ASIA:

HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST

HONG KONG — Hong Kong authorities clear more street barricades from a pro-democracy protest camp in a volatile district, part of a two-day operation in which police arrested more than 100 people, including key student leaders. Police in helmets swiftly cleared obstructions from the 2-month-old protest site in Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor from the main occupied area in the financial district. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 410 words, photos.

NEW ZEALAND-CHINA CORPSE SHIP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The S.S. Ventnor sank 112 years ago off the northern New Zealand coast, bearing unusual cargo: the exhumed bodies of 499 Chinese miners, some in wooden coffins and others in sealed zinc caskets. They had tried their luck in New Zealand's gold rush, and had paid in advance to ensure their bodies would go back to China, no matter what. A wreck believed to be the ship was discovered in 2012, raising the possibility that someday, the remains might go home. Now the question is: Should they? By Nick Perry. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

INDIA-RICKSHAW AIR

NEW DELHI — An American scientist who takes air pollution monitors with him on rickshaw rides through New Delhi has alarming findings for anyone who spends time on the commuter-clogged streets of the city of 25 million. His on-the-road statistics are far worse than data that has already earned the capital the title of world's most polluted city. By Katy Daigle. UPCOMING: 1100 words by 0700GMT, photos, video.

AFGHANISTAN-MILITARY

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered a top-to-bottom review of the practices of the country's defense forces, including discussing a possible resumption of controversial night raids. The move appears aimed at revamping the military for the fight against the Taliban amid new indications that U.S. and international forces will play a greater role than initially envisaged. By Lynne O'Donnell. SENT: 960 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-DEFENSE ABUSE

CANBERRA, Australia — A government investigation into sexual misconduct, assault and bullying in the Australian military over decades reported Wednesday that more than 1,100 alleged perpetrators remained in the ranks or reserves, some holding senior positions. By Rod Mcguirk. SENT: 300 words.

CHINA-MINE DEATHS

BEIJING — A fire sparked by underground tremors tore through a coal mine in northeastern China early Wednesday, killing 24 miners, Chinese state reported. The official Xinhua News Agency said another 52 miners were injured in the disaster that broke out in the complex run by the state-owned Fuxin Coal Corp. in Liaoning province.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stock markets mostly posted modest gains as stronger U.S. growth was tempered by a less rosy outlook for China. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent to 23,857.35 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9 percent 5,380.10. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.1 percent to 17,388.45 while China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.6 percent to 2,581.67. SENT, photos.

US & INTERNATIONAL

FERGUSON

FERGUSON, Missouri — Protesters returned to the riot-scarred streets of Ferguson after crowds looted businesses and set fire to buildings in a night of rage against a grand jury's decision not to indict the white police officer who killed an unarmed black 18-year-old, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S. Hundreds of additional National Guard troops were sent to the St. Louis suburb to help local authorities keep order. Hours after nightfall, tensions escalated as a police car was set on fire outside City Hall, and authorities released tear gas. By Jim Salter and David A. Lieb. SENT: 1,250 words, photos, audio, video.

WITH:

— FERGUSON-BEHIND THE ANGER. Anger at Ferguson grand jury decision based on emotional history as much as evidence. SENT, photos.

— OBAMA-FERGUSON. Obama says no excuse for violent protest in Ferguson — though he understands frustrations. SENT, photos, video.

— FERGUSON-NATIONWIDE PROTESTS. Ferguson protesters take to streets for 2nd day; some still cleaning up from Monday rallies. SENT, photos.

ISLAMIC STATE

BEIRUT — Syrian government warplanes carry out a series of airstrikes on the de-facto capital of the extremist Islamic State group, killing at least 60 people, shattering shop fronts and setting dozens of cars ablaze, activists said. Some of the air raids strike a popular market near a museum and an industrial neighborhood in the city of Raqqa along the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria, causing many civilian casualties, they say. By Zeina Karam. SENT: 520 words, photos.

WITH:

— ISLAMIC STATE-AMERICANS. 2 US men charged with conspiracy to provide support to Islamic State terrorists. SENT, 520 words.

ISRAEL-JEWISH STATE-Q&A

JERUSALEM — In the face of a rising wave of religiously motivated violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing forward a plan to formalize Israel's status as "the Jewish state." Here is a look at the debate over the legislation. By Josef Federman. SENT: 850 words, photos.

NIGERIA-VIOLENCE

BAUCHI, Nigeria — A suicide bombing by two teenage girls in full hijabs kills more than 40 people in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Suspicion falls on the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, which has begun using increasingly younger female bombers in its campaign of violence in Nigeria. By Haruna Umar. SENT: 580 words.

EUROPE-POPE

STRASBOURG, France — Pope Francis seeks to inspire an old and "haggard" Europe to find its vigor and greatness once again, urging European governments to welcome migrants, care for the elderly and create jobs for the unemployed. By Nicole Winfield and Jamey Keaten. SENT: 560 words, photos.

IRAN-NUCLEAR TALKS

VIENNA — The United States and Iran say a new deadline in nuclear talks could allow them to finally reach a deal. But Tehran's apparent reluctance to compromise may soon leave U.S. negotiators running out of ideas on how to reduce Iran's capacity to make nuclear arms. By George Jahn. SENT: 720 words, photos.

UKRAINE-CASHLESS REBELS

DONETSK, Ukraine — For hours, small crowds in Donetsk huddle hopefully in the cold around cash machines that never get filled. Money is running short in the rebel heartland — cut off by the Kiev government in hopes of stifling the separatists. By Peter Leonard and Balint Szlanko. SENT: 880 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— EGYPT — An apartment building in Egypt's capital collapses, killing at least 17 people as rescuers and neighbors frantically dig through rubble with their hands to find survivors. SENT: 450 words, photos, video.

— FILM-WIZARD OF OZ COSTUME — "Wizard of Oz" Cowardly Lion costume, "Casablanca" piano fetch over $3 million at New York City auction. SENT: 140 words, photos.

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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.