■ South Korea
Three killed in collision
Three Chinese were killed and nine were missing after their ship collided with a South Korean vessel and sank, a South Korean coast guard official said yesterday. Five Chinese crew members were rescued by South Korean authorities. The collision of the two commercial vessels took place in the predawn hours yesterday a few kilometers west of South Korean islands in the Yellow Sea near the port of Inchon. A coast guard official gave no cause for the collision.
Legislation proposed by Muslim legislators to ban pornography and obscene acts will not affect whether scantily clad tourists can sunbathe on Bali, Vice President Jusef Kalla said yesterday. Kalla was responding to fears among members of the island's Hindu community that the bill would affect the tourism industry by criminalizing sunbathing, as well as being incompatible with its Hindu culture. The bill, drawn up by Muslim parties and clerics, also calls for prison terms and fines for kissing in public, among others.
Arroyo to ride out crisis
Embattled President Gloria Arroyo has rejected calls to resign and call snap elections to resolve a political standoff, her aides said yesterday. Critics and members of the opposition have been pressing Arroyo to quit over allegations she stole the presidential election in May 2004. Arroyo's political adviser Gabriel Claudio said on local television yesterday that the only way for snap elections to happen was if the Constitution was amended and for a change in the system of government to take place.
Buddha boy still AWOL
Hundreds of volunteers and police searched yesterday in a jungle of southern Nepal for a missing teenage boy who many believe is the reincarnation of Buddha, but failed to find any trace of him, an official said. Searchers have covered a large area around where the boy, Ram Bahadur Banjan, 15, was last seen on March 11 in a forest where he had meditated for the last 10 months, allegedly without food and water, local government official Harihar Dahal said. Dahal rejected claims by some of Banjan's followers that he had briefly appeared on Sunday about 3km from where he had been meditating and said he would return in six years. Banjan had been sitting cross-legged and motionless with his eyes closed since last May 17. Buddhist priests who visited him said the boy was not the incarnation of Buddha, but believed he had been meditating for months.
Mold menaces cherry trees
Japan's cherry trees are in danger of being wiped out in a decade unless measures are taken quickly to control a mold attacking them, the Flower Association of Japan reported in a survey yesterday. The contagious disease, known as witches' broom, slowly devours cherry trees by first taking away their ability to produce flowers, Kyodo News Agency reported. The demise of a national symbol of Japan would disappoint many who routinely gather under the cherry trees around the nation in March and April during the short blossom season.
■ South Korea
Bogus diploma ring busted
Some musicians may be singing the blues after prosecutors said they had broken up a crime ring selling bogus music diplomas from Russia, which helped many land university jobs and seats in orchestras. A 51-year-old woman, identified by her family name Do, was arrested at the weekend on suspicion of working with a dean of a Russian music college to provide fake master's degrees to about 120 South Koreans, Seoul prosecutors said. They said that Do operated a music academy in Seoul which helped students obtain a fake degree from a school in Vladivostok.