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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 4, 2015

ASIA:

TAIWAN-PLANE CRASH

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A Taiwanese flight carrying 58 people turns on its side in midair, clips an elevated roadway and careens into a shallow river shortly after taking off from Taipei, killing at least 19 people and leaving 24 missing. More than half of the passengers aboard TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 were from China and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews clear the mostly submerged fuselage. By Ralph Jennings. SENT: 800 words, photos, video.

— ASIA-AIR DISASTERS — Recent airplane disasters affecting Asia. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— TAIWAN-PLANE CRASH-WHO IS TRANSASIA? — TransAsia Airways, Taiwan’s third biggest airline by fleet size, is reeling from its second major accident in less than a year. SENT: 400 words, photos.

ISLAMIC STATE

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan executes two al-Qaida prisoners before dawn, just hours after an online video purported to show Islamic State group militants burning a captured Jordanian pilot to death in a cage. The gruesome death of 26-year-old Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, captured while participating in airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition targeting the militants, sparked outrage across the Middle East and anti-Islamic State group demonstrations in Jordan. By Karin Laub and Omar Akour. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

— ISLAMIC STATE-UPROAR — By Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 640 words, photos.

— ISLAMIC STATE-HOSTAGES-GLANCE — Captives held by Islamic State group. SENT: 410 words, photos.

CHINA-INTERNET CONTROLS

BEIJING — China announces that users of blogs and chat rooms will be required to register their names with operators and promise in writing to avoid challenging the Communist political system, further tightening control over Internet use. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 670 words.

SRI LANKA-INDEPENDENCE DAY

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation’s civil war five years ago, the president acknowledges in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. President Maithripala Sirisena’s Independence Day speech was a sharp departure from those of his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who typically celebrated the country’s military victory over the Tamil Tigers after a quarter century of conflict. By Krishan Francis. SENT: 400 words, photos.

BANGLADESH-POLITICAL VIOLENCE

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Police accuse Bangladesh’s former prime minister and an opposition alliance leader of instigating a bus firebombing that killed seven people and injured 16 others as political violence surges in the country. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 490 words, photos.

THAILAND-EXPLOSIONS

BANGKOK — Thai authorities issue arrest warrants for two suspects wanted in connection with a pair of small bomb blasts outside a luxury shopping mall in Bangkok that wounded one person. SENT: 210 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-THAILAND

WASHINGTON — The United States will conduct live-fire training at an upcoming military exercise in Thailand despite saying it would be focusing the drills on nonlethal security cooperation, a U.S. official says. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 380 words.

UNITED STATES-CHINA-MILITARY THREAT

WASHINGTON — The U.S. defense intelligence chief warns that America’s technological edge over China is at risk because of cybertheft. Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart also says Chinese military training and weaponry pose a significant threat to U.S. forces in the western Pacific. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 350 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING — China cuts the minimum level of reserves its banks are required to hold in a new move to reverse a deepening economic slowdown. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 250 words.

JAPAN-SONY-OUTLOOK

TOKYO — Sony Corp. trims its forecast of losses and gives a figure for damages from the Sony Pictures hack. The entertainment and electronics giant delayed the announcement of its earnings for the October-December quarter because the cyberattack affected its ability to compile its complete results in time. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 540 words, photos.

JAPAN-EARNS-TOYOTA

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s No. 1 automaker, raises its earnings forecast after third-quarter profit jumped 14 percent, boosted by a weak yen. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 470 words, photos.

TOYOTA-FATAL CRASH

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal jury orders Toyota to pay nearly $11 million to victims of a fatal wreck after deciding a design flaw in the 1996 Camry was partially to blame for the Minnesota crash. SENT: 140 words.

CHINA-WHITE HOUSE DRONE

BEIJING — The Chinese maker of a drone that a hobbyist crashed at the White House says it is taking steps to ensure that cannot happen again. SENT: 230 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

TRAIN-CAR COLLISION

VALHALLA, N.Y. — A crowded commuter train slammed into a sport utility vehicle on the tracks at a suburban New York crossing and burst into flames, killing seven people and seriously injuring nearly a dozen, authorities said. By Kiley Armstrong. SENT: 640 words, photos, video, audio.

ISLAMIC STATE-AMERICAN MILITIAMEN

SINJAR, Iraq — Among the Kurds fighting in northern Iraq against the Islamic State group is 28-year-old Jordan Matson from Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Matson is one of dozens of foreign fighters now with the Kurds, spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty many feel after Iraq, the target of a decade-long U.S.-led military campaign, collapsed under an Islamic State group offensive within days last summer. By Vivian Salama and Bram Janssen. SENT: 940 words, photos.

PENTAGON CHIEF

WASHINGTON — Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s pick as Pentagon chief for his final two years in office, says Congress needs to restore stability to the defense budget and the Pentagon must do its part by ending wasteful practices that undermine public confidence in military spending. The Senate Armed Services Committee opens Carter’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. SENT: 620 words, photo.

FUR’S FUTURE

LIMINGTON, Maine — Economic forces including market slowdowns in big fur-buying countries like Russia, China and South Korea, and a continuing trend toward distaste for fur as a result of animal welfare concerns, mean a dwindling number of U.S. trappers catching fur-bearing beasts in the wild. By Patrick Whittle. SENT: 650 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-CUBA

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s lead negotiator with Cuba is vowing to maintain U.S. support for democracy and human rights activists there as she pushes to restore embassies between the countries after a half-century interruption. An Associated Press-GfK poll finds broad support in the United States for warmer ties with Cuba. By Bradley Klapper and Emily Swanson. SENT: 570 words, photos.

TOO MUCH TV

NEW YORK — For all of the changes in television, none is more profound than the sheer volume of material available now. From NBC’s “About a Boy” to SyFy’s “Z Nation,” there were 352 original scripted series shown in 2014 on broadcast, cable and streaming services. That doesn’t count news, sports, talk shows, documentaries, movies or reality shows. Is there too much choice for viewers? By AP Television Writer David Bauder. SENT: 750 words, photo.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS-DESTRUCTION

PUEBLO, Colo. — The United States is about to begin destroying its largest remaining stockpile of chemical-laden artillery shells, marking a milestone in the global campaign to eradicate a debilitating weapon that still creeps into modern wars. By Dan Elliott. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.

COLOMBIA-EXTORTION BOOM

BOGOTA, Colombia — No target is too small for extortion rackets that are the new face of organized crime in Colombia following the government’s success in breaking up drug cartels. By Joshua Goodman. SENT: 870 words, 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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