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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 4, 2015

ASIA:

TAIWAN-PLANE CRASH

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A Taiwanese flight with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and careened into a shallow river Wednesday in the island’s capital of Taipei, killing at least eight people, state media said. Parts of the wrecked fuselage of the turboprop ATR 72 jutted out of the Keelung River just a couple dozen meters (yards) from the shore near the city’s downtown Sungshan airport. The main section of fuselage was on its side, missing a wing. SENT: 300 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-THAILAND

WASHINGTON — The United States will conduct live-fire training at an upcoming military exercise in Thailand despite saying it would be focusing the drills on nonlethal security cooperation, a U.S. official says. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 380 words.

UNITED STATES-CHINA-MILITARY THREAT

WASHINGTON — The U.S. defense intelligence chief warns that America’s technological edge over China is at risk because of cybertheft. Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart also says Chinese military training and weaponry pose a significant threat to U.S. forces in the western Pacific. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 350 words, photos.

SRI LANKA-INDEPENDENCE DAY

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s president says the country has not been able to unite the hearts and minds of ethnic groups despite ending a decades-old civil war five years ago. In his Independence Day address, President Maithripala Sirisena called on all political leaders to ask themselves what went wrong in the 67 years since independence from Britain. SENT: 300 words.

THAILAND-EXPLOSIONS

BANGKOK — Authorities in Thailand have issued arrest warrants for two suspects believed linked to a pair of small bomb blasts outside a luxury shopping mall in downtown Bangkok over the weekend that wounded one person. SENT: 120 words.

CHINA-MINIBUS ACCIDENT

BEIJING — Ten people, including four children, were killed in an accident involving a minibus in southern China on Wednesday, also the first day for the peak travel season centered on the Chinese New Year, the official Xinhua News Agency said. SENT: 130 words.

JAPAN-EARNS-TOYOTA

TOKYO — Toyota raised its earnings forecast after third quarter profit jumped 14 percent, boosted by a weak yen. Toyota Motor Corp. reported Wednesday a better-than-expected 600 billion yen ($5.1 billion) profit for the three months through December. SENT.

TOYOTA-FATAL CRASH

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal jury has ordered Toyota to pay nearly $11 million to victims of a fatal wreck after deciding a design flaw in the 1996 Camry was partially to blame for the Minnesota crash. SENT: 140 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

ISLAMIC STATE

AMMAN, Jordan — Islamic State group militants burned a captured Jordanian pilot to death in a cage, according to a purported video of the violence released Tuesday. The kingdom, which had vowed a swift and lethal response, executed two al-Qaida prisoners by hanging early Wednesday. The pilot’s gruesome death sparked outrage and anti-Islamic State group demonstrations in Jordan. The video emerged after a weeklong drama over a possible prisoner exchange for a female al-Qaida operative imprisoned in Jordan who was one of the two prisoners executed. By Omar Akour and Karin Laub. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

— UNITED STATES-ISLAMIC STATE — Obama: US, allies determined to banish Islamic State’s ‘hateful ideology’ after pilot’s death. SENT: 400 words, photos. UPCOMING: President Obama meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at 6 p.m.

— LEAVING ISLAMIC STATE — Fighters who escape Islamic State group caught between death if found and jail if they go home. SENT: 2,000 words, photos, video. An abridged version of 1,100 words is also available.

2016-VACCINE POLITICS

WASHINGTON — The sudden injection of the vaccine debate into the 2016 campaign is a lesson for first-time presidential hopefuls like Chris Christie and Rand Paul: Unexpected issues can become stumbling blocks in the glare of a national spotlight. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 750 words, photos.

— VACCINES — Congress hears a tale of two vaccines — one driven by politically charged headlines about kids not vaccinated against measles and another about the bleak reality of a worse-than-usual flu season. SENT: 650 words, photo.

VATICAN-ROMERO

VATICAN — Pope Francis moves slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero a step closer to sainthood by declaring him a martyr killed out of hatred for his Roman Catholic faith. The decree by Latin America’s first pope ends 35 years of divisive debate over whether Romero was gunned down at the start of El Salvador’s civil war for his politics or his preaching. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

— AP WAS THERE-SALVADORAN ARCHBISHOP ASSASSINATED: AP’s original story from March 24, 1980, when Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated by right-wing gunmen. SENT: 800 words, photo.

BRITAIN 3-PERSON BABIES

LONDON — Britain takes a step toward becoming the first country to allow scientists to create babies from the DNA of three people in order to prevent mothers from passing on some inherited diseases that could be fatal. Critics say the technology crosses a fundamental scientific boundary that could lead to “designer babies.” By Medical Writer Maria Cheng. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-3 PERSON BABIES Q&A — A look at questions about the controversial new techniques. SENT: 490 words.

EPISCOPAL FUTURE

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — A South Carolina court has ruled that the national Episcopal Church has no claim on the property of the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina or its parish churches. Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein wrote in a decision handed down Tuesday that the diocese and its churches are “the owners of their real, personal and intellectual property” in which the national church has no legal interest.

BOOKS-HARPER LEE

NEW YORK — “To Kill a Mockingbird” will not be Harper Lee’s only published book after all. Publisher Harper announces that “Go Set a Watchman,” a novel the Pulitzer Prize-winning author completed in the 1950s and put aside, will be released July 14. By Hillel Italie. SENT: 700 words, photos.

NSA SURVEILLANCE-CHANGES

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has announced a series of modest changes in the use of private data collected for intelligence purposes, a move that underscores how little the Edward Snowden revelations have impeded the National Security Agency’s exploitation of global Internet communications. By Intelligence Writer Ken Dilanian. SENT: 830 words.

RUSSIA-LIVING WITH RECESSION

MOSCOW — There is a creeping awareness in Russia that this economic downturn is going to last. Even in Moscow, which has for years been a boom town, businesses are planning layoffs and consumer expectations are dropping. Garage sales, once a rarity, are an increasingly common sight. By Laura Mills. SENT: 800 words, photos

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS — Hopes for a debt deal between Greece and its European lenders got a boost after the country’s new government backed away from demands to write off a chunk of its bailout loans, a prospect that had horrified creditors and investors. By Nicholas Paphitis. SENT: 750 words, photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

CUBA HOLLYWOOD

LOS ANGELES — Producers expect more U.S. filmmakers will seek to shoot in Cuba and work with local crews after President Barack Obama’s new trade and travel regulations. By Christine Armario. SENT: 750 words, photos.

FILM-JUPITER ASCENDING

LOS ANGELES — Lana and Andy Wachowski are impervious to the torrent of negativity swirling around their space opera, “Jupiter Ascending,” out Friday. The brother-sister duo best known for writing and directing “The Matrix” trilogy see the film as an opportunity to stand up for fresh material at a time when movie studios are keen to greenlight sequels, reboots and adaptations. By Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang. SENT: 760 words, photos.

GRAMMYWATCH-PREDICTIONS

Will Beyonce reign as queen of the Grammys Awards, or will the pop diva be dethroned by newcomer Sam Smith? By Music Writers Mesfin Fekadu and Nekesa Mumbi Moody. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— FRANCE JEWEL HEIST — Eight men charged with one of the world’s biggest jewel heists go on trial in Paris, accused of stealing more than 100 million euros ($113 million) worth of luxury watches, necklaces, earrings and other valuables from a Harry Winston boutique. SENT: 400 words, photos.

— UKRAINE — The United Nations sharply criticizes both the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian rebels for turning bus stops, schools, markets and hospitals into battlegrounds where civilians are getting killed. SENT: 410 words.

— ITALY POLITICS — Italy’s new president assumes office with a ringing call to the nation to root out organized crime and corruption and solve a protracted economic crisis depriving young people of their future. SENT: 300 words.

— ARMSTRONG HIT-AND-RUN — Police: Lance Armstrong hit two parked cars after partying in Aspen but agreed to let his longtime girlfriend take the blame. SENT: 390 words, photo.

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