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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

May 12, 2014



BANGKOK — Emboldened by the removal of Thailand’s prime minister, anti-government protesters withdraw from the city’s main park and march to the vacated prime minister’s office compound — where the protest leader has pledged to set up his new office. The country’s new caretaker leader, meanwhile, meets with reporters at a makeshift, suburban outpost. By Jocelyn Gecker and Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 800 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — Millions of Indian voters wrap up the country’s mammoth national election, braving the searing sun on the final day of polling in which a Hindu nationalist opposition candidate is seen as the front-runner for prime minister. With 814 million eligible voters, India has been voting in phases over six weeks, with results expected Friday. By Ashok Sharma. SENT: 490 words, photos.


HANOI, Vietnam — A Vietnamese patrol boat and several Chinese vessels blast each other with water cannons near an oil rig recently positioned by Beijing in disputed waters, Vietnamese state media report, in the latest incident in a dangerous standoff between the two nations. By Chris Brummitt. SENT: 450 words.


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has charged nine Chinese fishermen with poaching more than 500 endangered sea turtles at a disputed South China Sea shoal despite China’s demand for them to be immediately freed. Prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez says two other arrested Chinese were minors and would be sent home. The nine Chinese have been charged with violating the Philippine fisheries code, including illegally harvesting 555 endangered turtles. SENT: 500 words.


SEOUL, South Korea — A rhetorical battle between the rival Koreas intensifies with a South Korean official saying North Korea “must disappear soon.” The comments, which will likely draw a furious response from Pyongyang, follow a series of sexist and racist slurs by North Korea against the leaders of South Korea and the United States. Pyongyang’s state media likened South Korean President Park Geun-hye to an “old prostitute” and U.S. President Barack Obama to a “monkey” in recent dispatches. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 360 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters storm a government building in eastern Afghanistan after killing two police guards, the most serious in a wave of attacks marking the start of the insurgents’ annual spring offensive. In the Taliban heartland in the south, an attack on a police checkpoint in Helmand province kills nine policemen. Also, rockets hit the grounds of the Kabul international airport but cause no damage. Rockets also struck the NATO base at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital, causing minor damage, the alliance says. By Rahim Faiez. SENT: 540 words, photos.


BEIJING — Police say they detained 60 people following a protest over plans to build a waste incinerator in a city in eastern China, where neighbors expressed skepticism about official pledges to seek public approval before proceeding. Officials repeat in state media that they would seek public support for the incinerator even as they pursued the arrests of more than a dozen people behind weekend protests in Hangzhou involving thousands of people. At least 10 demonstrators and 29 policemen were injured and protesters blocked a major highway. By Jack Chang. SENT: 610 words, photos.


BEIJING — China’s capital boosts armed police patrols following a spate of attacks the government blames on terrorists seeking independence for the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Beijing’s police force says on its microblog that 150 additional vehicles and nearly 2,000 police and auxiliaries are being assigned to guard key intersections around the city of more than 20 million people. SENT: 360 words, photos.


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea designates three crew members “martyrs” for giving their lives to save others as a ferry sank nearly a month ago. By Jung-yoon Choi. UPCOMING by 1300 GMT: 440 words.



BEIJING — China’s president is telling the country to get used to slower growth, damping expectations of a new stimulus. President Xi Jinping’s weekend comments come amid weakening trade and manufacturing. Economic growth slowed in the latest quarter to 7.4 percent after last year’s full-year expansion of 7.7 percent tied 2012 for the weakest performance since 1999. SENT: 280 words, photos.


SEOUL, South Korea — Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun-hee remains hospitalized in stable condition after being treated for a heart attack, company officials say. Lee, 72, was rushed to a hospital near his Seoul home late Saturday after suffering breathing problems and received CPR due to symptoms of a heart attack. By Jung-yoon Choi. SENT: 380 words, photos.


TOKYO — Nissan’s quarterly profit edged up nearly 5 percent as sales grew around the world and a favorable exchange rate helped earnings. Nissan Motor Co. reports that January-March profit totaled 114.9 billion yen ($1.1 billion), up from 109.7 billion yen the year before. Quarterly sales rose more than 20 percent to 3.2 trillion yen ($31 billion). By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 540 words, photos.



DONETSK, Ukraine — The Kremlin makes it clear that it has no intention of trying to annex Ukraine’s eastern provinces after highly criticized referendums that said about 90 percent of voters back sovereignty, instead urging the Ukrainian government to sit down for talks with representatives of the east. The cautious stance, which contrasts with Russia’s quick annexation of Crimea in March, appears to reflect Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hope to negotiate a solution to what has become the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos, video. By Peter Leonard and Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 990 words, photos.


BRASILIA, Brazil — An Associated Press analysis of data from Brazil’s top electoral court shows skyrocketing campaign contributions by companies involved in most projects for Brazil’s $13.5 billion World Cup extravaganza. The financial links between construction firms and politicians add to deep suspicions among Brazilians that preparations for soccer’s premier event beginning next month are stained by corruption. Anger over perceived corruption helped fuel huge protests last year, and there are fears more unrest could mar the Cup. By Bradley Brooks. SENT: 1,890 words, photos. Abridged version of 870 words moved as well.

— BRAZIL-CORRUPTION AND THE CUP-GLANCE — Costliest Cup? A look at how questionable billing has made this the priciest World Cup yet. SENT: 110 words, photo.


PARIS — For more than 200 years, France’s administrative regions have been part of the identity of citizens of the sprawling and diverse country. Now, merging some of them is seen as a logical way to save money on bureaucracy, and the French support it — as long as it’s someone else’s region. The recent proposal of France’s new prime minister to cut the number of regions in half by 2017 is provoking sharp disputes — especially in areas with strong historical identity such as Brittany or Alsace. It’s somewhat like erasing the state lines between Maryland and Delaware. By Sylvie Corbet. SENT: 790 words, photos.


LA PAMPA, Peru — They chew coca leaf to make it through 28-hour shifts for a few grams of gold as they tear up jungle, leaving mounds of earth among pools of muddy water. Now that the Peruvian government has declared the miners’ work illegal, a climate of fear has descended on the gold fields. By Rodrigo Abd. SENT: 380 words, photos.


NEW YORK — The handsome football player gets drafted by the NFL, plants an emotional kiss on his sweetheart and gives sportscasts a feel-good video clip. It’s a scene that plays out for dozens of draft picks. But when a sobbing Michael Sam celebrated his selection by the St. Louis Rams by hugging and kissing his partner, another man, it made real and physical that an openly gay athlete had taken an unprecedented step toward a NFL career. By Television Writer Lynn Elber. SENT: 890 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is encouraging the reporting of human rights abusers hiding in plain sight. It hopes to raise the profile of a relatively new prosecution unit and to make refugees comfortable with helping investigators. By Eric Tucker. SENT: 820 words, photos.


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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