BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS
NEW DELHI — President Barack Obama presides over a grand display of Indian military hardware, marching bands, and elaborately dressed camels, becoming the first American leader to be honored as chief guest at India’s annual Republic Day festivities. The crowd erupted in cheers as Obama, along with first lady Michelle Obama, emerged from his armored limousine and took his place on the rain-soaked parade route in the capital of New Delhi. The parade was the centerpiece of Obama’s three-day visit to India, which is aimed at strengthening a relationship between the world’s largest democracies that has at times been fraught with tension and suspicion. By Julie Pace and Muneeza Naqvi. SENT: 590 words, photos.
TOKYO — Japan was working to coordinate efforts with Jordan and other countries to save a hostage held by the extremist Islamic State group. Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the government was still analyzing a video posted online that purported to show one of the two hostages, Haruna Yukawa, had been killed. SENT: 666 words, photos, audio.
CHINA-GARBAGE AND POLITICS
BEIJING — To help sell the public on the need for one of the world’s largest trash incinerators in the mountains in west Beijing, Communist Party officials bused in hundreds of people for special tours. They held talks with residents and handed out questionnaires. Conveying a greater willingness to listen on some issues such as the environment appears to be an attempt to keep public unhappiness in check and maintain the party’s grip on power even as it continues to squash political dissent and censor the media. By Louise Watt. SENT: 950 words, photos.
PHILIPPINES-POLICE COMMANDOS KILLED
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine police have recovered at least 21 bodies of the dozens commandos who were mowed down by Muslim rebel gunfire in a far-flung southern village where they moved in over the weekend to hunt down one of southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists. Army-backed police and villagers also helped take 11 wounded members of the national police’s elite Special Action Forces away from the battle scene in and around the village of Tukanalipao in Mamasapano township, where the government suffered its biggest single-day combat loss in many years, officials said. By Jim Gomez. SENT, 460 words.
MALAYSIA AIRLINES-WEBSITE HACKED
HONG KONG — Malaysia Airlines officials were struggling to restore the embattled carrier’s website after it was hacked by a group proclaiming support for the Islamic State group. The airline’s site was changed, at first with a message saying “404 - Plane Not Found” and that it was “Hacked by Cyber Caliphate,” with a photo of one of the airline’s Airbus A380 superjumbo jets. The browser tab for the website said “ISIS will prevail.” By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 360 words, photos.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Southeast Asia’s biggest budget carrier AirAsia is scrapping fuel surcharges on tickets following the decline in global oil prices. AirAsia said the move also applies to flights under its long-haul arm AirAsia X. SENT: 130 words. SENT: 130 words.
TOKYO — Japan’s trade deficit balloons to a record 12.8 trillion yen ($109 billion) last year as a weakening yen pushed the cost of imports higher despite a moderate recovery in exports. By Elaine Kurtenbach.
US & INTERNATIONAL
ATHENS, Greece — A radical left-wing party vowing to end Greece’s painful austerity program won a historic victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, setting up a showdown with the country’s international creditors that could shake the eurozone. Alexis Tsipras, leader of the communist-rooted Syriza party, immediately promised to end the “five years of humiliation and pain” that Greece has endured since an international bailout saved it from bankruptcy in 2010. By Elena Becatoros, Nicholas Paphitis and Demetris Nellas. SENT, photos.
NEW DELHI — President Barack Obama defends his counterterrorism strategy in tumultuous Yemen, saying efforts to root out a dangerous al-Qaida affiliate there would not be affected by the political vacuum in the country. The U.S. campaign against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is heavily dependent on using drone strikes to take out terror targets. Obama has held up that approach as a model for the military mission against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, which relies on airstrikes instead of U.S. ground troops. By Julie Pace and Anne Flaherty. SENT, photos.
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says intercepted radio and telephone conversations prove that Russia-backed separatists were responsible for firing the rockets that pounded the southeastern city of Mariupol and killed at least 30 people. The attack on Mariupol, a strategically situated port city that had been relatively quiet for months, alarmed the West and looked likely further to aggravate relations with Russia. By Yuras Karmanau. SENT: 850 words, photos, video.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — In fierce fighting that killed more than 200, Nigerian troops clashed with Islamic extremists who attacked Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeastern Nigeria, from three fronts. By Haruna Umar. SENT: 640 words, photos, graphic.
—KERRY-NIGERIA — Kerry urges Nigeria’s leading presidential candidates to refrain from fomenting violence after next month’s vote, and he condemns savage attacks by Boko Haram. SENT: 680 words, photos.
CAIRO — Anti-government protesters fight street battles with police in Cairo and other cities on the fourth anniversary of the country’s 2011 uprising, as clashes left 13 people dead and dozens injured. The violence underscored the continued turmoil roiling the Arab world’s most populous nation four years after the 18-day uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. By Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 870 words, photos.
— EGYPT-PROTESTER KILLED — Images of the deadly shooting of a 32-year-old woman in Cairo during a protest have struck a nerve in Egypt. Her limp body was lifted from the street and carried away as police chased demonstrators. SENT:680 words, photos.
FREE SPEECH-DOUBLE STANDARD?
LONDON — When cartoonists at a French publication that had lampooned the Prophet Muhammad were shot dead, millions around the world felt it as an attack on freedom of speech. Since the Jan. 7 rampage by Islamist gunmen, French authorities have arrested people, including a comedian, for appearing to hail the terrorists. That has brought accusations of a double standard, in which free speech applies to those who criticize Islam while Muslims are penalized for expressing unpopular views. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.
WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is sending clear signs about an expected run for the presidency in 2016. The first-term Republican lawmaker plans to join Senate colleagues Ted Cruz and Rand Paul at a California gathering organized by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, who have a keen interest in the party’s contenders. By Philip Elliott. SENT: 870 words, photos.
— GOP 2016-EVANGELICALS — As Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney court the GOP’s elite donors, some other potential White House candidates to their right are just as eagerly chasing support among Christian evangelicals and social conservatives. SENT: 910 words, photos.
“Birdman” topped the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, winning best ensemble cast, even though star Michael Keaton was upset by Eddie Redmayne in the most outstanding actor category. Oscar favorites Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons cemented their front-runner status Sunday in a ceremony that often serves as a kind of preview to the Academy Awards. SENT: 500 words, lots of photos.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
— IRAQ-ANGELINA JOLIE — Angelina Jolie visits Iraq, says international community ‘failing’ Iraqi and Syrian refugees. SENT: 360 words, photos.
— SOUTH AFRICA-RIOTS — South African authorities re-establish order — for now — in Soweto and other Johannesburg townships, after a week of looting of foreign-owned shops and violence that killed four. SENT: 720 words, photos.
— FRANCE-FATAL AVALANCHE — France finds bodies of 6 skiers day after avalanche hits French Alps near Italian border. SENT: 130 words, locator map.
— VATICAN-SWISS GUARD COOKBOOK — Cuisine of the pope’s soldiers: Swiss Guard shows how world’s smallest army travels on stomach. SENT: 310 words, photos.
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