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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

December 27, 2013

ASIA:

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber attacks a convoy of international troops in an eastern district of the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing three service members and wounding six Afghans, officials say. SENT: 150 words.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — Thailand’s army chief urges both sides in the country’s bitter political dispute to show restraint, but does not explicitly rule out the possibility of a coup. By Jinda Wedel. SENT: 400 words, photos.

JAPAN-US-OKINAWA

TOKYO — The governor of Okinawa gives the go-ahead for land reclamation to begin for a new U.S. military base, advancing the effort to consolidate the massive U.S. troop presence on the southern Japanese island but also making protests from residents likely. By Ken Moritsugu. SENT: 360 words, photos.

ANTARCTICA-ICEBOUND SHIP

SYDNEY — A ship that has been trapped in thick Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve is nearing rescue after a Chinese icebreaker named the Snow Dragon drew close to the icebound vessel. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 370 words.

CHINA-VENDOR KILLED

BEIJING — A Chinese court sentences four municipal security officers to prison for a clash that left a watermelon seller dead and triggered a public outcry. SENT: 260 words.

THAILAND-BUS CRASH

BANGKOK — A passenger bus has smashed through the guard rail on a bridge in northern Thailand and then plunged into a ravine, killing 29 of the 33 people on board, police say. SENT: 95 words.

INDONESIA-PYTHON KILLS

BALI, Indonesia — A python strangles a security guard near a luxury hotel on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, and then escapes into nearby bushes following the deadly attack, police and a hotel employee who witnessed the incident say. SENT: 250 words.

CAMBODIA-GARMENT WORKERS STRIKE

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Striking workers making shoes and clothes in Cambodia for Western brands block roads and briefly scuffle with police. SENT: 150 words.

CHINA-PEOPLE-JET LI

HONG KONG — Jet Li says he’s being treated for an overactive thyroid, but he’s determined to fight the condition head-on. The Chinese action star known for his kung fu skills discussed his diagnosis during the taping of a talent show he’s judging in China. SENT: 280 words, photo.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO — Japanese consumer prices rose last month, showing that the country’s economy continues to recover. By Yuriko Nagano. SENT: 290 words.

CHINA-GM-RECALL

BEIJING — China’s product quality agency says General Motors Co. and its main Chinese partner will recall almost 1.5 million cars to replace a bracket that secures a fuel pump. SENT: 130 words.

FEATURES:

INDIA-GOLD

MUMBAI, India — With India’s wedding season in full swing, the glass sales counters in Mumbai’s famed Zhaveri gold bazaars are crowded with customers eyeing up elaborate headpieces, nose rings and necklaces. No one does jewelry quite like an Indian bride, who by tradition wears all the gold she can stand up in and her family can afford. These days, though, even the most ambitious bridal budgets don’t bring the bling like they used to, thanks to the country’s steep new gold import taxes aimed at shoring up its trade deficit. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 940 words, photos.

ENTERPRISE FOR YEAR-END USE:

Calling your attention to two AP enterprise stories that were sent in recent weeks and are still available for use during the holiday period:

OLD WORLD-LEGISLATING LOVE

FUSHENG, China — As the daughter-in-law rolls open the rusted metal doors to her garage, light spills onto a small figure huddled on a straw mattress. A curious face peers out. It’s the face of Kuang Shiying’s 93-year-old mother-in-law — better known as the little old lady who sued her own children for not taking care of her. The drama playing out inside this ramshackle house reflects a wider and increasingly urgent problem. The world’s population is aging fast, and there will soon be more old people than young for the first time in history. This demographic about-turn has left families and governments struggling to decide: Who is responsible for the care of the elderly? A handful of countries and 29 U.S. states now require adult children to financially support their parents, although such laws are rarely enforced where the government provides aid. In China, where aid is scarce and family loyalty is a cornerstone of society, more than 1,000 parents have already sued their children for financial support. But in December, the government went further, and required that children also support their parents emotionally with regular visits. The law pits the expectations of society against the complexities of family, and begs the question: How do you legislate love? By Kristen Gelineau. AP photos.

UNIVERSITY POLICE PATROLS

WASHINGTON — The police officers who patrol America’s colleges are empowered these days to do far more than respond to campus emergencies. Campus police around the country are increasingly expanding their jurisdiction beyond school and into the surrounding neighborhoods, blurring a physical town-gown divide that colleges say is arbitrary when it comes to crime. By Eric Tucker. AP photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

OBAMA

HONOLULU — The last vestiges of 2013′s political wrangling officially behind him, President Barack Obama sets his sights on the coming year in which a bevy of unfinished tasks will increasingly compete for attention with the 2014 midterm elections. Obama signs into law a bipartisan budget deal softening the blow from scheduled spending cuts and a military bill cracking down on sexual assault. The two bills, passed by Congress with broad bipartisan support, constitute a modest step away from gridlock, and both parties cautiously hope that sensibility might linger after New Year’s Day. But already, familiar fault lines are emerging as Republicans and Democrats retrench for the next fiscal fight over raising the debt ceiling. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 950 words, photos.

LEBANON

BEIRUT — A powerful car bomb tears through a business district in the center of the Lebanese capital, killing a prominent pro-Western politician and at least five other people in an assassination certain to hike sectarian tensions already soaring because of the civil war in neighboring Syria. The blast, which wounded more than 70 others, set cars ablaze, shredded trees and shattered windows in a main street of the posh downtown Beirut area of five-star hotels, luxury high-rises and high-end boutiques. SENT: 750 words, photos.

— LEBANON-ATTACKS-GLANCE — A look at some recent attacks against prominent Lebanese figures. SENT: 400 words, photo.

CONNECTICUT SCHOOL SHOOTING

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — The planned release of thousands of pages of state police documents from the investigation into last year’s Newtown school massacre could shed light on the world of the 20-year-old gunman. State police say their report, totaling several thousand pages, will be released at 3 p.m. The report “has been redacted according to law,” and includes text, photos and 911 calls received by state police, they say. By John Christoffersen. SENT: 350 words, photos. UPCOMING: Updates from release of documents; then 1,000 words, photos.

CUBA-STRUGGLING ENTREPRENEURS

HAVANA — The dented pizza trays are packed away, so too the old blender. Gone is the sweet smell of rising dough that infused Julio Cesar Hidalgo’s apartment when he and his girlfriend churned out cheesy pies for hungry Cubans. Two years on the front lines of Cuba’s experiment with limited capitalism has left Hidalgo broke and out of work. It’s a fate many new small ventures have met. By Andrea Rodriguez and Anne-Marie Garcia. SENT: 1,600 words, photos.

SOUTH SUDAN-VIOLENCE

JUBA, South Sudan — More than 120,000 people have been displaced by continuing violence in South Sudan, the United Nations says, as African leaders meet in Kenya to find a political solution to a crisis that has exposed ethnic rifts within the country. By Jason Straziuso and Rodney Muhumuza. SENT: 530 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words.

BRITAIN-IMMIGRATION FEARS

LONDON — With work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians set to expire on Jan. 1, Britain’s tabloid press is warning of an influx of criminals and welfare cheats as PM David Cameron scrambles to toughen laws on new arrivals. No one knows how many will actually come, but the anti-immigrant mood being stirred up is strengthening right-wing parties angry about EU rules. By Sylvia Hui. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Michael Rubin. 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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