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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

November 10, 2014

ASIA:

APEC

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe take a tentative step toward easing more than two years of high tensions over contested islands and wartime history with an unsmiling handshake and a short meeting. The two men posed briefly in front of cameras, stern-faced, and Abe briefly said something to Xi, who gave no response and looked toward the cameras for the remainder of the handshake. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 1,030 words, photos.

APEC-XI’S CHINA

BEIJING — As he hosts President Barack Obama and other world leaders, China’s President Xi Jinping appears firmly in charge of a vast but stable Communist state boasting the world’s second-largest economy. Look closer, though, and things aren’t so tidy: Growth is slowing, ethnic and political unrest persist — including an unprecedented protest movement in Hong Kong. And relations with China’s neighbors are dogged by conflicts over territory and history. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 1,130 words, photos.

— OBAMA-TRADE — President Barack Obama presses world leaders to break stubborn logjams that have held up an agreement on a trans-Pacific trade deal that is eagerly sought by the White House and could lead to rare consensus with congressional Republicans. By Julie Pace. SENT: 380 words, photos.

— OBAMA-NORTH KOREA — President Barack Obama is tempering expectations for a thaw in relations between the United States and North Korea, saying the secret talks to free two American prisoners were not the precursor to nuclear negotiations. By Julie Pace. SENT: 430 words, photos.

— OBAMA-HONG KONG — President Barack Obama says his priority when it comes to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong is to ensure that violence is avoided. SENT: 140 words, photos.

— APEC-SKOREA-CHINA — South Korea says it has agreed to sign a free trade deal with China that will remove tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods over two decades but won’t include rice or autos. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 380 words, photos.

— APEC-RUSSIA — Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has adequate resources to defend its plunging ruble and rules out capital controls or other “emergency measures.” By Joe McDonald. SENT: 340 words, photos.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean troops fire warning shots after North Korean soldiers approached too close to the border separating the rival countries, Seoul defense officials say. The firing heightens animosities between the rival Koreas, even as North Korea’s tensions with the United States seem to have eased after the announced release of two detained Americans a day earlier. By Kim Tong-hyung. SENT: 370 words, photos.

NKOREA-FOOD AID

TOKYO — The U.N. agency that has provided food aid to North Korea for nearly two decades says it has enough donations to stay open for the rest of this year but is uncertain whether it will be able to operate there beyond next March. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 620 words, photos.

NORTH KOREAN-FREED DETAINEES-CLAPPER’S ROLE

WASHNINGTON — The North Koreans passed word they wanted a high-ranking U.S. government official for the job, so President Barack Obama sent a gruff former general to spirit home two Americans held captive by the hard-line communists. National Intelligence Director James Clapper is no diplomat by training, and that’s perhaps just why he earned the clandestine call. By Intelligence Writer Ken Dilanian and Josh Lederman. SENT: 710 words, photos, video.

— NKOREA-FREED DETAINEES-ANALYSIS — Some clues to what could be behind North Korea’s release of 2 US detainees. SENT: 690 words, photos.

HONG KONG-WOMEN KILLED

HONG KONG — A British banker charged with murdering two Indonesian women in Hong Kong will undergo a psychiatric assessment to determine whether he is fit to enter a plea in his trial. Rurik Jutting appeared briefly at a pre-trial hearing before the judge adjourned proceedings for two weeks while the psychiatric assessments are carried out. Rurik is charged with murdering two young Indonesian women found dead in his 31st floor luxury apartment in the Wan Chai red light and nightlife district, including one found stuffed in a suitcase on his balcony. SENT: 190 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-SHARIA-CUSTODY

IPOH, Malaysia — It was the last round of a recurring argument: M. Indira Gandhi’s husband wanted her to convert to Islam. A committed Hindu, she refused. He threatened divorce. Both started shouting. Neighbors came looking. Suddenly, he snatched their 11-month-old daughter from the arms of an older child, tucked her under one arm and sped off on his motorbike. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 1,330 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials say nine police have been killed in two separate attacks in volatile parts of the country. SENT: 120 words.

THAILAND-POLICE SUICIDE

BANGKOK — Thai police say steps are being taken to reduce rising suicide rates among officers, warning that senior police officials could face punishment if any of their subordinates kill themselves. More than 170 Thai police officers committed suicide from 2008 to 2013, and 47 killed themselves in 2012, the highest yearly total since 2008. Among the most common causes of suicide were stress from work, debt and health issues. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 350 words, photos.

INDIA-BOLLYWOOD BAN

NEW DELHI — India’s Supreme Court orders the lifting of a ban on women working as makeup artists in the movie industry, ending a decades-long discriminatory practice. India’s film industry is among the most prolific in the world with nearly 1,500 films produced annually, most of them in Bollywood. SENT: 400 words, photos.

WEEK THAT WAS IN ASIA-PHOTO GALLERY

Filipinos remember the more 7,300 victims of ferocious Typhoon Haiyan that ripped into city of Tacloban and the central Philippines a year ago. SENT: 310 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

HONG KONG-CHINA-STOCK EXCHANGES

HONG KONG — China is opening its stock market wider to foreigners, approving a cross-border trading link that will allow investors in Shanghai and Hong Kong to buy and sell shares on both exchanges. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 520 words, photos.

CHINA-INFLATION

BEIJING — China’s consumer inflation rate was steady in October, government data show, amid signs of cooling economic growth. The National Bureau of Statistics said that the consumer price rose 1.6 percent in October from a year earlier, the same as in September. SENT: 110 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

FEDS HACKED

A $10 billion-a-year effort to protect sensitive government data, from military secrets to Social Security numbers, struggles to keep pace with an increasing number of cyberattacks and is unwittingly undermined by federal employees and contractors. Workers and contractors scattered across more than a dozen agencies are responsible for at least half of the federal cyberincidents reported each year since 2010, according to an Associated Press analysis of records. At a time when intelligence officials say cybersecurity now trumps terrorism as the No. 1 threat to the U.S. the federal government isn’t required to publicize its own brushes with data loss. An AP review of the federal effort shows that 40 years and more than $100 billion after the first federal data protection law was enacted, the government struggles to close holes without the knowledge, staff or systems to outwit an ever-evolving and determined foe. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 760 words, photos, video, graphics.

AP NEWSBREAK: SECRET CUBAN TWITTER-BAN

WASHINGTON — The U.S. global development agency prepares internal rules that would end risky undercover work, such as the once-secret “Cuban Twitter” program it orchestrated, in hostile countries, The Associated Press learns. The new policy follows an AP investigation this year into work by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which established a Twitter-like social network in Cuba and secretly sought to recruit a new generation of dissidents there while hiding ties to the U.S. government. By Desmond Butler and Jack Gillum. SENT: 720 words, photos.

LIBERIA-EBOLA-NEW EPICENTER

JENE-WONDE, Liberia — A schoolteacher brought his sick daughter from Liberia’s capital to this small town. Soon he was dead along with his entire family, all buried in the forest nearby. Now the community of Jene-Wonde has become a new epicenter for the deadly Ebola disease even as the reported number of cases appears to be dropping in the capital. “If the government does not take action, everybody will die in this town,” says one man who lost his son to Ebola. “We are burying two dead bodies today. We don’t know who it will be tomorrow. Every day we have to cry.” By Wade Williams. SENT: 600 words.

NIGERIA-VIOLENCE

POTISKUM, Nigeria — A suicide bomber disguised in school uniform detonates explosives at a high school assembly in the northeast Nigerian city of Potiskum, killing at least 48 students, according to survivors and a morgue attendant. Soldiers rush to the scene, grisly with body parts, in the capital of Yobe state, but they are chased away with stones and calls by people angry at the military’s inability to halt a 5-year-old Islamic insurgency that has killed thousands and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes. By Adamu Adamu and Michelle Faul. SENT: 400 words.

EGYPT-ISLAMIC STATE

CAIRO — Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a jihadi group based in the northern Sinai that has carried out several major attacks mainly targeting Egyptian security forces, pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The alliance reflects the growing regional appeal of the Islamic State group, an al-Qaida breakaway faction that has carved out a self-styled caliphate in Syria and Iraq. By Maamoun Youssef. SENT: 630 words, photos.

ARGENTINA-DRUG TRAFFICKING

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Authorities at a Mexican port are astonished to find liquefied cocaine filling big electrical transformers shipped from Argentina. The interception earlier this year calls attention to a trend worrying Argentina: the increasing use of its roads and ports as a trade route for cocaine and other drugs bound for markets in the U.S., Europe and beyond. By Almudena Calatrava and Debora Rey. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— SYRIA — At least four nuclear scientists and electric engineers are killed near Damascus after gunmen open fire on their bus, a pro-government Syrian newspaper and activists say. SENT: 280 words.

— IRAN — Iran says that it has successfully tested its own version of a U.S.-made drone based on one it captured in 2011. SENT: 290 words.

— RUSSIA-ECONOMY — Russia’s central bank says it is scrapping daily controls on the value of the ruble, allowing the weakening currency to trade freely in financial markets. SENT: 430 words, photo.

— PISTORIUS TRIAL — Prosecutors say their application to appeal against Oscar Pistorius’ manslaughter conviction and five-year prison sentence will be heard in a South African court on Dec. 9. SENT: 390 words, photos.

— IMMIGRATION-ISRAEL BOMBINGS —Detroit jury mulls case of Palestinian woman who didn’t disclose tie to fatal Israel bombing. SENT: 140 words, photo.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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