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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

August 13, 2014

ASIA:

POPE-KOREA-5 THINGS TO KNOW

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ five-day visit to South Korea marks the first time in a quarter-century that a pope has been on the divided Korean peninsula. Francis plans to bring a message of peace and reconciliations to Koreans on both sides of the 38th parallel, while encouraging Catholics in the region to spread their faith. Here are five things to know about the trip, which gets under way with Francis’ departure Wednesday from Rome and arrival in Seoul on Thursday morning. By Nicole Winfield. UPCOMING: 850 words by 0900 GMT, photos.

NKOREA-AMERICAN DETAINED

LEBANON, Ohio — The wife and three children of an Ohio man charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea apologize to the nation’s people and government and ask for mercy, saying the family is struggling to get by without their sole breadwinner. Jeffrey Edward Fowle has told the AP he fears his situation will get much worse when he goes on trial, saying, “the horizon for me is pretty dark.” His wife says she has asked President Barack Obama to intervene. By Amanda Lee Myers. SENT: 660 words, photo.

CHINA-HIGH SCHOOL IN AMERICA

BEIJING — After getting a taste of the endless cramming for China’s grueling college entrance exams, 16-year-old Zhang Kaisheng decided he didn’t want to devote the next three years of high school to essentially memorizing facts and formulas for a test to get into a prestigious university. Instead, like a growing number of Chinese teenagers, Zhang plans to enroll in private U.S. high school, where he and his parents hope he will get a more well-rounded — if far more expensive — education. For years, Chinese students have flocked to American universities. But these days, more high school students are opting to study in the U.S. amid a rise in Chinese incomes and hopes that doing so will give them an advantage in landing a coveted spot at an American college. By Didi Tang. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 0700 GMT, photos, video.

KERRY-SOLOMON ISLANDS

HONIARA, Solomon Islands — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making a brief visit to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, where he’ll meet the tiny nation’s leaders and commemorate the ferocious WWII battles fought on Guadalcanal. By Matthew Lee. SENT: 185 words, photo.

VIETNAM-FLOODS

HANOI, Vietnam — A disaster official says flash floods triggered by heavy rains have killed six people, including five in a family in northern Vietnam. SENT: 130 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO — The Japanese economy shrinks at an annual pace of 6.8 percent in the second quarter after spending got slammed by a sales tax hike that kicked in from April, government figures show. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 385 words.

CHINA-MONOPOLY CRACKDOWN-AUTOS

BEIJING — General Motors Co.’s main China joint venture has joined automakers that say they have been contacted by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators as part of an investigation of the industry. SENT: 130 words.

AUSTRALIA-EARNS-COMMONWEALTH BANK

SYDNEY — Commonwealth Bank of Australia, one of the nation’s largest lenders, has posted a 13 percent increase in annual profit to 8.6 billion Australian dollars ($ 8 billion) and express cautious optimism for the current fiscal year. SENT: 185 words.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

MUMBAI, India — Asian stocks drift as investors remain cautious amid uncertainty over potential conflict in Ukraine and Iraq plus new numbers showing a slowdown in Japan’s economy. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 440 words, photo.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

ISRAEL-CAPTURED SOLDIERS

JERUSALEM — An Israeli military tactic that allows overwhelming fire to stop the capture of soldiers — even at the risk of killing them — is facing criticism after its use in the Gaza war killed some 100 Palestinians. The military used the “Hannibal Procedure” after soldiers feared militants had captured an officer, unleashing heavy shelling on the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Now, a group is calling on the military to abandon the practice, saying it puts captured soldiers at unreasonable risk and can lead to civilian deaths. By Aron Heller. SENT: 880 words, photos.

ISRAEL--PALESTINIANS

CAIRO — Egypt presents a proposed cease-fire to Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the monthlong war, Palestinian officials say after negotiators huddled for a second day of Egyptian-mediated talks meant to resolve the crisis and bring relief to the embattled Gaza Strip. By Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 1,050 words, photos, video.

PALESTINIANS-TARGETING GAZA’S MOSQUES

NUSEIRAT REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip — Only the minaret remains after an Israeli airstrike reduced the Al-Qassam Mosque to a heap of concrete, iron rods and dust. After the attack, rescue workers searched, residents gathered — and plainclothes Hamas security agents mingled among them. Israel destroyed 63 mosques in Gaza in its month-old war with Hamas, by Palestinian count. Israel says Hamas uses mosques to stockpile weapons and hide tunnels. By Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

— IMMIGRATION-ISRAEL BOMBING — A Detroit federal judge withdraws from the case of a Palestinian immigrant accused of lying about her role in a fatal terrorist attack, saying he just learned his family had an investment in the Jerusalem supermarket she helped bomb in 1969. SENT: 470 words, photo.

IRAQ-SYRIAN KURDS

MALIKIYA, Syria — In a dusty camp here, Iraqi refugees have new heroes: Syrian Kurdish fighters who battled militants to carve an escape route to tens of thousands trapped on a mountaintop. While the U.S. and Iraqi militaries dropped food and water to the starving members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, the Kurds took it on themselves to rescue them, a sign of how Syria’s Kurds — like Iraq’s — are using the region’s conflicts to establish their own rule. By Diaa Hadid and Bassem Mroue. SENT: 830 words, photos.

— IRAQ — With his days in power appearing increasingly numbered, there’s little left for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to cling to, beyond the support of party stalwarts and high-ranking loyalists in the military. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.

— UNITED STATES-IRAQ-ADVISERS — Another 130 U.S. troops arrive in Iraq on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to assess the scope of the humanitarian crisis facing thousands of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain and evaluate options for getting them out to safety. SENT: 615 words, photos.

ROBIN WILLIAMS

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — Robin Williams’ personal assistant found the actor who was struggling with depression dead in a bedroom of his San Francisco Bay Area home, officials say. By Paul Elias. SENT: 615 words, photos, video, audio.

— ROBIN WILLIAMS-TROOPS — Williams connected with tens of thousands of troops in his various USO tours, entertaining servicemen and women in some of the world’s worst places at the worst times. A look at Williams’ involvement through the eyes of veterans and others. SENT: 640 words, photos.

— ROBIN WILLIAMS-WORDS — For some of those close to him, Williams’ death isn’t a total surprise. As he made millions laugh, Williams struggled internally with depression and addiction for decades. A look at his struggles in his own words. SENT: 735 words, photos.

POLICE SHOOTING-MISSOURI

FERGUSON, Mo. — The police chief in a Missouri city where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager says he’s holding off on publicly identifying the officer because of death threats. By Alan Scher Zagier and David A. Lieg. SENT: 685 words, photos, video, audio.

EBOLA

MADRID — The World Health Organization declares it’s ethical to use untested drugs and vaccines in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, although the tiny supply of one experimental treatment has been depleted and it could be many months until more is available. By Maria Cheng and Ciaran Giles. SENT: 1,270 words, photos, video.

— CANADA-EBOLA DRUGS — Canada is donating an experimental Ebola vaccine after the World Health Organization declared it is ethical to use untested drugs and vaccines in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. SENT: 130 words.

UKRAINE

MOSCOW — With a theatrical flourish, Russia dispatches hundreds of trucks covered in white tarps and sprinkled with holy water on a mission to deliver aid to a desperate rebel-held zone in eastern Ukraine. By Vladimir Isachenkov and Peter Leonard. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.

CLIPPERS SALE

LOS ANGELES — Steve Ballmer is officially the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. The team says the sale closed after a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise. Her husband, Donald Sterling, had unsuccessfully fought the sale of the team he owned since 1981 in court. SENT: 930 words, photos.

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