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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

June 30, 2014



ISLAMABAD — Pakistan launches a ground offensive against militant strongholds near the Afghan border after evacuating nearly half a million people from the tribal region, the army says. The ground offensive is the second phase of a long-awaited operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area, a lawless, mountainous stretch of land in northwest Pakistan. By Asif Shahzad. SENT: 420 words, photos.


SEOUL, South Korea — In the same narrow waterways where more than 300 people died this spring aboard the ferry Sewol, another ship owned by the same company crashed into an oil tanker 11 years earlier. The ferry’s captain had chosen the difficult water path to cut a mere seven miles from its journey. It was among five crashes, from 2003 to 2011, that government investigators blamed mostly on sailors of Chonghaejin Marine Co. ferries. Together, some experts say, they were reason enough for regulators to suspend or even revoke the company’s license. That never happened. Chonghaejin was even allowed to expand by adding the Sewol to its fleet last year. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea demands that rival South Korea cancel annual military drills with the U.S. to promote reconciliation ahead of the Asian Games, which South Korea is hosting and North Korea has said it will enter. The demand, among a set of proposals made by North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission, shows that the North intends to use its participation in the games as a negotiating card with South Korea, analysts say. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 590 words, photos.


TOKYO — North Korea says it is preparing to try two Americans who entered the country as tourists for carrying out what it says were hostile acts against the country. By Eric Talmadge. 630 words.


HONG KONG — An annual protest march in Hong Kong is expected to draw three times as many people as usual, angered by Beijing’s insistence on limiting residents’ say in picking the southern Chinese financial hub’s next leader. Organizers expect at least 150,000 people to take to the streets Tuesday to show their support for democratic reform and oppose Beijing’s desire to have the final word on candidates for the chief executive’s job. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 570 words, photos.


BEIJING — A spreading anti-corruption crackdown launched by President Xi Jinping snares its most senior figure to date when a former top Chinese general was expelled from the ruling Communist Party to face bribery charges. By Jack Chang. SENT: 480 words.


BEIJING — Prosecutors announce murder and terrorism charges against four people for a knife attack that killed 29 people at a train station, part of an upsurge in unrest the government blames on Muslim extremists. SENT: 320 words.

— CHINA-XINJIANG — Chinese courts in the far west, ethnic region of Xinjiang imprison 113 people for terrorism or other charges, according to the government. By Didi Tang. SENT: 460 words.


BANGKOK — Thai authorities say they have revoked the passports of six people wanted on arrest warrants, including two who founded an anti-coup movement in exile, as the military junta continues to promote obeisance to its rule. After taking power by coup in May, the junta has summoned hundreds of people for discussion, interrogation and detention. The six are among a handful who defied the summons. SENT: 370 words.


SYDNEY — A senior member of Australia’s Catholic Church has stepped down from his post after being charged with sexually abusing a teenaged student decades ago, the church says. Bishop Max Davis, the head of the church’s military diocese, is accused of abusing a student in 1969 when he was a teacher at St. Benedict’s College in Western Australia. SENT: 180 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — Rescuers pull six survivors from the huge pile of broken concrete left by the collapse of an 11-story apartment building that killed at least 19 people in southern India, police say. Seasonal monsoon rains were complicating the search, but rescuers said they hoped to find more people alive. SENT: 290 words, photos.


BEIJING — A book importer in China says it scrapped plans to distribute Hillary Clinton’s memoir “Hard Choices,” which talks about Chinese censorship and a dissident who took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, due to sensitive content. Shanghai Book Traders canceled after discovering the content, said an employee of the company, who would give only his surname, Hua. He refused to say which parts of the book the importer deemed sensitive. SENT: 260 words, photos.


MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine anti-graft court enters a not guilty plea for the second of three prominent senators arraigned in the country’s biggest corruption trial in more than a decade. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, son of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, refused to enter a plea during his arraignment for plunder, prompting the court to enter a plea on his behalf. He allegedly pocketed 183 million pesos ($4.2 million) in kickbacks from a scam that diverted millions of dollars form anti-poverty and development funds allotted to lawmakers’ pet projects. SENT: 400 words, photos.


SAN ANTONIO, Philippines — More than 100 Filipino and U.S. marines in assault amphibious vehicles conduct a mock assault on imaginary enemies in military drills on a beach in northwestern Philippines facing the South China Sea, where Manila is locked in a territorial dispute with China. SENT: 330 words.


WASHINGTON — A new U.N. investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka will intensify international pressure on its government and could probe the purported responsibility of senior Sri Lankan officials with U.S. ties. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 1,200 words.



TOKYO — Mixed economic data for May suggests Japan’s economy is continuing to slow after a sales tax increase at the beginning of the second quarter. Government figures released Monday and last Friday showed that housing starts and household spending fell in May while industrial output grew less than expected. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 700 words, photos.



PRETORIA, South Africa — A panel of mental health experts has concluded that Oscar Pistorius was not suffering from a mental illness when he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year, the chief prosecutor at the athlete’s murder trial says. By Christopher Torchia. SENT: 520 words, photos, video.


SEATTLE — Customers can expect high prices, shortages and a dearth of stores when legal marijuana sales start in Washington state. By Gene Johnson. SENT: 900 words, photos.


— EGYPT — 2 bombs go off near Egypt’s presidential palace in Cairo, killing senior police officer. SENT: 430 words.

— GAY-PRIDE-PHOTO-GALLERY — AP PHOTOS: Celebrations throughout the world during gay, transgender pride month. SENT: 150 words, photos.

— BET AWARDS — Nicki Minaj says she was recently near death at BET Awards; Pharrell wins video of the year. SENT: 860 words, photos.

— SEAWORLD RIDE STALLS — 48 stranded for hours as power failure halts San Diego SeaWorld Skytower. SENT: 130 words, photos.


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