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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

August 1, 2013

TOP STORIES:

KERRY

ISLAMABAD — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, say the two countries will resume high-level negotiations over security issues. Kerry also says he has invited Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, to come to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama. Moved. By Deb Riechmann. AP Photos.

SWELTERING CHINA

SHANGHAI — It’s been so hot in China that folks are grilling shrimp on manhole covers, eggs are hatching without incubators and a highway billboard has mysteriously caught fire by itself. The heat wave — the worst in at least 140 years in some parts — has left dozens of people dead and pushed thermometers above 40 degrees C (104 F) in at least 40 cities and counties, mostly in the south and east. Authorities for the first time have declared the heat a “level 2” weather emergency— a label normally invoked for typhoons and flooding. Moved. AP Photos.

CHINA-ONLINE SPEECH

BEIJING — Hours after a man with long-running grievances against officialdom set off a homemade explosive at Beijing’s airport, a singer-songwriter turned to the Internet to release her own sarcastic wish list of to-be-bombed targets. By the next day, Wu Hongfei — known for her activism and whimsical songs — was in police detention on a criminal charge that prompted an outcry and an outpouring of public discussion on the boundaries of China’s free speech laws in the new era of social media. In a rare backtrack by local authorities, Wu will apparently be released Friday without further prosecution. Moved. By Didi Tang.

JAPAN-NAZI COMMENT

TOKYO — Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso retracts comments suggesting Japan should follow the Nazi example of how to change the country’s constitution, following protests by neighboring countries and human rights activists. Aso drew outrage for saying Japan should learn from how the Nazi party stealthily changed Germany’s constitution before World War II before anyone realized it, and for suggesting that Japanese politicians avoid controversy by making quiet visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine. Moved. By Mari Yamaguchi and Elaine Kurtenbach. AP Photos.

BANGLADESH-ISLAMIC PARTY

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A Bangladesh court disqualifies the country’s largest Islamic party from taking part in the next general election, saying it opposes secularism. Moved. By Farid Hossain.

WITH: BANGLADESH-PROTEST DEATHS

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials say a NATO helicopter mistakenly killed four Afghan troops in the east while a Taliban ambush left an official and three other people dead in the country’s south. Moved. By Amir Shah.

WITH: US-AFGHANISTAN-INSIDER ATTACKS

PHILIPPINES-VIETNAM

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat says he and his Vietnamese counterpart discussed how their governments can work together to deal with territorial disputes with China, including a possible sharing of information to better guard their territories from intrusions. Moved. AP Photos.

CAMBODIA-ELECTION

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s opposition party insists that an independent committee to investigate cheating in this week’s election must be established before it holds talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party on resolving differences in establishing a new government. Moved. By Sopheng Cheang. AP Photos.

AUSTRALIA-NURSING HOME MURDERS

SYDNEY — A nurse who set a Sydney nursing home on fire, killing 11 residents and wounding several others, was sentenced to life in prison, with the judge slamming the man’s actions as heinous and reprehensible. Moved. AP Photos.

THAILAND-OIL SPILL

BANGKOK — Critics are slamming Thailand’s state-owned oil and gas company for its allegedly inefficient response to an oil spill that polluted a tourist island. Moved.

SRI LANKA-ELECTIONS

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan officials set the first postwar provincial elections in the country’s war-torn northern province for Sept. 21, more than four years after the end of the island nation’s quarter-century civil war. Moved.

NEPAL-CHICKEN BAN

KATMANDU, Nepal — A Nepalese official says the government has banned the sale and transport of chicken and all poultry products in the capital to prevent the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus. Moved.

TAIWAN-RABIES

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan orders tens of thousands of vaccine doses to protect people against the island’s first rabies outbreak in more than 50 years. Moved. AP Photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-EARNS-SONY

TOKYO — As a slew of big-name Japanese companies report improved quarterly earnings, one theme is taking the sheen off their rosy numbers: mainstay businesses are still struggling despite the perk from a weaker yen. The latest example comes from Sony Corp. Moved. By Yuri Kageyama. AP Photos.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

HONG KONG — Chinese manufacturing remained weak last month with small and midsized private businesses suffering a bigger share of the pain, two surveys indicate, adding to an uncertain outlook for the world’s No. 2 economy. Moved. By Kelvin Chan.

SINGAPORE-ZOELLICK

SINGAPORE — Singapore state investment company Temasek says it has appointed former World Bank president and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to its board as the sovereign wealth fund seeks a bigger presence in the United States. Moved.

SKOREA-MACAU RIVAL

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s Incheon city says a $290 billion plan to transform a fishing village into a rival to the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau has collapsed. Moved. By Youkyung Lee.

HONG KONG-EARNS-HUTCHISON

HONG KONG — Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s sprawling global conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa, says its first-half profit rose nearly a quarter, led by gains at its infrastructure and telecom divisions. Moved. By Kelvin Chan.

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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.

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Between 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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