Aug 17, 2018

Philippines companies exploiting disaster to build resorts, locals say

A fisherman on the remote Philippine island of Sicogon. Locals call it “Paradise Island." It is being turned into an ecotourism resort. Photo: Al Jazeera

Five years after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the island of Sicogon, local residents claim corporations brought in to help rebuild are using intimidation and harassment to evict them in favor of multi-million dollar eco-tourism resorts.

Why it matters: Wenefred Gonzales, a village chief, claims the companies are exploiting storm survivors to make a profit. “If they like your island, they will do anything they can to chase the people out," he says. "It’s difficult to fight these people … they have a strong connection with our government.”

  • “I think the term exploit might be too harsh for us because we are very authentic and transparent with our plans," says Ruel Maranan, the Managing Director Ayala. "Actually, such disasters are way beyond business initiatives."

Go deeper: Watch the full report from Al Jazeera’s 101 East.

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Coronavirus cases rise, as more Americans on cruise confirmed ill

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A U.S. public health official confirms more than 40 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan have coronavirus, while the remaining U.S. citizens without symptoms are being evacuated.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

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Scoop: Inside the Trump campaign's big hedge on Facebook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump campaign has invested most of its advertising budget to date on Facebook, testing thousands of versions of ads per day to maximize its spending.

But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.