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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

September 10, 2014



MANILA, Philippines — The president of the overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines proposes to give Muslims in the south the ability to run their own government under their own flag, part of a peace plan aimed at ending a four-decade rebellion that has killed 150,000 people. The draft law submitted to Congress fleshes out a peace deal signed in March by the country’s largest Muslim insurgent group. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 600 words, photos.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistani warplanes strike five militant hideouts in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border, killing 65 insurgents, the military says. The strikes, carried out in two phases hours apart, targeted areas in the North Waziristan tribal region, where the military has been conducting a major offensive since mid-June. By Asif Shahzad. SENT: 540 words.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials say 14 people, including civilians, are killed and 13 others are wounded in a U.S. airstrike in eastern Afghanistan. SENT: 130 words.


JHANG, Pakistan — Thousands of people flee their homes in Pakistan as monsoon flooding that has already inundated the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir courses down onto the plains, causing a major river to breach its banks. The flooding began earlier this month in Kashmir, where it has caused landslides and submerged much of the main city of Srinagar, on the Indian-administered side. The death toll from the flooding in both countries has climbed to at least 457. By Muhammad Yousaf and Muneeza Naqvi. SENT: 600 words, photos.


TOKYO — A nuclear power plant in southern Japan wins regulators’ approval under new safety standards imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, a key step toward becoming the first to restart under the tighter rules. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously approved an inspection report for the Sendai Nuclear Power Station’s two reactors. It concluded that the reactors complied with new regulations designed to avoid major damage during disasters such as the massive earthquake and tsunami that caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 390 words, photos.


JAKARTA, Indonesia — A strong earthquake hits off the coast of eastern Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, causing panic among residents, but there are no immediate reports of injuries or damage or threat of a tsunami. The magnitude-6.5 quake struck at a depth of 22.5 kilometers (13 miles) and was centered about 122 kilometers (76 miles) southeast of Mondayang, a town in northern Sulawesi, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. SENT: 190 words.


YANGON, Myanmar — Helicopters begin an aerial search for two mountaineers who lost contact with their base camp after scaling what has long been considered Myanmar’s tallest peak. SENT: 240 words.


CANBERRA, Australia — Australian police arrest two men for allegedly preparing to fight in Syria, recruiting jihadists and raising money for an al-Qaida offshoot group, as a national spy chief warns that Australia may elevate its terrorism threat to its second-highest level within days. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 570 words.


SYDNEY — The owner of a New Zealand tourist lodge is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting 16 guests, most of whom were from overseas. Michael Harris, who owns the Main Street Lodge in the North Island town of Kaitaia, was charged with 39 offenses against the 16 men, police said. SENT: 240 words.


HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam accuses Chinese authorities of beating several of its fishermen and demanded severe punishment for those involved. China denied the allegation on Wednesday and said the fishermen had been detained for illegal fishing. It was the latest confrontation boosting tensions in a sea dispute between the Communist neighbors. SENT: 340 words.


MANILA, Philippines — In Asia’s bastion of Roman Catholic faith, images of Pope Francis are getting the pop star treatment. Life-size cardboard cutouts are being distributed by a church-run radio station to churches, schools and malls in the Philippine capital to generate “papal fever” before the pope’s visit in January. SENT: 250 words, photos.



BEIJING — China’s premier has promised to open the world’s No. 2 economy wider to foreign companies amid a wave of anti-monopoly investigations that business groups say might be aimed at limiting foreign competition. Speaking to businesspeople in the eastern city of Tianjin, Premier Li Keqiang made no mention of the probes against foreign automakers, drug and technology suppliers and other companies. He said Beijing opposes trade protectionism and “will continue to pursue a more proactive strategy of opening up.” SENT: 390 words, photos.



WASHINGTON — In an address to the nation, President Barack Obama will outline an expanded military and political effort to combat militants in Syria and Iraq, and urge Congress to quickly give him authority to arm Syrian opposition forces. But administration officials say Obama will press forward with other elements of his plan without formal authorization from lawmakers. That could include wide-ranging airstrikes in Iraq and possibly in Syria. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 1,060 words, photos, interactive.

— KERRY-IRAQ — Seeking respite from Islamic militants, U.S. urges more inclusion for Sunnis in new Iraqi government. SENT: 1,100 words, photo.


BEIRUT — U.S. officials have already made clear that Washington envisions its Sunni Arab allies, plus NATO member Turkey, playing a leading role in any united front against the militants of the Islamic State group, which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria. Here’s a look at what they could offer. By Ryan Lucas. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

— FIJI-UN PEACEKEEPERS — Fiji may have jumped the gun by saying its 45 captured U.N. peacekeepers would soon be released by Syrian insurgents. SENT: 710 words, photo.


Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, this was supposed to be a season of relief, with Iraq managing on its own and most U.S. troops finally ending their combat duty in Afghanistan. Instead, Americans are bracing for another upsurge of engagement against Islamic extremists in a region where one war blurs into another. A generation has now grown up amid this continuous conflict, and there’s no end in sight. “The Cold War took 45 years,” noted one former U.S. diplomat. “It’s certainly plausible that this could be the same.” By National Writer David Crary. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.


JOHANNESBURG — The verdict in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial will not be delivered as a simple guilty or not guilty. Instead, Judge Thokozile Masipa will recount and analyze the evidence given by each of the nearly 40 witnesses. The verdict on whether Pistorius intentionally killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is expected to take hours, or even days. A look at how it might unfold. By Gerald Imray. SENT: 750 words, photos.

— PISTORIUS TRIAL-GLANCE — How judge will present verdict, what happens next. SENT: 700 words, photos.


LONDON — There’ll be no going back if Scotland votes for independence from the United Kingdom on Sept. 18. Opinion polls showing that may happen have prompted investors to sell off the British pound. If a knockout blow is dealt to Scotland’s 307-year union with England, that selling could accelerate as the U.K. plunges into a constitutional crisis. The pound, which is one of the most tangible links of the union, will be at the heart of any separation proceedings. An independent Scotland could try to keep using it or go for a new currency altogether. Here’s a look at Scotland’s currency options and the risks they bear. By Business Writer Pan Pylas. SENT: 1,060 words, photos


JERUSALEM — While the world’s attention was focused on the airstrikes and rockets over Gaza and Israel this summer, a wave of violence hit the streets of Jerusalem — and is still roiling parts of this divided city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By Daniel Estrin. SENT: 890 words, photo.

— ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS — Palestinian man killed in overnight raid by Israeli forces in West Bank. SENT: 180 words.


TUNIS, Tunisia — When six armed gunmen showed up at the door of politician Mohamed Al Nasri last week, only to fail in their assassination attempt after he leapt from the second floor into a neighbor’s home, it was more than just an isolated case of political violence. Coming weeks before crucial elections, it underscored how vulnerable democracy is in the cradle of the Arab Spring. The late October parliamentary elections and the late November presidential ballot are meant to complete the North African nation’s democratic transition — but it’s a troubled process overshadowed by the threat of terror, a struggling economy and a deeply divided political class. By Paul Schemm. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.


KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president promises Wednesday to introduce a bill as early as next week that would offer greater autonomy to rebellious regions in the pro-Russia east, where separatists have been battling government troops for almost five months. By Laura Mills. SENT: 550 words, photo.

— GERMANY-UKRAINE — Merkel says Germany favors going ahead with implementing new EU sanctions against Russia. SENT: 250 words, photo.


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The gunmen screeched to a halt in a cloud of dust in two SUVs outside the high concrete walls of the prison, firing shots in the air that quickly scattered the crowd of food vendors outside the gates, along with poorly equipped guards. The brazen assault, resulting in the escape of nearly 330 prisoners, has undermined the already weak security in the country, as more than 260 criminals remain at large, and exposed flaws in a justice system that embarrassed officials are now scrambling to fix. By Danica Coto. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


FERGUSON, Mo. — Elected leaders in the St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black 18-year-old was fatally shot by a white police officer hoped to use their first public meeting since Michael Brown’s death as a venue to promote community healing. Instead, they were greeted with fear, anger, outrage and repeated threats of voter retribution at the ballot box, and their proposals for an overhaul of the municipal courts and a citizen police review board greeted warily. By Alan Scher Zagier. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.


BONNE TERRE, Mo. — A Missouri inmate convicted in a 1998 robbery and double murder is put to death Wednesday, the eighth execution in the state this year and the 10th since November. By Jim Salter. SENT: 640 words, photo.


NEW YORK — Since the National September 11 Memorial Museum’s May opening, about 135 victims’ families, survivors, first responders and others have come forward to donate items to add to its collection, curators say. Some donors hadn’t been ready to part with the objects earlier or wanted to see for themselves what the museum would be like; others hadn’t realized a museum would want their possessions. “I don’t know what made me keep them,” says Carol Orazem, who donated her boots after visiting the museum and seeing another first responder’s reaction when he spotted his own helmet on display. “It was hard letting go of them ... (but) now I know that they’re taken care of.” By Jennifer Peltz. SENT: 660 words, photos.


DENVER — A 19-year-old suburban Denver woman who federal authorities say intended to wage jihad despite their repeated attempts to stop her was expected to plead guilty Wednesday to trying to help the Islamic State militant group in Syria. By Sadie Gurman. SENT: 450 words.


As computerized wristwatches go, the upcoming Apple Watch looks impressive. Besides a good choice of size and style, it’s great that Apple Watch isn’t simply adopting the smartphone way of doing things. Its interface relies heavily on the dial to the right, known as the digital crown. Competing watches tend to emphasize the voice and touch controls found on phones. By Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

— APPLE-PAYMENTS — Pay with a tap, not a swipe: Apple introduces digital wallet service Apple Pay. SENT: 890 words, photos.


— MUSIC-FASHION ROCKS — Justin Bieber, Victor Cruz booed at Fashion Rocks; J-Lo, Nicki Minaj bring on the booty. SENT: 270 words, photos.

— SECURITY CLEARANCE-HACKING — Security company to lose government contract after cyberattack compromised personal files of 25,000 government workers. SENT: 680 words.


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