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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 17, 2014



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The search for the missing Malaysian jet pushes deep into the northern and southern hemispheres as Australia takes the lead in scouring the seas of the southern Indian Ocean and Kazakhstan — about 10,000 miles to the northwest — answered Malaysia’s call for help in the unprecedented hunt. French investigators arriving to lend expertise from the two-year search for an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 say they were able to rely on distress signals — but investigators say the Malaysian airliner’s communications links were deliberately severed ahead of its mysterious disappearance more than a week ago. By Ian Mader. SENT: 890 words, photos.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-SEARCH — Twenty-six countries are involved in the massive international search for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard. They include not just military assets on land, at sea and in the air, but also investigators and the specific support and assistance requested by Malaysia, such as radar and satellite information. Here’s a look at major countries and their response: SENT: 480 words.

— MALAYSIA PLANE-SATELLITE DATA — Finding a missing Malaysia Airlines plane may hinge on whether searchers can narrow down where they need to look using satellite data that is inexact and has never been used for that purpose before, search and rescue experts say. Authorities now believe someone on board the Boeing 777 shut down part of the aircraft’s messaging system about the same time the plane with 239 people on board disappeared from civilian radar. But an Inmarsat satellite was able to automatically connect with a portion of the messaging system that remained in operation, similar to a phone call that just rings because no one is on the other end to pick it up and provide information. No location information was exchanged, but the satellite continued to identify the plane once an hour for four to five hours after it disappeared from radar screens. By Joan Lowy. SENT: 800 words, photos.


PYONGYANG, North Korea — China’s top negotiator on North Korea’s nuclear programs arrives in Pyongyang. No details of the purpose of the trip are immediately announced by North Korea or China. SENT: 130 words, photos.


BEIJING — China announces plans to expand its cities and improve public services to support economic growth by allowing millions more rural residents to migrate to urban jobs. The Cabinet plan calls for raising the share of China’s population of almost 1.4 billion people living in cities to 60 percent from 53.7 percent now, a shift of about 90 million people. By Louise Watt. SENT: 430 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen kill a judge and his bodyguard in an attack in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, on the border with Iran, police say. SENT: 170 words.


NAMPATKA, Myanmar — Every morning, more than 100 heroin and opium addicts descend on the graveyard in this northeastern Myanmar village to get high. When authorities show up, it’s for their own quick fix: Soldiers and police roll up the sleeves of their dark green uniforms, seemingly oblivious to passers-by. Nearby, junkies lean on white tombstones, tossing dirty needles and syringes into the dry, golden grass. Others squat on the ground, sucking from crude pipes fashioned from plastic water bottles. By Esther Htusan. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s anti-terrorist police arrest two prominent human rights activists who were working in Sri Lanka’s former war zone in the latest crackdown on rights defenders, colleagues and a media rights group say. By Bharatha Mallawarachi. SENT: 270 words.


BEIJING — The underground bishop of Shanghai, Joseph Fan Zhongliang, has died at age 97 following decades of imprisonment and house arrest, Catholic groups say. Fan died at his apartment in the company of priests and lay people following a brief illness, the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation and the unofficial website chinacath.org report. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 460 words.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Hollywood actor Chris Pine, known for playing Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” movies, pleads guilty in a New Zealand court to a charge of drunken driving. The 33-year-old American is fined 93 New Zealand dollars ($79) and has his New Zealand driver’s license suspended for six months. By Nick Perry. SENT: 350 words, photos.


Hindus are celebrating the festival of Holi by painting each other in bright colors, distributing sweets and squirting water at one another. The holiday, celebrated mainly in India and Nepal, marks the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil. SENT: 80 words, photos.



HONG KONG — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group plans to go public on a U.S. stock exchange, possibly raising up to $15 billion in the biggest initial public offering since Facebook. The announcement confirming plans for a U.S. share sale ends months of speculation over where the company would list after talks for an initial public offering in Hong Kong fell apart last year. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 500 words, photo.


MUMBAI, India — Toyota says it has shut down production at its two auto-assembly plants in India, locking out 6,400 workers amid testy wage negotiations and allegations of threats against management. A statement from the Indian unit of the world’s largest automaker says that “under the instigation of the union, certain sections of the employees have resorted to deliberate stoppages of the production line, abuse and threatening of supervisors.” It says the company had no other option but to declare a lockout “to ensure the safety” of workers and management. SENT: 280 words.


SEOUL, South Korea — Hyundai Motor Co. says it overstated the gas mileage of its revamped Sonata sedan in publicity material for the media. South Korea’s largest automaker says it was a mistake that a tentative mileage figure from internal tests was included in a presentation to reporters. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 230 words.



SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine —Crimea’s parliament declares the region an independent state, after its residents voted overwhelmingly to break off from Ukraine and seek to join Russia. In a sign of rising tensions following the Sunday referendum that called for annexation to Russia, the Ukrainian parliament approves the president’s order for a partial armed forces mobilization of up to 20,000 people. By John-Thor Dahlburg and Maria Danilova. SENT: 480 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. and its allies in Europe are expected to announce sanctions against Russia, including visa bans and potential asset freezes, one day after Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that Crimea’s vote to secede “would never be recognized” by the United States. By Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee. SENT: 600 words, photos.


LAZARO CARDENAS, Mexico — Drugs are just a part of what’s been financing Mexico’s feared Knights Templar cartel, and a declining portion at that. Officials say mining, extortion and illegal logging have been the top earners for an organization that has become more of a mafia conglomerate than a drug gang, increasingly carving out a role in the overall economy. By E. Eduardo Castillo. SENT: 900 words, photos.


It won’t be nearly as much fun as eating candy bars, but a big study is being launched to see if pills containing the nutrients in dark chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. The pills are so packed with nutrients that you’d have to eat a gazillion candy bars to get the amount being tested in this study, which will enroll 18,000 men and women nationwide. By AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 540 words, photos, video.


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is seeking to ease the logjam in elusive Mideast peace talks and keep Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from walking away, despite few signs that either Palestinians or Israelis are prepared to budge on key sticking points. Obama’s White House meeting with Abbas Monday marks a renewed foray into a diplomatic minefield that the president has mostly left up to his secretary of state, John Kerry. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 780 words, photos.


PRETORIA, South Africa — Months before he killed his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius said he drew his gun and went into “combat mode” after hearing the noise of a possible intruder at home, which turned out to be a laundry machine, a South African guns expert testifies at the athlete’s murder trial. By Gerald Imray and Christopher Torcia. SENT: 780 words, photos.



MISSION, Texas — Esteban Manzanares was working his regular day shift as a U.S. Border Patrol agent along the busiest stretch of Mexican border when a trio of Honduran immigrants spotted him and offered to surrender. A woman, her teenage daughter and a teenage family friend later told authorities they were taken into custody and driven to a remote, scrub brush-filled area, where the older woman says the group was assaulted by a man who left the area with one of the girls. Investigators later found Manzanares dead from what they described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. By Alicia C. Caldwell. SENT: 860 words, photos.


NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio will become the first mayor in decades to sit out the city’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade over a dispute involving whether march participants can carry pro-gay signs. But Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny says he’ll join the procession because the holiday is about Irishness, not sexuality. By Meghan Barr. SENT: 470 words, photos.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Snow has started falling in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as winter-weary motorists face another potentially treacherous morning commute, just days before the start of spring. At least a few inches of snow have been reported in the Washington area and parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. By Pam Ramsey. SENT: 240 words, photos.


LOS ANGELES — After a weekend in jail, Chris Brown is facing a court hearing over his dismissal from rehab and whether he should be given additional penalties, which could include more time behind bars. By Anthony McCartney. SENT: 400 words, photos.


LOS ANGELES — Late in life, legendary photographer Ansel Adams pored over thousands of negatives he’d carefully stored for years and set aside 70 as his greatest works. He then agreed to print, sign and sell sets of 25 pictures made from them — but only to serious collectors. Photos from one of those rare collections go on display Tuesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum. They are part of the exhibition “In Focus: Ansel Adams.” By John Rogers. SENT: 510 words, photos.


— DRONES AT HOME — The FAA bars commercial use of drones no matter how seemingly benign. SENT: 1,250 words, photos, video.

— CHILE-EARTHQUAKE — A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake shakes Chile’s northern Pacific shore, and more than 100,000 people briefly evacuate some coastal areas as a precaution but no destructive tsunami materializes. SENT: 140 words.

— FRANCE-POLLUTION — Paris adopts alternating traffic ban in bid to fight alarming toxic smog shrouding capital. SENT: 140 words.


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