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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

October 14, 2013



NEW DELHI — Uma Devi was halfway across the bridge when people started shouting that it was collapsing. “I grabbed my son and ran,” the distraught woman told Indian TV a day after the tragedy in central India. “People were pushing and screaming and trying to run away from the bridge. I don’t know how I escaped.” The stampede killed 115 people, mostly women and children. Some were crushed to death, while others jumped off the bridge to escape and drowned. Scores more were injured. SENT: 420 words, photos.


PODAMPETTA, India — Agya Amma surveyed the pile of twisted wood and shredded thatch that was her home in this seaside Indian village. Like most everything else in Podampetta, it was all but swept away when Cyclone Phailin roared in off the Bay of Bengal with a massive storm surge and winds topping 200 kilometers (131 miles) per hour. Unlike past storms that have lashed India’s eastern coast, however, Phailin did not extract a heavy human toll, thanks to the evacuation of nearly 1 million people in one of India’s poorest regions. Only 25 people have been reported killed, although tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, and miles of coastline swamped. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 620 words, photos, video.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian appeals court upholds a government ban against the use of the word “Allah” to refer to God in non-Muslim faiths, overruling claims by Christians in the Muslim-majority nation that the restriction violates their religious rights. “Allah” is the Arabic word for God and is commonly used in the Malay language to refer to God. But the Malaysian government insists that “Allah” should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns its use by others would confuse Muslims and could be used to convert them. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 370 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — The secretive leader of the Afghan Taliban pledges that his followers will keep fighting if the government in Kabul signs a crucial security deal with the United States. Mullah Mohammad Omar also calls on his fighters to intensify their insurgent campaign against Afghan and NATO forces, and urges all Afghans to boycott next year’s elections, including the vote to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai. By Patrick Quinn. SENT: 400 words, photos.


HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam begins evacuating more than 180,000 people from coastal areas in the path of Typhoon Nari, which killed 13 people and caused widespread damage in the Philippines over the weekend. The storm is expected to hit the central Vietnamese coast early Tuesday with sustained winds of up to 133 kph (83 mph), causing possible flooding and damage. SENT: 150 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — Indian police say they are questioning the crew of a U.S.-owned ship accused of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition in Indian waters. Indian marine security police in the southeastern port of Tuticorin filed a complaint Monday against crew and security guards aboard the MV Seaman Ohio after they failed to produce documents allowing them to carry the weapons. SENT: 260 words, photo.


BEIJING — Britain announces simplified visa application rules that it hopes will entice more high-spending travelers from China, as the two sides ease a spat over the Dalai Lama that had disrupted economic exchanges. SENT: 360 words.


BANGKOK — Thai authorities say they have arrested a bar owner in connection with a lewd sex show mentioned in racy tweets by pop star Rihanna during her recent trip to Thailand. SENT: 250 words, photo.



BEIJING — The chief executive of Russia’s Lukoil says the oil giant is looking for Chinese partners as it tries to expand its business in East Asia. The company has production ventures abroad with China’s two biggest oil companies, PetroChina Ltd. and Sinopec Corp. SENT: 320 words.


BEIJING — Higher food prices push China’s consumer inflation to 3.1 percent in September. Holidays, drought and floods are partly responsible for the increase in food prices. SENT: 270 words, photos.



STOCKHOLM — Americans Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences honors the three “for their empirical analysis of asset prices.” By Karl Ritter. SENT: 800 words, photos, video, interactive.


BEIRUT — A car bombing in a rebel-held northwestern town in Syria kills at least 12 people and wounds dozens, setting cars on fire and sending people running in panic, two activist groups say. By Bassem Mroue. SENT: 400 words, photo.


VIENNA — Don’t expect a breakthrough — but chances for progress have seldom been better. This is the message coming both from Iran and six world powers ahead of renewed talks this week meant to end a decade of deadlock on Tehran’s nuclear program. The two sides come to the negotiating table in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday amid a feel-good atmosphere that began with the June election of centrist President Hassan Rouhani. Subsequent conciliatory comments by Iranian officials were capped last month by a phone call between Rouhani and President Barack Obama — the first conversation between U.S. and Iranian leaders in more than three decades. By George Jahn. SENT: 1,090 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — The United States moves perilously closer to an economy-rattling default and a partial government shutdown enters its third week as Senate Democratic and Republican leaders remain at odds over spending in their last-ditch negotiations to end the crises gripping the nation. The reaction of world markets and the Dow Jones could provide the necessary jolt to Senate leaders, who represent the last, best chance for a resolution after talks between President Barack Obama and House Republican leaders collapsed. SENT: 900 words.

— SHUTDOWN-FEDERAL COURTS — The wheels of justice are slowly grinding to a halt due to the government shutdown, with delays in hundreds of federal cases. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.


WASHINGTON — One bit of gospel is endlessly recited in the debt limit standoff: The United States has never defaulted. But history’s not that simple. America has briefly stiffed some of its creditors on at least two occasions. The first time the young nation had a dramatic excuse: In 1814 the Treasury was empty, Washington lay in ruins, even the soldiers fighting the British weren’t getting paid. The second time was blamed partly on — this may sound familiar — lawmakers who squabbled right down to the deadline before raising the debt limit in 1979. By Connie Cass. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — After the Supreme Court ruled a decade ago that race could be a factor in college admissions in a Michigan case, affirmative action opponents persuaded the state’s voters to outlaw any consideration of race. Now, the high court, in a case Tuesday, is weighing whether that change to Michigan’s constitution is itself discriminatory. By Mark Sherman. SENT: 780 words, photos.


CHICAGO — Stung by a recession that sapped investments and home values, but expressing widespread job satisfaction, older Americans appear to have accepted the reality of a retirement that comes later in life and no longer represents a complete exit from the workforce. Some 82 percent say it is at least somewhat likely they will work for pay in retirement, a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds. By Matt Sedensky. SENT: 1,370 words, photos, graphic, video, interactive.

— SOCIAL SECURITY-COLA — Another year, another small raise for millions of people who rely on Social Security, veterans’ benefits and federal pensions. SENT: 920 words, photos.


The world’s anti-doping authority is launching an “extraordinary” audit of Jamaica’s drug-testing agency following allegations that its policing of the island’s sprinting superstars led by Usain Bolt all but collapsed in the months before they dazzled at the London Games, The Associated Press has learned. By John Leicester. SENT: 1,780 words, photo.


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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Between 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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