AP NEWS
Related topics

BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

December 24, 2013

ASIA:

INDONESIA-TSUNAMI CAVE

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A cave discovered near the source of Indonesia’s massive earthquake-spawned tsunami contains the footprints of past gigantic waves dating back up to 7,500 years, a rare natural record that may help prepare future generations for similar disasters. By Margie Mason. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 0900GMT, photos.

TYPHOON-CHRISTMAS

TACLOBAN — A series of vignettes from survivors of the typhoon, looking at what Christmas means to them this year. UPCOMING: 1,100 words by 0900GMT, photos.

CHINA-CASH CRUNCH

BEIJING — For the second time in six months, a shortage of cash in one corner of China’s banking industry has stirred anxiety in financial markets. The interest rate charged on loans from one bank to another spiked to nearly 9 percent this week, well above the usual 2-3 percent. That came even after the Chinese central bank injected 300 billion yuan ($50 billion) of extra credit into the interbank market last week. SENT: 500 words.

UN-INDIAN DIPLOMAT

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations says it has processed the Indian government’s request to register the country’s deputy consul general, who is accused of lying on a visa form about how much she paid her housekeeper, as a member of the country’s mission to the United Nations. But the U.N. spokesman’s office says the U.S. State Department must approve the transfer of Devyani Khobragade from her consulate post to India’s U.N. Mission. SENT: 260 words.

THAILAND-TRANSIT FAILURE

BANGKOK — Morning rush-hour commuting was disrupted in Bangkok when the city’s popular elevated mass transit system experienced what its operators said was its first major system-wide failure in 14 years of operation. SENT: 100 words.

CHINA-VACCINE WORRIES

BEIJING — China has sent health experts to investigate a drug maker to see if the deaths of several babies in recent weeks were related to vaccines they received in a government immunization program. State broadcaster China Central Television says that a team of government investigators had been sent to Biokangtai, a drug maker based in the southern city of Shenzhen. SENT: 130 words.

HYUNDAI-KIA-SETTLEMENT

Hyundai and its sister company Kia said Monday that they will pay up to $395 million to consumers as part of a proposed settlement over overstated gas mileage. The Environmental Protection Agency found inflated numbers on 13 Hyundai and Kia vehicles in November of 2012. SENT: 220 words.

BANGLADESH-FACTORY FUND

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A compensation fund to benefit the victims of an April factory building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 people is being created. The fund, estimated at $40 million, would compensate injured workers and dependents of those of who died, according to a statement by the organizers of the fund. SENT: 260 words, photos planned.

WORLD MARKETS

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian markets continued gains on Tuesday as U.S. stocks extended rallies on growing optimism over the U.S. economy. Trading volumes remained light ahead of Christmas. Stock markets enjoyed a strong run over the past few days as investors cheered data showing that the U.S. economic recovery is gaining strength. Positive economic figures on the world’s largest economy helped ease concerns about the impact on emerging markets from the Federal Reserve’s scaling back of its stimulus programs. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 580 words.

U.S. & INTERNATIONAL

SOUTH SUDAN-VIOLENCE

NAIROBI, Kenya — British, Canadian and Kenyan citizens are among 3,000 foreigners trapped in a South Sudan city experiencing bouts of heavy machine gun fire, one of the most violent areas of a weeklong conflict that has likely killed more than 1,000 people, a top U.N. official says. Australians, Ugandans and Ethiopians are also among 17,000 people seeking protection at a U.N. base in Bor, a city that could see increased violence in coming days, said Toby Lanzer, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator. By Jason Straziuso. SENT, 1,200 words, photos.

RUSSIA-PUSSY RIOT

KRASNOYARSK, Russia — The last two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot walk free, criticizing the amnesty measure that released them as a publicity stunt, with one calling for a boycott of the Winter Olympics to protest Russia’s human rights record. Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were granted amnesty last week in a move largely viewed as the Kremlin’s attempt to soothe criticism of Russia’s human rights record before the games in Sochi in February. By Alexander Roslyakov and Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 760 words, photos, video.

RUSSIA-OBIT-KALASHNIKOV

MOSCOW — Mikhail Kalashnikov, whose work as a weapons designer for the Soviet Union is immortalized in the name of the world’s most popular firearm, has died at age 94. The AK-47 — “Avtomat Kalashnikov” and the year it went into production — is favored by guerrillas, terrorists and the soldiers of many armies. An estimated 100 million guns are spread worldwide. By Jim Heintz. SENT: 630 words, photos.

GAY MARRIAGE-UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge allows gay marriage to continue in Utah, rejecting a request to put same-sex weddings on hold as the state appeals a decision that has sent couples flocking to county clerk offices for marriage licenses. Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling the voter-approved measure is a violation of gay couples’ constitutional rights. The state then asked him to put a stop to the weddings, but he rejected the request. By Brady Mccombs and Paul Foy. SENT.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC-FIGHTING

BANGUI, Central African Republic — A U.N. peacekeeper from the Republic of Congo was killed over the weekend in Central African Republic by a Christian militia, underscoring the growing peril that international forces are facing in the troubled nation. The Congolese soldier was stationed in the remote town of Bossangoa, which has been at the epicenter of the fighting between the country’s Muslim minority, whose members grabbed power in a coup nine months ago, and the nation’s Christian majority. By Hippolyte Marboua and Louis Okamba. SENT: 600 words.

EGYPT

CAIRO — A powerful explosion believed to be caused by a car bomb rocked a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city north of Cairo early Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and injuring scores, according to the state news agency and a security official. The interim government accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack, branding it a “terrorist organization.” By Maggie Michael. SENT: 900 words.

DUBAI-AMERICAN ARRESTED

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A court in the United Arab Emirates sentences eight people, including an American, to up to a year in prison after they were convicted in connection with a satirical video about youth culture in Dubai. The video they produced and uploaded to the Internet was a spoof documentary of would-be “gangsta” youth in the Gulf Arab city-state. By Adam Schreck. SENT: 560 words, photo.

BOX OFFICE

NEW YORK — “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” couldn’t overcome “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” at the box office. Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” sequel led business at North American movie theaters for the second straight week, tallying $31.5 million over the weekend. Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman 2″ debuted with $26.2 million, according to final studio figures released Monday. SENT: 480 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION:

— ITALY-MIGRANTS — Italy’s premier pledges to overhaul conditions in Italy’s overcrowded refugee holding centers following outrage over a video of migrants being hosed down naked in the cold to disinfect them. SENT: 640 words, photos.

— TONYA AND NANCY -THE IMPACT — Tonya and Nancy scandal had a huge, albeit temporary, impact on figure skating. SENT: 854 words, photos.

— TRUMP-ETHICS COMPLAINT — Donald Trump files two ethics complaints against New York’s attorney general months after the state official sued Trump and his business school for $40 million, contending the school engaged in persistent fraud and illegal conduct. SENT: 390 words, photo.

— TONSILLECTOMY-BRAIN DEAD GIRL — The family of a California girl who was declared brain dead wants a second opinion before a hospital is allowed to withdraw life support. SENT: 510 words, photos.

— PALESTINIANS-BELLS OF BETHLEHEM — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition — ringing the bells of Bethlehem. He pulls the ropes of four bells to ring them 33 times for daily services at the Church of the Nativity. SENT: 600 words, photos, video.

___

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.

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.

AP RADIO
Update hourly