffins.

There was no running water, and human faeces lay only a metre (yards) from where people were sleeping on the concrete floor.

"We are waiting for more aid to arrive. We are trying to mobilise our own relief operations here. But we need more help," the head of the local neighbourhood, Armando Endaya, told AFP. Related article: Flood hero who perished

Edgar Halog, a 44-year-old driver of one of Manila's iconic "jeepney" buses, was sheltering with his wife and seven children.

"We do not have any money, we do not know what to do. We don't have any other relatives. We are waiting for food rations," Halog told AFP.

In a wealthier part of Manila that was also swamped by the floods, residents raced against looters to retrieve televisions and other valuables, with hardly any sign of a police presence.

"We hope to recover something from our home, if there is anything left to recover," said resident Jun de Guzman, 48, as he and three relatives carrying brooms waded in the knee-deep muck covering what was left of Provident Village.

Health authorities also warned of disease outbreaks and appealed to the public for donations of medicine, clean water and food, as well as for medics to volunteer their services.

Infections including swine flu, diarrhoea and the bacterial disease leptospirosis were at the top of the government's list of concerns, Melissa Guerrero, chief aide to the health secretary, told AFP.

Defence Minister Teodoro said that apart from relief goods, funding and medicine, the Philippines may also ask for international rescue teams.

A small number of US forces, stationed in the Philippines to train local forces in combating terrorists, have helped in rescue efforts over the past two days.

After ripping across the Philippines, tropical storm Ketsana was upgraded to a full typhoon and was bearing down on central Vietnam, where officials expected it to make landfall late Tuesday.

Cristine Reyes recounts ordeal

MANILA – As she dreadfully watched the floodwaters devouring her Marikina home, actress Cristine Reyes had feared the worst - she and her family, who were trapped on their rooftop at the height of tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana), would not make it alive.

Floods had already reached the second floor of her home in Princeton Street in Provident Village, forcing them to move to the roof amid heavy downpour.

She, her family and some neighbors swam in floodwaters and then climbed the water tank at the back of the house to reach the rooftop where they would stay for 12 hours before help came. A very drenched Reyes tearfully appealed for help on television.

She recounted: “Talagang nagpra-pray ako, kami ng pamangkin ko na 3 years old. Tinuturuan ko. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Sabihin mo Lord God, help us, save us.’ Sinasabi niya. Iyong bata nakikinig sa akin."

“Grabe iyong pinagdaanan namin. Akala ko ending na namin lahat. Pero hindi ako nawalan ng pag-asa. Buti na lang ligtas kami.”

An Army rubber boat finally came early Sunday and, to her surprise, actor Richard Gutierrez was part of the rescue team.

“Sobrang hindi ko ma-imagine iyong ginawa niya. Ni-risk niya iyong buhay niya. Hindi biro iyong nangyari sa akin,” she said.

The 700-square-meter house is still submerged in ankle-deep mud when Reyes returned to her home Monday. She inspected the damage and salvaged some of her belongings.

Reyes is currently staying at sister Ara Mina’s residence in Quezon City. The young actress said she has decided to leave her Marikina house and relocate.

She said although she could no longer save most of her furniture, the most important thing is she and her family are now safe.

“Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tumulong. Sa mga hindi pa nare-rescue hanggang ngayon, sana matulungan natin sila sa abot ng makakaya natin,” she said. -Report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Water detected on the Moon

Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - – Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.

The evidence, disclosed in new scientific papers, overturns the long accepted view that lunar soil is dry and comes just two weeks before a NASA probe is to crash into the surface near the Moon's southern pole to see if water can be detected in the dust and debris released by the impact.

The new data was gathered by probes equipped with NASA instruments designed to map the Moon's mineral composition.

The so-called "Moon Mineralogy Mapper," or M3, uses the reflection of sunlight off the Moon's surface to determine soil composition.

In one of the three papers published in the latest edition of the journal Science, researchers said they analyzed light waves detected by an M3 instrument on board an Indian satellite, Chandrayyan-1.

The reflected light waves indicated a chemical bond between oxygen and hydrogen -- proof, the researchers said, of the existence of water on the Moon's surface.

Larry Taylor of the University of Tennessee, one of the study's co-authors, said the instrument is capable of detecting the composition of the thin upper layer of the Moon's surface only to a depth of two or three inches.

Until now, scientists had advanced the theory that there might be ice at the permamently dark bottom of craters at the Moon's poles but that the rest of the Moon was totally dry.

Lunar rocks and soil contain about 45 percent oxygen, but the source of the the hydrogen observed by the instruments on the three probes remains to be determined.

Taylor and his colleagues believe it may have come from an astronomical phenomenon called the solar wind, which consist mainly of streams of positively charged hydrogen atoms emitted as the sun undergoes nuclear fusion.

They estimate that each ton of lunar soil consists of 25 percent water.

Two other probes equipped with M3-type instruments also detected the chemical signature for the presence of water.

These include data gathered by the American spacecraft Cassini as it passed near the moon a decade agon on its way to Saturn.

The third probe, also American, was Deep Impact, which was launched toward the comet Tempel-1 in 2005 to pierce it with a projectile in order to analyze the dust cloud created by the impact.

Deep Impact passed near the Moon to gather data with an instrument similar to M3.

Samples of lunar rock and soil brought back to Earth by Apollo astronauts in the 1960s also contained traces of water.

But the containers in which they were transported were not hermetically sealed so researchers dismissed the presence of water as coming from the Earth.

"To some extent, we were fooled," said Taylor, who has studied the original Apollo missions. "Since the boxes leaked, we just assumed the water we found was from contamination with terrestrial air."

Indian scientists lost radio contact with the Chandrayaan-1 lunar satellite last month, but it had already collected enough data to provide the firmest evidence so far of water concentrated near the lunar poles.

"To find water on the moon was one of the main objectives," mission director Mylswamy Annadurai told AFP in Bangalore.

"The baby has done its job," a clearly delighted Annadurai said. "It's a major milestone, although we still have to quantify the findings."

"It was a combined team effort and of great significance for international space cooperation," he added.

Friday, September 25, 2009

AIDS breakthrough as vaccine cuts infections for first time

BANGKOK (AFP) - – An experimental AIDS vaccine has for the first time cut the risk of infection in humans in what scientists Thursday called a "breakthrough" in the quarter-century fight against the epidemic.

The vaccine reduced the chance of being infected by a third, researchers announced after the world's largest trial of 16,000 volunteers, carried out by the US Army and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.

The surprising result comes after years of fruitless attempts by the medical world to find an HIV vaccine, including one trial jab that apparently boosted infection rates.

"It is the first demonstration that a vaccine against HIV can protect against infection," Colonel Jerome Kim of the US military HIV research programme told a news conference in Bangkok via videolink.

"This is a very important scientific advance and gives us hope that a globally effective vaccine may be possible in the future," he said.

Thai Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said the "outcome of this study is a scientific breakthrough."

The vaccine was a combination of two older drugs that had not reduced infection on their own and the researchers said they were now studying why the two apparently worked together.

The study combined the canarypox vaccine ALVAC, manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis of France, and AIDSVAX, originally made by VaxGen Inc and now licensed to the non-profit Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases.

Researchers said the latest vaccine showed a 31.2 percent efficacy in reducing the risk of HIV infection.

"The outcome represents a breakthrough in HIV vaccine development because for the first time ever there is evidence that HIV vaccine has preventative efficacy," said the research team in a statement.

The vaccine was tested on volunteers -- all HIV negative men and women aged from 18 to 30 -- at average risk of infection in two Thai provinces near Bangkok starting in October 2003.

Half received the vaccine and the rest were given a placebo. Out of the placebo recipients 74 of 8,198 became infected compared with 51 of 8,197 who got the vaccine.

The World Health Organization and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS congratulated the researchers for the "encouraging" results.

"The study results, representing a significant scientific advance, are the first demonstration that a vaccine can prevent HIV infection in a general adult population and are of great importance," they said in a statement. Experts' reactions

The UN said it may not be possible to get licensing permission for the drug at the moment based on the results, and that further studies were needed to determine if the vaccine has the same effect in other parts of the world.

AIDS first came to public notice in 1981 and has since killed at least 25 million people worldwide, and 33 million others are living with AIDS or the HIV virus.

Swift progress in identifying the virus that caused AIDS unleashed early optimism that a vaccine would quickly emerge. HIV destroys immune cells and exposes the body to opportunistic disease.

But out of the 50 candidates that have been evaluated among humans, only two vaccines have made it through all three phases of trials, and both were flops. About 30 vaccines remain in the pipeline.

Scientists were in 2007 forced to abandon two advanced clinical trials of a vaccine by pharmaceutical company Merck after it appeared to actually heighten the risk of AIDS infection.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis, said the results of the latest test, although "modest", were the first concrete demonstration that a vaccine "could one day become a reality."

The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of researchers, policymakers, donors and advocates that includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said it was a "historic day in the 26-year quest to develop an AIDS vaccine."

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), an organisation that promotes the search for a vaccine, said the trial results were "very exciting and a significant scientific achievement."

The head of the US agency tasked with controlling the spread of infectious disease said it was an important breakthrough.

"These new findings represent an important step forward in HIV vaccine research," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health, which provided major funding and logistical support for the study.

But a top AIDS scientist, France's Jean-Francois Delfraissy, warned that the results were "good news but the effect remains modest".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New PSP model coming

Sony confirms slimmer, lighter PSP model in the works; includes extended battery life and hi-definition video output to TVs.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Rumours have been flying around for a while that the PlayStation Portable would be getting a redesign.

One of the first rumours came from a UK event to launch the PSP in Education initiative, where Sony Computer Entertainment Europe managing director Ray Maguire called the current version of the PSP the "first iteration" of the hardware and that a "smaller, lighter" version would be coming in the future.

However, the company furiously backtracked after the event, with Sony America corporate communications director Dave Karraker saying, "Ray's comments regarding decreasing the size of the PSP were made in the general context that almost all consumer electronics shrink over time as advances are made in the technology to shrink the components used in manufacture. We have not, however, made any announcement regarding any new PSP hardware changes."

In June, Sony updated a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which showed a diagram of a possible new PSP model that featured a swivel screen and a way to switch between using it as a games machine and a mobile phone. More speculation followed that the new PSP was imminent and that it would also be a cell phone.

Today, Sony confirmed that a new PSP would be coming and that the redesign would indeed be a newer, smaller PSP. It also revealed the new model would come in a variety of different colours. Announced so far for North America are both the classic "piano black," along with "ice silver," which will arrive in September. There will also be a special Star Wars design: a white PSP with a picture of Darth Vader's face on the back, to be available in October.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai said that the new PSP will be 33 percent lighter, 19 percent slimmer, the battery will be more efficient, and there will also be faster loading of games. It will also come with the ability to output high-quality video by pressing the display button. This means that movies, games, photos, and all other PSP applications can be output to a TV screen.

Two bundles were announced for the new portable for North America. The first, titled "The PSP entertainment pack for North America," includes the silver PSP, a copy of the Daxter game, a 1GB memory stick Duo, and a Family Guy collection UMD. The second is the new Star Wars Battlefront PSP pack, which will include the Star Wars: Battlefront Renegade Squadron game and the special Star Wars PSP. Both will cost $199.99.

For a closer look, check out GameSpot Hardware's in-depth examination of the device.

New PS2, PSP models revealed

Lighter version of classic console, red PSPs head to Japan and Europe; SCEA reps mum on North American plans.

Today in Japan, Sony Computer Entertainment confirmed rumors by officially unveiling a new version the PlayStation 2. The latest iteration of the hardware--which has sold over 120 million units internationally in its seven-plus years on the market--will be available in three colors (black, white, and silver) and have a built-in AC adaptor. Officially announced for Japan, the PS2, model #SCPH-90000, has also been confirmed for release in the EU by Sony Europe. In Japan, it will retail for ¥16,000 (approx. $139), the same price as the old model, which is also the same size. No European pricing is yet available for the SCPH-90000 PS2.

Sony also announced today a new "Deep Red" edition of its PlayStation Portable will go on sale in Japan. As the name implies, the new PSP will be red in color, a hue Sony said was chosen for its appeal to holiday shoppers. In Japan, it will arrive on December 13 in two versions. The ¥22,800 (about $199) "PSP Deep Red Value Pack" includes a pouch, handstrap, cleaning cloth, and 32MB Memory Stick Duo for game data. The ¥29,800 (around $260) "PSP Deep Red 1 Seg Pack" includes the handheld's 1 Seg TV tuner, a 1GB Memory Stick Duo, and a viewing stand, as well as the aforementioned pouch, handstrap, and cloth.

Though the Deep Red PSP isn't yet officially headed for Europe, unconfirmed reports have the continent getting its own cherry-hued version of the console. The forums briefly displayed packaging for a bundle containing a new bright red PSP and UMD movie discs of the Spider-Man 2, which was packed in with the PSP at launch, and Spider-Man 3, which is currently bundled with the $399 40GB PlayStation 3 in Blu-ray disc form. (The post displaying the packaging has since been deleted by administrators.)

Sony Computer Entertainment America would not confirm nor deny the Spider-Man PSP bundle's existence, let alone whether or not it would be available outside Europe. SCEA reps also would not confirm whether or not the Deep Red PSP or the new PS2 would ever land on North American shores.

"We haven't announced anything, the only new PS2 we've announced is the new limited edition SingStar bundle that started shipping this week," a rep said, referencing the white PS2 package deal, which went on sale today in the US and Canada.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kanye West gets 9 BET Hip-Hop Awards nominations

West might still be under fire for his controversial act on MTV, but the ranting rapper could be looking at plenty of praise from BET next month.

West has received nine nominations for the fourth annual BET Hip-Hop Awards, which will be televised Oct. 27. The rapper caused a stir Sunday after he interrupted 19-year-old country singer Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The 32-year-old West's latest album, "808 & Heartbreak," has sold over a million copies.

Jay-Z and Lil Wayne drew the second-most nominations with seven apiece, while T.I. received six nods.

The network will also recognize veteran rapper Ice Cube with the "I Am Hip-Hop" icon award. The show will be hosted by comedian Mike Epps.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

iPod touch. New features. New price.

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iPod touch is designed to make playing games a great experience. New games are added to the App Store every day, and with Genius recommendations for apps, the App Store even suggests new ones based on what you've already downloaded. And games are only a part of the thousands of apps you can enjoy on iPod touch. Check out some of our current favorites.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Introducing the new iPod nano. Now with video recording

nano shoots video. Introducing the new iPod nano. Now with video recording, a larger screen, and FM radio.Buy now
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The new video camera in iPod nano lets you shoot video—even with video effects—wherever you are. Yet the new iPod nano is still the same ultraportable size. Learn more
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Genius acts as your personal DJ, searching your iTunes library to find songs that go great together, then organizing them into mixes you'll love. All automatically. Learn more
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The new built-in FM tuner has two amazing features—Live Pause and iTunes Tagging*—that make listening to the radio nothing like listening to the radio. Learn more
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Count every step you take with the new built-in Pedometer feature. Or add a Nike + iPod Sport Kit so your iPod can track your fitness progress. Learn more
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Friday, September 4, 2009

(2009) Top 10 Richest Filipinos

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the richest of them all?

If you’re interested to know who the wealthiest people are in the Philippines, you need not ask the magic mirror but instead refer to Forbes Magazine’s list of The Philippines’ 40 Richest released this August 2009.

Who are the richest Filipinos? Read below.

SM mall mogul Henry Sy is still the richest man in the Philippines for two consecutive years now. In the 2008 Richest Filipinos list, he topped the list followed by Lucio Tan, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, and Andrew Tan. There is no change in the Top 4 this year.

There are three new Filipinos added to the list. Robert Coyiuto Jr. (#18) is the president of Oriental Petroleum & Minerals. Imelda Marcos’ younger brother, Benjamin Romualdez (#30) has stakes in Banco de Oro and Benguet Mining Corporation. The third, Marian Rosario Fong (#40), is a former partner of Sy’s supermarkets and has a 1% stake in SM Investments.

Last year’s #39, Manuel Pangilinan of PLDT and Metro Pacific, is out of the list this year.

The complete 40 Richest Filipinos list below.

Top 10 Richest People in the Philippines – 2009

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

1. Henry Sy

Networth: $3.8 billion
Age: 84
Marital Status: Married, 6 children

Stock price of his SM Investments has almost doubled since December low. Group, with interests in malls, retail, property, posted 14% increase in net income in first half of 2009. Daughter Teresita Sy-Coson runs its Banco de Oro Unibank, country’s largest bank by assets, which signed deal in May to acquire GE Capital’s Philippines banking arm in exchange for strategic investment from the U.S. company; deal expected to close this month. Sy, who got start selling shoes, shares fortune with wife and children.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

2. Lucio Tan

Networth: $1.7 billion
Age: 75
Marital Status: Married, 6 children

His Philippine National Bank received regulatory approval to buy 38% of China’s Allied Commercial Bank in August. Former electrical engineer’s other holdings include Fortune Tobacco, Asia Brewery, Philippine Airlines and Hong Kong properties. Government case against Tan for allegedly holding assets for the late Ferdinand Marcos has dragged on for 22 years. Some of his fortune still sequestered as part of the long-running investigation.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

3. Jaime Zobel de Ayala

Networth: $1.2 billion
Age: 75
Marital Status: Married, 7 children

Chairman emeritus of family’s Ayala Corp., one of the country’s largest conglomerates, which celebrated its 175th birthday this year. Eldest son, Jaime II, replaced his dad as chairman more than a decade ago; son Ferdinando is vice-chairman. Family’s shares now in his children’s hands.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

4. Andrew Tan

Networth: $850 million
Age: 57
Marital Status: Married, 4 children

His holding company, Alliance Global Group, reported jump in first-quarter earnings thanks in part to strong food, beverage businesses (he owns the Philippines’ McDonald’s franchise) and improving real estate sales. Resort World Manila, his $1.35 billion casino joint venture with Malaysia’s Star Cruises, opened last month. Son of a factory worker made his first fortune in brandy, and later in property development through Megaworld.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

5. John Gokongwei

Networth: $720 million
Age: 82
Marital Status: Married, 6 children

Shares of his conglomerate JG Summit — which has interests in airlines, telecoms, power, banking and real estate — are up more than 300% since last December’s low. Also owns Robinsons retail department store operations, with stores in 7 countries. Brother James Go chairs the group and son Lance is president.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

6. Tony Tan Caktiong

Networth: $710 million
Age: 59
Marital Status: Married, 3 children

His fast-food company Jollibee Foods is expanding: it already has 1,800 locations, 9 brands in 11 countries, including popular burger joint Jollibee; plans to open another 200 this year in such countries as China, Vietnam and the U.S. Completed purchase of a congee restaurant chain in China last October. Got his start 34 years ago when he opened 2 ice cream parlors.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

7. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.

Networth: $660 million
Age: 74
Marital Status: Married, 4 children

Chief executive of Southeast Asia’s largest food and beverage conglomerate, San Miguel. Company has been buying up stakes in a power company, oil refiner and bank; has shown interest in buying Dole Food’s Asian assets. In July announced it is negotiating with potential investors to sell part of branded food, alcohol operations. Son Mark is a member of the Philippines’ House of Representatives.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

8. Enrique Razon

Networth: $620 million
Age: 49
Marital Status: Married, 2 children

Was part of consortium, which also included China’s State Grid and Robert Coyiuto (No. 18), that paid $3.95 billion for National Grid Corp. of the Philippines. Runs port operator International Container Terminal Services, with operations in 10 countries; it posted one-third drop in net income for first half of year due to decline in global trade.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

9. Manuel Villar

Networth: $530 million
Age: 59
Marital Status: Married, 3 children

Philippines Senate president, known as Manny, is a candidate in the 2010 presidential race. He is also the largest shareholder in property firms Vista Land & Lifescapes and Polar Property Holdings. Both sons are on board of Vista Land, whose stock hit 52-week high in August. Shrimp vendor’s son grew up in slum.

2009 List of Richest Filipinos

10. George Ty

Networth: $515 million
Age: 76
Marital Status: Married, 5 children

His Metrobank, the country’s second-largest lender, saw profits rise in first quarter for first time in a year. Founded bank decades ago. His son Arthur replaced him as chairman 2006. Family, which includes Ty and his children, hold 40% of the bank.

Source: Forbes