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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

August 28, 2014



CANBERRA, Australia — Just weeks before the hunt for the missing Malaysian airliner is set to resume, an Australian official says the sprawling search area in the southern Indian Ocean may be extended farther south based on a new analysis of a failed attempt to call the plane by satellite phone. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the analysis of the call, attempted by Malaysia Airlines officials on the ground soon after Flight 370 disappeared from radar, “suggests to us that the aircraft might have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected.” By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 790 words, photos.


ISLAMABAD — A fiery Pakistani cleric who has been leading a mass rally outside Parliament demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation says he has “shut the door” on further talks with the government. The development is a worrisome sign in the already troubled negotiations between the Pakistani government and the opposition amid a lingering crisis that has raised fears of political instability in this nuclear-armed country of 180 million people with a history of political turmoil and military dictatorships. By Munir Ahmed. SENT: 500 words, photos.


BANGKOK — A Thai court dismisses a murder case against ex-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy, who were both indicted for ordering a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2010. The judges ruled that the Criminal Court has no authority to handle the case because the two accused were holders of political office at the time they gave the orders. SENT: 260 words.


PYONGYANG, North Korea — A Japanese pro-wrestler-turned-politician arrives in North Korea with a former NFL lineman and more than a dozen martial artists for the first big sports event featuring well-known foreigners since Dennis Rodman’s controversial basketball game earlier this year. Japanese parliamentarian Kanji “Antonio” Inoki says he hopes the event will open a door of sports diplomacy with the North. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 500 words, photos.


TOKYO — China and South Korea urge Japan to stick to history and reflect on its wartime aggression after Tokyo confirmed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a note earlier this year to a ceremony honoring more than a thousand World War II-era war criminals praising their contributions. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 570 words, photos.


BALI, Indonesia — Often-testy neighbors Indonesia and Australia sign a new security agreement to mend a relationship badly damaged by allegations last year that Australia was listening to the telephone conversations of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife. SENT: 390 words, photos.


HONG KONG — Hong Kong anti-corruption police search the homes of a media magnate who is an outspoken critic of Beijing and a pro-democracy legislator after receiving a complaint alleging that lawmakers had taken bribes. Wielding search warrants, officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption paid a morning visit to the homes of Jimmy Lai and Lai’s top aide, Mark Simon, Simon said. Pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan’s home and office also were searched. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 400 words, photos.


BEIJING — China says it will continue responding to U.S. military surveillance flights off its coast, rejecting American accusations that one of Beijing’s fighter jets acted recklessly in intercepting a U.S. Navy plane last week. Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said China’s military would closely monitor U.S. flights and reiterated calls for the U.S. to scale back or end such missions altogether. SENT: 480 words.


BEIJING — Six people die and 21 others are missing after a landslide hits a village in southwestern China, Chinese state media report. The official Xinhua News Agency said 77 houses collapsed or were buried in the landslide in the village of Yingping in Guizhou province. It said 21 people were injured. SENT: 90 words, photos, video.


MANILA, Philippines — Leaders of the Philippine Roman Catholic Church, Asia’s largest, vow to counter extremist religions such as that espoused by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who heads the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, also asked the country’s bishops to collect donations for Christians who have been displaced by the militants and whose places of worship have been razed “by a godless rage with which no genuine religion can ever identify.” SENT: 250 words.


SYDNEY — Shaun the shaggy Australian sheep has at last been shorn. But the woolly wanderer wasn’t the wooliest of all. The sheep apparently had been hiding for years on a farm on the island state of Tasmania and had never been shorn. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that Shaun lost 23.5 kilograms (52 pounds) of wool at his first haircut. SENT: 120 words, photos.



SEOUL, South Korea — Are dogs for petting or eating? The two views have coexisted uneasily in South Korea’s recent history. On the hottest days of the year, many South Koreans queue for a bowl of dog stew, believing it gives them strength. Animal rights activists protest nearby, urging people not to devour man’s best friend. Waning sales have led to the closure of a famous dog soup restaurant that was frequented by two former presidents. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 920 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — India’s state-owned banks are conducting a massive campaign to open millions of accounts for poor Indians who are off the financial grid and vulnerable to black market money lenders. Tens of thousands have already lined up to open accounts since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the campaign on Aug. 15, bank managers say. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 300 words, photos.


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy expanded by 6.4 percent in the second quarter and tied with Malaysia as the second-fastest growing in Asia during the period, officials say. The April-June growth was higher than the 5.6 percent posted in the first quarter, driven by industry, which grew by 7.8 percent, followed by services, which posted 6.0 percent growth, the government statistics agency reported. SENT: 340 words.


SYDNEY — Qantas Airways Ltd. posted a record 2.8 billion Australian dollar ($2.6 billion) loss, reflecting a profit-draining battle with its smaller rival Virgin Australia and aircraft write downs. The loss for the financial year ended June 30 is the largest the former state-owned airline has posted in its 94-year history. It made an AU$1 million profit in the previous year. SENT: 290 words, photos.


BEIJING — State-owned PetroChina, East Asia’s biggest oil producer, says its first-half profit rose 4 percent as sales of gasoline and natural gas increased. SENT: 130 words.


YANGON, Myanmar — A U.S investment fund has signed a $480 million deal to build two solar energy plants in central Myanmar, one of the largest investments by an American firm since the easing of U.S. sanctions. The agreement, inked by the ACO Investment Group and the Ministry of Energy, is aimed at helping ease electricity shortages in the country of 60 million, which only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule and self-imposed isolation. SENT: 220 words.



BEIRUT — As the U.S. strikes Islamic State militant targets in Iraq, extremists of the same group are unhindered in their growth across the border in Syria, capturing new territory and becoming bolder by the day. An AP look at what the group holds in Syria. By Zeina Karam. SENT: 930 words, photos.

— ISLAMIC STATE-AMERICANS — The U.S. tries to determine if a second American fighting with the Islamic State group has been killed in Syria. SENT: 220 words.


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama faces a familiar question as he contemplates airstrikes in Syria: Should Congress have a say in his decision? Obama was barreling toward strikes last summer when he abruptly announced that he first wanted approval from congressional lawmakers. But Congress balked at Obama’s request for a vote and the operation was eventually scrapped. This time around, the White House is suggesting it may not be necessary to get a sign-off from Congress for airstrikes. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 920 words, photos.


LAS VEGAS — The death of an Arizona firearms instructor by a 9-year-old girl who was firing a fully automatic Uzi displayed a tragic side of what has become a hot industry in the U.S.: gun tourism. By Michelle Rindels and Jacques Billeaud. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, videos, audio.


NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president calls an emergency meeting of the nation’s security council and cancels a foreign trip, declaring that “Russian forces have entered Ukraine,” as concerns grow about the opening of a new front in the conflict. President Petro Poroshenko summons the council as the strategic southeastern Ukraine town of Novoazovsk appears firmly under the control of Russia-backed separatists. SENT: 650 words, photos.


PARIS — Facing horrendous poll numbers, Francois Hollande casts his lot: The French president who once denounced global finance and vowed a 75-percent tax on millionaires now shakes up his Socialist government to quell dissent from his left flank — and appoints a well-heeled former investment banker as his new point man on the economy. The message: France is staying on the course of tough and often unpopular reforms. By Jamey Keaten and Sylvie Corbet. SENT: 760 words, photos.

— FRANCE-ISLAMIC MILITANTS — The French president rules out an international partnership with Syria’s leader to fight against the Islamic State group. SENT: 140 words.


BRUSSELS — Don’t be fooled by Angela Merkel. The German chancellor may be the most powerful leader in the European Union, but she hardly paints a true picture of the place of women in EU politics. EU leaders meet to divide top jobs for the next half decade, and after years of paying lip service to increasing equality between the sexes, the problem of inequality is still plain for all to see at these meetings — where are the women? By Raf Casert. SENT: 760 words, photos.


GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa eventually could exceed 20,000 cases, more than 6 times as many as doctors know about now. A new plan to stop Ebola by the U.N. health agency also assumes that in many hard-hit areas, the actual number of cases may be two to four times higher than is currently reported. By John Heilprin and Krista Larson. SENT: 480 words, photos.


JERUSALEM — Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim off victory over Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip and the uneasy peace with Hamas, most Israelis remain unconvinced that another round of fighting with the militant group can be avoided, a new survey shows. By Peter Enav. SENT: 520 words, photos, video.


TORONTO — Few things unite Canadians the way Tim Hortons does. For half a century, they have warmed themselves on chilly mornings with the chain’s coffee and Timbits — or doughnut holes to Americans. So news this week that Burger King will buy Tim Hortons served as a bittersweet reminder of how beloved the homegrown chain is in Canada, where 75 percent of the all the coffee sold at fast food restaurants comes from “Timmy’s,” as it is affectionately known. Tim Hortons is found in just about every small town and large city across Canada, and hockey-mad Canadians often head to their local Timmy’s before or after their kids’ games. By Rob Gillies. SENT: 740 words, photos.


— EGYPT — Egypt charges former Islamist President Morsi of leaking secret documents to Qatar. SENT: 140 words.

— TURKEY-ERDOGAN — Recep Tayyip Erdogan takes the oath of office as Turkey’s first popularly elected president. SENT: 390 words, photos.


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.

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