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TMCNet:  Top Asian News at 8:30 a.m. GMT

[March 13, 2014]

Top Asian News at 8:30 a.m. GMT

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Malaysia: No debris at spot shown on China imagesKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. "There is nothing. We went there, there is nothing," Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.


Bad decade: Malaysia Airlines has catalog of woesHONG KONG (AP) — Within an industry notorious for impoverishing shareholders and irking customers, Malaysia Airlines has stood out for its years of restructurings and losses. The company now has global recognition of a far more unfavorable kind after one of its jets disappeared four days ago with 239 people aboard. There has been no suggestion that the unrelenting financial pressures faced by the airline and its 19,000 employees somehow played a role in the disappearance of flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. But the revelation this week that the jet's co-pilot allowed two female passengers to ride in the cockpit for the duration of a flight two years ago has invited scrutiny of the professionalism of top-level staff.

Private Myanmar newspapers struggle to stay afloatYANGON, Myanmar (AP) — With tears in his eyes, the chief editor scoured the last-ever edition of his newspaper before sending the proofread copy to the printing press. His once-bustling newsroom was quiet. Some reporters cleared their desks while others tried to cheer up their boss with words of gratitude, or even some homemade pork stew. Khin Maung Lay is one of many Myanmar journalists who last year embraced the chance to produce independent daily newspapers free from censorship for the first time in five decades. It was not the government that shut him down, but economics: His paper and others have been losing money as they struggle to compete with state-owned papers for advertisers and circulation.

Police under attack in Pakistan's largest cityKARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — From his home off a dirt road cluttered with trash in Pakistan's teeming city of Karachi, policeman Didar Ahmed's son shows the bloodstained jacket his father was wearing when gunmen cut him and three colleagues down in a hail of bullets last month. Ahmed's brother Gulzar looks at the bullet-riddled garment with a blank stare. He recalled how days before his brother's death, they had talked about the rising dangers of police work as officers increasingly come under attack by criminal gangs and militants from the Pakistani Taliban.

NKorea: No ties to tanker with suspected Libya oilPYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — A tanker in Libya allegedly trying to set sail with a shipment of oil from rebel forces has nothing to do with North Korea and has had its North Korean registration revoked, an official in Pyongyang said Thursday. Libyan government forces and loyal militia fighters claim a rival militia hoped to load the tanker with oil for export in defiance of central authorities. Because it flew a North Korean flag, that raised questions about whether North Korea was trying to get Libyan oil.

Premier says China flexible on growth targetBEIJING (AP) — China will keep this year's economic expansion strong enough to create new jobs but will emphasize market-opening reform and cleaning up smog-choked cities over hitting its official growth target, the premier said Thursday. Li Keqiang's comments reinforced the ruling Communist Party's pledge to shift to cleaner, more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption and service industries instead of trade and investment.

Report: Missing airplane flew on for hoursKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. investigators suspect a missing Malaysian jetliner flew on for four hours once it lost contact with air traffic controllers. The suspicion is based on data from the plane's engines that are automatically downloaded and transmitted to the ground as part of routine maintenance programs.

China belatedly reports 31 dead in tunnel blastBEIJING (AP) — The death toll from a little-reported road explosion was disclosed Thursday to be a much higher 31, nearly two weeks after the blast shook a highway tunnel in northwestern China. The official Xinhua News Agency did not explain the increase from an early report of 13 deaths but said a team investigating the crash convened Thursday to brief on the latest developments. It also said another nine people were missing.

Chinese official: No proof to link debris to jetBEIJING (AP) — A senior Chinese aviation official said Thursday that the authorities could not confirm any link between the floating objects captured on Chinese satellite images to a Malaysia Airlines jet missing for more than five days. "It is true that the satellite was launched and detected some smoke and what were suspected metal shreds about 37 kilometers (23 miles) southeast of Ho Chi Minh City," said Li Jiaxiang, chief of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. "But after some review, we cannot confirm that they belong to the missing plane." Thick smoke affects flights in western IndonesiaJAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Heavy smoke from illegal fires set to clear land for plantations has blanketed parts of Indonesia's Sumatra island, disrupting flights and hampering search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner, officials and a pilot said Thursday. Forest and brush fires have raged for the past week, mostly in peat-rich Riau province, forcing schools to close. Children and the elderly have filled local clinics and hospitals, complaining of respiratory problems.

Panasonic compensates employees for bad China airTOKYO (AP) — Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. is compensating employees for living with air pollution in China. The payment for what the company described as the "PM2.5 problem," referring to tiny particles in the air that at sufficient quantities reduce visibility and increase health risks, is part of a package negotiated annually for employees in China who belong to the Panasonic union.

China: US, Beijing should stress mutual interestsBEIJING (AP) — Common interests between China and the United States far outweigh the countries' differences, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday, sounding a cordial note following a minor spat over President Barack Obama's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama. Li told reporters that the two nations could do much more to further "unleash the potential" of bilateral cooperation and build on their already massive $520 billion in annual bilateral trade.

US to seek new indictment against Indian diplomatNEW YORK (AP) — An Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip-search spurred an international flap had the case against her dismissed by a federal judge on Wednesday, but prosecutors suggested they might refile the charges stemming from claims she exploited her housekeeper. For now, at least, Wednesday's ruling closes the case against Devyani Khobragade on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. The judge found Khobragade had broad immunity from prosecution when she was indicted on charges of fraudulently obtaining a work visa for her housekeeper and lying to the government about the maid's pay.

Malaysia retires missing plane's flight codeKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia Airlines has retired the missing jetliner's flight code as a sign of respect to the 239 passengers and crew on board. The airline said Thursday it will no longer be using MH370 and MH371, the same codes used by the Boeing 777 that vanished from radar screens on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday. A massive search involving satellites, planes and ships has found no trace of the aircraft.

Malaysian response to missing plane under scrutinyMalaysian officials on Wednesday defended their handling of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Here are some discrepancies in statements they have made since the plane disappeared early Saturday with 239 people on board: — TIME OF DISAPPEARANCE Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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