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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

March 7, 2014



PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korean voters will make a choice Sunday when they elect a new national legislature. Not for a candidate; there’s only one of those per district. They get to vote “yes” or “no,” and virtually all pick “yes.” Going to the polls, however, is not a choice but a requirement, which effectively makes North Korean elections a national head count, and a powerful tool for checking up on the people. By Eric Talmadge. UPCOMING: 750 words by 0800 GMT, photos.


TOKYO — The man once lauded as “Japan’s Beethoven” bows and apologizes at his first media appearance since it was revealed last month that his famed musical compositions were ghostwritten and he wasn’t completely deaf. Mamoru Samuragochi appeared clean-shaven and minus his trademark sunglasses and long hair, in what could be seen as a sign of remorse. He apologized for the troubles he had caused his fans, producers behind his works and others. By Yuri Kageyama. Sent: 250 words, photos planned.


BANGKOK — Two passers-by are wounded by gunshots fired from a park Friday that is occupied by anti-government protesters in the heart of the country’s capital, police said. A 31-year-old woman was shot while walking on the street and a taxi driver was wounded in the leg while driving near the protest venue of Lumpini Park, said police Col. Chaiya Kongsub. Sent: 200 words.


WASHINGTON — With lawmakers listening raptly, the Dalai Lama on Thursday opens the U.S. Senate session with a prayer of peace as congressional leaders set aside partisan differences to receive the Tibetan spiritual leader together. Two weeks after President Barack Obama angered China by inviting the Nobel laureate to the White House, the Dalai Lama was warmly welcomed on Capitol Hill, where he paid tribute to America as a “champion of democracy and freedom.” By Donna Cassata. Sent: 400 words, photos.


BANGKOK — A leading international rights group calls on Thai authorities to investigate the navy’s alleged role in the trafficking of desperate migrants from Myanmar instead of charging journalists for reporting on the subject. Thailand’s navy filed criminal defamation charges late last year against the English-language Phuketwan website for publishing stories alleging military involvement in the trafficking of Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya. By Todd Pitman. Sent: 320 words.


AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand doctors say that a 7-year-old Japanese girl was bitten about 100 times during a dog mauling that has horrified many in the South Pacific nation. Zac Moaveni, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital, told reporters that the girl, Sakurako Uehara, would likely need repeated surgeries until she was a grown woman. Sent: 330 words.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian court has sentenced a couple to death by hanging for murdering their 26-year-old Indonesian housemaid three years ago. Defense lawyer Thong Seng Kong says the High Court found electrician Fong Kong Meng, 58, and his wife Teoh Ching Yen, 56, guilty of killing their maid, Isti Komariyah. He said the court ruled that Isti had died of starvation because the couple had failed to provide sufficient food and medical attention. Sent: 230 words.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia has banned an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word “Allah” to describe the Japanese action hero. The Home Ministry said in a statement Friday that the Malay-edition of “Ultraman, The Ultra Power” contained elements that can undermine public security and societal morals. Sent: 320 words.


BEIJING — Karl Lagerfeld and a Macau casino operator announced plans Friday for the Chanel designer to create his first hotel. The 270-room Karl Lagerfeld Hotel will open in 2017 in a 20-story tower in the gambling enclave in southern China, according to Lagerfeld and the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau. Sent: 200 words.


MUMBAI, India — Asian stocks mostly rise Friday, buoyed by a third all-time high on a key Wall Street index this week and signs that China will follow up on pledges to further open the world’s No. 2 economy. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average added 0.4 percent to 15,201.57 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.65 point to 1,976.17. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,454.80 and Southeast Asia markets were mostly higher. By Kay Johnson. Sent: 400 words, photos.



SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Ukraine lurches toward breakup as lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declare they want to join Russia and will put the decision to voters in 10 days. President Barack Obama condemns the move and the West answers with the first real sanctions against Russia. By Yuras Karmanau and Juergen Baetz. SENT: 1,300 words, photos, video.


SEMFEROPOL, Ukraine — The old actor remembers the war, sometimes far too clearly. He remembers the bombings of World War II. He remembers the friends and relatives who didn’t survive. So what did he think when Russian soldiers turned up in the streets of this regional capital? “If the Russians weren’t here, the government of Ukraine would come and occupy us,” he said. If some Russian-speaking Ukrainians are quietly angry to see armed Russian soldiers in the streets, many see them as protectors from a distant government they deeply fear. By Tim Sullivan. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— UKRAINE SANCTIONS. Obama orders Russia sanctions, declares US won’t let Russia carve up Ukraine; EU more cautious. Sent: 1,270 words, photos, video.


LOS ANGELES — Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto denies that he is the creator of bitcoin. Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin, but in an exclusive two-hour interview with The Associated Press, Nakamoto denied he had anything to do with the digital currency. By Ryan Nakashima. Sent: 960 words, photos, video.


NEW YORK — An American who trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 before losing his nerve testified Thursday how he encountered Osama bin Laden and the terror group’s spokesman at a safe house — and that bin Laden hinted that a suicide attack on U.S. soil was in the works. Sent: 550 words, photos, video.


FORT BRAGG, North Carolina — In his immaculate blue dress uniform, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair stood ramrod straight before a judge and pleaded guilty to three charges that could send him to prison for up to 15 years. It was a remarkable admission sure to end the military career of a man once regarded as a rising star among the U.S. Army’s small cadre of trusted battle commanders. Sinclair, 51, still faces five other charges stemming from the claims of a female captain nearly 20 years his junior who says the general twice forced her to perform oral sex. By Michael Biesecker and Allen G. Breed. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.


PRETORIA, South Africa — As the girlfriend he shot lay dead or dying in his home, a weeping, praying Oscar Pistorius knelt at her side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth, a witness testifies at the double-amputee runner’s murder trial. The testimony was the first detailed, public description of the immediate aftermath of the shooting last year. By Gerald Imray and Christopher Torchia. SENT: 850 words, photos, video.


HARGEISA, Somalia — An American volunteer gently brushes away dirt to reveal the bones of a Somali victim buried in a mass grave 30 years ago. Tens of thousands of skeletons may lie in mass graves here, on the northern edge of Somalia, where many want to see justice prevail, even if delayed. By Jason Straziuso. SENT: 680 words, photos.



NEW YORK — They say you can never be too rich or too thin. Surely it goes without saying that you can’t be too good-looking either, right? Especially in Hollywood. But in the new film “Son of God,” Jesus is so, well, easy on the eyes that some are wondering whether it’s a distraction. Casting Jesus on the silver screen has always been a tricky business. By National Writer Jocelyn Noveck. SENT: 1000 words, photos.

—CASTING JESUS-GLANCE— A list of some of the actors who have played Jesus in movies going back to 1927. SENT: 250 words, photos.


MIAMI — Police video of singer Justin Bieber giving a urine sample for a drug test after his arrest on driving under the influence and other charges was released by prosecutors Thursday, with sensitive portions blacked out as ordered by a judge. Sent.


— LIBYA — One of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons, al-Saadi, is extradited to Libya from Niger and is likely to face trial for his role in trying to put down the anti-Gadhafi revolt. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— VATICAN-POPE’S CROSS — Pope Francis says he took the cross of his late confessor’s rosary from his casket and he wears it in a fabric pouch under his cassock. SENT: 300 words.

— GOOGLE BARGE — Five things to know about how Google is towing its giant barge from San Francisco’s Treasure Island to California’s Delta. SENT: 350 words, photos.


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