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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 24, 2015

ASIA:

AFGHANISTAN

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Gunmen in southern Afghanistan kidnap 30 members of the Hazara ethnic community, in what appears to be the latest in a series of attacks on Shiites in the predominantly Sunni country. By Mirwais Khan. SENT: 220 words.

CAMBODIA-ACTIVIST DEPORTED

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Construction of a massive dam in southwestern Cambodia will not start until at least 2018, Prime Minister Hun Sen says, in an apparent effort to stop heavy opposition to the project which has focused criticism on him. Hun Sen’s comments came a day after Spanish activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, who had campaigned against the dam, was deported for overstaying his visa. By Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 340 words, photos.

KASHMIR-POLITICS

SRINAGAR, India — India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party says it will be part of a coalition government in Kashmir, the first time the Hindu nationalist party will share a leadership position in the predominantly Muslim region. SENT: 130 words.

SKOREA-ISLAMIC STATE

SEOUL, South Korea — A teenager who went missing in Turkey last month is probably the first known South Korean to join the Islamic State group, officials say. The director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Lee Byung-kee, told legislators in a closed-door meeting that the 18-year-old man is in Syria and with an Islamic State group unit that trains combat personnel, opposition lawmaker Kim Kwang Jin said. SENT: 260 words.

NEW ZEALAND-IRAQ DEPLOYMENT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand will send a small number of troops to Iraq to help train local forces in their battle against the Islamic State group, Prime Minister John Key announces. By Nick Perry. SENT: 440 words.

INDONESIA-EXECUTIONS

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s president rejects any attempts by foreign governments to block the execution of drug traffickers. UPCOMING: 130 words by 1230 GMT.

CHINA-MINING DEATHS

BEIJING — Farmers trying to extract gold from an abandoned mine in central China are overcome by chemical fumes, leaving three dead and six hospitalized, state media report. SENT: 150 words.

AUSTRIA-KAZAKHSTAN

BERLIN — A former Kazakh diplomat who faced murder charges in Austria was found hanged in his cell in Vienna in an apparent suicide, a prison official says. SENT: 240 words.

PHILIPPINES-BAMBOO ORGAN FESTIVAL

MANILA, Philippines — It has survived time, storms and wars. But a nearly 200-year-old bamboo pipe organ, said to be the oldest and most complete in the world, is facing what may be its biggest threats yet: pop music and dwindling donations. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 720 words, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

AP EXCLUSIVE: RISKY JUSTICE

WASHINGTON — States are trying to reduce prison populations with secretive, new psychological assessments to predict which inmates will commit future crimes and who might be safe to release, despite serious problems and high-profile failures, an Associated Press investigation found. By Eileen Sullivan and Ronnie Greene. SENT: 660 words, photos, video, audio.

HOMELAND SECURITY

WASHINGTON — Divided Republicans are searching for a way out of an impasse over immigration that is threatening to shut down the Homeland Security Department within days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would split language overturning President Barack Obama’s contested immigration measures from the department’s funding bill. By Erica Werner. SENT: 650 words, photos, video.

UKRAINE

KHARTSYZK, Ukraine — Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine said Tuesday they have begun a large-scale pullback of heavy weapons in line with an international peace plan that aims to form a wide buffer zone between separatists’ and Ukrainian forces’ artillery. By Nicolae Dumitrache. SENT: 400 words, photos.

ISLAMIC STATE

BEIRUT — Islamic State militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, after overrunning a string of villages in northeastern Syria, two activist groups said. By Ryan Lucas. SENT: 500 words, photos.

GREECE-BAILOUT

BRUSSELS — Greece’s creditors in the 19-country eurozone will hold a teleconference to give their verdict on a list of reform measures Athens has sent in order to get a 4-month extension to its bailout, which would keep the country afloat and prevent a potential exit from the euro. By Lorne Cook and Raf Casert. SENT: 510 words, photos.

WORLD CUP-QATAR DATES

Long seen as inevitable, a 2022 World Cup in November and December is now practically a done deal. A FIFA task force has recommended playing the tournament in Qatar at the end of the year to avoid the summer heat— where temperatures routinely top 104 degrees— when the World Cup traditionally kicks off in June. SENT: 730 words, photos.

LEGAL MARIJUANA-ALASKA

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The wildest state in the country becomes the third to legalize recreational marijuana thanks to a voter initiative aimed at clearing away 40 years of conflicting laws. By Molly Dischner. SENT: 300 words, photos.

LEFT-RIGHT COALITION

WASHINGTON — Reps. Barbara Lee and John Fleming are highly dubious at best about President Barack Obama’s requests for enhanced powers to make trade deals and to deploy the U.S. military. They are part of an odd coalition: Lee is one of Congress’ proudest liberals and Fleming is among its staunchest conservatives. By Charles Babington. SENT: 720 words, photos.

TV-CBS-O’REILLY

CBS News releases video from four stories it aired about the Falklands War in 1982, all part of a dispute involving Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly and his subsequent statements about covering the war. By David Bauder. SENT: 580 words, photo.

CHICAGO MAYOR-ELECTION

CHICAGO — Former White House Chief of Staff and congressman Rahm Emanuel seeks a second four-year term as Chicago’s mayor. By Sophia Tareen. SENT: 320 words, photos.

NORWAY-OIL PAINS

STAVANGER, Norway — The sagging oil price has left people in this petro-nation gripped with worries that their comfortable lifestyle is at risk. Accustomed to leaving work at 4 p.m. and earlier on Fridays, lengthy summer vacations and generous benefits if they get sick or pregnant, Norwegians are suddenly mulling a future without the certainties of the past. By Mark Lewis. SENT: 730 words, photos.

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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.

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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