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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

April 7, 2014

ASIA

MALAYSIA-PLANE

PERTH, Australia — Underwater sounds detected by a ship searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes, an Australian official says, dubbing it “a most promising lead” in the monthlong hunt for the vanished plane. By Nick Perry. SENT: 1,080 words, photos, video, audio.

MALAYSIA-PLANE-COST

BANGKOK — It’s not a question most governments involved in the hunt for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 care to answer: How much has the far-flung, month-long search cost? The U.S. bill alone has run into the millions of dollars, and some countries such as China have devoted more ships and planes to the effort than the Americans have. Australia is spending more than half a million dollars a day on just one of the ships it has in the Indian Ocean. By Leon Drouin-Keith. SENT: 710 words, photos.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-NEXT STEPS — A breakdown of exactly what has been discovered and the next steps forward. SENT: 750 words, photos.

INDIA-ELECTION

GAUHATI, India — Voters in India’s remote northeast cast ballots on the first day of the world’s biggest election, with the opposition heading into the polls with strong momentum on promises of a surge in economic growth. By Wasbir Hussain. SENT: 1,000, photos.

PHILIPPINES-ITALIAN DIPLOMAT

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine police say they have detained a vacationing Italian diplomat and filed complaints of human trafficking and child abuse after he was allegedly found in the company of three underage boys at a resort. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 335 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-NOAH BANNED

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia and Indonesia have banned the biblical epic “Noah,” joining other Muslim nations that forbid the Hollywood movie for its visual depiction of the prophet. SENT: 370 words, photo.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-AUSTRALIA

TOKYO — Japan and Australia have agreed on a free trade deal that both sides say will yield windfalls for their economies. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 740 words, photos.

INDIA-SUN PHARMA-RANBAXY

MUMBAI, India — India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries is buying troubled generic drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories in a $4 billion deal, the companies say. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 280 words, photo.

FEATURES:

JAPAN-FLEEING RADIATION

MATSUMOTO, Japan — The 12-year-old girl didn’t want to leave her younger brother, and her grandparents didn’t want her to go away. But a family living near the “no-go zone” surrounding Japan’s destroyed nuclear plant has other things to consider. Yukie Hashimoto and her husband sent their daughter 300 kilometers (200 miles) away to the picturesque ski town of Matsumoto, where the mayor offered to take in and educate young people living in the shadow of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Research has not shown the children to be in clear danger from exposure to low-dose radiation, but mistrust of the authorities remains high. The Hashimoto family, and the parents of seven other children, accepted the offer. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 880 words, photos.

US & INTERNATIONAL

OBIT-MICKEY ROONEY

LOS ANGELES — Mickey Rooney’s approach to life was simple: “Let’s put on a show!” He spent nine decades doing it, on the big-screen, on television, on stage and in his extravagant personal life. Rooney died Sunday at age 93 surrounded by family. By Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney. SENT: 2,000 words, photos, video.

— MICKEY ROONEY-CRITICS — What the critics had to say about Mickey Rooney over the years. SENT: 300 words, photos.

— OBIT-MICKEY ROONEY-PHOTO GALLERY — Photos from Mickey Rooney’s many roles. SENT: 150 words, photos.

— AP PHOTO — NYSB201 — Mickey Rooney shown in a May 1987 file photo.

PISTORIUS-TRIAL

PRETORIA, South Africa — An emotional Oscar Pistorius begins testifying in his murder trial with an apology to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend he killed last year in his home. Pistorius took the stand in a South African court and said: “There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family.” The double-amputee athlete said he wanted to protect Steenkamp. He has said he killed her by mistake; prosecutors say he killed her after an argument. SENT: 280 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words by 10 a.m., photos, video.

HEROIN-SEEKING SOBRIETY

NEW YORK — As the ranks of heroin users grow, increasing numbers of addicts are looking for help but are failing to find it — because there are no beds in packed facilities, treatment is hugely expensive and insurance companies won’t pay for inpatient rehab. Some users overcome their addictions in spite of the obstacles. But many fail. In the course of Salvatore Marchese’s five-year struggle with heroin, he was denied admission to treatment facilities again and again, often because his insurance company wouldn’t cover the cost. Then one night in June 2010, a strung-out Marchese went to the emergency room, frantically seeking help. The doctors shook their heads: Heroin withdrawal is not life-threatening, they said, and we can’t admit you. Marchese and his sister stayed up all night calling inpatient treatment centers only to be told: We have no beds. We’ll put him on a waiting list. Call back in two weeks. Later that year, after a short stint in inpatient rehab paid for with public funding, Marchese would die of an overdose. By Meghan Barr. SENT: 1,600 words, photos.

— HEROIN-SEEKING SOBRIETY-FACTS — A glance of fast-facts related to treatment. SENT: 300 words.

PALESTINIANS-COMMANDOS IN HEADSCARVES

JERICHO, West Bank — Palestinian women in combat fatigues and headscarves rappelled down a six-story tower, fired assault rifles at imaginary terrorists and in a drill straight out of the movies bundled a would-be VIP into a car and sped off after a shooting. The 22 future commandos are trailblazers in a still largely male-dominated society, set to become the first female members of the Presidential Guards, a Palestinian elite force of 2,600 men. Their inclusion is the result of gradual changes in the West Bank in recent years. By Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 900 words, photos.

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prime minister has accused Russia of sowing unrest in his country’s eastern provinces as a pretext for dispatching troops across the border. Speaking at an emergency Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russia was behind seizures of several government buildings in eastern regions that have for weeks seen a spike in secessionist sentiment. SENT: 470 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words by 9 a.m.

RWANDA-GENOCIDE ANNIVERSARY

KIGALI, Rwanda — Rwanda is commemorating the 20th anniversary of its devastating genocide in which more than 1 million people were killed by machete and gunfire attacks. President Paul Kagame and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon together lit a flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in memory of those killed. By Edmund Kagire and Jason Straziuso. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 10 a.m.

BUSINESS

ENTERTAINMENT

MUSIC-ACM AWARDS-HIGHLIGHTS

The Academy of Country Music Awards was jam-packed with a little bit of everything, encompassing today’s rock- and pop-inflected sounds, traditional sounds from the genre’s bedrock — and a lot of humor to boot. By AP Music Writer Chris Talbott. SENT: 630 words, photos.

PHOTOGRAPHY

WEEK THAT WAS IN LATIN AMERICA-PHOTO GALLERY — A selection of images from Latin America and the Caribbean. SENT: 170 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— SYRIA — Syrian priest and an activist group say a masked gunman has opened fire on a well-known, elderly priest in the central Syrian city of Homs, killing him instantly. SENT: 130 words, photo.

— HEALTHBEAT-FOOD POISONING — Disease detectives try genome sequencing to outsmart foodborne disease outbreaks. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— HEALTH OVERHAUL-REPUBLICANS — Congressional Republicans seek more coverage choices under health care law they want to repeal. SENT: 900 words, photo.

— EGYPT — Egyptian appeals court upholds 3-year prison sentences handed to 3 prominent activists. SENT: 390 words, photo.

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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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