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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 17, 2015

ASIA:

CHINA-DAMPENED NEW YEAR

BEIJING — Officials have put the brakes on some popular Chinese New Year events in big cities in the wake of a deadly stampede in Shanghai last month, leaving some observers complaining of a dampened mood and a kill-joy bureaucracy. By Didi Tang. SENT: 350 words, photos.

WITH: CHINESE NEW YEAR MAP

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bombers dressed as police officers attack a police station in Afghanistan, killing at least 20 people in the latest assault targeting local security forces, authorities say. By Amir Shah. SENT: 220 words.

PAKISTAN

LAHORE, Pakistan — A suicide bomber trying to enter a police complex in eastern Pakistan kills five people, officials say, in a rare attack on the relatively peaceful city of Lahore. SENT: 330 words, photos.

INDONESIA-AUSTRALIA-EXECUTIONS

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia postpones the transfer of eight convicted drug smugglers, including seven foreigners, to a prison island for execution due to technical problems and to allow the two Australians among them to spend more time with their families, an official says. By Ali Kotarumalos. SENT: 430 words, photos.

CHINA-MYANMAR-REFUGEES

BEIJING — Tens of thousands of refugees from Myanmar’s ethnic region of Kokang have fled into the neighboring Chinese province of Yunnan over the past week amid fighting between militant rebels and government troops. SENT: 300 words.

OSCARS OVERSEAS-PRINCESS ANIMATION

TOKYO — The princess laughs and floats in sumie-brush sketches of faint pastel, a lush landscape that animated film director Isao Takahata has painstakingly depicted to relay his gentle message of faith in this world. But his Oscar-nominated work stands as a stylistic challenge to Hollywood’s computer-graphics cartoons, where 3D and other digital finesse dominate. Takahata says those terms with a little sarcastic cough. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 720 words, photos.

CHINA-CORRUPTION

BEIJING — A former top official accused of taking bribes in return for government positions is under criminal investigation, Chinese prosecutors say, a day after he was expelled from the ruling Communist party and stripped of all government positions. Su Rong, a former provincial party leader and former vice chairman of China’s top political advisory body, is one of the most senior officials to have fallen in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption drive. SENT: 330 words, photos.

INDIA-MILLIONAIRE CHARGED

NEW DELHI — An Indian millionaire has been charged with murder in the southern Indian state of Kerala after police said he rammed his SUV into his security guard he accused of being too slow. SENT: 210 words.

JAPAN-TERRORISM

TOKYO — Japan says it will provide $15.5 million in development aid to support anti-terrorism efforts in the Middle East and Africa. The move comes after the recent beheadings of two Japanese hostages by militants from the Islamic State group. SENT: 160 words.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president replaces her point man on North Korea in a reshuffle that involves three other top officials. SENT: 220 words.

UNITED NATIONS-NORTH KOREA

UNITED NATIONS — North Korea says it will respond “very strongly” to a conference in Washington on Tuesday about its widespread human rights abuses and says the United States ignored Pyongyang’s offer to attend and defend itself. Puzzled conference organizers say the event is open to the public. By Cara Anna. SENT: 540 words, photos.

CHINESE LOBSTER BOOM

PORTLAND, Maine — Exports of U.S. lobster to China have rocketed in the past few years, largely to satisfy the appetites of the communist country’s growing middle class, to whom a steamed, whole crustacean is not just a festive delicacy and a good-luck symbol, but also a mark of prosperity. By Patrick Whittle. SENT: 750 words, photos.

US AND INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE

LUHANSKE, Ukraine — Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels faced a deadline Tuesday to start pulling back heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine, but Associated Press reporters saw no signs of it on the ground. By Petr Josek. SENT: 500 words, photos. UPCOMING: Will be updated throughout the day.

DENMARK-SHOOTINGS

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s domestic intelligence service has acknowledged that prison officials alerted the agency last year to the suspected gunman in last weekend’s shooting attacks that killed two people and wounded five in Copenhagen. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service, known by its Danish acronym PET, says the report in September didn’t give any reason to believe that the 22-year-old was planning an attack. By Karl Ritter and Jan M. Olsen. SENT: 490 words, photos, video.

ISLAMIC STATE

CAIRO — Egypt’s president says that creating a U.N.-backed coalition is the best course of action to rid Libya of Islamic extremists. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaking to France’s Europe 1 Radio, says Egyptian airstrikes against Islamic State group positions in Libya on Monday were in self-defense. By Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 590 words, photos.

BUDGET-DEFENSE

WASHINGTON — Pressing Pentagon demands at a time of terrorist threats and Islamic State militants put newly empowered congressional Republicans in a bind. Defense hawks want to wipe out automatic spending reductions and steer more money to the military. Deficit hawks cling to the cuts as a means of reining in government spending. Pragmatists warn of a budget logjam that could drag on for months. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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