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Asian News Digest, AS

Asian News Digest, AS



BANGKOK -- A Thai court orders the government not to use force against protesters who are seeking to oust the prime minister, a day after violent clashes between riot police and demonstrators left five people dead and dozens injured. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 500 words, photos.


HONG KONG -- An Australian missionary has been detained while on a tour of North Korea, his family says. John Short went to North Korea in a regular tour group last week with one other person, who returned to China on Tuesday and told the family Short had been questioned and arrested at his Pyongyang hotel, according to a statement released by the family. By Kelvin Chan and Rod McGuirk. SENT: 560 words.


BUCHEON, South Korea -- Kim Se-rin is sure he'll recognize his sister when they reunite -- if they reunite -- in North Korea this week, more than 63 years after war drove them apart. And he knows what he'll say. What Kim doesn't know is what he'll do if their reunion -- one of hundreds planned Thursday through Tuesday between North and South Koreans -- falls victim to the ever-volatile relations between the two countries. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.


BEIJING -- Chinese state media give blanket coverage to a visit by a senior figure in Taiwan's ruling party in a sign of its desire to nudge the self-governing island closer to Beijing. Coverage of a meeting between Lien Chan and Chinese President Xi Jinping dominates the front pages of official newspapers and leads state broadcaster CCTV's news report. Though state media said Tuesday's talks contained little of substance and broke no new ground, the coverage indicated a desire to play up Lien's role in boosting contacts across the Taiwan Strait. SENT: 200 words, photos.


CHENNAI, India -- An Indian state rules that seven men serving life sentences for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi should be freed because they have served more than 20 years in prison. Critics immediately slam the decision by Tamil Nadu state, where the men are serving their sentences, saying it was an attempt to win over Tamil voters in this year's national elections. By Rajagopalan Rangaraj. SENT: 550 words.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka's government says it is considering a process similar to South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the wounds of the island nation's decades-long civil war. Two senior ministers will lead a team to South Africa on Thursday for discussions with the country's government and the ruling African National Congress, Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry says. By Krishan Francis. SENT: 430 words.


BEIJING -- Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain is meeting Chinese leaders on a visit to Beijing focused on winning assistance for his country's ailing economy. Longtime Chinese ally Pakistan is hoping for China's assistance in constructing an "economic corridor" binding the two through transportation links and Chinese investment in Pakistan. SENT: 460 words.


BEIJING -- Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who helped make his name smashing a valuable vase in the name of art, says he was miffed about another artist destroying one of his vases in Florida. Maximo Caminero was charged with criminal mischief after destroying a vase valued at $1 million that was part of Ai's exhibit at the Perez Art Museum Miami. The Florida artist said he smashed the vase to protest the institution's lack of displays of local artists. By Louise Watt. SENT: 440 words.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Fiji is grappling with its worst outbreak of dengue fever in 16 years, but authorities say tourists visiting tropical beaches face little risk. Health officials in the Pacific island nation say there have been 2,589 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus since the outbreak began in November. Two people have died. By Nick Perry. SENT: 290 words.


HONG KONG -- Cathay Pacific Airways says nine people were injured when a Boeing 747 hit severe turbulence over Japan. SENT: 140 words.



BEIJING -- Loss-making French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is getting a 3 billion euro lifeline backed by Chinese investors and the French government in a deal that will see the company's founding family hand over control after more than two centuries at the helm. Chinese automaker Dongfeng and the French government are each investing 800 million euros ($1.1 billion) in Peugeot, throwing a financial lifeline to the struggling French auto brand and possibly expanding its global presence. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 880 words, photos.


BEIJING -- Regulators are investigating whether U.S. technology companies Qualcomm and InterDigital violated China's anti-monopoly law by charging excessive fees for patent licenses, a government spokesman says. Regulators began separate investigations of the two companies in mid-2013 following complaints, he says. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 370 words.


CANBERRA, Australia -- Australian state governments that sell assets such as airports and utilities as part of a national policy to rekindle economic growth will get new tax arrangements to offset lost revenue. Treasurer Joe Hockey wants to reinvest the money from asset sales into new national infrastructure that he hopes will fill the investment void left by the slowing mining industry. SENT: 300 words.


MANILA, Philippines -- Nasdaq has opened a customer service center in the Philippines. The operator of the U.S. stock exchange says its first Manila office has 170 staff and will be focused on advisory services such as shareholder analysis for public companies and their investor relations officers. SENT: 100 words.



KIEV, Ukraine -- A tense calm descends over the capital of Kiev and the European Union threatens sanctions against Ukraine following deadly violence between riot police and protesters in which at least 25 people died and 241 were injured. The violence was the worst in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine's capital in a struggle over the identity of a nation divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, and the worst in the country's post-Soviet history. By Yuras Karmanau. SENT: 1,200 words, photos, video, interactive.

-- UKRAINE-WORLD REACTION -- West condemns Ukraine violence, threatens sanctions, while Moscow blames West. SENT: 800 words, photos.

-- BUBKA-UKRAINE -- Ukraine pole vault great and Olympic chief Sergei Bubka calls for peace in Kiev. SENT: 470 words, photos.


LOS ANGELES -- When Los Angeles police were investigating allegations of child abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in 1988, they asked for a list of altar boys at the last parish where the priest worked. Archbishop Roger Mahony told a subordinate not to give the list, saying he didn't want the boys to be scarred by the investigation and that he felt the altar boys were too old to be potential victims, according to a deposition made public Wednesday. By Gillian Flaccus. SENT: 1,060 words, photos.


WASHINGTON -- For the United States, Syria's civil war is threatening to start hitting closer to home. Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition are faltering. President Bashar Assad's military is on the offensive and the rebels are in disarray. Most distressing to the Obama administration, U.S. officials say al-Qaida-linked militants are squeezing moderates out of the insurgency and carving out havens for potential terrorist plots against the United States. By Bradley Klapper and Julie Pace. SENT: 850 words, photo.


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama heads into a summit with Mexican and Canadian leaders eager to engage on issues of trade and other neighbor-to-neighbor interests even as Congress is placing a drag on some of his top cross-border agenda items. By Jim Kuhnhenn. SENT: 790 words.

-- OBAMA'S TRADE TROUBLES -- Election-year trade deals with Europe and Asia have Obama, fellow Democrats at odds. SENT: 890 words, photos.


NEW YORK -- City dwellers battling one of the most brutal winters on record have been dealing with something far more dangerous than snow falling from the sky: ice tumbling from skyscrapers. Streets around New York's new 1 World Trade Center, the nation's tallest building, were recently closed when sheets of ice were seen shearing from the face of the 1,776-foot structure -- turning them into potentially deadly, 100-mph projectiles. And sidewalks around buildings in cities big and small have been cordoned off with yellow caution tape because of falling icicles and rock-hard chunks of frozen snow. Some architects say newer, energy-efficient high-rises may actually be making the problem worse. By Verena Dobnik. SENT: 800 words, photos.


SOCHI, Russia -- After $51 billion, it should be easy to get around at the Olympics -- for everyone. Organizers have repeatedly touted accessibility for people with disabilities as one of the chief lasting benefits of hosting the Winter Games in Sochi. But with less than three weeks until the Paralympics, infrastructure around Olympic Park and its venues are not entirely barrier-free. By Oskar Garcia. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.


SOCHI, Russia -- Some marvel at their brazen nerve. Others condemn the young women as anarchic and enemies of the state. One thing's for certain, Pussy Riot is media savvy. Two members of the Russian punk group were detained in the host city of the Winter Olympics on Tuesday. By the time the group was released from a Sochi police station a few hours later, cameras were out in force to record the curious sight of the women running down the street wearing bright dresses and with colorful face masks concealing their identities. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 960 words, photos.


LONDON -- Almost four months into her trial, Rebekah Brooks is finally getting her day in court. After watching in silence from the dock as her alleged crimes were dissected, the 45-year-old former newspaper editor, once Rupert Murdoch's top British lieutenant, is expected to take the stand to rebut charges of phone hacking, bribery and obstructing a police investigation. A look at the trial. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 800 words, photos.


CARACAS, Venezuela -- Moments before his dramatic arrest, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez tells a sea of white-shirted supporters he doesn't fear years behind bars if that's what it takes to open eyes to the damage wrought on Venezuela by 15 years of socialist rule. By Andrew Rosati and Joshua Goodman. SENT: 1,150 words, photos, video.


MOGADISHU, Somalia -- "Stop!" a traffic police officer in Somalia's capital yells out as a traffic light flashes red. Most of the cars nearby do not stop. Angered, he steps into the middle of the road. Other cars move up, obstructing another lane of traffic and creating a sea of gridlock. Mogadishu, with a population estimated between 1.4 million and 3 million, in recent months has started to install road signs for the first time after decades of lawlessness left a culture of "anything goes" on the road. By Abdi Guled. SENT: 500 words, photos.


OROUMIEH, Iran -- Iran's biggest lake is in danger of disappearing, and the country's new president has made saving it one of his priorities. Famous in years past as a tourist spot and a stopping point for migrating birds, Lake Oroumieh has shrunk more than 80 percent in the past decade, in part because of expanded irrigation and construction of dams. Farmers are being encouraged to change their ways. By Ali Akbar Dareini. SENT: 800 words, photos.


AMMAN, Jordan -- On a hilltop of the Jordanian capital, a museum with some of the world's most unique cars and motorbikes recounts a century of the ruling Hashemite dynasty's elegant lifestyle. The Royal Automobile Museum was built in 2003 under instructions from King Abdullah II, specifically to pay tribute to the eventful life of his late father, Hussein, who died of cancer in 1999 after a 46-year reign. By Jamal Halaby. SENT: 320 words, photos.


HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Police have yet to substantiate a 19-year-old woman's claims that she killed more than 20 people in four states before the Pennsylvania murder she is now charged with committing, a prosecutor says. The district attorney says ethical rules bar him from commenting on the statements by Miranda Barbour, who with her newlywed husband, Elytte, is awaiting trial for criminal homicide in the death of a victim they allegedly lured through Craigslist. By Peter Jackson. SENT: 380 words, photos.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- An 84-year-old nun will spend nearly three years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee. She and two other Catholic peace activists broke into the plant, splashing blood on the walls and writing messages in protest. By Travis Loller. SENT: 560 words, photos.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- An ex-soldier likely committed suicide in prison where he was serving several life terms for gunning down four members of Iraqi family while deployed in their country, authorities say. By Brett Barroquere. SENT: 600 words, photos.


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

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.