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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 26, 2015

ASIA:

CHINA-DANCING GRANNIES CLAMPDOWN — Along with two dozen of her fellow “dancing grannies,” 60-year-old Zhang Jinsu twirls and steps her way every night across a central Beijing plaza, sometimes gliding over the pavement like a butterfly, at other times marching with a plastic rifle. But when new Chinese government instructions on such hugely popular — and loud — senior dances take hold, Zhang may need to learn a new routine. By Jack Chang. SENT: 900 words, photos.

SEAFOOD FROM SLAVES-REACTION — The U.S. government and major business leaders are renewing their call on the Thai government to crack down on slavery in its fishing fleets, and to punish people who force migrant workers to catch seafood that can end up in the United States. The State Department, the U.S. seafood and retail industries and a member of Congress reacted swiftly to an Associated Press investigation published this week that found slave-caught fish clouds the supply networks of major supermarkets, restaurants and even pet stores in the United States. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 850 words, photos.

VIETNAM-SCAFFOLDING COLLAPSE — Vietnam’s prime minister orders a swift investigation into a scaffolding collapse that killed 13 workers and injured dozens, while a unit of South Korea’s Samsung Group involved in the construction project offered initial assistance to victims’ families. By Minh V. Tran. SENT: 350 words, photos.

INDIA-GANG RAPE — Police arrest two suspects in the gang rape of an elderly nun in a missionary school which focused attention on sexual violence in India despite tough anti-rape laws introduced two years ago. SENT: 350 words.

SOUTH CHINA SEA — The Philippines’ top diplomat says China has been rushing construction projects including massive land reclamations in the disputed South China Sea in hopes of forestalling any legal moves against its vast territorial claims. SENT: 400 words.

CAMBODIA-MEMORIAL — Cambodian officials inaugurate a memorial at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to remember more than 12,000 people tortured at the site when it was a Khmer Rouge prison. SENT: 360 words, photos.

SINGAPORE-BUN BACKLASH — A bakery chain apologizes for a bun commemorating Singapore’s long-time leader Lee Kuan Yew and pulls it from stores after being accused of poor taste. SENT: 190 words.

INDONESIA-EXECUTIONS — Indonesian President Joko Widodo has been too busy during the past three weeks to accept a phone call from the Australian prime minister to plead for the lives of two death row prisoners, an Indonesian envoy says. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 380 words.

CHINA-MILITARY PARADE — China says it will invite foreign armed forces to take part in a lavish military parade in Beijing this fall marking the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II. SENT: 130 words.

CHINA-SRI LANKA — Sri Lanka’s new president holds talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid a push to recalibrate his predecessor’s strongly pro-China policies and a review of major Chinese projects in the island nation. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 530 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-TOYOTA — Toyota Motor Corp. is ready to ramp up its growth again, emerging from an intentional soul-searching lull brought on by its massive global recall scandal that began in 2009. The world’s top-selling automaker outlined a new “architecture” Thursday centered on product development and manufacturing initiatives it hopes will be more fail-proof against quality problems, and allow it to keep growing in a “sustainable” way. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 680 words, photos.

MYANMAR-SALARY HIKE — Myanmar is increasing the salaries of its government employees — doubling some of them — as of next month. SENT: 180 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

FRANCE-PLANE CRASH — French prosecutor says Germanwings co-pilot was alone in the cockpit and appeared to want to “destroy the plane.” Developing. With FRANCE-PLANE CRASH-THE LATEST, FRANCE-PLANE CRASH-VICTIM NATIONALITIES (all sent).

YEMEN — Saudi Arabia bombs key military installations in Yemen after announcing a broad regional coalition to oust Shiite rebels that forced the country’s embattled president to flee. Some of the strikes hit positions in the country’s capital, Sanaa, and flatten a number of homes near the international airport. By Ahmed Al-Haj. SENT: 1,130 words, photos. With video YEMEN AIRSTRIKES. UPCOMING: Developing.

YEMEN-SOUTHERN DREAM — The flag of once-independent South Yemen is visible everywhere around this port city, once the country’s capital. Calls among southerners to break away once more are mounting as Shiite rebels drive the president out of the country and try to seal their rule. By Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 940 words, photos.

BERGDAHL-SWAP — The tough military charges against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl revive the questions and controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s decision to swap five Taliban detainees to secure his release. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 990 words, photos. With BERGDAHL — Desertion charge intensifies debate over Bergdahl’s release (sent).

BRITAIN-RICHARD III — Royalty and Benedict Cumberbatch to attend reburial of Richard III, Britain’s comeback king. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 670 words, photos.

IRAN-NUCLEAR — Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran enter a critical phase with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meeting his Iranian counterpart less than a week away from an end-of-month deadline to secure the outline of a deal. By Matthew Lee. SENT: 560 words, photo.

UNITED NATIONS-SEEKING EUROPE — As Europe finds new threats close to home, it’s now being asked by the United States to make a strong return to peacekeeping around the world. The U.N. on Friday convenes an unprecedented global meeting of defense officials to seek support for the largest peace effort ever deployed. By Cara Anna. SENT: 900 words, photo.

MIGRANTS-JOURNEY TO EUROPE — Each month, a tide of humanity pours through the hills of Greece, Macedonia and Serbia in hopes of entering the heart of the 28-nation European Union through its vulnerable back door in the Balkans. Most don’t make it on their first attempt. Nor their third or fifth. Many, it seems, just keep trying — and failing — over and over. By Dalton Bennett and Shawn Pogatchnik. SENT: 2,800 words, photos. With video EUROPE MIGRANTS. An abridged version of 1,260 words also moved. With MIGRANTS-JOURNEY TO EUROPE-TIMELINE, MIGRANTS-ROAD TO EUROPE-KEY ROUTES (all sent).

ONE DIRECTION-BAND BREAKUPS — Zayn Malik’s departure from British boy band “One Direction” is described as the millennial equivalent of one of the Beatles leaving at the height of their popularity. But while it may be bad news for Malik’s fans, it’s not necessarily so for the band. By Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen. SENT: 530 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome.

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