ASIA:

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST

HONG KONG — Hong Kong's police defend their use of tear gas and other tactics to control protests that have paralyzed the city's financial district, appealing to the thousands gathered to demand more democracy to stop the unprecedented mass act of civil disobedience for the sake of safety and stability. Crowds grew as people getting off work joined weary-looking students camped on major roads near the city's government headquarters and in several other parts of the city. Uniformed police manned barricades and looked on, preventing access to some buildings, but did not otherwise intervene. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 850 words, photos, video.

— HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST-NEWS GUIDE — SENT: 630 words, photos.

CHINA-HONG KONG DILEMMA

BEIJING — Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have handed China's Communist leadership a thorny political dilemma. Beijing cannot crack down too harshly on the semi-autonomous territory where a freewheeling media ensures global visibility, but it is determined to end the demonstrations quickly so as not to embolden dissidents, separatists and anti-government protesters elsewhere in China. UPCOMING: 970 words by 1500 GMT, photos.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is sworn in as Afghanistan's new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country's first democratic transfer of power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban. Moments after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath, he swore in his election challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive, fulfilling a political pledge he had taken to share power and defuse election tensions that had threatened to spark violence between the country's north and south. By Rahim Faiez and Amir Shah. SENT: 810 words, photos.

JAPAN-VOLCANO

KISO, Japan — Five more bodies are found near the summit of a Japanese volcano, bringing the total presumed dead to 36, police say, as toxic gases and ash from the still-erupting mountain force rescue workers to halt efforts to recover the victims. Eight more bodies were airlifted off Mount Ontake before work on the ash-blanketed peak was called off, police said. By Emily Wang. SENT: 570 words, photos.

— JAPAN-VOLCANO-NEWS GUIDE — SENT: 500 words.

NKOREA-KIM'S HEALTH

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's authoritarian leader makes no public appearances for three weeks, skipping a high-profile event he usually attends. An official documentary shows him limping and overweight and mentions his "discomfort." What follows is a smorgasbord of media speculation about what's eating Kim Jong Un. Maybe it's gout, unidentified sources tell South Korean reporters, or diabetes, or high blood pressure. A thinly sourced British report says the Swiss-educated dictator has been laid low by a massive cheese addiction. A headline in Seoul offers up the possibility of a common South Korean obsession: fried chicken and beer. By Foster Klug. SENT: 840 words, photos.

CHINA-NORTH KOREA

BEIJING — Washington believes that North Korea is increasingly unwilling to live up to its nuclear disarmament commitments, and is using three detained Americans as pawns, a senior U.S. envoy says. Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, told reporters in Beijing that North Korea's unwillingness to release the three Americans is an impediment to resuming disarmament talks. SENT: 180 words.

CHINA-JAPAN-NORTH KOREA

SHENYANG, China — Negotiators from North Korea and Japan meet in a northeastern Chinese city for talks on the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents. Japan was expected to pressure the North Korean delegation to produce a preliminary report on the issue. SENT: 160 words, photos.

CHINA-XINJIANG-IMAM

BEIJING — Two men are sentenced to death and another to life imprisonment on charges of killing a pro-government Muslim cleric in China's far-western city of Kashgar. SENT: 150 words.

UNITED STATES-INDIA

WASHINGTON — When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets President Barack Obama for the first time at the White House, the welcome will be very different from the response Modi got nearly a decade ago when he wanted to visit the U.S. His visa request was denied. But his election in May as the new leader of the world's largest democracy has transformed Modi into a welcome visitor. The two leaders will first break the ice over dinner Monday as they seek to reinvigorate soured relations between their countries. By Darlene Superville. SENT: 780 words, photos.

INDIA-TEA PLANTATION DEATHS

BUNDAPANI, India — When the Bundapani tea estate closed last year, workers who had been scraping by on about $1.50 a day were left with nothing. No health care, no food rations. By the time government heard about it two months later, some of the workers were dead. "I have become like a beggar," said Ramesh Mahali, a 59-year-old who struggles to stand, and whose family is wasting away from malnutrition and tuberculosis. About 70 workers have died at the tea plantation and four others that closed recently, and more than 16,000 people have been left in extreme poverty. The deprivation underlines the failures of an industry that has changed little in India since colonial times. By Patrick Reevell. SENT: 1,400 words, photos. An abridged version of 740 words also moved.

AUSTRALIA-EBOLA

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia rules out sending doctors to West Africa to help fight the Ebola outbreak there because of logistical problems in repatriating any Australian who became infected with the deadly virus. SENT: 240 words, photo.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-LENOVO-IBM

BANGKOK — Lenovo Group has received U.S. and European approval to complete its acquisition of IBM Corp.'s low-end server business and plans to use it to grow faster outside its personal computer business, Lenovo's chairman says. The $2.1 billion acquisition is due to close Wednesday following a successful review by a U.S. government security panel and European and Chinese regulators, the company said. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 370 words, photos.

NEW ZEALAND-CURRENCY FALLS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The New Zealand dollar sinks after the central bank disclosed it conducted its biggest sell-off of the currency in seven years to lower an exchange rate that is squeezing exporters. Data released by the Reserve Bank showed it sold 521 million New Zealand dollars ($410 million) during August. That came after the central bank governor, Graeme Wheeler, said the currency was too strong. By Nick Perry. SENT: 390 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

SYRIA

BEIRUT — U.S.-led coalition warplanes bombs Islamic State group positions overnight across four provinces in northern and eastern Syria, hitting a grain silo as well as the country's largest gas plant, activists say. Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August. By Ryan Lucas. SENT: 750 words, photos.

— OBAMA — President acknowledges campaign against militants in Syria will help President Bashar Assad. SENT: 680 words, photos.

ISRAEL-MOSSAD RECRUITMENT

TEL AVIV, Israel — It used to be that if you wanted to join one of the world's most secretive espionage organizations you had to sneak into a foreign embassy, answer a cryptic newspaper ad or show up in a nondescript building in Tel Aviv to meet a shadowy recruiter. Now all it takes to apply for a job at Israel's Mossad spy agency is a click of the mouse. By Aron Heller. SENT: 850 words, photo.

PUERTO RICO-URBAN REVIVAL

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Laura Feliciano was priced out of San Juan's upscale waterfront districts while scouting locations for a restaurant, so she set up several blocks inland in the dicey Santurce neighborhood. Then a surprise: Over the next six years, other restaurants and businesses have opened, then came new housing, art exhibits and an outdoor movie night in a rare success story for Puerto Rico. By Danica Coto. SENT: 880 words, photos.

COLLEGE SEX-DEFINING CONSENT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown announces that he signed a bill that makes California the first in the nation to define when "yes means yes" and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports. State lawmakers last month approved SB967 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, as states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. Campus sexual assault victims and women's advocacy groups delivered petitions to Brown's office on Sept. 16 urging him to sign the bill. SENT: 410 words, photo.

AP EXCLUSIVE: MUSIC-PRINCE

CHANHASSEN, Minn. — Prince will release his first album in four years, "Art Official Age," along with music from his latest protege act, 3RDEYEGIRL, "PLECTRUMELECTRUM." ''I'm completely surrounded by equal talent," an energized Prince says. "To me it feels like heaven." By Nekesa Mumbi Moody. SENT: 1,400 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— UKRAINE — East Ukraine suffers the worst violence in more than a week, as fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government troops in the region kills at least 12 people and wounds 32. SENT: 280 words, photos.

— WAR CRIMES-KARADZIC — Prosecutors at the Karadzic genocide trial say he's a liar who deserves life in prison. SENT: 310 words.

— GERMANY-REICHSTAG — Berlin police say an unidentified person threw a Molotov cocktail onto the steps of the capital's landmark Reichstag parliament building but failed to start a blaze. SENT: 70 words.

— SPAIN-CATALONIA INDEPENDENCE — The Spanish intends to challenge the decision of the powerful northeastern region of Catalonia to call an independence referendum. SENT: 300 words.

— GERMANY-MILITARY TROUBLES — A retired top-ranking German general says a string of recent military equipment failures shows the country needs to spend more on defense. SENT: 270 words.

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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.