ASIA:

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK — Police in Thailand fought off mobs of rock-throwing protesters armed with petrol bombs who tried to battle their way into the government's sand-bagged headquarters Sunday, as gunshots rang out in Bangkok and the prime minister fled a police complex during the sharpest escalation yet of the country's latest crisis. By Thanyarat Doksone and Todd Pitman. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

NKOREA-DETAINED AMERICAN

SAN FANCISCO — The family of an elderly U.S. tourist detained for more than a month in North Korea says the Swedish ambassador has seen the man and found him to be in good health. SENT: 800 words.

BIDEN-ASIA

WASHINGTON — It's up to Vice President Joe Biden to show that the U.S. effort to realign its gaze toward Asia hasn't fizzled out. Biden is set to arrive Monday in Tokyo on a weeklong trip to Asia, which is watching carefully to see how committed the Obama administration is to increasing America's influence in the region as a hedge against an increasingly assertive China, whose new air defense zone over a group of tiny islands has exacerbated long-simmering territorial conflicts. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

INDONESIA-LANDSLIDES

KARO, Indonesia — Landslides triggered by torrential rain buried houses near a rumbling volcano in western Indonesia and searchers found nine bodies in the mud and water, a disaster official said. Four of the dead were children. SENT: 200 words, photos.

INDIA-MARS MISSION

NEW DELHI — India's Mars orbiter mission has ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence in an attempt to reach the red planet's orbit after a critical maneuver. By Ashok Sharma. SENT: 430 words.

INDONESIA-FREEPORT ACCIDENT

TIMIKA, Indonesia — A worker died and another critically injured in an accident at a giant U.S.-owned mine in Indonesia's easternmost Papua province, police and company officials said. SENT: 230 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

BEIJING — Growth of Chinese manufacturing barely expanded in November and stayed at the same rate as in the previous month, indicating a continual sluggish recovery, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing says. SENT: 130 words.

FEATURES:

CHINA-BEATING THE ODDS

TIAOHUASHAN Village, China — Mu Zhengwu scanned the tiny room of his childhood, part of a wood home built over a shed where cows once sent earthy odors through the floorboards. Wood planks were missing from a bare bed frame. The walls were shedding a kind of wallpaper made from pages of school notebooks. Seven Chinese characters, written in bold brush strokes, remained intact above a dusty desk: "The fragrance of winter blossoms comes from bitter chills." ''These words have prodded me along and kept me going," Mu said on a recent visit to his family's home in Tiaohuashan village. The words accompanied him on his arduous journey from Guizhou, China's most impoverished province, to a prestigious Beijing law school. By Didi Tang. SENT: 1,800 words, photos.

U.S. & INTERNATIONAL:

HEALTH OVERHAUL

WASHINGTON — The errors are fewer, the pages load faster, and more people can log on at the same time to the government's troubled HealthCare.gov website, according to Obama administration officials. Yet, like doctors overseeing a sick patient, they caution that more rehab lies ahead. By Darlene Superville. SENT: 500 words, more expected from conference call at 1400 GMT; photos.

NOT-SO-SUPER COMMITTEES

WASHINGTON— Since the end of World War II, more than a dozen high-profile bipartisan panels have been set up to tackle the nation's thorniest fiscal problems. Seldom have their recommendations spurred congressional action. SENT: 300 words.

UKRAINE-PROTEST

KIEV, Ukraine — As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 300 words, photos.

SAME-SEX DIVORCE

HERNANDO, Miss. — Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham wants to force Mississippi to recognize her same-sex marriage. She hopes to do so by getting a divorce. She and her partner traveled to San Francisco to get married in 2008, then returned home and bought a house together. But the marriage, like so many others, didn't last. Now, however, the state is opposing her efforts to get a divorce — arguing it didn't recognize the marriage in the first place. Even as the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage will soon grow to 16, most states — like Mississippi — refuse to recognize such unions or to help dissolve them. By Holbrook Mohr and David Crary. SENT: 1,350 words, photos.

NATION OF DISTRUSTERS

WASHINGTON — You can take our word for it. Americans don't trust each other anymore. We're not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away. These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Fewer than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling. By Connie Cass. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, graphic.

— DISTRUSTERS POLL, DISTRUSTERS POLL-FINDINGS-METHOD.

OBIT-PAUL WALKER

LOS ANGELES — A fiery car crash north of Los Angeles has killed 40-year-old Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" movie series, and one other person in the vehicle. By Daisy Nguyen and Jake Coyle. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Christie Hampton. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.