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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

June 22, 2014

ASIA:

SKOREA-BORDER SHOOTING

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean troops exchange fire with a runaway soldier who is surrounded in a forest after he killed five comrades near his North Korea border outpost, and bring in his parents to persuade him to surrender, a defense official say. By Jung-yoon Choi. SENT: 565 words, photos.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — Police in Thailand arrest eight people for demonstrating against the nation’s increasingly repressive military junta, including a man who was dragged away by undercover officers for reading a copy of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” outside one of Bangkok’s most luxurious shopping malls. By Thanyarat Doksone and Todd Pitman. SENT: 490 words.

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY VOTE

HONG KONG — More than half a million Hong Kongers have cast ballot, including tens of thousands on Sunday, in the first three days of voting in an unofficial referendum on democratic reform that Beijing has blasted as a farce. SENT: 405 words, photos.

— CHINA-XINJIANG-ATTACK— State television shows a suspect in an attack on a mahjong games room in China’s western region of Xinjiang confessing and apologizing, and saying he had been influenced to carry out a holy war by other gang members. SENT: 475 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — Sunni militants have seized another town in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the fourth to fall in two days, officials saiy, in what is shaping up to be a major offensive in one of Iraq’s most restive regions. Iran’s supreme leader meanwhile came out forcefully against any U.S. intervention in Iraq, accusing Washington of fomenting the unrest and appearing to quash recent speculation that the two rivals might cooperate in addressing the shared threat posed by the advance of Islamic extremists. By Qassim Abdul-Zahra. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.

— IRAQ-IRAN — Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday he is against US intervention in neighboring Iraq, where Islamic extremists and Sunni militants opposed to Tehran have seized a number of towns and cities, the official IRNA news agency reported. SENT: 340 words.

— UNITED STATES-IRAQ — Al-Qaida-inspired militants who have violently seized territory in Iraq could grow in power and destabilize other countries in the region, President Barack Obama says. SENT: 490 words, photo, video.

KERRY

CAIRO — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes the highest-level American visit to Egypt since President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi took office as Washington presses the former army chief to adopt more moderate policies. Economic and security problems are undermining Egypt’s stability, and Kerry’s visit signals an attempt by the Obama administration to thaw a relationship with a longtime Mideast ally that has cooled in recent years during the country’s political turmoil. By Lara Jakes. SENT: 635 words, photos, audio.

UKRAINE

DONETSK, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed Ukraine’s cease-fire plan and appealed to both sides to halt all military operations. A Kremlin statement says “the president of Russia calls on the opposing sides to halt any military activities and sit down at the negotiating table.” The statement said Putin supported Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision to order Ukrainian troops to observe a unilateral cease-fire starting Friday night. SENT: 790 words, photos.

— AP PHOTO MOSB115 — A pro-Russian fighter holds a gun and a rose after taking the oath of allegiance to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, on Lenin square in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

REDSKINS-WHAT’S A SLUR?

Something is happening just beneath the fight over the Washington Redskins’ name: America is working through the process of determining what is — or is not — racially offensive. What is a slur, and who gets to decide? How many people must be offended to tip the scales? Why should some be forced to sacrifice their traditions out of respect for others? “I’d love it to be different where people just cooperate to effect change,” says one observer. “But we’re a very adversarial society.” By National Writer Jesse Washington. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

THE WORLD CUP

WCUP-US BRAZIL RACE

RIO DE JANEIRO — Former Brazilian national midfielder Arouca, playing for Pele’s old club Santos, was doing a sideline TV interview a few months ago when opposing fans began to chant “monkey, monkey, monkey.” Those taunting hit him with another jab: Go to Africa and find a team. Get out of here. President Dilma Rousseff, who has pledged a “World Cup without racism,” tweeted quickly: “It is unacceptable that Brazil, the country with the largest black population after Nigeria, has racism issues.” By Stephen Wade. SENT: 820 words, photos.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Hrvoje Hranjski. 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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