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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

November 6, 2014



MYIN HLUT, Myanmar — The small wooden boats leave the shores of western Myanmar nearly every day, overloaded with desperate Rohingya Muslims who are part of one the largest boat exoduses in Asia since the Vietnam War. Helping them on their way: Myanmar’s own security forces, who are profiting off the mass departure of one of the world’s most persecuted minorities by extracting payments from those fleeing. A report to be released Friday and reporting by The Associated Press indicate the practice is far more widespread than previously thought, with Myanmar naval boats going so far as to escort asylum seekers out to sea, where larger ships operated by transnational criminal networks wait to pick them up. An AP Exclusive. By Todd Pitman and Esther Htusan. SENT: 830 words.


BEIJING — China plans to use a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders to promote a regional trade initiative at a time when progress on a rival U.S.-led trade deal has stalled, injecting a note of rivalry into an annual summit that aims for consensus. The two-day meeting of 21 countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea is the first major international gathering in China since President Xi Jinping came to power. Starting Monday, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting gives China, the world’s second-largest economy, a platform to assert itself as a regional leader. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 890 words, photos.


TANAUAN, Philippines — The Saavedras waited for death as Typhoon Haiyan tore their roof, knocked down walls and unleashed torrents of seawater below them. All they could do was pray, say “I love you” one last time and take a picture. David Saavedra raised his cellphone in the chaos to snap a group selfie to record their final moments. He took it for his eldest sister in Manila, hoping to show that at the end, her family was together — even serene. The picture was intended to go on top of David’s coffin, but instead it is a reminder of the family’s immense luck, and of the obligation they feel to help neighbors who weren’t nearly as fortunate when the massive typhoon hit Nov. 8, 2013. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 920 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — The head of NATO pays an unannounced visit to Kabul, where he vows that the Western alliance will continue supporting the country after foreign combat troops withdraw at the end of the year. “We are ending the combat mission and are starting a new chapter in which the future of Afghanistan is in the hands if the Afghan people,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. SENT: 360 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Coming to Afghan television this week will be the story of Kabir, a 12-year-old boy who returns home only to fall in with the Taliban and see his life unravel as he learns violence doesn’t pay and democracy is the way forward. “Innocent Heart,” a six-part drama featuring strong female characters and an election as a backdrop, comes as Afghanistan tries to move from war to democracy and foreign troops withdraw after more than a decade of fighting. While the Taliban banned television during their rule, foreign-funded TV soap operas like “Innocent Heart” now entertain viewers with stories that reflect their own lives while promoting change in this conservative, religious and poverty-stricken country. SENT: 500 words, photos.


BEIJING — Chinese officials and businesspeople used a state trip by President Xi Jinping and other high-level visits to smuggle ivory out of Tanzania, an environmental watchdog says in a report that cast doubt over Beijing’s efforts to stamp out the illegal trade that has led to rampant elephant poaching throughout Africa. China is the world’s largest importer of smuggled tusks, and Tanzania is the largest source of poached ivory, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said. Poaching in Tanzania alone has killed half of the country’s elephants in the past five years, the group said. By Didi Tang. SENT: 750 words, photos.


HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protesters clash with police in Hong Kong for the first time in more than two weeks as pressure grows on demonstrators to abandon more than a month and a half of street occupations. The skirmishes lasted for about four hours in the bustling Mong Kok neighborhood, the most turbulent of three protest sites that have snarled swaths of the city. SENT: 250 words, photos.


YANGON, Myanmar — The body of a freelance journalist shot by Myanmar’s army showed signs that he was tortured before he died, his wife says. Ma Thandar said the body, which was exhumed Wednesday, had a broken skull, broken jaw and two penetration marks on the chest. SENT: 400 words, photos.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan summons the U.S. ambassador to reject allegations in a Pentagon report that Islamabad supports militant proxies in neighboring India and Afghanistan. The foreign ministry said Pakistani National Security and Foreign Affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz conveyed the complaint to U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson. By Asif Shahzad. SENT: 300 words.


CANBERRA — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he remains determined to secure a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to demand full cooperation in the investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. SENT: 400 words, photos.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The owners of a New Zealand coal mine where the bodies of 29 workers remain entombed after a methane-fueled explosion four years ago say they won’t go back into the mine because it remains too dangerous. The announcement by state-owned company Solid Energy dashed the hopes of those who had sought to recover the remains of their loved ones from the Pike River mine, located on the South Island. SENT: 360 words, photo.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The drummer for rock band AC/DC is accused of trying to arrange two killings. Phil Rudd made a brief appearance at the Tauranga District Court in his adopted home of New Zealand and was charged with attempting to procure murder, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. By Nick Perry. SENT: 400 words, photos.



TOKYO — Takata Corp., the Japanese air bag maker embroiled in a massive recall totaling some 12 million vehicles globally, is taking more special losses for new recalls and will sink deeper into the red. Takata, which controls about 22 percent of the global air bag market, said it will record a 25 billion yen ($218 million) loss for the fiscal year through March 2015. It previously forecast a 24 million yen ($210 million) loss. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 250 words, photos.


BEIJING — China’s Lenovo Group, the world’s biggest personal computer maker, says its latest quarterly profit rose 19 percent, driven by sales growth outside its home market. The company says profit rose to $262 million, or 2.5 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30. Revenue rose 7 percent to $10.5 billion. SENT: 100 words, will be updated.



WASHINGTON — Republicans’ resounding midterm elections victory is giving them an opportunity to push legislation that’s been bottled up in the Democratic Senate, from targeting elements of President Barack Obama’s health care law to constructing the Keystone XL pipeline to rolling back environmental regulations. In command in both chambers in January, Republicans maintain that they have to show they can govern, otherwise voters will show them the door. By Donna Cassata. SENT: 760 words, photos, video, interactive.

— OBAMA-DAY AFTER — For anyone expecting post-election contrition at the White House or promises to change course, Obama had one message: Think again. SENT: 690 words, photos.


JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister emphasizes there will be no change in the status of a contentious Jerusalem holy site amid spiking tensions in the area. The statement by Benjamin Netanyahu came a day after a Hamas militant slammed a minivan into a crowd waiting for a train in Jerusalem, killing one person and wounding 13 before being shot dead by police, and a Palestinian motorist drove into a group of soldiers in the West Bank, wounding three. By Peter Enav. SENT: 680 words, photos.


SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — In a country terrorized by gangsters, it is left to the dead to break the silence on sexual violence. Rather, to the bodies of dead women and girls pulled from clandestine graves, raped, battered and sometimes cut to pieces. They attest to the sadistic abuse committed by members of street gangs who take girlfriends, discard them when they know too much, then deliver them to group rape and murder. Even those who gather statistics say there are no reliable numbers on sexual violence in El Salvador. By Alberto Arce. SENT: 1,390 words, photos. An abridged version of 960 words has also been sent.


DRESDEN, Germany — In the city of Dresden, trumpet player Ludwig Guettler takes pride in the soaring spires of the Frauenkirche church, rebuilt from the ruins of World War II, and sees them as a symbol of his city’s vibrant economic and cultural life. In Dortmund, 300 miles away, Ilse-Margarethe Bonke tries to save her decaying city from a drug scourge by picking up heroin needles from the streets. The two cities have met contrasting fates since the crumbling of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago — with Dresden becoming a magnet for high-tech firms, and Dortmund sinking into deep economic depression. By Kirsten Grieshaber. SENT: 1,180 words, photo.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Miranda Lambert was the reigning queen of the Country Music Association Awards, but Luke Bryan marked a long-earned breakthrough by winning entertainer of the year. The win was Bryan’s first CMA, despite his multiple hits, top-selling albums and top-grossing tours. “I hope I can have enough time to say everything that’s on my mind,” an emotional Bryan said, thanking God, his fans, and his teary-eyed wife in the audience. The night marked a breakthrough for Bryan, who was also snubbed at the recent Grammy Awards. By Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu. SENT: 580 words, photos, video.


— MISSING MOVIE EXEC — Remains found of missing Fox movie executive who vanished more than 2 years ago. SENT: 130 words, photos.

— FEEDING THE HOMELESS-ARRESTS — More laws target feeding the homeless in public, but advocates say it won’t stop their work. SENT: 580 words, photos.


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