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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

June 27, 2014

ASIA:

KOREAS-TENSIONS

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says that leader Kim Jong Un has guided the test launches of its newly developed precision guided missiles, in a possible reference to three short-range projectiles South Korean officials say the North fired toward its waters a day earlier. South Korean defense officials said the projectiles fired from an eastern port city flew about 190 kilometers (120 miles) before harmlessly landing into the waters off its east coast. The exact type of the projectiles and the North’s intentions weren’t immediately known. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 650 words, photos.

HONG KONG-CHINA-TENSION

HONG KONG — Hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers dressed in black march in silence to protest a recent Beijing policy statement they say undermines the Asian financial hub’s rule of law. The demonstration is the latest sign of growing anger over mainland China’s expanding influence over Hong Kong, which was promised a high degree of autonomy after it returned to Beijing’s control 17 years ago. SENT: 340 words.

INDIA PIPELINE BLAST

HYDERABAD, India — A state-owned gas pipeline explodes and bursts into flames Friday, killing at least 15 people, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of neighboring villages in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Flames rose more than 80 feet (25 meters) into the air, scorching the tops of coconut and palm trees and sending dense black clouds of smoke into the sky, witnesses said. Villagers ran out of their homes and crowded the streets. Scores of houses and shops were gutted, officials said. By Omer Farooq. SENT: 370 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-CHINA

WASHINGTON — The United States next month will urge China to resume discussions on cyber security that were abruptly suspended after the Americans charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets, officials said. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 700 words.

AFGHANISTAN

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan —The death toll from a week of fighting between Afghan forces and hundreds of Taliban militants in a southern province rises above 100, while the U.N. calls on all parties to protect civilians who are increasingly caught in the crossfire. The battle is shaping up as a major test of the government’s ability to maintain security in volatile areas after foreign combat troops leave by the end of 2014. By Mirwais Khan and Amir Shah. SENT: 800 words.

INDIA-TIGER ATTACK

KOLKATA, India — A Bengal tiger snatches a man off a fishing boat in eastern India, dragging him away into a mangrove swamp as his children look on in horror. By Prasanta Paul. SENT: 300 words, photos.

CIGARETTE GRAPHIC WARNINGS

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia becomes the newest country to mandate graphic photo warnings on cigarette packs, joining more than 40 other nations or territories that have adopted similar regulations in recent years. The warnings, which showcase gruesome close-up images ranging from rotting teeth and cancerous lungs to open tracheotomy holes and corpses, are an effort to highlight the risks of health problems related to smoking. Research suggests these images have prompted people to quit, but the World Health Organization estimates nearly 6 million people continue to die globally each year from smoking-related causes. By Margie Mason. SENT: 770 words, photos.

— THAILAND-CIGARETTE WARNINGS — A court gives the go-ahead to a new regulation requiring packs of cigarettes to be 85 percent covered with graphic health warnings. SENT: 140 words.

NEPAL-PM CANCER

KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s prime minister is suffering from lung cancer and is scheduled to begin radiotherapy at a New York hospital, officials say. SENT: 140 words.

JAPAN-MILITARY

TOKYO — Japan’s ruling party and its coalition partner are near agreement on a major shift in the country’s restrictive defensive policy that would allow the military to help defend other nations. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 300 words.

NAVAL EXERCISES

HONOLULU — More than one month of naval maneuvers involving the militaries of 22 nations kick off in Hawaii. For the first time, China has sent vessels to participate in the Rim of the Pacific drills that the U.S. Pacific Fleet hosts every two years. Thailand is excluded after its military orchestrated a coup last month. By Audrey McAvoy. SENT: 280 words.

PHILIPPINES-DISASTER WARNINGS

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines passes a law that requires mobile phone companies to send early warnings of impending disasters to millions of people who are vulnerable to deadly typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. The Free Mobile Disaster Act directs mobile phone operators to send out alerts about storms, tsunamis or other calamities whenever required by national disaster agencies. SENT: 350 words.

PHILIPPINES-NIGERIA-KIDNAPPED-GIRLS

MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of Filipino students from a Roman Catholic-run school for girls join a global campaign to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria, chanting “bring them back” and urging motorists in the Philippine capital to honk their car horns in solidarity. SENT: 270 words, photos.

VIETNAM-AUSTRALIA-DEATH SENTENCE

HANOI, Vietnam — State-controlled media say a court in southern Vietnam has sentenced an Australian citizen to death for possessing more than 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of heroin. Pham Trung Dung, an Australian of Vietnamese origin, was arrested in May last year when customs officials reportedly found the heroin in his luggage as he was boarding a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Australia. SENT: 130 words.

CANADA-BODY PARTS

TORONTO — A Toronto man is convicted of second-degree murder for killing and dismembering his ex-girlfriend, then scattering body parts around the city and Niagara Falls. A jury found Jiang Chunqi guilty in the killing of Liu Guanghua. Both were born in China and naturalized as Canadian citizens. SENT: 270 words.

NEW ZEALAND-STUDENT KEEPS HAIR

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A judge rules that a New Zealand schoolboy need not cut his hair before returning to class and that his Catholic high school was wrong to suspend him for having long locks. By Nick Perry. SENT: 500 words, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE

BRUSSELS — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signs up to a trade and economic pact with the European Union, saying it may be the “most important day” for his country since it became independent from the Soviet Union. It was the decision of his pro-Moscow predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, to back out of the same EU association agreement in November that touched off massive protests in Ukraine that eventually led to Yanukovych’s flight abroad, Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. By John-Thor Dahlburg. SENT: 830 words, photos.

— EU-TRADE DEALS-GLANCE — EU trade agreements offer Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia chance for growth, better government. SENT: 660 words, photo.

OBAMA-SYRIA

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is seeking to bolster U.S. efforts to train and arm select members of the Syrian opposition, a move that comes amid increased U.S. concern that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are becoming an intertwined fight against the same Sunni extremist group. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 810 words, photo.

— UNITED NATIONS-RUSSIA-TERRORISM — Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin says there is a real prospect of a terrorist state springing up from Aleppo to Baghdad. SENT: 430 words, photo.

FRANCE-WWI-TOUR DE FRANCE

PARIS — Before sunrise on June 28, 1914, a pack of cyclists set off from Paris on the 12th Tour de France. Hours later, an Austrian archduke stepped out in Sarajevo and was assassinated in the street, igniting the carnage of World War I. Now, 100 years later, cycling’s greatest race is paying special tribute to the millions who fought and died in what came to be known as the Great War. Several stages of the famed Tour de France will run this year along the war’s killing fields, trenches and fronts in northern France and Belgium. By Greg Keller. SENT: 960 words, photos.

LEBANON SHATILA ELECTRICIAN

BEIRUT — By his own account, Abu Wadiyeh is a man very much in demand. One look at the jumbled mass of sinewy electricity cables, TV and Internet lines that droop over the damp, narrow alleyways of the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila, and it’s easy to see why. Abu Wadiyeh, as the chief electrician in Shatila, is responsible for making order out of that chaos and ensuring that the camp’s more than 20,000 residents can turn on their lights and televisions. By Ryan Lucas. SENT: 770 words, photos, video.

BRITAIN-RAMADAN RUSH

LONDON — Before the fast, let there be a shopping feast. From Harrods in Knightsbridge to the glittering diamond stores in Mayfair, London has long attracted big spenders. But every year around the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this weekend, a wave of spectacularly rich Middle Eastern shoppers arrives and takes retail therapy to a whole new level — complete with an entourage of bodyguards, chauffeurs, and Gulf-registered Rolls-Royces and Ferraris flown in just for the occasion. By Sylvia Hui. SENT: 730 words, photos.

MEXICO CITY CIRCUS ANIMAL BAN-PHOTO GALLERY

MEXICO CITY — Armed with a whip, Alex Fuentes performs with his five tigers every night, drawing oohs and aahs from children and their parents. His family has run a circus in Mexico City for decades, but a new municipal ban on the use of animals in circuses has him worried about its future. With photo gallery by Sean Havey. SENT: 260 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— IRAQ — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric calls on the nation’s political blocs to agree on the next prime minister before the newly elected parliament sits. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— EUROPE-NEW LEADER — EU leaders to pick Juncker as 28-nation bloc’s new chief executive despite British opposition. SENT: 560 words, photos.

— PEOPLE-SHIA LABEOUF — Police say actor Shia LaBeouf has been taken out of a New York City theater for being disorderly and causing a disruption. SENT: 140 words, photos, video.

— THE VIEW-CHANGES — Sherri Shepherd is leaving “The View” after seven years and freshman co-host Jenny McCarthy says she’s right behind her, a major upheaval for the daytime talk show. SENT: 360 words.

— HILLARY CLINTON-WEALTH — Hillary Clinton’s wealth and what she says about it fuel a fresh talking point for her critics. SENT: 660 words, photo.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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