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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

September 29, 2014

ADDS: CHINA-HONG KONG DILEMMA, INDIA-TEA PLANTATION DEATHS

ASIA:

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protesters wearing surgical masks and holding up umbrellas to protect against tear gas expand their rallies throughout Hong Kong, defying calls to disperse in a major pushback against Beijing’s decision to limit democratic reforms in the Asian financial hub. Police officers tried to negotiate with protesters camped out on a normally busy highway near the Hong Kong government headquarters that was the scene of tear gas-fueled clashes that erupted the evening before. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.

CHINA-HONG KONG DILEMMA

BEIJING — Protests in Hong Kong hand the Chinese leadership a big dilemma. It cannot crack down too harshly in the semiautonomous enclave, where a freewheeling media ensures that the world sees everything. But it fears that unrest could spread to other parts of China if the protests continue. Demonstrators who are demanding a greater say in choosing the financial center’s chief executive defied weekend attempts by riot police to end their sit-ins with tear gas, and on Monday fanned out to more neighborhoods of Hong Kong. “Beijing does not want to see it spread to the mainland,” said Beijing-based historian and political analyst Zhang Lifan. China’s increasingly hard-line leadership, which won’t want to discuss any liberalization in Hong Kong, doesn’t want to see bloodshed. But it will use force — however much is necessary — to end the protests, Zhang said. By Didi Tang. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0900 GMT, photos.

JAPAN-VOLCANO

KISO, Japan — Japanese soldiers manage to bring down eight more bodies by helicopter from the ash-blanketed peak of a still-erupting volcano, before toxic gases and ash force them to suspend the recovery effort in the early afternoon. At least 31 people are believed to have died. By Emily Wang. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.

INDIA-MODI MANIA

NEW YORK — India’s new prime minister, once shunned by Washington, appears before an enthusiastic crowd in a famed New York sports arena where he appealed for help from Indian-Americans to help develop his country’s economy, vowing that under his leadership, the South Asian nation wouldn’t look back. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 850 words, photos.

INDIA-TEA PLANTATION DEATHS

BUNDAPANI, India — When the Bundapani tea estate closed last year, workers who had been scraping by on about $1.50 a day were left with nothing. No health care, no food rations. By the time government heard about it two months later, some of the workers were dead. “I have become like a beggar,” said Ramesh Mahali, a 59-year-old who struggles to stand, and whose family is wasting away from malnutrition and tuberculosis. About 70 workers have died at the tea plantation and four others that closed recently, and more than 16,000 people have been left in extreme poverty. The deprivation underlines the failures of an industry that has changed little in India since colonial times. By Patrick Reevell. SENT: 1,400 words, photos. An abridged version of 740 words also has moved.

NKOREA-KIM’S HEALTH

SEOUL, South Korea — The world’s most famous North Korean disappears from public view for three weeks, and state media gently note that he has been ill. That has set off a global smorgasbord of speculation about what’s eating Kim Jong Un: maybe gout brought on by a cheese obsession, or too much fried chicken and beer. A serious health crisis seems unlikely, however, mainly because North Korea decided to even mention it. By Foster Klug. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 0800 GMT.

CHINA-JAPAN-NORTH-KOREA

SHENYANG, China — Negotiators from North Korea and Japan meet in a northeastern Chinese city for talks on the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents. SENT: 150 words.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Security officials in Afghanistan say militants have carried out two attacks just ahead of the country’s presidential inauguration. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: Full story.

CHINA-XINJIANG-IMAM

BEIJING — Two men are sentenced to death and another to life imprisonment for killing a pro-government Muslim cleric in China’s far-western city of Kashgar. SENT: 150 words.

AUSTRALIA-EBOLA

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia rules out sending doctors to West Africa to help fight the Ebola outbreak there because of logistical problems in repatriating any Australian who became infected with the deadly virus. SENT: 240 words, photo.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

OBAMA

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama gives voice to the conundrum at the heart of his Syria policy, acknowledging that the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria is helping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, a man the United Nations has accused of war crimes. By Ken Dilanian. SENT: 830 words, photos, audio.

ISRAEL-TOURISM TROUBLES

JERUSALEM — It was supposed to be a record-breaking year for tourist visits to Israel. But all that changed when the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas prompted jittery travelers to cancel trips en masse, leaving empty hotel rooms and barren tourist sites in their wake. The summertime fighting delivered a serious hit to Israel’s thriving tourism industry, causing losses of hundreds of millions of dollars and sparking concern that aftershocks may continue well after the war. By Tia Goldenberg. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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