COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — In a stunning election result that was unthinkable just weeks ago, Sri Lanka's longtime president acknowledges that he had been defeated by a onetime political ally, signaling the fall of a family dynasty and the rise of former Cabinet minister Maithripala Sirisena. Sirisena, who defected from the ruling party in a surprise move in November, capitalized on the outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa's unpopularity among this island's ethnic and religious minorities, as well as grumbling among the Sinhalese majority about his growing power and the country's economic troubles. By Krishan Francis. SENT: 700 words, photos.


BEIJING — At the end of December, a popular television series chronicling China's most famous empress suddenly went on four-day hiatus. When it returned on New Year's Day, the low-cut necklines and squeezed bosoms had vanished. Instead, the screen was filled with close-up shots showing only the heads of the female characters in the period piece, which depicts the seventh-century Tang Dynasty. No one has claimed responsibility for the awkward cropping, but it is widely believed to be the work of the country's prudish censors. By Didi Tang. UPCOMING by 0800GMT, photos.


PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia — An AirAsia jetliner crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28, killing all 162 crew and passengers on board the two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. A massive international search team has hunting for bodies and wreckage. The efforts have been hindered by seasonal monsoon rains that on many days prevent divers and high-tech equipment from making progress. A look at what's known about the crash and recovery efforts. SENT: 420 words, photos.


TOKYO — A former journalist who wrote stories about women forced into sex slavery by Japan during World War II has filed a defamation suit against a publisher and a scholar who accused him of fabricating the issue. Takashi Uemura said Friday their criticisms triggered threats against him. He wrote only a few comfort women stories, including one based on a former South Korean victim for the Asahi newspaper in the early 1990s. SENT: 200 words.


YANGON, Myanmar — Authorities in Myanmar say at least four people have been killed in a landslide at a jade mine in the country's north. Local government official Than Shwe says a rescue mission in the mining town of Phakant was called off late Thursday after a search team recovered four bodies, including those of two women. SENT: 100 words.


TOKYO — Japanese automaker Nissan and NASA are teaming up to advance the technology behind cars that drive autonomously. Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. and NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, announced Thursday a five-year research-and-development partnership for autonomous vehicle systems so they can eventually be applied to commercially sold cars. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT, photos.


BEIJING — China's consumer inflation edged up in December despite the slump in global oil prices but was still well below the official target. Prices rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier, up from November's 1.4 percent increase, government data showed Friday. That was driven by sharp increases in the price of some food items, including 14 percent for eggs and 10.4 percent for fresh fruit. SENT, photos.


BEIJING — China has banned drivers of private cars from offering services through ride-hailing apps, throwing up a new hurdle to Uber Technologies Ltd.'s global expansion. Only licensed taxis may use ride-hailing apps, the Ministry of Transport announced Friday. Such apps are hugely popular in China, and the ministry said it needed to protect users. By Joe McDonald.


WASHINGTON — The government fines Honda $70 million for not reporting to safety regulators 1,729 complaints that its vehicles caused deaths and injuries, and for not reporting warranty claims. It's the largest civil penalty the agency has levied against an automaker. By Joan Lowy. SENT: 820 words, photo.



PARIS — Police SWAT teams backed by helicopters tracked two heavily armed brothers with al-Qaida sympathies suspected in the newsroom massacre of a satirical French weekly that spoofed Islam, homing in Thursday on a region north of Paris as the nation mourned the dozen slain. Authorities fear a second strike by the suspects, who U.S. counterterrorism officials said were both on the U.S. no-fly list, and distributed their portraits with the notice "armed and dangerous." SENT: 1,150 words, photos.


PARIS — The younger brother was a ladies' man who belted out rap lyrics before the words of a radical preacher persuaded him to book a ticket to Syria on his way to holy war. Less is known about his elder sibling, except that his ID card — dropped near the site of a massacre in Paris — led to a nationwide manhunt for the Kouachi brothers. By John-Thor Dahlburg and Jamey Keaten. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.

— FRANCE-ATTACK-I AM CHARLIE — From Berlin to Bangkok, tens of thousands take a stand against living in fear, as rallies under the "I Am Charlie" slogan defend freedom of expression. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— FRANCE-ATTACK-CARTOONISTS' LAMENT — Cartoonists wonder whether Charlie Hebdo's irreverent brand of humor will survive the killings. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— TOP PHOTO — XFM101 — People gather around and ontop of the Republique Plaza statue during the solidarity demonstration in Paris.

— TOP VIDEO — FRANCE EIFFEL TOWER — The Eiffel Tower goes dark in remembrance of the victims.


CAIRO — Egypt's president opened the new year with a call for a "revolution" in Islam to reform interpretations of the faith that he said have pitted Muslims against the rest of the world. It was a bold call, given greater urgency after a bloody militant attack in France — but his aim to impose change through the state may hamper his ambitions. By Sarah El Deeb and Lee Keath. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

— SAUDI-RIGHTS — A Saudi blogger who was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes will be publicly flogged for the first time for insulting Islam. SENT: 350 words.


KARACHI, Pakistan — In religiously conservative Pakistan, a television call-in advice show is tackling an issue rarely discussed in public: Sex. Once a week, a doctor appearing on private satellite channel HTV's call-in show "Clinic Online" focuses on sexual issues, fielding questions about sexually transmitted disease, fertility and how to deal with husbands having multiple wives in this Muslim-dominated country of 180 million people. By Adil Jawad. SENT: 500 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has quietly engineered a dramatic increase in the number of states that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed — at the same time raising the likelihood the justices soon will definitively settle the legal debate. Some justices had expressed reluctance about directly confronting the issue when more than half the country prohibited same-sex unions, but 36 states now allow them, nearly twice as many as three months ago. By Mark Sherman. SENT: 550 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a tenacious liberal whose election to the Senate in 1992 heralded a new era for women at the upper reaches of political power, announced Thursday she will not seek re-election to a new term next year. Boxer's retirement sets off a free-for-all among a new generation of California Democrats. By Kevin Freking. SENT: 900 words, photos


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Golden Globes producer Barry Adelman talks about the hosting hat trick of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and how much of a role the Sony hack will play in the show. By Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen. SENT: 570 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — When oil cost $107 a barrel in June, the U.S. economy added a healthy number of jobs — 267,000. Now, with the price below $50, hiring may be poised to intensify. By Josh Boak and Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 1,160 words, photos.


MELBOURNE, Australia — Asia's sports powerbrokers have reaffirmed their support for Sepp Blatter's bid for a fifth consecutive term as FIFA president, dealing a blow to Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein's aspirations for the job. Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa told a news conference Friday that his organization will not reverse its previously pledged support for Blatter, even after the Jordanian prince's decision to stand for the FIFA presidency. By Neil Frankland. SENT, photos.


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

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.