ASIA:

CHINA-ANCIENT TOWN FIRE

BEIJING — An inferno that raged for 10 hours has razed an ancient Tibetan town in China's southwest Yunnan province that's popular with tourists. SENT: 210 words, photos.

TONGA-CYCLONE

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — The South Pacific nation of Tonga is lashed by a powerful cyclone, destroying homes and ripping roofs from churches and other public buildings in the populous northern islands. There are no immediate reports of injuries. SENT: 310 words.

PHILIPPINES-CHINA

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Vietnam condemn a new Chinese law that requires foreign fishermen to seek Beijing's approval to operate in much of the South China Sea, but China's Foreign Ministry insists it has the right do so. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 480 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON — It came as a shock: U.S. employers added just 74,000 jobs in December, far fewer than anyone expected. This from an economy that had been adding 200,000-plus jobs for four straight months — a key reason the Federal Reserve decided last month to slow its economic stimulus. So what happened? Economists struggled for explanations: Unusually cold weather. A statistical quirk. A temporary halt in steady job growth. Blurring the picture, a wave of Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. Their exodus cut the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent — its lowest point in more than five years. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, graphic, interactive.

PLANT DEVELOPMENT

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Chinese company will build an automotive glass-making plant in Ohio, creating up to 800 jobs and revitalizing a former General Motors factory site. By Ann Sanner. SENT: 340 words.

FISKER BANKRUPTCY

WILMINGTON, Delaware — A Delaware bankruptcy judge has ordered a competitive auction for the assets of Fisker Automotive, rejecting a proposal by a group led by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li to assume control of the failed electric auto manufacturer in a private sale. By Randall Chase. SENT: 850 words, photos.

FEATURES:

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — With a bloody civil war over and a cautious peace at hand, a group of hardline Buddhist monks is rallying Sri Lankans against what they say is a pernicious threat: Muslims. In just over a year, the saffron-swathed monks of Bodu Bala Sena — or Buddhist Power Force — have amassed a huge following, drawing thousands of fist-pumping followers who rail against the country's Muslim minority. Buddhists have attacked dozens of mosques and called for boycotts on Muslim-owned businesses and bans on headscarves and halal foods. At boisterous rallies, monks claim Muslims are out to recruit children, marry Buddhist women and divide the country. By Katy Dagle. UPCOMING: 1,250 words by 0700 GMT, photos.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UNITED STATES-SYRIA

WASHINGTON — With less than two weeks to go before a long-planned peace conference in Switzerland, the main Western-backed moderate political group seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad has still not decided if it will attend. It's the latest frustration to the U.S. and allies who have spent the last 18 months trying to negotiate a transition of power from Assad to a new, representative government. By Lara Jakes. SENT: 840 words, photo.

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — Residents start to return to the besieged city of Fallujah as militants and government forces appear to be preparing for a long standoff. Al-Qaida-linked fighters and allied tribal gunmen are camped on the outskirts of the city, with Iraqi army and police stationed nearby. By Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Adam Schreck. SENT: 1,230 words, photos.

ISRAEL-BOYCOTT HITS HOME

NETIV HAGDUD, West Bank — An international campaign to boycott settlement products has become a harsh economic reality for Israeli farmers in the West Bank's Jordan Valley. The growers' export-driven income dropped by $29 million last year, largely because European supermarkets are shunning their peppers, dates, grapes and fresh herbs. By Karin Laub. SENT: 1,190 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-ELUSIVE PEACE

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Secret contacts are again reported to be underway for an Afghanistan peace deal, but there is little hope they will succeed. A Taliban official tells the AP that at least two ministers in President Hamid Karzai's government have met with Taliban representatives in the United Arab Emirates, at a time when Pakistan has been releasing dozens of Taliban prisoners in a bid to revive talks. The talks have gone nowhere, the official says, and Pakistan's national security adviser reports the releases have won no concessions from the Taliban. By Kathy Gannon. SENT: 920 words, photos.

FRANCE-PRESIDENT'S SEX LIFE

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande threatens legal action over a magazine report saying he is having a secret affair with an actress, the latest breach in the French media's practice of turning a blind eye to presidential love affairs. By Angela Charlton and Thomas Adamson. SENT: 730 words, photos.

CONGRESS-IRAN

WASHINGTON — Fifty-nine senators now back a new sanctions package they say would increase the pressure on Iran to make nuclear concessions, bringing Congress closer to passing a bill that the Obama administration says threatens to poison an historic diplomatic opportunity. SENT: 880 words.

— IRAN NUCLEAR — Iran's nuclear envoy in Geneva says an initial agreement has been reached on implementing a nuclear deal with six world powers and that it's been sent to capitals for approval. SENT: 350 words.

— US-RUSSIA-SECURITY — US urges Americans attending Sochi Winter Olympics to be vigilant about personal security. SENT: 500 words.

CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS

TRENTON, N.J. — Officials squabbled over a possible media leak and scrambled to control the publicity damage in the days after lane closings near the George Washington Bridge caused huge traffic jams that now appear to have been politically orchestrated by members of Gov. Chris Christie's administration, documents released Friday show. SENT: 800 words, photos, interactive.

TARGET-DATA BREACH

NEW YORK — Target's December security breach was significantly more extensive and affected millions more shoppers than the company reported last month. The nation's second-largest discounter says that personal information — including names, phone numbers as well as email and mailing addresses — was stolen from as many as 70 million customers as part of a pre-Christmas data breach. By Michelle Chapman and Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 950 words, photo, video.

— AP-WAS-THERE-SMOKING REPORT — See how the AP reported the surgeon general's groundbreaking 1964 warning on the dangers of smoking. SENT: 2,000 words, photos, video.

TOP VIDEO — smoking_campaign_anniversary— A look back over the five decades since smoking was declared bad for your health.

GAY MARRIAGE-UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY — The Obama administration says it will recognize marriages for more than 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah in a move that allows them to receive federal benefits. The act puts the government at odds with Utah leaders who are not recognizing the marriages. By Brady McCombs and Pete Yost. SENT: 900 words, photos.

TECHNOLOGY

GADGET SHOW-GADGET WATCH-IPHONE HEAT CAMERA

LAS VEGAS — Remember the alien with heat vision in the movie "Predator"? You, too, can now stalk people by their heat signatures in the jungle — or check your home insulation for leaks. FLIR Systems Inc. is launching its first consumer product, an iPhone jacket that contains a heat camera. By Peter Svensson. SENT: 260 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— VENEZUELA-US HEATING OIL — Venezuelan heating oil yet to show in US Northeast this year. SENT: 340 words.

— OBIT-LARRY SPEAKES — Larry Speakes, acting press secretary for President Ronald Reagan 1981-87, dies at 74. SENT: 670 words, photos.

— PEOPLE-BOBBI KRISTINA — Rep: Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, marries friend Nick Gordon. SENT: 130 words, photo.

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