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BC-AS--Asian News Digest,1st Ld-Writethru, AS

January 18, 2014

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban claim responsibility for a brazen dinnertime attack that kills 21 people at a Kabul restaurant filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans. A suicide bomber blows himself up outside the restaurant while two gunmen sneak in through the back door and open fire. It’s the deadliest violence against foreign civilians in the country since the start of the war nearly 13 years ago. The fatalities include two U.S. employees of the American University of Afghanistan and four U.N. personnel. By Patrick Quinn. SENT: 850 words, photos, video, audio.

THAILAND-YINGLUCK’S BATTLE

BANGKOK — From the inside of her “war room” in a temporary office at the Defense Ministry, Thailand’s beleaguered prime minister is watching television feeds broadcasting images of flag-waving protesters trying to bring down her government. The protest leaders refuse to negotiate. She can’t order a police crackdown for fear of triggering a military coup. By Todd Pitman. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

INDIA-STAMPEDE

MUMBAI, India — Eighteen people are killed in a stampede as tens of thousands gather to mourn the death of a spiritual leader in India’s financial capital. SENT: 340 words, photos.

— INDIA-REBEL ATTACK — Rebels in India’s remote northeast have fatally shot five bus passengers to press their demand for a separate state, police say. SENT: 300 words.

CHINA-OUTSPOKEN ACTIVIST

BEIJING — A state-run newspaper in China accuses a recently detained Uighur scholar and government critic of splitting ethnic unity, while his lawyer says he had received no official word about the academic. SENT: 490 words.

— CHINA-ANCIENT TOWN FIRE — Unattended heater blamed for fire that burned 10 hours and razed ancient town in south China. SENT: 260 words, photos.

BANGLADESH-JOURNALISTS ARRESTED

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A court in Bangladesh has ordered three journalists of a pro-opposition newspaper held in detention on charges of publishing a false story that alleged Indian security forces had joined Bangladeshi troops in a crackdown before the recent controversial elections. SENT: 330 words.

JAPAN-CHINA-WAR OF WORDS.

WASHINGTON — China and Japan are engaged in a war of words that is lighting up editorial pages around the world as Beijing takes aim at a recent visit by Japan’s leader to controversial war shrine, and Tokyo answers back. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 750 words.

INDIA-MINISTER’S WIFE

NEW DELHI — The wife of an Indian minister is found dead at a luxury hotel in New Delhi after a controversy over her husband’s alleged affair with a Pakistani journalist. SENT: 320 words.

ENTERTAINMENT:

CHINA-PEOPLE-CUI JIAN

BEIJING — A Chinese rocker known for his rebellious style will not perform at a state broadcaster’s variety show for the upcoming Lunar New Year after the organizers turned down his song choice, his manager says. SENT: 445 words, photo.

SAG AWARDS

LOS ANGELES — Oscar tea-leaf reading doesn’t get any better than at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. When the 20th annual SAG Awards are presented Saturday night at the Shrine Auditorium, the guild’s choices in acting categories will be heavily scrutinized for their predictive powers for the Academy Awards. By Film Writer Jake Coyle. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1700 GMT, photos, video. Will be updated with arrivals and throughout the 0100 GMT - 0300 GMT show.

— SAG AWARDS-MORENO — Rita Moreno receives SAG’s lifetime achievement award. UPCOMING: 300 words by 0300 GMT, photos, video.

— SAG AWARDS-QUOTES — The best sound bites of the evening from the carpet, onstage and backstage. UPCOMING: 600 words by 0330 GMT, photos.

— SAG AWARDS-LIST — A complete list of SAG winners. UPCOMING: 200 words by 0315 GMT, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

NSA SURVEILLANCE

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s orders to change some U.S. surveillance practices put the burden on Congress to deal with a national security controversy that has alarmed Americans and outraged foreign allies. Yet he avoided major action on the practice of sweeping up billions of phone, email and text messages from across the globe. By National Security Writer Lara Jakes. SENT: 980 words, photo, video.

— NSA SURVEILLANCE-Q&A — Questions and answers about Obama’s plan to rein in NSA snooping on phone records and emails. SENT: 1,400 words, photos.

— NSA SURVEILLANCE-REACTION — What they’re saying about Obama’s speech outlining changes to US spying programs. SENT: 750 words.

— NSA SURVEILLANCE-GLANCE — A look at major changes Obama is proposing in US intelligence programs. SENT: 720 words.

COAL-WATER POLLUTION

WASHINGTON — For decades, chemicals and waste from the coal industry have tainted hundreds of waterways and groundwater supplies, spoiling private wells, shutting down fishing and rendering streams virtually lifeless, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal environmental data. But because these contaminants are released gradually and in some cases not tracked or regulated, they attract much less attention than a massive spill like the one that contaminated water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. By Dina Cappiello and Seth Borenstein. SENT: 1,310 words, photos.

— COAL-WATER POLLUTION-GLANCE — List of toxic pollutants pumped into water. SENT: 120 words.

OHIO EXECUTION

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s latest experience with putting an inmate to death raises new question about the ability of states to carry out executions in constitutional fashion. A gasping, snorting Dennis McGuire took 26 minutes to die after the chemicals began flowing Thursday — the longest execution of the 53 carried out in Ohio since capital punishment resumed 15 years ago, according to an Associated Press analysis. By Kantele Franko and Andrew Welsh-Huggins. SENT: 750 words, video, audio, photos.

— AP VIDEO — A death penalty expert discusses the Ohio execution (http://apne.ws/1gYFYNE ).

EGYPT

CAIRO — Election officials on Saturday will announce the results of Egypt’s two-day constitutional referendum. Unofficial results show overwhelming support for the referendum, seen as key to legitimizing the country’s military-backed interim government after a coup toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July. By Sarah El-Deeb. UPCOMING: 400 words by 1700 GMT, then 800 words by 1900 GMT, photos, video.

IVORY COAST-EX FIRST LADY

ODIENNE, Ivory Coast — The last time the world saw her nearly three years ago, former Ivory Coast first lady Simone Gbagbo was being hustled out of a bunker by armed men, her usually impeccable clothing and hair extensions in disarray. Now the first and only woman ever indicted by the International Criminal Court is holed up under house arrest in a pink villa as Ivorian authorities decide whether to try her at home or send her to The Hague. By Marc-Andre Boisvert. SENT: 780 words, photos.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

GLENDORA, Calif. — A wildfire in the suburbs of Los Angeles is a smoldering shadow of its former self, but hundreds of residents of a foothill neighborhood remain evacuated and extremely dangerous fire conditions are expected to last well into Saturday. SENT: 350 words, photos, video.

POKER TOURNAMENT SUSPENDED

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — An Atlantic City casino where someone may have used fake chips at a poker tournament hopes to learn on Saturday whether the suspended games will be allowed to continue. The first event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open was suspended Friday for 24 hours by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement after suspicions about the games arose. By Wayne Parry. SENT: 400 words, photo. UPCOMING: Update following decision on whether to allow games to continue.

SPORTS

AUSTRALIAN OPEN

MELBOURNE, Australia — Top-seeded Rafael Nadal and two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka look as if they’re in a hurry to get out for late dinners while posting straight-set victories at the Australian Open. By Sports Writer Dennis Passa. SENT: 700 words, photos.

INSTANT REPLAY-HOW IT PLAYS

Major League Baseball made sweeping changes this week to expand its instant replay system. Here’s a look at how increased replay will affect the game for players, managers, umpires and fans. SENT: 650 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— OBAMA — Obama, in weekly address, says 2014 can be breakthrough year for US if nation acts to boost jobs, opportunity. SENT: 140 words.

— AMIRI BARAKA-FUNERAL — Services are held in Newark, N.J., for poet and playright Amiri Baraka. UPCOMING: NewsNow in advance of funeral, set for 1500 GMT; 500 words by 2000 GMT, photos.

— NUCLEAR MISSTEPS — Commander of nuke unit in cheating scandal says the setback has left his unit ‘brokenhearted.’ SENT: 450 words.

— MICHELLE OBAMA — Michelle Obama hits half-century mark; dance party at White House on Saturday to celebrate. SENT: 530 words, photo, video.

— PLAYBOY-HARPERS-LAWSUIT — Playboy sues Hearst magazine Harper’s Bazaar over its online use of photos of model Kate Moss. SENT: 130 words.

— SUNDANCE-FIRST LOOK-LAGGIES — Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz face struggles of growing up in ‘Laggies’ seen at Sundance. SENT: 220 words, photos.

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