• Indonesia's new president faces tough early tests

    Updated: Sat, Oct 18, 2014

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Rebooting a slowing economy in a nation of 250 million where inequality is rising, a looming decision on raising fuel prices and vulnerability to any U.S. interest rate hikes would be enough to tax any incoming president. But Indonesia's Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who takes office Monday, must also find a way to work with a powerful and well-funded opposition that could block moves to address the challenges holding back the country's rise as an emerging market powerhouse. At least eight heads of state and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the inauguration, a sign of Indonesia's regional and international clout.

  • Philippine militants free 2 kidnapped Germans

    Updated: Sat, Oct 18, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Two Germans freed after being held for six months in the southern Philippines by a militant group that threatened to behead one of them if ransom was not paid were flown to Manila on Saturday under the care of their embassy, a Philippine military spokesman said. Following their release Friday, Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen were flown to Manila under arrangements made by the German Embassy, said Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan. The two have not spoken publicly about their ordeal and German diplomats could not be reached for comment. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed their released late Friday, just hours after the Abu Sayyaf militant group had threatened to behead Okonek.

  • Nepal official: Most stranded trekkers rescued

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Most of the trekkers stranded by deadly blizzards in northern Nepal have been rescued or moved to safer ground, but efforts to reach those left behind will continue along the popular route where they were trekking, an official said Saturday. At least 29 people were killed this past week in a series of snowstorms and avalanches that struck at the height of the October trekking season. The dead and injured include foreign travelers as well as Nepalese guides and local villagers caught in the storms.

  • Guam murder suspect to receive HIV medication

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A Guam man charged with murder and denied HIV treatment in prison is expected to finally receive medication, his attorney said. Keith Garrido is charged with beating Nancy Mafnas to death with a pipe in 2012 and other crimes, including escaping from a prison van and burglary. Garrido's attorney, Stephen Hattori, said the prison started running tests and is expected to provide his HIV medication next week. Prison Director Jose San Agustin told Pacific Daily News (http://ow.ly/CW2sL ) the treatment is underway. A magistrate judge last week ordered the prison to provide Garrido with medical treatment.

  • Iran border guards kill 1 from Pakistani patrol

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani official says Iranian border guards opened fire at a Pakistan patrol van, killing a member of the paramilitary Frontier Corps and wounding three other troops. A spokesman for the Frontier Corps, Abdul Wasay, says the shooting took place on Friday when about 30 Iranian guards in six vehicles started shooting at the Pakistani van in the Chaukab area, 2 kilometers (1 mile) inside Pakistani territory. There was no immediate comment from Tehran. The shooting comes a day after Iranian Brig. Gen. Hussein Salami issued a stark warning to Pakistan, saying that Iranian forces may enter Pakistani territory to "prevent terrorists" from entering Iran.

  • Philippines subpoenas US Marine murder suspect

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government served a subpoena Friday for a U.S. Marine accused of killing a transgender Filipino in an emotional case expected to test the country's military ties with the United States. The Department of Foreign Affairs said subpoenas for Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton and four other U.S. Marines sought as witnesses in the case were delivered to the U.S. Embassy. On Wednesday, police filed a murder complaint with prosecutors against Pemberton, who allegedly checked into a motel on Saturday with the victim, Jennifer Laude, after meeting her in a bar in Olongapo, northwest of Manila. Police said Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, was found with her head resting on the motel roo

  • India launches index to measure air quality

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    NEW DELHI (AP) — The country's top environment official unveiled a government program Friday that will eventually measure air quality across India, home to some of the most polluted cities in the world. Over the next five years, the government will begin measuring eight major pollutants that affect respiratory health in cities with populations above 1 million, and then gradually expand the air quality index to the rest of the country, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters. The index will warn residents when pollution levels rise past dangerous levels. The World Health Organization said earlier this year that the Indian capital had the worst air quality in the world, surpassing Beijing, a statement that New D

  • Ex-govt minister in Myanmar gets 13-year sentence

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A court sentenced Myanmar's ex-religious affairs minister to 13 years in prison for embezzling state funds and sedition Friday in the harshest penalty for a high-ranking official since the country began moving toward democracy. Hsan Sint was removed from office in June following allegations he misused $10,000 to build a pagoda near Naypyitaw. During his trial at the Detkhina District Court, judges added a sedition charge, saying his actions hurt the nation's pride. The judge found Hsan Sint guilty of breaching trust and sedition and sentenced him to 13 years behind bars. His lawyer, Tin Tun, told The Associated Press he would appeal.

  • Indian politician convicted of graft gets bail

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    NEW DELHI (AP) — India's top court Friday granted temporary bail to a charismatic southern Indian politician who was sentenced to four years in prison for corruption last month. The Supreme Court also ordered Jayaram Jayalalitha, a former movie star, to provide the court with all the documents related to the corruption case by Dec. 18 or her bail would be cancelled. Jayalalitha had to step down as chief minister of Tamil Nadu state after a court in Bangalore last month found her guilty of possessing wealth disproportionate to her income. She is also disqualified from contesting elections for six years. Jayalalitha had asked for bail while a lower court considers her plea to suspend her prison sentence. She also has ap

  • Image of Asia: A day for eradicating poverty

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    In this photo by Altaf Qadri, an Indian squatter smokes as others sleep on rented cots at a public park near Jama Masjid, or the Grand Mosque, in New Delhi. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed on Oct. 17, was designated by the U.N. General Assembly to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in the world. About 400 million Indians — a quarter of the country's population — are living in poverty under $1.25 a day.

  • Teenage surfer bitten by small shark in Australia

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    SYDNEY (AP) — A competitive junior surfer said a small shark bit her ankle and tried to drag her from her board Friday morning as she surfed off the Australian east coast. Kirra-Belle Olsson, 13, was bitten on the left ankle by a 1-meter (3.5-foot) shark while surfing off Avoca Beach, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Sydney, police said. She sustained puncture wounds to her foot and a cut to her calf, police said. Kirra-Belle, who has won numerous junior surfing titles, said she initially thought the shark was a friend tugging on her leg. "It just swung me around and tried to pull me under and I saw the tail and ... I really didn't know what to do so I just started screaming," she told Australian Broadcasting C

  • Pakistan court upholds blasphemy death sentence

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — A defense lawyer in Pakistan says a top court has upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman whose 2010 conviction for blasphemy led to the assassination of two politicians who supported her. Lawyer Sardar Mushtaq said Friday that the 50-year-old woman had appealed before the Lahore High Court against the ruling in which she was found guilty of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Mushtaq said the court rejected her appeal Thursday. The case drew global criticism in 2011 when Pakistan's minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and eastern Punjab governor Salman Taseer were killed for supporting her and opposing blasphemy laws. Insulting the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad can be punished with life impr

  • 1st Cambodia genocide trial aims to expose crimes

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The first trial on charges of genocide against Cambodia's brutal 1970s Khmer Rouge regime opened Friday with a prosecutor saying it will show that Cambodians were enslaved in inhumane conditions that led to the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, disease and execution. Khieu Samphan, the regime's head of state, and Nuon Chea, right-hand man to the communist group's late leader, Pol Pot, already received life sentences in August after being found guilty of crimes against humanity, relating mostly to the group's forced movement of millions to the countryside when it took power in 1975. They have appealed their convictions. The U.N.

  • Nepal blizzard, avalanche death toll rises to 29

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Rescuers widened their search Friday for trekkers stranded since a series of blizzards and avalanches battered the Himalayas in northern Nepal early this week leaving at least 29 people killed, officials said. The government, meanwhile, announced the formation of a high-level committee that would monitor and coordinate rescue efforts following criticism that officials were not doing enough to help the hikers trapped along a popular trekking circuit. With weather conditions improving, helicopters resumed the search Friday for stranded trekkers and were flying over a wider area, said Baburam Bhandari, the top government official of the Mustang district.

  • Indonesia's president elect meets rival

    Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's defeated presidential candidate met the winner and president-elect Jokowi Widodo on Friday for the first time since the bitterly contested polls in July, in a sign that political tensions in the Southeast Asian nation might be thawing. Prabowo Subianto congratulated Widodo on his victory and promised to support his government as long as his policies are in line with "the interests of the nation and people." Until the meeting at the home of Prabowo's father, the wealthy Suharto-era general had refused to concede defeat and sought, unsuccessfully, to overturn the election results in the courts. Jokowi will be inaugurated president on Monday Prabowo heads a coalition that controls th

  • Cambodian tribunal opens 1st genocide case

    Updated: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A U.N.-backed Cambodian tribunal began hearing the first genocide case against the country's brutal 1970s Khmer Rouge regime on Friday, another step toward justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from starvation, disease and execution. Khieu Samphan, the regime's head of state, and Nuon Chea, right-hand man to the communist group's late leader, Pol Pot, already received life sentences in August after being found guilty of charges including crimes against humanity, related mostly to the group's forced movement of millions to the countryside when it took power in 1975. They have appealed their convictions. The U.N.

  • Man charged with planning Australian terror attack

    Updated: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — A man charged in an Australian court with supporting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria faced a fresh accusation Friday of planning a terrorist attack in Australia. Agim Kruezi, 21, and Omar Succarieh, 31, have been in custody since Sept. 10 when they were arrested in a series of police raids in the Queensland state capital, Brisbane, and neighboring Logan that culminated a yearlong counterterrorism investigation. Police said on the day of the raids that they had found no evidence of a domestic terrorist threat. But Kruezi was charged in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday with offenses including transporting a firearm and possessing machetes, knives, balaclavas and military fati

  • Thai soaps trigger outcry over romanticizing rape

    Updated: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    BANGKOK (AP) — In a famous scene from Thailand's award-winning soap opera "The Power of Shadows," the handsome protagonist gets drunk and rapes the leading lady. He later begs her forgiveness, and they live happily ever after. Boy Meets Girl, Boy Rapes Girl, Boy Marries Girl. The premise is so common in Thailand's popular primetime melodramas it could be called a national twist on the universal romantic plotline. But calls for change are growing. The recent real-life rape and murder of a girl on an overnight train in Thailand has focused national outrage on messages in popular culture that trivialize — and some say even encourage — rape.

  • Turkey fails in bid to join UN Security Council

    Updated: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Turkey failed in its effort to join the U.N.'s most powerful body on Thursday, while Venezuela, New Zealand, Spain, Angola and Malaysia were elected to coveted Security Council seats. Special attention had been on Turkey as it is under growing pressure to do more about the war in Syria pushing up against its border. Turkey lobbied heavily among the General Assembly's 193 member states for their votes, with its foreign minister hosting a party at the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel the night before the vote. In competition with New Zealand and Spain for two seats representing the western group of nations, Turkey fell behind as New Zealand easily gained a seat on the first ballot and Spain made it on the th

  • India names US-based economist economic adviser

    Updated: Thu, Oct 16, 2014

    NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Thursday appointed US-based economist Arvind Subramanian as the country's chief economic adviser. The announcement comes the same day as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement that the government would overhaul the country's archaic labor laws to draw more investment to Asia's third largest economy. India also appointed a new finance secretary, the top bureaucrat in the country's finance ministry Thursday. Subramanian told reporters in New Delhi that he was "honored" to serve a government "that has a mandate for reform and change." Subramanian is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C.