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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

October 13, 2014

ASIA:

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST

HONG KONG — An angry crowd opposed to pro-democracy protests that have paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for more than two weeks charges barricades used by the demonstrators, clashing with police as they attempted to storm the protest zone. Scuffles broke out as about two dozen men wearing surgical masks to hide their faces tried to forcefully remove the metal barricades that protesters have set up to block off main roads near the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district. By Sylvia Hui and Kelvin Chan. SENT: 690 words, photos, video.

NKOREA-WHERE’S KIM?

SEOUL, South Korea — Where is Kim Jong Un? He’s nowhere to be seen, and yet ... he’s everywhere. From “Saturday Night Live” spoofs to the wild theories of journalists across the globe trying to parse his five-week absence from the public eye, the 30-ish leader of North Korea has captured nearly as many headlines as he did when he threatened to nuke his enemies last year. This bewildering ability to command attention by doing nothing says a lot about the North’s mastery of a propaganda apparatus that puts Kim at the center of everything. By Foster Klug. UPCOMING: 930 words by 1400 GMT, photos.

ASIA-STORMS

HYDERABAD, India — More than 1,000 rescue workers and soldiers clear piles of uprooted trees and electrical poles blocking roads after powerful Cyclone Hudhud slammed into India’s eastern coast, killing at least eight people and demolishing tens of thousands of mud huts. In another storm lashing Asia, Typhoon Vongfong was downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit the Japanese island of Kyushu after battering the southern island of Okinawa. At least 37 people were injured, and authorities advised 400,000 people to evacuate. By Mohammed Shafeeq. SENT: 560 words, photos.

NKOREA-US-MIAS

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War are being neglected and “carried away en masse,” in an apparent effort to pressure Washington to resume recovery efforts that could also lead to much-needed money for the impoverished country. The United States suspended efforts to recover the remains of thousands of U.S. soldiers who died during the Korean War because of the North’s plans to launch a long-range rocket in 2012. The U.S. at the time was just starting the process of resuming excavation work that had been suspended in 2005 when Washington said security arrangements for its personnel working in the North were insufficient. North Korea would have received millions of dollars in compensation for its support of the work. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 470 words.

MYANMAR-HATS OF PARLIAMENT

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — The only question opposition lawmaker U Win Htein asked Parliament last session was for permission to remove his silk turban, saying it was causing him headaches and hair loss. The 72-year-old, known for his irreverent sense of humor, admits he was just teasing. But the speaker shot him down just the same. The civilians elected to Myanmar’s legislature are required to wear hats when taking the floor. The appointed military members are not. By Gabrielle Paluch. SENT: 670 words, photos.

— MYANMAR-HATS-PORTRAITS — The non-military members of Myanmar’s Parliament must wear hats on the floor, a requirement that creates a window into the many cultures that make up the Southeast Asian country of 50 million. A look at seven members of Parliament and what their headgear says about them. By Gabrielle Paluch. SENT: 1,700 words, photos.

CHINA-XINJIANG DEATH SENTENCES

BEIJING — State media say a court in China’s western Xinjiang region has sentenced to death 12 people blamed for terrorist attacks that killed 37 people in July. SENT: 200 words.

SRI LANKA-TRAIN TO JAFFNA

JAFFNA, Sri Lanka — Cheered by tens of thousands of people, a train decorated with banana plants and colorful flower garlands arrives in Sri Lanka’s northern Tamil heartland 24 years after the “Queen of Jaffna” was suspended due to civil war. President Mahinda Rajapaksa bought a ticket and boarded the train for the last 43 kilometers (27 miles) of the journey and opened several railroad stations along the way. By Jayampathi Palipane. SENT: 580 words, photos.

WHO-EBOLA

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization calls the Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times” but also says that economic disruptions can be curbed if people are adequately informed to prevent irrational moves to dodge infection. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, citing World Bank figures, said 90 percent of economic costs of any outbreak “come from irrational and disorganized efforts of the public to avoid infection.” SENT: 410 words.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber targets a NATO convoy in Kabul, killing one civilian, while another strikes an Afghan army patrol in the eastern Nangarhar province, killing two civilians, Afghan officials say. NATO said one of its vehicles was attacked in Kabul, adding that there were no immediate reports of any casualties among members of the military coalition. SENT: 190 words, photos.

CAMBODIA-JOURNALIST DEATH

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodian police say they have detained three men, including a timber trader, believed to be linked to the weekend shooting death of a local journalist who was investigating illegal logging in the country’s east. Freelance journalist Taing Try was shot in the forehead and died instantly at a remote forestry site in Kratie province. By Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 260 words.

AUSTRALIA-RUSSIA

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister warns that he intends to use tough language with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Australia next month in demanding full cooperation from Russia with the Dutch investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in July. Putin has confirmed that he will attend a summit of the world’s 20 biggest economies to be chaired by Australia in the east coast city of Brisbane on Nov. 15-16. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 370 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

INDONESIA-FACEBOOK

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On his first visit to Facebook-crazy Indonesia, Mark Zuckerberg meets the president-elect, spreads the word about his company’s global Internet-access initiative and posts a photo of himself at an ancient Buddhist temple. The Facebook CEO arrived Sunday, when he climbed Borobudur temple in Central Java and posted a widely shared photo of himself atop its stupas on his Facebook page. On Monday he met Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo, who used social media extensively in his campaign. SENT: 350 words, photos.

CHINA-UNIVERSAL THEME PARK

BEIJING — China has approved the development of a $3.3 billion Universal theme park in Beijing that would be the first major foreign-owned theme park in the Chinese capital. The U.S. company Comcast NBCUniversal and a consortium of four Chinese state-owned companies announced the plan, saying the park will be developed on about 300 acres (120 hectares) in eastern Beijing. SENT: 190 words, photos.

SKOREA-KAKAO TALK

SEOUL, South Korea — Popular South Korean messaging app Kakao Talk says it will stop cooperating with authorities seeking to access private messages as part of a government crackdown on online criticism. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 450 words by 1230 GMT, photos.

CHINA-TRADE

BEIJING — China’s trade grew more strongly than expected in September, easing fears of a deeper slowdown in the world’s No. 2 economy. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 500 words, photo.

CHINA-AUTO SALES

BEIJING — Growth in China’s car sales slowed again in September while the country’s own auto brands increased their market share slightly. An industry group said sales of passenger vehicles in the world’s biggest auto market rose 6.4 percent in September from a year earlier, slowing from 8 percent growth in August. SENT: 410 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

EBOLA

Health officials are intensifying the monitoring of hospital workers who cared for the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. after one of them was infected with the virus. The first known Ebola transmission in the nation has raised questions about health officials’ assurances that the disease will be contained and any American hospital should be able to treat it. By Nomaan Merchant. SENT: 680 words, photos, video, interactive.

— EBOLA-WEST AFRICA — Some nurses turning up at hospitals in Liberia despite calls for strike over hazard pay. SENT: 280 words.

PISTORIUS TRIAL

PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius is a “broken man” after killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp because he lost her, his reputation, friends, income and sense of self-worth, a psychologist called by the Olympic runner’s lawyers testifies. By Christopher Torchi and Gerald Imray. SENT: 800 words, photos, video.

THE VOICE HARVESTERS

LONDON — “This call may be monitored.” You hear it every time you phone your bank about your account or a lost credit card. You may realize they’re recording you, but do you know they could be taking your biometric data as well? An Associated Press investigation has found that two of America’s biggest retail banks — Chase and Wells Fargo — are quietly taking some callers’ voiceprints to fight fraud, even as privacy advocates and legal experts question the practice. By Raphael Satter. SENT: 1,010 words, photos, graphic.

—THE VOICE HARVESTERS-GROWING USES — Over the phone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice. SENT: 580 words, photo.

—THE VOICE HARVESTERS-EXAMPLES — Some ways the fast-growing technology is being used. SENT: 440 words, photo.

CLIMATE CHANGE-MILITARY

AREQUIPA, Peru — Defense officials say a report slated for release Monday will lay out plans for the Pentagon to get a better handle on how climate change will affect the military, and determine how best to deal with the challenges. U.S. Defense Department leaders have long warned that the evolving change in climate patterns, resulting in rising seas and increased severe weather events, will have a broad and costly impact on the Pentagon’s ability to protect the nation and respond to natural and humanitarian disasters. By Lolita C. Baldor. SENT: 580 words, photo.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— VATICAN-FAMILY — Bishops acknowledging “positive” aspects of civil unions, say gays and divorcees welcome. SENT: 360 words, photos.

— TROPICAL WEATHER — A strengthening Gonzalo spins toward Caribbean, expected to become hurricane. SENT: 140 words, photo.

— FOOTBALL TEAM-INVESTIGATION — Anti-bullying rally staged in town rocked by sex-related high school football hazing case. SENT: 610 words, photos.

— PEOPLE-PENELOPE CRUZ — Esquire magazine names Penelope Cruz “sexiest woman alive.” SENT: 130 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.

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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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