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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

April 28, 2014

ASIA:

MALAYSIA-PLANE

CANBERRA, Australia — The underwater hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet will be expanded to include a massive swath of ocean floor that may take up to eight months to thoroughly search, Australia’s prime minister says. The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 robotic submarine has spent weeks scouring the initial search area for Flight 370 in the remote Indian Ocean far off Australia’s coast, but has found no trace of the missing plane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. Officials are now looking to bring in new equipment that can search a larger patch of seabed for the plan. SENT: 630 words, photos planned.

OBAMA

MANILA, Philippines — President Barack Obama wraps up his weeklong swing across Asia as the U.S. military solidifies a new 10-year agreement giving it greater access to bases across the Philippines. By Darlene Superville. SENT: 600 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-US MILITARY

MANILA, Philippines — The U.S. military will get greater access to bases across the Philippines under a 10-year agreement signed Monday in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s visit in a deal seen as an effort by Washington to counter Chinese aggression in the region. U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin signed the agreement at the main military camp in the capital, Manila, ahead of Obama’s stop and portrayed it is as a central part of his weeklong Asia swing. SENT: 830 words, photos, video.

SKOREA-SHIP SINKING

JINDO, South Korea — Divers renew their search for more than 100 bodies still trapped in a sunken ferry after weekend efforts were hindered by bad weather, strong currents and floating debris clogging the ship’s rooms. Investigators, meanwhile, expanded a probe into how coast guard and other rescuers responded after learning the ferry was sinking. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, audio.

MYANMAR-KIDS AT SEA

SITTWE, Myanmar — The two children stood on the beach, at the end of the only world they knew, torn between land and sea. They couldn’t go back to their tiny Muslim village in Myanmar’s northwest Rakhine because it had been devoured in a fire set by an angry Buddhist mob. In the smoke and chaos, the siblings became separated from their family. And after seven months of searching, they had lost hope of finding anyone alive. By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell. SENT: 2,600 words, photos. An abridged version is also available.

CHINA-EARNS-CONSTRUCTION BANK

BEIJING — China Construction Bank Ltd., one of the country’s four main state-owned lenders, says its latest quarterly profit rose 10.4 percent despite a slowing economy and changes in the industry. SENT: 130 words.

WORLD MARKETS

TOKYO — Shares fell Monday in Asia as investors remained wary of mounting violence in Ukraine, while awaiting a raft of financial indicators due later in the week. SENT: 380 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

UKRAINE

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian militants in camouflage fatigues and black balaclavas parade captive European military observers before the media, hours after the seizure of three Ukrainian security guards, later shown bloodied and blindfolded with packing tape. The provocative displays come as the increasingly ruthless pro-Russian insurgency in the east turns to kidnapping as an ominous new tactic. By Peter Leonard. SENT: 1,000 words.

— UNITED STATES-UKRAINE — Top Obama adviser says new sanctions expected this week will affect Putin’s inner circle. SENT: 350 words, photos.

VATICAN-POPES-SAINTS

VATICAN CITY — Two 20th-century popes who changed the course of the Catholic Church become saints as Pope Francis honors John XXIII and John Paul II in a delicate balancing act aimed at bringing together the conservative and progressive wings of the church. By Nicole Winfield. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 1,290 words, photos, video.

— POLAND-JOHN PAUL II— Nine years after his death, Poles are once again lauding their beloved countryman, Pope John Paul II, as he is declared a saint in an unprecedented Vatican ceremony. SENT: 585 words, photos.

— VATICAN-POPES-SAINTS-PHOTO GALLERY

SUPREME COURT-CELLPHONE SEARCHES

WASHINGTON — Two Supreme Court cases about police searches of cellphones without warrants present vastly different views of the ubiquitous device. Is it a critical tool for a criminal or is it an American’s virtual home? How the justices answer that question could determine the outcome of the cases being argued Tuesday. A drug dealer and a gang member want the court to rule that the searches of their cellphones after their arrest violated their right to privacy in the digital age. By Mark Sherman. SENT: 930 words, photo.

ISRAEL-HOLOCAUST MEMORIES

JERUSALEM — In an annual ritual, Israel will come to a standstill Monday morning for the country’s official Holocaust remembrance day. To capture the experience in a snapshot would be impossible. Still, The Associated Press asked a group of survivors who endured the worst horrors of the Holocaust to share their strongest singular memory. Without exception, each focused on those closest to them who did not survive. By Aron Heller. SENT: 1,700 words, photos.

WEST AFRICA-SURVIVING EBOLA

The doctor has beaten the odds and survived Ebola, but he still has one more problem: The stigma of the deadly disease. Even though he is completely healthy, people do not want to come near him or have anything to do with him. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 145 lives so far. But a handful of the infected do survive. Unfortunately for the lucky few, the stink of stigma lingers long after the virus has been purged from their bodies. By Boubacar Diallo and Sarah DiLorenzo. SENT: 880 words, photos.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calls the Holocaust “the most heinous crime” of modern history and expressed his sympathy for the victims, a rare acknowledgment by an Arab leader of Jewish suffering during the Nazi genocide. Abbas’ comments appear, in part, aimed at reaching out to Israeli public opinion at a time of deep crisis in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The remarks were published just hours before the start of Israel’s annual Holocaust commemoration. By Karin Laub. SENT: 800 words, photos.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

BANGUI, Central African Republic — Heavily armed African and French peacekeepers escorted some of the last remaining Muslims out of Central African Republic’s volatile capital on Sunday, trucking more than 1,300 people who for months had been trapped in their neighborhood by violent Christian militants. Within minutes of the convoy’s departure, an angry swarm of neighbors descended upon the mosque and looted it in a scene of total anarchy. By Krista Larson. SENT: 980 words, photos.

SOUTH AFRICA-DEMOCRACY ANNIVERSARY

JOHANNESBURG — South Africans on Sunday celebrated 20 years of democracy with song, prayer and praise for those who guided their country into a more peaceful, tolerant era, although some noted that economic inequality and other problems have undermined the nation’s promise since the first all-race elections ended white rule on April 27, 1994. By Christopher Torchia. SENT: 670 words, photos.

PAKISTAN-SPY SIGNS

ISLAMABAD — On city streets in Pakistan, a curious sight has appeared in recent days: posters bearing the faces of the country’s two most powerful generals that profess love for the military and its spying arm. The mystery signs arrived in Pakistan as its powerful military faces off with the country’s largest private television station over allegations that its forces were behind a shooting that seriously wounded one of its top anchors. But behind the chanting demonstrations and garish loyalty posters lies the deep challenge confronting Pakistan: Where does power lie in this country that’s undergone three military coups since independence, with its army or its nascent civilian government? By Zarar Khan and Munir Ahmed. SENT: 650 words, photos.

CONNECTICUT SCHOOL STABBING

HARTFORD, Connecticut — A 16-year-old girl stabbed at her high school on the day of her junior prom died of wounds to her torso and neck, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner has said. The medical examiner’s office ruled that Maren Sanchez’s death was a homicide. A 16-year-old male classmate is charged with murder as a juvenile in the stabbing at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, and he could eventually face charges as an adult. Authorities are investigating whether Sanchez was stabbed after turning down the boy’s invitation to the dance. By Stephen Singer. SENT: 380 words, photos.

TEEN STOWAWAY-HAWAII

SAN JOSE, California — He was young, displaced and frustrated, and wanted nothing more than to reunite with his mother in their native Africa. The 15-year-old Somali boy had been arguing at home, and in the kind of impulsive move that teenagers make, he hopped a fence at San Jose International Airport last Sunday and clambered into a wheel well of a Hawaii-bound jetliner. He survived the trip, and has not spoken publicly about the ordeal. But his desperation and frustration — borne from a life in a new country and new culture, all of it without his mother — is becoming apparent through interviews with friends, family and law enforcement agents. By Martha Mendoza and Oskar Garcia. SENT: 800 words, photos.

FALSIFIED MAMMOGRAMS

PERRY, Ga. — Sharon Holmes found a lump in her left breast quite by accident. At work one day as a high school custodian, her hand brushed up against her chest and she felt a knot sticking out. She instantly had a sense of puzzlement. After all, just three months earlier, she had been given an all-clear sign from her doctor after a mammogram. A new mammogram in February 2010 showed she in fact had aggressive stage 2 breast cancer. The reason for the mistake compounded the horror of the discovery: The earlier test results she had gotten weren’t just read incorrectly. They were falsified. Soon after, it was discovered that the lead radiological technologist at Perry Hospital had for about 18 months been signing off on mammograms and spitting out reports showing more than 1,200 women were clear of any signs of breast cancer or abnormalities. Except that she was wrong. Holmes and nine other women were later shown to have lumps or cancerous tumors growing inside them. By Kate Brumback. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

WYLY BROTHERS TRIAL

NEW YORK — For decades, Samuel and Charles Wyly of Dallas were two of America’s wealthiest and most successful entrepreneurs, creating companies that included arts and crafts retail chain Michaels Stores Inc. and a computer software company that sold for $4 billion. But the Securities and Exchange Commission is casting their legacy in a different light at a civil trial in federal court in Manhattan, saying they engaged in lies, deception and fraud for 13 years to hide securities trades in the companies they founded as they scored more than $500 million in profits. By Larry Neumeister. SENT: 700 words, photo.

SPORTS

CLIPPERS-STERLING-PLAYERS

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling. Instead, they made a silent protest. In response to Sterling’s purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team’s games, the team tossed their warmups to the ground, going through their pregame routine with their red shirts inside out to hide the Clippers’ logo before Game 4 of their first-round playoff at Golden State. They also wore black wristbands or armbands. By Antonio Gonzalez. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— CLIPPERS-STERLING-SILVER — The scandal involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling now has all eyes on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, with the first real crisis of his young tenure. SENT: 700 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— SYRIA — International chemical watchdog calls on Syria to destroy remaining toxic chemicals. SENT: 970 words, photos.

— DRONE BOOM — For North Dakota, potential drone boom gives state hope for another growth market. SENT: 790 words, photos.

— OBIT-DJ RASHAD — House and footwork music star DJ Rashad dies at age 34 in Chicago of apparent drug overdose. SENT: 320 words.

___

YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Scott McDonald. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

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