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Asian News Digest, AS
Associated Press
2014-01-10 02:01 PM

ASIA:

INDIA-DIPLOMAT ARREST

NEW YORK -- An Indian diplomat accused of lying about how much she paid her housekeeper leaves the U.S. after being ordered out of the country. Devyani Khobragade, who had been strip-searched when arrested, was indicted on two criminal charges and Indian authorities refused to waive her immunity. She left the U.S. by plane Thursday night after being charged by a federal grand jury with visa fraud and making false statements in a case that has triggered an outcry in India. By Larry Neumeister and Matthew Lee. SENT: 870 words, photos.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea dismisses a South Korean proposal to resume reunions of families separated by war, but used an unusually mild tone that indicated it still wants better ties with its rival to help boost its struggling economy. The reunion program has been stalled amid tension between the rival Koreas since late 2010. The Koreas had agreed to resume the humanitarian program last September but North Korea abruptly canceled the plan. By Hyung-Jin Kim. SENT: 600 words, photos planned.

INDONESIA-SYRIA-FOREIGN FIGHTERS

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- When Muhammad Fakhri Ihsani left Indonesia to study in Pakistan, the lure of jihad proved inescapable. But the 21-year-old didn't sneak into nearby Afghanistan. He and three other young Indonesians flew to Turkey. They are now presumed to be fighting in Syria, where there an estimated 50 of their countrymen, anti-terror officials say. Indonesian authorities have particular reason to be concerned: Veterans from another foreign jihad -- Afghanistan -- returned to lead a bloody campaign across the region, including the 2002 Bali attacks. By Chris Brummitt. UPCOMING: 1,300 words by 0700GMT, photos.

AUSTRALIA-EMERGENCY LANDING

MELBOURNE, Australia -- An Air New Zealand airliner made an emergency landing at Melbourne Airport with an engine fault after passengers heard a loud noise following take off. The Airbus A320 airliner carrying 145 passengers and six crew to Auckland returned without incident "after experiencing an engine fault." SENT.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai orders the release of 72 prisoners accused of attacking foreign and government forces despite U.S. fears that the inmates could return to the insurgency. SENT: 510 words.

CHINA-TRADE

BEIJING -- China's export growth slows in December while imports accelerated, possibly helping to temper fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. Exports rose 4.3 percent to $207.7 billion, slowing from November's 12.7 percent expansion, trade data showed Friday. Imports rose 8.3 percent to $182.1 billion, up from the previous month's 7.6 percent. By Joe Mcdonald. SENT: 460 words, photos.

INDIA-MUMBAI AIRPORT

MUMBAI, India -- India's overcrowded financial capital unveils its long-awaited $2 billion new airport terminal Friday, an ambitious, art-filled space that developers hope will be a showcase success in a country struggling to modernize inadequate infrastructure that is holding back economic growth. SENT: 675 words, photos planned.

US & INTERNATIONAL

ISRAEL-SHARON

JERUSALEM -- Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's health deteriorated sharply and he was in "grave condition" with his family by his bedside, the hospital treating him announced. Sharon, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke eight years ago, experienced a setback last week with a decline in his kidneys and other key bodily organs. SENT: 310 words.

CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS

TRENTON, New Jersey -- New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie fires one of his top aides and apologizes for his staff's "stupid" behavior, in an attempt to limit damage over charges his administration engineered traffic jams in a political vendetta that could now undermine his presidential prospects. Christie, who had previously said his staff had nothing to do with the lane closings in September that caused major backups at the George Washington Bridge, which links New York and New Jersey, said he fired Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly "because she lied to me" when he demanded weeks ago that anyone who knew anything about the episode come forward. By Angela Delli Santi and David Porter. SENT: 720 words, photos, video.

NSA SURVEILLANCE

WASHINGTON -- Two congressmen say a classified Pentagon report on former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden asserts that most of the documents he took concerned current military operations. "The vast majority of the material was related to the Defense Department, and our military services," not NSA operations, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers said in an interview Thursday. By Kimberly Dozier.

RUSSIA-CAR KILLINGS

MOSCOW -- A series of killings in southern Russia involving booby-trapped bombs has heightened security fears ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Investigators scramble to determine who killed six men whose bodies were found in cars abandoned just north of the Caucasus Mountains region, where an Islamic insurgency is simmering. By Lynn Berry. SENT: 550 words, photos.

SYRIA

BEIRUT -- Two weeks ahead of an international peace conference on Syria, the country's main Western-backed opposition group stands on the brink of collapse, dragged down by outside pressures, infighting and deep disagreements over the basic question of whether to talk to President Bashar Assad. By Ryan Lucas and Zeina Karam. SENT: 1,050 words, photos, video.

IRAQ

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi government stalls an all-out offensive to retake two cities from al-Qaida for fear that civilian casualties would incite Sunni anger and push tribal leaders into the extremists' camp, analysts and military officials say. A suicide bombing kills 21 people at an Iraqi army recruitment center in Baghdad -- a clear effort to demoralize the military. By Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Adam Schreck. SENT: 1,370 words, photos, video.

APNEWSBREAK: MILITARY SEX ASSAULTS-ACADEMIES

WASHINGTON -- A culture of bad behavior and disrespect among members of military academy sports teams is part of the sexual assault problem at the schools, according to a Defense Department report obtained by The Associated Press. The report, which comes in the wake of scandals that rocked teams at all three academies last year, says the culture permeates the schools, where students feel they need to put up with sexist and offensive behavior to get along as part of their academy life. By Lolita C. Baldor. An AP NewsBreak. SENT: 1,010 words.

UNITED STATES-SOUTH SUDAN

WASHINGTON -- Three years after midwifing South Sudan's birth, the United States is trying to prevent the world's youngest nation from falling apart. Despite shared consternation among Democrats and Republicans, no one is quite sure what the U.S. can do to bring peace to a country that in many ways owes its existence to the United States. "Each day that the conflict continues, the risk of all-out civil war grows," the top U.S. diplomat for Africa says. By Bradley Klapper. SENT: 1,310 words, photos.

VETERANS SUICIDE

WASHINGTON -- There has been a sharp increase in the suicide rate among the youngest U.S. male veterans, and a smaller but still significant jump among women who served in the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs said Thursday. However, the VA found "no clear change" in the overall suicide rate among all veterans using VA health facilities. By Kevin Freking. SENT: 270 words.

CONGO ADOPTIONS

Justin Carroll is the proud dad of a 6-week-old daughter in Tennessee, but thus far he's done his doting via Facetime video phone calls from Africa. Since mid-November, Carroll has been living in Congo, unwilling to leave until he gets exit papers allowing two newly adopted sons to travel with him. Carroll and his wife, Alana, are among scores of U.S. couples caught up in wrenching uncertainty, as a suspension of all foreign adoptions imposed by Congolese authorities has temporarily derailed their efforts to adopt. By David Crary. SENT: 1,060 words, photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

FILM-2014 PREVIEW

NEW YORK -- The plot of the coming movie year: It will begin with mostly the dregs of Hollywood's output, then swell with the super hero blockbusters of summer, and finally enter the annual autumn twilight of awards contenders. But Hollywood always has a few tricks up its sleeve. Along with predictable sequels for Katniss Everdeen, Spider-Man and J.R. Tolkien, 2014 will feature a few bearded men of antiquity ("Moses," ''Noah"), highly anticipated sci-fi from Chris Nolan ("Interstellar) and his usual cinematographer, Wally Phister, ("Transcendence"), Clint Eastwood in musical mode ("Jersey Boys") and a villainous Angelina Jolie ("Malificient"). By Film Writer Jake Coyle. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION:

-- INSIDER TRADING ARREST -- Prosecutors say SAC ex-trader was expelled from Harvard Law School for forging transcript. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 7:30 p.m.

-- WORLD TRADE CENTER-SECURITY -- NYC residents suing over World Trade Center security plan, saying they'd be blocked in. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 7 p.m., photos.

-- CHICKEN PLANT-COCKROACHES -- A California chicken plant is shut down after inspectors find it infested with cockroaches. SENT: 280 words.

-- TUNISIA-POLITICS -- Tunisia's Islamist prime minister announces his resignation in favor of a caretaker government that will supervise new elections later this year. SENT: 440 words, photos.

-- IRAN-NUCLEAR -- Nearly seven weeks after signing a landmark nuclear deal, representatives of Iran and six world powers hope to reach agreement this week on its implementation. SENT: 900 words.

___

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