BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai political party on Friday named a princess as its nominee to be the next prime minister, upending tradition that the royal palace plays no public role in politics and upsetting all predictions about what may happen in next month's election. The selection of 67-year-old Princess Ubolratana Mahidol by the Thai Raksa Chart Party marks a shock realignment of Thai politics, as she is now affiliated with a political machine that had been dismissed by hardcore royalists as opposed in spirit to the monarchy. Her selection to lead the government after the March 24 general election also pits her against the preferred candidate of the military, which is considered one of Thailand's most royalist institutions.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea is stepping up a new loyalty campaign as leader Kim Jong Un prepares for his second summit with President Donald Trump. The campaign began last month with the introduction of a song in praise of the nation's flag. A video now being aired on state-run television to promote the song — called "Our National Flag" — shows repeated images of the flag being raised at international sports competitions and being formed by a sea of people holding up colored lengths of cloth at a parade and rally on Kim Il Sung Square. Other images show recent improvements in the economy and standard of living, a reflection of a current government policy shift that focuses on development and prosperity.
SYDNEY (AP) — Australian police arrested six people after what authorities said Friday was the largest single seizure of methamphetamine in the United States and the biggest drug haul bound for Australia. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said 1,728 kilograms (3,800 pounds) of the drug were seized mid-January at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex along with smaller amounts of cocaine and heroin. The drugs were hidden in metal boxes labelled as loudspeakers. Australian authorities said it was also the largest haul of the drug intercepted while bound for Australia and would have provided around 17 million hits of the substance also known as ice.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Koreans, always deeply divided over how best to deal with their often-belligerent northern neighbor, are reacting with both hope and wariness to President Donald Trump's announcement that he will hold a second nuclear disarmament summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But for liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is eager to push ahead with ambitious plans for engagement with North Korea, a breakthrough in Vietnam is crucial. Moon served as diplomatic middleman between the U.S. and North Korea following the North's increasingly powerful string of weapons tests and Trump's threats of military action in 2017,
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Thursday to take a "step-by-step" approach in resolving a territorial dispute with Russia left over from World War II. Abe told a rally of former residents of four islands seized by Russia in the war's final days and their supporters Thursday that settling the conflict over what Japan calls its "northern territories" was difficult but necessary. "It is not easy to resolve this task remaining over 73 years since the war. Yet, we need to tackle this," Abe said. "Keeping in mind your sentiments toward the Northern Territory, we are determined to take a step-by-step approach toward resolving the territorial issue," he said.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands is in diplomatic discussions with Russia about the European country's assertion that Moscow bears legal responsibility for its role in the 2014 downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine, the Dutch foreign minister said Thursday. Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the initial diplomatic contacts were aimed at paving the way for formal talks and conducted in "a positive atmosphere." He said it was too early to say where and when formal talks might take place. "There are diplomatic contacts to see if we can begin formal talks about national responsibility for shooting down MH17," Blok told Dutch reporters.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The Indonesian government is planning to post some of the dozens of underemployed generals into high-ranking civilian roles, alarming rights groups who see it as a threat to the country's young democracy. Indonesia's military has at least 150 generals without defined positions, partly due to a rise in the retirement age, and President Joko Widodo is planning a regulation to create 60 new posts for them, including in the civilian bureaucracy. Al Araf, the director of Indonesian rights group Imparsial, said Thursday the plan is inconsistent with the spirit of reforms that followed the end of dictator Suharto's rule in 1998 and returned the military to barracks.
BEIJING (AP) — Pilots from Taiwan's China Airlines went on strike Friday in the middle of the Lunar New Year travel rush, forcing the cancellation of 26 flights over coming days and stranding thousands of passengers. Hundreds of the state-owned carrier's 1,300 pilots were believed to have joined the action Friday over complaints of long work hours on long-haul routes and the refusal of management to make improvements in order to suppress costs. That led to chaotic scenes at the island's three main airports as angry passengers demanded answers from airline staff. The Lunar New Year is Taiwan's busiest travel period, with thousands flying home to island or taking trips abroad.
Stanford University has started a review of interactions that some faculty members had with He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who claims to have helped make gene-edited babies. Several Stanford professors have said they knew or strongly suspected He wanted to try gene editing on embryos intended for pregnancy. The work has been widely criticized since November, when He revealed the births of twins whose DNA he said he altered to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus. Most scientists think gene editing for reproductive purposes is too risky to be tried yet because of the danger of harming other genes and because the DNA changes may be passed to future generations.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — An Abu Sayyaf militant leader accused of plotting a recent suicide attack in a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines may be harboring a foreign would-be suicide bomber in his jungle base, a senior official said Thursday. Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said Abu Sayyaf commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who allegedly plotted the Jan. 27 attack at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral on Jolo island that killed 23 people, was also behind a suicide attack last year that killed 11 people in nearby Basilan province. Sawadjaan's goal was to assert his new role as Islamic State group leader in the southern Philippines, Ano said.