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Tacloban (Philippines) (AFP) - Tens of thousands of desperately needed jobs are being created for survivors of a catastrophic typhoon in the Philippines by paying them to clear mountains of waste from ruined cities and farms. UN agencies are spearheading the "cash for work" programmes, which they hope will provide a triple-boost to communities destroyed by Super Typhoon Haiyan, with lifting morale as vital as cleaning up and helping economies. "This is not only important to help normalise the economy, but working gives a sense of dignity back in their lives," said Tim Walsh, leader of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) team deployed to the worst-hit city of Tacloban and nearby areas. The United Nations, working in partnership with the Philippine government, is hoping to create at least 200,000 jobs that could last for up to three years.
President Barack Obama's healthcare law is facing its biggest test this weekend since its disastrous October 1 launch, as Americans find out whether the administration has met a self-imposed deadline to fix its insurance shopping website. Another major outage of glitch-ridden HealthCare.gov could spell more political trouble for the president, who was forced to apologize for the botched rollout and admit burdening Democratic Party allies in their bids for re-election to Congress in 2014. If the website does not work on Saturday's deadline, that could turn off millions of uninsured Americans, especially young and healthy consumers whose participation in the new insurance exchanges are critical for keeping costs in check. Obama officials are confident that this second coming of HealthCare.gov will be much improved from the October 1 debut.
By David Lague HONG KONG (Reuters) - In late October, flotillas of Chinese warships and submarines sliced through passages in the Japanese archipelago and out into the western Pacific for 15 days of war games. The drills, pitting a "red force" against a "blue force," were the first in this area, combining ships from China's main south, east and north fleets, according to the Chinese military. Land-based bombers and surveillance aircraft also flew missions past Japan to support the navy units. In official commentaries, senior People's Liberation Army (PLA) officers boasted their navy had "dismembered" the so-called first island chain - the arc of islands enclosing China's coastal waters, stretching from the Kuril Islands southward through the Japanese archipelago, Taiwan, the Northern Philippines and down to Borneo.
A Japanese porn star prepares for a performance in her dressing room, unruffled by furious arguments outside among impatient Chinese fans eagerly anticipating her show. Rei Mizuna was in China to corner her share of its money-spinning sex product market. The rowdy scene at the Guangzhou National Sex Culture Festival was a graphic illustration of how sexual taboos are loosening in the once deeply conservative country -- and the opportunities for those able to exploit it. China is estimated to make more than 80 percent of the world's sex toys, with one million people employed in the industry, but an increasing proportion of the products are staying in the country to feed domestic demand.
French luxury brand Louis Vuitton has been ordered to remove a giant trunk put up as a publicity stunt on Moscow's iconic Red Square, an associated department store said Wednesday, after it triggered outrage among Russians. The boxy brown suitcase-shaped pavilion, covered with the brand's signature "LV" stencilling was erected 10 days ago just outside GUM, a 19th century upmarket department store across from the Kremlin that faces the square. On Wednesday, following several days of furious media commentary, the GUM store said it had asked Louis Vuitton to take down the pavilion. "Considering the view of some of the public, and the fact that the pavilion's size has surpassed the agreed parameters, we told Louis Vuitton about the need to immediately dismantle the pavilion," GUM said on its website.
LeBron James scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and passed out eight assists against his former club to spark the Miami Heat over the host Cleveland Cavaliers 95-84. James, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, guided the two-time defending NBA champions to their eighth victory in a row as well as Miami's eighth consecutive victory in matchups against the Cavaliers, the home-area club James played for until leaving for the Heat in 2010. "It's always a little weird," James said Wednesday of playing against Cleveland and fans who still feel spurned by his departure. Dwyane Wade added 22 points for the Heat, and Michael Beasley scored 17 off the bench for Miami, which is 11-1 overall against Cleveland since James joined the Heat.
Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, one game shy of matching the NBA's longest streak of games with a 3-point basket, had his bid for history put on hold. That put Korver one shy of the NBA record streak of 89 set by Dana Barros from 1994 to 1996. Korver, who began his streak November 4 of last year against the Oklahoma City Thunder, missed the Hawks' trip to Houston for a game Wednesday to have treatment, and it is not certain when he might return to the lineup.