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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

September 1, 2014

ASIA:

HONG KONG-CHINA

HONG KONG — Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers have disrupted a Beijing official’s speech as he sought to explain a decision announced over the weekend to tightly limit voting reforms for the southern Chinese financial hub. The legislators chanted slogans and held up placards accusing China’s central government of “breaking its promise” to let Hong Kong directly elect its leader. Some stood on chairs and pumped their fists, waving signs that said “Shameful” and “Loss of faith.” By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 300 words, photos.

HONG KONG-CHINA’S PLAYBOOK

HONG KONG — China’s communist leaders are pulling out their usual playbook to suppress resistance to its plans to tightly limit the first direct election of Hong Kong’s leader. It is blaming radicals and foreigners and stepping up a show of military might, all things unlikely to go down well in the freewheeling capitalist bastion where a sizeable middle class accustomed to freedom of speech and rule of law are pushing back with acts of civil disobedience. By Kelvin Chan and Christopher Bodeen. UPCOMING: 900 words by 1000GMT, photos.

JAPAN-INDIA

TOKYO — Japanese government and business leaders are pledging support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to modernize his country’s economy. Modi and a delegation of more than a dozen Indian tycoons are visiting Japan, seeking to take ties between the countries to a “new level.” SENT: 130 words; UPCOMING: 550 words by 0700GMT, photos.

SYRIA-PEACEKEEPERS

BEIRUT — Under cover of darkness, 40 Filipino peacekeepers escaped their besieged outpost in the Golan Heights after a seven-hour battle with Syrian rebels. Al-Qaida-linked insurgents still hold captive 45 Fijian troops. The getaway, combined with the departure of another entrapped group of Filipino troops, marked a major step forward in a crisis that erupted on Thursday when Syrian rebels began targeting the peacekeeping forces. SENT: 950 words.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired another short-range projectile into the sea Monday, a Seoul official said, in the country’s latest weapons test made three days after it cancelled a plan to send cheerleaders to the upcoming Asian Games in the South. The projectile flew about 220 kilometers (135 miles) before landing in waters off the North’s east coast, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said speaking on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. By Hyung-Jin Kim. SENT: 240 words.

JAPAN-DISASTER-TOILET PAPER

TOKYO — On national disaster prevention day, Japan’s government is urging people to stock up on toilet paper because more than 40 percent of the nation’s supply comes from a high-risk earthquake zone. The Trade and Industry Ministry is promoting specialty toilet paper for emergency use, marking Monday’s national disaster prevention day. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 240 words, photos. UPCOMING by 0730GMT: 350 words, photos.

NEW ZEALAND-SHOOTING

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A New Zealand town was on high alert as police hunted for a gunman they say killed two people and injured a third at an unemployment office before fleeing on a bicycle. SENT: 360 words, photos.

CHINA-SCHOOL KNIFE ATTACK

BEIJING — Officials say a 40-year-old man stabbed students and teachers with a knife at a school in central China, killing two people and injuring four before jumping to his death. SENT: 110 words.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

BEIJING — China’s manufacturing growth decelerates in August due to weaker global demand and a slowdown in domestic investment, two surveys show. HSBC Corp.’s purchasing managers index fell to 50.2 from July’s 18-month high of 51.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show an expansion. An official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its separate PMI declined to 51.1 from 51.7. SENT: 200 words.

WEEK THAT WAS IN ASIA

A selection of our favorite images from Asia. UPCOMING: 200 words, photos.

US & INTERNATIONAL

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen break a six-week siege imposed by the Islamic State extremist group on the northern Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli, following U.S. airstrikes against the Sunni militants’ positions, officials say. Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi says the operation started at dawn and the forces entered the town shortly after midday. Breaking the siege was a “big achievement and an important victory” he said, for all involved: the Iraqi army, elite troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias. By Sinan Salaheddin. Sent: 750 words, photos.

— UNITED STATES-IRAQ. WASHINGTON — Cities in the United States and Western Europe are being eyed as Islamic State militants’ future targets and President Barack Obama needs to take action, two U.S. lawmakers are warning. SENT: 650 words.

— ISLAMIC STATE-SATIRE. BAGHDAD — Arab satire tries to puncture mystique of Islamic State group as it marches across Syria, Iraq. SENT: 630 words.

LIBYA

TRIPOLI, Libya — The Islamist-allied militia group in control of Libya’s capital has “secured” a U.S. Embassy residential compound there, more than a month after American personnel evacuated from the country over ongoing fighting, one of its commanders says. The Islamist militia’s move likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It also comes near the two-year anniversary of the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya’s second-largest city of Benghazi. SENT: 750 words, photos, video.

GAZA-TRAPPED UNDER FIRE

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The first of August dawned as a day of promise for the Mahmoum clan and thousands of other Palestinians stuck in U.N. shelters in Rafah — thanks to a temporary cease-fire with Israel they could go home for three days. But what started so well quickly turned into one of the deadliest and most controversial episodes in the recent war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. After just two hours, amid fear that Hamas had captured an Israeli soldier, the Israeli military sealed off the Rafah area and began shelling. By the end of the next day, 190 Palestinians were dead, according to a list of names compiled by Gaza human rights groups, including 14 members of the Mahmoum family. By Karin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin calls on Ukraine to immediately start talks on “the political organization of society and statehood in southeast Ukraine.” Putin’s spokesman later says the Russian leader’s remark on “statehood” did not mean he was seeking sovereignty for the embattled region. By Jim Heintz. SENT: 650 words, photos.

EBOLA

DAKAR, Senegal — The effort to contain Ebola in Senegal is “a top priority emergency,” says the World Health Organization, as the government continues tracing everyone who came in contact with a Guinean student who has tested positive for the deadly disease in the capital, Dakar. Senegal faces an “urgent need” for support and supplies including hygiene kits and personal protective equipment for health workers, says the WHO. By Babacar Dione. SENT: 650 words, photos.

PAKISTAN

ISLAMABAD — Anti-government protesters armed with slingshots, hammers and wearing gas masks clash repeatedly with police in the capital as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets with top advisers to find a way out of what has become the biggest challenge to his tenure. Authorities say three people have died and nearly 400 wounded in the clashes. By Asif Shahzad and Zarar Khan. SENT: 770 words, photos, video.

CUBA-MULES

HAVANA — The Cuban government is sharply limiting the amount of goods travelers can bring in to the country in an attempt to crack down on a multi-billion dollar flow of goods that’s feeding both islanders’ needs and many of the new private businesses that have sprung up in recent years. Critics say the move will pull the rug out from under struggling entrepreneurs and cut a vital source of clothes, electronics, food and medicine. The government says it is needed to protect state-run businesses and curb abuses. By Michael Weissenstein. SENT: 1,050 words, photos, video.

POLICE SHOOTING-POLITICIZATION

LOS ANGELES — They were killed in Wisconsin, New York and California. Some were shot on the street. One was killed in a Wal-Mart. Another died after being placed in a chokehold. All died at the hands of police and all have been united by one thing: the killing of Michael Brown. Details may differ, circumstances of their deaths may remain unknown, but the outrage that erupted after the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of the unarmed, black 18-year-old by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the nation. By Brian Melley. SENT: 800 words, photos.

CITIZEN SPIES-ALASKA

WASHINGTON — Fearing a sudden Soviet invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained Alaskan fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens for a covert intelligence network in support of military commanders, according to declassified Air Force and FBI documents. Invasion of Alaska? Yes. It seemed like a real possibility in 1950. This was not civil defense of the sort that became common later in the Cold War as Americans built their own bomb shelters. This was an extraordinary enlistment of civilians as intelligence operatives on U.S. soil. The Russians never invaded, of course. By National Security Writer Robert Burns. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

TESLA-GIGAFACTORY

LOS ANGELES — From the start, little has been normal about Tesla Motors’ plan for a $5 billion factory to make batteries for a new generation of electric cars. It’s not just the scale of the project, the kind of once-in-a-generation jobs bonanza that states are scrambling to land. It’s how Tesla has gone about deciding which state will win. Last fall, Tesla issued an unusual invitation to economic development officials from across the West: Meet us in California so we can get you in one room and present our vision for the “gigafactory.” Months later, CEO Elon Musk announced that his company would prepare sites in two or three states before deciding the location. By Justin Pritchard. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

— TESLA-GIGAFACTORY-STATES, a state-by-state glance looking at what officials in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas can offer Tesla, as well as steps they have taken to keep their offers secret.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION:

— ICELAND-VOLCANO — Lava fountains dance along a lengthy volcanic fissure near Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, prompting authorities to raise the aviation warning code to the highest level and close the surrounding airspace. SENT: 460 words.

— SOMALIA-VIOLENCE — Somalia’s government forces regained control of a high security prison in the capital that was attacked by seven heavily armed suspected Islamic militants who attempted to free other extremists held there, officials say. SENT: 430 words.

— NIGER-BABY TRAFFICKING — Head of Niger’s parliament flees to France to avoid questioning over baby trafficking scandal. SENT: 140 words.

— CELEBRITY CHEF-DWI ARREST — Celebrity chef Todd English arrested on charge of driving while intoxicated in New York. SENT: 110 words, photo.

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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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