CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government said Wednesday it would reopen a mothballed island detention camp in anticipation of a new wave of asylum seekers arriving by boat after Parliament passed legislation that would give sick asylum seekers easier access to mainland hospitals. The Christmas Island immigration detention camp, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, was a favorite target of people smugglers who brought asylum seekers from Asia, Africa and the Middle East in rickety boats from Indonesian ports before the trade virtually stopped in recent years. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a security committee of his cabinet agreed to reopen the camp on the advice of senior security officials.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Dancers in hot pants. Factories pumping out Air Jordan lookalikes. TV dramas that are actually fun to watch. North Korean pop culture, long dismissed by critics as a kitschy throwback to the dark days of Stalinism, is getting a major upgrade under leader Kim Jong Un. The changes are being seen in everything from television dramas and animation programs to the variety and packaging of consumer goods, which have improved significantly under Kim. Whether it's a defensive attempt to keep up with South Korea or an indication that Kim is willing to embrace aspects of Western consumer culture that his predecessors might have viewed as suspiciously bourgeois isn't clear.
BEIJING (AP) — Members of the Uighur Muslim ethnic group are calling on China to post videos of their relatives who have disappeared into a vast system of internment camps. The social media campaign, launched Tuesday under the hashtag #MeTooUyghur, follows the release of a state media video showing famed Uighur musician Abdurehim Heyit, who many believed had died in custody. "China, show us their videos if they are alive!" Halmurat Harri, a Finland-based Uighur activist, wrote on Twitter. He urged the government to also release videos to prove that others believed detained are in good health amid reports of neglectful and sometimes brutal conditions in the camps.
BANGKOK (AP) — The Thai political party that took the unprecedented and ultimately unsuccessful step of nominating a princess as its candidate for prime minister is fighting against moves to dissolve it. The Thai Raksa Chart Party on Wednesday appealed for the Election Commission to hear its defense after unconfirmed reports circulated that the state body would forward to the courts a recommendation for dissolution. The party on Feb. 8 named Princess Ubolratana Mahidol its candidate for prime minister for the March 24 general election. But King Maha Vajiralongkorn just hours later issued an edict effectively banning the action because it was inappropriate and unconstitutional.
NEW DELHI (AP) — A fire engulfed a shoddily built budget hotel in central New Delhi early Tuesday, killing 17 people and injuring at least four others, including a woman from Myanmar who leaped from an upper floor to escape the flames, Indian authorities said. Three of those killed were members of a family who had traveled to India's capital from Kerala in southern India to attend a wedding, family friend Arvind Vishwanathan said outside a hospital mortuary. Most of the deaths at the Arpit Palace Hotel in Karol Bagh, an area in India's capital city popular with tourists because of its shops and budget hotels, were due to suffocation, said Satyendar Kumar Jain, the Delhi government minister of health and urban development, as he toured the site after the fire was extinguished.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's first president following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country and the collapse in 1992 of Kabul's pro-communist government, Sibghatullah Mujadidi, has died. He was 93. The white-turbaned and soft-spoken Mujadidi was a mentor to former President Hamid Karzai, who had belonged to his anti-communist resistance group during the 1980's Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Mujadidi's guerrilla group — the U.S.-backed Afghan National Liberation Front — was perhaps the smallest and most moderate of guerrilla groups fighting to oust the former Red Army from Afghanistan. The Soviet invasion came at the height of the Cold War between America and the former Soviet Union.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Vietnam's foreign minister arrived in North Korea on Tuesday ahead of a planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam's capital later this month. Pham Binh Minh is expected to stay until Thursday. No further details of his schedule have been released by his North Korean hosts. Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, is to host the summit between Trump and Kim on Feb. 27-28. The two leaders held their first summit last June in Singapore. The United States is hoping to get a firm commitment on denuclearization from Kim.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian authorities have seized a record 30 tons of pangolin and pangolin products in eastern Sabah state on Borneo, the biggest such bust in the country, a wildlife monitoring group said Tuesday. The monitoring network Traffic said in a statement that Sabah police this month uncovered two major pangolin processing facilities, throwing a spotlight on Sabah's role in the sourcing and trafficking of the endangered scaly mammal. Sabah police said over the weekend they had seized three refrigerated containers containing 1,800 boxes filled with frozen pangolins, another 572 frozen pangolins in separate freezers, 61 live pangolins and 361 kilograms of pangolin scales.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban on Tuesday announced a 14-member negotiating team ahead of talks this month with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been meeting with the insurgents to try to end America's longest war. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will head the Taliban team, which includes five former inmates of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay who were released in 2014 in exchange for U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after wandering off his base. The team also includes Anas Haqqani, the jailed younger brother of the leader of the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban faction.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A refugee soccer player thanked Australians on his return home Tuesday hours after the threat of extradition to Bahrain was lifted and three months after he was detained in Thailand. Hundreds of supporters carrying welcome signs and singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" were waiting at Melbourne Airport when Hakeem al-Araibi arrived on a commercial flight direct from Bangkok. "I would like to say thanks to Australia," Al-Araibi told the cheering crowd. "It's amazing to see all of the people here and all of the Australian people and all of the media who supported me." Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia, where he has refugee status and plays semi-professional soccer.