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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

January 13, 2015



COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Pope Francis brings calls for reconciliation as well as justice as he arrives in Sri Lanka at the start of a weeklong Asian tour, saying the island nation can’t fully heal from a quarter-century of ethnic civil war without pursuing the truth about abuses that were committed. In a show of ethnic coexistence, the pope’s welcoming ceremony at Colombo’s airport featured traditional dancers and drummers from both majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil ethnic groups. By Nicole Winfield and Bharatha Mallawarachi. SENT: 1,120 words, photos.

— POPE WATCH — Pope takes time to meet crowds in Sri Lanka. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— POPE-ASIA-PHILIPPINE FRENZY — Pope mania sweeps Asia’s bastion of Catholic faith ahead of Pope Francis’ visit. SENT: 800 words, photos.


PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia — Divers retrieve the crashed AirAsia plane’s second black box from the bottom of the Java Sea, giving experts essential tools to piece together what brought Flight 8501 down. By Achmad Ibrahim. SENT: 540 words, photos.


ISLAMABAD — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praises the Pakistani military’s operation against militants in the country’s northwest, saying the results are “significant,” but cautions that more work needs to be done. By Matthew Lee and Rebecca Santana. SENT: 920 words, photos.

— US-PAKISTAN-INDIA — Kerry urges India and Pakistan to move their relationship forward through dialogue. SENT: 330 words.


PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A hard-line cleric in northwest Pakistan leads a memorial service for the two brothers who attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, praising their assault. SENT: 120 words, photos.


LUCKNOW, India — A bad batch of bootleg liquor kills at least 28 people and sends 160 others to hospitals in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Many of the victims had gathered to watch a cricket match. By Biswajeet Banerjee. SENT: 290 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — A New Delhi court charges an Uber cab driver with rape, kidnapping and criminal intimidation in a case that has renewed a national fury over chronic sexual violence in India. Authorities are still investigating whether Uber should also be charged. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 390 words, photos.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s former leader denies allegations that he attempted a coup to try to stay in power after seeing he had lost last week’s presidential election. SENT: 250 words.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s top court sentences two police officers to death by hanging, after overturning their acquittal by a lower court over the killing of a Mongolian woman who had an affair with a friend of the prime minister. The verdict ends an 8-year saga surrounding the high-profile case that the opposition has repeatedly sought to link to Prime Minister Najib Razak. SENT: 400 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan police official says one person died and three were wounded when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Kabul. SENT: 130 words.


KATHMANDU, Nepal — A general strike called by opposition parties cripples life in Nepal’s capital region by shutting down schools, market and transportation. An alliance of 30 opposition parties called the strike in protest of government plans to bring out a draft of the new constitution next week without the agreement of the opposition. SENT: 180 words, photos.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — All international flights to the small island nation of Tonga are canceled after a volcanic eruption sends plumes of ash into the sky. By Nick Perry. SENT: 350 words.


TOKYO — The “47 ronin” samurai who inspired the long-loved saga of loyalty and honor eulogized in films, books and plays are fighting a new kind of battle in urban Japan. An apartment complex is going up next to the curved tile-roofed Sengakuji temple where the three-century-old graves of the ronin, or masterless samurai, lie. The stone monuments, standing barely waist-high, are known here and elsewhere as a humble but proud testament to sacrificing one’s life for what’s right. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 940 words, photos.



WASHINGTON — Just over two decades after lobbying unsuccessfully against the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. labor unions are again voicing strong reservations to a proposed major trade-liberalization deal. At issue now is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a measure expected to call for lowering or eliminating most trade barriers among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. By Tom Raum. SENT: 720 words, photos.


BEIJING — China’s Huawei Technologies Ltd., the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, says its profit growth slowed last year while sales accelerated. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 350 words.


BEIJING — China’s exports rebounded in December but imports shrank in a sign of weak domestic demand. Total trade in 2014 grew just 3.4 percent, well below the official 10 percent target. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 440 words.


DETROIT — Another Chinese automaker is showing vehicles this year at the auto show in Detroit, raising the perennial question about when these companies might sell in the United States. The answer: Years from now, according to carmakers and industry observers alike. By David Runk. SENT: 830 words, photos.



PARIS — Bulgarian authorities say they have arrested a French citizen belived to have links to one of the Kouachi brothers, while in Paris President Francois Hollande led an homage to three slain police officers. SENT: 480 words, photos.

— ISRAEL-FRANCE-FUNERALS — The bodies of four Jewish victims of a Paris terror attack on a kosher supermarket are taken from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Jerusalem, where a funeral ceremony is to be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other public figures. SENT: 300 words, photos, video.


CAIRO — An Egyptian appeals court orders the retrial of deposed President Hosni Mubarak in a corruption case against him, the only case that has kept the autocrat behind bars. But there are conflicting statements whether Mubarak’s release from detention is imminent. If he walks out of the high-security hospital in Cairo, it would be the first time Mubarak was a free man since his arrest following the 2011 uprising that toppled him. By Maggie Michael. SENT: 445 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — A large majority of Americans support labeling of genetically modified foods, according to a December Associated Press-GfK poll. Fewer Americans say genetically modified ingredients are important to them when judging whether a food is healthy. SENT: 710 words, photos.


RAMALLAH, West Bank — After a decade in power, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is no closer to a deal on Palestinian statehood, has failed to reclaim the Gaza Strip from political rival Hamas and is being disparaged by some as a pliant guardian of Israeli security needs in the West Bank. But the typically cautious 79 year old dramatically changed course in the days before this week’s 10-year anniversary in office by signing up to the International Criminal Court, a move many believe is his strategy of last resort with the Israelis. By Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 950 words, photos.


At a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey, 19-year-old Usame Isa dreams of studying engineering. But Isa doesn’t speak Turkish well enough to pass the language proficiency test required for entry at state universities. Many of the 1.6 million Syrians in Turkey after fleeing their country’s civil war do not speak Turkish and cannot afford language classes. A Turkish education entrepreneur has ambitious plans to address this problem. By Edith M. Lederer. SENT: 750 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The transit network in the nation’s capital remained hobbled following an electrical malfunction that filled a busy subway station with smoke, killing one woman and sending dozens of people to hospitals. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident, which happened at the beginning of the Monday afternoon rush hour and led to the first fatality on Washington’s Metro system since a 2009 crash that killed eight passengers and a train operator. SENT: 300 words, photos, video.


— BUS-RIDING DOG — A black Labrador named Eclipse just wants to get to the dog park. So if her owner takes too long finishing his cigarette, and their bus arrives, she climbs aboard solo and rides to her stop — to the delight of fellow Seattle bus passengers. SENT: 170 words, photos.

— OBAMA-CONGRESS — President meets with House and Senate leaders. SENT: 340 words, photos.

— DRUG WEBSITE SHUTDOWN — Jury selection starts for Internet entrepreneur Ross Ulbricht, who’s accused of being the mastermind behind an online marketplace for illegal drug sales called the Silk Road. SENT: 320 words.


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.

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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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