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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

January 26, 2015

ASIA:

JAPAN-ISLAMIC STATE

TOKYO — Japan seeks help from Jordan and other countries in its race to save a hostage held by the extremist Islamic State group, with no signs of progress on securing his release. The chief government spokesman refused direct comment on the contents of talks with Jordan, where a Japanese envoy is coordinating regional efforts to save hostage Kenji Goto. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 500 words, photos.

OBAMA

NEW DELHI — President Barack Obama takes in a grand display of Indian military hardware, marching bands and elaborately dressed camels, becoming the first American leader to be honored as chief guest at India’s annual Republic Day festivities. The parade is the centerpiece of Obama’s three-day visit to India, which is aimed at strengthening a relationship between the world’s largest democracies that has at times been fraught with tension and suspicion. By Julie Pace and Muneeza Naqvi. SENT: 770 words, photos.

— OBAMA-REPUBLIC DAY — President Barack Obama’s experience at India’s Republic Day celebration may have felt a little like his two presidential inaugurations. SENT: 660 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-POLICE COMMANDOS KILLED

MANILA, Philippines — At least 43 Philippine police commandos are killed in a fierce battle with Muslim guerrillas after launching an assault in which they may have killed one of southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists. SENT: 580 words, photo.

CHINA-GARBAGE AND POLITICS

BEIJING — To help sell the public on the huge new Lujiashan garbage incinerator, Communist Party officials bused in hundreds of people for special tours, held face-to-face talks, handed out questionnaires. Not exactly what you might expect in authoritarian China, but authorities are recently showing a measured willingness to listen, at least on some issues such as the environment. By Louise Watt. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

THE WEEK THAT WAS IN ASIA-PHOTO GALLERY — SENT: 190 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

AFGHANISTAN-ECONOMY IN TROUBLE

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s fragile economy has lost around a third of its value in the past year as international aid organizations that poured in cash for more than a decade have drastically scaled back after Western forces effectively ended their 13-year war against the Taliban. By Rahim Faiez and Lynne O’Donnell. SENT: 900 words, photos.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES-WEBSITE HACKED

HONG KONG — The website of Malaysia Airlines is hacked by a group that vows to release data stolen from the site. The site was down for at least seven hours, replaced by a message from the hacker group. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 600 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-AIRASIA

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Southeast Asia’s biggest budget carrier AirAsia scraps fuel surcharges on tickets following the decline in global oil prices. AirAsia said the move also applies to flights under its long-haul arm AirAsia X. SENT: 200 words.

THAILAND-THAI AIRWAYS

BANGKOK — Thailand’s coup-leader-turned-premier Prayuth Chan-ocha says debt-laden Thai Airways will not go bankrupt because the government is supporting it. Prayuth said Monday the government was discussing steps to save Thai Airways from bankruptcy and was giving an initial green light to a rehabilitation plan proposed by the carrier. SENT: 220 words.

CHINA-MOTOROLA

BEIJING — Motorola, acquired last year by computer maker Lenovo Group, has unveiled three smartphones for its return to China following a two-year absence from the most populous mobile phone market. SENT: 500 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

WINTER WEATHER

NEW YORK — Northeast residents are girding for a “crippling and potentially historic” storm that could bury communities from northern New Jersey to southern Maine in up to 3 feet of snow. By Verena Dobnik. SENT: 300 words, photos, audio.

ISLAMIC STATE

BIERUT — Syrian activists and Kurdish officials say the extremist Islamic State group has been nearly pushed out of the Syrian border town of Kobani. Expelling the militants marks a major symbolic victory both for the Kurds and the U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group in airstrikes. SENT: 430 words.

EGYPT

CAIRO — The two sons of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak walk out of prison, but their father is still behind bars as Egypt remains tense over the death of almost 20 people during weekend protests. The pre-dawn releases in Cairo came just hours after the deaths during street clashes between anti-government protesters and police on the fourth anniversary of the country’s 2011 uprising that sent Mubarak and his two sons to jail and ended his autocratic rule. SENT: 500 words, photos.

GREECE-ELECTION

ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s Syriza party gained the key backing needed to form a government Monday, creating a surprise alliance with a small right-wing party that signals possible confrontation over the country’s bailout. By Derek Gatopoulos. SENT: 600 words, photos.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA-CHILDREN

CHICAGO — With virtually no hard proof that medical marijuana benefits sick children, and evidence that it may harm developing brains, the drug should only be used for severely ill kids who have no other treatment option, the nation’s most influential pediatricians group says in a new policy. By Lindsey Tanner. SENT: 400 words, photo.

ISLAMIC STATE-IRAQI SLEEPER CELLS

BAGHDAD — “Sleeper cells” made up of former Iraqi police officers and soldiers are tipping off authorities to Islamic State group positions in the northern city of Mosul, a prominent lawmaker has told The Associated Press. Their intelligence could prove invaluable as the U.S.-led coalition steps up airstrikes around Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, to disrupt Islamic State group supply lines ahead of an expected operation later this year to take back the city from militants. By Sameer N. Yacoub. SENT: 525 words, photos.

POLAND-AUSCHWITZ ANNIVERSARY

WARSAW, Poland — As the world marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, some Jewish leaders fear that people are already starting to forget the Holocaust as the number of survivors dwindles. And they warn that the anti-Semitic hatred and violence that are on the rise, particularly in Europe, could partly be linked to fading memories. By Vanessa Gera. SENT: 1,160 words, photos.

SAG AWARDS

Oscar hopes for “Birdman” got an enormous updraft over the weekend with big wins from the acting and producing guilds, possibly sending the comedy soaring over the perceived Academy Awards front-runner “Boyhood.” By Film Writer Jake Coyle. SENT: 500 words, photos, video.

POLICE TRACKING

WASHINGTON — Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. Authorities say one of the technology industry’s most popular mobile apps could put officers’ lives in danger from would-be cop-killers who can find where their targets are parked. By Eileen Sullivan. SENT: 520 photos, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— MISS UNIVERSE — Miss Colombia Paulina Vega, a relative pageant newcomer, is crowned Miss Universe, beating out first runner-up Miss USA Nia Sanchez and contestants from more than 80 other countries at Sunday’s pageant in Miami. SENT: 440 words, photos, photos.

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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.

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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