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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

November 7, 2014



WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand prosecutors backtrack by dropping a murder-for-hire charge against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed. But the 60-year-old member of the popular Australian band still faces a serious charge of threatening to kill, which comes with a maximum prison term of seven years. He also faces charges of possessing methamphetamine and marijuana. By Nick Perry. SENT: 300 words, photos.


YANGON, Myanmar — A report by human rights researchers at Harvard Law School has found that military activities carried out by Myanmar’s powerful Minister of Home Affairs when the country was still under dictatorship could constitute war crimes. The report released Friday says there is evidence that Ko Ko and two high-ranking colleagues were responsible for the executions, torture and enslavement of civilians by government troops during an offensive against ethnic rebels. SENT: 700 words.


MYIN HLUT, Myanmar — The small wooden boats leave the shores of western Myanmar nearly every day, overloaded with desperate Rohingya Muslims who are part of one the largest boat exoduses in Asia since the Vietnam War. Helping them on their way: Myanmar’s own security forces, who are profiting off the mass departure of one of the world’s most persecuted minorities by extracting payments from those fleeing. A report to be released Friday by the Bangkok-based advocacy group Fortify Rights, and reporting by The Associated Press, indicate the practice is far more widespread and organized than previously thought, with Myanmar naval boats going so far as to escort asylum seekers out to larger human trafficking ships waiting at sea that are operated by transnational criminal networks. By Todd Pitman and Esther Htusan. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — Myanmar’s transformation from pariah state to aspiring democracy has been kind to blogger Nay Phone Latt. He was freed from a 20-year prison term imposed for his coverage of anti-junta protests. He now has a weekly program on U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and runs an internationally praised campaign against sectarian hate speech. But he has a sobering message for U.S. officials he’ll meet in Washington on Friday. While the nation’s media have more freedom than in decades, the powerful military is still “untouchable.” SENT: 630 words.


NEW DELHI — First, the rumors start. Maybe a Muslim man threw garbage outside a temple, or a Hindu boy teased a Muslim girl. No one has any names or specifics but that doesn’t stop anyone from taking the rumors as fact. The crowds begin to gather on both sides. Slogans are shouted, stones are thrown. A car goes up in flames. And just like that, a religious riot rips through an Indian neighborhood. Three decades after the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 — the worst communal violence since India won independence in 1947 — religious conflagrations are still surprisingly common in a secular country where tolerance is enshrined in the constitution. By Muneeza Naqvi. UPCOMING by 0700GMT: 1,000 words, photos.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Three Malaysian Muslim transgenders have won a court bid to challenge a religious law that bans them from cross-dressing. The Court of Appeals said Friday that the Shariah law in Negeri Sembilan state is discriminatory as it fails to recognize men diagnosed with gender identity issues. SENT: 120 words.


BEIJING — Beijing is locking down and tidying up for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings this month. A look at some ways life will change for Beijingers. UPCOMING by 0700GMT, 500 words.


ANIBONG, Philippines — In this village hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan a year ago Saturday, shantytowns are rising around now-rusty cargo ships that were washed ashore by powerful waves. One villager’s house now stands beside a concrete post erected by local officials and marked, “No build zone.” Power, water and cellphone services are back and nearby Tacloban city throbs with life again. But villagers say the hardest part is moving on from haunting memories. By Aron Favila. UPCOMING by 0700GMT: 380 words, photos.



WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Republicans who swept midterm Congressional elections headed toward a showdown over immigration, with the leader of the House bluntly warning the president against taking sweeping action without congressional approval. “When you play with matches you take the risk of burning yourself,” House Speaker John Boehner said at his first news conference after elections in which Republicans captured control of the Senate that takes over in January and emerged with their largest majority in the House in at least 70 years. SENT: 530 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — Voters made clear Tuesday that they’re worried about the economy despite steady job gains, a robust stock market and solid economic growth. So what can — and should — the now-dominant Republicans in Congress and the White House do together to benefit more Americans over the next two years? Economists acknowledge that the list of options is limited but say there are several steps they can take to further invigorate the economy. By Josh Boak. SENT: 1,200 words.


— REPUBLICANS-IMMIGRATION — As Republicans warn Obama on immigration, some fear overreaction will inflame Hispanics. SENT: 660 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The retired Navy SEAL who says he shot Osama bin Laden in the forehead publicly identifies himself amid a debate among special operations brethren about whether they should break silence about their secret missions. Robert O’Neill, 38, tells The Washington Post he fired the two shots that killed the al-Qaida leader. O’Neill first recounted the story in February 2013 to Esquire magazine, which identified him only as “the shooter.” One current and one former SEAL confirms to the AP that O’Neill was long known to have fired the shots that killed the leader of the terror group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. By Intelligence Writer Ken Dilanian. SENT: 950 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — Diplomatic sources say President Barack Obama has written a secret letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to discuss the fight against Islamic State militants. Obama’s outreach comes as a Nov. 24 deadline nears in nuclear negotiations between the U.S., Iran, and five other world powers. By Matthew Lee and Julie Pace. SENT: 790 words.


BEIRUT — For a force that has built its reputation on an aura of momentum and invincibility, the Islamic State group is now dealing with a series of military setbacks in Iraq and a prolonged stalemate in the small Syrian town of Kobani. Gone are the days when IS was able to seize towns and cities in both countries with relative ease. Its newfound problems raise questions about the extent to which it will be able to continue recruiting fighters who want to be with a winner. By Zeina Karam. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.

— SYRIA — American warplanes and drones bomb al-Qaida-linked vehicles, training camps and bomb-making facilities in northwestern Syria, widening the U.S.-led aerial campaign against the Islamic State group to go after other extremists deemed a threat to the West. A U.S. official says a top bomb-maker may have been killed. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— AP PHOTO XVG103 — A missile is fired from Islamic State positions in Kobani, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border.


SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — In a country terrorized by gangsters, it is left to the dead to break the silence on sexual violence. Rather, to the bodies of dead women and girls pulled from clandestine graves. Raped, battered and sometimes cut to pieces, they attest to the sadistic abuse committed by members of street gangs. Threats by gang members prevent many from reporting attacks. Others who have grown up amid abuse may not even recognize rape as a crime. Still others flee the country for safety rather than seek justice from a system that more often delivers impunity. By Alberto Arce. SENT: 1,390 words, photos. An abridged version of 950 words also has moved.


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The 7-year-old’s family and friends were praying over his body when masked men in yellow protective suits arrived. At another house, relatives screamed in grief when workers carried away the body of an Ebola victim. The patients died at their homes, not at an Ebola facility, because Sierra Leone is desperately short of treatment centers. By Clarence Roy-Macaulay and Andrew O. Selsky. SENT: 780 words, photos.


MONACO — Top Interpol officials tell The Associated Press that would-be jihadi fighters are booking tickets on cruise ships to join extremists in battle zones in Syria and Iraq, hoping to bypass efforts to thwart them in Turkey. This is one of the reasons why the international police body is preparing to expand a pilot program known as I-Checkit, under which airlines bounce passenger information off Interpol’s databases — in hopes that one day the system could expand to include cruise operators, banks, hotels and other private-sector partners. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 610 words, photos.


CINCINNATI — Breaking ranks with rulings so far, the 6th Circuit federal appeals court upholds gay marriage bans in four states, saying the courts aren’t the right place to legalize gay marriage, but that the way to win Americans’ hearts and minds is to wait until they’re ready to vote for it. The Supreme Court - which until now had refused to take up gay marriage bans, saying it wasn’t necessary because all the appellate courts agreed - will likely be forced to step in. By Dan Sewell and Mark Sherman. SENT: 900 words, photos. UPCOMING: Will be updated with reaction.


NEW YORK — Water bottles filled with vodka that go uninspected. Lunch boxes packed with drugs allowed to bypass X-ray machines. Razor blades and other objects waved on through, even when they set off metal detectors. Investigators found gaping holes in security at the city’s sprawling Rikers Island jail that allowed guards and other staffers to easily smuggle in all manner of contraband — including heroin, marijuana, booze and weapons — to the inmates they are supposed to be watching. Such porousness has proved quite lucrative, with inmates paying an average of $600 in “courier fees” for each illicit delivery. By Jake Pearson. SENT: 500 words, photos.


PHOENIX — For a time, Shanesha Taylor was an Internet sensation. She was the mother who left her children in a sweltering car during a job interview and attracted sympathy from around the nation with a tear-stained mugshot, receiving more than $100,000 in donations. Prosecutors gave her a break, too, allowing her to keep her kids and not face charges as long as she set up a $60,000 college trust fund for the kid with the donated money. But Taylor is now running out of second chances. The money is gone, and prosecutors are reinstating the case against her. By Terry Tang and Jacques Billeaud. SENT: 700 words, photos.


SAN FRANCISCO — Seta Whitford-Stark was dumbfounded last year when she found out her daughter Amy quit her job at an employee-recruiting agency to work for LinkedIn, an Internet company that Seta had never heard of. Then Seta got to observe Amy and her colleagues in action at LinkedIn Corp.’s “Bring In Your Parents Day” and came away with a much better understanding of the 29-year-old’s career. Now more than 50 companies around the globe are embracing this generational spin on “take your kids to work” day, giving adult children a rare opportunity to showcase the cultural and technological changes that have transformed the modern workplace. By Technology Writer Michael Liedtke. SENT: 1,000 words, photo.



NEW YORK — The nasal spray version of the flu vaccine might not protect young children against swine flu again this year, health officials warn. Startling new studies suggest the FluMist vaccine didn’t work very well last season when that strain was the most common bug making people sick. But so far this year, swine flu hasn’t been a big player and officials say the spray is still OK to use. By Medical Writer Mike Stobbe. SENT: 745 words, photo.



LOS ANGELES — Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody are coming back to the big screen. Disney Pixar announced Thursday it plans to produce “Toy Story 4,” with a release date in June 2017. SENT, photos.



BANGKOK — International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach urges the Olympic movement to accept the Agenda 2020 reforms when they are voted upon next month, saying time has run out for discussion. The detail of the reforms will not be made public until next week, but will include changes to the Olympic bidding process, sports programs and cost reduction. SENT.


— CHILD DIES-TRIAL — A teenager testifies that he was in a fantasy world and thought he was killing a goblin when he killed his 5-year-old foster brother outside their Iowa home. SENT: 330 words, photo.

— HARVARD-SECRET PHOTOS — Harvard University is under fire from faculty and students for secretly photographing about 2,000 undergraduates in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study on classroom attendance. SENT: 310 words.

— OBIT-CORNINGWARE INVENTOR — Inventor of CorningWare glass, material used in popular white casserole dishes, dies in NY. SENT: 650 words with photos.

— DRUG WEBSITE SHUTDOWN — Authorities in New York say a California man has been arrested for starting a spinoff version of the Silk Road website, enabling more than 100,000 people to buy and sell illegal drugs. SENT: 600 words.

— CHURCH ABUSE-CHICAGO — Months after documents showed it had concealed the sexual abuse of children by priests for decades, the Archdiocese of Chicago releases files on about three dozen more abusive clergy members to fulfill Cardinal Francis George’s pledge to do so before he retires. SENT: 600 words with new approach, photos.


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