BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

ASIA:

MALAYSIA-NORTH KOREA — After more than a week of silence in its state-controlled media, North Korea slams the investigation into the death of one of its citizens in Kuala Lumpur, saying Malaysia's probe is full of "holes and contradictions." The official Korean Central News Agency did not acknowledge the victim was Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korea's ruler. By Eileen Ng and Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 320 words, photos. With MALAYSIA-NORTH KOREA-THE LATEST.

NKOREA-STATE OF DENIAL-ANALYSIS — Faced with the killing of its leader's half brother in what appears to have all the trappings of a politically motivated hit, North Korea is turning up the volume on a familiar defense: Flatly deny the allegations, viciously attack the accusers. It's a position the North has been in before, from dismissing U.N. reports outlining human rights abuses to disputing who threw the first punch in the Korean War. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 950 words, photos.

NKOREA-CHINA FRICTION — North Korea's state-run news agency issues a tough critique of China, suggesting Beijing's criticism of the North's recent missile test and suspension of imports of North Korean coal are tantamount to the actions of an enemy state "dancing to the tune of the U.S." By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 400 words.

DENMARK-SOUTH KOREA — Denmark's top prosecutor says a decision whether to meet a South Korean extradition request for the daughter of the former confidante of South Korea's president is expected within a month. SENT: 130 words.

PAKISTAN — Explosives in a building under construction ignite, ripping through a market in an upscale neighborhood in the eastern city of Lahore and killing eight people, officials say. It is not immediately clear whether the explosives were a bomb or were merely stored in the building. By Zaheer Babr. SENT: 430 words, photos.

THAILAND-MONARCHY LESE MAJESTE — Thailand's Supreme Court upholds but reduces the jail sentence of a magazine editor who is currently the longest-serving prisoner convicted of lese majeste — insulting the monarchy. By Dake Kang and Kaweewit Kaewjinda. SENT: 450 words, photos.

CHINA-US-PANDA ARRIVAL — An American-born panda starts settling into her new home in southwest China where she will eventually join a breeding program. SENT: 480 words, photos.

CHINA-MILITARY PROTEST — China's defense ministry says it expects economic growth and a strengthened social security system to solve problems faced by former soldiers, following reports of new street protests by disgruntled veterans who say they've been denied their promised retirement benefits. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 370 words.

SOUTH CHINA SEA — The Philippines' top diplomat says any move by China to transform a Manila-claimed shoal into an island would be a "game-changer" in blossoming relations, although he says Beijing has pledged not to undertake any construction in the strategically located area of the South China Sea. By Jim Gomez. SENT: 600 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-TROUBLED SENATOR — A Philippine court has issued an arrest warrant on drug charges for a senator and former top human rights official who is one of the most vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs. SENT: 130 words.

KASHMIR REBEL ATTACK — Three Indian soldiers and a woman are killed when rebels ambush soldiers in the disputed region of Kashmir, police say. SENT: 250 words, photos.

JAPAN-CROWN PRINCE — Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito marks his 57th birthday with a pledge to follow in his father's footsteps as a symbol of the nation if his father's wish to abdicate is realized. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 310 words, photos.

JAPAN-FIRST LADY-SCHOOL SCANDAL — An endorsement by the wife of Japan's prime minister of a new elementary school run by a man with ultra-nationalistic views has been removed from the school's website amid an escalating controversy over the low price the school paid for government land. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 400 words, photos.

INDONESIA-INEQUALITY — A report on inequality in Indonesia says its four richest men now have more wealth than 100 million of the country's poorest people. The report says Indonesia has the sixth-worst inequality in the world. SENT: 310 words, photos.

CAMBODIA-LAND ACTIVIST — A Cambodian court sentences a prominent land rights activist to 2 1/2 years in prison on charges of committing violence at a protest she helped lead outside of Prime Minister Hun Sen's residence three years ago. By Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 360 words.

AUSTRALIA-ISRAEL — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes to triple trade with Australia as the countries forge closer technology and aviation ties. SENT: 270 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-HIGHEST PUBLIC SALARY — Australia's highest-paid public servant announces his resignation two weeks after the revelation he made 5.6 million Australian dollars ($4.3 million) last year sparked a public furor and created a political headache for the government. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 540 words.

BANGLADESH-ROLL BALL — If basketball and soccer had a baby and put it on skates, it might look like roll ball, a little-known sport whose top performers worldwide vied for the championship in Bangladesh over the past week. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 280 words, photos.

CHINA-YAO MING — The Chinese Basketball Association votes unanimously to appoint Yao Ming as its president in a step toward reform for an organization which has in past been led by government bureaucrats. SENT: 370 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

FINANCIAL MARKETS — World stock markets drift in listless trading as the latest Fed minutes left investors unmoved. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 500 words, photos.

JAPAN-NISSAN — Carlos Ghosn, who leads the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, is handing over the helm at Nissan to Hiroto Saikawa, a veteran Japanese executive, but Ghosn is staying on as chairman. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 570 words, photos.

MYANMAR-ROHINGYA-UNILEVER — Activists are urging Unilever, a major investor in Myanmar, to speak out against the country's treatment of its Rohingya minority, which the U.N. has said may be "crimes against humanity." By Dake Kang. SENT: 500 words, photos.

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