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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

January 12, 2014

ASIA:

TONGA-CYCLONE

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga — Authorities are searching remote islands for cyclone victims after the most powerful storm to hit Tonga in decades cut a swathe of destruction through this South Pacific archipelago, leaving at least one person dead and several injured. SENT: 440 words.

NEPAL-PARLIAMENT

KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s government has summoned for next week the newly elected Constituent Assembly, a month behind schedule after the president and the head of government resolved their differences. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 250 words by 0630 GMT.

AUSTRALIA-HYPNOTIST DIES

CANBERRA, Australia — U.S. stage hypnotist Scott Lewis has plunged to his death from the balcony of a Sydney apartment, Australian police say. By Rod Mcguirk. SENT: 260 words.

WHITE HOUSE-KIMMEL-CHINA

WASHINGTON — The White House has responded to a petition calling for an apology and the removal of Jimmy Kimmel’s television show by saying the comedian can’t be forced off the air. SENT: 140 words, photo.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

INDONESIA-MINERAL EXPORTS BAN

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An Indonesian law banning the export of unprocessed minerals takes effect Sunday, with the government aiming to boost local operations and create more jobs and mining companies warning of losses and layoffs. SENT: 500 words.

AUTO SHOW-WHAT TO EXPECT

From brawny pickup trucks and growling high-performance cars to economical subcompacts, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit likely will have something that appeals to every driver. A company-by-company look at what to expect at the auto show. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— AUTO-SHOW-DETROIT-IMPACT — North American International Auto Show offers more for bankrupt city than flashier Super Bowl. SENT: 1,360 words, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

ISRAEL-OBIT-ARIEL SHARON

JERUSALEM — His hefty body bobbing behind a wall of security men, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led a march onto a Jerusalem holy site, staking a bold claim to a shrine that has been in contention from the dawn of the Arab-Israeli conflict. What followed was a Palestinian uprising that put Mideast peace efforts into deep-freeze. Sharon — whose career spanned the Middle East conflict from its early skirmishes through five wars, one of which left him hailed as his nation’s savior, and another reviled as its disgrace — dies at 85 after eight years in a coma. By Josef Federman. SENT: 2,600 words, photos, videos, interactive.

— ISRAEL-OBIT-ARIEL SHARON-ABRIDGED — Shorter version of full obit. SENT: 1,500 words, photos, videos, interactive.

CHEMICAL-SPILL-WVA

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On the third day without drinkable tap water, business owners with empty dining rooms and quiet aisles of merchandise around West Virginia’s capital were left to wonder how much of a hit they’ll take from the after effects of a chemical spill. Most visitors have cleared out of Charleston while locals are either staying home or driving out of the area to find somewhere they can find a hot meal or take a hot shower. Orders not to use tap water for much other than flushing toilets mean that the spill is an emergency not just for the environment but also for local businesses. Virtually every restaurant was dark Saturday, unable to use water to prepare food, wash dishes and cookware, and to keep their employees’ hands clean. Meanwhile, hotels had emptied and foot traffic was down at many retail stores. By Brendan Farrington and Jonathan Matisse. SET: 990 words, photos, video.

STREET GANGS-SOCIAL MEDIA

CHICAGO — The video is full of menace and swagger: Reputed gang members point their guns directly at the camera. A bare-chested young man brandishes an assault weapon. They flash hand signals, dance and taunt their rivals as a rapper chants: “Toe tag DOA. That’s for being in my way ...” Thousands watch on YouTube. Among them: the Chicago police, who quickly identify two on the video as felons who are prohibited from being around guns. Both are taken into custody. As social media has increasingly become part of daily life, both gangs and law enforcement are trying to capitalize on its reach. By National Writer Sharon Cohen. SENT: 1,950 words, photos. Also sent in advance.

RODRIGUEZ GRIEVANCE

NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez’s drug suspension was cut to 162 games from 211 by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, a decision that sidelines the New York Yankees third baseman the entire 2014 season. Rodriguez also would be sidelined for any postseason games under the decision announced Saturday. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 1,200 words, photos. UPCOMING: Will be updated throughout the day with reaction, developments.

— Rodriguez-Grievance-Five Things To Know. SENT: 400 words.

MILLIONAIRE MINIMUM WAGE-CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES — Democrats are eager to make an increase in the minimum wage a decisive campaign issue in 2014, but in California a proposal to push the benchmark to a state-leading $12 an hour is coming from a different point on the political spectrum. Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and registered Republican, wants state voters to endorse the wage jump that he predicts would nourish the economy and lift low-paid workers from dependency on food stamps and other assistance bankrolled by taxpayers. By Michael R. Blood. SENT: 1,210 words, photos.

— MILLIONAIRE-MINIMUM WAGE-BIO BOX

AFRICA-VIOLENT 2014

NAIROBI, Kenya — The death tolls are huge and the individual incidents gruesome. One estimate says nearly 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan in a month of warfare, while in neighboring Central African Republic combatants in Muslim-vs.-Christian battles have beheaded children. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a very violent start to 2014, with continued violence also in Congo, and attacks in Somalia and Kenya. By Jason Straziuso. SENT: 770 words, photos.

— MALI-PEACEKEEPERS WOUNDED — 3 UN peacekeepers wounded in northern Mali after attack near military camp. SENT: 130 words.

— NIGERIA-POLITICS — Nigerian ex-president considers withdrawing from ruling party over financier wanted in US. SENT: 130 words.

— RHINO-HUNT-AUCTION — Dallas group set to auction permit for black rhino hunt in fundraiser that’s sparked outrage. SENT: 650 words, photos.

OBAMA’S MIDEAST POLICY

WASHINGTON — Five years after pledging to remake the U.S. relationship with the broader Middle East and improve America’s image in the Muslim world, the Obama administration’s regional strategy appears to have come unhinged. Confronted with fast-moving and ominous developments from Afghanistan to Tunisia amid a growing public power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia, President Barack Obama has been forced to adjust his initial grand plan to restore Washington’s standing and influence to an approach that merely aims to keep it relevant in an increasingly volatile and hostile atmosphere. A look across the Arab world at U.S.-Mideast policy. By Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee. SENT: 1,430 words, photos, video, audio.

—UNITED STATES-SYRIA — U.S. set to make last-ditch attempt to get main moderate Syrian opposition group to negotiating table. But would a no-show be such a bad thing? SENT: 600 words.

MORE ON SHARON

PALESTINIANS-ARIEL SHARON

RAMALLAH, West Bank —Palestinians, who loathed Ariel Sharon as their most bitter foe, distribute candy to celebrate or pray for divine punishment of Israel’s former prime minister. Some say they regret he was never held accountable for his actions. By Mohammed Daraghmeh and Diaa Hadid. SENT: 900 words, photos.

ISRAEL-ARIEL SHARON-APPEAL

JERUSALEM— Many wrote off Sharon after his ill-fated 1982 invasion of Lebanon and a government commission’s finding that he was indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians. They just didn’t get how he evoked adoration among supporters as visceral as the hatred he inspired among opponents. By Mark Lavie. SENT: 790 words, photo.

— ISRAEL-ARIEL SHARON-CHRONOLOGY — Key dates in the life of Sharon. SENT: 810 words, photo.

— SHARON-WORLD REACTIONS-QUOTES — World leaders and others react to the death of Ariel Sharon. SENT: 700 words, photo.

— UNITED STATES-SHARON-REAX — Obama remembers Sharon’s “commitment to his country.” Biden to lead the U.S. delegation for memorial service. SENT: 340 words, photos, video, audio

— ARIEL SHARON-PHOTO GALLERY — Ariel Sharon from soldier to politician to statesman. SENT: 90 words, photos .

SAUDI-HOUSING GAP

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia is quietly planning to raze slums in one of its largest cities to make way for newer, restored neighborhoods as part of a wider plan to keep up with soaring demand for affordable housing. A gap between what is available on the market and what many Saudis can afford has left people frustrated and accusing the government of corruption. By Aya Batrawy. SENT: 1,340 words, photos.

EGYPT-ACQUIESCENT ISLAMISTS

AL-SAF, Egypt — In a striking alliance of convenience, Egypt’s ultraconservative Salafi party is the only Islamist group urging a “yes” vote in this week’s referendum on a draft constitution widely seen as secular-leaning. The awkwardness is evident at some of their rallies, but party leaders seem to have concluded that Islamist president Mohammed Morsi tried to change the country too much, too fast, and the military-backed authorities who ousted him last summer must be constructively engaged. By Sarah El Deeb and Laura Dean. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

BUSINESSMAN KILLED

NEW YORK — A businessman and member of an insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect was led away from his office doorstep in Brooklyn late one snowy night to a waiting van. The body of Menachem Stark was later found smoldering in a trash bin miles away on New York’s Long Island. His family has described him as an honest family man and has offered $25,000 for any information leading to the arrest of a suspect, while investigators delve into a shady network of business dealings and rumors fly about the mystery of his killing in a community known for its secrecy. By Colleen Long. SENT: 900 words.

TECHNOLOGY

GADGET SHOW-3D PRINTING

LAS VEGAS —Some of the oddest items on display this week at International Consumer Electronics Show were edible, origami-like sculptures made of sugar, their shapes so convoluted as to baffle the eye. The treats are one of many signs that we’ll all be getting a taste of 3-D printing soon — and the phenomenon won’t be relegated to the realm of engineers and tech enthusiasts. The Consumer Electronics Association expects just under 100,000 3-D printers will be sold this year. By Peter Svensson. SENT: 1,080 words, photo.

— TV-WEATHER DISPUTE — Weather Channel says viewers should ask Congress to intervene in dispute. SENT: 100 words.

— PEOPLE-DAVID CASSIDY — 1970s pop star David Cassidy arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of drunken driving. SENT: 120 words, photo.

GETTING ATTENTION

— NEIMAN MARCUS-SECURITY BREACH — Luxury merchant Neiman Marcus has confirmed that thieves stole some of its customers’ payment card information and made unauthorized charges over the holiday season. SENT: 480 words, photo.

— IRAQ — Fighting between Iraqi security forces and al-Qaida-linked militants in a Sunni-dominated province west of Baghdad has killed at least 60 people over the past two weeks. SENT: 460 words, photos.

— KENYA-MALL-ATTACK — FBI finds no evidence any of the 4 gunmen in Kenya mall terrorist attack escaped; all believed dead. SENT: 365 words.

— BETTER CALL SAUL — AMC announces premiere for ‘Better Call Saul’ based on sleazy ‘Breaking Bad’ lawyer. SENT: 140 words.

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