PYONGYANG, North Korea -- Former NBA star Dennis Rodman holds tryouts for a North Korean team that will face a dozen NBA veterans in an exhibition game on leader Kim Jong Un's birthday next month -- though he hasn't convinced all the players on the American team that it's safe to come to Pyongyang. The flamboyant Hall of Famer said plans for the Jan. 8 game are moving ahead but some of the 12 Americans he wants are afraid to come. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 550 words, photos, video.
NEW DELHI -- The father of an Indian diplomat accused of underpaying her housekeeper says his daughter treated the woman "like family." By Ashok Sharma. UPCOMING: 130 words.
MANILA, Philippines -- A mayor from the southern Philippines was fatally shot at Manila's packed main airport by assailants who also killed his wife and two other people, officials said. The gunmen fired from a motorcycle at Labangan Mayor Ukol Talumpa and his wife as they stepped out of Terminal 3, said Manila airport General Manager Jose Angel Honrado. The airport handles both international and domestic flights and was packed with passengers and waiting crowds. SENT: 220 words.
BEIJING -- China's ruling Communist Party is banning members from holding lavish funerals for their relatives as part of a drive against waste, corruption and pomp. The ban also said party members were forbidden from using funerals to collect condolence money from attendees, gifts that often serve as bribes. By Gillian Wong. SENT: 350 words, photo.
THAILAND-NAVY VS PRESS
BANGKOK -- Thailand's navy has filed criminal defamation charges against a news website that published stories alleging Thai military involvement in the trafficking of Myanmar's ethnic Rohingya boatpeople, an editor said. SENT: 460 words.
HANOI, Vietnam -- A group of Western ambassadors have written to Vietnam's leaders to call for the release of a peaceful democracy activist described as being in the final stages of cancer. Dinh Dang Dinh, a former chemistry teacher, is serving a six-year sentence for "spreading propaganda." SENT: 130 words.
TOKYO -- The first humanoid robot in space made small talk with a Japanese astronaut and said it had no problem with zero-gravity on the International Space Station. Footage released by the robot's developers showed Kirobo performing its first mission on the station in a test of its autonomous conversation functions. By Emily Wang. SENT: 300 words, photos, video.
HONG KONG -- Australia's Telstra said it was selling its Hong Kong mobile phone business to Richard Li's telecom company in a deal worth $2.4 billion. Telstra Corp. said it would earn about $1.8 billion from selling its 76.4 percent stake in CSL to Li's HKT Ltd., which is also buying the other 23.6 percent from another company, New World Development.
TORONTO -- Canada's regulator recommended the government approve a proposed pipeline to the Pacific Coast that would allow Canada's oil to be shipped to Asia. By Rob Gillies. SENT: 730 words.
BEIJING -- China has rejected 545,000 tons of imported U.S. corn found to contain an unapproved genetically modified strain, the government said. China is promoting genetically modified crops, though critics question their safety, especially that of U.S. imports. SENT: 230 words.
MUMBAI, India -- Asian stock trading was muted after China moved to prevent a new liquidity crunch and markets continued to react to the U.S. Federal Reserve's long-awaited decision to begin to ease off on its easy-money stimulus policy. The dollar strengthened against the Japanese yen, hitting a five-year high, after the country's central bank decided to hold steady on its monetary policy instead of opting for stimulus. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 400 words.
NEW YORK -- Angry Target customers said they had trouble contracting the retailer through its website and call centers after it acknowledged that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen. The theft is the second-largest credit card breach in U.S. history. By Business Writers Anne D'innocenzio and Bree Fowler. SENT: 1,130 words, photos.
-- TARGET DATA BREACH-Q&A -- Who's at fault? Who pays the bills? Answers to some of the most common questions about the theft. SENT: 400 words.
WASHINGTON -- The women of the Senate who led the fight to change how the military deals with sexual assault in its ranks are hailing passage of a comprehensive defense bill that now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature. The legislation covers combat pay, new ships, aircraft and military bases. Drawing the greatest attention were provisions cracking down on perpetrators of sexual assault and rape. By Donna Cassata. SENT: 800 words, photos.
LONDON -- Hunks of plaster and dust rained down on a packed audience when the ceiling of a London theater partially collapsed night. More than 75 people were injured -- seven seriously, authorities said. By Cassandra Vinograd and Jill Lawless. SENT: 725 words, photos, video.
CAIVANO, Italy -- On Ciro Fusco's farm in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, police swooped down one recent day and planted a warning sign in his broccoli fields, prohibiting any one from harvesting or even setting foot on the plot. Decades of toxic waste dumping by the Mafia that dominates the Naples area poisoned wells, authorities have found in recent months, tainting the water that irrigates crops with high levels of lead, arsenic and the industrial solvent tetrachloride. The warning came too late: Fusco had already sold some of his broccoli at nearby markets. The farmlands around Naples, authorities say, are contaminated from the Mafia's multibillion-dollar racket in disposing toxic waste, mainly from industries in the wealthy north. By Frances D'Emilio. UPCOMING: 1,200 words by 5 a.m., photos.
YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at email@example.com.
The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.
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