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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

April 28, 2014

ASIA:

OBAMA

MANILA, Philippines — President Barack Obama says a 10-year agreement to give the U.S military greater access to Philippine bases will help promote peace and stability in the region and that he hopes China’s dominant power will allow its neighbors to prosper on their own terms. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed as Obama arrived in the Philippines will give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to preposition fighter jets and ships. It is being seen as an effort by Washington to counter Chinese aggression in the region, and Obama says his message to China is, “We want to be a partner with you in upholding international law.” By Darlene Superville and Jim Gomez. SENT: 970 words, photos.

— PHILIPPINES-US MILITARY — The U.S. military will get greater access to bases across the Philippines under a 10-year agreement signed in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s visit in a deal seen as an effort by Washington to counter Chinese aggression in the region. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 860 words, photos.

— PHILIPPINES-HUMAN RIGHTS — President Benigno Aquino III pushes back against criticism that his government has done too little to address extrajudicial killings of journalists and others. SENT: 130 words, photos.

SKOREA-SHIP SINKING

JINDO, South Korea — Divers renew their search for more than 100 bodies still trapped in a sunken ferry after weekend efforts were hindered by bad weather, strong currents and floating debris clogging the ship’s rooms. Investigators, meanwhile, expand a probe into how coast guard and other rescuers responded after learning the ferry was sinking. By Hyung-jin Kim and Youkyung Lee. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

SKOREA-SHIP SINKING-VOLUNTEERS

JINDO, South Korea — The mother, slightly drunk, sits on the edge of a windblown dock and wails. A Buddhist monk approaches and wipes the tears from her face as she pours out her grief and longing for her missing son. He leads her away from the dock’s edge and, as she weeps, chants Buddhist scriptures for her son’s return. The monk is one member of an impromptu city of volunteers that has sprung up to help with South Korea’s ferry disaster. More than 16,000 people have come to help. By Hyung-jin Kim and Jung-yoon Choi. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-PLANE

CANBERRA, Australia — The underwater hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet will be expanded to include a massive swath of ocean floor that may take up to eight months to thoroughly search, Australia’s prime minister says. The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 robotic submarine has spent weeks scouring the initial search area for Flight 370 in the remote Indian Ocean far off Australia’s west coast, but has found no trace of the missing aircraft. Officials are now looking to bring in new equipment that can search a larger patch of seabed for the plane. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 740 words, photos.

INDIA-TAKING ON INDUSTRY

GARE VILLAGE, India — The man walked into Ramesh Agrawal’s tiny Internet cafe, pulled out a pistol and hissed, “You talk too much.” Then he fired two bullets into Agrawal’s left leg and fled on a motorcycle. The 2012 attack came three months after Agrawal won a court case that blocked a major Indian company, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., from opening a second coal mine near the village of Gare in the mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

ENVIRONMENT PRIZE

NEW DELHI — Six environmental advocates from India, Peru, Russia and three other nations have won this year’s Goldman Prize, which is awarded annually for grass-roots activism. India’s Ramesh Agrawal received the prize for helping villagers fight a large coal mine in Chhattisgarh state, the San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Foundation says. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 310 words, photos.

MYANMAR-KIDS AT SEA

SITTWE, Myanmar — The two children stood on the beach, at the end of the only world they knew, torn between land and sea. They couldn’t go back to their tiny Muslim village in Myanmar’s northwest Rakhine because it had been devoured in a fire set by an angry Buddhist mob. In the smoke and chaos, the siblings became separated from their family. And after seven months of searching, they had lost hope of finding anyone alive. By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell. SENT: 2,600 words, photos. An abridged version is also available.

PAKISTAN

KARACHI, Pakistan — A police official says a bomb blast killed three seminary students and wounded at least 10 others in southern Pakistan. SENT: 130 words.

MALAYSIA-TERROR SUSPECTS

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Nine suspected Malaysian militants are detained for allegedly planning to carry out terrorist acts in the country and abroad, police say. SENT: 190 words.

CHINA-CAR CRASHING

BEIJING — A man distressed by his divorce case rams a car into electric scooters and pedestrians near a school in southeastern China, killing six people, including three children, according to police and state media. SENT: 230 words.

CHINA-US TV SHOW BAN

BEIJING — The boss of a Chinese online video site says he believes the sudden banning of four American TV shows does not represent a wider trend. The government’s broadcast regulator issued a surprise order last week to online streaming companies to stop showing “The Big Bang Theory,” ″The Good Wife,” ″NCIS” and “The Practice.” SENT: 290 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-IMF

BEIJING — The International Monetary Fund raises its economic growth forecast for China but warns that its financial system faces risks due to the rapid expansion of debt. The IMF’s 0.3 percentage point increase to 7.5 percent in its growth outlook for China may help reassure investors who worry the world’s second-largest economy might be slowing too abruptly. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 600 words.

CHINA-ALIBABA-YOUKU TUDOU

BEIJING — E-commerce giant Alibaba Group is expanding its online entertainment presence by investing $1.2 billion with a partner in video website Youku Tudou. Alibaba will gain a 16.5 percent stake in the company and its partner Yunfeng Capital will get 2 percent, Youku Tudou Inc. says. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 480 words.

JAPAN-EARNS-PANASONIC

TOKYO — Panasonic returned to profit after deep losses for the past two fiscal years, as a weak yen and restructuring efforts helped a gradual recovery, and forecast a 16 percent increase in gains for the coming year. Like other Japanese electronics companies, Panasonic Corp. has been struggling amid intense competition from Apple Inc. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Prices of gadgets have been falling, adding to Panasonic’s woes. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 340 words.

CHINA-EARNS-SOHU

BEIJING — Sohu.com Inc., which operates one of China’s most popular Web portals, says it lost $79 million in the latest quarter due to higher expenses as its games and mobile businesses expanded. SENT: 230 words.

APPLE-SAMSUNG TRIAL

SAN JOSE, California — The high-stakes battle between the world’s largest smartphone makers is scheduled to wrap up this week after a monthlong trial that has pulled the curtain back on just how very cutthroat the competition is between Apple and Samsung. Closing arguments in the patent-infringement case are scheduled to begin Monday, with the two tech giants accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features. At stake: $2 billion if Samsung loses, a few hundred million if Apple loses. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 350 words, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

SEVERE WEATHER

MAYFLOWER, Arkansas — A tornado system rips through the central U.S. and leaves at least 17 dead in a violent start to this year’s storm season, officials say. By Tim Talley and Christina Huynh. SENT: 480 words, photos.

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine —The mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city has been shot in the back and pro-Russia insurgents have seized yet another government building as tensions rise in eastern Ukraine ahead of a new round of U.S. sanctions. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 630 words, photo, interactive.

EGYPT

MINYA, Egypt — A judge in Egypt sentences to death 683 alleged supporters of the country’s ousted Islamist president in the latest mass trial that included the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader. But in a surprise reversal, the same judge also reduces most of the death sentences handed to 529 defendants in a similar case in March, commuting the majority of them to life imprisonment, leaving 37 of those suspects to hang. By Mamdouh Thabet and Maggie Michael. SENT: 700 words, photos.

SYRIA

DAMASCUS, Syria — President Bashar Assad announces his candidacy for the June 3 presidential elections, a race he is likely to win amid a raging civil war that initially began as an uprising against his rule. Assad — who has ruled the country since taking over from his father in 2000 — was widely expected to run for a third seven-year term in office, although it remains unclear how the vote can take place in areas engulfed in fighting. By Albert Aji and Diaa Hadid. SENT: 360 words, photos.

SPAIN-CERVANTES’ BONES

MADRID — Miguel de Cervantes, Spain’s greatest writer, was a soldier of little fortune. He died broke in Madrid, his body riddled with bullets. His burial place was a tiny convent church no larger than the entrance hall of an average house. No more was heard of the 16th century author until the rediscovery of a novel featuring an eccentric character called Don Quixote rescued him from oblivion. By then, nobody could remember where his grave was. Four centuries later, Spain intends to do the great man justice: A team that will search for Cervantes’s remains begins excavations Monday. By Jorge Sainz. SENT: 680 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— BOOKS-TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD — Harper Lee agrees to e-book of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” citing “new generation” of readers. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— BOX OFFICE — “The Other Woman” leads box office, beats “Captain America” with $24.7 million opener. SENT: 920 words, photos.

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