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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

December 3, 2013

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — Anti-government protesters break through a gate and force their way into the prime minister’s office compound as police stood by and watched. Hundreds of protesters poured onto the lawn of Government House, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles. Earlier Tuesday, police used cranes to lift the barriers at Bangkok city police headquarters and then let protesters walk past police lines up to the Government House. The unexpected reversal of strategy by the government comes after three days of bitter clashes between police and protesters who want to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government. She was not in her office. By Todd Pitman and Jinda Wedel. SENT: 500 words, UPCOMING: 900 words, photos.

BIDEN-ASIA

TOKYO — Hours after touching down in Asia on a long-planned trip, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is being pulled into a messy territorial spat between China and its neighbors. Biden is meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose government is pressing the U.S. to more actively take Japan’s side in an escalating dispute over China’s new air defense zone above a set of contested islands in the East China Sea. SENT: 840 words, photos, video.

CHINA-NOBEL

BEIJING — The wife of Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, depressed from being forcibly sequestered at home alone for the past three years by state security, is issuing a few humble requests: Let her see a doctor independently. Read her husband’s letters. Make a living. The requests conveyed Tuesday by a close friend depict the psychological, emotional and financial pressure Chinese authorities have imposed on Liu Xia, a soft-spoken poet, in retaliation for her jailed husband Liu Xiaobo’s activism. SENT: 130 words, UPCOMING: 400 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-CHINA AIRSPACE

MANILA, Philippines — China has a sovereign right to establish a maritime air defense zone over another region as it did in the East China Sea, the Chinese envoy to the Philippines said. The United States and key Asian allies have not honored the East China Sea zone, which was announced Nov. 23 and is seen primarily as a bid to bolster China’s claim over uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The Philippines is locked in another territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 450 words, photos.

INDIA-DELHI ELECTION

NEW DELHI — A new political party could play spoiler between India’s traditional rivals in elections in the capital. Nearly 12 million people are expected to choose representatives to the 70-member Delhi Assembly in polls that are a significant bellwether for general elections next year. SENT: 110 words.

KASHMIR-FIGHTING

SRINAGAR, India — An Indian army spokesman says government forces killed three suspected rebels in a 12-hour gunbattle in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. SENT: 130 words.

FEATURES:

NKOREA-DETAINED AMERICAN

SEOUL — Six decades before he went to North Korea as a curious tourist, Merrill Newman supervised a group of South Korean guerrillas during the Korean War who were perhaps the most hated and feared fighters in North Korea, former members of the group say. Some of those guerrillas, interviewed this week by The Associated Press, remember Newman as a handsome, thin American lieutenant who got them rice, clothes and weapons during the later stages of the 1950-53 war, but largely left the fighting to them. North Korea apparently remembered him, too. The 85-year-old war veteran has been detained in Pyongyang since being forced off a plane set to leave the country Oct. 26 after a 10-day trip. He appeared this weekend on North Korean state TV apologizing for alleged wartime crimes in what was widely seen as a coerced statement. SENT: 900 words, photo.

JAPAN-ENDANGERED FOOD

TOKYO — Washoku, the traditional cuisine of Japan, is being considered for designation as part of the world’s priceless cultural heritage by the U.N. this week. But even as sushi and sake booms worldwide, purists say its finer points are candidates for the endangered list at home. The younger generation is increasingly eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and McDonald’s, not rice. By Yuri Kageyama. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0700 GMT, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

WTO-TRADE TALKS

BALI, Indonesia — Top trade officials began talks that will either produce an eleventh hour deal that could boost the global economy by $1 trillion or possibly spell the end of the World Trade Organization’s relevance as a forum for negotiations. After more than a decade of inertia in WTO talks, negotiators are close to a slimmed-down deal but there is no finished document for the dozens of trade ministers attending a summit on the Indonesia resort island of Bali to sign. So close to an agreement, some have been urging the trade ministers to take the unusual step of completing the negotiations themselves. SENT: 800 words.

WORLD MARKETS

MANILA, Philippines — Asian stock markets outside Japan mostly slid as investors awaited a slew of U.S. economic data this week to gauge when the Federal Reserve will start reducing its monetary stimulus. SENT: 400 words.

AMAZON-DRONE DELIVERY

NEW YORK — Amazon is working on a way to get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less — via a self-guided drone. Amazon.com Inc. says it’s working on the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project but it will take years to advance the technology and for the Federal Aviation Administration to create the necessary rules and regulations. SENT: 1,150 words. By Scott Mayerowitz.

APPLE-ACQUISITION

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple has bought Topsy Labs in a deal that will provide the iPhone maker with more insights about the chatter on Twitter. Topsy pores through the stream of conversations occurring on Twitter to identify trends and people influencing public opinion. SENT: 260 words.

CYBER MONDAY

NEW YORK — It’s the day of the online deal. Millions of shoppers were expected to click on items on Monday to take advantage of online holiday deals. But this year so-called Cyber Monday seems to have stretched into Cyber Week or even Cyber Month, with retailers from Amazon to Wal-Mart rolling out online deals since the beginning of November. Early results show online shopping up 18.7 percent compared with the same time last year, according to figures by IBM Benchmark. Mobile traffic, which includes smartphones and tablets, accounted for 30 percent of all online traffic. SENT: 600 words, photos.

U.S. & INTERNATIONAL:

NYC TRAIN DERAILMENT

YONKERS, New York — A commuter train that derailed over the weekend, killing four passengers, was hurtling at 82 mph (132 kph) as it entered a 30 mph (48 kph) curve, a federal investigator said. But whether the wreck was the result of human error or mechanical trouble was unclear, he said. Safety experts said the tragedy might have been prevented if Metro-North Railroad had installed automated crash-avoidance technology that safety authorities have been urging for decades. By Jim Fitzgerald and Frank Eltman.

UN-RIGHTS

GENEVA — A growing body of evidence collected by U.N. investigators points to the involvement of senior Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, in crimes against humanity and war crimes, the U.N.’s top human rights official says. Navi Pillay, who heads the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, says the scale and viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by both sides almost defies belief, and is being well documented by an expert U.N. panel of investigators. SENT: 410 words, photos.

HEALTH OVERHAUL

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s new and improved health care website will face its next big test when a year-end enrollment crunch is expected to hit in a couple of weeks. Until now the main damage from technology woes has been to Obama’s poll ratings, but it will be average Americans feeling the consequences if HealthCare.gov chokes in coming weeks. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 750 words, photo.

GAY MARRIAGE-HAWAII

HONOLULU — Same-sex marriages began in the state of Hawaii with six couples at a Waikiki resort exchanging vows side-by-side in front of a few hundred guests. The state began accepting applications for marriage licenses on its website at midnight. The state Department of Health said it had received 179 applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples by midafternoon. The department said 130 of the couples were residents of Hawaii, while one or both partners in 49 of the couples lives out of state. By Oskar Garcia.

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