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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

October 14, 2013

INDIA-TEMPLE STAMPEDE

NEW DELHI — The death toll from a stampede near a temple in central India rises to 109 after many of the injured succumbed. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims were crossing a bridge leading to a temple in Madhya Pradesh state on Sunday when they panicked at rumors the bridge would collapse, triggering a stampede. SENT: 275 words, photos.

INDIA-CYCLONE

BEHRAMPUR, India — Mass evacuations spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from a powerful weekend cyclone, as people picked up belongings and started repairing flooded towns, tangled power lines and tens of thousands of destroyed thatch homes. Cyclone Phailin, the strongest tropical storm to hit India in more than a decade, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of crops, but a day after it made landfall in Orissa state on the country’s east coast, authorities said they knew of only 17 fatalities. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 1,170 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-ALLAH DISPUTE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian appeals court upholds a government ban against the use of the word “Allah” to refer to God in non-Muslim faiths, overruling claims by Christians in this Muslim-majority nation that the restriction violates their religious rights. “Allah” is the Arabic word for God and is commonly used in the Malay language to refer to God. But the Malaysian government insists that “Allah” should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns its use by others would confuse Muslims and could be used to convert them. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 360 words, photos.

CHINA-BRITAIN-VISA RULES

BEIJING — Britain announces plans to relax visa rules for Chinese visitors following complaints from U.K. tourism businesses that the system doesn’t entice enough high-spending travelers from China. UPCOMING: 130 words.

CHINA-INFLATION

BEIJING — Higher food prices push China’s consumer inflation to 3.1 percent in September. Holidays, drought and floods were partly responsible for the increase in food prices. SENT: 130 words, photos.

WORLD MARKETS

BANGKOK — Asian stock markets ebb in holiday-thinned trade as investors wait for a resolution to the U.S. budget deadlock. With the Oct. 17 deadline to increase the U.S. debt ceiling looming, Republican leaders have said they would vote to extend the government’s borrowing authority for six weeks while a spokesman for President Barack Obama said he would “likely” sign a bill to increase the nation’s ability to borrow money. But negotiations over the weekend did not reach a conclusion. SENT: 300 words, photos.

OLD WORLD-FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

Elderly parents in China can now sue their grown children for both financial and emotional support. The changes in the law in China reflect an increasingly urgent dilemma across the world: As populations age faster than ever before, families and governments are struggling to decide who will protect and provide for the old. Too often, the answer is nobody. UPCOMING, photos.

— OLD WORLD-PHOTO PACKAGE. SENT, photos.

US BUDGET BATTLE

WASHINGTON — The United States moves closer to a default that could seriously harm the economy and a partial government shutdown entered its third week as Senate Democratic and Republican leaders remained at odds over spending in their last-ditch negotiations to end the crises gripping the nation. SENT: 630 words, photos.

— SHUTDOWN-STATUE OF LIBERTY

NEW YORK — Lady Liberty was once again welcoming visitors to her shores Sunday after New York state agreed to shoulder the costs of running the famed statue during the federal government shutdown. Eager sightseers stood in line in Manhattan’s Battery Park, waiting for the ferry trips to the Statue of Liberty, which had been shut since Oct. 1. By Verena Dobnik. SENT: 430 words, photos.

KERRY

LONDON — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the window for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program is “cracking open,” but that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” Kerry made the comments in a speech Sunday via satellite from London to a foreign policy conference in California by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization in the United States. By Matthew Lee. SENT: 320 words, photo.

IRAN-NUCLEAR TALKS

VIENNA — Don’t expect a breakthrough — but chances for progress have seldom been better. This is the message coming both from Iran and six world powers ahead of renewed talks this week meant to end a decade of deadlock on Tehran’s nuclear program. The two sides come to the negotiating table in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday amid a feel-good atmosphere that began with the June election of centrist President Hassan Rouhani. Subsequent conciliatory comments by Iranian officials were capped last month by a phone call between Rouhani and President Barack Obama — the first conversation between U.S. and Iranian leaders in more than three decades. By George Jahn. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 1000GMT.

PEOPLE-HUGH JACKMAN

LOS ANGELES — Hugh Jackman threw himself a birthday party with 4,500 guests, but they had to pay to attend. The actor spent his 45th birthday Saturday at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, where he sang, danced and told stories for “One Night Only,” a benefit concert that raised $1.85 million for the Motion Picture & Television Fund. By Sandy Cohen. SENT: 325 words, photos.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Chris Blake. 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 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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