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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 3, 2015

ASIA:

NKOREA-EBOLA

TOKYO — North Korea has lifted severe restrictions on foreign travel it imposed last year to keep the Ebola virus from crossing its borders. The already isolated country virtually closed its borders to foreigners last October, halting all non-essential visas and requiring those few foreigners allowed in to undergo three weeks of quarantine. The rules applied to diplomats, NGO workers and even senior North Korean officials returning from overseas trips. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 540 words.

NORTH KOREA-OPENING FOR BUSINESS

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Workers open the doors and turn on the lights as the sun is just beginning to rise over their corner shop on one of Pyongyang’s main streets, right in the middle of a showpiece area of the capital rebuilt just a few years ago for a major national anniversary. But unlike much the neighborhood around it, this shop isn’t a showpiece — it’s a real business. It hasn’t been profiled in state media and it hasn’t had a visit from the leader. Instead, it is a quiet but telling example of a shift in the North Korean economy over the past few years as the government plays catch up with changes that have been bubbling up from below for nearly two decades. UPCOMING: 700 words by 0800 GMT, AP Photos.

FLIGHT 370 ANNIVERSARY-KEEPING TRACK

NEW YORK — At 656,000 pounds fully loaded and the length of six school buses, the Boeing 777-200ER is hard to miss. Yet nearly one year ago, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished, taking the lives of 239 passengers and crew in one of aviation’s greatest mysteries. Airlines and regulators spent the past year debating how much flight tracking is necessary. Now a plan is moving forward that would require airlines, by the end of 2016, to know their jets’ positions every 15 minutes. By Scott Mayerowitz and David Koenig. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0700 GMT, photos.

FLIGHT 370 ANNIVERSARY-SEARCH Q&A

SYDNEY — Questions and answers about the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, including what happens if the current phase of the search ends with no sign of the plane. By Kristen Gelineau. UPCOMING: 1,100 words by 0700 GMT, photos.

CHINA-HARSH WORDS

BEIJING — Western values are a “ticket to hell,” a newspaper published by China’s Communist Party said in a recent editorial that held up Ukraine and some Arab countries as examples of outside ideas causing turmoil. It was the latest colorful example of a rising level of invective targeting critics of the authoritarian government. In the two-plus years since President Xi Jinping took the helm of the ruling Communist Party, state media have become more strident in defending the one-party system and stoking nationalism. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

NEPAL-CLEANING EVEREST

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Human waste left by climbers on Mount Everest has become a problem that is causing pollution and threatening to spread disease on the world’s highest peak, the chief of Nepal’s mountaineering association said Tuesday. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 420 words, photo.

MYANMAR-STUDENT PROTEST

LETPADAN, Myanmar — Hundreds of police have formed a human chain around student protesters staging a sit-in on a road Tuesday after being blocked from marching to Myanmar’s biggest city. SENT: 270 words.

CHINA-BRITAIN-ROYAL VISIT

SHANGHAI — Britain’s Prince William focused his China trip on football and film Tuesday with an agenda including a movie premiere and an appointment to watch Premier League-trained coaches kicking balls around with students. By Paul Traynor and Louise Watt. SENT: 320 words, photos.

CHINA-POLLUTION DOCUMENTARY

BEIJING — A slick new documentary on China’s environmental woes has racked up more than 175 million online views in two days, underscoring growing concern in the country over the impact of air, water and soil pollution. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 415 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-IRAQ-DEPLOYMENT

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia will send more troops to Iraq to help train local security forces in their battle against the Islamic State group, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 230 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UNITED STATES-ISRAEL

WASHINGTON — Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. officials cast their dispute over Iran as a family squabble, even as the Israeli leader claims President Barack Obama did not — and could not — fully understand his nation’s vital security concerns. By Julie Pace and Aron Heller. SENT: 750 words, photos.

ISLAMIC STATE

BAGHDAD — Backed by Iranian-supported Shiite militias, Iraqi forces launch a large-scale offensive to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the Islamic State group, the first in a series of campaigns to try to reclaim large parts of northern Iraq from the Sunni extremists. By Sinan Salaheddin. SENT: 1,000 words.

GEORGIA EXECUTION

JACKSON, Georgia — The U.S. state of Georgia postpones its first execution of a woman in 70 years because of concerns about the drug to be used in the lethal injection. By Kate Brumback. SENT: 750 words, photo.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Scott McDonald. 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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