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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

November 13, 2013

ASIA:

PHILIPPINES-TYPHOON

TACLOBAN -- Thousands of people stormed a rice warehouse on an island devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, highlighting the urgent need to get water, food and medical supplies into an increasingly desperate region. Five days after one of the strongest tropical storms on record leveled tens of thousands of houses in the central Philippines, relief operations were only starting to pick up pace, with two more airports in the region reopening, allowing for more aid flights. But minimal food and water was reaching people in the devastated city of Tacloban, on Leyte island, which bore the brunt of the storm, and outlying regions due to a lack of trucks and blocked roads. SENT: 860 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-TYPHOON-DEATH TOLL

MANILA, Philippines -- In the chaos of natural disaster, tallying an accurate death toll is often difficult and sometimes not a priority. The aftermath of the Philippines typhoon has been no different, where initial estimates of the dead were put by some at 10,000. On Tuesday, President Benigno Aquino disputed that, saying it likely to be closer to 2,000 or 2,500. In the meantime, an official tally shows the number at 2,275.

PHILIPPINES-TYPHOON-PACQUIAO’S DEDICATION

Boxer Manny Pacquiao believes the best way to bring inspiration and hope to the victims of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in his native Philippines is to win his comeback fight against Brandon Rios. To do that, he has to limit the distractions ahead of the Nov. 24 fight in Macau. So that rules out a visit to the areas most devastated by the deadly typhoon. It’s a heart-wrenching decision but his handlers, including veteran trainer Freddie Roach, have insisted it is for the best.

SRI LANKA-COMMONWEALTH

NEW DELHI -- The palm-flecked island nation of Sri Lanka plays host this week to leaders from dozens of Commonwealth nations at a summit it hopes will generate enough good will and photo opportunities to eclipse three decades of grim history — massive civilian deaths, persistent media harassment and gangster-style politics. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — After two weeks of noisy protests, the message from the streets of Bangkok is clear: There will be no immediate homecoming for the country’s most polarizing political figure, Thaksin Shinawatra. The former prime minister has waited five years — the last two with his own sister in power — to come home as a free man. But massive protests erupted over the prospect of his return, largely ending with the frantic extinguishing of a bill that would erased a corruption conviction. The gambit by Thailand’s ruling party, still heavily influenced by Thaksin from abroad, may have damaged not only his prospects for returning but its own ability to govern. By Grant Peck. UPCOMING: 900 words by 1000GMT, photos.

MAYNMAR-OIC

YANGON, Myanmar — Dozens of Buddhist monks carrying banners that said “Get Out” and “Don’t interfere in Myanmar’s internal affairs” gather outside the airport to protest the arrival of a delegation from the world’s biggest Islamic political bloc. SENT: 350 words.

VIETNAM-RARE MAMMAL

HANOI, Vietnam — One of the rarest and most threatened mammals on earth has been caught on camera in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years, renewing hope for the recovery of the species, an international conservation group said. The Saola, a long-horned ox, was photographed by a camera in a forest in central Vietnam in September, WWF said.

AFGHANISTAN-OPIUM

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s opium production surged this year to record levels, despite international efforts over the past decade to wean the country off the narcotics trade, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.N.’s drug control agency. SENT: 510 words.

INDIA-RAPE COMMENTS

NEW DELHI — India’s top police official is under fire for saying, “If you can’t prevent rape, you might as well enjoy it.” Central Bureau of Investigation chief Ranjit Sinha made the comment Tuesday during a news conference about legalizing gambling. SENT: 120 words.

BUSINESS & FINANCE:

INDIA-AIRLINE DEALS

MUMBAI, India — India has become a hot ticket for international carriers since opening its airline industry to foreign investors last year. But the potential of a giant market where only a sliver of the population travel by plane also comes with a catch: airlines in India are vastly unprofitable thanks to sky-high costs and cut-throat competition. By Kay Johnson. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0900 GMT, photos.

JAPAN-BANKS-MOB LINKS

TOKYO — Japanese banks are pledging more stringent efforts to halt loans to organized crime after an investigation at Mizuho, the country’s second biggest bank, led to disclosures of mob links throughout the banking industry. SENT: 450 words.

WORLD MARKETS

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets sink after a highly anticipated meeting of Chinese leaders did not announce bold reforms to overhaul a growth model that is running out of steam. SENT: 420 words.

AIRLINE MERGER-SETTLEMENT

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it has reached an agreement to allow American Airlines and US Airways to merge, creating the world’s biggest airline. The airlines have said their deal would increase competition by creating another big competitor to United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which grew through recent mergers. By David Koeing and Pete Yost. SENT: 530 words, photo.

U.S. & INTERNATIONAL:

HEALTH OVERHAUL-OBAMA

WASHINGTON — Adding pressure to fix the administration’s problem-plagued health care program, former President Bill Clinton says President Barack Obama should find a way to let people keep their health coverage, even if it means changing the law. By Jim Kuhnhenn. SENT: 700 words.

HEART DISEASE-NEW GUIDELINES

The first new guidelines in a decade for preventing heart attacks and strokes call for twice as many Americans — a third of all adults — to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. The new advice is a radical change: Instead of aiming for a certain cholesterol number, it urges a broader look at heart risks and identifies groups for whom treatment does the most good. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 1,000 words, photo, graphic.

TALLEST SKYSCRAPER DILEMMA

NEW YORK — The new World Trade Center tower in New York replaces Chicago’s Willis Tower as the nation’s tallest building as an international panel of architects announces that the needle atop the skyscraper can be counted when measuring the structure’s height. By David Caruso and Don Babwin. SENT: 540 words, photos, graphic.

EGYPT

CAIRO — Egypt’s government announces the end of a 3-month-old state of emergency and curfew. The move could bring a resurgence of protests by supporters of the imprisoned ousted president, Mohammed Morsi, who holds his first extensive meeting with lawyers. By Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

LEBANON-KIDNAPPINGS

BEIRUT — Lebanon has seen a dramatic spike in kidnappings in an unusual consequence of the civil war in neighboring Syria. Gangs whose usual business of cross-border smuggling has turned to abducting well-off Lebanese businessmen for ransom. By Diaa Hadid. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

MANDELA-GRANDDAUGHTER’S BOOK

JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela’s 33-year-old granddaughter publishes a book that recounts her family’s involvement in the fight against South Africa’s white minority regime, her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, the loss of two of her children and her fight against breast cancer. By Carley Petesch. SENT: 650 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— SYRIA — Grief grips Damascus as funerals are held for four children and their school bus driver who were struck by shrapnel from a mortar shell that hit their campus. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— BROOKLYN SHOOTING — Slain members of Iranian band came to US for freedom; killed by musician, police say. SENT: 670 words, photos, video.

— SPAIN-PIANIST PROSECUTED — Spanish prosecutors want to send a young pianist to jail for over seven years after a neighbor accused her of causing psychological damage and noise pollution. SENT: 580 words.

— ALEC BALDWIN-STALKING CASE — Alec Baldwin testifies he never had relationship with actress accused of stalking him in NY. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— MISS TEEN USA EXTORTION — Calif. student pleads guilty to exhorting nude photos from Miss Teen USA, others. SENT: 480 words.

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