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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 2, 2015

ASIA:

JAPAN-ISLAMIC STATE

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe defends his policy toward terrorism, as the flag at his official residence flies at half-staff in a mark of mourning for two hostages killed by the Islamic State group. By Mari Yamaguchi and Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 560 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents, some likely wearing police uniforms, attack checkpoints in Afghanistan, killing at least nine officers, authorities say. By Rahim Faiez. SENT: 280 words.

PAKISTAN-ARMING TEACHERS

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — When Pakistani Taliban militants stormed a Peshawar school and massacred 150 children and teachers, nobody could fight back. Shabnam Tabinda and some of her fellow teachers want to change that — and are practicing how to shoot terrorists. By Asif Shahzad. SENT: 780 words, photos.

THAILAND-EXPLOSIONS

BANGKOK — Police investigate a pair of bombings outside a luxury shopping mall in the heart of Bangkok, the first such violence reported in the capital since last year’s army coup. One person was slightly injured in the blasts Sunday night, and police said the small homemade bombs were designed to sow panic, not kill. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 510 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-POLITICS

CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Tony Abbott, facing down a revolt from within his own government ranks, promises he will never again choose who gets an Australian knighthood and officially ditches his unpopular parental leave policy. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 690 words.

CHINA-INDIA

BEIJING — China and India reaffirm their warming ties following President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi that underscored Beijing’s complicated relationship with both countries. SENT: 310 words, photos.

CHINA-CULT MURDER

BEIJING — A father and daughter are executed in China for attacking and killing a woman who had refused to join their outlawed religious group during an altercation at a McDonald’s outlet. SENT: 180 words.

UNITED STATES-SRI LANKA

WASHINGTON — The surprise defeat of Sri Lanka’s authoritarian leader and the new government’s early steps to end repression have stirred U.S. hopes that the South Asian island nation can revive ties with Washington and distance itself to some degree from China. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 750 words, photos.

INDONESIA-US WOMAN DEAD

BALI, Indonesia — An Indonesian court decides to go ahead with the trials of an American couple charged with murdering the woman’s mother while vacationing on the resort island of Bali last year. The three-judge panel overruled defense arguments that the indictment submitted by prosecutors had inaccuracies and should be annulled. By Firdia Lisnawati. SENT: 400 words, photos.

SKOREA-NUT RAGE

SEOUL, South Korea — The former Korean Air executive on trial after an inflight tantrum over a serving of nuts defends her actions as the result of devotion to duty. SENT: 370 words.

MYANMAR-SUU KYI’S GATE

YANGON, Myanmar — The iron gate that stood in front of the home of Myanmar’s formerly imprisoned democracy icon, separating her from throngs of cheering supporters as she made speeches challenging the country’s then-military rulers, is going on the auction block. Soe Nyunt, the current owner, says the starting bid would be $200,000. By Aye Aye Win. SENT: 460 words, photos.

CHINA-NEW YEAR GALA

BEIJING — China says its annual Lunar New Year gala TV show is all set to go international. State broadcaster China Central Television says it’s making rights available to foreign broadcasters for the first time, and plans to promote the Feb. 18 show on Twitter and other social media. By Louise Watt. SENT: 350 words.

INDIA-CART PULLERS-PHOTO ESSAY

NEW DELHI — At the end of their workdays, after they have pulled their wooden carts for hours through the narrow lanes of New Delhi’s spice market, the exhausted men stop at little sidewalk stalls for something to eat, often a few handfuls of rice with some gravy on top. Then, many of them maneuver their carts into some quiet piece of pavement. That is where they sleep, spreading out their thin blankets on the carts they have pushed all day. By Saurabh Das. SENT: 450 words, photos.

THE WEEK THAT WAS IN ASIA-PHOTO GALLERY

As a hostage crisis unfolded in the Middle East last week, Japanese rallied outside the prime minister’s residence in Tokyo to chant and hold up placards calling for the release of Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist who was captured by the Islamic State group and threatened with death unless Tokyo met its changing demands. There was also sadness in the Philippines, where families mourned the deaths of 44 elite police commandos killed in anti-terrorist operation against Muslim rebels in the southern part of the country. SENT: 200 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

MACAU-CASINO SLOWDOWN

HONG KONG — The game has changed in Macau. The Asian gambling capital’s winning streak is cooling after a decade of red hot growth that transformed the city from a neglected former Portuguese colonial outpost into the world’s No. 1 casino market. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 900 words, photos.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

HONG KONG — Two reports show that Chinese manufacturing was anemic in January, adding to pressure on the government to roll out measures to boost the world’s No. 2 economy. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 290 words.

THAILAND-FACTORY FIRE

BANGKOK — A massive fire that engulfed a tire plant in Thailand’s eastern industrial estate caused about $40 million in losses for one of China’s largest tire exporters, officials says. The fire destroyed six out of 15 warehouses in the Linglong International Tire compound. SENT: 190 words.

PHILIPPINES-NEW CASINO

MANILA, Philippines — Melco Crown Entertainment opens a $1 billion casino and entertainment resort in the Philippine capital. SENT: 100 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

BUDGET

WASHINGTON — President Barack is sending Congress a $4 trillion budget that seeks to raise taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations and use the extra income to lift the fortunes of American families who have felt squeezed during tough economic times. He would also ease tight budget constraints imposed on the military and domestic programs. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 810 words, photos.

SUPER BOWL

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The final 125 seconds included a perfect possession by Tom Brady for the go-ahead points, a juggling catch that could have been the play of the year, and a victory-clinching, end-zone interception on a pass — not run — from the 1. A Super Bowl that got off to a slow start wound up with a “Whoa!” finish, a lot like the New England Patriots’ entire season. By Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich. SENT: 900 words, photos, video.

ISLAMIC STATE-FOG OF WAR

SNUNY, Iraq — All along their shifting front lines in northern Iraq, Kurdish forces maintain only a tenuous hold on territory seized from the Islamic State group with help from U.S.-led coalition air strikes. Harsh winter weather and thick mud underfoot hampers military moves — and even rear-line positions remain in range of the enemy. By Vivian Salama. SENT: 540 words, photos.

PAKISTAN-ARMING TEACHERS

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The Taliban’s massacre of more than 150 children and teachers at a Pakistani school has prompted a debate over whether to arm teachers that reflects similar discussions held in U.S. school systems following their own mass shootings. But for Shabnam Tabinda and other teachers in grief-stricken Peshawar, where the mass killing took place, going unarmed to school is no longer an option. By Asif Shahzad. SENT: 780 words, photos.

FINANCIER-TEENAGE GIRLS

MIAMI — More than six years after a highly connected financier pleaded guilty to sex charges, new allegations by four women that he offered them up as teenage playthings to Prince Andrew, one of America’s most prominent attorneys, and other powerful men have reignited a case rife with tawdry claims about the sexual appetites of the super-rich. By Curt Anderson. SENT: 1,280 words, photo.

WASHINGTON

OSCARS-STILL ALICE-ALZHEIMER’S

WASHINGTON — Her performance as a vibrant woman fading into the darkness of Alzheimer’s is doing more than earn awards for actress Julianne Moore. “Still Alice” is raising awareness of a disease too often suffered in isolation — even if the Hollywood face is younger than the typical real-life patient. By Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard. SENT: 720 words, photos.

STRIPPERS-LOBBYING

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon strippers are banding together in search of better working conditions. They’re working with a team of seasoned lobbyists to take the fight to the state Legislature. By Jonathan J. Cooper. SENT: 780 words, photos.

EGYPT

CAIRO — An Egyptian court sentences 183 people to death over the killing of 15 policemen in violence that took place after the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. SENT: 130 words.

EBOLA-WEST AFRICA

MONROVIA, Liberia — A trial of an Ebola vaccine is starting in Liberia’s capital on a group of volunteers. The vaccination trial is a product of a partnership set up by the governments of Liberia and United States. By Jonathan Paye-Layleh. SENT: 480 words.

FRANCE-STRAUSS-KAHN

PARIS — Dominique Strauss-Kahn is going on trial for sex charges in France — the nation where he once was considered a top presidential contender. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, whose career went down in flames amid accusations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York, is facing similarly shocking charges in France: aggravated pimping and involvement in a prostitution ring operating out of luxury hotels. By Greg Keller. SENT: 590 words, photos.

ECUADOR-CORREA-INTERNET TROLLS

QUITO, Ecuador — President Rafael Correa, showing little tolerance for online humor and “memes” poking fun at him, creates a website and Twitter account to organize social media counterattacks, calling on supporters to inundate the “defamers” with digital bombs. Critics call it yet another government attempt to censor free speech. By Gonzalo Solano. SENT: 780 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.

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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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