• Myanmar says 2015 election won't be delayed


    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar says it will hold a general election in late 2015 as planned, countering rumors that the vote could be postponed. Tin Aye, chairman of the Myanmar Union Election Commission, made the announcement Tuesday. He said international and local observers would be invited to witness the election, to be held in late October or early November of next year. The general election will be the second since former strongman Gen. Than Shwe handed power to a nominally civilian government, ending half a century of military rule. The 2010 election was widely seen as rigged in favor of the military-backed government's party.

  • Cost of making 'Hobbit' movies up to $745 million

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has so far cost nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to make as the epic continues to set new benchmarks for studio spending. Financial documents filed this month in New Zealand, where the three movies are being made, show production costs through March had reached 934 million New Zealand dollars ($745 million). The figures include filming and digital effects completed over several years but not the final eight months of production costs leading up to the scheduled December release of the final movie. It's not clear from the documents whether worldwide marketing and distribution costs are included. Warner Bros.

  • Taliban attack kills 4 Afghan soldiers in Kabul

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least four Afghan soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack on a bus in the capital. Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, says the blast occurred Tuesday morning while army troops were on their way to the ministry in Kabul. Azimi says six other soldiers and six civilians were wounded in the blast, adding that the bomb was detonated by remote control. A Taliban spokesman tweeted that the group was claiming responsibility for the attack. Taliban insurgents have stepped up their attacks against both Afghan and NATO security forces. Most international security forces are preparing to withdraw by the end of the year.

  • Former Australia Prime Minister Gough Whitlam dies

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Gough Whitlam, a flamboyant Australian prime minister and controversial social reformer whose grip on power was cut short by a bitter constitutional crisis, died Tuesday at the age of 98. Although national leader for only three turbulent years until 1975, the legacy of Whitlam's Labor Party government remains to this day. Many of its legislative and social innovations, once regarded as radical, are now accepted as part of daily life. Whitlam's four children said their father died in a Sydney nursing home. They described him as "a loving and generous father." "He was a source of inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians," they said in a statement.

  • US agency warns car owners to get air bags fixed

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government issued an urgent plea to more than 4.7 million people to get the air bags in their cars fixed, amid concern that a defect in the devices can possibly kill or injure the driver or passengers. The inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed in crashes. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem and there have been multiple injuries. Multiple automakers have recalled vehicles in the U.S. over the past two years to repair air bag inflators made by Takata Corp., a Tokyo-based supplier of seat belts, air bags, steering wheels and other auto parts.

  • Government OKs Czech troops to stay in Afghanistan

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech defense ministry says the government has approved its plan to keep troops in Afghanistan for at least two more years. The ministry said in a statement Monday that up to 350 soldiers will be deployed in Afghanistan in 2015 and 2016 as part of a NATO-led force. Monday's approval comes three months after five Czechs were killed by a suicide bomber in the eastern province of Parwan in what was largest number of Czechs killed in a single attack in a mission abroad. The deployment is part of a plan of foreign missions for the next two years. The Czechs also pledge to stay in various international forces in the Balkans, Africa and the Sinai Peninsula. The current center-left government has a maj

  • Serena beats Ivanovic in WTA Finals opener

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    SINGAPORE (AP) — A new venue, an injury-hit preparation and insults from a top sports official — none of it could stop Serena Williams' winning streak at the WTA Finals. The three-time defending champion made it 16-straight wins at the season-ending championships by beating Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-4 in Monday's tournament opener, shaking off the injuries that forced her out of her previous two tournaments and the off-court distraction of disparaging comments about her from Russian tennis official Shamil Tarpischev. Williams is now five wins behind Martina Navratilova's all-time record of 21 in a row at the tournament, although she won't have enough matches to catch up this year.

  • Athlete tries for record-breaking swim in Bahamas

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — An Australian endurance athlete has started an attempt to achieve a world-record 128-kilometer (roughly 80-mile) swim in the open waters of the Bahamas. Chloe McCardel started her solo swim Monday morning from Eleuthera island. She hopes to finish some 48 hours later in Nassau, the capital of the sprawling archipelago off Florida's east coast. The 29-year-old athlete from Melbourne is making the attempt under Marathon Swimmers Federation rules, which means she can't intentionally touch her support boat or hold on to anything. McCardel last year gave up her quest to swim from Cuba to Florida because of painful jellyfish stings.

  • Joko Widodo sworn in as Indonesia's new president

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Joko Widodo completed a journey from riverside shack to presidential palace on Monday, cheered through the streets following his inauguration by tens of thousands of ordinary Indonesians in a reminder to the opposition-controlled parliament of the strong grass-roots support that swept him to power. The 53-year-old must make tough decisions, and soon, to stand a chance of boosting economic growth in Indonesia, a sprawling nation of 250 million people. Supporters have already expressed concerns any reforms he tries to enact could be blocked by a hostile opposition led by the Suharto-era general he defeated in July's election.

  • Indian player dies from injury in goal celebration

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    NEW DELHI (AP) — The Mizoram Football Association says a 23-year-old Indian soccer player has died after injuring his spine while celebrating a goal with somersaults. Peter Biaksangzuala landed on his back while doing flips last Tuesday in the northeastern state of Mizoram. He died Sunday. Biaksangzuala scored in the 62nd minute. After his celebration went bad, he was stretchered off the field to a local hospital. Mizoram Football Association general secretary Lalnghinglova Hmar called Biaksangzuala "a very good and disciplined footballer" who hoped to play in the national I-League. The football association is planning to organize a match in his memory.

  • Image of Asia: A snowstorm survivor waits in Nepal

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    In this photo by Niranjan Shrestha, an avalanche survivor waits to receive the bodies of his colleagues outside a morgue in Katmandu, Nepal. Blizzards and avalanches that swept the Himalayas last week caused at least 39 deaths, and more than 400 people who were injured or stranded have been rescued. Sete Tamang, 20, said he and 10 other Nepali guides and porters were caught in the snowstorm on Tuesday. "The snow was blinding and it kept on snowing with high speed wind. Soon we could not see and we were all lost. I was completely covered with snow and had to dig my way (out) of the piles of snow. It took hours for me and another friend to get to a safer area," Tamang said. Nine of his friends died. Wind exposure to his face caused his ski

  • Philippine leader: Murder case won't harm US ties

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Monday that a murder investigation focused on a U.S. Marine should have no bearing on the two countries' relations, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington seeks no "special privilege" for the suspect but only protection of his rights. Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, one of thousands of American and Philippine military personnel who took part in joint exercises earlier this month, is suspected in the killing of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender Filipino whose former name was Jeffrey. Philippine police and witnesses said the two met at a disco bar in the city of Olongapo on Oct. 11, then went to a motel room where Laude's body was later f

  • Australia's Parliament House lifts face veil ban

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's Parliament House on Monday lifted a short-lived ban on facial coverings including burqas and niqabs after the prime minister intervened. The department that runs Parliament House had announced earlier this month that "persons with facial coverings" would no longer be allowed in the open public galleries. Instead, they were to be directed to galleries usually reserved for noisy schoolchildren where they could sit behind soundproof glass. That announcement was made just as Parliament's last two-week session was ending and had no practical effect. On Monday, the Department of Parliamentary Services, or DPS, said people wearing face coverings would be allowed in all public areas of P

  • Nepal end rescue efforts on popular trekking route

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal wrapped up rescue operations in its northern mountains Monday, saying all the hikers believed to have been stranded on a trekking route by a series of deadly blizzards are now safe. At least 39 people, including trekkers from Canada, India, Israel, Slovakia, Poland and Japan, died in the blizzards and avalanches that swept the Himalayas last week, battering the popular Annapurna trekking circuit. Nepalese officials said they rescued 407 people, 226 of them foreigners. The last rescue helicopters hovered over Mustang, Manang and Dolpa districts on Monday, said Yadav Koirala of Nepal's Disaster Management Division. All the casualties were in those three districts northwest of the capital, Katmandu

  • 13 workers die in fire at Indian fireworks factory

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    HYDERABAD, India (AP) — A blaze engulfed a fireworks factory in southern India on Monday, killing at least 13 workers and seriously burning seven others, police said. The fire department was still trying to control the fire by early evening and the bodies could not immediately be retrieved, said Ravi Prakash, a police superintendent in Andhra Pradesh state's East Godavari district He said the fire broke out during a lunch break at the factory in Vakatippa village. The local government has ordered an investigation. The fire comes days ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which is marked with fireworks. India has a huge demand for firecrackers, which are used in religious festivals and weddings.

  • Bus collision in Bangladesh kills at least 20

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Two passenger buses have collided head-on in northwestern Bangladesh, killing at least 20 people and injuring 25 others. Top local government official Mashiur Rahman says the crash happened on a major regional highway in Natore district on Monday afternoon. The region is 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Dhaka. Rahman says local people and police rescued the injured and took them to a hospital. Some were in critical condition, and Rahman says the death toll could rise as some people have severe head injuries. Road accidents are common in Bangladesh because of reckless driving, lax traffic law and plying of unfit vehicles. Up to 12,000 people die each year in road accidents in Bangladesh.

  • Kerry: 'Irresponsible' not to aid Kurds against IS

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration decided to airdrop weapons and ammunitions to "valiant" Kurds fighting Islamic State extremists in the Syrian border town of Kobani because it would be "irresponsible" and "morally very difficult" not to support them. Speaking in the Indonesian capital on Monday, Kerry told reporters that the administration understood ally Turkey's concerns about supplying the Kurds, who are linked to a Kurdish group that Ankara fiercely opposes. But, he says the situation is such in the besieged town of Kobani that the resupplies were deemed absolutely necessary in a "crisis moment." Kerry says the airdrops are intended to be temporary and that

  • Kerry urges Asia to boost anti-Islamic State push

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is asking Asian nations to step up their efforts to combat Islamic State extremists and the deadly Ebola virus. In Jakarta for the inauguration of Indonesia's new reformist president, Kerry took the opportunity to meet separately with the prime ministers of Malaysia and Australia. Later Monday, he'll meet with leaders of other Asian nations. Officials traveling with Kerry say preventing extremist recruitment in Southeast Asia, particularly in predominantly Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia, is a main priority of the coalition the U.S. is assembling to combat the Islamic State group. On Ebola, Kerry is seeking nations to boost their contributions to

  • Attacks on Afghan checkpoints kill 4 troops

    Updated: Mon, Oct 20, 2014

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Officials say insurgents have attacked several army checkpoints in eastern and southern Afghanistan, killing at least four troops and wounding several people. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which happened Sunday, but the Taliban have stepped up assaults on Afghan and NATO forces ahead of the pullout of most foreign combat troops by the end of the year. Defense ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said on Monday that the four soldiers died in an attack in the eastern province of Logar, in the Charkh district. He says scores of insurgents were killed in a subsequent airstrike there. In southern Uruzgan province, spokesman Dost Mohammad Nayab says insurgents attacked

  • Nepal to end rescue operation on trekking route

    Updated: Sun, Oct 19, 2014

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal was wrapping up rescue operations in its northern mountains Monday, saying all the hikers believed to be stranded on a trekking route by a series of blizzards and avalanches that left dozens of others dead have been rescued and are safe. The last flights by rescue helicopters in Mustang, Manang and Dolpa districts will be Monday, said Yadav Koirala of Nepal's Disaster Management Division. All the casualties were in those three districts, located northwest of the capital, Katmandu. "We believe that all the trekkers and guides have been helped and as far as we know there are no more people stranded on the route," Koirala said, adding that some soldiers would be camped in parts of the area.