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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

January 16, 2015



MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis calls on Filipinos to reject the corruption that has plagued this Asian nation for decades and urged them to instead work to end the “scandalous” poverty and social injustices that afflicts its people, encouraging the government to continue the first significant crackdown on high-level corruption since the fall of the Marcos regime three decades ago. By Nicole Winfield and Oliver Teves. SENT, AP Photos XBM201-0116150920, XBM104-0116150919, XBM103-0116150919, XBM102-0115151807, XAF102-0115151840.


MANILA, Philippines — After two years of a shaky marriage, Chatto Realuyo and her husband decided to call it quits. In the Philippines, that is not so easy. The largely Catholic Asian nation of 100 million is the only country in the world — aside from the Vatican — where divorce is forbidden. Many Filipino Catholics stand by church doctrine on the subject, but a growing number are pushing for change. By Oliver Teves. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 0700GMT, photos.


ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis says there are limits to freedom of speech, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith. Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good. But he said there were limits. SENT: 520 words, photos.


— POPE WATCH. Glimpses of the pope’s trip. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


BEIJING — More than 20 people, including several foreigners, were missing Friday after a tugboat sank on the Yangtze River in eastern China, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said. Three people were rescued when the boat sank Thursday afternoon during a trial voyage in the eastern province of Jiangsu. SENT.


SYDNEY — Beaches at the Australian city of Newcastle were closed for a seventh day on Friday after at least two large sharks were sighted in coastal waters. Meanwhile, a teenager was reportedly attacked by a shark 390 kilometers (240 miles) to the south. SENT.


SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stocks were sharply lower Friday after a surprise move by the Swiss National Bank to abandon its efforts to keep its currency artificially cheap shocked the market. By Youkyung Lee. SENT, photos.



VERVIERS, Belgium — With Europe dreading more terror, Belgian authorities seize the initiative and say they pre-empted a major attack by as little as hours, killing two suspects in a firefight and arresting a third in a vast anti-terrorism sweep that stretched into the night. By Raf Casert and Lorne Cook. SENT: 980 words, photos.


JOHANNESBURG — As Islamic militants from Boko Haram launch more attacks in Nigeria and continue to slaughter civilians, there is increasing talk that international military action may be necessary to help crush the insurgency in Africa’s most populous country. By Christopher Torchia. SENT: 700 words, photos, graphic, interactive.

— AP GRAPHIC — GFX4717 — Satellite images show the village of Doron Baga, Nigeria, before and after an attack by the Boko Haram.

— AP INTERACTIVE — Use a slider to see infrared satellite images of the village Doron Baga, Nigeria, before and after attacks by militants. Preview: http://apne.ws/152E7Hm


NAJAF, Iraq — Since Sunni militants overran large parts of Iraq, the country’s most prominent Shiite cleric fundamentally alters his spiritual role and plunges straight into politics, weighing in to the government on policy and on fighting the extremists. By Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. moves quickly to open travel and business access to Cuba, giving American companies long-sought opportunities beginning Friday. By Bradley Klapper and Michael Weissenstein. SENT: 965 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — A panel of scientific experts concludes there is no viable alternative to get the information the government wants without the kind of surveillance done by the National Security Agency. But the report — commissioned after Edward Snowden’s revelations — takes no position on the program’s merits. By Intelligence Writer Ken Dilanian. SENT: 730 words.


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California — Day after day, the two men who completed what’s considered the world’s most difficult rock climb bloodied their fingertips, endured bruising falls and persevered in a task many thought impossible. Yet they still enjoyed coffee, Indian food, chocolate and an occasional nip of whisky during 19 days living on a sheer granite wall. By Kristin J. Bender and Scott Smith. SENT: 795 words, photos, video.


BOSTON — Some of the first prospective jurors questioned in the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev illustrate the difficulty in finding people who say they have not formed an opinion on Tsarnaev’s guilt and would be willing to sentence him to death. SENT: 660 words, photo.



“Boyhood” and “Birdman” are still the films to beat at the Academy Awards, but the competition may have gotten a little stouter in Thursday’s Oscar nominations. Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Imitation Game” all emerge as heftier contenders. By Film Writer Jake Coyle. SENT: 800 words, photos, video.


LOS ANGELES — Just two nominations for the civil rights drama “Selma” continues Hollywood’s stunning snub of the widely acclaimed, relevant-to-the times film. Possible reasons vary, including the depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson and a baffling delay in getting screener DVDs to awards voters. By Film Writer Lindsey Bahr. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— OSCAR NOMINATIONS-SNUBS AND SURPRISES — Oscar snubs and surprises: ‘Selma’ director, star denied, Cooper is in, ‘Lego’ is undone. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— OSCAR NOMINATIONS-LIST — Complete list of nominees. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— OSCAR NOMINATIONS-FOREIGN FILMS — Five movies that tackle conflict, corruption and other harsh realities with humanity and humor are finalists for the 2015 Academy Award for best foreign-language film. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 600 words, photos.


— HAGEL-FAREWELL TOUR — As he ends his time as defense secretary, Hagel recalls his Army roots and Vietnam combat. SENT: 980 words, photos.

— TEEN DISAPPEARANCE-SEX RING — An Alabama woman who along with other friends and relatives swapped their children for sex and abused them for years is sentenced to more than 200 years in prison. SENT: 370 words, photo.

— UKRAINE — Russian-backed separatists capture the remains of the Donetsk airport terminal in eastern Ukraine and plan to claw back more territory. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— DAVOS FORUM-GLOBAL RISKS — Geopolitical issues are considered to be the biggest threat to global stability over the coming decade, according to experts polled by the World Economic Forum. SENT: 390 words.

— GOOGLE GLASS — Google Glass pulled off consumer market as company works on more refined, affordable version. SENT: 130 words. Will be updated.


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