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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 12, 2015

ASIA:

BANGLADESH-FACTORY COLLAPSE

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The roof of a five-story cement factory under construction in Bangladesh collapses, killing at least four workers and trapping many others, an official says. SENT: 130 words.

CHINA-RUBBERSTAMP LEGISLATURE — It’s China’s biggest public political event of the year, but with little in the way of debate to report, local media have resorted to issuing photo galleries of attractive journalists. Much of the National People’s Congress coverage looks more like celebrity watching than political journalism, and many Chinese are disenchanted over their lack of involvement in an annual legislature that does little to hold the government to account. By Didi Tang. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 1400 GMT, photos.

AUSTRALIA-ISLAMIC STATE

SYDNEY — Australia’s government is trying to confirm reports that an Australian teenager was among a group of suicide bombers from the Islamic State movement that struck Iraq’s embattled Anbar province. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 510 words.

MALAYSIA-MISSING PLANE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s transport minister vows to take stern action against an air traffic control supervisor if it is confirmed that he was asleep on the job when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared a year ago. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 400 words, photos.

CAMBODIA-LABOR ABUSES

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Leading clothing retailers such as Gap and H&M need to help alleviate labor abuses at factories in Cambodia that manufacture their products, a human rights organization says. By Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 490 words, photos.

MYANMAR-STUDENTS FREED

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar authorities free several students detained after a bloody protest, but others involved in the stand-off over a new education law will face charges including disrupting stability. SENT: 250 words.

AFGHANISTAN

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — An Afghan official says Taliban gunmen have killed seven policemen in an ambush in the northern Kunduz province. SENT: 120 words.

INDONESIA-EXECUTIONS

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has offered to cover Indonesia’s costs for keeping two Australian heroin traffickers in prison for life if Jakarta grants permanent stays of execution, the foreign minister says. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 700 words, photos.

SRI LANKA-MODI VISIT

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Sri Lanka reflects a bounce back in bilateral relations as the South Asian power seeks to mitigate China’s growing influence on its Indian Ocean neighbors. By Krishan Francis. SENT: 660 words, photos.

CHINA-WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS

BEIJING — China’s top judge renews his commitment to uncovering and overturning wrongful convictions, citing to national legislators the much-publicized case of an 18-year-old executed and confirmed years later to have been innocent. SENT: 270 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-THE NEW NORMAL

GUJIAO, China — China’s economic evolution sets stage for growth but forces painful change. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 940 words, photos.

SKOREA-ECONOMY — South Korea unexpectedly lowers its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 1.75 percent, joining central banks from Europe to India in efforts to revitalize sluggish economic growth. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 445 words, photos.

CHINA-APPLE WATCH LOOKALIKES

BEIJING — A month before Apple Inc.’s smartwatch hits the market, China’s thriving copycat manufacturers are selling lookalikes, some openly advertised as Apple copies. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 540 words, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

KILLINGS BY POLICE-FERGUSON — Two officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department early Thursday, authorities say, as demonstrators gathered after the resignation of the city’s police chief in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court. By Jim Salter. SENT: 520 words, photos.

ISLAMIC STATE — Rockets and mortars echo across Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit on Thursday as Iraqi security forces clash with Islamic State militants a day after sweeping into the Sunni city north of Baghdad. By Qassim Abdul-Zahra. SENT: 460 words, photos. With UNITED STATES-IRAQ — Little progress in key plank of Obama anti-IS strategy.

SYRIA REFUGEES — A Syrian family is torn apart by the war in their homeland, with the husband fleeing to Lebanon, the wife to Jordan. The family’s story is a snapshot of the human tragedy from a conflict now entering its fifth year. By Bassem Mroue. SENT: 920 words, photos, video. With SYRIA-TIMELINE and SYRIAN REFUGEES-GLANCE.

JORDAN-SYRIAN REFUGEES-PHOTO ESSAY — A 24-picture photo essay by Muhammed Muheisen spotlights refugees living in informal tented settlements throughout Jordan. With 350 words of text.

VENEZUELA-WYNTON MARSALIS — American jazz legend Wynton Marsalis cancels concerts in Venezuela at a time of rising tensions between the two nations. By Joshua Goodman and Charles J. Gans. SENT: 380 words, photo.

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HOW TO REACH US: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome.

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