Immense Typhoon Headed Toward Philippines

An immense and powerful typhoon is headed toward the Philippines.

It is called Super Typhoon Maysak, and it left at least five people dead after slamming into the Micronesian island of Chuuk.

The typhoon is expected to weaken as it approaches the Philippines, forecasters say, but it looked plenty powerful Tuesday, when astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured some incredible images of the storm.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took several photos of the typhoon on Tuesday, when Maysak’s maximum sustained winds were 160 mph. “Commands respect even from space,” Cristoforetti wrote on Twitter.

Terry Virts, an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station, took several other shots of the typhoon’s enormous eye. “It seemed like a black hole from a Sci-Fi movie,” Virts tweeted, according to Yahoo! News.

The typhoon is the third to impact the western Pacific this year, and it lashed the tiny island of Yap on Wednesday before weakening, Philippine weather officials said.

Maysak, now carrying maximum winds of 118 mph, is expected to make landfall in the Philippines on Saturday.

Transgender Model Talks About Bruce Jenner

Transgender fashion model Geena Rocero and CNN’s Michaela Pereira discuss reports that former Olympian Bruce Jenner is transitioning from a man to a woman.

Geena Rocero was born in Manila, Philippines to a working-class family, and started competing in beauty pageants at age 15. Rocero was 17 at the time she immigrated to San Francisco, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006.

Rocero was discovered by a fashion photographer in a restaurant in New York City when she was aged 21. She was then signed to top agency NEXT Model Management, and spent 12 years modeling for international swimsuit and beauty editorials, earning herself a large fan base, according to Wikipedia.


NYT Op-Ed: Birth Control And The Pope

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Frank Bruni writes about what the confessors at his mother’s Catholic church would tell her about birth control.

“’Forgive me, Father,’ she’d say time and again, in church after church, to confessor after confessor. ‘I use contraception.’”

“She never met a priest who didn’t respond with some version of the following, and I’m paraphrasing…

“’Of course you do. You’re sane. Ignore Rome. Forget about the pope. There’s La-La Land, and then there’s the real world, in which you are clearly living. Say three Hail Marys because it can never hurt, and be on your way.’”

On the papal airplane, en route from the Philippines back to Italy, the pope reflected on the relationship between third-world poverty and extra-large families.

He told reporters that Catholics needn’t feel compelled to breed “like rabbits.”

Rev. James Keenan, a moral theologian at Boston College, said “He’s wildly practical.”

“Keenan stated that while he didn’t hear, in the pope’s reference to rabbits, any clear challenge to traditional teaching, he heard a change in emphasis…

“I don’t remember, ever, a pope saying to Catholics that they should be mindful of how many children they’re having,” states Keenan, adding that Francis’s statement was significant for that reason. “Did he intend it to be? I have no idea. When he says things, you don’t know if they’re off the cuff or not, because he’s so out there. He’s exciting that way.”

Bruni points out that at sometimes the pope sounds traditional, “like any old pope,” but at other times the pope sounds like the parish priests encountered by his mother.

Pope Draws Record Crowd In Manila


According to ABC News, Pope Francis flew out of The Philippines on Monday after a weeklong trip that included a visit to Sri Lanka and drew what Filipino officials says was a record crowd of 6 million faithful in a Manila park where he celebrated Mass.

President Benigno Aquino III, church leaders and 400 street children yelling “Pope Francis we love you,” saw him off at a Manila air base, where the pontiff, carrying a black travel bag, boarded a Philippine Airlines plane for a flight to Rome.

Standing at the top of the stairs, the pope waved to the crowd, slightly bowed his head, then walked into the plane.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lined Manila’s streets, with police keeping a close watch, to have their final glimpse of Francis, who smiled and waved aboard an open-sided, white popemobile.

Inspection At Philippines Prison Finds Jacuzzi, Drugs

According to AFP, a raid on the Philippines’ biggest jail on Monday uncovered drug lords “living like kings” in secret luxury cells with strip bars, sex dolls, a jacuzzi and methamphetamines, the justice secretary said.

Police commandos in full battle armor and tracker dogs swooped down on the infamously crowded and corrupt Bilibid prison complex before dawn to verify reports that drug rings were operated from behind bars.

Aside from the methamphetamine “ice”, police found 1.4 million pesos ($31,000) in cash, inflatable sex dolls, a strip bar and a jacuzzi, across 20 air-conditioned “villas”, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

“They are here to serve jail time but instead, they’re living like kings,” de Lima told reporters after the raid.

Philippines To Spend Nearly 4 Billion On Rebuilding From Typhoon Hayan

According to sources, the country already spent $3.1 billion dollars and will spend an additional $3.9 billion.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the central islands on November 8 and left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing from its winds of up to 275 kilometres an hour (171 mph) that generated giant waves which obliterated coastal communities.

The storm tore across an area the size of Portugal, destroying or damaging 1.14 million homes and about 20 billion pesos’ worth of crops, according to government data.

Sources claim that thousands of people are still living in tents due to the damage from Haiyan.

Recently, many of these Haiyan survivors were forced to seek refuge as Typhoon Rammasun (known locally as Glenda) bore down on them on Monday night.

“People were terrified because tents were collapsing in the high winds and the area was beginning to flood,” said Rhea Catada, who works for the charity Oxfam in the city of Tacloban.

Australia recently announced aid measures in the Philippines to help poor communities and victims of Typhoon Haiyan.  Australia granted additional aid worth $AUD3 million to improve land use and establish early warning systems in communities hit by Haiyan.

More than $12 million has been committed by Australia to help almost 200 poor municipalities get improved access to education and health services.