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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 12, 2014

ASIA:

CHINA-EARTHQUAKE

BEIJING — A powerful earthquake strikes a sparsely populated area of China’s far western region of Xinjiang. It is not immediately clear if it causes any casualties or significant damage. At least seven smaller quakes follow within the next half hour. SENT: 250 words.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — Senior officials from the rival Koreas meet at a border village, their highest-level talks in years and a potential signal that Pyongyang wants better ties and the resumption of lucrative cooperative projects. North Korea has launched a recent charm offensive after raising tensions last spring with repeated threats to fire nuclear-tipped missiles against Seoul and Washington. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 640 words, photos.

INDIA-TAINT OF CORRUPTION

NEW DELHI — The taint of corruption followed India’s Olympic athletes everywhere in Sochi. They were not allowed to enter the Olympic stadium marching under the Indian flag. They were warned the national anthem would not play if they won any medals. But the athletes had done nothing wrong. Their administrative exile was the result of ethics violations by the Indian Olympic Association, which had elected two corruption tainted officials as its leaders. Although the IOC executive board reinstated the Indian Olympic body five days after the games began, the episode laid bare India’s intractable problems with corruption on an international stage. By C. Rajshekhar Rao. SENT: 970 words, photos.

INDIA-ELECTION FREEBIES

NEW DELHI — Just before village council elections, Southern Tamil Nadu state Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha went all out to gain favor with rural voters. Schoolgirls received laptops. Farm workers got cows and goats. Homemakers were given spice grinders and fans. The price tag for the giveaway, which started in 2011 and continues today: 20 billion rupees ($322 million) in a state of about 70 million people. Freebies are a fact of life in Indian politics, and items like livestock are only part of it. The largesse could give sputtering growth a short-term boost, but there are growing concerns that the subsidize-everything mentality they represent will damage government finances and the economy. By Ashok Sharma. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

JAPAN-DEAF COMPOSER

TOKYO — The man once lauded as Japan’s Beethoven says he can partially hear in a new disclosure following the stunning revelation last week that his “Hiroshima” symphony and other famed musical compositions were ghostwritten. Despite astonishment and outrage over the scandal, music credited to Mamoru Samuragochi is surging in sales. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 370 words, photo.

CHINA-ENVIRONMENTAL PROTEST

BEIJING — Villagers in southwestern China infuriated by a factory that was polluting the environment smash its offices and equipment, and later clash with police, underscoring the potential for such concerns to trigger violent unrest. By Gillian Wong. SENT: 490 words.

JAPAN-US-OKINAWA

NAHA, Japan — U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy makes her first visit to the southernmost island of Okinawa, hoping to get support for a contentious plan to relocate a U.S. military base. By Koji Ueda. SENT: 340 words, photos.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK —Thailand’s Constitutional Court rejects petitions by both the ruling and main opposition parties accusing each other of attempting to overthrow the country’s system of government during recent elections. SENT: 610 words, photos.

PAKISTAN

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Militants kill nine members of an anti-Taliban militia in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, police say. Peshawar sits near restive areas along the Afghan border that are home to Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida-linked foreign Islamic militants. By Riaz Khan. SENT: 440 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Authorities in southern Afghanistan say the brother of a political candidate and a local policeman have been killed in separate shootings. The deaths come during continued violence in the run-up to elections on April 5. SENT: XXXXXX

PHILIPPINES-MARCOS WEALTH

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has recovered more than $29 million from the Swiss bank accounts of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the search for more of his hidden wealth continues 28 years after he was toppled, an official says. The money, recovered over the last week, is part of the more than $712 million from Marcos’ secret Swiss accounts now in government hands, says Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency in charge of recovering Marcos’ allegedly ill-gotten wealth. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 400 words.

SALVADOR-SEA SURVIVOR

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Jose Salvador Alvarenga returns to the place where he learned to love the sea, bringing with him a fisherman’s tale for the ages. The 37-year-old, who says he survived more than a year on a small boat drifting from Mexico across the Pacific Ocean to the Marshall Islands, arrived in his native El Salvador to a media throng, a daughter who didn’t remember him and a mother who thought he was dead. By Marcos Aleman. SENT: 690 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-METH IN KAYAKS

SYDNEY — Australian police seize $162 million worth of methamphetamine hidden inside kayaks shipped from China, officials say. Five people are arrested in Sydney after officials discovered 183 kilograms (403 pounds) of meth last week while inspecting a shipment of kayaks from China, police say. Nineteen of 27 kayaks in the shipment had bags of meth stuffed inside the watertight areas of the boats. SENT: 170 words, photos.

SPAIN-CHINA-TIBET

MADRID — Spain’s Parliament approves a ruling party proposal that will severely curb the powers of the country’s courts to pursue cases of genocide and other atrocities committed abroad. SENT: 130 words.

SRI LANKA-ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan police arrest 75 people who were attempting to migrate illegally to New Zealand by boat, authorities say. By Bharatha Mallawarachi. SENT: 170 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-TRADE

BEIJING — China’s trade growth accelerated in January, possibly helping to ease fears about a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy that could dent global demand. Imports rose 10 percent to $107.2 billion, up from January’s 8.3 percent growth. Exports rose 10.6 percent to $126.7 billion, more than double the previous month’s 4.3 percent expansion. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 470 words, photos.

JAPAN-TOYOTA RECALL

TOKYO — Toyota says it is recalling 1.9 million hybrid Prius cars globally for a software glitch that could cause the vehicle to stall. It says 997,000 Prius cars in Japan, some 713,000 in North America, another 130,000 in Europe and the rest in other regions are being recalled for a problem in the software to control the hybrid system. SENT: 140 words.

SINGAPORE-AIRSHOW-A380

SINGAPORE — Airbus announces its second major aircraft order of the Singapore Airshow with a deal to deliver 20 of its superjumbo A380s to leasing company Amedeo. SENT: 100 words.

MALAYSIA-ECONOMY

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s central bank says the economy grew a faster-than-expected 5.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. SENT: 170 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

DEBT LIMIT

WASHINGTON —House Republicans back away from a battle over the government’s debt cap and permit President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies to drive quick passage of a measure to increase the government’s borrowing ability to pay its bills and avoid a default ahead of the November elections. SENT: 700 words, photos, interactive.

SAN DIEGO MAYOR

SAN DIEGO — A moderate Republican city councilman is elected mayor of San Diego in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Bob Filner, who resigned amid a torrent of sexual harassment allegations. San Diego becomes the nation’s largest city with a Republican mayor, and Kevin Faulconer will be the only Republican to lead a major city in California, where Democrats hold all statewide offices. By Elliot Spagat. SENT: 130 words, photos.

SKI-WOMEN’S DOWNHILL

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — In a rare tie in Alpine skiing, Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland both win gold, finishing with identical times in the women’s downhill. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who sought a record-equaling fourth Olympic Alpine gold, finished 13th. By Sports Writer Howard Fendrich. SENT: 840 words, photos, video.

PALESTINIANS-SOCCER FAMILY

WADI NEES, West Bank — Village elder Yousef Abu Hammad has sired enough boys for a soccer team — literally. Over the years, his 12 sons formed the core of what has become the top-ranked soccer team in the West Bank. The current roster includes six of the patriarch’s sons, three grandsons and several other close relatives who consistently defeat richer clubs and cite strong family bonds as the secret to their success. By Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

NUCLEAR MISSTEPS

WASHINGTON — In launching a new search for cures to what ails its nuclear missile corps, the Air Force is considering proposals it tried five years ago, according to internal emails and documents obtained by The Associated Press. Many of the earlier steps fell short. The new effort is more far-reaching, on a tighter timetable and backed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. By National Security Writer Robert Burns. SENT: 860 words, photos.

DENMARK-OSCARS-THE HUNT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — When Danish director Thomas Vinterberg wrote the script for “The Hunt” — one of this year’s contenders for Best Foreign Language Film — he pictured a young Robert de Niro as the lonely teacher in his 40s whose life crumbles because of an innocent lie. And he reached out to Mads Mikkelsen. “It was really awesome when I got Mads,” he said. “But, I had to rewrite the script.” By Jan M. Olsen. SENT: 380 words, photos.

DOG SHOW

NEW YORK —Sky the wire fox terrier becomes America’s top dog, winning best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club. By Sports Writer Ben Walker. SENT: 500 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— STATE DINNER — French president’s breakup is gossip no one wants to talk about at White House state dinner. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.

— MICHAEL JORDAN-TWINS — Michael Jordan’s wife gives birth to twin daughters in West Palm Beach. SENT: 220 words, photo.

— LOUD MUSIC KILLING — Closing arguments in trial of Florida man charged with killing teen over loud music. SENT: 670 words, photos.

— HAITI-CHRISTIAN SUMMIT-PHOTO ESSAY — Christian pilgrims came to the barren mountainside by the thousands, seeking favors and spiritual renewal. With photo essay by Dieu Nalio Chery. SENT: 260 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.

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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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