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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 13, 2014

ASIA:

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — The highest-level talks between the rival Koreas in years end with little progress because of North Korea’s call for the delay of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills set to start later this month, South Korean officials say. By Hyung-Jin Kim. SENT: 670 words, photos.

US-KERRY

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Asia on a mission aimed largely at easing tensions between China and its smaller neighbors over territorial disputes and exploring ways to restart long-stalled talks on ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons. By Matthew Lee. SENT: 910 words, photos.

PAKISTAN

KARACHI, Pakistan — A bomb attack has killed at least 11 police officers and wounded 42 others in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, police say. SENT: 440 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan releases 65 accused militants from a former U.S. prison despite protests from the American military, which says that the men are Taliban fighters who will likely return to the battlefield to kill coalition and Afghan forces. By Amir Shah. SENT: 430 words, photos.

THAILAND-SOUTHERN VIOLENCE

HAT YAI, Thailand — Four people, including a Buddhist monk and a boy, are killed and six others injured in an attack in Thailand’s violence-plagued south, police say. SENT: 150 words.

CHINA-POLLUTION

BEIJING — China’s Cabinet has announced that 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) has been set aside this year to reward cities and regions that make significant progress in controlling air pollution, highlighting how the issue has become a priority for the leadership. SENT: 320 words, photos.

CHINA-PROSTITUTION

BEIJING — Police in southern China say they have raided more than 18,000 entertainment venues in a southern province in the wake of a high-profile state media expose of the sex trade in a city known as China’s “sex capital.” SENT: 165 words.

AUSTRALIA-MILITARY HONOR

SYDNEY — An Australian special forces soldier who died under heavy fire in Afghanistan will be awarded the British Commonwealth’s highest military honor, drawing praise from the nation’s prime minister for his heroic courage and devotion SENT: 265 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-EARNS-LENOVO

BEIJING — Computer maker Lenovo Group reports that quarterly profit rose 30 percent to a record high on strong smartphone sales and said its acquisition of the Motorola Mobility smartphone business will accelerate its global expansion By Joe Mcdonald. SENT: 400 words, photo.

AUSTRALIA-ECONOMY

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia plans to raise up to $117 billion from sales of state assets, the finance minister says, as the government tries to bridge a gaping budget deficit. SENT: 365 words.

WORLD MARKETS

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stocks are mostly lower Thursday, led by a fall in Tokyo after Wall Street ended lower for the first time this week. SENT:

AOL CEO

NEW YORK —You’ve got gaffes. AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong isn’t one to mince words, and it has gotten him into trouble more than once. So, why does he still have a job? Simply put, since taking charge in April 2009, he has largely succeeded at turning around a once-moribund company. Here’s a look at his missteps — and his successes. SENT: 670 words.

ENTERTAINMENT:

NEW ZEALAND-MUSICIANS BANNED

WELLINGTON — New Zealand immigration authorities have banned Los Angeles rappers Odd Future from entering the country after deciding they pose a threat to public order. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 250 words by 0630 GMT.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

TOP STORIES

WINTER WEATHER-ATLANTA

ATLANTA — Drivers get caught in monumental bumper-to-bumper traffic jams and abandon their cars in North Carolina in a replay of what happened in Atlanta just two weeks ago, as another wintry storm across the South ices highways and power lines and knocks out electricity to more than a half-million homes and businesses. At least nine traffic deaths across the region are blamed on the treacherous weather, and nearly 3,300 airline flights nationwide are canceled. By Kate Brumback and Christina A. Cassidy. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.

— WINTER-PIPES AND POTHOLES — This merciless winter is taking a heavy toll on the nation’s pipes and pavement, breaking hundreds of water mains and opening potholes so big they snap tire rims and wheel axles like Popsicle sticks. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-FLOODING — Britain’s weather service says it sees the tentacles of climate change in a spate of storms and floods battering the country, but has stopped short of saying warming directly caused the extreme storms. SENT: 320 words, photos, video.

— WEATHER-STROKE RISK — There may be a link between weather and the risk of suffering a stroke, say researchers who analyzed climate trends and hospital records on millions of Americans. SENT: 610 words, photo.

— WINTER WEATHER-GLANCE — From power outages to potholes, latest storm hits East with all winter can offer. SENT: 500 words, photos, video.

GAY MARRIAGE

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge rules Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, part of an unprecedented barrage of marriage-equality lawsuits in states where voters have overwhelmingly opposed recognition of gay and lesbian couples. His decision coincides with legal attacks on gay-marriage bans in three other socially conservative states — Texas, Louisiana and Missouri — and is issued just a few weeks after federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma struck down the voter-approved bans in those states. By Brett Barrouquere and David Crary. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

SYRIA-SURVIVING THE BLOCKADE

BEIRUT — Weeping children beg for food and women pick grass growing between cracks in the concrete as hunger grips residents of the government-blockaded Syrian city of Homs, according to a rare first-hand account by a man evacuated from the area. His account and details from aid agencies and survivors spotlight the suffering of tens of thousands of civilians living under siege in rebel-held areas across Syria. By Diaa Hadid. SENT: 1,400 words, photos.

DEBT LIMIT

WASHINGTON — Legislation to raise the federal debt limit and prevent a crippling government default clears Congress with an awkward assist from top Senate Republican leaders who are forced into a politically treacherous vote engineered by tea party favorite Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican’s maneuver forces several GOP colleagues, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, into a reluctant vote against a filibuster, helping the measure along. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 830 words, photos.

— DEBT LIMIT-CRUZ — Tea party hero Ted Cruz shows no mercy in exposing Republican leaders to widespread criticism from their primary challengers on the debt limit after their pronouncements about the imperative of spending cuts. SENT: 580 words, photo.

— MILITARY PENSIONS — Congress passes bill reversing cuts to military pensions. SENT: 670 words, photo.

OBIT-SID CAESAR

NEW YORK — Milton Berle was the funnyman whose pioneering presence in the nation’s living rooms earned him the title Mr. Television. But Berle echoed the past. His wildly popular wisecracks and cavorting were repurposed from his burlesque days for the wondrous new medium of TV. Arriving on Berle’s heels in 1949 in living rooms across the country, Sid Caesar was the future — a future that has never grown old and, with his death at age 91, will now survive him in the world of TV and comedy. By Television Writer Frazier Moore. SENT: 1,600 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: Fresh approach of 1,200 words by 7 p.m., photos, video.

— SID CAESAR-QUOTES — Celebrities react to the passing of TV comedy pioneer Sid Caesar. SENT: 300 words. Will be updated as more reaction becomes available.

— SID CAESAR-5 SKETCHES — Five of Sid Caesar’s funnier comedy sketches. By National Writer Hillel Italie. UPCOMING: 400 words by 6:30 p.m., photos.

STRUGGLING AMERICANS

SOCHI, Russia — What a stunning sight: Shani Davis gliding around the speedskating oval, head down in defeat, staring glumly at the ice. For the U.S. Olympic team, it’s becoming more and more common. One after another, some of the biggest American stars have wiped out in sunny Sochi. By National Writer Paul Newberry. SENT: 870 words, photos.

NOTABLE OLYMPIC PHOTOS

— OLYAL104, 107-108 — Sequence of images showing French skier Marie Marchand-Arvier crashing into a safety fence during the women’s downhill.

SCIENCE

ANCIENT AMERICAN DNA

NEW YORK — The DNA of a baby boy who was buried in Montana some 12,600 years ago provides new evidence of the ancient roots of today’s American Indians and other native peoples in the Americas. It’s the oldest genome ever recovered from the Americas. By Science Writer Malcolm Ritter. SENT: 500 words, photos.

FUSION ENERGY

NEW YORK — Scientists have taken a key step toward making nuclear fusion a cheap source of energy. But it’s still a distant goal: the energy they got out of their apparatus was only about 1 percent of what they put into it. By Science Write Malcolm Ritter. SENT: 580 words, photos.

HEALTH

MAMMOGRAMS

A Canadian study that many experts say has major flaws has revived debate about the value of mammograms. The research suggests that these screening X-rays do not lower the risk of dying of breast cancer while finding many tumors that do not need treatment. Other research has found mammograms save lives, but how many and for what age groups is debatable. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 790 words, photo.

ALGERIA-SOLE SURVIVORS

PARIS — The Algerian soldier who was the sole survivor of the crash of a military jet that killed 76 joins a group of people who carry a burden unique to those who live through mass tragedy. A look at the stories of three such survivors. By Lori Hinnant. SENT: 590 words, photo.

— ALGERIA-PLANE CRASH — Black box found for Algerian plane crash that military says cost 77 lives. SENT: 270 words, photos.

BRITAIN-FLOODING-Q&A

LONDON — Worsening floods are devastating southern England, and politicians seem to be drowning as well, unable to convince the public they are in control. Is London in danger? Why wasn’t more done to combat rising waters? Is this the face of the future? The AP addresses these questions. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 860 words, photos.

— AP PHOTO LLP116 — A local resident pushes belongings on a cart through the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames, as a police van patrols the area.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

DAKAR, Senegal — Amnesty International warns that “ethnic cleansing” is taking place in Central African Republic, where tens of thousands of Muslims have fled for their lives amid a series of gruesome mob killings. As mosques burn and Christian militias ambush convoys of fleeing Muslims, the crisis is now becoming a “tragedy of historic proportions,” the group warns. By Krista Larson. SENT: 960 words, photos.

THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE

There may be some basis to the age-old canard that “they all look alike”: Science suggests people can have a hard time distinguishing faces of a different race than their own. But calling someone the wrong name has a unique sting for black people, which was on full display when Samuel L. Jackson eviscerated a TV anchor for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne. By National Writer Jesse Washington. SENT: 830 words, photos.

MANHOOD IN AMERICA

In American mythology, the stoic male hero shook off all doubts, vanquished all foes and rode off into the sunset with the prettiest lady around. Then came feminism, gay-rights activism, stay-at-home dads — and now, in a striking challenge to traditional views of manhood, the hyper-masculine National Football League could soon have its first openly gay player. Many American men are trying to navigate evolving gender roles in their own daily lives. For some, it’s a welcome challenge; for others a source of confusion and anxiety. By National Writer David Crary. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

BARBIE-SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK — After 50 years of debate over her unattainably perfect figure, Barbie now is unapologetic about her tiny waist and endless legs. To prove it? The doll, which is made by Mattel, is flaunting her frame in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 50th anniversary issue that’s hitting stands on Tuesday. By Business Writer Mae Anderson. SENT: 500 words, photo.

SOCHI OLYMPICS

WOMEN’S DOWNHILL

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin took different paths on a women’s downhill filled with flats and turns, jumps and bumps. By the finish, they both won the gold medal, the first time an Olympic Alpine race has ended in a tie. By Howard Fendrich. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— TIMING AND TIES-GLANCE — A look at how timing works for various Winter Olympic sports. SENT: 320 words.

— FUN IN THE SUN — Forget the parkas and stocking hats. Sunscreen and shades are the must-have items at the Sochi ‘Winter’ Games. The temperature soars to 63 degrees (17 degrees Celsius). SENT: 750 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— PAKISTAN-TALIBAN TALKS-Q&A — The Pakistani government has recently opened negotiations with domestic militants called the Pakistani Taliban aimed at ending years of fighting in the northwest that has cost thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. A look at some of the main issues involved in the talks. SENT: 720 words, photos.

— STOCKS-HEALTHY PULLBACK — This year’s stock market decline has left investors uneasy. But money managers say take a breath — the downturn could offer opportunities to strengthen your retirement savings for the long run. SENT: 900 words, photo.

— LOUD MUSIC KILLING — Prosecutors say during closing arguments that a Florida man reacted viciously to an argument over loud music with teenagers in a store parking lot and fired multiple shots into their vehicle, killing one of them, and then drove away as if nothing happened. SENT: 870 words, photos, video.

— FRANCE-SILICON VALLEY - French President Francois Hollande visits San Francisco to meet politicians, lunch with Silicon Valley tech executives and inaugurate a new U.S.-French Tech Hub. SENT: 620 words, photos.

— CORVETTE MUSEUM-SINKHOLE — Sinkhole collapses part of National Corvette Museum in Kentucky; 8 cars damaged. SENT: 620 words, photo.

— BRITAIN-OBIT-BLEGVAD — Children’s book artist Erik Blegvad, known for his whimsical illustrations of more than 100 books, has died at 90. SENT: 300 words, photo.

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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.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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