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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

June 24, 2014

ASIA:

JAPAN-WOMENOMICS

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s championing of greater advancement for Japan’s well-educated but underemployed women is a mainstay in his arsenal of strategies for reviving the economy. But the uproar over sexist heckling by a Tokyo city assemblyman of a female colleague reflects both greater awareness of women’s issues and the persistence of traditional chauvinist attitudes throughout the echelons of power. By Mari Yamaguchi and Elaine Kurtenbach. UPCOMING by 0900GMT: 650 words, photos.

BANGLADESH WAR CRIMES

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Thousands of extra security officials were deployed across Bangladesh ahead of a verdict against the top leader of an Islamist party charged with war crimes that prosecutors says led to the deaths of thousands during the nation’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. A special tribunal is set to deliver the verdict for Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, who faces 16 charges, including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 330 words, photos.

SOUTH KOREA-POLITICS

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s prime minister-nominee withdraws from consideration following mounting criticism over alleged pro-Japanese remarks he made. President Park Geun-hye had nominated former senior journalist Moon Chang-keuk to replace the current prime minister who offered to resign to take responsibility for April’s deadly ferry disaster. By Hyung-Jin Kim. SENT: 300 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-EGYPT-AL-JAZEERA

CANBERRA, Australia — The father of an Australian journalist jailed in Egypt says his family was stunned by the court’s decision to imprison his son, and Australia’s prime minister vowed his government would work quickly to free the reporter and get him out of Cairo. Australian Peter Greste was one of three Al-Jazeera journalists sentenced by a Cairo court on Monday to at least seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges stemming from an interview with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. SENT: 510 words, photos.

TONGA-CHINA’S TROUBLESOME GIFT

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga — It’s almost 10 a.m., but the barista at this tiny Pacific kingdom’s domestic air terminal has yet to make a single cup of coffee. The absent coffee-drinkers are mainly New Zealanders, the most common visitors to these remote, poor and beautiful islands. The New Zealand airline that transported many of them has packed up and left, and New Zealand’s government is warning its citizens not to use the local carrier. What set off this reaction from Tonga’s wealthy neighbor and longtime friend? A newer, more distant and even wealthier friend — China — and its gift of a plane. It’s a tiny skirmish in a battle for global influence with unintended consequences for this nation of about 100,000 people. By Nick Perry. SENT: 1,280 words, photos.

INDONESIA-PROSTITUTION SHUTDOWN-PHOTO ESSAY

SURABAYA, Indonesia — The mayor of Indonesia’s second-largest city may have officially shut down “Dolly,” one of Southeast Asia’s biggest red-light districts, but the world’s oldest profession is still up and running. Young women in skin-tight miniskirts and heels continue to lure guests into dark rooms days after the closure went into effect June 18. Many of the estimated 1,500 sex workers in the area are protesting the shutdown by Surabaya’s mayor. By Dita Alangkara. SENT: 320 words, photos.

WORLD MARKETS

HONG KONG — Asian stock markets struggle for direction after Wall Street fell for the first time in seven days, in a possible sign that investors were pausing to re-evaluate the market’s recent highs. Japan’s benchmark struggled as auto stocks were weighed down by news of a massive airbag recall. SENT: 340 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — Warning of the “existential threat” posed by Sunni militants, Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. is prepared to take military action even if Baghdad delays political reforms, noting that the risks of letting the insurgency run rampant pose dangers beyond Iraq’s borders. But he stresses military action would not be in support of the present Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. SENT: 1,200 words with photos, video.

— IRAQ-HOW WE GOT HERE — Just 2½ years after U.S. troops came home, Iraq is back in crisis. A look at how we got here. SENT: 1,450 words, photo.

— IRAQ-THE OIL QUESTION — The turmoil in Iraq has thrown the OPEC member’s ambitious plans to boost oil production into doubt, threatening to crimp its most vital economic lifeline. SENT: 970 words, photos.

— IRAQ-NEWS GUIDE — A guide to events as they unfolded Monday in Iraq. SENT: 800 words, photo.

EGYPT-AL-JAZEERA

CAIRO — An Egyptian court convicts three Al-Jazeera journalists and sentences them to seven years in prison on terror-related charges after a trial dismissed by rights groups as a politicized sham, bringing widespread international condemnation. The verdict stuns the courtroom, with one defendant dragged shouting from the chamber as his family broke into tears, and deepens concerns over freedoms under the new president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. By Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 1,100 words, video, photos.

ALASKA-TSUNAMI

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A strong earthquake near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands triggered a tsunami warning Monday, but only small waves measuring several inches (centimeters) hit coastal communities. The National Tsunami Warning Center canceled all tsunami warnings late Monday afternoon, about four hours after the earthquake struck. By Mark Thiessen. SENT: 440 words.

SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Syria hands over the last of its declared chemical weapons to the West for destruction, though doubts remain as to whether all its poisonous gases have truly been removed. The milestone comes amid high tension across the Middle East, as Israel carries out retaliatory strikes on Syria and a Syrian cabinet member warns that Sunni insurgents in Iraq have been funneling weapons to rebels in Syria. By Toby Sterling and Menelaos Hadjicostis. SENT: 840 words, photos.

UKRAINE

DONETSK, Ukraine — Insurgents in eastern Ukraine promise to honor a cease-fire declared by the Ukrainian president and engage in more talks to help resolve the conflict that has left hundreds dead in eastern Ukraine. The announcement came on the first day of talks between a former Ukrainian president, the Russian ambassador, European officials and the eastern separatists who have declared independence. By Marko Drobnjakovic. SENT: 680 words, photos.

— UNITED STATES-RUSSIA — Obama, Putin speak by phone; Obama urges Russian leader to stop backing separatists in Ukraine; Kremlin says Putin urges direct talks between warring parties in Ukraine. SENT: 130 words.

OBAMA

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers of newborns. “Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth — now that’s a pretty low bar,” Obama said at the White House Summit on Working Families. “That, we should be able to take care of.” SENT: 710 words, photos.

IMMIGRATION OVERLOAD

McALLEN, Texas — The U.S. government plans to turn an empty 55,000-square-foot (5,100-square-meter) warehouse in South Texas into a processing facility for unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally, according to construction permits obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request Monday. The permits reveal plans for four fence-enclosed pods inside a corrugated steel warehouse in McAllen that could eventually accommodate about 1,000 children. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. By Christopher Sherman.

CHINA-CREATING US JOBS

PINE HILL, Alabama — Burdened with Alabama’s highest unemployment rate, long abandoned by textile mills and furniture plants, Wilcox County desperately needs jobs. They’re coming, and from a most unlikely place: Henan Province, China, 7,600 miles away. Henan’s Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group opened a plant here last month and will employ more than 300. What’s happening in Pine Hill is starting to happen across America. By Paul Wiseman. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

PENN STATE-ABUSE

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — A report detailing the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case faults police and prosecutors for long delays in bringing charges but finds no evidence that politics affected the investigation. The report blames a three-year time lapse in filing charges on communication problems, an expungement of a 1998 complaint about the former Penn State coach and a failure to take certain investigative steps early on. By Mark Scolforo. SENT: 850 words, video, photos, interactive.

MORMON EXCOMMUNICATION

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church excommunicates the founder of a prominent women’s group, a rare move that brings down the harshest punishment available on an adherent who created an organization and staged demonstrations in a push for women to join the faith’s priesthood, her group announces. As the leader of Ordain Women, Kate Kelly is accused of apostasy, which is repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings. By Michelle L. Price and Brandy McCombs. SENT: 730 words, photos.

WORLD CUP

WCUP-ENDLESS HOLIDAY

RIO DE JANEIRO — The World Cup is in full swing and aside from the great soccer on the field, Brazilians are playing some world-class hooky from work and enjoying a series of holidays decreed by the government especially for matches. Not everybody is happy — there are forecasts business will lose $13.5 billion because of missed commerce and absent workers. But saleswoman Catia Santiago, sunbathing on Ipanema beach, sums up the general mood, noting that while she’ll “take a hit financially” earning up to 50 percent less than normal, “I will have had 200 percent more fun than usual.” By Jenny Barchfield. SENT: 700 words, photo.

— WCUP-ROUNDUP — The Netherlands, Brazil and Mexico record wins. UPCOMING: 600 words by 7 p.m., photos.

— SOC-WCUP-US-PORTUGAL-PHOTO GALLERY — US fans see ‘cruel’ side of soccer in draw with Portugal. SENT: 160 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— OSCAR AUCTION — 1942 Oscar auctioned in Rhode Island; brought a total of $79,200. SENT: 280 words, photos.

— HOPE SOLO ARREST — Soccer star Hope Solo enters not guilty plea after weekend domestic-violence arrest. SENT: 200 words, photo.

— UNWELCOME REFUGEES — A Massachusetts mayor is calling for an end to refugee resettlement in his city, saying Somali families are putting pressure on already strained services in Springfield, a onetime industrial center where nearly a third of the population lives below the poverty line. SENT: 920 words, photos.

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