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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

September 22, 2014

ASIA:

HONG KONG-STUDENT STRIKE

HONG KONG — Thousands of Hong Kong students are gearing up to boycott classes over Beijing’s decision to restrict electoral reforms in the former British colony. The weeklong strike marks the latest phase in the battle for democracy in the southern Chinese city, and comes as a big group of Hong Kong’s tycoons visits Beijing to discuss the reforms with China’s communist leaders. The city’s billionaire business leaders tend to support Beijing’s policies. SENT: 330 words; UPCOMING: 550 words by 0700GMT, photos.

WEALTH GAP-ASIA-UNEQUAL CITIES

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Down a concrete path, between rail tracks that buzz with each approaching train and a river choked by plastic and raw sewage, Asih Binti Arif cradles her baby and reflects on dreams gone dark. Five years ago, Arif and her husband left impoverished Madura Island, joining migrants throughout the Indonesian archipelago seeking a better life in the capital. Across the developing world, migration from country to city has long been a potential path out of poverty. Less and less is that true for Arif and millions of others in Asia, where the wealth gap is growing in many of the most densely populated cities in history. By Elaine Kurtenbach and Margie Mason. UPCOMING: 1,400 words by 0700 GMT, photos. A 900 word abridged version will also move.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ending months of vote-related tension, Afghanistan’s election commission has named a new president only hours after the leading candidates signed a power-sharing deal that names one of them as the country’s new chief executive. The commission names Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the next president but pointedly does not release vote totals. U.S. officials applaud the deal amid expectations the president will sign a security deal to allow 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country. By Jason Straziuso and Rahim Faiez. SENT: 1,460 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-TERRORISM

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian government has bent to public pressure by proposing a specific prohibition on secret service officers torturing suspected terrorists. The government had planned to indemnify Australian Security Intelligence Organization officers against all criminal offenses committed in the course of their undercover work except for homicide, causing serious injury, sexual assault and serious damage to property. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 500 words, photos.

CHINA-XINJIANG

BEIJING — Multiple explosions in a county in China’s western region of Xinjiang have killed at least two people and injured many others, regional authorities said Monday. The explosions happened at about 5 p.m. Sunday in at least three places of Luntai county, according to a report on the Tianshan news portal, which is run by the regional branch of the Communist Party. SENT: 330 words.

NEW ZEALAND-ELECTION-MARKETS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Trading in energy companies pushed New Zealand’s stock market higher Monday following an election victory for Prime Minister John Key. In early trading on the first day markets were open following Saturday’s general election, the benchmark NZX 50 index was up 1.3 percent. Energy companies Mighty River Power, Trustpower and Meridian Energy all posted gains of more than 5 percent.

WITH:

— NEW ZEALAND-FLAG. Key wants national vote on changing the flag held next year. SENT, 130 words.

FIJI-ELECTION RESULT

SUVA, Fiji — Official results from a landmark Fiji election confirm a big win for the nation’s military ruler. Voreqe Bainimarama and his Fiji First party won an outright majority in the Parliament by taking 32 of 50 seats, according to results released by the Fijian Elections Office. By Nick Perry and Pita Ligaiula. SENT: 460 words.

CHINA-SUSPECT MEAT

BEIJING — A U.S. meat supplier says it is laying off most of the workforce of a Chinese subsidiary accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald’s, KFC and other major restaurant chains. Shanghai Husi Food Co. has been under investigation since a Shanghai TV station reported in July it repackaged and sold old meat. Six employees were arrested in August on suspicion of producing substandard products. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 350 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

ISLAMIC STATE-MEDIA WAR

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — As the Islamic State group battles across Syria and Iraq, pushing back larger armies and ruling over entire cities, it is also waging an increasingly sophisticated media campaign that has rallied disenfranchised youth and outpaced the sluggish efforts of Arab governments to stem its appeal. The extremist group’s opponents say it is dragging the region back into the Middle Ages with its grisly beheadings and massacres, but its tech-savvy media strategy has exposed the ways in which Arab governments and mainstream religious authorities seem to be living in the past. By Aya Batrawy. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

TURKEY-SYRIA-REFUGEES

KUCUK KENDIRCILER, Turkey — The 19-year-old Kurdish militant who has been fighting the Islamic State group in Syria brings his family over the border to Turkey to safety, but vows to head back after nightfall to continue the fight. Dalil Boras’ relatives are among some 100,000 Syrians, mostly Kurds, who have escaped an Islamic State offensive that over the past week has pushed the conflict right to the Turkish border. By Desmond Butler. SENT: 980 words, photos, video.

— UNITED NATIONS-ISLAMIC STATE — A brutal terrorist organization that calls itself a state but lacks recognition from any government will take center stage when more than 140 heads of state and government convene for the annual ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly this week. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— DEMPSEY-ISLAMIC STATE — Top American military officer says in interview that U.S.-led plan to retake Iraqi territory held by Islamic State group calls for attacking extremists from several directions simultaneously; success depends on getting more Arab help. SENT: 820 words, photos.

— ALBANIA-POPE — Pope Francis calls for moderate Muslims and all religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremists who “pervert” religion to justify violence, as he visits Albania and holds up the Balkan nation as a model for interfaith harmony. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

UKRAINE

MOSCOW — Tens of thousands of people march through central Moscow to demonstrate against the fighting in Ukraine and Russia’s alleged complicity in the conflict. The demonstrators chant slogans including “No to war” and “The junta is in the Kremlin, not Kiev.” The latter refers to Russia’s contention that the ousting of Ukraine’s former Russia-friendly president was a coup. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 500 words, photos.

WHITE HOUSE-SECURITY

MIDLAND, Texas — An Iraq war veteran accused of scaling a fence and making it into the White House before the Secret Service stopped him owns several guns that he could have brought with him if he had meant to harm anyone, his former stepson says. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.

EBOLA

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Frustrated residents are complaining of food shortages in some neighborhoods of Sierra Leone’s capital as the country reaches the third and final day of a sweeping, unprecedented lockdown designed to combat the deadly Ebola disease. While most residents welcome teams of health care workers and volunteers, rumors persist in pockets of the city that poisoned soap was being distributed, suggesting that public education campaigns had not been entirely successful. By Clarence Roy-Macaulay and Robbie Corrie-Boulet. SENT: 960 words, photos, video.

CLIMATE MARCH

NEW YORK — Tens of thousands of activists walked through Manhattan, warning that climate change is destroying the Earth — in stride with demonstrators around the world who urged policymakers to take quick action. Most came on foot for the Sunday march, others with bicycles and walkers, and some even in wheelchairs. Many wore costumes and marched to drumbeats. One woman played the accordion. By Verena Dobnik and Michael Sisak. SENT: 520 words, photos.

— CLIMATE EMISSIONS— Spurred chiefly by China, the United States and India, the world spewed far more carbon pollution into the air last year than ever before, scientists announce as world leaders gather to talk about how to reduce heat-trapping gases. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein. SENT: 520 words, photos, multimedia.

MARS MAVEN

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — NASA’s Maven spacecraft arrived at Mars late Sunday after a 442 million-mile (711 million-kilometer) journey that began nearly a year ago. The robotic explorer fired its brakes and successfully slipped into orbit around the red planet, officials confirmed. Now the real work begins for the $671 million mission, the first dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere. Flight controllers in Colorado will spend the next six weeks adjusting Maven’s altitude and checking its science instruments. Then Maven will start probing the upper atmosphere of Mars. The spacecraft will conduct its observations from orbit; it’s not meant to land. By Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn. SENT: 660 words.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— YEMEN — Yemen state media says prime minister resigns as rebels seize control of strategic sites. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— SPACE STATION — SpaxeX launches a cargo ship with a 3-D printer for the International Space Station. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— BOX OFFICE — ‘The Maze Runner’ races past ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ with $32.5 million. SENT: 110 words, photos.

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