Asian News Digest, AS
Associated Press
2014-06-19 03:01 PM



BEIJING-- A court in eastern China sentences to up to 6 ? 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.


BANTING, Malaysia -- Malaysian rescuers intensify a search for 26 people who remained missing after an overcrowded wooden boat carrying Indonesians home in a storm sank in choppy seas. Nine people died and at least 62 people survived. The boat capsized in the early hours Wednesday about 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) from shore on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur while trying to leave Malaysia illegally for Aceh province in Indonesia. SENT: 430 words, photos.


NEW DELHI -- Many of the top civil servants in India's labyrinthine bureaucracy have diplomas from Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard, but these days they spend their evenings paging through dictionaries, frantically looking up words. It all stems from an order by new Prime Minister Narendra Modi: All official work must now be done in Hindi, the language spoken by millions across northern India. By Nirmala George. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0700GMT.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka's parliament rejects an investigation by the United Nations human rights body into alleged crimes during the island nation's civil war that ended five years ago. Ruling coalition lawmakers overwhelmingly vote for a motion that says such a probe "should not be carried out on the ground that such a course of action is detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace and that it erodes the sovereignty, dignity and stature of Sri Lanka." SENT: 320 words.


CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia's foreign minister assures ambassadors from Arab and Islamic countries at a meeting in her office that her government's position on the Palestinian territories has not changed, despite the government changing its description of East Jerusalem from "occupied" to "disputed." SENT: 110 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 said on Thursday. SENT: 500 words.


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 acted 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 -- Iraqi forces and Sunni militants battle fiercely for control of the nation's largest oil refinery as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki begins a diplomatic offensive, reaching out in a televised address to try to regain support from the nation's disaffected Sunnis and Kurds. By Hamza Hendawi. SENT: 1,600 words, video, photos.


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama believes he does not need authorization from Congress for any steps he might take to quell the al-Qaida-inspired insurgency sweeping through Iraq, the Senate's top Republican says after the president briefs senior lawmakers. The prospect of the president sidestepping Congress sets up a potential new clash between the White House and lawmakers, particularly if Obama should launch airstrikes or take other direct U.S. military action in Iraq. By Julie Pace and Donna Cassata. SENT: 1,000 words, video, photos.


KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's new president promises that his troops will stop firing on pro-Russian separatists, offering a chance to end the fighting that has devastated the industrial east. In another concession to Moscow, Petro Poroshenko fires his foreign minister, who outraged Russians by using an obscenity to describe President Vladimir Putin. An end to the fighting and a promised safe exit for rebels would allow Putin to say Russia has fulfilled its goal of protecting Russian speakers in Ukraine, while allowing Poroshenko to claim victory over the rebellions. By David McHugh. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.


WASHINGTON -- What's next for Ahmed Abu Khattala, the Libyan militant accused of orchestrating the 2012 Benghazi attacks: What's happening on the ship where he's held, where is he headed and what does he know? Some questions, answers -- and unknowns. By Eric Tucker and Nancy Benac. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.


RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Palestinian president defends his policy of security cooperation with Israel in a politically risky speech to senior Arab officials, even as Israeli forces escalate their most extensive West Bank crackdown in years in response to the apparent abduction of three Israeli teenagers. President Mahmoud Abbas' comments are condemned at home and shine a light on one of his most controversial polices -- working with the Israeli military to rein in the militant group Hamas. By Josef Federman and Karin Laub. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.


WASHINGTON -- Top environmental regulators for four Republican presidents tell Congress what many Republican lawmakers won't: Action is needed on global warming. SENT: 520 words, photo.


WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers express disbelief at General Motors' explanation for why it took 11 years to recall millions of small cars with defective ignition switches, and also confront its chief executive with evidence that the company dragged its feet on a similar safety issue in different vehicles. By Business Writers Marcy Gordon, Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher. SENT: 990 words, photos.


MADRID -- There won't be any ritzy or glamorous official celebrations when Crown Prince Felipe ascends to the Spanish throne. Royalty and austerity are unusual bedfellows, but Europe's newest king is compelled to be relatively frugal by an economic crisis that has left a quarter of the country out of work. Felipe's father, 76-year-old Juan Carlos, misjudged public anger at financial hardship when he went on an elephant-hunting safari in Africa. Felipe, 46, who becomes king at midnight, appears keen to show he's more in tune with Spaniards -- and avoid the mistakes of his abdicating father. By Ciaran Giles and Barry Hatton. SENT: 750 words, photos.


SEATTLE -- Amazon introduces a new smartphone with audio and object recognition technology that seeks to make it easier for consumers to locate and buy products and services from the nation's largest e-commerce company. The Fire phone doesn't differ much from other smartphones on the market and shares many characteristics found in other Amazon devices. By Ryan Nakashima. SENT: 910 words, photos.


WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy still isn't healthy enough to grow at a consistently strong pace without the Federal Reserve's help. That's the message Fed Chair Janet Yellen sends at a news conference after the central bank ends a two-day policy meeting. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 870 words, photo.



WASHINGTON -- It was the moment that humanity learned we had the awesome power to erase an entire species in the scientific equivalent of a blink of an eye: The passenger pigeon went from billions of birds to extinct before our very eyes with the death in 1914 of Martha, the last of her kind. Now Martha is being taken out of the file cabinets of history in a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit. A new scientific study shows how pigeon populations fluctuated wildly, but how people ultimately killed off the species. And some geneticists are even working on the longshot hope of reviving the passenger pigeon from leftover DNA in stuffed birds. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein. SENT: 840 words, photos.



RIO DE JANEIRO -- Defending champion Spain, the dominant global football power for the past six years, is eliminated from World Cup contention with a 2-0 loss to Chile. Spain's famed passing game fails against a high-tempo, tenacious Chile team, its era ending in the storied Maracana Stadium filled mostly with noisy Chilean supporters. By Sports Writer Graham Dunbar. SENT: 720 words, photos.

-- WCUP-SPAIN-REACTION. Spaniards stunned by 2-0 World Cup loss to Chile that will send the national team home early. SENT: 630 words, photos.

-- WCUP-NETHERLANDS-AUSTRALIA. Netherlands secure spot in next stage, beating Australia 3-2 in World Cup Group B match. SENT: 710 words, photos.

-- WORLD CUP-GAMBLING -- As teams battle for football glory at the World Cup in Brazil, the biggest winners from the tournament may be illegal bookmakers in Asia. SENT: 960 words, photos.

-- WCUP-ALGEBRA -- World Cup fans forced to do algebra at this stage of the tournament. SENT: 760 words.


-- CAPITOL CHESS -- Teens coach congressmen as they play chess to raise awareness of game's educational benefits. SENT: 490.

-- OBIT-KEYES -- Daniel Keyes, novelist whose 'Flowers for Algernon' is a classroom staple, dies at 86. SENT: 130 words.

-- TEEN STOWAWAY -- A teenager who survived a flight to Hawaii as a stowaway in the plane's wheel well said he hopped on the closest flight that was going west in an effort to find his birth mom and can't believe he survived the journey. SENT: 410 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

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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