BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS
BANGKOK — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra returns to her office after five days away but her effort to show that normalcy is returning to Thailand after days of violent protests is upstaged by another rowdy rally at the national police headquarters. Street fighting that had wracked pockets of Bangkok since the weekend abruptly ended Tuesday before the nation celebrates revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 86th birthday Thursday. Tensions are running high, though, because protesters have vowed to continue their “battle” after the holiday. By Jinda Wedel. SENT: 510 words, photos.
BEIJING — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are discussing efforts to forge a new model for relations between the major powers, but they’ve made no public comments about a new Chinese air defense zone that’s become a major friction point in Asia. Biden appeared somber and subdued as he and Xi spoke to reporters after a meeting that ran about an hour longer than scheduled. The two planned another meeting and a working dinner. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 360 words, photos.
KOREAS-KIM’S UNCLE-IS IT TRUE?
SEOUL, South Korea — It’s intriguing news: the claim by South Korea’s spy agency that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un probably sacked the country’s second-most-powerful official — his uncle. But the first question is, is it true? Seoul’s National Intelligence Service has a spotty record of tracking what’s going on inside what may be the world’s most secretive, unfriendly and difficult-to-navigate country. By Foster Klug and Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 560 words, photos.
BEIJING — About 200 thugs have harassed lawyers and relatives of three civil rights activists outside a courthouse in eastern China, as top judges marked the anniversary of China’s constitution by hailing the rule of law. The three activists stood trial in the city of Xinyu on illegal assembly charges that supporters say were trumped up to punish them for being part of a group that urges citizens to embrace their constitutional rights. SENT: 400 words.
MYANMAR-BACK TO SCHOOL
YANGON, Myanmar — The campus is overrun by a tangled web of weeds and vines. Many of the books in the open-air library are ancient, their pages yellow. Students will have to share a handful of donated computers and put up with slow-speed Internet, at least at first. And professors are struggling to catch up with developments in their fields. This is Yangon University, once among Asia’s most prestigious institutions of learning. It reopens to undergraduates Thursday for the first time in nearly two decades, finally emerging from a crackdown by military rulers who considered education a threat to their supremacy. By Aye Aye Win. SENT: 940 words, photos.
MANILA, Philippines — Myanmar’s president brings additional typhoon aid on a three-day trip to the Philippines, where he is also expected to seek support for his country’s hosting of a summit next year of Asian and world leaders. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 400 words.
NEW DELHI — Millions of residents of India’s capital line up to cast their ballots in city polls that are expected to serve as an indication of how Indians will vote in next year’s national elections. By Nirmala George. SENT: 560 words, photos.
BEIJING — Ukraine’s embattled president arrives in China for an official visit while his opponents conduct massive protests at home demanding his resignation. SENT: 210 words, photos.
BEIJING — China says it is fully capable of enforcing its newly declared maritime air defense zone that has drawn strong denunciations from the U.S., Japan and other nations. Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng says Beijing has unwavering determination to ensure its demands are met. SENT: 130 words.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia will resume international adoptions in 2014, more than four years after suspending them over concerns about child exploitation, an official says. SENT: 300 words.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s secret service has raided the Canberra homes of a lawyer and a former spy who intend to allege in an international court in The Hague that Australia bugged the East Timorese Cabinet ahead of sensitive oil and gas revenue-sharing negotiations. East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao condemns Australia’s actions as “counterproductive and uncooperative.” By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 500 words.
UNITED STATES-SOUTH ASIA
WASHINGTON — International patience could wear thin with Sri Lanka unless it takes action to address allegations of atrocities during the island nation’s civil war, the top U.S. diplomat for South Asia says. SENT: 440 words.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the Philippines this month to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to helping the Southeast Asian nation rebuild after a devastating typhoon. SENT: 130 words.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE:
BALI, Indonesia — Chances of a breakthrough in global trade negotiations dim as India refuses to budge on food subsidies that are an obstacle to an eleventh-hour agreement at a World Trade Organization summit. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urges the WTO’s 159 member economies to work past their differences to finalize a slimmed-down deal to boost trade. By Dessianing Ariyanti. SENT: 370 words, photos.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia opts to avoid political arguments over how high to raise the national debt limit by scrapping debt ceilings altogether. The government had faced stiff resistance in Parliament to increasing the country’s public debt ceiling by a whopping two-thirds to 500 billion Australian dollars ($452 billion). By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 190 words.
TOKYO — General Motors says it’s in Japan for the long haul despite sales of Cadillac and Chevrolet models barely surpassing 1,000 vehicles a year. There has never been much appetite in Japan for left-hand drive gas-guzzling U.S. autos, and there are many informal barriers to foreign automakers making it. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 380 words, photos.
U.S. & INTERNATIONAL:
NYC TRAIN DERAILMENT
NEW YORK — An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, experienced a hypnotic-like “daze” and nodded at the controls before suddenly realizing something was wrong and hitting the brakes, his lawyer says. By Jim Fitzgerald and Jennifer Peltz. SENT: 1,200 words, photo, video.
CONNECTICUT SCHOOL SHOOTING
NEWTOWN, Conn. — Recordings of 911 calls from the Newtown school shooting are being released days after a state prosecutor dropped his fight to continue withholding them despite an order to provide them to The Associated Press. For nearly a year, the AP has been asking for an opportunity to review the tapes, which will be released to the news cooperative along with other media organizations. By Michael Melia and Warren Levinson. SENT: 430 words, photos.
BEIRUT — Gunmen shoot dead a senior Hezbollah commander outside his home in southern Beirut, an attack that the Iranian-backed group quickly blame on arch-enemy Israel. Israeli officials deny any involvement. By Zeina Karam. SENT 700 words, photos, video.
KIEV, Ukraine — Several thousand people gather on the central square of Ukraine’s capital as Orthodox priests chant prayers at dawn to the demonstrators pushing their anti-government protests into a new day. With the president out of the country and the government unyielding, a resolution to the tensions that have gripped Ukraine for nearly two weeks appears elusive. By Jim Heintz. SENT: 290 words, photos.
BEFORE I DIE
BUFFALO, N.Y. — It is public art made of private wishes. In a phenomenon spreading across the globe, oversize blackboards, painted on buildings and freestanding displays, invite passers-by to complete the sentence: “Before I die I want to...” Answers, some profound, some profane, are written on stenciled lines with pieces of sidewalk chalk picked from the ground below. ”...make my dad proud.” ″...find the yin to my yang.” Since artist Candy Chang created the first wall on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood in 2011, more than 400 walls have gone up in the United States and more than 60 other countries. By Carolyn Thompson. SENT: 660 words, photos, video.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal wants to look like Ireland, but it can’t disguise its resemblance to Greece. Inspectors from Portugal’s bailout creditors arrive in Lisbon for a regular check of the country’s fiscal health and its compliance with the stipulations of the $106 billion financial rescue it received in 2011. As in Ireland and Greece, which got bailouts the year before Portugal, the agreement demanded steep spending cuts and an economic makeover — part of an effort to persuade wary investors to start lending debt-heavy eurozone countries money again. By Barry Hatton. SENT: 970 words, photos.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The picturesque La Boca district draws hordes of tourists to stroll its narrow lanes lined with colorful buildings and dine at outdoor steakhouses. Now it has a new, unwanted claim to fame: The Riachuelo river that flows through has been named one of the planet’s 10 dirtiest places. By Almudena Calatrava. SENT: 830 words, photos, video.
CAIRO — The more than century-old home of Egypt’s mummies and King Tutankhamun’s treasures is trying to make the best out of the worst times of political turmoil. But the Egyptian Museum is taking a hammering on multiple levels, from riots on its doorstep that have driven away tourists to funding so meager it can’t keep up paper clip supplies for its staff. Optimistically looking ahead, the museum is trying to turn its fortunes around with an extensive renovation for the palatial, salmon-colored building. By Barbara Surk. SENT: 900 words, photos.
— EGYPT-MUSEUM TROUBLES-PHOTO GALLERY — AP PHOTOS: Golden pieces of Egypt’s pharaonic history unseen as turmoil drives away tourists. SENT: 140 words, photos.
LONDON — Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson testifies that ex-husband Charles Saatchi threatened to destroy her if she did not clear his name after he was photographed holding her throat outside a restaurant. Lawson was appearing as a prosecution witness at the fraud trial of her former assistants, a case that has exposed details of the TV star’s tempestuous domestic life. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 530 words, photos.
DETROIT — A judge gives Detroit the green light to cut pensions as a way out of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, a decision that puts the case in the laps of thousands of retirees who had hoped that the Michigan Constitution would protect them from getting smaller checks in their golden years. Judge Steven Rhodes says the city is eligible to stay in bankruptcy court and scrub $18 billion in debt, about half of that amount linked to underfunded pensions and health care obligations. But he also warned officials that they’ll need to justify any deep reductions. By Ed White. SENT: 590 words, photos, video.
LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas, where the only design rule is that everything must mirror something else, is getting a new outdoor mall modeled on Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Construction began this week on the Grand Bazaar Shops outside of Bally’s Las Vegas. The two-acre outdoor mall is expected to open next fall, on the corner of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard in the heart of the Strip. Other hyper-specific themes rolled out on the Strip this year include an Eastern European glass factory theater and a China-themed casino complete with live pandas. By Hannah Dreier. SENT: 600 words, photos.
SALT LAKE CITY — Three gay couples challenge Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in the city that’s home to the Mormon Church, known for its efforts in California’s anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. A federal court judge is set to hear arguments Wednesday from both sides as he nears what will be a precedent-setting decision that he hopes to make by the end of the year. SENT: 420 words.
IRON MAN’S TEST
As if mythical Dark Elves from Svartalfheim were enough of a test for Tony Stark, the armor-clad Avenger is poised to find himself in the middle of a dimensional caper while having to match wits with a fabled arch-nemesis, the Mandarin. By Matt Moore. SENT: 310 words, photo.
— MIRACLE RESCUE — Man survives three days at bottom of Atlantic, rescued after finding air pocket in tugboat. SENT: 925 words, photos, video.
— UN-MEXICO-RADIOACTIVE THEFT — UN agency reports theft of Mexican truck with highly radioactive cargo. SENT: 110 words.
— NORMAN ROCKWELL-AUCTION — A trio of Norman Rockwell paintings that for years resided at a New England museum in his name is being auctioned in New York City. SENT: 400 words.
— ROCKEFELLER TREE LIGHTING — A 76-foot Norway spruce from Shelton, Conn., shines at Rockefeller Center as it is lighted in an annual holiday display. SENT: 110 words, photos, video.
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 email@example.com.
The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.
Between 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.