BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS
HANOI, Vietnam — Anti-China mobs torched up to 15 foreign-owned factories and trashed many more in southern Vietnam amid rising anger over China’s recent installment of an oil rig in disputed Southeast Asian waters, officials and state media said Wednesday. The unrest at industrial parks established to attract foreign investors was the most serious outbreak of public disorder in the tightly controlled country in years. It points to the dangers for the government as it manages public anger at China and also protests itself against the Chinese actions in a part of the South China Sea it claims as its own. By Chris Brummitt. SENT: 700 words, photos planned.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has protested China’s efforts to reclaim land in a disputed reef in the South China Sea that can be used to build an airstrip or an offshore military base in the increasingly volatile region. SENT: 300 words.
THAILAND-THE HOLY CONE
BANGKOK — Thailand’s lexicon of political vocabulary has a new term — the Holy Traffic Cone. Following a series of viscous attacks against people who moved traffic cones placed by anti-government protesters, images of bright orange traffic cones have gone viral online along with half-joking warnings like, “Don’t touch the cone!” The rubber cones have become the latest symbol in Thailand of the growing hopelessness and lack of authority as the political crisis grinds on. By Jocelyn Gecker. UPCOMING by 0800GMT, photos.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is “reasonably confident” Thailand’s military won’t launch a coup, a senior defense official says, although analysts warned the nation’s political crisis could trigger armed conflict. SENT 500 words.
CHINA-DINNER PARTY RAIDED
BEIJING — Chinese police break up a dinner party attended by activists in the eastern city of Hangzhou Tuesday night and detained a dozen people, according to an activist who attended the dinner. Activist and blogger Wang Wusi said he and another 10 people were released after spending about two hours in police custody. He said police held Wen Kejian until Wednesday morning, when he was released. Wen is a signatory of Charter 08, a document calling for democracy and the end of one-party rule in China. SENT: 200 words.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia says that it was taking steps to ban as a terrorist organization Boko Haram, the militant group that kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria. Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament that a ban would be consistent with the actions of allies including the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. SENT.
BEIJING — Chinese police accuse a British executive of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline of leading a sprawling scheme to bribe doctors and hospitals to use its products. The announcement was the first time a foreign employee in China of British-based GSK was accused in the investigation announced last July. It highlighted the widespread use of payments to doctors and hospitals by sellers of drugs and medical equipment in a state-run and poorly funded health system that Chinese leaders have promised to improve. SENT: 700 words.
NEW ZEALAND-HOUSING RESTRICTIONS
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Six months after introducing unusual rules to try to tame a booming housing market, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank said Wednesday those measures have been a success. Last October, the bank introduced rules that require most borrowers to stump up a 20 percent deposit in order to buy a house. SENT: 260 words.
US & INTERNATIONAL
SOMA, Turkey — Rescuers desperately raced against time to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 201 workers, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul, at the time of the explosion and 363 of them had been rescued so far. By Desmond Butler and Suzan Fraser. SENT: 800 words, photos, video.
KIEV, Ukraine — An insurgent ambush kills six soldiers in eastern Ukraine even as a possible path toward peace emerges: A German-backed plan to decentralize the government and disarm the insurgents. Ukraine’s leadership is wary and Washington is skeptical, but analysts say Vladimir Putin is more likely to accept a deal that doesn’t come from Washington. By Nataliya Vasilyeva and Julie Pace. SENT: 1,000 words with new approach, photos, audio, video.
ABUJA, Nigeria — U.S. reconnaissance aircraft fly over Nigeria in search of the nearly 300 kidnapped schoolgirls, a day after the Boko Haram militant group releases the first evidence that at least some of them are still alive and demands that jailed fighters be swapped for their freedom. A Nigerian government official says “all options” are open — including negotiations or a possible military operation with foreign help. By Bashir Adigun and Haruna Umar. SENT: 950 words, photos, video.
BAGHDAD — Militants unleash a wave of car bombings in Iraq, killing at least 34 people and sending thick, black smoke into the Baghdad skies in a show of force meant to intimidate the majority Shiites as they marked what is meant to be a joyous holiday for their sect. The attacks come nearly two weeks after Iraqis cast ballots in the country’s first parliamentary election since the U.S. military withdrawal in 2001. By Sameer N. Yacoub. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.
TEL AVIV — An Israeli court sentences former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for his role in a bribery scandal, capping the stunning downfall of a politician who just a few years ago hobnobbed at the White House and claimed to be close to reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians. By Josef Federman. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.
SOUTH SUDAN-DESPERATE SCENES
LEER, South Sudan — Bodies stuffed in wells. Houses burned down. Children playing on military hardware. And infants showing the skeletal outlines of severe hunger. These are scenes from a remote part of South Sudan where Doctors Without Borders has begun feeding malnourished children despite repeated violence. The U.N. secretary-general warns if fighting continues, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will be displaced, starving or dead by year’s end. By Josphat Kasire. SENT: 680 words, photos, video.
BOSTON MARATHON-SUSPECT’S FRIENDS
BOSTON — Three college friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect will be tried separately, but those trials do not need to be moved out of Massachusetts, a federal judge rules. Two of the men are accused of taking Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his dorm room after last year’s deadly bombings; a third friend is charged with lying to investigators. By Paige Sutherland. SENT: 400 words, photos.
NEW YORK — When Barbara Walters came on the scene, John Kennedy was in the White House, a motorist could fill ’er up for three bucks and no one had heard of the Beatles. On Friday, capping a spectacular half-century run she began as the so-called “Today” Girl on NBC, Walters, 84, will exit ABC’s “The View.” In an interview, she discusses her career and looks ahead to her imminent retirement — and sleeping late. SENT: 680 words, photos.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
— HILLARY CLINTON — The White House and an adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton are criticizing Republican strategist Karl Rove for suggesting that the former secretary of state’s health — she sustained a fall in 2012 — will be relevant if she runs for president again. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words, photo.
— SWEDEN-OBIT BENDJELLOUL — Police say Oscar winning ‘Searching for Sugarman’ director Malik Bendjelloul dies at 36. SENT: 100 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 7 p.m., photo.
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