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North Korea did push through with its new pre-determined move to test fire its 6th nuclear missile in spite of the US Naval Striking Force presence near its waters. But South’s defense ministry said the test failed on Sunday.

And questions must have reverberated in observers’ in mind - What if it succeeded? What would have been its target? - the fifth one being Japanese waters.

And how would have America, Japan and China included, responded,? with an American Superaircraft Carrier drifting near Korean territory?

And a day before that,  North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Saturday saluted as ranks of goose-stepping soldiers followed by tanks and other military hardware paraded in Pyongyang for a show of strength amid mounting tensions over his nuclear ambitions.

“Today’s parade will provide a chance to display our powerful military might,” a male voiceover said on the TV broadcast.

Ostensibly the event is to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim’s grandfather, the North’s founder Kim Il-Sung - a date known as the “Day of the Sun” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, (DPRK) the country’s official name.

But it is also intended to send an unmistakable message to Washington about the isolated, nuclear-armed North’s military might.

The parade showcased nearly 60 missiles - including what is suspected to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

Pyongyang’s rogue atomic ambitions have come into sharp focus in recent weeks, with United States President Donald Trump vowing a tough stance against the North and threatening unilateral action if China failed to help curb its neighbor’s nuclear programme.

And intelligence officials have warned it could be less than two years away from achieving the ability to strike the United States continent.

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At the age of 117, Emma Morano, an Italian woman believed to have been the oldest person alive and the last survivor of the 19th century, died Saturday, Italian media reported.

Morano, born on November 29 1899, died at her home in Verbania, northern Italy, the reports said.

According to the US-based Gerontology Research Group (GRG), Morano ceded the crown of the world’s oldest human being to Jamaican Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900.

Morano’s death, at the age of 117 years and 137 days, means there is no one living known to have been born before 1900.

Yamile Vergara, her nurse for over 40 years, said of Morano, “Most impressive is her memory. She forgets nothing. Her sense of humor is her therapy”.

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Of local interest... Only infants may not have heard of the giant Mercury Drugstore chain. But its founder came to be known only in death.

He is Mariano Que, whose demise the empire posted on its social media page yesterday. He was 96.

The advisory said those who wish to send flowers may instead make a donation to their favorite charitable institution or to the Mercury Drug Foundation Inc.

No details surrounding his death were provided.

The Que family, led by daughter Vivian Que Azcona is listed in Forbes magazine’s 50 richest Filipinos in 2016 at number 24 with a net worth of $900 million.

Vivian is the president of the company and has run the drugstore chain’s expansion into retail services with the addition of convenience stores.

The elder Que started out as a regular employee in a drugstore in Manila during the prewar period, where he gained knowledge on medical prescriptions.

In 1945, when the war ended, Mariano had enough capital to put up a store, Mercury Drug, named after the Roman god Mercury who carried the caduceus symbol.

But Forbes disclosed, Que first sold medicine - particularly sulfathiozone - “from a pushcart” before he opened Mercury Drug’s first store in 1945 at Bambang Street in Manila.

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An overexcited Filipino worker, eager to shake the hands of iconic Pres. Duterte, accidentally pulled him causing Duterte’s near fall, as he struggled to maintain his balance. The president’s guards, Cabinet secretaries, and even the Qatari royal guards rushed to Duterte’s aid. But Duterte just smiled and proceeded to his designated seat.

Duterte, the first Philippine president to visit Qatar since 2008, is hugely popular among the 222,721 overseas Filipino workers here. He got about 78 percent of the total votes cast here in the 2016 elections.

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Seven business deals worth $470 million were signed in Quatar last Wednesday in a development officials said reflected investors’ confidence in the Philippine economy.

President Duterte witnessed the signing of the agreements during a business forum attended by business leaders of Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

The deal is expected to create 16,000 new jobs in the country, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

The businesses inked were into halal production, tourism, hotels, pharmacy, manufacturing, agriculture, engineering, tourism and logistics.

“It was good that the President himself is our trade and investment ambassador. Every time he talks with his counterpart, he pushes for trade and asks them to buy more of our exports and invite investors to the Philippines and to take advantage of the current economic boom we are experiencing,” Lopez said.

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Former Pope Benedict XVI, who stunned the Catholic Church by resigning in 2013, is to be feted with a "modest" 90th birthday party. His aide, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, says Benedict's birthday, which falls on Easter Sunday this year, that’s today will be celebrated on Monday in Bavarian style in keeping with the emeritus pontiff's roots.

Gaenswein told the Catholic news agency S.I.R. on yesterday there'll be a "modest party" in keeping with his strength. He noted that Benedict is very lucid and in good humor. Benedict is frail, though he still takes his daily stroll using a walker.

Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927 in southern Germany. Trained as a theologian, he was a long-time Vatican official in charge of ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy when elected pontiff in 2005.

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Whew..! Our President does seem to know his onions in religion - exuding shades of a preacher. Read on.

Like Jesus Christ who went through hardship and suffering for the love of mankind, Filipinos should continue to work hard for the sake of the country.

This was President Rodrigo Duterte’s message to Filipinos, as he underscored the need to improve peace and order to push the country’s development.

“I join the rest of the Christian world as we celebrate the fulfillment of Resurrection three days after the passion and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross,” Duterte said.

“May this occasion be a reminder to Filipinos that our country deserves salvation from drugs, criminality and corruption that have long plagued this nation and that our people will rise and triumph over society’s ills,” he added.

“The story of the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday is a message of perseverance and faith in the grief of Black Saturday. Christ’s Resurrection should inspire us to achieve our collective aspirations through our unwavering devotion,” Duterte said.

“Let the promise of Easter be our guide as we build a progressive, inclusive and independent nation—where government and people work together to attain peace, justice, safety and security for all,” he added.

Wowowee..! See what I meant in him being a preacher? Only a veteran preacher could have mouthed those lines.

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The death toll from America’s largest non-nuclear bomb has nearly tripled, with Afghan officials saying Saturday some 90 Islamic State fighters died when the blast smashed their mountain hideout, as US-led forces began clean-up operations.

Dubbed the “Mother Of All Bombs”, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb was unleashed in combat for the first time Thursday, hitting IS positions in a remote, rugged area of eastern Nangarhar province.

The unprecedented attack triggered global shock waves, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as what they called a testing ground for the weapon, and against a militant group that is allegedly not considered a threat as big as the resurgent Taliban, which critics claim continues to sit pretty.

The Taliban, they say is a much bigger insurgent group, is expected to soon announce the start of this year’s fighting season.

IS, notorious for its reign of terror in Syria and Iraq, has made inroads into Afghanistan in recent years, attracting disaffected members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as Uzbek Islamists.

But the group has been steadily losing ground in the face of heavy pressure both from US air strikes and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces. (By Jimmy Cabato)




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