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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

November 12, 2014



BEIJING — Following an intense two days of talks, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping unveil an array of agreements on climate change, military cooperation and trade as they seek to overcome persistent tensions between the world’s two largest economies. Areas of discord still bubbled to the surface during their rare joint news conference in the heart of the Chinese capital. Obama gently pressed Xi on human rights and rejected rumors that the U.S. is fueling pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, while the Chinese president repeatedly reminded his American guest that his nation wants to be seen as an equal to the United States. By Julie Pace. SENT: 950 words, photos.


BEIJING — A groundbreaking agreement struck by the United States and China is putting the world’s two worst polluters on a faster track to curbing the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. With the clock ticking on a worldwide climate treaty, the two countries are seeking to put their troubled history as environmental adversaries behind them in hopes that other nations will be spurred to take equally aggressive action. The U.S., a chief proponent of the prospective treaty, is setting an ambitious new goal to stop pumping as much carbon dioxide into the air. China, whose appetite for cheap energy has grown along with its burgeoning economy, agreed for the first time to a self-imposed deadline for when its emissions will top out. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 1,010 words, photos.

— CLIMATE CHANGE-GLANCE — What’s in the new targets set by US and China to cut or limit greenhouse gas emissions. SENT: 310 words.

— CHINA-HUMAN RIGHTS — Chinese President Xi Jinping says China has made enormous progress on human rights, but acknowledges there’s always room for improvement. SENT: 140 words.

— OBAMA-HONG KONG — President Barack Obama says the U.S. had no role in fostering pro-democracy protests that have shut down parts of Hong Kong for six weeks, denying allegations in Chinese state media. Washington has no desire to get involved in the dispute between demonstrators and authorities over procedures for nominating candidates for the Chinese territory’s next chief executive, Obama told reporters. SENT: 450 words, photos.

— UNITED STATES-CHINA-VISAS — For his job with IBM, Yang Bo has so far traveled to the United States at least 10 times — and is heading to North Carolina soon for more meetings. Li Aiqi is preparing to start her bachelor’s degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology. And Ye Peng, an English teacher in Beijing, wants to take four of her elementary school students to San Jose to take classes with Americans kids. On Wednesday, they were among 11 people given the first-ever U.S. visas to let Chinese citizens travel back and forth to the United States for up to 10 years. In a new agreement, announced this week during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Beijing will issue similar visas to Americans looking to make repeated trips to China. By Lara Jakes. SENT: 480 words, photos.


BEIJING — When President Barack Obama arrives in Myanmar’s remote capital, he will confront a nation backsliding in its pledges to enact economic and political reforms that were rewarded with U.S. sanctions relief and made the long-isolated country a darling of Obama’s efforts to stake out a legacy in Asia. The optimism over Myanmar’s unexpected shift from military rule has subsided as reforms slow. The country’s pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi remains ineligible for next year’s presidential elections because of constitutional rules designed to block her. And Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims face escalated attacks and persecution in the largely Buddhist nation. By Julie Pace. SENT: 490 words.

— MYANMAR-EAST ASIA SUMMIT — President Barack Obama and other world leaders gather in Myanmar this week for wide-ranging talks that will include everything from the intractable territorial disputes in the South China Sea to the deadly Ebola virus. The meetings began Wednesday between presidents and prime ministers from Southeast Asia and will be expanded Thursday to include leaders from the China, India, South Korea and Thailand among others. There are no planned news briefings — though that could change — and any interviews with officials need to be pre-approved with the Myanmar government and conducted in specified rooms. SENT: 690 words, photos.


YANGON, Myanmar — Staff hired to work with the U.S. government’s aid agency in Myanmar are preparing to move out of their office following revelations their landlord is a notorious former spymaster who oversaw the imprisonment and torture of thousands of pro-democracy activists. The debacle surrounding Development Alternatives Inc., a company contracted by USAID to deliver humanitarian programs, highlights the contradictions ensnaring foreign donors who flocked to the country after reclusive military leaders ended a half-century of iron-fisted rule and self-imposed isolation. By Robin McDowell. SENT: 980 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — A team of doctors rushes to central India after at least 12 women died and dozens of others fell ill following sterilization surgeries in a free, nationwide program aimed at limiting births in the world’s second-most populous nation. The case highlights the risks women face in reproductive health in a country struggling with high population growth and widespread poverty. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 910 words, photos.


OKUMA, Japan — More than three years into Japan’s massive cleanup of the tsunami-damaged nuclear plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on the key tasks of dismantling the broken reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods. Instead, nearly all the workers are devoted to a single, enormously distracting problem: coping with the vast amount of water that becomes contaminated after it is pumped into the reactors to keep the melted radioactive fuel inside from overheating. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 960 words, photos.


TOKYO — A man dies after setting himself on fire in a public park in apparent protest over Japan’s military policies, media reports say. SENT: 210 words.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan hit a record high this year, rising by 7 percent over the 2013 figure and accounting for 90 percent of the world’s heroin supply, officials and the United Nations say. The U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report that the increased cultivation could produce 6,400 tons of opium, or 17 percent more than in 2013. SENT: 360 words, photos.


DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — A spokesman for a small Pakistani militant group claims that a delegation from the Islamic State group has visited Jundallah’s leaders in southwestern Pakistan. SENT: 140 words.


MANILA, Philippines — More than 130 Filipino soldiers and police back home from peacekeeping duties in Liberia are headed to an island quarantine as a precaution against the Ebola virus. Although they passed rigid U.N. Ebola screening before they left the West African nation, they will still spend another 21 days on Caballo Island at the mouth of Manila Bay, the military said. SENT: 190 words.



BEIJING — China’s largest Internet retailer rang up more than $9 billion during the country’s biggest online shopping holiday, smashing last year’s figure to set a record for a single day of sales. Analysts said the “Singles Day” figures from e-commerce giant Alibaba show a continuing shift to online shopping over brick-and-mortar stores at a time of slowing economic growth in China. By Didi Tang. SENT: 380 words, photos.



DARMSTADT, Germany — The European Space Agency’s unmanned Rosetta probe successfully releases a lander toward the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, putting it on its final seven-hour journey to a historic rendezvous with the fast-moving lump of dust and ice. By Frank Jordans And Christoph Noelting. SENT: 440 words, photos.

— COMET LANDING-TIMELINE — A look at key moments in the space probe Rosetta’s 10-year journey to link up with comet 67P. SENT: 290 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The government is getting near-daily reports — and sometimes two or three a day — of drones flying near airplanes and helicopters or close to airports without permission, federal and industry officials tell The Associated Press. It’s a sharp increase from just two years ago when such reports were still unusual. “So far we’ve been lucky because if these things are operating in the sky unregulated, unmonitored and uncontrolled, the possibility of a close proximity event or even a collision has to be of huge concern,” a former airline training captain says. By Joan Lowy. SENT: 990 words, photos.


CAIRO — Egypt is gearing up for parliamentary elections, the second since the 2011 uprising. But with the once-triumphant Muslim Brotherhood now banned and a new military-backed government suppressing public expression, analysts and activists say the next legislature is likely to be a rubber-stamp body that further solidifies the power of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Among many Egyptians seeking stability, there’s now a deep hostility to any political activity or criticism that rocks the boat. By Merrit Kennedy. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.


LOS GATOS, Calif. — Skateboarding is going airborne this fall with the launch of the first real commercially marketed hoverboard which uses magnetics to float about an inch off the ground. The creators envision their technology someday being used to transport large containers or hold buildings above earthquakes as the ground shakes below. But for now it’s all about fun. SENT: 490 words, photos, video.


WASHINGTON — Health workers on the front line of the Ebola crisis say the need for urgent help isn’t letting up, as Congress begins considering President Barack Obama’s $6.2 billion emergency aid request. Despite reports that the number of infections is slowing in some parts of West Africa, cases still are rising in other areas — and aid organizations say thousands of health care workers are needed to treat Ebola over the next few months. But even with increasing global attention to the epidemic, it takes time to train new health workers, build field hospitals and buy protective equipment for doctors and nurses. By Lauran Neergaard and Sarah DiLorenzo. SENT: 750 words.


RAMALLAH, West Bank — An attack against a mosque in a West Bank village ignites a fire that destroys its first floor. The village’s mayor is blaming Jewish settlers for the attack. In a related incident, Israeli police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an ancient synagogue in the Israeli-Arab town of Shfaram late on Tuesday night, causing light damage.The attacks come as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are soaring, mostly against the background of competing claims to a holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City. By Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 610 words, photos.

— FRANCE-PALESTINIANS — French parliament to vote on symbolic resolution favoring recognition of Palestinian state. SENT: 130 words.


HAVANA — A record number of Cuban-born dancers will be returning to this year’s International Havana Ballet Festival, the continent’s most important classical dance event. Observers credit a relaxed policy by Cuba’s dance mavens, who once took a hard line on anyone who left the island for foreign companies. It’s a risky approach to an ongoing dancer drain: returning ballerinas enrich Cuban dance with new techniques, but are living illustrations of the lures of better-paid careers overseas. By Andrea Rodriguez. SENT: 800 words, photos.

G-20-BRIEFING-GLOBAL GROWTH SYDNEY — The buzzword surrounding this weekend’s G-20 summit is “global growth” — and there is pressure on the group’s delegates to deliver on their ambitious plan to boost the world’s GDP by more than $2 trillion. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 350 words.


— NETHERLANDS-BLACK PETE — Highest Dutch sidesteps debate on whether Dutch ‘Black Pete’ character is racist stereotype. SENT: 330 words, photos.

— BANKS-FINES — Regulators fine five global banks more than $3 billion for attempted foreign exchange manipulation. SENT: 830 words.

— WORLD SERIES OF POKER — Swedish poker pro Martin Jacobson wins $10 million World Series of Poker prize. SENT: 730 words, photos.


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