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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

October 31, 2014

ASIA

MALAYSIA-MISSING PLANE-LAWSUIT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Two Malaysian teenage boys are suing Malaysia Airlines and the government over the loss of their father on Flight 370, the first lawsuit filed by the family of a passenger of the jetliner that mysteriously disappeared eight months ago. Jee Kinson, 13, and Jee Kinland, 11, said in the suit that when the plane dropped from the radar while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board, the civil aviation department did not try to establish contact within reasonable time. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 330 words, photos.

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST

HONG KONG — Hong Kong student protest leaders are considering visiting Beijing while it hosts a major Asian summit next week to press their demands for greater democratic reforms. Student leader Alex Chow said at a rally late Thursday that protest organizers would discuss the idea of trying to talk to Chinese officials during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that begins Nov. 5. SENT: 310 words, photos.

HONG KONG-PORTRAITS OF PROTEST

HONG KONG — Photographer Vincent Yu captures images of 17 protesters on the streets of Hong Kong and asks them: How has Occupy changed Hong Kong? And what’s the future of the movement? UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 0700GMT, photos.

UNITED NATIONS-NORTH KOREA

UNITED NATIONS — North Korea said it has invited European Union’s top human rights official to visit the country, but it threatened to drop recent offers of visits by United Nations rights officials unless a U.N. resolution on the country removes any reference to the International Criminal Court before Saturday. North Korean diplomat Kim Un Chol told The Associated Press that the visit by the EU official, Stavros Lambrinidis, is expected next March. By Cara Anna. SENT, photos.

VIETNAMESE DISSIDENT-INTERVIEW

LOS ANGELES — One of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents said he was asked to sign a form seeking a pardon for spreading “propaganda against the state” before his release from prison last week, then forced onto a U.S.-bound flight with just the clothes on his body. Nguyen Van Hai, who blogged under the name Dieu Cay, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he refused to sign the document because he didn’t believe he had committed a crime. By Daisy Nguyen. UPCOMING: 650 words by 0700GMT, photos.

MYANMAR-POLITICS

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar — Myanmar’s president held rare talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than a dozen of the country’s political and military heavyweights. Suu Kyi, who is constitutionally barred from running for president in next year’s election, has been calling for a meeting with the president, commander in chief and parliament speaker for nearly a year to discuss the nation’s political reform process. By Esther Htusan. SENT: 300 words, photos.

ASIA-HAPPINESS

SINGAPORE — Emerging Asian nations are finding out what developed ones did years ago: Money — and the stuff it buys — brings happiness, or at least satisfaction. Levels of self-reported well-being in fast-growing nations like Indonesia, China and Malaysia now rival those in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom, rich nations that have long topped the happiness charts, according to a Pew Research Center global survey released Friday. By Chris Brummitt. SENT: 760 words, photos.

CHINA-AFGHANISTAN

BEIJING — China is hosting an international conference on Afghanistan’s security and reconstruction that highlights its growing role in the country as U.S. and NATO forces depart. New Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is headlining Friday’s forum in Beijing known as the Istanbul Ministerial Process. The annual conference brings Afghanistan and China together with more than a dozen member nations and observers including the United States. SENT: 130 words.

FIJI-SANCTIONS DROPPED

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The U.S. and Australia have removed sanctions against Fiji following democratic elections last month in the South Pacific nation. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Friday began a two-day visit to Fiji and announced that Australia had lifted all remaining sanctions, including the sale of weapons. By Nick Perry. SENT: 300 words.

JAPAN-HELLO KITTY AT 40

When she came to life in 1974, she was a kitty without a name, sitting sideways in blue overalls and a big red bow, on a coin purse for Japanese girls. Come Saturday, fans around the world will celebrate the 40th anniversary of this global icon of “cute-cool.” That is, Hello Kitty. Only a handful of characters last so long, especially in Japan, where thousands come and go in a highly competitive market. Hello Kitty has the looks, and more. By Mari Yamaguchi. Expected by 0800GMT: 740 words, photos.

WITH:

HELLO KITTY CON

LOS ANGELES — Hello Kitty cuteness is taking over Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles as the city hosts the first Hello Kitty fan convention. Hello Kitty Con is expected to draw some 25,000 fans over four days. By Sandy Cohen. SENT, photos.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO — Japan’s central bank decided Friday to expand its asset purchases in a surprise move to shore up sagging growth in the world’s No. 3 economy. The Bank of Japan said it would increase its asset purchases by between 10 trillion yen and 20 trillion yen ($90.7 billion to $181.3 billion) to about 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) annually, citing an easing in inflation. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT, 480 words, photos.

US & INTERNATIONAL

IRAQ-ISLAMIC STATE KILLINGS

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State group wanted to send a warning. So the extremist fighters stormed the home of a former police officer suspected of activities against the group, killed him and his son, then hung his mutilated body on a nearby fence for days for all to see in the Iraqi city of Mosul. IS has recently killed dozens of former police officers in a campaign to prevent any possible challenge to its rule by fellow Sunnis at a time when the militants are under pressure by the U.S.-led air campaign and some losses on the ground in Iraq. By Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Salaheddin. SENT: 1,090 words, photos.

— SYRIA — A vanguard of Iraqi peshmerga fighters enters the embattled Syrian border town of Kobani from Turkey ahead of a larger group of 150 that the Kurds hope will turn the tide against the Islamic State group. SENT: 930 words, photos, video.

— UNITED NATIONS-SYRIA — The outspoken new U.N. envoy on Syria is briefing the Security Council for the first time after visiting key countries with influence on any possible solution to the deeply entrenched conflict. SENT: 620 words, photos.

EBOLA-NURSE QUARANTINED-MAINE

FORT KENT, Maine — Insisting she’s perfectly healthy, nurse Kaci Hickox again defies the state’s Ebola quarantine by leaving her home and taking a bicycle ride with her boyfriend. Maine health authorities struggle to reach a compromise that would require Hickox to keep her distance from other people, in the nation’s most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of the disease. By Robert F. Bukaty. SENT: 830 words, photos, video.

— NYC DOCTOR-HEALTH DETECTIVES — Ebola case highlights work of New York City’s disease trackers, who investigate and identify outbreaks. SENT: 690 words, photos.

ISRAEL PALESTINIANS

JERUSALEM — Israel closes Palestinian access to Jerusalem’s most sensitive religious site, a rare move that ratchets up already heightened tensions after the attempted killing of a prominent Jewish ultranationalist by a Palestinian gunman. The Palestinians accuse Israel of a “declaration of war,” deepening a crisis fueled by failed peace efforts, Israeli settlement construction and months of violence in the holy city. By Josef Federman. SENT: 900 words, photos, videos.

UKRAINE-WINTER THREAT

DONETSK, Ukraine — Dark tunnels in the basement of a bombed-out hospital in the eastern city of Donetsk lead to a dimly lighted makeshift shelter. The inhabitants’ eyes are dull and their faces are weary with hardship. These people are either too poor or old to flee the brutal separatist war. Their dire situation is about to become much worse as Donetsk braces for winter: Damage to critical infrastructure and lack of adequate shelter for the newly homeless could mean death from cold for many. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

TIM COOK-COMES OUT

NEW YORK — Apple CEO Tim Cook’s declaration that he’s “proud to be gay” makes him the highest-profile business executive in the nation to publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation. In a country where more major-league athletes have come out than top CEOs, business leaders and gay-rights advocates say Cook’s disclosure is an important step toward easing anti-gay stigma in the workplace. By Mae Anderson. SENT: 870 words, photos.

HALLOWEEN-CHOCOLATE PRICES

NEW YORK — Halloween is a big treat for candy makers. Americans will spend about $1.5 billion this year filling bowls with chocolate to hand out to ninjas, ghosts and superheroes. That makes the last day of October the industry’s most important holiday for sales — ahead of Easter, Christmas and even Valentine’s Day. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 770 words, photos.

ECONOMY-GDP

The U.S. economy powered its way to a respectable growth rate of 3.5 percent between July and September, outpacing most of the developed world and on track to extend the momentum through the end of the year and beyond. The result isn’t a fluke. It turns out the world’s biggest economy did a lot of things right in the wake of the Great Recession that set it apart. Those key decisions, particularly by the Federal Reserve, appear to be paying off now. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 700 words. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.

HAWAII VOLCANO

PAHOA, Hawaii — The National Guard deploys troops to a rural Hawaii town as lava makes a slow crawl toward a major road and threatens to further isolate the community that got its start during the lumber- and sugar-plantation heydey. SENT: 490 words, photos, videos.

COLONIAL CEMETERY-HEADLESS SKELETON

FORT EDWARD, New York — Sleepy Hollow has the legend of the Headless Horseman. Does a community 150 miles farther up the Hudson River have a Headless Ranger buried in an unmarked cemetery from the 18th century? When two local municipalities finally completed the long-sought purchase of 34 acres on a historic island in the river, they got something else in the deal: an unmarked Colonial-era cemetery that could hold the remains of hundreds of people, including some of the famous frontier fighters known as Rogers’ Rangers. In 2006, a local couple uncovered seven human skeletons buried at the site, including one that was missing its skull. By Chris Carola. SENT: 600 words, photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

FILM-INTERSTELLAR

LOS ANGELES — Jessica Chastain doesn’t even feel comfortable saying her character’s name. The Oscar-nominated actress quickly attempts to course correct when she realizes she’s speaking liberally about Murph, the astrophysicist she’s portraying in “Interstellar,” one of the most closely guarded and anticipated films of 2014. “I’m just so terrified,” she says. While only a 7-year age difference separates Chastain from Matthew McConaughey in the real world, the theory of relativity finds them as a disconnected father and daughter in writer-director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping space-time saga about a last-ditch effort to find humans a new home in another galaxy. By Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang. SENT: 700 words, photos.

SPORTS

LEBRON’S RETURN

CLEVELAND — LeBron James begins a new journey, right back where it started. Back home after four years in Miami, James plays his first regular-season game with the Cavaliers in front of fans who weren’t sure he would ever come back. By Tom Withers. SENT: 520 words, photos.

RED SOX-UEHARA

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have signed Koji Uehara for two more years, committing $18 million to the reliever who closed out the 2013 World Series but struggled along with the team this season. By Jimmy Golen. SENT, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— BURKINA FASO — The longtime leader declares a state of emergency after protesters who oppose his bid for another term storm the parliament and set part of it on fire. SENT: 780 words, photos, video.

— DEATH WITH DIGNITY ADVOCATE — A terminally ill woman who expects to take her own life under Oregon’s assisted-suicide law says she is feeling well enough to possibly postpone the day she had planned to die. SENT: 470 words, photos.

— VATICAN-SISTINE CHAPEL — The Vatican says Sistine Chapel frescoes are turning white from tourists’ carbon dioxide and humidity. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— BABY FORMULA — Federal regulators have announced they are suing Gerber, the well-known baby food maker, for claiming that its Good Start Gentle formula can prevent or reduce allergies in children. SENT: 520 words, photo.

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