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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

October 21, 2013



BEIJING — As northern China entered its high-smog season, one city’s visibility was less than half a football field and the manager of jazz singer Patti Austin said she had canceled a Beijing concert because of asthma likely linked to pollution. Winter typically brings the worst air pollution to the region because of a combination of weather conditions and an increase in the burning of coal for homes and municipal heating systems, which usually start on a specific date. For Harbin, the city’s heating systems kicked in Sunday, and on Monday visibility there was less than 50 meters (yards), according to state media. By Louise Watt. SENT: 450 words, photos.


BEIJING — Chinese authorities formally arrest a wealthy Chinese businessman who was a key supporter of a civil society group that’s been the target of a wide-ranging crackdown this year, his lawyer says. Beijing prosecutors approved the arrest of venture capitalist Wang Gongquan on Sunday. SENT: 250 words, UPCOMING 300 words, photos.


PHNOM PENH — Prosecutors at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal are expected to ask the court to deliver life sentences to two surviving leaders of the radical communist regime under which an estimated 1.7 million people died. UPCOMING by 0900GMT, photos planned.


TOKYO — Radiation cleanup in some of the most contaminated towns around Fukushima’s nuclear power plant is far behind schedule, so residents will have to wait a few more years before returning. SENT: 120 words. UPCOMING: 350 words by 0800GMT.



TOKYO — Japan’s trade deficit balloons to a fresh record for September — 932 billion yen ($9.5 billion)— as costs for imports of food and other necessities outstripped growth in exports. The deficit for April-September rose to nearly 5 trillion yen ($51 billion), also a record for the first half of the fiscal year. SENT: 240 words.


BEIJING — Asian stocks rose after U.S. markets gained on stronger corporate profits and China reported a rebound in economic growth in the latest quarter. Oil edged up, staying above $100 after briefly dipping below that level last week for the first time in three months. SENT: 350 words, photo.



BEIRUT — Reflecting confusion in efforts to convene an international conference to end Syria’s civil war, the Arab League chief announces talks will take place next month in Geneva, only to have the U.N. envoy flatly deny a date has been set. A decision over whether the long-delayed talks will happen at all could come at a planned meeting of the Syrian opposition next week that will focus on whether to sit down with President Bashar Assad’s regime. By Ryan Lucas. SENT: 830 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-SYRIA- SCOREKEEPER — Rami Abdurrahman’s influence extends far beyond his modest home in this small English city. He operates the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and its running tally of killings and clashes is the most frequently cited individual source of information on Syria’s civil war. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


JERUSALEM — Just days after the first round of global nuclear talks with Iran, a rift appears to be emerging between Israel and its close ally, the United States. Israel’s prime minister stridently calls on the U.S. to step up the pressure on Iran, even as American officials begin to talk about the possibility of easing tough economic sanctions and a leading Israeli daily reports the outlines of what could be construed by some in the West as genuine Iranian compromises in the talks. By Josef Federman. SENT: 900 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — Sixteen days in October could change everything, or not much at all. Will the partial government shutdown prove to be the turning point after three years of partisan skirmishing in Washington? Or was it just a halftime show to fire up the players? With federal employees back at work for now, lawmakers are getting a chance to find a compromise on spending cuts and settle their vast differences. If they fail, they risk a repeat shutdown in mid-January, followed a few weeks later by the recurring danger of the government defaulting on its debts. A look at where things stand after the shutdown. By Connie Cass. SENT: 900 words, photos, interactive.


FRESNO, Calif. — Trucks loaded with tomatoes, milk and almonds clog the two main highways that bisect California’s farm heartland. This dusty stretch of land is the starting point for the nation’s most expensive public infrastructure project: a $68 billion high-speed rail system that would span the state, linking the people of America’s salad bowl to better jobs and opportunity. By Juliet Williams. SENT: 1,400 words, photos.



— Koji Uehara started his first season with the Boston Red Sox as the setup man. That season is still going because of his brilliance as a closer. Uehara was named MVP of the AL championship series after picking up his third save against the Detroit Tigers in Saturday night’s 5-2 win. Now it’s on to the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— WORLD SERIES-CARDINALS — It’s back to work for the St. Louis Cardinals. The NL champions practiced Sunday, perhaps getting a better idea about cleanup man Allen Craig’s availability for the World Series. SENT: 600 words, photos


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