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Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The president of the overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines proposed Wednesday to give Muslims in the south the ability to run their own government under their own flag, part of a peace plan aimed at ending a four-decade rebellion that has killed 150,000 people. The draft law submitted by President Benigno Aquino III to Congress fleshes out a peace deal signed in March by the country's largest Muslim insurgent group, the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

JHANG, Pakistan (AP) — Raging monsoon floods across India and Pakistan that have killed more than 450 people poured into the plains of eastern Punjab province on Wednesday, sending a major river over its banks and threatening to force hundreds of thousands from their homes. The Chenab River overflowed early Wednesday, threatening the nearby Pakistani district of Jhang in the worst flooding in the region in years.

SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Fiji on Wednesday may have jumped the gun by announcing that its 45 United Nations peacekeepers who are being held captive by Syrian insurgents would be freed soon. The South Pacific nation later tried to retract the comments, but by then they had been reported around the world.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani warplanes struck five militant hideouts in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 65 insurgents, the military said. The strikes, carried out in two phases hours apart, targeted areas in the North Waziristan tribal region, where the military has been conducting a major offensive since mid-June, the army said in a statement.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The candidate most likely to be named the next president of Afghanistan said Wednesday that he believes in a government of national unity and will seek to include his political opponent even if doing so requires negotiations after his swearing-in. The questions that candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai faced from journalists indicated that most people in the country, including Ghani Ahmadzai himself, assume he will be named the winner. His opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, conceded as much this week when he said he would not accept the "fraudulent" results expected to be announced by the election commission.

SYDNEY (AP) — The owner of a New Zealand tourist lodge has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting 16 guests, most of whom were from overseas, police said Wednesday. Michael Harris, 56, who owns the Main Street Lodge in the North Island town of Kaitaia, was charged with 39 offenses against 16 men, including indecent assault, aggravated wounding related to allegedly drugging the men and making intimate visual recordings, police said in a statement.

TOKYO (AP) — A nuclear power plant in southern Japan won regulators' approval Wednesday under new safety standards imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, a key step toward becoming the first to restart under the tighter rules. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously approved an inspection report for the Sendai Nuclear Power Station's two reactors. It concluded that the reactors complied with new regulations designed to avoid major damage during disasters such as the massive earthquake and tsunami that caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian hospital was treating a patient as a suspected Ebola case on Thursday, although he is unlikely to have the deadly disease, an official said. The 25-year-old man had been isolated and was being tested after arriving at the Gold Coast University Hospital in Queensland state on Thursday, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service spokeswoman Amanda Noonan said.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — In Asia's bastion of Roman Catholic faith, images of Pope Francis are getting the pop star treatment. A church-run radio station in the Philippines is distributing life-size cardboard cutouts of the pope to generate "papal fever" among selfie-loving Filipinos before the pope's visit in January.

In this photo by Achmad Ibrahim, two workers sleep on a raft at Jakarta's Sunda Kelapa port, which was built more than 450 years ago during Indonesia's years as a Portuguese colony. The port, also called Pasar Ikan or "fish market," is a minor port today but was key to Jakarta's development as a city. Today it attracts tourists who come to see the traditional seafaring vessels at anchor, visit the fish market or tour the area by canoe. While large ports often have shift workers and on-site management, the labor at small ports like Sunda Kelapa is commonly done by independent workers, who can set their own hours and sleep on the site as needed.

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A spokesman for the U.N. mission in South Sudan says China is expected to deploy up to 700 peacekeeping troops to South Sudan as part of the increase in military personnel authorized by the Security Council last year. Joe Contreras said Wednesday that none of those troops has arrived in South Sudan and that a final decision has not been made on where they will be deployed.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian police arrested two men Wednesday for allegedly preparing to fight in Syria, recruiting jihadists and raising money for an al-Qaida offshoot group, as a national spy chief warned that Australia may elevate its terrorism threat to its second-highest level within days. Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said 180 police took part in the raids on nine properties in the neighboring east coast cities of Brisbane and Logan.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong earthquake hit off the coast of eastern Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Wednesday, causing panic among residents, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami. The magnitude-6.5 quake struck at a depth of 22.5 kilometers (13 miles) and was centered about 122 kilometers (76 miles) southeast of Mondayang, a town in northern Sulawesi, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has accused Chinese authorities of beating several of its fishermen and demanded severe punishment for those involved. China denied the allegation on Wednesday and said the fishermen had been detained for illegal fishing. It was the latest confrontation boosting tensions in a sea dispute between the Communist neighbors.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Helicopters will begin an aerial search for two mountaineers who lost contact with their base camp after scaling what has long been considered Myanmar's tallest peak, officials said Wednesday. Myo Thant, leader of the Mountaineering Association, said eight climbers headed up Hkakabo Razi last month, but due to the narrow route to the summit, only two continued on the final stretch.

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