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POPE FRANCIS VISITS SOUTH KOREA

POPE FRANCIS VISITS SOUTH KOREA

POPE FRANCIS VISITS SOUTH KOREA

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — "A few honeyed words" by North Korea as it tries to avoid a referral to the International Criminal Court has not changed the human rights situation on the ground there, the head of a U.N. commission of inquiry on the North told reporters Wednesday. Michael Kirby then had a rare exchange with North Korean officials, who showed up and challenged the commission's work during a U.N. human rights event featuring testimonies from North Korean refugees.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Why did North Korea free Jeffrey Fowle, and only him, when two other Americans remain in prison there? Probably because Pyongyang considered him the most minor of the three offenders, and may believe that releasing him could improve abysmal U.S. relations and even temper growing international criticism of its human-rights record. Fowle was not accused of espionage or "hostile acts," as the other Americans were. The 56-year-old was detained for six months for leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the city of Chongjin, where he was visiting with a foreign tour group.

WEST CARROLLTON, Ohio (AP) — An American arrested and held for nearly six months in North Korea for leaving a Bible at a nightclub returned home to Ohio on Wednesday to tears of joy and hugs from his wife and surprised children. A plane carrying Jeffrey Fowle, who was released with help from a retired diplomat and former Ohio congressman, landed Wednesday morning at an Air Force base near Dayton, where he was reunited with his family.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Pyongyang isn't exactly an international travel hub. But attracting more tourists is one of North Korea's top agenda items, so thousands of soldier-builders are working feverishly these days to give the capital a fancy new airport. The new airport, which is now in its final stages, is the latest of North Korea's "speed campaigns," mass mobilizations of labor shock brigades aimed at finishing top-priority projects in record time. Dressed in hard hats and brown or olive green uniforms, impressive swarms of workers toil under huge signs calling on them to carry out their tasks with "Korea Speed." From some corners of the site, patriotic music blares from loudspeakers to provide further motivation.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — For an envoy of the North Korean government, which virtually bans the average citizen's contact with the outside world, Kim Ju Song looks breezily connected. A tablet computer is propped on his table in the United Nations' bustling delegates lounge. He hands out his name card with a Gmail address and mobile number and suggests a "coffee meeting to exchange views." The young adviser to North Korea's foreign ministry is on an unusual mission that's almost certainly doomed to fail: Persuading the world that his country's dreadful human rights situation isn't so bad after all.

WASHINGTON (AP) — An influential Washington think tank is criticizing Myanmar's government for presiding over a "humanitarian catastrophe" in western Rakhine state and doing little to track down perpetrators of Buddhist-on-Muslim violence around the country. Those criticisms come in a very mixed assessment by the Center for Strategic and International Studies of the situation in Myanmar, three years after it began a historic transition to democracy from decades of oppressive and ruinous military rule.

HONG KONG (AP) — On one side of the table sat the idealistic and earnest students in jeans and black T-shirts, knapsacks by their sides. Facing them was the lineup of seasoned government officials in formal suits. In an unprecedented two-hour televised meeting Tuesday, the students passionately explained why they had taken to the streets for more than three weeks to fight for greater democracy in the specially-run Chinese region. The officials responded that the students' demands were not legally feasible.

BANGKOK (AP) — Two Myanmar migrant workers have retracted their confessions to killing two British travelers on a southern Thai resort island and now claim to have neither raped the female victim nor slain the pair, the men's lawyers said Wednesday. Human rights lawyer Rasada Manurasada said the arrested men claimed they were tortured and forced to confess under police custody, allegations previously denied by the police.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A U.S. Marine suspected in the gruesome killing of a transgender Filipino was flown Wednesday from his warship to the Philippine military's main camp, where he will continue to be guarded by fellow Marines, in a compromise that eased a looming irritant over his custody. The emotional case involving Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton and Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, came as the Philippines and the United States were strengthening ties with the recent signing of a defense accord that allows greater U.S. access to Philippine military camps. The accord would help Washington's bid to reassert its presence in Asia and Manila to deter what it calls China's aggressive moves to reinforce its claims in contested South China Sea territories.

PRAGUE (AP) — Yan Lianke, a Chinese author who has seen some of his novels banned in his homeland, has received the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize in the Czech Republic. Yan said he was grateful as he accepted the annual $10,000 prize Wednesday at Prague's City Hall.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's new president says he wants to be called by his nickname, and has revealed who first gave it to him: a French furniture buyer. Joko Widodo, who was sworn in as president on Monday, has long been widely known as Jokowi, a contraction of his two names.

SYDNEY (AP) — A second ship was preparing to join the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, as Malaysia's defense minister expressed confidence the plane will be found. The Discovery, provided by Dutch contractor Fugro, was scheduled to arrive in the search zone about 1,800 kilometers (1,100) miles west of Australia on Wednesday, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement. The GO Phoenix, a Malaysian ship that has been combing the area since early October, is in the Western Australian city of Fremantle getting fresh supplies.

In this photo by Niranjan Shrestha, a Nepalese police officer showers vermillion powder and flower petals on a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations at a police kennel division in Katmandu, Nepal. Dogs are worshipped during the Tihar festival to acknowledge their role in providing security. Tihar is one of Nepal's most important Hindu festivals.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he expects Malaysia's top court will dismiss his final appeal against a sodomy conviction next week and that he will be sent to prison for the second time in a decade. Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison in March on charges of sodomizing a male aide after the appeals court overturned an earlier acquittal. The Federal Court will hear his appeal Oct. 28-29.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government said Wednesday that it will send a group of officials to North Korea next week for an update on the North's investigation into the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in the 1970s and '80s. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the officials will arrive in Pyongyang on Monday for a four-day trip.

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