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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

December 24, 2013



TACLOBAN, Philippines — Christmas lights blink in a handful of restaurants in Tacloban, but at nightfall, much of this city flattened by Typhoon Haiyan slips into darkness. Christmas Day Mass will be celebrated by a papal envoy. There will be a Christmas Eve dinner for foreign aid workers and local officials. But mostly, Christmas will be a celebration amid deprivation, in tents, makeshift homes and damaged churches. The smell of death remains in parts of the city. Thousands of people have simply left. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 1,240 words, photos.


ISLAMABAD — A bomb scare delays the first hearing in a high treason case against former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf, police and legal officials say. The case is the most serious legal problem Musharraf has faced since returning to the country in March in hopes of taking part in upcoming elections. But what followed — a ban on running for office, house arrest and a cascade of legal cases against him — marked a stunning turn in fortunes for a man once considered the most powerful person in Pakistan and a close American ally. By Rebecca Santana and Zarar Khan. SENT: 550 words, photos.


KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s party of former communist rebels agrees to join the Constituent Assembly elected last month, easing a political stalemate in the Himalayan nation. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 300 words.


BEIJING — A group of rights lawyers and churchgoers supporting a jailed Chinese Christian pastor are attacked by hired thugs on Christmas Eve at his house in central China, his wife and two lawyers say. Pastor Zhang Shaojie and his aides were arrested more than a month ago over a land dispute and have been denied access to lawyers. His case has drawn the scrutiny of rights lawyers and activists who say it exposes a county government’s ability to act with impunity against a local church. By Didi Tang. SENT: 590 words.


BEIJING — China sends health experts to investigate a drug maker to see if several recent deaths of babies were related to a vaccine they received in a government immunization program. By Gillian Wong. SENT: 560 words, photos.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — A compensation fund to benefit the victims of an April factory building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 people is being created. The fund, estimated at $40 million, would compensate injured workers and dependents of those of who died, according to a statement by the organizers of the fund. SENT: 260 words.


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations says it has processed the Indian government’s request to register the country’s deputy consul general, who is accused of lying on a visa form about how much she paid her housekeeper, as a member of the country’s mission to the United Nations. But the U.N. spokesman’s office says the U.S. State Department must approve the transfer of Devyani Khobragade from her consulate post to India’s U.N. Mission. SENT: 260 words.


BANGKOK — Morning rush-hour commuting is disrupted in Bangkok when the city’s popular elevated mass transit system experiences what its operators say is its first major system-wide failure in 14 years of operation. SENT: 130 words.



BEIJING — For the second time in six months, a shortage of cash in one corner of China’s banking industry has stirred anxiety in financial markets. The interest rate charged on loans from one bank to another spiked to nearly 9 percent this week, well above the usual 2-3 percent. That came even after the Chinese central bank injected 300 billion yuan ($50 billion) of extra credit into the interbank market last week. SENT: 500 words.


Hyundai and its sister company Kia say they will pay up to $395 million to consumers as part of a proposed settlement over overstated gas mileage. The Environmental Protection Agency found inflated numbers on 13 Hyundai and Kia vehicles in November of 2012. SENT: 220 words.



JAKARTA, Indonesia — A cave discovered near the source of Indonesia’s massive earthquake-spawned tsunami contains the footprints of past gigantic waves dating up to 7,500 years ago, a rare natural record that suggests the next disaster could be centuries away — or perhaps only decades. The findings provide the longest and most detailed timeline for tsunamis that have occurred off the far western tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province. That’s where 100-foot (30-meter) waves triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, killed 230,000 people in several countries, more than half of them in Indonesia. By Margie Mason. SENT: 690 words, photos.



CHICAGO — Americans in states served by the federal health insurance exchange have until the end of today to sign up for coverage under the new health care law. Federal officials extended the deadline from yesterday to allow for any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants. By AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson. SENT: 630 words, photos.


CAIRO — The Egyptian government brands the country’s main Islamist group a terrorist organization after a powerful explosion believed to be from a car bomb rocks a police headquarters in a city north of Cairo, killing at least 14 people and wounding dozens. It was the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, spreading the violence and large-scale attacks beyond Sinai and the Suez Canal-area, and bringing it closer to the Egyptian capital. By Maggie Michael. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.


BANGUI, Central African Republic — An African Union peacekeeper from the Republic of Congo was killed over the weekend in Central African Republic by a Christian militia, underscoring the growing peril that international forces are facing in the troubled nation. He was reportedly killed by the anti-balaka, a Christian militia. By Hippolyte Marboua and Louis Okamba. SENT: 630 words, photos.


SAN MARCOS, Calif. — Deanna Kremis and her two teenage sons, ages 13 and 17, all share an inherited heart condition and all three have had life-saving heart transplants in the past few years. Matthew, 17 and Trevin, 13, were so weak with the disease they couldn’t run, play or climb stairs when they had heart transplants within weeks of each other in 2007. Then, as their health improved, their mother’s began to fail. Deanna, now 44, was diagnosed with the same condition as an adult and got her own transplant a few months ago - leaving the family with something big to celebrate this holiday season. By Gillian Flaccus. SENT: 1,140 words, photos.


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah state lawyers are again turning to a Denver-based federal appeals court in their bid to put a stop to gay couples getting married, saying the state should not be required to abide by one judge’s narrow view of a “new and fundamentally different definition of marriage.” By Brady McCombs and Paul Foy. SENT: 900 words, photos, video, audio.

— GAY MARRIAGE-OHIO — Ohio death certificate ruling may just be beginning of effort to strike down statewide ban on same-sex marriage. SENT: 450 words, photos, audio.


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Maybe it was getting his first video game, Cosmic Avenger, for Christmas at the age of 12, and then having to wait an entire year for the hard-to-land Colecovision console to play it on that made Michael Thomasson so determined to get his hands on every video game and system he could find. Now, 31 years and roughly 11,000 games later, Thomasson is the newly crowned world record holder for having the largest collection of video games. By Carolyn Thompson. SENT: 750 words.


NEW YORK — Stores are hoping Americans who’ve been tight-fisted with their money will get the last-minute itch to buy in the final week of the holiday shopping season. After a strong start to the season, sales at stores have fallen for three consecutive weeks. That puts a lot of pressure on retailers to get shoppers into stores in the final days of what’s typically the busiest shopping period of the year. By Retail Writer Anne D’innocenzio. SENT: 550 words, photo.


LONDON — His code breaking prowess helped the Allies outfox the Nazis, his theories laid the foundation for the computer age, and his work on artificial intelligence still informs the debate over whether machines can think. By Raphael Satter. SENT: 610 words.


SHUTESBURY, Mass. — Grammy-winning musician and composer Yusef Lateef, one of the first to incorporate world music into traditional jazz, has died. He was 93. Lateef, a tenor saxophonist known for his impressive technique, also became a top flutist. He was a jazz soloist on the oboe and played bassoon. He introduced different types of flutes and other woodwind instruments from many countries into his music. SENT: 630 words, photo.


— RUSSIA-PUSSY RIOT KRASNOYARSK, Russia — Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are reunited a day after being freed from prison, and say they want to set up a human rights organization. SENT: 270 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-TRAVEL DELAYS — LONDON — A severe winter storm has caused major travel problems in Britain, leading to substantial delays Tuesday at London Gatwick Airport and on roads and rail lines at the height of the Christmas travel period. SENT: 210 words.

— SPACE STATION — Two space station astronauts have floated outside on Christmas Eve in hopes of wrapping up urgent cooling system repairs. SENT: 110 words.

— NORTHERN IRELAND-PEACE TALKS — Overnight talks in Belfast fail to produce an agreement to resolve deep-seated divisions over parades and flags that triggered widespread rioting in Northern Ireland. SENT: 360 words.

— BOSNIA-DISPUTED HOUSE — Bosnian Serb authorities have postponed plans to demolish a house where Serb soldiers had burnt alive 53 Bosniak civilians at the start of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. SENT: 120 words.

— OBAMA-NATIONAL SECURITY AIDE — Vanishing adviser reappears as Iran policy player. SENT: 800 words, photos.


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