ASIA

THAILAND-JUNTA'S PRIME MINISTER

BANGKOK — Three months after overthrowing Thailand's last elected government, this Southeast Asian nation's junta leader is stepping out of his army uniform for good — to take up the post of prime minister in a move critics say will only extend his time at the helm and consolidate the military's grip on power. Thailand's junta-appointed legislature voted unanimously Thursday to name Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the new job during a session in Bangkok. By Todd Pitman. SENT: 860 words, photo.

INDONESIA-ELECTION CHALLENGE

JAKARTA — Police and military were beefing up security before Indonesia's Constitutional Court hands down a verdict on the claim of electoral fraud filed by the losing presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto. Thousands of his supporters staged a massive protest. UPCOMING after court decision expected between 0900GMT and 1200GMT.

SKOREA-DARK SIDE OF THE NOODLE

SEOUL, South Korea — In countries where entire supermarket aisles are devoted to instant noodles, it is stunning news: An American study involving more than 10,000 South Korean adults have found that excessive consumption of ramen can be hazardous to your health. Researchers from Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital found that eating instant noodles regularly is "associated with distinct cardiometabolic risk factors." Though ramen may carry a broke-college-student aura in America, it is a more essential part of life in South Korea and many other Asian countries. How are big noodle-slurpers taking the news? By Foster Klug and Jung-Yoon Choi. UPCOMING by 0630GMT. 1,100 words, photos, video.

AUSTRALIA-JOURNALIST SLAIN

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday used the killing of American journalist James Foley to bolster his government's case for contentious counterterrorism reforms that have been rejected by some Islamic leaders. Abbott described the video recorded beheading of Foley by a masked Islamic State extremist with an apparent English accent as "despicable." By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 500 words.

CHINA-TIBET-VIOLENCE

BEIJING — Three more Tibetan protesters shot and detained by Chinese authorities died in jail after being denied medical treatment, bringing the death toll from recent violence to five, according to overseas Tibetan rights groups and a U.S.-backed broadcaster. Rights groups said Chinese security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters on Aug. 12, wounding at least 10 people, before they detained the protesters and rounded up more male villagers in the southwestern province of Sichuan — the site of repeated ethnic protests and violent suppression. SENT: 300 words.

CHINA-MONGOLIA

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — Landlocked Mongolia is hoping for better access to China's ports as Chinese President Xi Jinping conducts a two-day visit to the sprawling, arid nation sandwiched between China and Russia. Xi arrived in the Mongolian capital late Thursday morning and was scheduled to meet with Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia, and with parliamentary officials on Friday. SENT: 130 words.

CHINA-CULT ATTACK

BEIJING — Five people went on trial for allegedly beating a woman to death in a McDonald's outlet in eastern China after they unsuccessfully tried to recruit her into their cult, a court said. The five are accused of murder and three of them also face cult-related charges at Yantai Intermediate People's Court in Shandong province. The court posted photos of what it said were the proceedings. SENT: 180 words.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

HONG KONG — Growth in China's vast manufacturing industry weakened in August, suggesting that the recovery in the world No. 2 economy is losing momentum and Beijing may need to spoon out more stimulus. SENT: 280 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

JOURNALIST SLAIN

WASHINGTON — Militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded American journalist James Foley In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. Even so, the U.S. military pressed ahead, conducting nearly a dozen airstrikes in Iraq since Tuesday. The White House must now balance the risks of adopting an aggressive policy to destroy the Islamic State against resisting any action that could result in the death of another American. SENT: 1,170 words, photos, videos.

UNITED STATES-IRAQ

WASHINGTON — American fighter jets and drones continued to pound Islamic State militants in Iraq on Wednesday, and military planners weighed the possibility of sending a small number of additional U.S. troops to Baghdad, U.S. officials said, even as the insurgents threatened to kill a second American captive in retribution for any continued attacks. SENT: 460 words.

— MISSING AMERICAN-SYRIA-FOLEY. American journalist killed in Syria had foreshadowed the pain his death would cause his family. SENT: 780 words, photos, video.

— JOURNALIST SLAIN-FAILED RESCUE MISSION. US rescue mission in Syria this summer failed to find Americans held hostage. SENT: 640 words, photos, video.

— JOURNALIST SLAIN-CONGRESS. Journalist's slaying not shifting positions in Congress on military action against extremists. SENT: 620 words.

EBOLA

MONROVIA, Liberia — Riot police and soldiers acting on their president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum Wednesday, trying to contain the Ebola outbreak that has killed 1,350 people and counting across West Africa. Hundreds of slum residents clashed with the gunmen, furious at being blamed and isolated by a government that has failed to quickly collect dead bodies from the streets. One 15-year-old boy was injured trying to cross the barbed wire as security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd. SENT: 940 words.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Islamic militant group Hamas says three of its senior military leaders have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Hamas says in a text message sent to media that the three — Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar — were killed in the Israeli airstrike near the southern town of Rafah early on Thursday. They are considered to be in the senior levels of the Hamas military leadership. DEVELOPING, photos.

POLICE SHOOTING-MISSOURI

ST. LOUIS — Attorney General Eric Holder seeks to reassure the people of Ferguson about the investigation into the shooting death of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer and said he understands why many black Americans do not trust police, recalling how he was repeatedly stopped by officers who seemed to target him because of his race. Holder made the remarks Wednesday during a visit to the St. Louis suburb that has been wracked by more than a week of unrest since the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown. By Alan Scher Zagier. SENT.

UKRAINE

DONETSK, Ukraine — After days of street battles and weeks of shelling, Ukrainian troops made a significant push Wednesday into rebel-held territory, claiming control over a large part of the separatist stronghold of Luhansk and nearly encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city. The advance of the Ukrainian army against pro-Russian separatists comes as the civilian death toll is mounting from sustained artillery strikes and rebel cities are slipping into a humanitarian disaster. At least 52 deaths were reported Wednesday, along with 64 wounded — and due to the dangers of the war zone in eastern Ukraine, no deaths were reported from Luhansk, meaning the actual toll could be even higher. SENT: 890 words, photos.

ZIMBABWE-ECONOMY

HARARE, Zimbabwe — It is 4 a.m. and people are already lining up outside Zimbabwe's main passport office — four hours ahead of opening time — in hopes of securing a passport that will allow them to escape their country's dearth of opportunities and search for work abroad. A year after the re-election of longtime leader Robert Mugabe, the country is facing new financial hardships and with an unemployment rate of 80 percent, many Zimbabweans are seeking work in other countries. By Farai Mutsaka. SENT: 630 words, photos.

OBAMA-IMMIGRATION

WASHINGTON — The White House is considering key changes to the immigration system that go beyond expected relief from deportations for some immigrants in the U.S. illegally. The changes, requested by tech leaders and others, could help President Barack Obama secure support from industry and other powerful groups for his go-it-alone strategy, blunting election-year criticism from Republicans. By Laura Wides and Josh Lederman. SENT: 700 words, photos.

NAVY NUCLEAR CHEATING

WASHINGTON — At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear reactors program tells the AP. By Robert Burns. SENT: 550 words, photo.

BANK OF AMERICA SETTLEMENT_HOW PAINFUL?

WASHINGTON — How much will Bank of America's expected $17 billion mortgage settlement cost the company? The answer is, almost certainly not $17 billion. In mega-settlements negotiated with the U.S. government, a dollar is rarely worth an actual dollar. Inflated figures make sensational headlines for the Justice Department, and $17 billion would be the largest settlement by far arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. But the true cost to companies is often obscured by opaque accounting techniques. By Jeff Horwitz. SENT: 750 words, photos.

___

Online:

http://apexchange.com

___

YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Scott McDonald. 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.