ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Court officials have ordered that Turkey's former army chief be released from prison pending an appeals court review of his conviction over an alleged plot to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.
Friday's decision to release Retired Gen. Ilker Basbug comes a day after Turkey's supreme court ruled that a lower court in Istanbul had violated his rights by refusing parole.
Basbug, 70, the most prominent defendant in a trial of some 250 people accused of scheming against the government, was sentenced to life in prison in August. Critics say Basbug and others were convicted on trumped-up charges.
Basbug and other military officers' prosecutions have helped the government curb the military's powers and assert civilian control in a country that had seen three military coups since 1960.News Topics: General news, Crime, Military leadership, Army, Military and defense, Government and politics, Armed forces
People, Places and Companies: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Middle East, Western Europe, Europe
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
DORAL, Florida (AP) — Patrick Reed ended a long opening round at the Cadillac Championship with a 4-under 68 to take a one-shot lead on Friday.
Only six players finished the first round on Thursday because of a storm delay. The rest of the field had to return in the morning dbut id not find peaceful conditions. The wind shifted slightly, and the Blue Monster had plenty of bite.
Tiger Woods made one par in eight holes and shot a 76. It was his highest score in 40 completed rounds at Doral.
Trump National Doral received an entire makeover that featured more water and a priority on angles into the green. Masters champion Adam Scott had 75, a blow to his bid to try to become No. 1 in the world.News Topics: Sports, Men's sports, Men's golf, Golf
People, Places and Companies: Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Florida, United States, North America
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican regulators say they have approved plans to open bidding for two new nationwide TV channels, challenging the long-standing dominance of the country's main network.
The federal Telecommunications Institute said Thursday it is working on the bidding guidelines. The move is aimed at fomenting more competition in an industry where the Televisa network holds about 70 percent of non-cable viewership.
Smaller competitor TV Azteca is a former government network that was privatized in the 1990s.
The decision could actually open the way for telecom magnate Carlos Slim to get into television. Slim's America Movil company controls about a 70 percent market share in cellular telephones and 80 percent of land lines.
Televisa said Friday the institute says it is "dominant" in market share, and imposed restrictions on the network.News Topics: Business, General news, Television, First time events, Media
People, Places and Companies: Carlos Slim, Mexico, North America, Central America, Latin America and Caribbean
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Canada's Supreme Court has upheld the sexual assault conviction of a man who tricked his girlfriend into becoming pregnant by poking holes her condoms.
The case has raised questions about whether contraception deception amounts to sexual assault.
Craig Jaret Hutchinson was sentenced to 18 month in jail in December 2011 after he pierced his girlfriend's condoms with a pin in 2006 so she would get pregnant and not break up with him.
The Halifax-area woman became pregnant and had an abortion, but later suffered an infection of her uterus that required treatment with antibiotics.
In January 2013, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court rejected his appeal that the sentence was harsh and excessive and that the woman voluntarily consented to having sex with him.News Topics: General news, Birth control, Court decisions, Sexual assault, Sexual and reproductive health, Health, Legal proceedings, Law and order, Violent crime, Crime
People, Places and Companies: Ontario, Canada, North America
ISTANBUL (AP) — A U.S. Navy destroyer is passing through Istanbul's Bosporus straits on its way to the Black Sea for exercises near the fraught Crimean peninsula.
The Navy destroyer USS Truxtun is participating in exercises with Romania and Bulgaria and is expected to be in the Black Sea for several days amid a stand-off over Russia's military incursion into Ukraine.
The exercises come as the U.S. and other Western nations are preparing sanctions against Russia for its recent move to send military troops into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Turkey, Ukraine, Black Sea, Russia, Istanbul, Middle East, Western Europe, Europe, Eastern Europe
LONDON (AP) — Thousands of British lawyers have stayed away from court to protest legal aid cuts that they fear will devastate the country's respected justice system.
Dozens of court hearings were canceled across the country Friday, and hundreds of lawyers in black robes and white wigs marched on Parliament.
The government, which has slashed billions from public spending in the name of deficit reduction, plans to cut lawyers' fees to reduce the legal aid budget by 220 million pounds ($360 million) a year through 2019.
Lawyers say the cuts will discourage attorneys from taking criminal cases, in which defendants often rely on state funding for legal representation.
Nigel Lithman, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said the cuts would mean the British justice system "will cease to exist as we know it."News Topics: General news, Protests and demonstrations, Judiciary, Political and civil unrest, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: United Kingdom, Western Europe, Europe
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonian police say they have arrested 13 people, including the head of a customs office at the Macedonia-Bulgaria border crossing, on suspicion of participating in a ring smuggling designer clothing from Greece and Bulgaria.
Police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said Friday the group had been under surveillance for months. Seven of those arrested were employees of the customs office at the Novo Selo border crossing.
Police said "enormous quantities" of branded clothes were smuggled through that crossing when those customs officials were on duty.
Kotevski said they would be charged for abuse of power, criminal association, smuggling and falsifying legal documents. He added that search operations for smuggled clothes were also underway in eight Macedonian cities.
Police also seized eight vehicles.News Topics: Business, General news, Smuggling, Arrests, Crime, Law and order
People, Places and Companies: Macedonia, Eastern Europe, Europe
NEW YORK (AP) — It wasn't hard for Benjamin Stockham to figure out his role as Marcus, the title character of NBC's new sitcom "About a Boy."
"It was pretty obvious from the script that he was kind of a nerd," said Ben during a recent chat. "Well, not a nerd. Sorry. Kind of an ODDITY."
And an interesting oddity, Ben hastened to add: "Part of what makes it so easy to play Marcus is that, as a kid, you might have his same problems: being bullied, being an outsider. But you always have someone there who cares about you."
On "About a Boy," airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern, Marcus is cared about, to excess, by his high-strung, overprotective single mom (Minnie Driver).
Meanwhile, he enlists as surrogate dad his new next-door neighbor, Will (David Walton), a footloose, freewheeling bachelor who is alternately charmed by Marcus' pluck and annoyed by his frequent, often ill-timed intrusions.
Will knows he must establish some boundaries for Marcus. But Marcus can't help asking, "Why is hanging out with me any less exciting than hanging out with those women with bathing suits that are wayyyy too small?"
This burgeoning bromance between boy and man is at the series' heart, raising the question: How does Ben like working with a co-star two decades his senior?
"It's great!" he replied. "David's really fun. He has this pen and he flips it around his thumb with one finger. I have no idea how he does that. He also boxes. But not professionally. He's probably the world's most interesting guy."
How does Ben see himself? What's different about him from the character he plays?
"Other than the devilishly handsome good looks, the charm and the humbleness," he cracked, "everything!"
Including his advanced years. Ben is baby-faced with a china-doll complexion, and a bit small for 13 and one-half.
"I look maybe 11 or 12," he readily acknowledged.
This served him well in landing the role of 11-year-old Marcus. But does being a late bloomer ever bug him in his personal life?
"My friends don't care," he said. "And if my friends don't care, I don't care."
As Ben enters his teens, he can point to credits that include not just his new sitcom, but also two short-lived predecessors: the 2010 Fox comedy "Sons of Tucson" and last season's "1600 Penn" on NBC.
"But why did you want to be an actor in the first place?"
"I was watching TV one day," he recalled, "and I'm like, 'How did those people get on TV? I'm gonna try that. Hey, mom, I want to be on TV!' And she's like, 'OK, let's get you an agent.'
"That's exactly what happened, word for word."
That was about six years ago. So by the time he was signed for "About a Boy," he felt like an old hand.
"I've done two other TV series, so I've got THIS one in the bag," he laughed. "Sure, the other two were CANCELED. But this one WON'T!"
Maybe not soon, anyway. "About a Boy" is off to a good start, having grown its audience in its most recent airing to a robust 8.7 million viewers.
In the meantime, Ben said he's growing as an actor, thanks to the bona fide veterans he works with on the show.
"They are teaching me. Not verbally. But with their example. And as for what they learn from me," he added, deadpan: "how to be very, very, VERY immature."
"Is it easy or hard for you to learn your lines?"
"It depends how they're written," he said, explaining that it's tricky when dialogue is written too formally. "Like with 'this' and 'will.' Most people just say 'this'll.' So it's definitely hard when there's whole scripts written like a robot. But the writers on 'About a Boy' are very good."
Unlike adult actors, Ben doesn't get much downtime while shooting his Los Angeles-based show, even during long delays between scenes: "When I'm not on camera," he noted with a roll of his eyes, "I'm doing school."
But once the workday is finished, he spends much of his spare time drawing, "which I like a lot. I do this weird thing, where I see something completely regular, like a chair — and then I make it into some sort of monster."
Having said that, he shared a few of his creations on his iPhone screen. They were remarkably inventive, the sort of whimsical Goth that Tim Burton might applaud.
"I might become serious about it someday," Ben said, "if the whole acting thing doesn't work out. But it will be a hobby until further notice."
People, Places and Companies: Minnie Driver, David Walton, Tim Burton
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino says "something is not right" with Lionel Messi after the Argentina forward vomited during an international friendly.
The 26-year-old Messi doubled-over and appeared to be sick during Argentina's 0-0 draw against Romania on Wednesday.
Martino thought Messi had the flu before a 3-1 loss to Real Sociedad nearly two weeks ago. But Martino says it appears that "this is something he's had for quite some time. I'm not a specialist ... but something is not right, even if it doesn't affect his way of working."
Martino says Messi has gone to see a specialist, but that proved inconclusive.News Topics: Professional soccer, Soccer, Sports, Men's soccer, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: Lionel Messi, Spain, Barcelona, Western Europe, Europe
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A court in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki has given a Greek doctor a 16-month suspended sentence for breaking anti-racism laws and for weapons possession after he put up a sign outside his office that said, in German, "Jews not welcome."
Police searching the 57-year-old neurologist's home just outside the city found daggers with Nazi symbols, a Nazi flag and printed material from the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party.
The doctor was sentenced to 12 months for breaking anti-racism laws and four months for illegal weapons possession, both suspended for three years. He appealed and was released pending the appeals hearing.
Thessaloniki's once-vibrant Jewish community was all but wiped out during World War II, when about 96 percent of its 50,000 people perished in Nazi death camps.News Topics: General news, Illegal weapons, Racial and ethnic discrimination, Gun politics, Nazism, Sentencing, Crime, Discrimination, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs, Race and ethnicity, Political issues, Government and politics, Legal proceedings, Law and order
People, Places and Companies: Greece, Thessaloniki, Western Europe, Europe
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt has announced that a team of European archaeologists have found a nearly 2-meter- (6 ½-foot-) tall alabaster statue of a pharoanic princess, dating from approximately 1350 B.C., outside the southern city of Luxor.
Minister of Antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim said in in a statement Friday that the statue was once part of a larger statue that was nearly 14 meters (456 feet) tall and guarded the entrance to a temple.
Ibrahim says the statue is of Iset, the daughter of Amenhotep III, and is the first found that depicts her without her siblings. Archaeologists uncovered the statue next to the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, who was worshipped as a deity after his death.News Topics: General news, Archaeology, Science
People, Places and Companies: Egypt, Middle East, North Africa, Africa
WASHINGTON (AP) — US employers shake off wintry weather, add 175K jobs; unemployment rises to 6.7 percent.News Topics: General news, Hiring and recruitment, Winter weather, Personnel, Business, Weather
People, Places and Companies: United States, North America
SAN ANTONIO — Led by a no-frills coach, the San Antonio Spurs have long stated the regular season means little to them. Yet even the normally stoic Spurs couldn't hide their emotion on the court, and the satisfaction afterward, of toppling the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and San Antonio never trailed against the Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense 111-87 victory. MOVED: 362 words, photos.
SOPOT, Poland — Defending champion Ashton Eaton immediately set off on world-record pace in the heptathlon at the world indoor championships, and his wife Brianne Theisen Eaton took the early lead in the pentathlon. MOVED: 111 words, photos. Will be updated.
SOCHI, Russia — Ukraine will compete in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi despite Russia's military moves in Crimea. The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee decided against boycotting the games, announcing a few hours before Friday's opening ceremony that its athletes would stay. MOVED: 511 words, photos.
LONDON — With Jack Wilshere out for six weeks, few would bet on Arsenal to win its first Premier League title since 2004. The loss of the England midfielder, who picked up a foot injury during a friendly on Wednesday, is a massive blow for Arsene Wenger's team. By Samuel Petrequin. MOVED: 700 words, photos.
SAO PAULO — Fans yell "monkey" at Brazil midfielder Arouca while he is being interviewed by reporters after a club match, the latest case of racism to hit the country that will host the World Cup in a few months. By Tales Azzoni. MOVED: 489 words.
— LAUSANNE, Switzerland — SOC--Nantes-Transfer Ban. MOVED: 281 words.
— HONG KONG — SOC--Birmingham-Yeung. MOVED: 252 words, photos.
DORAL, Florida — Tiger Woods made it through only 10 holes — this time because of the weather, not his back. The debut of the new Blue Monster, and the return of Woods, received an incomplete grade when the opening round of the Cadillac Championship was halted more than two hours because of menacing thunderstorms. By Doug Ferguson. MOVED: 816 words, photos.
— DORAL, Florida — GLF--Cadillac Championship-Notebook. By Tim Reynolds. MOVED: 548 words, photos.
CRI--ASIA CUP FINAL
MIRPUR, Bangladesh — Defending champion Pakistan is hoping big-hitting allrounder Shahid Afridi will be fit in time to play in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka on Saturday. Afridi, who helped pull off two dramatic last-over wins with an 18-ball 34 against India and a 25-ball 59 against Bangladesh, has a hip strain that caused him to miss training on Friday. MOVED: 473 words, photos.
LONDON — The enforced inclusion of No. 8 Ben Morgan for the injured Billy Vunipola was the only change in the England run-on side for the Six Nations showdown with Wales at Twickenham on Sunday. MOVED: 253 words.
BRISBANE, Australia — The Queensland Reds rebound from a demoralizing loss to archrival New South Wales to beat South Africa's Cheetahs 43-33 in Super Rugby. The Reds, who lost 32-5 to the Waratahs last weekend, scored five tries to three but still showed defensive frailties by allowing the Cheetahs to remain in the game until the last minutes. MOVED: 381 words.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The ACT Brumbies overcome the loss of flanker David Pocock to a season-ending injury, coming from 13-3 down to beat the Hurricanes 29-21 in Super Rugby. MOVED: 450 words.
— CARDIFF, Wales — RGU--Wales-Ball. MOVED: 95 words.
TEN--BNP PARIBAS OPEN
INDIAN WELLS, California — Lleyton Hewitt scratches out a 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3 victory over fellow Australian Matthew Ebden in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open to move within one of joining the ATP Tour's 600-win club. By Jim Short. MOVED: 333 words, photos.
Formula One's latest changes mean the sexy purr of engines and the violent throttle of speed won't quite be what they used to be. The same title talk and garage terminology has surrounded preseason testing as usual, but the normally boisterous roar of auto racing's premier engines has been slightly subdued. While F1 moves forward trying to improve its environmental footprint, that may mean a step backward when it comes to the genre-defining characteristics that embolden it. Get used to it. By Paul Logothetis. MOVED: 565 words, photos.
The Formula One season hasn't even started, and it's already looking like a long one for Lotus. This year is unlikely to bear resemblance to last season's impressive campaign when the British team opened with victory at the Australian Grand Prix. Just getting through F1's first race of the season seems to be the goal. By Paul Logothetis. MOVED: 376 words, photos.
— SAN JOSE, California — HKN--NHL Roundup. Sharks extend dominance over Penguins, win 5-3. MOVED: 566 words, photos.
— LAS VEGAS — BOX--Molina Arrested. IBF light middleweight champ Carlos Molina jailed. By Ken Ritter. MOVED: 310 words, photo.
YOUR QUERIES: Questions and story requests are welcome. Contact your local AP bureau or the AP International Sports Desk in London by telephone at 44-207-427-4105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.News Topics: Athlete injuries, NBA basketball, Rugby, Formula One, Men's rugby union, Rugby union, Paralympic Games, Athlete health, Sports, Professional basketball, Basketball, Men's basketball, Men's sports, Automobile racing, Men's rugby, Events
People, Places and Companies: Bnp Paribas, Tim Duncan, Ashton Eaton, Jack Wilshere, Tiger Woods, Lleyton Hewitt, Matthew Ebden, Wales, London, Florida, England, Australia, Bangladesh, South Asia, Ukraine, California, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Europe, United States, North America, Oceania, Asia, Eastern Europe
NEW YORK (AP) — Isaac Mizrahi will tell the whole story.
The fashion celebrity has a deal with Amy Einhorn Books for a memoir that will track his rise from an unhappy childhood in Brooklyn to hanging out at Studio 54 to international fame.
Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, announced Thursday that the book is scheduled for release in 2016 and is tentatively titled "I.M."
The 52-year-old Mizrahi previously wrote the fashion advice book "How to Have Style."News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty and fashion, Celebrity, Books and literature, Entertainment
People, Places and Companies: Isaac Mizrahi
TORONTO (AP) — Police say a woman was wounded in a shooting at York University in north-end Toronto.
The shooting prompted a campus lockdown that was lifted at about 1 a.m. local time Friday.
There was no information on a possible suspect or motive.
Police say the woman who was shot suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. A second woman suffered minor injuries in the incident just before 11 p.m. The women were not identified.
Police said the investigation was continuing.News Topics: General news, School shootings, School violence, Shootings, Education, Violent crime, Crime, Violence, Social issues, Social affairs, School safety, Education issues
People, Places and Companies: Canada, Toronto, North America, Ontario
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan president's elder brother says he quit the April 5 presidential race to rally undecided countrymen in favor of a moderate candidate, the country's former foreign minister.
Qayyum Karzai says he believes most of Afghan voters are undecided and could be persuaded to back the moderate runner, Zalmai Rassoul.
The elder Karzai spoke in an interview on Friday with The Associated Press, one day after bowing out of the presidential race.
He says the undecided voters represent a "huge, huge" chunk of votes. Karzai says he backs Rassoul because he has the temperament and the moderate vision to steer Afghanistan through a "dignified transition."
Karzai's decision followed days of speculation and backdoor meetings.
Hamid Karzai, who has served two terms, is not eligible to run under Afghanistan's constitution.News Topics: General news, Presidential elections, National elections, Elections, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Qayyum Karzai, Zalmay Rassoul, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Asia
Remember when "South Park" debuted on Comedy Central in 1997? Remember how shocking the cursing, toilet humor and black comedy seemed?
Take that level of shock and multiply it by, oh, 20 and you'll have some idea of what you should expect from "South Park: The Stick of Truth" (Ubisoft, for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, $59.99), the new video game written by series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Even fans of the theatrical "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" may be taken aback by the level of raunch on display here.
The curse words are un-bleeped. There's a sex act that makes the notorious "Hot Coffee" scene in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" look like something off the Disney Channel. There's a cringe-inducing scenario set in an abortion clinic. And more.
Like its cable TV counterpart, "The Stick of Truth" gleefully tackles issues like gun control, racism, sexism and pedophilia. If you're not a "South Park" fan, by all means avoid it. Even if you're a fan, there are moments that will make you say "ick" — even as you're laughing at the game's audacity.
Your character is the new kid in town. Cartman, grand wizard of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep (yes, the KKK), invites you on a quest to recover the titular stick from a tribe of elves, led by Kyle and Stan. The war between the two gangs evolves into something more dangerous, though, once aliens invade and unleash a plague of Nazi zombies. The ensuing romp reels in almost every character from the cartoon's 17-year run, from regulars like Kenny and Butters to guest stars like Mr. Hankey and Jesus.
The gameplay was designed by Obsidian Entertainment, the California studio known for role-playing games like "Fallout: New Vegas" and "Dungeon Siege III." ''The Stick of Truth" is RPG lite. You get to create the new kid from scratch, building from scores of facial features, clothing items and accessories. As the game progresses, you get more resilient armor and more dangerous weapons. And you learn increasingly effective magic spells that, true to form, typically involve flatulence.
Whenever you encounter an enemy, the screen switches to battle mode, in which you and one partner take turns attacking and casting spells at the bad guys. Most actions, whether offensive or defense, require pressing a button at a certain time to achieve maximum power. The combat recalls Nintendo's "Paper Mario" and "Mario & Luigi" series, and demands more strategy than you might expect.
Those Nintendo franchises have produced some of the funniest games on the market, so perhaps there's something about the turn-based RPG that lends itself to comedy. In any case, over the 12 hours I played "The Stick of Truth," I found myself laughing dozens of times — sometimes at its broad slapstick, other times at more subtle gags.
For example, there are hundreds of collectible items hidden in South Park, and nearly every one has a joke attached. (The profane text accompanying "Phil Collins' Oscar" indicates Parker and Stone are still bugged about losing the 1999 best original song trophy to him.) Some of the targets are outdated — what have Al Gore and Rob Schneider done to anyone lately? But that could be the result of the game's long, somewhat turbulent development history.
"South Park" has always been aware of video-game culture, and some of the funniest elements of "The Stick of Truth" play off familiar tropes from the likes of "Call of Duty," ''Final Fantasy" and "Skyrim." A tremendous joke about Canada two-thirds of the way through is the cleverest twist I've seen in a AAA game in years. But even before then, this game is packed with so much comedy that you'll forgive some uninspired gameplay. Just don't play in front of your kids. Or your parents. Three stars out of four.
Follow Lou Kesten on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lkesten
People, Places and Companies: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Phil Collins, Al Gore, Rob Schneider
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Army is investigating sexual abuse allegations against an officer who trains military prosecutors who handle sexual and physical abuse cases, according to a defense official.
Lt. Col. Joseph Morse is being investigated by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command for allegedly groping a female Army lawyer in 2011 while both were attending a weeklong training session in Northern Virginia on prosecuting sexual assaults, said the official. The revelation comes as reports of sexual abuse across the military have increased and as Congress wrangles over how to improve the military's handling of such cases.
The official says Morse has been suspended from his job pending the results of the investigation. Morse was in charge of training 23 Army prosecutors around the world who handle special victim cases. The official said the female lawyer did not work for Morse.
Morse did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Senate on Thursday blocked a bill that would have stripped senior military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses. Military leaders had strongly opposed the change arguing that limiting officers' authority over their troops would hurt their ability to command.
The vote was 55-45, short of the 60 necessary to move ahead on the legislation.
Lawmakers have grown irate over the escalating problems, which have included a large number of high profile sexual assault cases involving senior officers. Several cases also have involved officers who were part of the military's sexual assault prevention programs.
According to the Pentagon, the number of reported sexual assaults jumped by an unprecedented 46 percent last year, increasing from 2,434 in 2012 to 3,553 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2013.
Defense officials have said it's unclear whether the spike represented an increase in assaults or an increase in the percentage of people reporting them. There has been a major push across the military services to encourage victims to report assaults.
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.News Topics: General news, Sexual assault, Military legal affairs, Violent crime, Crime, Military and defense, Government and politics
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad says Russia's military takeover of Crimea reflects President Vladimir Putin's "wise policy" and his efforts to restore "security and stability" in Ukraine after an "attempted coup."
In a letter addressed to the Russian president, Assad claims Putin's move in eastern Ukraine prevented "terrorist extremists" from taking power in Kiev.
Assad's comments — his first since the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis last month — were carried by the Syrian state news service late on Thursday.
Russia has been an adamant supporter of Assad through the 3-year-old conflict that started as a largely peaceful uprising against his rule but turned into a civil war that has claimed at least 140,000 lives.
Assad says his troops are fighting Islamic extremists who want to destroy Syria.News Topics: Government and politics, General news
People, Places and Companies: Bashar Assad, Vladimir Putin, Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Europe
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian court sentences opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail on sodomy charges, overturning an earlier acquittal and ending his hopes of contesting a local election this month. SENT: 520 words, photos.
TOKYO — North Korean voters will make a choice Sunday when they elect a new national legislature, but not for a candidate. The ruling elite have already done that for them, and there's only one per district. They get to vote "yes" or "no." Virtually all pick "yes." By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 860 words, photos.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — An Afghan provincial official says a motorcycle bomb was remotely detonated in a crowded market in the country's south, killing five people and wounding eight. SENT: 130 words.
BANGKOK — Army checkpoints set up in the Thai capital to keep security during the country's political unrest are getting a makeover in a bid to project a kinder, gentler image. A military commander says soldiers have decorated some bunkers with colorful flowers and potted plants after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra suggested that the 176 checkpoints around the city may be unnerving residents and scaring foreign tourists. SENT: 300 words, photos.
THAILAND-NAVY VS PRESS
BANGKOK — A leading international rights group calls on Thai authorities to investigate the navy's alleged role in the trafficking of desperate migrants from Myanmar instead of charging journalists for reporting on the subject. Thailand's navy filed criminal defamation charges late last year against the English-language Phuketwan website for publishing stories alleging military involvement in the trafficking of Myanmar's ethnic Rohingya. By Todd Pitman. SENT: 330 words.
BEIJING — An explosion at a chemicals plant in northern China kills one person and leaves 12 others missing, authorities say. Thirteen people were on a floor that produced emulsion explosives at the plant run by Kailuan Group in the city of Tangshan when the morning blast occurred, the government of Hebei province says. SENT: 180 words.
NEW DELHI — An Indian navy officer dies and other workers are sickened by a gas leak in a ship being built in the Mumbai dockyard. The state-owned Mazagon Dock Limited says the ill workers were hospitalized after the accident, the latest in a series involving Indian submarines. SENT: 200 words.
WASHINGTON — With lawmakers listening raptly, the Dalai Lama opens the U.S. Senate session with a prayer of peace as congressional leaders set aside partisan differences to receive the Tibetan spiritual leader together. Two weeks after President Barack Obama angered China by inviting the Nobel laureate to the White House, the Dalai Lama was warmly welcomed on Capitol Hill, where he paid tribute to America as a "champion of democracy and freedom." By Donna Cassata. SENT: 400 words, photos.
TOKYO — The man once lauded as "Japan's Beethoven" bows repeatedly and apologizes at his first media appearance since it was revealed last month that his famed musical compositions were ghostwritten and he wasn't completely deaf. Mamoru Samuragochi appeared clean-shaven and minus his trademark sunglasses and long hair, in what could be seen as a sign of remorse. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 260 words, photos.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian court sentences a couple to death by hanging for murdering their 26-year-old Indonesian housemaid three years ago, a lawyer says. He says the court ruled that the maid died of starvation because the couple failed to provide sufficient food and medical attention. SENT: 230 words.
MALAYSIA-ULTRAMAN BOOK BANNED
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia bans an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word "Allah" to describe the Japanese action hero. SENT: 320 words.
NEW ZEALAND-DOG ATTACK
AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand doctors say a 7-year-old Japanese girl was bitten about 100 times during a dog mauling that has horrified many in the South Pacific nation. They say the girl would likely need repeated surgeries until she was a grown woman. SENT: 330 words.
PAKISTAN-WOMEN LABOR FOR LIFE-PHOTO ESSAY
MANDRA, Pakistan — Amna Bhatti has spent half a century shaping mud into bricks in a huge kiln south of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. She started by paying off her parents' debt and now she's on to her late husband's. She'll probably spend the rest of her life here. Bhatti was 10 when she started working at the kiln to pay off her parents' debt. Now, at 60, she is paying off the 250,000 rupees (approximately $2,500) in debt her husband left behind when he died 12 years ago. By Muhammed Muheisen. SENT: 340 words, photos.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE:
BEIJING — Chinese authorities allow the country's first corporate bond default, inflicting losses on small investors in a painful step toward making its financial system more market-oriented. A Shanghai manufacturer of solar panels paid only part of 90 million yuan ($15 million) in interest due on bonds issued in 2012, according to two bondholders. They received as little as 3 percent of what they were owed. SENT: 780 words.
MANILA, Philippines — Japan's second largest automaker says it remains optimistic about Southeast Asia's auto market despite political turmoil in Thailand, one of the region's key car manufacturers. Takao Katagiri, executive vice president at Nissan Motor Co., says the unrest in the Thai capital is temporary and won't affect long term plans in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 400 words.
BEIJING — Karl Lagerfeld and a Macau casino operator announce plans for the Chanel designer to create his first hotel. The 270-room Karl Lagerfeld Hotel will open in 2017 in a 20-story tower in the gambling enclave in southern China, according to Lagerfeld and the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau. SENT: 300 words, photos.
U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:
WASHINGTON — One by one, President Barack Obama's warnings to Russia are being brushed aside by President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be speeding up efforts to formally stake his claim to Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 880 words, photo.
— UKRAINE-SANCTIONS — Economic complications cause worries that sanctions levied against Moscow could backfire on the U.S. and Europe. SENT: 1,300 words, photo.
MOSCOW — Crimea would be welcome as an equal part of Russia if the region votes to leave Ukraine in an upcoming referendum, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament says. Valentina Matvienko met with the head of the Crimean parliament to discuss the region's possible accession to Russia. On Thursday, the parliament of Crimea voted to move the referendum date up to March 16, and to include a question on joining Russia. By Laura Mills. SENT: 380 words, photos. UPCOMING: Updates as warranted.
JOB MARKET-VITAL SIGNS
WASHINGTON — In advance of the February jobs report, the U.S. economy has been skating on an icy patch. Hiring skidded in December and January. Auto buying, existing-home sales and factory orders slid. And the economy entered 2014 with less momentum than initially thought. All of which magnifies the importance of Friday's jobs report. The Labor Department data could help confirm the belief that nasty weather froze much of the job market last month — and that spring should bring a bounce back. By Josh Boak. SENT: 900 words, photos.
AP EXCLUSIVE: BITCOIN FOUNDER-DENIAL
LOS ANGELES — Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto says that he is not the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world's most popular digital currency came to be. The denial, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, comes after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin. By Business Writer Ryan Nakashima. SENT: 1,100 words, video, photos.
PRETORIA, South Africa — A former girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius testifies at the double-amputee runner's murder trial that he always carried a firearm and that their relationship ended when he cheated on her with Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he fatally shot last year. By Gerald Imray and Christopher Torchia. SENT: 820 words, photos. UPCOMING: Updates through the day.
UKRAINE-OLIGARCHS TO THE RESCUE
KIEV, Ukraine — In a surprising move after Russia flexed its military might in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine's new leadership has reached out to oligarchs for help — appointing them as governors in eastern regions where loyalties to Moscow are strong. With their wealth, influence and self-interest in preventing further conflict, the oligarchs could be the key to calming tensions and maintaining Ukraine's control in areas where pro-Russian activists have stoked separatist tensions. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 980 words, photos.
GOSPORT, England — Two lines of trenches face off across No Man's Land. A soldier marches, rifle in hand, along a ditch. These are instantly familiar images of World War I — but this is Britain, a century on and an English Channel away from the battlefields of the Western Front. This overgrown and oddly corrugated patch of heathland on England's south coast was once a practice battlefield, complete with trenches, weapons and barbed wire. Thousands of troops trained here to take on the German army. After the 1918 victory — which cost 1 million Britons their lives — the site was forgotten, until it was recently rediscovered by a local official with an interest in military history. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 780 words, photos.
COLOMBIA-FREEING THE PARAMILITARIES
BOGOTA, Colombia — One veteran of Colombia's disbanded far-right militias admitted to ordering or taking part in at least 3,000 killings, mostly targeting leftists. Another ordered a hit on a prominent intellectual who had been unjustly accused of backing insurgents. Those two men and about 400 other right-wing paramilitaries are due to walk free this year after serving eight-year sentences for crimes that normally carry more than triple the prison terms. By Libardo Cardona. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.
CAIRO — In Egypt's newest reality television show, contestants sold fruit juice from push carts in Cairo's busiest market and later organized a desert safari for tourists, hustling to make sales in the capital's crowded streets. The program, called "The Project" in Arabic, highlights entrepreneurship and small business acumen — something experts say is more crucial than ever as Egypt tries to claw its way out of tough economic times. By Maggie Hyde. SENT: 720 words, photos.
ARMY GENERAL-SEX CHARGES
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Opening statements are set to begin in the court-martial of an Army general accused of sexually assaulting a captain under his command with whom he had a three-year affair. Prosecutors will begin making their case Friday against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair. By Michael Biesecker. SENT: 900 words, photos.
— BADLY BURNED BOY — While prosecutors have convinced a judge that a Texas man can be tried as an adult for allegedly burning a boy when he was a teenager, securing a murder conviction in a case where the victim died 13 years after the attack will be difficult, experts say. SENT: 600 words, photos.
— FAA-DRONES — Judge dismisses FAA fine against commercial user for flying a small drone, citing a lack of regulations. SENT: 430 words.
— NUKE REPOSITORY-RADIATION — New Mexico residents, officials want more information on nuclear dump radiation release. SENT: 450 words, photo.
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 email@example.com.
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