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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

May 15, 2014

ASIA:

VIETNAM-CHINA-PROTESTS

HANOI, Vietnam — A 1,000-strong mob storms a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam and hunts down Chinese workers, killing one, attacking scores more and then setting the complex alight, Taiwanese and Vietnamese authorities say, further inflaming tensions between Hanoi and Beijing as they square off against each other in the disputed South China Sea. It is the first deadly incident in a wave of anti-China protests triggered by Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in the long-disputed seas. By Chris Brummitt. SENT: 910 words, photos.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Election Commission says it is “highly unlikely” that the country will be able to hold July elections due to political unrest that has disrupted preparations. The turmoil is highlighted by protesters who forced the acting prime minister to flee a key poll-planning meeting and overnight violence that left three dead. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 830 words, photos.

JAPAN-MILITARY

TOKYO — Citing threats from China and North Korea, a government-appointed panel is urging Japan to reinterpret its pacifist constitution to allow the use of military force to defend other countries. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vows to seek ways to allow the military to do more for the country’s own defense and for international peace. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 780 words, photos.

SOUTH KOREA-SHIP SINKS

SEOUL, South Korea — Prosecutors indict the captain of the sunken South Korean ferry and three crew members on homicide charges, alleging they were negligent and failed to protect more than 300 people missing or dead in the disaster. Less serious indictments are issued against the 11 other crew members responsible for navigating the vessel. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 480 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-ELECTIONS

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan voters will return to the polls next month to choose a successor to outgoing President Hamid Karzai, whose refusal to sign a deal permitting U.S. troops to stay beyond the end of the year has raised security concerns as the Taliban press their deadly campaign of bombings and attacks. The second round of voting is set for June 14 and will likely feature a tight race between two top vote-getters from the first round, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. By Rahim Faiez and Greg Keller. SENT: 560 words, photos.

— AFGHANISTAN — A shootout between Afghan and Pakistani border guards kills one Afghan policeman in a remote southern region where the border between the two countries is poorly marked, officials say. By Mirwais Khan. SENT: 410 words.

PHILIPPINES-DISPUTED REEF

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government releases military surveillance photos of Chinese land reclamation on a reef claimed by Manila in the South China Sea that it says show that Beijing violated a regional agreement not to escalate territorial disputes. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 710 words, photos.

CHINA-TIANANMEN DETENTION

BEIJING — Chinese police take away the aide of prominent lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was detained last week in a government clampdown on activists ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square military suppression of protesters, an attorney says. By Gillian Wong. SENT: 380 words.

CHINA-US-MOB TRIAL

BEIJING — A southern Chinese court sentences a Chinese-American businessman to 20 years’ imprisonment on charges of heading a mob that kidnapped rivals and operated illegal casinos. It rejects his claim that he was tortured by police. SENT: 130 words.

MALAYSIA-TERROR SUSPECT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian police arrest a South Asian terrorist suspect believed linked to plans to attack foreign consulates in India. SENT: 130 words.

HONG KONG-IVORY DESTRUCTION

HONG KONG — Hong Kong starts incinerating its nearly 30-ton stockpile of confiscated ivory to show it’s serious about cracking down on an illegal wildlife trade that is devastating Africa’s elephant population. SENT: 220 words, photos.

JAPAN-DOLPHIN DEFENDER

TOKYO — An aquarium in a Japanese town known for dolphin hunts is being sued by an American activist who says denying him entry is discriminatory. The lawsuit filed by former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry says the Taiji Whale Museum refuses entry to Western-looking people who want to check on a baby albino dolphin it has in captivity. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 480 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-SOPRANO HONORED

CANBERRA, Australia — New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, touring Australia to celebrate her 70th birthday, makes a rule of never discussing retirement. In keeping with the philosophy she says she borrowed from her own theatric hero, Dame Judi Dench, Te Kanawa won’t rule out returning to Australia for an 80th or even 90th birthday tour. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 480 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO — Japan’s economy grew at a 5.9 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, the fastest in nearly three years, as companies and consumers brought forward spending to beat a sales tax increase that is expected to cause a contraction in the current quarter. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 530 words, photos.

NEW ZEALAND-BUDGET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand will become one of the first developed nations to return to a budget surplus since the 2008 financial crisis plunged the global economy into recession, the government says. The spending plans outlined by the government are a turnaround after several years of belt-tightening it said was needed to prevent debt levels rising too high. By Nick Perry. SENT: 730 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-PLANE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia Airlines says its net loss rose 59 percent in the first quarter, hit by loss of revenue from China after the baffling disappearance of Flight 370 two months ago. SENT: 140 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

TURKEY-MINING ACCIDENT

SOMA, Turkey — The death toll in Turkey’s worst mining disaster rises to 282, while hopes fade for 150 coal miners trapped inside the blazing mine. The catastrophe sparked angry protests and shaken the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. By Suzan Fraser. SENT: 770 words, photos, video.

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, video.

— UKRAINE — Ukraine government claims 2 insurgent military bases destroyed overnight in the east. SENT: 260 words, photos.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

LOS ANGELES — Tuzo Jerger was one of thousands told to evacuate as a wildfire ripped across Carlsbad, a suburb north of San Diego. The 66-year-old real estate broker packed files, a surfboard, golf clubs, clothes and photos and sought solace at a friend’s hilltop house in nearby San Marcos, only to see another fierce wildfire break out there and force thousands from their homes. Such was the state of San Diego County, where one wildfire after another broke out Wednesday, driving tens of thousands from homes, shutting down schools and amusement parks and destroying at least eight houses and a condominium complex. By Elliot Spagat and Julie Watson. SENT: 400 words, photos, video.

GAY MARRIAGE

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Gay couples who didn’t get marriage licenses from an Arkansas clerk in the past week won’t be able to when county offices open Thursday, after the state Supreme Court noted that a judge who struck down a same-sex marriage ban last week failed to clear out other pertinent parts of state law. In an unsigned order, the justices refused to put the ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza on hold. Even though it rejected the state’s request for a stay, the bottom-line impact was that marriage licenses will no longer be issued to same-sex couples in Arkansas, at least for now. By Christina Huynh. SENT: 650 words, photos.

SYRIA-LEBANON-REFUGEE CORRUPTION

KAB ELIAS, Lebanon — A Syrian refugee woman heard she could register to receive donated blankets at a grocery store near her camp. But when she went, the shopkeeper demanded a $13 bribe to put her name on the list. It takes her five days to earn that, laboring in the nearby bean fields. As aid agencies struggle to help the flood of refugees in Lebanon, middlemen have worked their way into the cracks of the distribution system, demanding bribes and adding another layer of suffering for those fleeing the war. By Diaa Hadid. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

PALESTINIANS-GAZA ARTISTS

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Gaza Strip is tough turf for artists. An Israeli-Egyptian border blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory keeps them away from an international audience and potential buyers, while the local art market is close to nil. A new exhibit now offers them a chance to showcase their work outside Gaza. By Karin Laub. SENT: 650 words, photos.

SEPT 11 MUSEUM

NEW YORK — The museum built to tell the story of Sept. 11 — in twisted steel and a battered staircase, in artifacts and survivors’ voices — is dedicated Thursday, with survivors, victims’ relatives and first responders joining dignitaries where the twin towers once stood. The ceremony, six days before the museum opens to the public, caps a delayed project that was beset by engineering challenges, fundraising problems, flooding, and conflicts over its content, message and even ticket prices. But officials hope the museum, like the memorial plaza above it, will occupy a respectful and respected place in the world’s understanding of the terror attacks and their legacy. By Jonathan Lemire and Jennifer Peltz. SENT: 510 words, photos.

IRAQI WOMAN BEATEN

EL CAJON, California — An Iraqi immigrant man convicted of beating his wife to death in what police initially believed was a hate crime is set to be sentenced in Southern California. Kassim Alhimidi of El Cajon could get life in prison when he’s sentenced on Thursday afternoon, about a month after he was convicted of killing his wife. SENT: 450 words.

GETTING ATTENTION

— PEOPLE-JAY Z-BEYONCE — New York hotel fires person it says recorded video appearing to show Jay Z elevator attack. SENT: 210 words, photos.

— PALESTINIANS-LIFE IN EXILE — As Palestinians mark 66 years since displacement, UN is digitizing photo archive of the exodus. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

— VENEZUELA-UNREST — Protests in Venezuela heat up as opposition further split over US sanction. SENT: 670 words, photos.

— NEW YORK TIMES-EXECUTIVE EDITOR — New York Times says Dean Baquet will replace Jill Abramson as executive editor. SENT: 460 words, photos.

— GOOGLE-DIVERSITY REPORT — Google planning to disclose the number of minorities, women on its payroll for 1st time. SENT: 360 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.

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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