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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

May 27, 2014



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Malaysian government releases 45 pages of raw satellite data it used to determine the flight path of the missing jetliner, information long sought after by some of the relatives of the 239 people on board the plane. More than three months after the plane went missing en route to Beijing, no trace of it has been found, leading to continued speculation over its fate. SENT: 350 words, photos.


BEIJING — In prosecuting the country’s political and social activists, an image-conscious Beijing is shifting its tactics. Rather than filing charges of inciting state subversion that amount to political prosecution frowned upon by the international community, Beijing is increasingly using public disorder charges to lock up those it considers as nuisances or threats to its rule. “The scheme is craftier and crueler,” one dissident says. By Didi Tang. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0800GMT, photos.


BEIJING — China calls for a halt to what it calls unscrupulous U.S. cyberspying, saying that a monthslong investigation into reports on the “ugly face” of U.S. espionage has concluded that China is a major target of those efforts. The complaint in the form of a government agency report comes a week after U.S. prosecutors charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets. SENT: 300 words.


BANGKOK — By day, tourists roaming the Grand Palace and Bangkok’s other main attractions might not see a single soldier in the streets. They may be affected by Thailand’s military coup more at night, when a curfew shuts down the city’s bars and notorious red-light districts. But it’s the tourism industry that’s feeling the pinch hardest: One luxury hotel has received more than 500 cancelations since the coup was declared Thursday and is expecting many more. By Jocelyn Gecker. UPCOMING: 700 words by 1000GMT, photos.


BANGKOK — A Cabinet minister who defied an order to report to Thailand’s new military junta emerged Thursday from hiding for the first time since last week’s coup to publicly condemn the takeover. Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang’s comments are the first in public made by any member of the ousted government, most of which is being held by the junta which controls the Southeast Asian nation. By Todd Pitman. SENT: 250 words, photos. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0830GMT.


-THAILAND-TAYLOR SWIFT: American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has canceled her scheduled concert in Bangkok because of recent events in Thailand.


AHMADABAD, India — With his long beard and white skullcap, Mohammed Naseem makes no secret that he’s a devout Muslim in a country where Muslims are an often-persecuted minority. Now, as Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi is sworn in as prime minister Monday after a landslide in the general election, Naseem and Muslims in this country of 1.2 billion are watching the direction of their country with a mixture of caution and fear. Modi, who is Hindu like most of India’s population, has long had an uneasy relationship with Muslims, in large part because he, as chief minister of Gujarat state, was in command in 2002 when communal riots there killed more than 1,000 people — most of them Muslims. By Ajit Solanki and Muneeza Naqvi. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0900GMT, photos.


HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam and China traded accusations Tuesday over who was the aggressor in an incident that led to the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea, sharpening already dangerously high tensions between the two nations over their overlapping territorial claims in the waters. Hanoi accused a Chinese vessel of ramming a smaller Vietnamese boat Monday and then fleeing the scene. By Chris Brummitt. SENT: 500 words.


YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s government is seeking public suggestions on a controversial religious conversion bill that will require anyone who wants to convert to another religion to obtain permission. The aim of the bill, published Tuesday in state-run newspapers, appears to be to prevent people from being coerced into changing religions. The draft says the purpose is to ensure freedom of religion and to make religious conversion transparent. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 0800GMT.


NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to meet with the leader of rival Pakistan and other neighboring nations on his first day on the job. In addition to sitting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Modi has brief one-on-one meetings planned with leaders from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mauritius and Maldives. SENT: 300 words, photos.



BEIJING — China’s government plans to take 5 million older, polluting vehicles off the road this year in an effort to revive stalled progress toward cleaning up smog-choked cities. The plan also calls for filling stations in Beijing, Shanghai and other major urban areas to switch to selling only the cleanest grades of gasoline and diesel, according to a Cabinet statement issued Monday. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 300 words.


HONG KONG — At first glance, the Monster Tron T1 headphones sold on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Taobao site are a tempting offer for audiophiles looking for state-of-the-art hi-fi equipment. But sellers omit one key detail: Monster Inc. never produced this model. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 900 words, photos.



Pope Francis says his plans to meet with a group of sex abuse victims at the Vatican is part of an effort to “go forward” with “zero tolerance” in confronting and preventing clergy abuse. But the head of a U.S. victims’ group dismisses the upcoming session as “another gesture, another public relations coup” that could prove meaningless. SENT: 460 words, photos. UPCOMING: video.


SAN FRANCISCO — Call them the fortunate ones: Nearly 4,000 California companies, farms and others are allowed to use water with little oversight when the state is so bone dry that deliveries to nearly everyone else have been severely slashed. Their special status dates back to claims made more than a century ago when water was plentiful. But in the third year of a drought that has ravaged California, these “senior rights holders” dominated by corporations and agricultural concerns are not obliged to conserve water. Nobody knows how much water they actually use, though it amounts to trillions of gallons each year, according to a review of their own reports by The Associated Press. Together, they hold more than half the rights to rivers and streams in California. But the AP found the state’s system is based on self-reported, incomplete records riddled with errors and years out of date. By Jason Dearen and Garance Burke. SENT: 1,560 words, photos, video, AP data/tables. An abridged version of 1,000 words has also moved.

— CALIFORNIA DROUGHT-FLAWED WATER SYSTEM-RIGHTS HOLDERS — Nearly 4,000 corporations, farms and others hold senior water rights in California, exempting them from government-mandated cuts in water use during the third year of drought. Here are the stories of five of them, along with how they obtained the right to draw water from waterways and how they use it. By Jason Dearen and Garance Burke. SENT: 1,140 words, photos, AP data/tables.



WASHINGTON — Congress is pressing the White House harder to confront Russia over allegations that Moscow has been cheating on a key nuclear arms treaty for years — a possible faceoff that comes at a bad time for U.S.-Russian relations and could end President Barack Obama’s hope to deeply cut nuclear arsenals as part of his legacy. By Deb Riechmann. SENT: 1,140 words.


CAIRO — Egypt holds the second, final day of presidential elections, a vote seen as certain to vault former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi into office less than a year after he overthrew the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader. El-Sissi hopes for a large turnout that will send a message to the West that his removal of Morsi was not a coup but a popular revolution like the one that ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year-reign in 2011. Millions of Egyptians rallied against Morsi ahead of his ouster, but the country remains deeply polarized and Morsi’s Islamist supporters are boycotting the vote. By Hamza Hendawi. UPCOMING: 130 words by 3:30 a.m.


ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s military locates nearly 300 school girls abducted by Islamic extremists but fears using force to try to free them could get them killed, the country’s chief of defense says. Air Marshal Alex Badeh tells demonstrators supporting the much criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls. But he adds, “we can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.” By Michelle Faul. SENT: 670 words, photos, video.


— UKRAINE — An insurgent says 30 bodies of killed fighters have been brought to a hospital following a day of heavy fighting in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. SENT: 130 words.

— HEALTH OVERHAUL-COST INCREASE — States face new cost concerns as health law boosts Medicaid sign-ups beyond expectations. SENT: 790 words, photos.

— GAY MARRIAGE-TIPPING POINT — Same-sex marriage gets boost from unbroken string of courtroom victories since 2013 ruling. SENT: 900 words, photo.

— HEALTHIER SCHOOL LUNCHES — First lady Michelle Obama responds to healthier school meal critics with White House event. SENT: 480 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m. from 2 p.m. event.

— OLDEST CONGRESSMAN — A 91-year-old Texas congressman who first won his seat when Jimmy Carter was president faces the toughest test of his political career. SENT: 530 words.

— VENEZUELA-AIRLINE DEAL — Venezuela’s cash-strapped government agrees to pay part of $4 billion owed to foreign airlines. SENT: 330 words.


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