ASIA:

INDONESIA-PLANE

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia — Divers and an unmanned underwater vehicle spot the tail of the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea with 162 people on board, an important finding because the jet's black boxes are located in that part of the aircraft. Powerful currents and murky water continue to hinder the operation, but searchers manage to get a photograph of the debris — about 9 kilometers (nearly 6 miles) from where Flight 8501 lost contact Dec. 28 — after it was detected by an Indonesian survey ship. By Achmad Ibrahim. SENT: 820 words, photos.

SRI LANKA-ELECTION-TAMILS

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The retired postal worker knows who he's voting against in Thursday's presidential election. Like most ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, he cannot even imagine voting for the current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a man who solidified his power base by crushing a brutal Tamil insurgency and then largely ignored Tamil demands to heal the wounds of the decades-long civil war. By Krishan Francis. SENT: 920 words, photos.

NEW ZEALAND-PLANE CRASH

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — All 13 people aboard a New Zealand skydiving plane that suffered an apparent engine failure manage to leap out in parachutes moments before the plane plunges into a lake. Police say there were six passengers, six crew members and a pilot aboard and all of them landed safely and without significant injuries. By Nick Perry. SENT: 430 words, photos.

HONG KONG-ELECTION DEBATE

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy legislators walk out of the much-awaited start of a debate on democratic reforms in Hong Kong to protest the government's intention to stick with a plan to screen all candidates in an election of the city's top executive in 2017, an issue that sparked massive recent street protests. By Jack Chang and Kelvin M. Chan. SENT: 580 words, photos.

SKOREA-SLAVE ISLANDS-IN LIMBO

SEOUL, South Korea — One freed South Korean salt-farm slave appears in court to confront his former boss. Another, sick of life in a homeless shelter, has been considering his one-time owner's request that he come back. They are among dozens of disabled men liberated in the past year from salt farms on remote islands in southwestern South Korea where a months-long investigation by The Associated Press found that slavery still thrives. The men, in many cases, have mixed feelings about their freedom. By Foster Klug and Kim Tong-Hyung. SENT: 780 words, photos.

SKOREA-KOREAN AIR-NUT RAGE

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean prosecutors charge the former Korean Air Lines executive who achieved worldwide notoriety by kicking a crew member off a flight with violating aviation security law and hindering a government investigation. Cho Hyun-ah, who is the daughter of the airline's chairman, ordered a senior crewmember off a Dec. 5 flight after being offered macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of on a dish. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 560 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least nine people are killed across Afghanistan, including two children who were struck by a bomb blast while gathering firewood, officials say. SENT: 320 words, photos.

INDIA-MINISTER'S WIFE

NEW DELHI — Indian police say they are now treating the death of the wife of a prominent former government minister and U.N. diplomat as a murder and have set up a special team to investigate her death in a New Delhi hotel last year. SENT: 280 words, photos.

INDIA-BUS ACCIDENT

PENUKONDA, India — A passenger bus veers off a road in southeastern India and falls into a gorge, killing at least 16 people, most of them college and middle school students, police say. More than 50 other people are injured in the accident, which took place near the town of Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh state. SENT: 240 words, photos.

INDIA-ITALIAN MARINE

NEW DELHI — An Italian marine accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 has asked India's top court to extend his stay in Italy after recent heart surgery. SENT: 240 words.

THAILAND-MONARCHY

BANGKOK — Thai police arrest a man who allegedly posted messages and photos on Facebook that insulted the king, adding to the skyrocketing number of lese majeste cases in the Southeast Asian country. Thailand's lese majeste law is the world's harshest, mandating jail terms of three to 15 years for anyone who defames, insults or threatens the monarchy. The charges have often been used to harass political enemies. SENT: 160 words.

CHINA-SCHOLAR ARRESTED

BEIJING — A Chinese scholar who helped an activist escape house arrest has been arrested on the charge of operating an illegal business, nearly three months after he was taken into police custody, his lawyer says. SENT: 270 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

INDIA-COAL STRIKE

NEW DELHI — Around half a million coal workers in India vow to continue their strike after inconclusive talks with the government, possibly jeopardizing power supplies. Wednesday was the second day of a five-day strike called by five coal industry trade unions. SENT: 240 words, photos.

SOUTHEAST ASIA-INTERNET

SEOUL, South Korea — Parts of Southeast Asia are suffering slow Internet connections after an undersea cable linking the region to the U.S. was cut earlier this week. Viettel Mobile, Vietnam's largest mobile service operator, said repairing the broken cable, located in the Vietnamese section of the 20,000-kilometer system, will take from three weeks to one month. SENT: 130 words.

JAPAN-MCDONALD'S

TOKYO — McDonald's Corp. officials in Japan bow deeply to apologize for a human tooth, plastic pieces and other objects found in the burger chain's food, highlighting how consumers here are both loving and hating the popular fast-food eatery. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 410 words, photos.

CHINA-VENEZUELA

BEIJING — Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid hopes for new loans to bolster the South American nation's stricken economy. SENT: 240 words, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

FRANCE-NEWSPAPER ATTACK

PARIS — Masked gunmen storm the offices of a French satirical newspaper Wednesday, killing 11 people before escaping, police and a witness say. The weekly has previously drawn condemnation from Muslims. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 290 words, photos. Developing.

DRONE REVOLUTION

BOULEVARD, Calif. — The drones are coming, to help spray crops, inspect high-voltage power lines, hover over movie sets and many other jobs. But for now, these and other ideas remain theoretical. Except for a few locations, U.S. airspace is closed to commercial drones because regulators want to go slow easing unmanned aircraft into the already crowded skies. By Business Writer Scott Mayerowitz. SENT: 1,800 words, photos, video. An abridged version of 1,130 words has also been sent.

— DRONE REVOLUTION-INVENTORS — A look at the startups and entrepreneurs that are building the drone industry, which resembles the early days of Silicon Valley. SENT: 740 words, photos.

— DRONE REVOLUTION-PREVENTING CRASHES — For drones to make it to the big time, they will need to learn to navigate through towns and cities without falling on car hoods or crashing into pedestrians. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— DRONE REVOLUTION-CHINESE PIONEER — A profile of a fledging Chinese company that has become the world's biggest supplier of civilian drones. SENT: 780 words, photos.

— DRONE REVOLUTION-20 USES — A glance of 20 potential uses for commercial drones. SENT: 490 words.

YEMEN

SANAA, Yemen — A suicide bomber driving a minibus killed at least 33 people Wednesday as cadets gathered to enroll at a police academy in the heart of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, authorities say. By Ahmed Al-Haj. SENT: 350 words, photos, video.

OBAMA

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's approval rating is creeping upward. His challenge now is figuring out how to prevent this burst of momentum from being more than just a blip on the radar. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 560 words, photo.

CANADA-BILL COSBY

TORONTO — A scandal-plagued Bill Cosby returns to the stage Wednesday night for the first time since November and his reception is certain to be mixed, with some planning protests, others vowing not to show up and others still saying they will heckle the comedian. The three performances in Canada follow sexual assault allegations by more than 15 women and come after Cosby saw at least 10 performances get canceled on his North American tour. By Rob Gillies. SENT: 690 words, photos.

VENEZUELA-TEXTBOOK PROPAGANDA

CARACAS, Venezuela — Students here learn math by calculating the benefits of the government's land nationalization program, and study English by repeating conversations praising Chavista social programs. By Hannah Dreier. SENT: 680 words, photos.

ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS

Across the world, Orthodox Christians are celebrating Christmas with Mass and prayers. SENT: 120 words, photos.

GADGET SHOW-CHANGING PCS

LAS VEGAS — Don't count the PC out just yet. Manufacturers are crafting high-resolution, curved screens for desktops and other new features you can't get in a hand-held device, while trying new laptop designs that mimic the tablet's appeal. By Technology Writer Brandon Bailey. SENT: 800 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— MONACO-ROYAL BABIES — Monaco's royal couple shows off their newborn twins — Grace Kelly's grandchildren — to crowd. SENT: 80 words, photo.

— TURKEY-ATTACK — Leftist group claims responsibility for Istanbul suicide bombing that killed policeman. SENT: 320 words.

— APPLE-BEATS LAWSUIT — Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine depicted as scam artists in lawsuit triggered by Apple's Beats buyout. SENT: 510 words, photos.

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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 asia@ap.org.

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

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.