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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

October 14, 2014

ASIA:

NKOREA-KIM JONG UN

SEOUL, South Korea — After vanishing from the public eye for nearly six weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back, ending rumors that he was gravely ill, deposed or worse. Now, a new, albeit smaller, mystery has emerged: Why the cane? By Foster Klug. SENT: 610 words, photos, video.

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST

HONG KONG — Hong Kong police clear more barricades from pro-democracy protest zones that have choked off traffic in key business districts for more than two weeks, signaling authorities’ growing impatience with the student-led activists. Appearing to use a strategy of gradually chipping away at the three main protest zones, hundreds of police fanned out in the early hours to take down barriers that the protesters had erected overnight. Officers used electric saws and bolt cutters to take down bamboo scaffolding built in the Admiralty area after a mob of masked men stormed some of the barricades the day before. By Kelvin Chan and Sylvia Hui. SENT: 570 words, photos.

HONG KONG-WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

HONG KONG — It’s a protest for political reform — so why are people at the scene worshipping deities, playing pingpong and singing “Happy Birthday”? As Hong Kong’s pro-democracy street protests enter a third week, the civil disobedience movement has given rise to some increasingly bizarre scenes, especially in Mong Kok, a boisterous, seedy district where a haphazard protest camp has attracted a motley cast of characters. By Sylvia Hui. UPCOMING: 680 words by 1400 GMT, photos.

SKOREA-IDENTITY THEFT

SEOUL, South Korea — After an avalanche of data breaches, South Korea’s national identity card system has been raided so thoroughly by thieves that the government says it might have to issue new ID numbers to every citizen over 17 at a possible cost of billions of dollars. The admission is an embarrassment for a society that prides itself on its technological savvy and has some of the fastest and most universal Internet access. One expert says scrapping and rebuilding the system and tightening up information security could take up to a decade — if it can be done at all. By Kim Tong-hyung. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-US MILITARY

MANILA, Philippines — Dozens of activists burn a mock U.S. flag as they protest at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, demanding that Washington hand over to the Philippines a U.S. Marine suspected in the killing of a transgender Filipino that the demonstrators labeled a hate crime. Jeffrey Laude, 26, was found dead, apparently strangled and drowned, beside a toilet bowl in a motel room in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila, shortly after he checked in late Saturday, allegedly with a Marine. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 600 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Authorities in Afghanistan say two Afghan civilians have been killed and three injured in a roadside bomb blast in the country’s capital, Kabul. SENT: 120 words, photos.

CHINA-BANNING BOOKS

BEIJING — Authorities in China have ordered books by Chinese-American scholar Yu Ying-shih to be removed from sale, as Beijing expresses its displeasure with writers showing support for pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong and elsewhere, bookstores and publishers say. The ban, which has been widely reported on Chinese social media, also restricts the publication or sale in stores and online of books by several other authors, including liberal economist Mao Yushi, constitutional law professor Zhang Qianfan, Taiwanese writer Giddens Ko and Hong Kong critic Leung Mao-tao. By Didi Tang. SENT: 420 words, photos.

CHINA-CLOUD SEEDING

BEIJING — An airfield in southern China from which the famed Flying Tigers took off to fight Japanese warplanes is being converted to battle a new enemy: drought. SENT: 200 words, photo.

KASHMIR-BORDER VIOLENCE

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s military talks to its Indian counterparts about clashes along the border with the Himalayan region of Kashmir that have killed 20 people in the past week, army officials say. The director of Pakistan army’s military operations spoke with his Indian counterpart in a hotline call to convey his concern over Indian border guards’ “consistent unprovoked firing on (the) civil population,” an official said. By Munir Ahmed. SENT: 260 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-RUSSIA

CANBERRA, Australia — A Russian diplomat dismisses the Australian prime minister’s threat of a physical confrontation with the Russian president as immature, warning that Vladimir Putin is a judo expert. Prime Minister Tony Abbott intends to have a one-on-one meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Brisbane next month to demand Russian cooperation with a Dutch-led investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysia airliner in Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists with the loss of 298 lives in July. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 520 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING — Major water conservancy projects and other infrastructure investment will help ensure China meets its economic growth target of 7.5 percent for the year, the country’s top economic planner says. Director General Li Pumin of the National Development and Reform Commission told reporters that measures to stimulate consumption and halt a decline in investment would start having an effect in the final quarter of the year. SENT: 230 words.

INDIA-INFLATION

NEW DELHI — India’s benchmark inflation rate fell to a five year low of 2.4 percent in September as food and vegetable prices dropped, the Commerce Ministry says. Wholesale price inflation was 3.7 percent in August and 7.1 percent in September last year. SENT: 210 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

EBOLA

DALLAS — A Dallas nurse who caught Ebola while treating a Liberian patient who died of the disease has received a plasma transfusion donated by a doctor who beat the virus. Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in West Africa, in an outbreak the World Health Organization has called “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.” SENT: 900 words, photos, video.

— GERMANY-UN-EBOLA — A United Nations medical worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia has died despite “intensive medical procedures. SENT: 250 words.

TURKEY-ISLAMIC STATE-ISTANBUL

ISTANBUL — Istanbul University student Aysegul Korkut is outraged by the images coming out of Syria. But these days the Islamic State group’s horrors seem closer to home: She recently faced off against masked supporters of the brutal militants on her own campus. The clash late last month, described to The Associated Press by Korkut and a half a dozen other university students, is one of the clearest signs that the radical Islamic State group has sympathizers in Istanbul, a cosmopolitan metropolis better known to tourists for its vibrant nightlife and Ottoman-era glories. By Raphael Satter and Isil Sariyuce. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

— TURKEY-KURDS — A Turkish media report says Turkish warplanes have struck suspected Kurdish rebel positions in southeast Turkey, in the first major airstrikes against the rebel group since peace talks began two years ago to end a 30-year insurgency. SENT: 130 words.

— UNITED STATES-ISLAMIC STATE — Obama, military commanders to huddle with foreign defense chiefs to discuss militant fight. SENT: 430 words.

GUYANA-SUICIDE CAPITAL

LESBEHOLDEN, Guyana — Guyana, a largely rural country at the northeastern edge of South America, has a suicide rate four times the global average, ahead of North Korea, South Korea, and Sri Lanka. Self-inflicted harm is so common in the country that its health ministry has designated an area as “the suicide belt.” SENT: 1,040 words, photo.

PISTORIUS-TRIAL

PRETORIA, South Africa — The prosecution is saying Oscar Pistorius is being portrayed as a “poor victim” ahead of his sentencing after he was found guilty of culpable homicide last month. SENT: 600 words, photos.

AGE OF HUMANS

People are changing Earth so much, warming and polluting it, that many scientists are turning to a new way to describe the time we live in. They’re calling it the Anthropocene — the age of humans. Though most non-experts don’t realize it, science calls the last 12,000 years the Holocene, Greek for “entirely recent.” But the way humans and their industries are altering the planet, especially its climate, have caused an increasing number of scientists to use the word Anthropocene to better describe when and where we are. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein. SENT: 780 words, photo.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— SPAIN-CATALONIA INDEPENDENCE — Spain’s wealthy Catalonia region calls off an independence vote but says an unofficial poll would still be held next month to gauge secessionist sentiment. SENT: 390 words, photos.

— AMERICAN AIRLINES EMERGENCY LANDING — Dallas-bound American Airlines flight that departed from San Francisco International Airport turned around and made an emergency landing Monday at SFO after some of the cabin’s wall panels cracked loose. SENT: 560 words.

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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.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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