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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 31, 2014

ASIA:

PAKISTAN

ISLAMABAD — A special Pakistani court indicts former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on five counts of high treason, a charge that potentially carries the death penalty and comes as a sharp blow to the country’s powerful military. The development is the first time that an acting or former army chief has been indicted for treason in Pakistan, where the military has taken power in three coups since the country was founded in 1947. By Rebecca Santana and Munir Ahmed. SENT: 840 words, photos.

WORLD COURT-JAPAN-AUSTRALIA

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Court of Justice orders a temporary halt to Japan’s Antarctic whaling program, ruling that it is not for scientific purposes as the Japanese had claimed. Australia had sued Japan at the U.N.’s highest court for resolving disputes between nations in hopes of ending whaling in the icy Southern Ocean. By Toby Sterling. SENT: 525 words, photos.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea fire hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters in a flare-up of animosity that forces residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters for several hours, South Korean officials say. The exchange of fire into the Yellow Sea follows Pyongyang’s sudden announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the Koreas’ disputed maritime boundary. By Hyung-jin Kim and Jung-yoon Choi. SENT: 710 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-PLANE

PERTH, Australia — A cluster of orange objects spotted by a search plane hunting for any trace of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet turned out to be nothing more than fishing equipment, Australian officials say, the latest disappointing news in a weekslong hunt that Australia’s prime minister said will continue indefinitely. By Rob Griffith and Gillian Wong. SENT: 950 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-PLANE-DISTRACTING TRASH

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Sometimes the object spotted in the water is a snarled fishing line. Or a buoy. Or something that might once have been the lid to an ice box. Not once — not yet at least — has it been a clue. Anticipation has repeatedly turned into frustration in the search for signs of Flight 370 as objects spotted from planes in a new search area west of Australia have turned out to be garbage. Not only is the trash a time-wasting distraction for air and sea crews searching for debris from the Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished March 8, it also points to wider problems in the world’s oceans. By Nick Perry. SENT: 880 words, photos.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-CHINA — Commentary in China’s state-run media urges people to react “rationally” to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, after days of protests by passengers’ relatives who say Malaysia has mishandled the investigation. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-SEARCH — The countries involved and their contributions to the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in seas west of Perth, Australia. SENT: 80 words, photos.

CLIMATE REPORT

YOKOHAMA, Japan — If the world doesn’t cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral “out of control,” the head of a United Nations scientific panel warns. And he’s not alone. The Obama White House says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying “the costs of inaction are catastrophic.” By Seth Borenstein. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.

— CLIMATE REPORT-FOOD — Global warming will make feeding the world harder and more expensive. By Seth Borenstein. SENT: 560 words, photos.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister defends herself against charges of dereliction of duty in overseeing a contentious rice subsidy program. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra meets with the National Anti-Corruption Commission to submit her defense in the case, which could lead to a suspension of her duties and eventual impeachment. The 200-page defense is not released. SENT: 510 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-KARZAI’S LEGACY

KABUL, Afghanistan — There has been no shortage of criticism of Hamid Karzai in recent years over his mercurial behavior, tensions with the U.S. and inability to tackle corruption. But when Afghans go to the polls next weekend to choose his successor as president, that in itself may one day be considered his greatest achievement. Karzai was able to hold the country together and cross ethnic lines after being handed leadership of the broken country 12 years ago. By Kathy Gannon. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

— AFGHANISTAN — Taliban gunmen abduct a candidate running for a seat in the provincial council in northern Afghanistan and seven members of his entourage, officials say. SENT: 200 words, photos.

EUROPE-CHINA

BRUSSELS — Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with the top officials of the European Union to discuss the two sides’ close business ties and their wider diplomatic relations. Xi became the first Chinese leader to visit the headquarters of the 28-country EU in Brussels. SENT: 140 words, photos.

CHINA-MILITARY CORRUPTION

BEIJING — Chinese prosecutors bring corruption charges against a top general in a case highlighting abuse of power in the country’s vast military. The official Xinhua News Agency says a military prosecutor charged Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan on Monday with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power. SENT: 310 words.

— CHINA-GANG CRACKDOWN — A mining tycoon, his brother and 34 associates stand trial on allegations of running a vast criminal gang in China’s Sichuan province that gunned down rivals, maintained fleets of Ferraris and bribed police to avoid prosecution. SENT: 475 words.

SOUTH CHINA SEA

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president says Manila’s arbitration case against Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea is not meant to provoke China but to peacefully defend his nation’s territory and sovereignty. Manila resorted to arbitration after more than a decade of unsuccessful regional attempts to forge a binding code of conduct in the sea, President Benigno Aquino III says. SENT: 430 words.

CAMBODIA-PROTEST

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Police in Cambodia beat anti-government demonstrators who tried to defy a ban on public demonstrations to demand a license for what would be the nation’s first opposition television channel. Several hundred supporters of Mam Sonando, a fierce government critic, came out to protest and at least two people were injured in the clash while several more were punched and kicked by security forces. By Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 240 words.

THAILAND-SAUDI KILLING

BANGKOK — A Thai court dismisses a case against five people accused of slaying a Saudi businessman whose disappearance 24 years ago has marred relations between the two countries ever since. Bangkok’s Criminal Court rules that there is not enough evidence to try the case. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 250 words.

— THAILAND-INDIA-ARMS DEALING — A Thai court approves the extradition to India of a Thai man suspected of helping to sell nearly $2 million of arms to Naga rebels. SENT: 200 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CLIMATE CHANGE-ECONOMY

YOKOHAMA, Japan — The economic and financial impact of global warming is complex and not well understood. In some scenarios there would be economic benefits for countries that get warmer and wetter and consequently more fertile agriculturally. Drier weather in some regions would result in sharply lower crop yields. Overall, changes in climate are expected to cause significant disruptions that also exact an economic toll. Advisers to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that the world economy may suffer losses of between 0.2 percent and 2 percent of income if temperatures rise by 2 degrees from recent levels. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 550 words.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO — Buy now or pay more later: Japanese retailers are luring customers with promises of steep discounts ahead of a sales tax hike Tuesday that economists expect to slow but not derail the recovery of the world’s third-largest economy. It’s a gamble Japan cannot afford to take, given its soaring public debt. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 820 words, photos.

JAPAN-MITSUBISHI-FORD

TOKYO — Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. says it is buying Ford’s shuttered plant in the Philippines to grow in a market where car ownership is on the rise. SENT: 150 words.

APPLE-SAMSUNG TRIAL

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple and Samsung, the world’s largest makers of smartphones, are headed back to court. Apple already has won nearly $1 billion in judgments against Samsung over patent infringements involving older-model devices. This time Apple is alleging Samsung’s newest devices, such as its Galaxy S III, also copied Apple technology. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 660 words, photo.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE

SIMFEROPOL, Crimea — On a surprise visit Monday to Crimea, Russia’s prime minister promises to quickly pour funds into the newly annexed peninsula so residents see positive changes after the Russian takeover. Dmitry Medvedev, who led a delegation of Cabinet ministers to Crimea, pledged that Russia will quickly boost salaries and pensions there and pour in resources to improve education, health care and local infrastructure. By Laura Mills. SENT: 430 words, photos.

— UNITED STATES-UKRAINE — U.S., Russia offer differing solutions on Ukraine; remain deeply at odds after talks. SENT: 820 words, photos, video.

ISRAEL-OLMERT

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court on Monday convicts former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a wide-ranging bribery case, a verdict that could send him to prison and crushes his hopes for a political comeback. The development seals the most serious legal battle the 68-year-old Olmert has been waging since he was forced to step down as prime minister in 2009 amid a flurry of corruption allegations. By Aron Heller. SENT: 980 words, photos.

WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE-ANIMALS

DARRINGTON, Washington — Washington authorities: Mudslide death toll rises from 18 to 21; rains expected to ease. SENT: 290 words, photos, video.

ALBUQUERQUE POLICE SHOOTINGS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s mayor says that a more than 10-hour protest over recent police shootings turned from peaceful into “mayhem,” as officers in riot gear clashed with hundreds of protesters who blocked traffic, tried to get on freeways and shouted anti-police slogans. Richard Berry says one officer was injured, rocks were thrown and at one point protesters trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break the windows, a newspaper reported. An Associated Press reporter saw gas canisters being thrown outside police headquarters and Albuquerque police and Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies charging at the protesters, which mostly dispersed the crowds. By Russell Contreras. SENT: 340 words, photos.

BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING-ARTIFACTS

BOSTON — After the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon last April, mourners began leaving thousands of items at a makeshift memorial near the finish line to honor the victims of the attacks. Some left teddy bears, signs and marathon bibs while others draped running sneakers to commemorate the three people killed and more than 260 injured during the April 15 attack. The items are being curated into an exhibit called “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial.” By Paige Sutherland. SENT: 390 words, photos.

CIA INVESTIGATIONS

WASHINGTON — A hotly disputed Senate torture report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the investigation. The CIA still disputes that conclusion. By Bradley Klapper. SENT: 740 words, photos.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC-PLASTIC SURGERY

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Beverly Brignoni was a young New Yorker seeking a less expensive way to enhance her appearance and she did what many are now doing: cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic. The 28-year-old died during a tummy tuck and liposuction. While unusual, the death is not isolated and concerns are growing about the country’s booming cosmetic surgery business. By Ben Fox and Ezequiel Abiu Lopez. 1,100 words, photo.

ORSON WELLES-AUCTION

PHOENIX — The youngest daughter of the late director and writer Orson Welles is giving film buffs a chance to buy some of his personal possessions, including a camera, scripts and photos from the set of “Citizen Kane.” In all, Beatrice Welles is handing more than 70 items over to Heritage Auctions, which will stage the auction on April 26. By Terry Tang. SENT: 670 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— WRIGLEY 100TH-INNOVATIONS — Wrigley Field, incubator for innovation? Park launched many firsts over 100 years. SENT: 1,130 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-OBIT-KATE O’MARA — Former star of prime-time soap “Dynasty” Kate O’Mara dies at age 74. SENT: 160 words, photo.

— OBIT-SURFBOARD INNOVATOR — Surfboard, sailboat innovator Hobart “Hobie” Alter dies in California at 80. SENT: 130 words.

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