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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 9, 2014

ASIA:

JAPAN-NHK

TOKYO — Minutes of a recent governing board meeting of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK seem to back up suspicions that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, despite his denials, is trying to use Japan’s news giant to promote his nationalist agenda. The minutes, posted on NHK’s website but not widely reported, show conservatives appointed to the board by Abe voicing their opinion on coverage at the Jan. 14 meeting. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 820 words, photos.

JAPAN-TOKYO ELECTION

TOKYO — Two charismatic former prime ministers joining forces on a rare anti-nuclear power ticket are pitted against a former health minister and a human rights activist in the election to lead Japan’s capital. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 440 words, photos. UPCOMING: 450 words after polls close at 1100 GMT.

AUSTRALIA-WILDFIRES

MELBOURNE, Australia — Scores of wildfires raging across southeast Australia in dry and windy summer conditions have destroyed homes and injured a firefighter. SENT: 250 words.

BANGLADESH-FACTORY FIRE

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Two owners of a Bangladesh garment factory where 112 workers died in a fire two years ago have surrendered and are seeking bail after being charged with homicide. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 256 words.

CHINA-US-SOUTH CHINA SEA

BEIJING — China rejects U.S. allegations that it is using vague territorial claims to gradually assert control in the disputed South China Sea, and in turn accuses Washington of exaggerating tensions in the region. SENT: 115 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

JUSTICE-SAME-SEX RIGHTS

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder announces that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages. In his assertion of same-sex marriage rights, the nation’s top law enforcer is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department. By Pete Yost. SENT: 700 words, photo.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC-SHATTERED NATION

DAKAR, Senegal — Mob violence in Central African Republic’s capital has escalated to the point where crowds slay Muslims and mutilate their bodies almost daily despite the presence of thousands of French and African peacekeepers. Bangui, the capital, is engulfed in an orgy of bloodshed and a United Nations peacekeeping mission is urgently needed, said a human rights monitor. By Krista Larson. SENT: 875 words, photos.

— BOSNIA-PROTESTS — Bosnians clean up rubble after violent protests, but unclear if anything will change. SENT: 570 words, photos.

SILENCE ON GAY RIGHTS

SOCHI, Russia — Plenty of athletes made clear before traveling to Sochi how unhappy they were about gay rights being curtailed in Russia. But now in Sochi, there has not been a squeak of public protest from the 2,870 Olympians. By John Leicester. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— OLY--SOCHI-PHOTO GALLERY — The first day of medal competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics kicks off with some record-breaking wins. SENT: 80 words, photos.

— OLY--MEN’S SLOPESTYLE — Sage Kotsenburg of the U.S. surprises even himself winning the first gold medal in slopestyle at the Sochi Games . And he does it with a trick he’d never tried before and another that he invented. SENT: 900 words, photos.

MED--END OF SMOKING?

ATLANTA — Health officials have begun to predict the end of cigarette smoking in America. Officials have long wished for a cigarette-free America, but shied away from calling for smoking rates to fall to zero or near zero by any particular year. The power of tobacco companies and popularity of their products made such a goal seem like a pipe dream. But a confluence of changes has recently prompted public health leaders to start throwing around phrases like “endgame” and “tobacco-free generation.” Now, they talk about the slowly-declining adult smoking rate dropping to 10 percent in the next decade and to 5 percent or lower by 2050. By Medical Writer Mike Stobbe. SENT: 1,385 words, photos. Also moved in advance.

SYRIA

BEIRUT — Two trucks carrying food and medical supplies into rebel-held neighborhoods in the central Syrian city of Homs turn back under heavy fire, leaving four paramedics wounded as a cease-fire breaks down. The governor of the province says about 100 civilians expected to be evacuated from rebel-held had yet to arrive. On Friday, 83 children, women and elderly people on wheelchairs were evacuated from the area, the first people to leave there in months. By Diaa Hadid and Bassem Mroue. SENT: 740 words, photo.

— IRAN-US-NAVY — Iranian admiral says warships sent to waters near US maritime borders. SENT: 170 words.

WOODY ALLEN-DYLAN FARROW

NEW YORK — A week bookended by op-ed letters of accusation and denial left little clarity and scant hope of resolution in a bitter saga that has haunted the Farrow family and Woody Allen for more than two decades. By Film Writer Jake Coyle. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 900 words by 6:30 p.m., photos.

NYC HEROIN

NEW YORK — In a major drug bust that drew little attention just a week before Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, authorities found a sophisticated heroin packaging and distribution operation in an apartment in the Bronx. There, workers with coffee grinders, scoops and scales toiled around the clock to break down bricks of the drug into thousands of tiny, hit-size baggies, bearing such stamped brands as “Government Shutdown” and, in a nod to the Super Bowl, “NFL.” The seizure of $8 million worth of heroin was the result of the latest raid on heroin mills located behind the doors of New York homes, which authorities say are a sign of a well-oiled distribution network that caters to more mainstream, middle- and upper-class customers like the Oscar-winning Hoffman. By Tom Hays. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— DOG SHOW-AGILITY — A border collie named Kelso navigated a maze of obstacles, besting about 225 other dogs to win the Westminster Kennel Club show’s first agility competition. SENT: 450 words, photos.

— NY FASHION WEEK-WATCH — Talked-about events at NY Fashion Week: streaker & Alexander Wang show in Brooklyn Navy Yard. SENT: 784 words, photos.

MORE ON SOCHI GAMES

RUSSIAN PRESSURE

SOCHI, Russia — No one proved a tougher draw when it mattered than the Russians at home in winter. But woe unto the Russian Olympian who lets his countrymen down at these games — even if what’s at stake is the nation’s image and not its survival. By Senior Sports Writer Jim Litke. SENT: 900 words, photos.

— SOCHI SCENE — Multiple shareable text-and-photo nuggets about what’s happening at the Sochi Olympics, both inside the arenas and out, will appear throughout the day during the duration of the games for online and print use. A curated, collected version of the fixture will be posted once daily online. UPCOMING: Updated frequently, photos.

— ARMCHAIR OLYMPICS — Olympic viewing: More than 31 million watch opening ceremony. SENT: 420 words.

Noteworthy photos:

— OLYBS277 — Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe celebrates after taking the gold medal in the women’s moguls final Saturday.

— OLYSB188 — United States’ Sage Kotsenburg takes a jump during the men’s snowboard slopestyle final Saturday. Kotsenburg won the gold medal in the event.

— OLYCR103 — Fans supporting Norway watch the men’s biathlon 10k sprint at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Saturday.

SPAIN-PRINCESS’ WOES

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain — In a historic judicial hearing that could further impact the deteriorated image of Spain’s monarchy, Princess Cristina has testified in a fraud and money laundering case in which she and her husband could eventually be charged. Judge Jose Castro will rule on whether Cristina, the first Spanish royal to be questioned in court since the monarchy was restored in 1975, illegally used funds from a company she owned with her husband for personal expenses, including lavish parties at their Barcelona mansion. By Alan Clendenning. SENT: 810 words, photos.

NSA SURVEILLANCE

LONDON — News organizations that have published leaked National Security Agency documents have inadvertently disclosed the names of at least six intelligence workers and other government secrets they never intended to give away, according to an Associated Press review. The accidental disclosures illustrate the risks of even well-intentioned, public-interest reporting on highly secret U.S. programs. In some cases, prominent newspapers quickly pulled down government records they published online and recensored them to hide information they accidentally exposed. By Raphael Satter. SENT: 1,060 words. Photos.

TERRORISM CHARGES-INMATE LETTER

LOUISVILLE, KY. — An Iraqi man convicted of trying to ship arms and cash to Al-Qaida in Iraq doesn’t consider himself a terrorist, but rather a “conquest resistant” for his time battling U.S. soldiers in Iraq — much like American revolutionaries doing combat with British soldiers. In a letter to The Associated Press, 33-year-old Waad Ramandan Alwan compared his efforts in the Middle East to George Washington’s efforts to free America from British colonization in the 1770s. Alwan is serving a 40-year prison sentence in an Indiana prison. He and 26-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi pleaded guilty in 2011 and 2012 to taking part in plot to ship thousands of dollars in cash and weapons to al-Qaida in Iraq. By Brett Barroquere. SENT: 880 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— SURINAME-HOMELESS KILLINGS — In Suriname’s capital, mysterious slayings of homeless men spanning a decade go unsolved. SENT: 850, photos.

— EGYPT — A leading left-wing Egyptian politician says he will contest upcoming presidential elections, set to be a tough battle for anyone hoping to face an anticipated run by the country’s powerful army chief. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— STUDENT VANISHES — On a February night 10 years ago, Massachusetts college student Maura Murray drove off a road in rural northern New Hampshire. The damage was light, but she was gone. Her father is still hunting for answers. SENT: 750 words, photos.

— JOAN MONDALE-FUNERAL: A funeral service is being held in Minneapolis for Joan Mondale, wife to former Vice President Walter Mondale and respected arts advocate, following her death at age 83. SENT: 140 words. SENT: 350 words, photos.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Hrvoje Hranjski. 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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