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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

September 18, 2014



SYDNEY — Police say they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by supporters of the radical Islamic State group by detaining 15 people and raiding more than a dozen properties across Sydney. The raids involving 800 federal and state police officers — the largest in the country’s history — came in response to intelligence that an Islamic State group leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — Indian and Chinese troops face off along their Himalayan border as the countries’ leaders hold a rare meeting in New Delhi, promising to boost economic cooperation and substantially increase Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure. The long-festering border dispute is a stark reminder of the complicated relationship between the two Asian giants as they try to increase trade and investment. By Nirmala George. SENT: 830 words, photos.


SUVA, Fiji — International observers endorse the landmark Fiji election as credible, although most smaller political parties said they would not accept what appeared to be a decisive win for the South Pacific country’s military ruler. The Multinational Observer Group said the result of Wednesday’s election, while still being finalized, would broadly reflect the will of voters. The endorsement paves the way for international sanctions to be dropped, including Fiji’s likely return this month to full status among the Commonwealth group of nations. By Nick Perry and Pita Ligaiula. SENT: 390 words, photos.


BEIJING — More than 30 people had gathered at Beijing’s most august Buddhist temple to remember the siblings, children and parents lost exactly six months earlier when a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared. They found themselves encircled by shouting police blocking them from speaking to reporters or entering the temple as a group. The police response may have looked unnecessarily blunt for relatives already hit by tragedy. But it was only the latest form of harassment that Chinese authorities have used against any group that mobilizes people outside their control, even if they are not aiming to challenge or criticize the Communist Party. By Jack Chang. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.


URUMQI, China — A Muslim Uighur scholar accused of separatism seeks to show that his writings and classroom lectures, including rhetoric saying Chinese are dragons and Uighurs are wolves, were not a campaign to split his native Xinjiang region from China. Frequent government critic and former Beijing economics professor Ilham Tohti is accused of fomenting ethnic hatred and unrest to overthrow Chinese rule in Xinjiang, which has seen an uptick of violent over the past 18 months that authorities blame on terrorist cells seeking a separate state. By Jack Chang. SENT: 950 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — North Korea is not accepting American offers to send a high-level envoy to seek the release of three detained Americans, a senior U.S. official said. Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, told The Associated Press that freeing the detainees could provide a diplomatic opening in ties, also snared by Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons. But he said that Washington would not give into attempts to “extort” political gain from the detentions. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 800 words.


PORTOROZ, Slovenia — An international whaling conference votes against Japan’s plans to resume whaling in the Antarctic next year, but Japan vows to go ahead anyway. A resolution adopted at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia, says Japan should abide by an International Court of Justice ruling that said that its whaling program is illegal because it isn’t for research purposes. SENT: 130 words.


BANGKOK — Thailand’s military ruler apologizes for suggesting that foreigners visiting the country’s world-famous beaches might be unsafe wearing bikinis in the wake of the killing of two British tourists this week. The bodies of the man and woman were found bludgeoned on the scenic resort island of Koh Tao on Monday, dealing another blow to a tourist industry which has been struggling to recover since the army seized power in May. SENT: 220 words, photos.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh’s parliament now has the authority to impeach Supreme Court judges after lawmakers voted to approve a much-debated amendment to the constitution. The amendment passed unanimously in a voice vote of 327-0, with support coming from the ruling Awami League. SENT: 250 words.


HANOI, Vietnam — A Vietnamese court sentences four policemen to up to 17 years in prison for beating a suspect to death, in an unusually harsh punishment for police brutality. SENT: 330 words.


MANILA, Philippines — Philippine authorities say they have arrested 43 suspected members of a syndicate that runs a lucrative online cybersex operation catering to clients worldwide. SENT: 120 words.


INCHEON, South Korea — The proper flag was raised, there were smiles for the South Korean break dancers on stage and gifts were warmly exchanged as North Korea’s team was officially welcomed into the athlete’s village at the Asian Games after a series of controversies that nearly scuttled their trip. The ceremony took place for members of North Korea’s 273-strong delegation to the regional mini-Olympics being hosted this year by rival South Korea. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 500 words, photos.


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean officials say North Korean reporters are using fax and American email services to file stories from the Asian Games in Incheon because the northerners’ websites are blocked in the South. An official from Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the North Koreans have a direct communication line set up for the games to send faxes. SENT: 130 words.



SEOUL, South Korea — A consortium led by Hyundai Motor Co. offers more than $10 billion for land in Seoul’s tony Gangnam district where it will build a new headquarters. The sky high price surprised shareholders who sent the automaker’s shares down nearly 10 percent. The land’s current owner, Korea Electric Power Corp., said the consortium of Hyundai Motor, its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. and auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co. outbid Samsung Electronics Co. in an auction for the 79,342 square meter (854,030 square foot) plot in the high-priced area. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 400 words, photos.


TOKYO — Japan has agreed to cut purchases of eel fry from neighboring East Asian countries by 20 percent as part of moves to protect the endangered species. The agriculture ministry said the agreement with China, South Korea and Taiwan calls for reducing eel hauls by 20 percent for one year, beginning in November. SENT: 220 words, photos.


TOKYO — Japan logged a 948.5 billion yen ($8.7 billion) trade deficit in August, the 26th straight month of red ink, as slack demand from China and the U.S. stymied exports. SENT: 430 words, photos.



EDINBURGH, Scotland — The fate of the United Kingdom is at stake as Scotland begins voting in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage that helped build an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided. The question on the ballot paper is simplicity itself: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Yet it has divided Scots during months of campaigning — and in 15 hours on Thursday the future of the 307-year old union with England hangs in the balance. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 640 words, photos, video, interactive.

— SCOTLAND-WHAT’S AT STAKE — Breaking up is hard to do, especially after 307 years. What’s at stake for Scotland, and what are the practical results of a Yes or No referendum vote? SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-SCOTLAND EXPLAINED — A guide to Scotland as vote begins on ending three-century marriage with United Kingdom. SENT: 640 words, photos.


CAMP ZIOUANI, Golan Heights — For four decades, a multinational United Nations mission has quietly monitored the sleepy Golan Heights — providing a symbol of stability as it enforced a truce between Israel and Syria. But as Syria has plunged into a brutal civil war and the peacekeepers themselves have become targets of al-Qaida-linked rebels, the U.N. mission has begun to fall apart, leaving its future — and the prospects for ever restoring peace in this rugged area of the Middle East — in doubt. By Aron Heller. SENT: 1,160 words, photos.


RIO DE JANEIRO — Front-running presidential candidate Marina Silva tells the AP in an exclusive interview that she taps into deep voter discontent over a broken political system by understanding that reform must come from the ground up. Silva also says she would seek better relations and bilateral trade deals with the U.S. and Europe. By Brad Brooks. SENT: 800 words, photos.


TORONTO — Doctors say Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will undergo 40 days of chemotherapy treatment for a rare and difficult-to-beat cancer that forced him to drop his bid for re-election. By Rob Gillies. SENT: 910 words, photos.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico — After a day of widespread looting of stores, police step up patrolling overnight in the resort area of Los Cabos, where thousands are still without water or electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile. By Alba Mora Roca and Victor Caivano. SENT: 600 words, photos, video.


PACCHA, Peru — This remote Andean hamlet was a ghost town for three decades, inhabited only by the buried bodies of nearly two dozen villagers slain by security forces who considered them rebel sympathizers. Forensic investigators recently came to dig up those the remains. An AP Photo Gallery. By Rodrigo Abd and Franklin Briceno. SENT: 480 words. Photos by Abd.


BOSTON — Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are due in court for a status hearing on motions that include defense requests to move the trial outside of Massachusetts and delay the trial’s start by at least 10 months. Tsarnaev, 21, has pleaded not guilty in the 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He could face the death penalty. SENT: 250 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve has made clear that record-low interest rates will be around for at least a few more months. Enjoy the easy money while it lasts. By mid-2015, economists expect the Fed to abandon a nearly 6-year-old policy of keeping short-term rates at record lows. Those rates have helped support the economy, cheered the stock market and shrunk mortgage rates. A Fed rate increase could potentially reverse those trends. Mortgages could cost more. So could car loans. Investors could get squeezed. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 1,000 words, photo, interactive.


NEW YORK — The scores of new features in Apple’s software update for mobile devices can be boiled down to one word: unity. Many iPhone owners also have iPads and Mac computers, and family members are likely to have Apple devices, too. With the new iOS 8 software for iPhones and iPads, those devices start to act like one. Apps on devices begin to act in unison, too. The free update is available starting Wednesday. By Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 920 words, photo.

— DIGITAL LIFE-REVIEW-APPLE IOS 8 SOFTWARE-NOW OR LATER — Some things to consider on whether to upgrade to iOS 8 now or wait. SENT: 240 words, photo.


— NEWLYWEDS-CRAIGSLIST KILLING — A newlywed Pennsylvania couple who admitted killing a stranger they lured through a Craigslist ad offering companionship are poised to be sentenced to life without parole. SENT: 130 words.

— BRITAIN-ROYAL BABY — Duchess of Cambridge cancels Malta trip due to morning sickness; Prince William to go instead. SENT: 120 words, photo.

— NORWAY-BREIVIK’S FATHER — Father of Norwegian mass murderer Breivik speaks of guilt in rare public appearance. SENT: 480 words, photos.

— WALLENDA-CHICAGO WALK — Spectacle, legacy, showmanship propelling Wallenda high-wire walk between Chicago skyscrapers. SENT: 230 words, photos.

— SCHOOL POLICE-MILITARIZATION — Grenade launchers in schools? School police stock up on M16s, other free military gear. SENT: 680 words, photo.

— FACEBOOK-DRAG QUEENS — Drag queens dress down Facebook over “real names” policy. SENT: 730 words, photos.


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