BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea says it executed Kim Jong Un’s uncle as a traitor for trying to seize supreme power, a stunning end for the leader’s former mentor, long considered the country’s No. 2. In a sharp reversal of the popular image of Jang Song Thaek as a kindly uncle guiding young leader Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency indicated that Jang instead saw the death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011 as an opportunity to challenge his nephew and win power. By Eric Talmadge and Foster Klug. SENT: 1,037 words, photo, video.
SEOUL, South Korea — The execution of Kim Jong Un’s uncle marks the unprecedented fall from grace of one of the most powerful figures in North Korea and the most serious political upheaval in the country in decades. Jang Song Thaek, a native of the far northeastern border city of Chongjin who hailed from humble roots but was sharp enough to gain entry to prestigious Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, rose from municipal bureaucrat to vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and member of the Political Bureau — posts that put him in second in power only to Kim. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.
— NKOREA-KIM’S UNCLE STATEMENT.
TOKYO — Southeast Asian nations welcome Japan’s efforts to nurture closer security cooperation, given China’s growing assertiveness, though they hope the two powers will mend their frayed ties, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says. “It must be said that good relations between China and Japan are critical to the future of our region,” Yudhoyono told a gathering on the sidelines of a summit marking 40 years of ties between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian nations. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 600 words, photos.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — The execution of an Islamist opposition leader in Bangladesh has sparked violent protests. TV stations reported Friday that activists torched many homes and shops belonging to minority Hindus, who are generally believed to be supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 120 words: UPCOMING: 400 words by 0700GMT.
BANGKOK — For years, protesters in Thailand have used social media to organize rallies. Now they’re taking smartphones to a new level. Apps have been created that allow phones to help protesters perform the high-pitched, raucous noisemaking that is a staple of Thai demonstrations. By Jocelyn Gecker. SENT: 620 words.
BEIJING — A gas explosion traps 22 workers underground in a coal mine in western China. China News Service reported that rescuers were searching for the trapped miners and that it was unclear whether there were injuries or fatalities among them. SENT: 140 words.
MANILA, Philippines — The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan that struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8 has passed 6,000 with nearly 1,800 people missing, officials said Friday. Twenty-seven bodies, all unidentified, were among the latest to be recovered under debris in typhoon-stricken coastal areas including the hardest hit city of Tacloban. SENT: 230 words, photos.
SYDNEY — Four Australian police officers will be charged with assaulting a 21-year-old Brazilian student who died while being arrested in Sydney last year. Roberto Laudisio Curti died in the early hours of March 18 last year after New South Wales state police shocked him with Tasers up to 14 times. SENT: 300 words.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Sotheby’s auction house in New York has agreed to return an ancient statue to Cambodia, ending a heated legal battle that began more than a year ago. The agreement, signed Thursday by lawyers for Sotheby’s, the consignor and the U.S. government, states that the auction house will transfer the statue to a representative of Cambodia in New York within 90 days. By Justine Drennan. SENT: 370 words.
NEW DELHI — The phones were ringing nonstop in the tiny, windowless office in downtown New Delhi, with urgent appeals from desperate women. One caller, speaking in whispers, said her husband beat her regularly because she failed to bring in enough dowry. Another woman said her teenage daughter was being stalked by a neighbor and needed legal advice. Established in the wake of last year’s gang rape and murder of a young New Delhi woman, the government hotline is part of a wave of change since the case forced the country to confront its appalling treatment of women, though many in India’s urban centers say the streets have not gotten any safer. By Nirmala George. UPCOMING: 1,150 words by 0700GMT.
BUSINESS & FINANCE
SAN FRANCISCO — A labor group monitoring three Chinese factories that make iPhones and other Apple products says once-oppressive working conditions have steadily improved in the last 18 months, but more must be done to reduce the amount of overtime that employees work. The audit released Thursday by the Fair Labor Association represents the final assessment in a process that started last year at plants run in China by Apple’s largest supplier, Foxconn. SENT: 450 words, photo.
SAN FRANCISCO AIRLINER CRASH
SAN FRANCISCO — New details about the crash of an Asiana Airlines jet have renewed questions about whether a culture of strict deference to more-senior pilots can compromise air safety. Documents and testimony this week show that there was confusion and poor communication in the cockpit of the Asiana jet as it approached San Francisco International Airport in July, and pilots failed to voice key concerns or take immediate action because they were subordinate to an instructor. By David Koenig and Martha Mendoza. SENT: 1,050 words, photos, audio, video
BEIJING — Asian stock markets mostly post tentative gains as investors prepared for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision next week on whether to reduce its monetary stimulus. Oil prices edged up, staying above $97 per barrel. SENT: 300 words.
U.S. & INTERNATIONAL
UNITED NATIONS — Chemical weapons were probably used in four locations in Syria this year, in addition to the confirmed attack near Damascus in August that forced the government to abandon its secret chemical stockpile, U.N. inspectors says in a report. The experts, led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, examined seven alleged chemical weapons attacks and said it lacked information to corroborate the allegations at two locations. SENT: 800 words, photos.
WASHINGTON — An Associated Press investigation finds that an American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA — but all in secret. By Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman. SENT: 1,800 words, photos, video.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. committee monitoring sanctions against Iran says it welcomes the recent nuclear agreement between the Islamic republic and six world powers but warns that Security Council sanctions are still in place. The committee on Thursday gave its first briefing since the interim deal was reached last month in Geneva. By The Associated Press.
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin casts Russia as a defender of conservative values against “genderless and infertile” Western tolerance, as his nation faces criticism for an anti-gay law that has stoked calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Putin’s state-of-the nation address also contains a strong warning to unidentified powers seeking to get a military edge over Russia — a clear nod at U.S. long-range, non-nuclear weapons that Moscow sees as a threat to its nuclear deterrent. By Nataliya Visilyeva and Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 830 words, photos.
WASHINGTON — A budget pact now in the hands of the U.S. Senate will encounter strong but probably futile resistance from Republicans after a sweeping vote in the House saw the majority Republicans and President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies reach a rare bipartisan agreement. The modest package passed by the House on Thursday would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month. Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative organizations that sometimes raise money by stoking conflict within the Republican Party.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Congo and the so-called M23 rebels sign a peace agreement that will see the insurgent group demobilize its fighters and transform itself into a political party. Kenya’s presidency said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is the chairman of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, and Malawian President Joyce Banda oversaw the signing ceremony in Nairobi. SENT: 200 words.
DOHA, Qatar — An unprecedented gathering of top Palestinian politicians and academics this week suggests the split between Islamists and secular nationalists has hardened into permanence. Despite ongoing negotiations with Israel by President Mahmoud Abbas there is a clear sense, in both his Fatah and its Islamist rival Hamas, of a national movement that is fragmented and in crisis, its leadership aging and lacking a modern vision. By Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 950 words, photos.
SAN ANTONIO — Exercise might help women beat breast cancer. Researchers find it can ease the achy joints and muscle pain that lead many patients to quit taking medicines that treat the disease and lower the risk of a recurrence. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 730 words.
ARCTIC REPORT CARD
WASHINGTON — The rapid melting in the Arctic eased up this year. But the government says global warming is still dramatically altering the top of the world, reducing the number of reindeer and shrinking snow and ice, while increasing certain fish and extending the growing season. By Seth Borenstein. SENT: 600 words, photo.
GOLDEN GLOBES NOMINATIONS
Heaping seven nominations on both the con-artist melodrama “American Hustle” and the grimly historical “12 Years a Slave,” the Golden Globes nominations set up a showdown of contrasts: comedy and drama, light and dark, white and black. The two films were validated as Academy Awards front-runners in the Globes nominations announced Thursday in Beverly Hills, California, by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, refining what had been a scattered awards season in a year many consider encouragingly plentiful of worthy movies. By Jake Coyle. SENT: 1,200, photos, video.
— SPACE STATION — Space station astronauts dim the lights, turn off equipment and put off science work as NASA scrambles to figure out what’s wrong with a key cooling unit. SENT: 400 words, photos.
— HAWAII PLANE CRASH — Eight people survive when a small plane crashes into the water off the Hawaiian island of Molokai, killing the director of the state Department of Health. SENT: 840 words, photos, audio, video.
— YEMEN — Yemeni officials say U.S. drone strike hits convoy heading to wedding party, killing 13 people. Clashes between Sunni militants and Hawthi rebels kill at least 40 people as fighting spreads in northern Yemen. SENT: 740 words.
— NEWTOWN REQUIEM — A musical memorial: Composer seeks input from children around US for requiem honoring Newtown dead. SENT: 650 words, photos, video.
— HUNTER’S SURVIVAL — Michigan hunter describes how he survived 7 days in Alaskan wilderness with no food, shelter. SENT: 380 words.
— BRITAIN-PHONE HACKING — Jurors hear at Britain’s tabloid phone hacking trial the queen was so annoyed by police officers eating nuts laid out at Buckingham Palace that she marked a line on the bowl to monitor the level. SENT: 400 words, photos.
— CANADA-REPORTER SUES FORD — A Toronto Star reporter has sued Mayor Rob Ford for suggesting the journalist was a pedophile in a recent television interview.
YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Scott McDonald. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.
Between 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.