Top Asian News 3:05 a.m. GMT

NEW DELHI (AP) — Charismatic but polarizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi surged to a landslide victory in Indian elections, propelling his Hindu nationalist party to back-to-back majorities in parliament for the first time in decades. With most of the estimated 600 million votes counted by early Friday, Modi's reelection mirrored a trend of right-wing populists sweeping to victory, from the United States to Brazil to Italy, often by promoting a tough security stance and protectionist trade policies. India's elections were seen as a referendum on Modi's Hindu-first politics, which critics say have bred intolerance, as well as his muscular stance on archrival Pakistan, with whom India nearly went to war earlier this year.

NEW DELHI (AP) — The man in the saffron robe sat cross-legged with his eyes closed, back to the wall of a cave framed by the Himalayas. This was India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's latest production, traveling to a remote mountain temple with a preferred TV news crew to show the world India's leader meditating days before the country's marathon elections ended. Modi, 68, has carefully constructed an image of himself as a pious man of the people, a would-be monk called to politics who has elevated India's status globally and transformed its general elections from a contest of political parties on social and economic issues into a cult of personality.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Seven people have died in election violence in the Indonesian capital, police said Thursday, as calm returned to the city and the losing presidential candidate prepared to challenge the result in court. The apparently orchestrated chaos that turned central Jakarta into a battleground started Tuesday night during peaceful protests over official results that confirmed President Joko Widodo had won the April 17 election, securing him a second term. National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said several hundred have been arrested and seven deaths were confirmed. Police, who responded to the rioting with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas, deny using live ammunition.

Asian superheroes — assemble. Marvel Comics is giving ink to an unprecedented team-up of its mightiest Asian and Asian American heroes, also known as the new Agents of Atlas. Established icons like martial arts master Shang-Chi and newbies like Wave, the newest Filipino superhero, will team up in a stand-alone, five-part comic book series starting this summer, the publishing giant told The Associated Press Thursday. The roster of 10 super-powered pan-Asian champions made their debut as a team earlier this month in "The War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas." That comic book is one piece of an ongoing saga involving several different groups across the Marvel universe, including the Avengers, doing battle with a fire goddess.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump rolled out another $16 billion in aid for farmers hurt by his trade policies, and financial markets shook Thursday on the growing realization that the U.S. and China are far from settling a bitter, year-long trade dispute. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that the first of three payments is likely to be made in July or August and suggested that the U.S. and China were unlikely to have settled their differences by then. "The package we're announcing today ensures that farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners," Perdue said.

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization is publishing its first-ever global strategy to tackle the problem of snakebites, aiming to halve the number of people killed or disabled by snakes by 2030. Nearly 3 million people are bitten by potentially poisonous snakes every year, resulting in as many as 138,000 deaths. Last week, Britain's Wellcome Trust announced an 80 million-pound ($100 million) program to address the problem, saying there were new potential drugs that could be tested. In a statement, Doctors Without Borders said it was "cautiously optimistic" WHO's snakebite strategy could be a "turning point" in addressing snakebites. The agency called the problem of snakebites "a hidden epidemic" and said most bites are treatable.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The former head of a Tokyo and Las Vegas investment firm was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison for bilking thousands of Japanese victims in what prosecutors called a $1.5 billion international Ponzi scheme that ranks among the largest-ever fraud cases in the U.S. Defendant Edwin Fujinaga, 72, also was ordered to pay nearly $1.3 billion in restitution to victims, including many vulnerable retirees in Japan who were told they were safely investing in a medical collections business that could earn a 6% to 10% annual return. Evidence at the trial showed that some lost their life savings while Fujinaga spent lavishly on himself, buying a Las Vegas golf course mansion, private jet, luxury cars and real estate in California wine country, Beverly Hills and Hawaii.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Two U.S. warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait in an apparent show of support for the government of the self-ruled island, which China claims as its own. Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement the ships passed through from south to north on Wednesday without incident, adding they were free to sail in the Taiwan Strait. China, which last month complained about a French ship's passage through the strait, said it had expressed concerns to the U.S. side. "According to information learnt from the relevant department, China followed closely the passage of the U.S. warships through the Taiwan Strait, and we are fully aware of the whole process," ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a news conference.

SYDNEY (AP) — Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush was awarded an Australian record of 2.9 million Australian dollars ($2 million) damages by a Sydney judge on Thursday in defamation case against a newspaper publisher and journalist over reports he had been accused of inappropriate behavior toward an actress. The 67-year-old Australian had sued Sydney's The Daily Telegraph's publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran in the Federal Court over two stories and a poster published in late 2017. Justice Michael Wigney found in April the publisher, News Corp.-owned Nationwide News, and Moran were reckless regarding the truth when they reported Rush had been accused of inappropriate behavior by actress Eryn Jean Norvill.

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court on Thursday blocked the leader of a new anti-junta political party from taking his seat in Parliament while it determines whether he violated election rules. The ruling against Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is likely to increase political tensions in Thailand, where the military has seized power from elected governments twice in the past 13 years and courts regularly issue rulings that critics call biased. The Constitutional Court accepted the case against Thanathorn on the recommendation of the state Election Commission, which accused him of breaking election law by holding shares in a media company.