ASIA:

MALAYSIA-PLANE

PERTH, Australia — The weekslong search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is "an extraordinarily difficult exercise" but it will go on as long as possible, Australia's prime minister says. By Rob Griffith and Gillian Wong. SENT: 670 words, photos, audio, video.

MALAYSIA-PLANE-DISTRACTING TRASH

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — If a piece of tangled fishing line or an ice-box lid happens to be floating in a certain part of the Indian Ocean, it is no longer simply junk. It is an effort-sapping distraction for the search crews who must track it down, pull it out and confirm that it has nothing to do with the Malaysian airliner believed to have gone down in that remote stretch of water. Our oceans contain plenty of trash, from Lego pieces washing up on an English beach to ghostly vessels sailing the seas without a crew, and it has created one false alarm after another in the search for Flight 370. By Nick Perry. UPCOMING: 900 words by 0900 GMT, photos.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-SEARCH — A look at the aircraft, ships involved in the search for missing jet in southern Indian Ocean. SENT: 130 words.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea fire artillery shells into each other's waters, a brief display of animosity that forced residents of five frontline South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters. By Hyung-Jin Kim and Jung-Yoon Choi. SENT: 680 words, photos.

CLIMATE REPORT

YOKOHAMA, Japan — If the world doesn't cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral "out of control," the head of a United Nations scientific panel has warned. And he's not alone. The Obama White House says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying "the costs of inaction are catastrophic." By Seth Borenstein. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-KARZAI'S LEGACY

KABUL, Afghanistan — There has been no shortage of criticism of Hamid Karzai in recent years over his mercurial behavior, tensions with the U.S. and inability to tackle corruption. But when Afghans go to the polls next weekend to choose his successor as president, that in itself may one day be considered his greatest achievement. Karzai was able to hold the country together and cross ethnic lines after being handed leadership of the broken country 12 years ago. By Kathy Gannon. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

— AP PHOTO ANS301 — An Afghan carpet seller holds up a framed carpet depicting President Hamid Karzai in his store in Kabul.

THAILAND-SAUDI KILLING

BANGKOK — A Thai court has dismissed a case against five people accused of slaying a Saudi businessman whose disappearance 24 years ago has marred relations between the two countries ever since. Bangkok's Criminal Court ruled that there was not enough evidence to try the case. By Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 250 words.

CHINA-GANG CRACKDOWN

BEIJING — A mining tycoon, his brother and 34 associates stand trial on allegations of running a vast criminal gang in China's Sichuan province that gunned down rivals, maintained fleets of Ferraris and bribed police to avoid prosecution. SENT: 475 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

JAPAN-MITSUBISHI-FORD

TOKYO — Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. says it is buying Ford's shuttered plant in the Philippines to grow in market where car ownership is on the rise. SENT: 150 words.

APPLE-SAMSUNG TRIAL

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple and Samsung, the world's largest makers of smartphones, are headed back to court. Apple already has won nearly $1 billion in judgments against Samsung over patent infringements involving older-model devices. This time Apple is alleging Samsung's newest devices, such as its Galaxy S III, also copied Apple technology. Jury selection begins Monday. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 660 words, photo.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

UNITED STATES-UKRAINE

PARIS — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States and Russia agree on the need for a diplomatic solution for Ukraine. Kerry also stressed that Ukraine would have to be at the table for negotiations. He made the comments at a news conference after speaking at length with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Kerry said the Russian troop build-up along the border is creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine and is not helpful. By AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee. SENT: 870 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 1,000 words this evening following news conferences.

— UKRAINE's IDENTITY — Russia's invasion has fueled a surge of patriotism among a great many Ukrainians, whatever their language. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

Video: — 0330dv — Kerry_lavrov — U.S. secretary of state and Russian foreign minister meet to discuss Ukraine.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-RURAL V URBAN

DENVER — Bill Fales could use a new baler and a better irrigation system on the 700-acre ranch where he raises grass-fed beef cattle, but he scrapped those plans when he saw his new health insurance premiums. His Cold Mountain Ranch is located high in Colorado's rural Rocky Mountains, where hospitals are scarce and outpatient services are twice as expensive as the state average. And Fales recently saw his premiums jump 50 percent, to about $1,800 a month. Health care has always been more expensive in far-flung areas, but the rural-urban cost divide has been exacerbated by the federal health care law. By Kristen Wyatt, photos. SENT: 1,000 words.

— HEALTH OVERHAUL-DEADLINE DAY-GLANCE — Monday is the deadline to sign up for coverage under Obama health law. SENT: 200 words.

HEART ATTACK TEST

WASHINGTON — A simple test that appears very accurate for ruling out heart attacks in people who go to emergency rooms with chest pain, a big public health issue and a huge worry for patients, is presented and discussed at the American College of Cardiology conference. By AP Medical Writer Marilyn Marchione. SENT: 700 wordsm, photos.

TURKEY-ELECTIONS

ISTANBUL — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a central role in Turkey's local elections even though his name won't be on the ballots. The elections are widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan's tumultuous rule of more than a decade, and the prime minister has been campaigning as if his own career were on the line. High-profile races for mayor of Istanbul and Ankara with incumbents from Erdogan's Justice or Development Party will be watched closely for signs of whether his influence is waning. By Desmond Butler. SENT: 330 words, photos. UPCOMING: Developing.

FRANCE-ELECTIONS

PARIS — Anne Hidalgo has claimed victory as the French capital's first female mayor. While the Socialist candidate won Paris, the party lost to the conservatives in dozens of other towns and cities around France in the country's municipal elections. By Greg Keller. SENT: 750 words, photos.

BRAZIL-SLUM INVASION

RIO DE JANEIRO — More than 1,400 police officers and Brazilian Marines roll into a massive complex of slums near Rio de Janeiro's international airport before dawn in the latest security push ahead of this year's World Cup. Not a shot was fired as the Mare complex of 15 slums became the latest impoverished area to see security forces move in to take control and try to push out heavily armed drug gangs that have ruled Rio's shantytowns for decades. By Bradley Brooks. SENT: 500 words, photos.

ANCIENT ANIMAL MUMMIES

LOS ANGELES — We all love our dogs and cats but the ancient Egyptians REALLY loved their dogs and cats — to say nothing of their birds and scorpions. And for good reason, says Egyptology scholar Edward Bleiberg, curator of "Soulful Creatures," a collection of perfectly preserved, 2,000-year-old animal mummies that goes on display at Orange County's Bowers Museum later this month. The ancient Egyptians not only believed animals had souls, but that when those souls traveled to the next world they could communicate with the gods there. Thus their remains would be bound up as carefully and elaborately as any human's. By John Rogers. SENT: 800 words, photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

THEATER-DENZEL WASHINGTON

NEW YORK - The Denzel Washington you meet backstage at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre is not exactly living a glamorous Hollywood life. He's more like a college kid during finals - baseball cap, sneakers and track pants. Yet the Broadway version of Denzel Washington seems completely in his element as he puts the finishing touches on one of America's greatest plays, "A Raisin in the Sun." By Drama Writer Mark Kennedy. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— BRITAIN-OBIT-KATE O'MARA — British actress Kate O'Mara, best known for her role in the 1980s soap opera "Dynasty," dies at the age of 74. SENT: 160 words, photo.

— BOX OFFICE — Paramount biblical tale 'Noah' rises to top of box office with $44 million debut. SENT: 130 words, photos.

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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.