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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 11, 2014

MALAYSIA-PLANE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — An Iranian teenager traveling with a stolen passport on a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner was trying to migrate to Germany and is not believed to have any terrorist links, police said. The announcement is likely to dampen, at least for now, speculation that the disappearance of the Boeing 777 was linked to terrorism. By Chris Brummitt and Tran Van Minh. SENT: 800 words, photos, video, interactive.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Swedish journalist was shot to death while he was talking to a translator on a street in Kabul, the second killing in two months to strike foreigners in an affluent and well-guarded area of the Afghan capital. By Kim Gamel. SENT: 800 words, photo.

JAPAN-TSUNAMI ANNIVERSARY

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to boost rebuilding efforts as the country marked the third anniversary of a devastating earthquake and tsunami that left nearly 19,000 people dead, destroyed coastal communities and triggered a nuclear crisis. Japan has struggled to rebuild towns and villages and to clean up radiation from the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Reconstruction plans are finally taking shape, but shortages of skilled workers and materials are delaying the work. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 670 words, photos.

JAPAN-TSUNAMI-DIVER

TAKENOURA, Japan — On a chilly morning last weekend, a 57-year-old Japanese man adjusted his diving mask before heading out to sea from the tsunami-hit northeast coast. Yasuo Takamatsu is learning to scuba dive in hopes of finding the remains of his wife. By Emily Wang. SENT: 430 words, photos.

INDIA-REBEL ATTACK

NEW DELHI — Maoist rebels ambushed paramilitary soldiers in a brazen daytime attack on their camp in central India, killing 20 troops in their largest attack in almost a year, police said. The soldiers were stationed there to protect workers building roads in remote southern Chattisgarh state. The rebels oppose the work, fearing the loss of the forests on which tribal residents depend. SENT: 340 words.

MALDIVES-POLITICS

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The United States has criticized the highest court in the Maldives after it sacked the country’s elections commissioner, throwing into doubt a parliamentary election set for this month. By Krishan Francis. SENT: 400 words.

NEW ZEALAND-FLAG REFERENDUM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealanders will get to vote soon on whether to change their nation’s flag, which many see as a colonial relic from a colonial past. Prime Minister John Key promised a referendum within three years, and his political opponents said they would do the same if they win this year’s elections. By Nick Perry. SENT: 500 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-CHINA

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese coast guard prevented delivery of supplies to Filipino soldiers guarding a disputed shoal in the South China Sea and an envoy rejected a Philippine protest over the interference, officials said. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 500 words.

JAPAN-STEM CELLS

TOKYO — A Japanese government-funded research laboratory is considering retracting a research paper describing a simple way of turning ordinary cells from mice into stem cells. SENT: 130 words.

AFGHANISTAN-WOMEN BOXERS-PHOTO ESSAY

KABUL, Afghanistan — A few yellow lamps light up the cavernous, sparsely furnished room where Afghanistan’s young female boxers train, hoping to become good enough to compete in the 2016 Olympics. The women don’t have much more than determination and a trainer who runs them through their paces, watches as they spar, corrects their technique, tells them when to jab, how to protect themselves, when to power through with a left and then a right. By Massoud Hossaini. SENT: 230 words, photos.

BUSINESS & FINANCE:

CHINA-PRIVATE BANKS

BEIJING — Ten companies including Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent have been picked to invest in China’s first five privately owned banks, the industry’s chief regulator said. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 700 words, photos.

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING — China is likely to ease controls on interest rates paid on bank savings within two years and will allow wider use of its tightly controlled currency for trade and investment, the central bank governor said. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 400 words, photos.

BANGLADESH-FACTORY SAFETY

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Inspections of Bangladesh garment factories under a new safety initiative have found cracked support beams, substandard building materials and exposed electrical cables chewed by rats. The pact funded by mostly European fashion brands plans to check some 1,500 garment factories in Bangladesh this year. By Kay Johnson and Julhas Alam. SENT: 460 words, photos.

SKOREA-CANADA-FREE TRADE

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea and Canada reached a free trade agreement that the two governments hope will boost exports and investment. After more than nine years of negotiations, the two countries said they would remove tariffs on most goods within a decade of the pact taking effect. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 390 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s acting president calls for the formation of a national guard and for the mobilization of reserves and volunteers into the country’s armed forces to counter Russian military actions. The move comes as Russian forces have strengthened their control over Ukraine’s Crimea region in the run-up to a referendum on whether to split off and become part of Russia. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 300 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words by 1300 GMT, photos.

UNITED-NATIONS-SYRIA-CHILDREN

GENEVA — The United Nations says 2.8 million Syrian children cannot go to school because of a civil war now entering its fourth year. The U.N. children’s agency says 2.3 million of Syria’s nearly 5 million school-age children are out of school as education and health services collapse, and classrooms are bombed or used as shelters and military barracks. SENT: 120 words, photos.

MEXICO-DRUG WAR

MEXICO CITY — Cartel kingpin Nazario Moreno Gonzalez knew how to play dead. It was the perfect alibi, delivered by the government itself: He had been killed in a shootout with federal police in December 2010. He became even more powerful operating from the shadows, using extortion and intimidation to control farming and mining in his home state. The game ended Sunday in a firefight with Mexican troops. By Mark Stevenson and E. Eduardo Castillo. SENT: 720 words, photo.

CONNECTICUT SCHOOL SHOOTING-FATHER

NEW YORK — In his most extensive public comments about the 2012 Connecticut school massacre, the father of gunman Adam Lanza describes his anguished struggle to comprehend what his son did — an act that “couldn’t get any more evil” — and how he has come to wish that his son had never been born. SENT: 700 words.

SMART ELEPHANTS

WASHINGTON — Wild elephants can distinguish between human languages and they can tell whether a voice comes from a man, woman or boy. Scientists say this is an advanced thinking skill that other animals haven’t shown. It lets elephants figure out who is a threat and who isn’t. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein. SENT: 500 words, photos.

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