BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS
CANBERRA, Australia — Investigators searching for the missing Malaysian jet have concluded that an area where acoustic signals were detected is not the final resting place of the plane after an unmanned submersible found no trace of it, the search coordinator says. The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 finished its final underwater mission in the southern Indian Ocean on Wednesday after scouring 850 square kilometers (330 square miles), the Joint Agency Coordination Center said. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 750 words, photos.
— MALAYSIA-PLANE-Q&A — Questions and answers about the search for Flight 370. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 780 words, photos.
BANGKOK — More than 1,000 Thai troops and police seal off one of Bangkok’s busiest intersections to prevent a planned protest, as authorities say they will no longer allow any demonstrations against last week’s military coup. Truckloads of soldiers blocked all incoming roads to the capital’s Victory Monument in a massive show of force at the height of evening rush hour in an area that serves as one of the city’s commuter bus hubs. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 810 words, photos.
INDIA-DEADLY GANG RAPE
LUCKNOW, India — A group of men, including at least two police officers, raped and killed two teenage sisters in rural India then hung their bodies from a mango tree, authorities say, announcing the arrests of four men. Villagers found the girls’ bodies hanging from the tree hours after they disappeared from fields near their home. By Biswajeet Banerjee. SENT: 410 words, photos.
TOKYO — North Korea has agreed to open a new investigation into the fate of Japanese citizens it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s in return for the lifting of some sanctions, the two countries say. Japan will lift the sanctions after it confirms that a committee has been set up and has begun work, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. It will also consider possible humanitarian aid to North Korea depending on the progress of the investigation, he said. SENT: 300 words, photos.
JAPAN-SOUTH CHINA SEA
TOKYO — China’s moves to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea are giving fresh impetus to Japanese plans to play a bigger role in regional security, adding to the growing strains between the two Asian rivals. Japan says it is exploring whether it can accelerate a proposal to supply patrol boats for Vietnam, which is embroiled in a tense standoff at sea with China after Beijing moved an oil rig into disputed waters. In a similar deal, Japan agreed in December to lend 18.7 billion yen ($183 million) to the Philippines to purchase 10 Japanese-made boats. By Ken Moritsugu. SENT: 300 words, photos. SENT: 740 words.
UNITED STATES-ASIA PIVOT
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama lays out a sweeping vision for U.S. foreign policy but makes no mention of what has been a signature tune of his administration’s diplomacy: the “pivot” to Asia. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 600 words.
WITH: OBAMA-FOREIGN POLICY
WASHINGTON — Just after midnight last Christmas, Pakistani officials say, two Hellfire missiles from a U.S. drone slammed into a house in Miramshah, Pakistan, killing four militants. It was an otherwise unremarkable episode in the sixth year of a relentless unmanned aerial campaign by the CIA. Unremarkable, except for this: There hasn’t been a drone strike reported in Pakistan in the months since. By Intelligence Writer Ken Dilanian. SENT: 880 words, photo.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Roadside bombings across Afghanistan kill 4 people as officials report that a NATO soldier died in a helicopter crash in Kandahar the previous day. The crash, in which 15 coalition service members were injured, happened after the helicopter accidentally struck a communications antenna, an Afghan official says. By Mirwais Khan and Amir Shah. SENT: 340 words, photos.
CHINA-ONE CHILD POLICY
BEIJING — China is preparing for 2 million extra babies a year as a result of a loosening of its “one child” birth limits that will allow more couples to have two children, health officials say. The ruling Communist Party introduced birth limits in 1980 to curb population growth and demand for water and other resources. Most urban couples are allowed one child and face fines and other penalties for additional births. Pressure to enforce limits has led local officials to force women to abort fetuses or to be sterilized, even though such measures are illegal. SENT: 300 words.
BEIJING — A handgun went off during a police safety talk at a kindergarten in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, injuring four adults and one child, police say. The gun misfired during a demonstration and the bullet struck the ground, sending up sparks and cement that hit the arms and legs of bystanders, the city’s Zhengdong police post says. SENT: 160 words.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A Cambodian woman who has been honored internationally for her work against sexual slavery has resigned from the New York-based foundation she founded after reports alleged aspects of her personal history had been distorted. SENT: 130 words.
TOKYO — A Japanese oil tanker explodes off the country’s southwest coast near Himeji port, leaving one of the eight people aboard missing, the coast guard says. Four others are severely injured. SENT: 130 words.
KATMANDU, Nepal — The lone surviving member of the first expedition to reach the top of Mount Everest leads a rally marking the 61st anniversary of the achievement, a day after a memorial is held to remember the 16 Sherpa guides who died in an avalanche on the mountain last month. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 320 words, photos.
SOUTH KOREA-LEBANESE AMBASSADOR DIES
SEOUL, South Korea — Lebanon’s ambassador to South Korea dies in a car accident in Seoul, police say. Jad Saeed El-Hassan was driving his car by himself when it hit another vehicle inside a tunnel, police officers say. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 150 words.
HOT SAUCE CONTROVERSY
IRWINDALE, California — The fiery fight is apparently over between the makers of a popular hot sauce and a small Southern California city that said its factory’s smells were unbearable, after the Irwindale City Council voted to drop a public nuisance declaration and lawsuit against the makers of Sriracha hot sauce. The dual moves brought an effective end to the spicy-air dispute that had Sriracha devotees worried about future sauce shortages and had suitors including the state of Texas offering its producer, Huy Fong Foods, a friendlier home. SENT: 350 words, photos.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE:
THILAWA, Myanmar — Tin Hsan and her husband lived modestly in the outskirts of Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon, growing rice and betel leaves on their 22 acres and peddling vegetables, but they got by, until they were forced to move to make way for Thilawa, a showcase industrial zone being built with Japanese aid. The expansive factory park is part of plans to develop the Yangon region and its crumbling infrastructure. Critics, however, say the landmark project is pushing families deeper into poverty, and accuse local officials of strong-arm tactics to force resettlements. By Aye Aye Win and Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The union representing Malaysia Airlines employees is calling for the resignation of the airline’s chief executive, saying new management is needed to revive the beleaguered flag carrier. The union’s secretary says the state-owned airline has been mired in losses for four straight years and is now grappling with the aftermath of the Flight 370 tragedy. The jet disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 360 words, photos.
MANILA, Philippines — A major earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan dampened Philippine economic growth in the first quarter but the economy is still expected to hit its target for 2014, officials say. The country’s gross domestic product expanded 5.7 percent in the first quarter, down from 7.7 percent for the same period last year and 6.3 percent in the last quarter of 2013. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 580 words, photos.
U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:
DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says 14 troops, including a general, were killed when rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down military helicopter over Slovyansk amid heavy fighting around the insurgent-held city, which had been the epicenter of recent fighting between pro-Russia insurgents and government forces. Meanwhile, an insurgent leader says his fighters are holding four observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, but he promises that they will be released. By Peter Leonard and Alexander Zemlianichenko. SENT: 670 words, photos.
— RUSSIA-NEW ALLIANCE — The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan create an economic union that intends to boost cooperation between the ex-Soviet neighbors, a pact which is at the source of the crisis in Ukraine. SENT: 700 words, photo.
APPLE-BEATS-TECH MEETS FASHION
NEW YORK — Beats Electronics’ colorful, oversized headphones serve as a fashion accessory to cool kids riding the New York City subway, but as tech companies such as Apple, Samsung and others are discovering, wearable gadgets like smartwatches and Google Glass still have a long way to go to become trendy, must-have consumer items. By Barbara Ortutay. SENT: 820 words, photo.
— APPLE-BEATS ACQUISITION — Apple is adding a little hip hop to its step with its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.
— APPLE-BEATS ACQUISITION-5 THINGS TO KNOW — The deal will give Apple a line of trendy headphones. SENT: 840 words.
WASHINGTON — Maya Angelou made an impact on American culture that transcended her soaring poetry and searing memoirs. She was the nation’s wise woman, a poet to presidents, an unapologetic conscience who became such a touchstone that grief over her loss poured from political leaders, celebrities and ordinary people in generous doses. “Above all, she was a storyteller - and her greatest stories were true,” President Barack Obama says. By Jesse J. Holland. SENT: 780 words, photos, audio.
CAIRO — The election of Egypt’s former military chief, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to the nation’s presidency may be remembered for its central irony: He won in a historic landslide, only to shatter his image of invulnerability in the process. The lower-than-expected turnout served notice that Egyptians expect more from a politician than heroic status and that there is already a pool of discontent with the next president. An AP News Analysis. By Hamza Hendawi and Maggie Michael. SENT: 1,220 words, photos.
— EGYPT — With nearly all votes counted, Egypt’s former military chief wins a crushing victory over his sole opponent. SENT: 900 words, photos.
LONDON — The queen’s joints are creaky and her husband has recently battled serious illness, but the royal couple won’t let aches and pains keep them away from a grand overseas commemoration: the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have for the most part stopped traveling abroad — a reluctant concession to their advanced years — but they are scrapping this policy next week for ceremonies in Normandy to honor the fallen who sacrificed so much to liberate Europe from the Nazi grip. By Gregory Katz. SENT: 780 words, photos.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Corruption is weakening Kenya’s ability to prevent a new rash of terror attacks threatened by Somali militants, officials and analysts say. Kenya has seen a long string of deadly attacks this year, including grenade blasts and homemade bombs. John Githongo, a former Kenyan government adviser who exposed millions of dollars in government corruption says systemic graft is at the heart of the state’s inability to respond to the security threat. By Tom Odula. SENT: 660 words, photos.
WASHINGTON — The government issues its second of three estimates of how fast the U.S. economy grew in the January-March quarter. In its first estimate, it said growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate as the harsh winter depressed business activity. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 130 words.
AUTO RATINGS-COLLISION WARNING
DETROIT — The 2014 Chevrolet Impala was the only non-luxury car to earn the highest safety rating in new tests of high-tech crash prevention systems. By Dee-Ann Durbin. SENT: 450 words, photo.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
— NIGERIA-VIOLENCE — Nigeria’s leader vows to “do everything possible to bring our daughters home,” referring to the mass abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls. SENT: 760 words.
— BRAD PITT ATTACKED — Brad Pitt is allegedly attacked but apparently unhurt on the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the movie “Maleficent.” SENT: 270 words, photos.
— KERRY-SNOWDEN — Kerry challenges Snowden to “man up” and face justice; Snowden says he wants to return to the US. SENT: 400 words, photos.
— SPACE STATION — Spacecraft carrying Russian-US-German crew docks at International Space Station. SENT: 190 words, photos, videos.
— FAT WORLD — Almost a third of the world is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis. SENT: 530 words, photos.
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 email@example.com.
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.