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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 11, 2015

ASIA:

CHINA-US

BEIJING — China’s leader Xi Jinping will make his first state visit as president to the United States in September, Chinese official media report, underlining positive momentum in the often-troubled relationship between the world’s largest economies. SENT: 320 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-ANWAR

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian police detain a cartoonist and investigate two lawmakers for sedition over tweets and a cartoon condemning the judiciary for dismissing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal against a sodomy conviction. Anwar began a 5-year prison sentence Tuesday in a case widely seen as politically motivated to eliminate any threats to the ruling coalition. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 740 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-MALAYSIA-ANALYSIS

WASHINGTON — The sodomy conviction of Malaysia’s opposition leader has set back, but not derailed, Washington’s improved ties with a country that is becoming increasingly important for U.S. diplomacy and trade policy in Asia. The White House strongly criticized the conviction of Anwar Ibrahim, whose case was widely seen as politically motivated. That could dash Prime Minister Najib Razak’s hopes this year of being the first Malaysian leader to be invited to the White House since 2004. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 770 words.

AUSTRALIA-TERRORISM

SYDNEY — Two men are charged with planning to launch an imminent terrorist attack in Australia after police seized a homemade flag associated with the Islamic State group, a machete and a hunting knife in a counterterrorism raid. SENT: 700 words.

SOUTH KOREA-100 CAR PILEUP

SEOUL, South Korea — Two people are killed and at least 68 injured in a pileup involving about 100 vehicles in foggy weather on a bridge near South Korea’s Incheon International Airport. The injured include 18 foreigners. By Kim Tong-hyung. SENT: 290 words, photos.

INDIA-CRUSADER’S RETURN

NEW DELHI — Arvind Kejriwal, a former tax official with a chronic cough and ill-fitting sweaters who had remade himself into a champion for clean government, seemed lost in the political wilderness after he resigned as New Delhi’s top official after just 49 days on the job. But on Wednesday, Kejriwal was on the front page of nearly every Indian newspaper, celebrating election results that again made him the capital’s chief minister. By Tim Sullivan. SENT: 830 words, photos.

TAIWAN-PLANE CRASH

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s aviation authority orders the suspension of 10 pilots from TransAsia Airways who failed a proficiency test given after one of the airline’s planes crashed, killing at least 42 people. It says 19 other pilots who have not taken the test will also be suspended until they pass. SENT: 310 words.

TAIWAN-CHINA-PROTEST

BEIJING — Prosecutors in Taiwan’s capital indict 119 people over the occupation of the legislature and Cabinet offices in a protest against a proposed agreement to loosen trade restrictions with rival China. SENT: 280 words, photos.

TAIWAN-HOSTAGES HELD

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Six inmates take the warden and several other people hostage at a prison in the southern Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung. SENT: 250 words.

THAILAND-MONARCHY

BANGKOK — Thai police arrest a man accused of masterminding a conspiracy to slander the country’s monarchy on the Internet, in the latest move by the military-installed government to protect the palace’s reputation. SENT: 330 words, photos.

SKOREA-SHIP SINKS

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean court sentences a former coast guard officer to four years in prison for negligence while rescuing passengers during last year’s ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people. SENT: 310 words.

MYANMAR-VOTING RIGHTS

YANGON, Myanmar — Hundreds of people demonstrate in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, to protest a government decision to allow people without full citizenship, including members of the Rohingya ethnic minority, to vote in an upcoming constitutional referendum. SENT: 360 words.

PHILIPPINES-POLICE COMMANDOS KILLED

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine police chief, holding back tears, says Muslim rebels shot to death some of his anti-terror commandos as they lay wounded in a fierce gunbattle last month that has stalled the government’s peace deal with the insurgents. SENT: 540 words, photos.

KASHMIR-CLASHES

SRINAGAR, India — Clashes erupt in the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir after authorities block pro-independence protesters from marching to a U.N. office to commemorate the anniversary of a separatist leader’s execution 31 years ago. It was the third day of protests and general strikes called by anti-India separatists. By Aijaz Hussain. SENT: 350 words, photos.

VIETNAM-BLOGGER

HANOI, Vietnam — A prominent Vietnamese blogger who is partially paralyzed and was jailed two months ago for posting articles that oppose the Communist Party is released from prison on medical parole. SENT: 290 words.

OBIT-CHINA PROPAGANDA CHIEF

BEIJING — Deng Liqun, a former conservative propaganda chief known for his criticism of China’s economic reforms, dies at age 99. SENT: 130 words.

NEW ZEALAND-175 YEARS

WAITANGI, New Zealand — Thousands of New Zealanders watch indigenous Maori dancers twirl white “poi” balls and take to traditional canoes in the picturesque Bay of Islands as the country celebrates its 175th anniversary over a three-day weekend. The national day is a mix of protests, music, celebration and reflection. By Nick Perry. SENT: 450 words, photos.

PAKISTAN-CHRISTIANS IN SHADOWS-PHOTO ESSAY

ISLAMABAD — Associated Press photographer Muhammed Muheisen profiles Christians living in a slum outside of Pakistan’s capital, many of whom earlier fled Islamabad over fears of being targeted in a rise of blasphemy allegations against minorities in this Muslim country. SENT: 450 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-FOREIGN BUSINESS

BEIJING — Nearly half of foreign companies in China feel singled out in a wave of anti-monopoly and other investigations, and a growing number are deciding not to expand their investments, the American Chamber of Commerce in China says. The report adds to complaints Beijing is improperly using regulation to limit foreign access to technology and other promising markets in violation of its free-trade pledges. By Joe McDonald. SENT. 430 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE

DONETSK, Ukraine — Fighting continues to rage in eastern Ukraine ahead of crucial peace talks between the country’s president and Russian President Vladimir Putin which are brokered by France and Germany and will be held in Belarus later in the day. SENT: 500 words, photo.

GUANTANAMO-FREED DETAINEES

WASHINGTON — Former Guantanamo Bay detainees who have returned to the battlefield are complicating President Barack Obama’s hopes of closing the detention center for terrorism suspects on the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. Obama has vowed to close the detention center, but members of Congress have thwarted that ambition. By Deb Riechmann. SENT: 960 words, photo.

— ISLAMIC STATE-FOREIGN FIGHTERS — The U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria has failed to slow the pace of foreign fighters flocking to join the Islamic State and other extremist groups. SENT: 700 words, photos.

SYRIA-MODERATE ALLIANCE

BEIRUT — Kurdish fighters in Syria have ambitions to become the chief force fighting Islamic State extremists in the country — building on their victory in Kobani to ally with moderate rebels and push the jihadis ever further. They tout the alliance as a gamechanger in Syria’s civil war as well: the emergence of the effective moderate rebel force that the West has been looking to ally with all along. By Zeina Karam and Mohammed Rasool. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

NIGERIA-BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

Months after Nigeria and the West failed to rescue more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, Boko Haram is bragging about their alleged marriage to fighters and conversion to Islam. The successful capture has also emboldened the militant group to kidnap many other girls and women. By Chika Oduah. SENT: 1,200 words, photos and video.

JON STEWART

NEW YORK — Jon Stewart’s fans were gobsmacked by the sad news he delivered on Tuesday’s edition of “The Daily Show”: He’s leaving his phony anchor desk and ending his reign as phony newsman sometime later this year. “This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you,” he told his audience. By Television Writer Frazier Moore. SENT: 820 words, photos.

NBC-WILLIAMS

NEW YORK — NBC announces it is suspending Brian Williams as “Nightly News” anchor and managing editor for six months without pay for misleading the public about his experiences covering the Iraq War. By David Bauder. SENT: 850 words, photos.

FROZEN ZOO

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Whenever an endangered animal dies at the San Diego Zoo, researchers race out to remove its sperm or eggs, maybe a bit of ear or eyeball, and carefully freeze the cells in liquid nitrogen. Today the survival of the northern white rhinoceros and dozens of other species hinge on the Frozen Zoo, whose collection amassed over nearly 40 years has become the largest gene bank of its kind. By Julie Watson. SENT: 800 words, photos, video.

EUROPE-RECOVERING ECONOMY

BRUSSELS — With all the noise and uncertainty surrounding Greece, it’s been easy to overlook a positive trend for Europe — the economic outlook is brightening. Though official figures due this week are expected to show growth was still subdued at the end of 2014, economists are broadly raising their forecasts for this year thanks to the recent drop in oil prices and the euro. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 880 words, photos.

MEXICO-OIL WOES

MEXICO CITY — The oil price slump couldn’t have come at a worse time for Mexico, which recently opened its energy sector to private investment in hopes of reversing a decade-long decline in crude production. But the price crunch has forced the government to slash its spending, with much of the cut expected to hit the energy sector. By Peter Orsi. SENT: 1,050 words, photo.

WINTER WEATHER

BOSTON — Just as southern New England residents have finished digging out from the latest storm, forecasters say more snow is on the way. By Philip Marcelo and Steve LeBlanc. SENT: 560 words, photos, video, audio.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. 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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