HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS
HONG KONG -- The crowds of protesters who filled Hong Kong's streets thinned dramatically after student leaders and the territory's government agreed the previous night to hold talks in coming days to discuss protesters' demands regarding electoral reforms. SENT: 580 words, photos.
SEOUL, South Korea -- Warships from the rival Koreas exchange warning shots after a North Korean ship briefly violated the disputed western sea boundary, a South Korean defense official said. The shots were fired into the sea and there have been no reports of injuries and damage to the ships of either side. By Kim Tong-Hyung. SENT: 280 words.
SKOREA-DEFECTORS SEND MONEY
SEOUL, South Korea -- The voice on the North Korean end of the line seemed too old to be Lee Seo Yeon's sister, but when they started talking about childhood memories, she knew. Their first talk in 16 years was an emotional moment, interrupted by a financial transaction: With help from go-betweens, Lee, a defector now in South Korea, transferred 2 million won ($1,880) to her sister, with the intermediaries getting a cut. Smuggled phones, combined with a resourceful underground network of brokers inside and outside North Korea, are allowing defectors not only to connect with long-lost relatives, but to send them desperately needed cash. The process remains risky, both for people within the arm of North Korean law and defectors worried about getting cheated. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.
BEIJING -- The dengue virus has killed six people and infected more than 20,000 in southern China's worst outbreak of the mosquito-transmitted disease in about two decades. SENT: 140 words.
YANGON, Myanmar -- Rights groups in Myanmar say the president has pardoned more than a dozen political prisoners and former military intelligence officials as part of a pledge to free people jailed for political crimes by the end of the year. SENT: 130 words.
CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he hopes that legal hurdles can be cleared quickly so that Australian special forces troops can begin their assistance role in Iraq. Australian F/A-18F Super Hornet jet fighters have flown their first missions over Iraq since Cabinet ministers approved their combat deployment on Friday last week. The jets have yet to find an Islamic State group target to fire at. By Rod McGuirk. SENT 270 words.
SEOUL, South Korea -- The world's biggest smartphone maker is suffering a stunning financial decline in the face of intense competition from Apple Inc. and upstart Chinese brands. In a preview to earnings due out this month, Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday its quarterly profit is estimated to have fallen to its lowest level in more than three years, dragged down by weak sales of its new Galaxy model. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 600 words, photos.
US & INTERNATIONAL
SUPREME COURT-GAY MARRIAGE
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court abruptly clears the way for a major expansion of gay marriage, sending an unmistakable message that it's only a matter of time before gay and lesbian couples can marry anywhere in America. For now, the court turns away appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans, effectively making same-sex marriage legal in 30 states. By Mark Sherman. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.
MURSITPINAR, Turkey -- Islamic State fighters backed by tanks and artillery pushed into an embattled Syrian town on the border with Turkey, touching off heavy street battles with the town's Kurdish defenders. Hours after the militants raised two of their Islamic State group's black flags on the outskirts of Kobani, the militants punctured the Kurdish front lines and advanced into the town itself, the Local Coordination Committees activist collective and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. By Ryan Lucas and Lefteris Pitarakis. SENT, photos.
WASHINGTON -- Raising fresh concern around the world, a nurse in Spain becomes the first person known to contract Ebola outside the outbreak zone in West Africa. In the U.S., President Barack Obama says the government is considering ordering more careful screening of airline passengers arriving from the region. In dealing with potential Ebola cases, Obama says, "we don't have a lot of margin for error." By Connie Cass and Lauran Neergaard. SENT: 900 words, photos, video.
-- EBOLA-AMERICAN PATIENTS -- An American video journalist who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia arrived Monday at a Nebraska hospital where he will be treated for the deadly disease. SENT: 700 words, photos.
-- SPAIN-EBOLA -- Spain minister: Madrid nurse has tested positive for Ebola after treating Africa patient. SENT: 430 words.
USA Swimming suspends Michael Phelps for six months, forcing the Olympic champion to withdraw from next year's world championships and taking away his funding from the sport's national governing body as a result of his second DUI arrest. The sanctions announced Monday won't keep Phelps from training with his North Baltimore club, but he won't be allowed to participate in USA Swimming-sanctioned meets through March 6, 2015. By Beth Harris. SENT: 700 words.
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden's biggest mistake in accusing U.S. allies of supporting extremists in Syria may have been that he said publicly what Obama administration officials have long said privately. Still, his comments went further in assigning blame directly to the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates than the private assessments from U.S. officials and regional analysts. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 750 words, photos.
IGUALA, Mexico -- Revelations of mayhem, murder and mass graves are shedding light on another deeply troubled region of Mexico -- the southern state of Guerrero, where officials say city police in league with drug traffickers are suspected of carrying out an attack on students that left at least six dead and 43 missing. By Mark Stevenson. SENT: 700 words, photos.
BEIRUT -- In his high-rise office in Beirut, Sandro Saade carefully chews a Merlot grape from a vineyard hundreds of miles away in war-ravaged Syria to judge if it's ripe enough to order the start of harvest. It's too dangerous for him to travel to the vineyards of Domaine de Bargylus. But despite war and Islamic extremist threats, he and other vintners are determined to produce world-class wines, and to help preserve a Levantine cosmopolitanism imperiled by decades of war. By Diaa Hadid. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
SAO PAULO -- Aecio Neves stormed into a strong second-place finish in the first round of Brazil's presidential election, and is within striking distance of incumbent Dilma Rousseff. The business-minded former governor says voters want change after 12 years of Workers' Party rule, but will it be the change envisioned by his center-right party? If he is to win the Oct. 26 runoff, Neves will have to pull support from the poor Brazilians who've benefited from Rousseff's social programs. He just might have a chance. By Adriana Gomez Licon. SENT: 700 words, photos.
Are PCs soon to be a thing of the past? With customers' increasing shift toward tablets and smartphones, companies such as IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have struggled to compete. What's the next step for these iconic brands? By Brandon Bailey. SENT: 800 words, photo.
-- HEWLETT-PACKARD-HISTORY -- A look back at Hewlett-Packard's journey from its founding in a tiny garage 75 years ago to becoming the world's biggest PC maker. By Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 500 words, photo.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
-- CENTRAL PARK-DEAD BEAR -- Bear cub found dead in Central Park; animal cruelty suspected, body likely was dumped there. SENT: 100 words.
-- BOSTON MARATHON-SUSPECT'S FRIEND --Opening statements in the trial of a friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect paint two starkly different pictures of the defendant. SENT: 500 words, photo.
-- BRITAIN MISSING GIRL -- A woman who was accused of sending Internet abuse to the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann has been found dead in a hotel room. SENT 360 words, photos.
-- BRITAIN BLOOMBERG KNIGHTHOOD -- Michael Bloomberg is a knight -- but he won't be Sir Mike. Queen Elizabeth II has bestowed an honorary knighthood on the billionaire businessman and former New York mayor. 130 words.
-- VIDEO GAME SCHOLARSHIPS -- Youngbin Chung is studying computer networking at a small university in Chicago on a nearly $20,000 a year athletic scholarship -- awarded for playing the video game. SENT: 750 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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