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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

August 19, 2014



ISLAMABAD — Tensions rise in the Pakistani capital as an opposition rally prepares to march toward Parliament and the government headquarters in Islamabad and authorities beef up security measures to prevent violence. The demonstrators, who have camped out in Islamabad in two rallies since last week, are demanding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down over alleged vote rigging in the 2013 parliamentary elections. By Munir Ahmed. SENT: 510 words, photos.


TOKYO — Former NFL player Bob “The Beast” Sapp isn’t exactly a household name back home in the United States. But he’s big in Japan. Very big. And soon he hopes to be living large — for a week, anyway — in North Korea. Shades of Dennis Rodman, anyone? By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 850 words, photos.


BEIJING — An explosion in a coal mine in eastern China traps 27 workers underground, state media report. Twelve other miners were lifted out of the privately owned mine in Huainan city in Anhui province after the blast. SENT: 200 words.


BANGKOK — When Thailand’s military ruler appears in public, he usually is seen in full military regalia. But in an appearance before the nation’s junta-appointed legislature, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha showed up in markedly different attire — a business-like dark blue suit with a sky blue tie. The civilian garb is symbolic of an impending change for Thailand’s powerful leader, who is expected to be named prime minister later this week. SENT: 110 words, photos.


PATNA, India — A passenger train strikes a crowded rickshaw, killing 21 people at a railway crossing in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, a railway official says. All the passengers and the driver of the motorized rickshaw died in the accident in Bihar, he says. SENT: 210 words.


ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis says he wants dialogue with China and the only thing he asks in return is for the Catholic Church to be able to operate freely. The pope told reporters the church “only asks to have freedom to do its work. No other conditions.” By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 440 words.


BEIJING — Two people have died in a Tibetan region of southwestern China after they were injured by police gunfire while protesting the detention of a local leader, overseas Tibetan rights groups say. One protester committed suicide in police custody in the town of Louxu while another died from untreated wounds, the British-based group Free Tibet and the U.S.-based International Campaign for Tibet said. SENT: 270 words.

— CHINA-XINJIANG VIOLENCE — An overseas Uighur rights organization protests the Chinese government’s use of drones in a security crackdown in the ethnic group’s home region of Xinjiang, saying it would intensify tensions that have left dozens of people dead this year. SENT: 360 words.


GOTEMBA, Japan — Japan’s military is showcasing its ability to defend remote islands, as its role expands at home and abroad under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The military began large-scale annual “Fire Power” exercises at the foot of Mount Fuji. Defense officials said the exercises, which last until Sunday, are aimed at repelling a hypothetical invasion of far-off Japanese islands. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 180 words, photos.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The remains of at least 15 Malaysians killed when a jetliner was shot down over Ukraine will be returned to their home country this week, the first Malaysian victims of the disaster to be flown home, the country’s defense minister says. All 298 people on board died when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down on July 17. The plane was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam and was shot out of the sky over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists. The victims included 43 Malaysians and 195 Dutch nationals. By Syawalludin Zain. SENT: 350 words.


CANBERRA, Australia — A larger-than-life Australian mining magnate turned lawmaker, Clive Palmer, is widely accused of threatening Australia’s relationship with its biggest trading partner through an extraordinary tirade against China. The 60-year-old multi-millionaire called the Chinese “bastards” and “mongrels” and accused Beijing of trying to take over Australia during a nationally televised forum on Australian Broadcasting Corp. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 620 words.


BEIJING — The actor son of Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan has been detained in Beijing on drug-related charges, the latest high-profile celebrity to be ensnared in one of China’s biggest anti-drug crackdowns in two decades. Jaycee Chan, 31, was detained together with 23-year-old Taiwanese movie star Kai Ko, Beijing police said. SENT: 680 words, photos.



SYDNEY — BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, says it plans to split off some of its smaller assets into a separate company, as it posts a $13.8 billion annual profit. Melbourne, Australia-based BHP said the reorganization will allow it to concentrate on its mainstay iron ore, copper, coal, petroleum and potash businesses. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 270 words.


BEIJING — A Japanese auto parts supplier, NSK Ltd., says it was fined $28.2 million by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators in an unfolding probe of the industry. Regulators have launched a series of anti-monopoly investigations against global automakers and technology suppliers under China’s 6-year-old anti-monopoly law in a possible effort to force down prices. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 320 words.


BEIJING — China’s president promises to rein in “unreasonably high” pay for executives at state companies in an apparent effort to mollify public frustration at the wealth of government-owned industry. President Xi Jinping’s announcement, carried by the official Xinhua News Agency, comes as the ruling Communist Party is pressing government officials to cut spending on limousines, banquets and other trappings of office. SENT: 200 words.



FERGUSON, Mo. —The National Guard arrived in Ferguson but kept its distance from the streets where protesters clashed again with police, as clouds of tear gas and smoke hung over the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer. Protesters filled the streets after nightfall Monday, and officers trying to enforce tighter restrictions at times used bullhorns to order them to disperse. Police deployed noisemakers and armored vehicles to push demonstrators back. Officers fired tear gas and flash grenades. By Nigel Duara. SENT: 790 words, photos, video, audio.


WASHINGTON — When racial tensions erupted midway through his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama went to Philadelphia to decry the “racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years.” Over time, he said, such wounds, rooted in America’s painful history on race, can be healed. Six years later, the stalemate suddenly seems more entrenched than ever. As Obama pleads for calm and understanding in Ferguson, Missouri, he’s struggling to determine what role — if any — the nation’s first black president can play in defusing a crisis that has laid bare the profound sense of injustice felt by African-Americans across the country. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 820 words, photos.


CAIRO — Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Cairo step up efforts to hammer out a rodamap and a sustainable truce for the Gaza Strip after Egypt announced a 24-hour extension of the cease-fire to allow more time for talks. By Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 740 words, photos.


BEIRUT — As the U.S. military strikes the Islamic State group in Iraq, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have significantly stepped up their own campaign against militant strongholds in Syria, carrying out dozens of raids against the group’s headquarters in the past two days. While the Syrian government has long turned a blind eye to the Islamic State group’s expansion in Syria — in some cases even facilitating its offensive against mainstream rebels — the group’s rapid march on towns and villages in northern and eastern Syria is now threatening to overturn recent government gains. By Zeina Karam. SENT: 900 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — Armed groups in Syria have an estimated several hundred portable anti-aircraft missiles that could easily be diverted to extremists and used to destroy low-flying commercial planes, according to a new report by a respected international research group. It cites the risk that the missiles could be smuggled out of Syria by terrorists. By Stephen Braun. SENT: 790 words, photos.


DONETSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian government has captured most of a town near Donetsk, tightening the noose around the key rebel-held stronghold, officials said. Government efforts to quell the pro-Russian separatist front have focused lately on gradually encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-controlled city. By Peter Leonard. SENT: 640 words, photo.


GENEVA — The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,200 people since it began in December 2013, the World Health Organization said. More than 2,200 have been sickened, according to the U.N. health agency’s latest numbers. SENT: 360 words, photos.


HAVANA — Yet another revolutionary tradition has been broken in Cuba: A lawmaker voted “no” in parliament. And it wasn’t just any lawmaker. Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro, gave the thumbs-down to a workers’ rights bill that she felt didn’t go far enough to prevent discrimination against people with HIV or with unconventional gender identities. By Andrea Rodriguez. SENT: 690 words, photos.


— OBIT-PARDO — Don Pardo, ‘Saturday Night Live’ announcer whose voice was part of cultural fabric, dies at 96. SENT: 500 words.

— TEXAS GOVERNOR-INDICTMENT — Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry hires high-profile legal team to fight criminal indictment. SENT: 860 words.


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