■ South Korea
Impeachment pact made
South Korea's two main opposition parties agreed yesterday to try to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun, but he dismissed the attempt to unseat him for breaking an election rule as an excessive gesture he had a duty to resist. The National Election Commission said last week Roh had violated election law by speaking in favor of the breakaway Uri Party last month ahead of an April 15 parliamentary election, but did not penalize him. The main opposition Grand National Party agreed yes-terday to join the smaller Millennium Democratic Party in submitting an impeachment bill to parliament today. The vote on impeachment would have to be held within 72 hours of the bill being introduced.
■ South Korea
Defector's life threatened
Police were investigating death threats against the country's top-ranked North Korean defector after a dozen menacing notes and a knife-pierced photo of him were discovered early yesterday on the office steps of a defectors' advocacy group. Hwang Jang-yop, a former chief of North Korea's parliament, defected to the South in 1997. The notes criticized Hwang's anti-North Korean activities and accused him of returning "North Korea's love and faith with betrayal."
Suicide over bird flu
The head owner of a poultry business accused of covering up the spread of deadly bird flu among its chickens apparently hanged himself with his wife on one of their farms, police said yesterday. Hajimu Asada, 67, and his wife, Chisako, 64, were found yesterday morning hanging from a tree outside a chicken pen in Himeji, about 480km west of Tokyo, a police official said. The Asada Nosan farm has come under fire for not telling authorities that its chickens were dying en masse, preventing officials from containing the disease at an early stage. Some 18,000 chickens had died of the flu on Asada's farm -- and some of the meat and eggs sold -- before an anonymous phone call alerted authorities.
Hunger strikers treated
The son of Malaysia's fundamentalist Islamic opposition leader collapsed and was hospitalized on the seventh day of a hunger strike to protest his deten-tion without trial for alleged militancy, human rights officials said yesterday. Nik Adli Nik Aziz, 37, was put on a drip and treated for dehydration at a hospital for several hours on Sunday before being returned to the prison camp where he has been held for more than two years, the officials said. Nik Adli is among 16 alleged members of a militant group allied to the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemmah Islamiyah at the camp who began refusing any food or drink March 1 to protest their detention. Another detainee was also hospitalized for hours on Sunday before being returned to the camp.
Jail time for kissing
Couples caught kissing passionately in public could spend five years in jail. Lawmakers have proposed an anti-pornography bill that includes a ban on kissing on the mouth in public. Heavy kissing could carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail or a 250 million rupiah (US$29,000) fine. Anyone caught flashing would face similar penalties. The bill also proposes bans on public nudity, erotic dances and sex parties, with jail terms ranging from three to 10 years.
■ United States
Water taxi search resumed
Authorities planned to continue searching yesterday for three people still missing and presumed drowned when a Baltimore, Maryland, water taxi capsized in a storm with 25 people on board. One person was confirmed dead in the mishap on Saturday in Baltimore's Inner Harbor with two survivors still in critical condition. The other 19 people aboard the flat, 10m-long pontoon when it was overturned in a fast-moving thunderstorm were plucked from the frigid water with few injuries. The search was suspended Sunday at dusk with more bad weather rolling into the city.