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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

May 16, 2014

ASIA:

INDIA ELECTIONS

NEW DELHI — India’s opposition leader Narendra Modi appears headed for a landslide win as results began pouring in from the general election, with his party easily driving out the long-dominant Congress party in the world’s biggest democracy. The Congress party, which has been at the center of Indian politics for most of the country’s history since independence, conceded defeat several hours into the vote counting. By Ashok Sharma. DEVELOPING.

KOREAS-SAFETY-SOUL SEARCHING

SEOUL — What does a sudden South Korean media obsession with cars parked next to fire hydrants, and construction workers neglecting to wear hard hats, have to do with the country’s worst disaster in years? It’s a sign of a nation that has been jolted into thinking about safety. One month after the ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, there is a national debate — and spasms of shame and fury — over issues that have long been neglected as the country made its breakneck way from poverty, war and dictatorship to one of Asia’s top economic, diplomatic and cultural powers. By Foster Klug. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 0800GMT, photos.

BANGLADESH-FERRY SINKING

MUNSHIGANJ, Bangladesh — Rescuers have recovered at least 22 bodies after a ferry capsized during a storm in a river in central Bangladesh, officials said Friday. Police estimated at least 100 people were still missing, but there was no clear picture about exactly how many people were on board because the ferry operators did not maintain a passenger list, said a local administrator, Saiful Hasan. SENT: 300 words, photos.

VIETNAM-CHINA-PROTESTS

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam’s prime minister has sent a text message to millions of citizens urging them to act in defense of the country’s sovereignty following China’s deployment of on oil rig in disputed waters, but said that “bad elements” shouldn’t be allowed to engage in violence. SENT: 560 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-CHINA-MILITARY

WASHINGTON — China’s top general blamed the Obama administration’s new focus on Asia for various disputes in the East and South China seas, saying “some neighboring countries” are using it as a chance to provoke problems. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, People’s Liberation Army’s Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fang Fenghui also warned Thursday that the U.S. must be objective about tensions between China and Vietnam or risk harming relations between Washington and Beijing. By Lolita C. Baldor. SENT: 630 words, photo.

UNITED STATES-NKOREA-WARSHIP

WASHINGTON — Recent satellite images show two new North Korean frigates, the largest surface combat ships the nation’s navy has constructed in a quarter-century, a North Korea-watching website reports. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 500 words.

CHINA-TIANANMEN DETENTION

BEIJING — A Chinese lawyer human rights lawyer has been detained amid a clampdown on lawyers, journalists and scholars ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests. SENT: 130 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

TURKEY-MINING ACCIDENT

SOMA, Turkey — With photos of their loved ones pinned to their chests and chanting the names of lost miners, grieving relatives lay their dead to rest in mass burials as gravediggers labor to make room for scores more victims of Turkey’s worst mining disaster. With 283 confirmed dead, the disaster stirs up new hostility toward Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and throws his presidential ambitions off stride. By Desmond Butler and Suzan Fraser. SENT: 900 words, photos, video, graphic.

— TURKEY-ERDOGAN — Deadly Turkish mine disaster is unlikely to scupper PM Erdogan’s presidential ambitions. SENT: 850 words, photos.

— TURKEY-ERDOGAN’S AIDE — A video showing an aide to the prime minister kicking a protester held on the ground by police sparks outrage in Turkey. SENT: 320 words, photos.

— AP PHOTO — ANK156 — A Turkish woman shows photos of her son, a mine accident victim in Soma, Turkey.

BRAZIL-PROTESTS

SAO PAULO — Protesters block key streets and highways, burning tires and causing traffic chaos at the start of a day of planned anti-government demonstrations in several Brazilian cities, many of them protesting the high spending on next month’s World Cup. By Adriana Gomez. SENT: 400 words, photos.

IMMIGRATION

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s new homeland security secretary is offering his first public hints at executive action the administration might take on immigration, suggesting changes to a much-criticized program that runs the names of people booked for local crimes through a federal immigration database. But advocates who have pushed Obama for bold action with immigration legislation stalled in Congress wasted no time in declaring that such steps wouldn’t go far enough. By Erica Werner.

UNITED STATES-BOKO HARAM

WASHINGTON — The State Department acknowledges it could have acted sooner to designate Nigeria’s Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization, answering Republican criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision not to do so two years ago. The Obama administration says freeing nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by the group has become a priority. By Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper. SENT: 750 words, photos.

UKRAINE-THE REALIST

KIEV, Ukraine — The scars are fading. The exit wound — a narrow, pink line that curves down the left side of her neck — is often hidden by her tangle of dark hair. The entry wound is smaller than a bottle cap. And the young woman who became a symbol of Ukraine’s protests — who tweeted “I am dying” after a sniper’s bullet tore into her on a cold February morning, and was suddenly the focus of international attention — sometimes wonders just what it all achieved. “So little has been accomplished,” says 21-year-old Olesya Zhukovska. By Tim Sullivan. SENT: 1,120 words, photos,

SEPT 11 MUSEUM

NEW YORK — Tears in her eyes, firefighter widow Maureen Fanning emerges from the new Sept. 11 museum deep beneath ground zero, unable to bring herself to look at all of it. “I just think it would be a little too overwhelming today,” she says, unsure when she will return. “It’s a lot to digest, to absorb. Not anytime soon.” Victims’ friends and relatives, rescue workers and survivors of the terrorist attack descend into the subterranean space and revisit the tragedy as the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum is dedicated by President Barack Obama as a symbol that says of America: “Nothing can ever break us.” By Jonathan Lemire and Verena Dobnik. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.

STOP AND START GLOBAL ECONOMY

WASHINGTON — The global economy is plodding ahead in fits and starts as the largest countries struggle to achieve consistent growth. Europe is faltering again. Japan is suddenly surging. China is cooling. The U.S. is strengthening. In the background, central banks are aiming to administer just the right amount of stimulus — not too much, not too little. Their efforts have yet to benefit many ordinary people facing job shortages and stagnant wages. SENT: 1050 words, photos.

CLINTONS

WASHINGTON — Bill and Hillary Clinton are fighting back against critics as if they’re on another campaign — the clearest sign yet that perhaps they are. The former secretary of state and her former president husband are defending their records, showing off their health and humor and raising money for fellow Democrats — fresh indications that she has her eye on running for president in 2016. By Ken Thomas. SENT: 850 words, photos.

SAUDI-MERS IN MECCA

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Officials in Saudi Arabia are raising alarm that the kingdom is not doing enough to prevent Mecca from becoming a route for exporting an often deadly respiratory virus as millions of Muslims from around the world converge on the city to perform pilgrimage at Islam’s holiest site. The calls have taken on greater urgency as Saudi Arabia struggles to contain a surge in infections from the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, with nearly every day bringing several deaths and new infections often numbering in the double digits. By Aya Batrawy. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

FIRST AMERICANS

NEW YORK — Thousands of years ago, a teenage girl fell into a deep hole in a Mexican cave and died. Now, her skeleton and her DNA are helping scientists study the first Americans. The research bolsters the idea that those pioneers arrived from Asia by way of a land bridge that has long since disappeared. By Science Writer Malcolm Ritter. SENT: 500 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— SHRINKING JUPITER SPOT — That giant red spot on Jupiter is shrinking faster than ever and astronomers don’t know why. SENT: 130 words, photo.

— CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES — Flare-up in San Diego area fire triggers more evacuations; calmer winds, progress elsewhere. SENT: 520 words, photos, video.

— SYRIA — Car bomb kills at least 43 people in northern Syria near border crossing with Turkey. SENT: 790 words, photo.

— ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS — Israeli troops kill 2 Palestinian teens in Nakba day clashes in West Bank. SENT: 590 words, photos.

—GUANTANAMO DETAINEES — Detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay would have limited constitutional rights if they ever were relocated to U.S. prisons, a move now barred by law, the Obama administration says in a report to Congress. SENT: 600 words, photo.

— CASH IN COUCH — Roommates buy used couch for $20, find $40K in cash; money returned to 91-year-old widow. SENT: 350 words, photos, video.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Malcolm Foster. 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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