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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

August 18, 2014



SEOUL, South Korea — Pope Francis wraps up his first trip to Asia by challenging Koreans —from the North and the South — to reject the “mindset of suspicion and confrontation” that clouds their relations and find new ways to forge peace on the war-divided peninsula. Before boarding a plane back to Rome, the pope held a Mass of reconciliation at Seoul’s main cathedral, attended by South Korean President Park Geun-hye as well as some North Korean defectors. It was the final event of a five-day trip that confirmed the importance of Asia for this papacy and for the Catholic Church as a whole, given the church is young and growing here whereas it is withering in traditionally Christian lands in Europe. By Nicole Winfield and Jung-yoon Choi. SENT: 890 words, photos, video.


SEOUL, South Korea — Pope Francis gets a crash course in tangled inter-Korean politics, achieves English linguistic victory during his whirlwind trip to South Korea. By Nicole Winfield and Foster Klug. SENT: 910 words, photos, video. AP Analysis.


ISLAMABAD — Twin protests demanding the Pakistani government step down are wreaking havoc in the capital, Islamabad, where commuters must circumvent shipping containers and barbed wire to get to work, protesters knock on people’s doors to use the bathroom, and garbage is piling up. By Zarar Khan. SENT: 730 words, photos.


KATMANDU, Nepal — Authorities in Nepal and neighboring India send food, medical supplies and tents to areas where monsoon floods have displaced thousands of people and killed at least 180 in recent days. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 420 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — Myanmar’s downtrodden Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship, targeted in deadly sectarian violence and corralled into dirty camps without aid. To heap on the indignity, Myanmar’s government is pressuring foreign officials not to speak the group’s name, and the tactic appears to be working. U.N. officials say they avoid the term in public to avoid stirring tensions between the country’s Buddhists and Muslims. And after Secretary of State John Kerry recently met with Myanmar leaders, a senior State Department official told reporters the U.S. thinks the name issue should be “set aside.” By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 940 words.


NEW DELHI — Wildlife poachers, hindered by India’s efforts to protect majestic endangered animals including tigers and rhinos, have begun to think smaller. And activists say scores of the country’s lesser-known species are vanishing from the wild as a result. The Indian pangolin — a scaly critter whose defense mechanism of rolling up into a ball is no help against humans — and the star tortoise — a popular pet that maxes out at a foot in length — are just two of the species that are being killed or smuggled in increasing numbers while conservation efforts focus on such iconic animals such as tigers and elephants. By Nirmala George. SENT: 820 words, photos.


BEIJING — Russian army helicopters land in northern China to take part in multinational anti-terrorism drills, underscoring continuing close ties between Beijing and Moscow despite tensions with the West over Ukraine. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 390 words.


MATARAM, Indonesia — Rescuers safely recover 13 more people from a tourist boat that sank after hitting a reef in central Indonesia, but are searching for a Dutch man and an Italian woman who are still missing, officials say. The boat sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island carrying 20 foreign tourists, four Indonesian crewmen and an Indonesian guide. Ten people — all foreigners — were rescued Sunday. By Jacob Herin. SENT: 380 words.


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will file a new diplomatic protest with China complaining about frequent patrols by Chinese ships in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs says. The department’s spokesman, Charles Jose, said the patrols are part of China’s efforts to change the status quo in the South China Sea in violation of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and a 2002 regional accord. SENT: 340 words.


TOKYO — Japan is looking into reports that a Japanese man may have been detained by militants in Syria, the foreign ministry says. By Emily Wang. SENT: 260 words.



BEIJING — China’s government says it has concluded Mercedes-Benz violated anti-monopoly laws and charged excessive prices for parts, adding to a growing number of global automakers snared in an investigation of the industry. The luxury unit of Germany’s Daimler AG abused its control over supplies of spare parts to engage in “vertical price-fixing,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. It said investigators from the price bureau of the eastern province of Jiangsu found prices were so high that purchasing the parts used to make one Mercedes C-class car would cost the equivalent of buying 12 vehicles. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 540 words, photos.



FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri’s governor ordered the National Guard to a St. Louis suburb convulsed by protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, after a night in which police used tear gas to clear protesters off the streets well ahead of a curfew. Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard would help “in restoring peace and order” to Ferguson, where protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer entered their second week. Police said they acted in response to gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails. By Nigel Duara and Jim Suhr. SENT: 840 words, photos, video, interactive.

— POLICE-SHOOTING-MISSOURI-TIMELINE — Timeline of events following fatal shooting of Michael Brown in St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. SENT: 500 words, photos.


BAGHDAD — After two days of U.S. airstrikes, an Iraqi military spokesman says Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters have retaken control of the country’s largest dam from the hands of Islamic militants who captured it less than two weeks ago. The development marks the first major victory for Iraqi and Kurdish troops since U.S. airstrikes began earlier this month and could significantly boost their morale as they try to free territory overrun by the Islamic State group in a blitz this summer. By Sinan salaheddin. SENT: 680 words.


BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip — Shahed Quishta was curled up in an armchair one late afternoon during the Gaza war when a shell slammed into her living room. Shrapnel pierced the 8-year-old’s head and neck, and she died minutes after arriving at a hospital. Almost a month after her death from what her father says was an Israeli tank shell, her family remains paralyzed by grief. The Quishtas are among thousands who suffered a loss during the current Israel-Hamas war, the third in Gaza in just over five years. The emotional wounds, though sometimes hidden, can be seen in the grim statistics of the conflict. By Karin Laub. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

— ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS — Palestinian and Israeli negotiators taking part in Egypt-mediated talks on a sustainable truce and solution for the Gaza Strip harden their positions as a five-day cease-fire is set to expire at midnight on Monday. SENT: 600 words, photos, video.


LONDON — Doctors and nurses fighting Ebola in West Africa are working 14-hour days, seven days a week, wearing head-to-toe gear in the heat of muddy clinics. Agonizing death is the norm. The hellish conditions aren’t the only problem: Health workers struggle to convince patients they’re trying to help them, not hurt them. Rumors are rife that Western aid workers are importing Ebola, stealing bodies or even deliberately infecting patients. By Maria Cheng. SENT: 890 words, photos.


EDGARTOWN, Mass. — President Barack Obama arrived on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard accompanied by one daughter, and the other daughter may be at his side when his two-week getaway ends later this month. In a first, neither teenager is spending the whole summer vacation with her father. By Darlene Superville. SENT: 520 words, photos.

— OBAMA — President Obama returned to Washington for a two-day break from his summer vacation. SENT: 400 words, photos.


MIAMI — In the photo, a girl sits calmly on a wooden raft, surrounded by a dozen bare-chested, grave-looking men. Her big brown eyes stare intently at the camera. A few wisps of her dark hair float in the ocean breeze. In a moment, she will be pushed out to sea. An art student in Cuba 20 years ago, William Castellanos instinctively began taking photos as thousands of Cubans built makeshift rafts, encouraged by President Fidel Castro’s declaration that authorities would no longer stop people from fleeing. Castellanos eventually left Cuba as well, and now lives in Miami. But questions about the people in those photos still trouble him. Did they make it, or did their flimsy rafts break apart in the middle of the sea? Do they have busy lives and jobs and families now? Or are these old photographs the last testament of their existence? Especially, he wonders about the girl. By Christine Armario. SENT: 600 words, photos.


MOSCOW — Ukraine claims that rebels in the east of the country fired rockets and mortars on civilians trying to flee from the region’s intense fighting while in Berlin Russia’s foreign minister says he expects the extensive humanitarian aid mission for eastern Ukraine to enter the country in the near future. SENT: 140 words, photos.


BOGOTA, Colombia — Two years after Bogota’s leftist mayor suspended bullfights at the capital’s history-steeped bullring, apprentice matadors are nearly two weeks into a hunger strike pressing for the blood sport’s reinstatement. By Libardo Cardona. SENT: 590 words, photos.


MEXICO CITY — Elisabeth Garrido stacks bales of hay into the shape of a horse, straps reins around a mock head and sets off on an imaginary but energetic ride, whipping the hay with a riding crop. It’s part of the do-it-yourself training for Garrido, one of the two female apprentice jockeys at Mexico City’s horse track who dream of becoming full-fledged jockeys. By Sean Havey. SENT: 585 words, photos.



LONDON — WikiLeaks founder says he’ll leave embassy bolt hole ‘soon’ but fails to offer explanation. By Raphael Satter. SENT: 300 words, photos, video.


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