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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

June 19, 2014



BEIJING — China says it is moving a second oil rig closer to Vietnam’s coast, showing its determination to press its territorial claims and continue searching for resources in disputed waters despite a tense confrontation with Vietnam over another oil rig to the south. The 600-meter (1,970-foot) rig is being towed southeast of its current position south of Hainan Island and will be in its new location closer to Vietnam by Friday, the Maritime Safety Administration said. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 470 words.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Nine people are missing after a boat carrying 27 Indonesian workers overturns off Malaysia’s west coast, the country’s maritime agency says, in the second such accident in two days. On Wednesday, an overcrowded wooden boat carrying Indonesian migrants home sank in choppy seas, with 23 people still missing. Eleven people were confirmed dead and at least 63 survived. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 380 words, photos.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bombers strike NATO fuel trucks at a key border crossing in eastern Afghanistan, setting off explosions that destroy dozens of trucks and trigger a gunbattle with police guards that leaves all the attackers dead. SENT: 200 words.


BEIJING— A court in eastern China sentences to up to 6 ½ years in prison three activists who were part of a nascent civil rights movement that has urged government officials to publicly disclose their assets. The sentences, decried by other dissidents as excessively heavy, reflect the increasingly hard line that China’s Communist Party has taken against political dissent. SENT: 600 words, photo.


BEIJING — A Chinese court sentences to death a man who killed two government workers and injured four other people in an argument related to the country’s one-child policy, official media said. SENT: 200 words.


NEW DELHI — For the past two weeks, the top civil servants in India’s labyrinthine bureaucracy have been sent back to school. Graduate degrees are commonplace in this crowd. Plenty have diplomas from Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, and most were raised speaking English. But these days, they are frantically looking up words after new Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that all official documents must be written in Hindi. While many bureaucrats speak the language, few know the formal phrases needed for official communication. By Nirmala George. SENT: 930 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — India is cracking down on foreign-funded charities after receiving a report alleging they are costing the country up to 3 percent of its GDP by rallying communities against polluting industries. The Investigative Bureau’s report also accuses groups including Greenpeace, Action Aid and Amnesty International of providing reports “used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of Western governments.” SENT: 130 words.


MANILA, Philippines — Philippine security forces battle Muslim militants in the south, leaving at least seven troops dead in the latest confrontation in the insurgency-wracked region. SENT: 270 words.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Muslims shut their shops in Sri Lanka’s capital to protest attacks by hard-line Buddhists on Muslims and demand the government punish those responsible for the violence. SENT: 130 words.


SINGAPORE — The Philippines has asked Singapore authorities to take action against a blog author who suggested Singaporeans should shove Filipinos on the street and be rude to Filipino workers, the latest sign of growing intolerance toward migrant workers in the wealthy city-state. The blog was widely shared on social media, prompting the Philippine Embassy in Singapore to appeal to the government for prompt action. By Satish Cheney. SENT: 410 words.


CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian atheist campaigning to keep religion out of the education system wins his second victory when the nation’s highest court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to fund a program that provides chaplains to schools. Ron Williams began his legal battle against the multimillion-dollar program after his 6-year-old son came home from Darling Heights State School in Toowoomba city in Queensland state singing gospel songs. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 470 words.


CANBERRA, Australia — Around 150 Australians have fought with radical militants in Syria and Iraq, raising fears of a terrorist threat to Australia if the fighters return home, the foreign minister says. SENT: 500 words.

— PHILIPPINES-IRAQ — The Philippines says it will evacuate its citizens from all areas of Iraq except the north due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation. SENT: 130 words.

— INDIA-IRAQ-KIDNAPPED WORKERS — An Indian official says the Iraqi government has determined where 40 Indian construction workers abducted near Mosul are being held captive with workers of a few other nationalities. SENT: 120 words.


HONG KONG — The stars of “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” including Mark Wahlberg and good-guy robot Optimus Prime, attend the film’s worldwide premiere in Hong Kong, which was a key part of the blockbuster franchise’s latest installment. Wahlberg and other cast members including Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Nicola Peltz walked the red carpet to the screening as a giant statue of Autobot leader Optimus Prime overlooked the venue next to a waterfront promenade on famed Victoria Harbor. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 500 words, photos.



TOKYO — Sony shareholders vote to keep Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai and other top executives after heckling them about the Japanese electronics and entertainment company’s continuing losses. Hirai, who took the helm in 2012, promised that “the money-losing structure” will be fixed this fiscal year once and for all, and apologized for not having reacted quickly enough to changes in the business. SENT: 470 words.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Building work in quake-damaged Christchurch helped drive New Zealand’s economy to its fastest rate of growth in more than six years. SENT: 200 words.



BAGHDAD — Sunni militants hang their black banners on watch towers at Iraq’s largest oil refinery, a witness says, suggesting the vital facility has fallen to the insurgents who have seized vast territories across the country’s north. A top Iraqi security official, however, says the government still holds the facility. The fighting at Beiji, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, comes as Iraq has asked the U.S. for airstrikes targeting the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. While U.S. President Barack Obama has not fully ruled out the possibility of launching airstrikes, such action is not imminent in part because intelligence agencies have been unable to identify clear targets on the ground. By Sameer N. Yacoub and Qassim Abdul-Zahra. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, videos.

— IRAQ-GASOLINE PRICES — Violence in Iraq is pushing U.S. gasoline prices higher during a time of year they usually decline. SENT: 500 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The deteriorating situation in Iraq is giving Congress pause about President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, with fears that hard-fought gains could be wiped out by a resurgent Taliban. SENT: 820 words, photo.

— AFGHANISTAN — Afghan officials say three Taliban suicide bombers targeted NATO fuel trucks at the border with Pakistan, setting off a gunbattle with police guards. SENT: 130 words.


SEATTLE — There are two ways to view the smartphone Amazon introduced to the world: It’s either the latest in a long line of indistinguishable devices or a magic wand for shopaholics. The phone’s most significant feature, called “Firefly,” employs audio and object recognition technology to identify products and present the user with ways to purchase the items through Amazon. Seven years after Apple’s iPhone took over the category, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes there is room in the market for something different. By Ryan Nakashima and Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 900 words, photos, video.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia — A century after the shot that sent the world into war, there is little agreement about the baby-faced Serb teenager who assassinated the Austro-Hungarian crown prince. “He lived and died for his ideas to liberate and unite the Southern Slavs,” says an 81-year old man. “He was a killer, a terrorist,” says a 72-year-old woman. The ethnic and religious rivalries that sparked World War I remain as raw in the Balkans as they were 100 years ago. By Aida Cerkez. SENT: 870 words photos.


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s government finally agrees to negotiate a payment plan to resolve $1.5 billion in bad debts and interest owed to the U.S. hedge funds it demonizes as “vultures.” But before both sides finally sit down for talks in New York next week, President Cristina Fernandez wants everyone to know she still has some cards to play. By Michael Warren. SENT: 1,030 words, photos.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minister says that early elections within weeks may be necessary if an expanding political crisis sparked by eavesdropping on political leaders is not contained. Donald Tusk calls for the Polish magazine Wprost — and other media — to release all of the secret recordings of leaders’ private conversations that they may have. He says Poland is facing a “deep crisis” and that until it is all published the state will be unstable and his team vulnerable to blackmail. By Monika Scislowska. SENT: 370 words.


JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinians during an arrest raid in the most violent confrontation so far in the weeklong search for three missing Israeli teens believed to have been abducted in the West Bank. Israel has blamed the Islamic militant group Hamas for the apparent abductions, without providing evidence. Israel has since launched a widespread crackdown on the militant Islamic group, arresting scores of members while conducting a feverish manhunt for the missing youths. By Ian Deitch. SENT: 400 words, photos.


PHILADELPHIA — A decade after a court ruling allowed him to live out his quiet middle-class life in the U.S., an 89-year-old Philadelphia man faces possible extradition to Germany on charges he aided the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp. Johann “Hans” Breyer, a retired tool-and-die maker, is being held without bail on allegations stemming from his suspected service as an SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II. He was arrested outside his home in northeast Philadelphia. By Kathy Matheson. SENT: 640 words, photo.


— SPAIN-ABDICATION — Spain’s new King Felipe VI takes over as Captain General of armed forces in first ceremony. SENT: 390 words, photos.

— DIGITAL LEGO — Lego to introduce blocks that can be ‘imported’ into phone, tablet games. SENT: 320 words.


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