• Dragon and lion dancers perform amidst exploding firecrackers in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 at Manila's Chinatown district in Manila, Philippines. This year is Year of the Monkey in the Lunar calendar. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Chinese visit temples, fairs to ring in Year of the Monkey

    BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and others around Asia flocked to temples and fairs to pray for good health and fortune on Monday, the first day of the Lunar New Year.

    Updated: 6:35 am

  • In this Jan. 16, 2016 photo, Tzotzil Indians participate in the procession in honor of the Christ of Esquipulas in Chajtoj, Chiapas state, Mexico. Pope Francisí visit to the heavily indigenous Mexican state of Chiapas appears aimed at celebrating the regionís ìIndian church,î a mix of Catholicism and indigenous culture once considered a thorn in the side of standard liturgy by the Vatican. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

    Pope Francis visit to celebrate Mexico’s indigenous church

    SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) — Pope Francis’ visit to the heavily indigenous Mexican state of Chiapas appears aimed at celebrating the region’s “Indian church,” a mix of Catholicism and indigenous culture once considered a thorn in the side of standard liturgy by the Vatican.

  • Christian group says China charges pastor with embezzling

    BEIJING (AP) — A Christian rights group says a pastor in a Chinese province where authorities have been cracking down on churches has been charged with embezzling funds.

  • Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope, Russian Orthodox patriarch to meet in historic step

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in a historic step to heal the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity between East and West, both churches announced Friday.

  • In this Thursday, Feb. 3, 2016 photo, visitors stand next to a religious ornament with the "manji" symbol, which comes from the ancient Sanskrit and is widely used for centuries to denote Buddhist temples on maps and elsewhere, at a temple in Tokyo. As Japan gears up to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and caters to a surging influx of foreign visitors, the country faces a cultural dilemma: Should it stop identifying Buddhist temples on maps with the traditional "manji" symbol that is often confused with a Nazi swastika? (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    Japan may change temple map icon to avoid Nazi confusion

    TOKYO (AP) — As Japan gears up to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and caters to a surging influx of foreign visitors, the country faces a cultural dilemma: Should it stop identifying Buddhist temples on maps with the traditional “manji” symbol that is often confused with a Nazi swastika?

  • Saudi official says kingdom ready to send troops to Syria

    CAIRO (AP) — A Saudi military spokesman said Thursday the kingdom is ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State group provided coalition leaders agree during an upcoming meeting in Brussels.

  • A sign is seen on the front window of Watt's Blooming, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Indianapolis. The florist does not discriminate and will serve all. Some worry that decades of work to reverse the city's sleepy image by luring conventions, businesses and even a Super Bowl to Indianapolis could be turned back by an ongoing culture war over civil rights protections for LGBT people that has divided urban areas from rural. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    Indiana culture war over gay rights worries business leaders

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Downtown Indianapolis was once so desolate that men armed with shotguns hunted pigeons on Sundays among empty buildings and a trash-strewn river canal.

  • President Barack Obama speaks to members of the Muslim-American community at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Baltimore, Md. Obama is making his first visit to a U.S. mosque at a time Muslim-Americans say they're confronting increasing levels of bias in speech and deeds.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Obama makes first visit of his presidency to a US mosque

    CATONSVILLE, Md. (AP) — President Barack Obama sought Wednesday to correct what he called a “hugely distorted impression” of Muslim-Americans as he made his first visit to a U.S. mosque. He said those who demonize all Muslims for the acts of a few are playing into extremists’ hands.

  • Mukhriz Mahathir, center, the son of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, speaks during a press conference in Kedah, Malaysia, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Mukhriz Mahathir has resigned as a state chief minister, saying he was ousted because of his criticism of Prime Minister Najib Razak over a $700 million financial scandal. (AP Photo) MALAYSIA OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVES

    Malaysian politician ousted over criticism of prime minister

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The son of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned as the top leader of a federal state Wednesday, saying he was ousted because he had criticized Prime Minister Najib Razak over a $700 million financial scandal.

  • Precinct captain for Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, John Grouse explains the caucus process before caucusing begins in Nevada, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

    AP PHOTOS: Iowans gather to caucus, make pick for president

    NEVADA, Iowa (AP) — At hundreds of fire stations, high school gyms, church basements, American Legion halls and even a few private homes, Iowans gathered Monday night for the state’s famed caucuses — the first step toward picking a new U.S. president.