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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

June 23, 2014



SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean army captures a soldier who it says killed five comrades and then fled into the forest where he holed up with a rifle for two days before shooting himself as pursuers closed in. The massive manhunt ended when the 22-year-old sergeant, surnamed Yim, shot himself in the upper left chest as his father and brother approached, pleading with him to surrender, a Defense Ministry official said. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 570 words, photos.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s top court rules that non-Muslims cannot use the word “Allah” to refer to God, delivering the final word on a contentious debate that has reinforced complaints that religious minorities are treated unfairly in the Muslim-majority country. In a 4-3 judgment, the Federal Court rejects a challenge by the Roman Catholic Church and upheld a government ban on the use of the word. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 910 words, photos.


BEIJING — Chinese authorities say they broke up 32 terror groups and arrested more than 380 suspects in the far west in the first month of a crackdown aimed at demonstrating the Communist Party’s resolve to maintain order in a borderland hit by recent unrest. Many suspects received rapid trials and stiff sentences, including death penalties. SENT: 400 words.


MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine senator who is the son of an ex-president surrenders to police after a court ordered his arrest on corruption charges. Jinggoy Estrada is the second celebrity politician in days to end up in jail on charges of plundering the poor Southeast Asian nation’s coffers. The high-profile prosecutions bolster President Benigno Aquino III’s campaign promise to fight the corruption that has plagued the nation of 97 million for decades. The problem has festered amid a culture of impunity among powerful politicians and their allies, weak law enforcement and a notoriously slow justice system. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 540 words, photos.


CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he told Egypt’s president that a jailed Australian journalist is innocent of charges that he supported the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Australian Peter Greste is one of three Al-Jazeera journalists who were convicted in a Cairo court and sentenced to seven years in prison on charges they supported the Brotherhood, which has been declared a terrorist organization. They were arrested in December as part of a sweeping crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi after the military overthrew him last year. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 390 words, photos.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan diverts a passenger plane carrying an anti-government cleric to Lahore out of security concerns, leading to a standoff in which the cleric refused for hours to get off the aircraft while it waited on the tarmac. The Pakistani cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, lives mostly in Canada but has a large following in his network of mosques and religious centers across Pakistan. Last year he threw the capital into crisis for days when he led rallies of thousands of people in the center of the city to demand electoral reforms. By Zarar Khan and Rebecca Santana. SENT: 380 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan official says the Taliban have released 33 university professors and students abducted nearly two weeks ago in the country’s east. Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Ghazni province, says the hostages were released overnight and early on Monday, following mediation by tribal elders in the region and the staff from the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ghazni. SENT: 140 words.


BRUSSELS — The European Union is suspending all official visits to and from Thailand and shelving important agreements, to protest last month’s military coup. SENT: 140 words.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — A court in Bangladesh’s capital sentences eight people, including a leader of a banned Islamist group, to death for their roles in a bombing at a New Year’s celebration concert 13 years ago. Judge Ruhul Amin says six others were sentenced to life in prison for the bombing that killed 10 people and injured dozens of others at a park in downtown Dhaka during the Bengali New Year celebration in 2001. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 230 words, photos.


TOKYO — A Tokyo city assemblyman apologizes for shouting out a sexist remark at a female counterpart last week — but denied he meant to insult her. Akihiro Suzuki reversed his earlier denial and came forward five days after officials scrambled to identify the voices heard during Ayaka Shiomura’s presentation on issues such as infertility, maternal support and delaying marriage during an assembly session. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 560 words, photos.


TOKYO — An exhibition of Chinese art from Taiwan has opened as planned after the Tokyo National Museum revised promotional materials that had omitted the word “National” from references to Taipei’s National Palace Museum. Taiwan is sensitive to how other governments portray it, and last week its first lady, Christine Chou, canceled a trip to Tokyo for the exhibition. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 420 words, photos.


BEIJING — Five days of rainstorms in southern China have left 26 people dead and another three missing and led to direct economic losses of 4 billion yuan ($650 million), according to the country’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. A total of 337,000 people have been evacuated and 115,000 are in urgent need of relief supplies as a result of the rainstorms that started Wednesday, the ministry said. SENT: 130 words.


HONG KONG — The female half of a giant panda couple that the Asian gambling hub of Macau received as a gift from Beijing has died from kidney failure, the city government said. Xin Xin did not show any clinical signs of illness during a routine physical exam in May but was uncooperative during training. SENT: 170 words, photos.


HONG KONG — The robots aren’t the only part of the latest “Transformers” film that changed. Led by star Mark Wahlberg, a whole new cast was brought in to give a fresh start to the blockbuster franchise. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” stars Wahlberg as a mechanic who strikes up a friendship with good-guy robot Optimus Prime. By Angela Chen. SENT: 650 words, photos.



HONG KONG — Factory activity in China expanded in June for the first time this year, according to an HSBC report, adding to signs that the slowdown in the No. 2 economy is stabilizing as recent micro boosting measures take hold. The preliminary HSBC purchasing managers’ index rose to 50.8 this month from 49.4 in May on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction. SENT: 300 words.


PINE HILL, Ala. — Burdened with Alabama’s highest unemployment rate, long abandoned by textile mills and furniture plants, Wilcox County desperately needs jobs. They’re coming, and from a most unlikely place: Henan Province, China, 7,600 miles away. By Paul Wiseman. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.


TOKYO — Honda, Mazda and Nissan are recalling millions of vehicles globally for defective airbags manufactured by supplier Takata Corp. that could possibly explode. No accidents have been reported related to the recalls. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 400 words, photos.


CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Tony Abbott reintroduces legislation to the Australian Parliament that would repeal a carbon tax that the nation’s worst greenhouse gas polluters have to pay. The opposition center-left Labor Party and minor Greens party used their Senate majority in March to block the bills that would remove the 24.15 Australian dollar ($22.79) tax per metric ton of carbon dioxide that was introduced by a Labor government in July 2012. The bills were defeated 33 votes to 29. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 410 words, photos.



CAIRO — An Egyptian court convicts three Al-Jazeera journalists and sentences them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges in a verdict that sparked quick outrage and was widely denounced as a blow to freedom of expression. Egypt’s president comes under international pressure to intervene and pardon the three. By Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 770 words, photos, video.


BAGHDAD — Confronting the threat of civil war in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Baghdad to personally urge the Shiite-led government to give more power to political opponents before a Sunni insurgency seizes more control across the country and sweeps away hopes for lasting peace. The meeting scheduled between Kerry and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was not expected to be friendly, given that officials in Washington have floated suggestions that the Iraqi premier should resign as a necessary first step toward quelling the vicious uprising. Over the weekend Sunni militants blitzed through the vast desert of western Iraq, capturing four towns and three border crossings. By Lara Jakes and Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 940 words, photos, video.


BEIRUT — An al-Qaida breakaway group’s recent success in Syria and Iraq has sent tremors across the Middle East, jolting neighboring countries into action over fears that the Islamic militants may set their sights on them next. Jordan is beefing up security along its border with Iraq, while in Lebanon, a series of arrests suggest sleeping cells were planning spectacular terrorist attacks to destabilize the country. By Ryan Lucas and Omar Akour. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.


HAVANA — They rocketed into the spotlight in the late 1990s and became nothing less than Cuba’s soundtrack to the world. Nearly two decades later, the remaining members of the Buena Vista Social Club are preparing to disband after one last farewell tour. By Andrea Rodriguez. SENT: 620 words, photos.


— ISRAEL-SYRIA — Israel carries out airstrikes on 9 targets in Syria, including command center. SENT: 600 words, photo.

— TV--DAYTIME EMMYS — DeGeneres’ show wins 8th Daytime Emmy award; Harvey scoops up talk, game show honors. SENT: 410 words, photos.

— OBIT-FOUAD AJAMI — Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami, who rallied support for Iraq war, dies at 68. SENT: 140 words.

— OBIT-STEVE ROSSI — Steve Rossi, half of prolific comedy duo Allen & Rossi, dies in Las Vegas at age 82. SENT: 420 words.


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