NEW DELHI -- The 16-year-old reported that she had been gang raped, only to be raped again by the same men the next day and later threatened for going to the police in eastern India. By the time charges were filed more than two months later, she had been set on fire and died from her injuries. The girl's death on New Year's Eve in West Bengal came more than a year after a deadly gang rape in New Delhi raised awareness and outrage over chronic sexual violence in India and government failures to protect women. The New Delhi rape was considered a major reason for why voters ousted the capital's government last month, and a furious response to the West Bengal case suggests that with general elections just months away, politicians are anxious to impress voters who are demanding that women's safety become a police priority. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 1,250 words, photos.
BANGKOK -- Thailand's state anti-corruption body rules that 308 pro-government lawmakers acted illegally in seeking to pass a bill to make Parliament's upper house an all-elected body. The ruling by the National Anti-Corruption Commission will lead to a further investigation, and could eventually result in the lawmakers being banned from politics. SENT: 140 words.
DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Bangladeshi police say they conducted raids and arrested three leading opposition members, exacerbating political tensions after a violent general election. The ruling party easily won Sunday's election, which was marred by street fighting, low turnout and an opposition boycott. By Julhas Alam. SENT: 450 words, photos.
HONG KONG -- Run Run Shaw built a Hong Kong movie and TV empire that nurtured rising talents like actor Chow Yun-fat and director John Woo, inspired Hollywood filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and produced the 1982 sci-fi classic "Blade Runner." Shaw's prolific studio helped bring kung fu films to the world but he also passed on the chance to sign one of the biggest names in that genre: the young Bruce Lee. The missed opportunity was a rare misstep for Shaw, who died Tuesday. By Kelvin K. Chan. SENT:L 1,100 words, photos.
ISLAMABAD -- A Pakistani court trying Gen. Pervez Musharraf on charges of high treason says it's examining a medical report on his condition to decide whether the former president can be excused from hearings while he remains in hospital. SENT: 130 words, photos.
TOKYO -- More than 350 people have been sickened across Japan after eating frozen food products that may have been tainted with a pesticide, Japan's public broadcaster says. Food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings began recalling 6.4 million packages of various frozen foods on Dec. 29, saying it found some were tainted by high levels of pesticides. SENT: 310 words.
BEIJING -- A Chinese businessman wanted a senior provincial official on his side and took a hint on how to do that when a deputy governor commented on the carved jade hanging from his belt, investigators allege. They say the businessman began acquiring jade for former Anhui Deputy Governor Ni Fake in return for mining rights and land for his metal business. Ni is among at least a dozen senior officials who have been ousted since President Xi Jinping became China's leader in November 2012. Xi has staked his administration's reputation on fighting corruption, which he says threatens the legitimacy of the party's rule. By Didi Tang. SENT: 400 words.
BEIJING -- Chinese rocker Cui Jian, who fell out of favor with the government after he sided with demonstrating students during the 1989 Tiananmen protests, has been asked to appear on the state broadcaster's Chinese New Year gala, his manager says. Cui is known as the godfather of Chinese rock. By Louise Watt. SENT: 410 words.
SRINAGAR, India -- Separatist militants engage Indian police and paramilitary forces in a fierce gun battle that kills one officer in the troubled Himalayan region of Kashmir, police say. SENT: 160 words.
AUSTRALIA-STUCK IN WASHER
SYDNEY -- A naked Australian man who became stuck in a washing machine as part of an ill-planned practical joke was freed from the appliance with the help of an unusual rescue device: olive oil. The 20-year-old man, identified only as "Laurence," told Australia's Fairfax Radio that he was on his way to take a shower when he decided to climb into the top-loader to have a bit of fun. The fun quickly evaporated, however, when he realized he couldn't budge. SENT: 230 words.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE:
BEIJING -- China will allow the creation of up to five privately financed banks this year to support economic growth by gradually opening the state-run industry, the country's banking regulator says. Analysts including the World Bank say an overhaul of Chinese banks that lend little to entrepreneurs is urgently needed to achieve the ruling Communist Party's goals of making the economy more productive. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 600 words.
TOKYO -- Japan and Turkey agree to begin talks on an economic partnership agreement, part of a drive to build closer ties as they also step up cooperation on nuclear technology. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 370 words.
U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:
INDIANAPOLIS -- The frigid air that virtually shut down major cities and tiny towns in the Midwest will spread to the South and East. Subzero temperatures broke records in Chicago, while Indiana residents dealt with inches of snow and numerous power outages. "The cold is the real killer here," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says in asking schools and businesses to close for a second straight day. By Rick Callahan. SENT: 750 words, photos, video.
WASHINGTON -- The new year looks a lot like the old one in the Senate, with Democrats scratching for votes to pass an agenda they share with President Barack Obama, and Republicans decidedly unenthusiastic about supporting legislation without changes. At the dawn of the 2014 election year, the issue is unemployment benefits, and a White House-backed bill to renew benefits that lapsed last week for the long-term jobless. By Special Correspondent David Espo. SENT: 620 words, photos.
WASHINGTON -- Janet Yellen will take the helm of a Federal Reserve facing a significantly different economic landscape than the one that dominated Ben Bernanke's tenure as chairman, confronting her with different decisions as well. Bernanke's eight years leading the Fed were largely consumed with the Great Recession and his efforts to cure it by pushing down interest rates and pumping cash into the economy. Many economists think Yellen's big challenge will be deciding how to ease off some of those very policies, which Bernanke took with Yellen's support. By Alan Fram and Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 750 words, photo.
WASHINGTON -- His agenda tattered by last year's confrontations and missteps, Obama begins 2014 clinging to the hope of winning a lasting legislative achievement: an overhaul of immigration laws. It will require a deft and careful use of his powers, combining a public campaign in the face of protests over his administration's record number of deportations and quiet, behind-the-scenes outreach to Congress, something seen by lawmakers and immigration advocates as a major White House weakness. By Jim Kuhnhenn. SENT: 1,000 words, photo.
NSA SURVEILLANCE-DUELING RULINGS
WASHINGTON -- Opposing court rulings on the National Security Agency's massive phone record surveillance -- one threatening the program and the other supporting it -- are stirring fast legal footwork as both cases start to wind their way through federal appeals courts and possibly to the Supreme Court. By Stephen Braun. SENT: 860 words, photo.
BEIRUT -- An al-Qaida group fighting in Syria against rebels trying to dislodge it from opposition-held parts of the country kills at least four activists it held captive in the area, their colleagues say. The killings came against the backdrop of clashes between rival rebel factions in Syria's northern provinces. The fighting, which has pitted an array of rebel groups against the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL, is now in its fifth day. The U.N.'s human rights office, meanwhile, says it can no longer update the death toll from Syria's civil war because of lack of access. By Diaa Hadid. SENT: 680 words, photo.
SUPREME COURT-GAY MARRIAGE
SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples in Utah have exchanged wedding vows over the past two weeks in jubilant celebrations -- but the rush on same-sex marriage licenses has come to an end. The U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to them by granting the state of Utah a stay on a federal judge's ruling that two other courts previously denied. By Brady McCombs and Mark Sherman. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.
REMOTE TESLA STATION
LUSK, Wyo. -- Teslas have been almost as scarce as the mythical jackalope in the least populated county in the least populated state. The owner of America's Best Value Inn Covered Wagon Motel has seen just one of the pricey electric cars juice up since Tesla installed a quick-charge station at his business three weeks ago. The supercharger station -- Wyoming's first -- can charge a Tesla battery to 90 percent in half an hour. The company plans dozen more across the middle of the continent in the months ahead to make coast-to-coast travel by electric car more feasible. By Mead Gruver. SENT: 700 words, photos.
-- TIME TRAVEL -- Dr. Who knows? Researchers don't find evidence of time travel on internet, Twitter, Facebook. SENT: 360 words.
-- TV-SNL-DIVERSITY -- New York comic hired as only black female cast member of "Saturday Night Live." SENT: 300 words.
-- SPAIN-ROYAL FAMILY-CORRUPTION -- Spanish court subpoenas king's daughter as suspect in tax fraud and money laundering probe. SENT: 140 words.
-- GADGET SHOW-INTEL-CONFLICT MINERALS -- Intel says its processors are now free of minerals from mines held by armed groups in Congo. SENT: 300 words, photo.
-- AMERICAN TERROR PLOT -- Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" gets 10 years in terror plot vs. Swedish artist. SENT: 500 words, photo.
-- GUN SALES-CHICAGO -- Chicago's ban on gun sales and transfers ruled unconstitutional by federal judge. SENT: 630 words.
-- TODDLER SLAPPED -- Man who pleaded guilty to slapping toddler aboard Atlanta-bound flight gets 8 months in prison. SENT: 130 words.
-- FOOTBALL PLAYERS-RAPE -- Ohio high school rape convict released from juvenile detention facility. SENT: 410 words, photo.
-- SHOTGUN COHABITATION -- In a first, cohabitation surpasses marriage among dating couples in U.S. who become parents. SENT: 690 words, 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.
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