Roh’s brother indicted
State prosecutors yesterday charged the elder brother of former president Roh Moo-hyun with accepting more than US$2 million in bribes during his sibling’s term in office. Roh Gun-pyeong, 66, was charged with taking 2.96 billion won (US$2.27 million) for helping arrange the takeover of a brokerage in 2006. Prosecutors say he colluded with local lobbyists to press the state-run National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, to acquire the ailing Sejong Securities. Nonghyup bought Sejong for 110 billion won in July 2006. Former and incumbent executives of Nonghyup and Sejong were also indicted, prosecutors said. They said Roh Gun-pyeong was also under investigation for alleged tax evasion and embezzlement while running his civil engineering firm. He has denied the charges. Roh Moo-hyun’s five-year term ended in February. He has not been linked to his brother’s case.
Kim still among the living?
Kim Jong-il is apparently alive — and his health seems to have stabilized enough to allow him to travel, media reports indicated. The reclusive leader is rumored to have been critically ill after suffering a stroke in August. But since last Tuesday, the media have been running a series of detailed reports on Kim’s whereabouts. Reports told of a visit by Kim to the northwestern province of Jakang. The reports said he visited a pottery house, a research institute, a steelworks, a machine shop and a military unit. He reportedly watched a national choir performance with a group of local workers. However, the media did not publish any pictures of the reported visits or give details such as dates. On Friday, Pyongyang accused Seoul of sending a spy in a plot to assassinate Kim.
NASA hunts rubber ducks
If anybody spots a yellow rubber duck bobbing on the ocean waves, NASA would like to know. The US space agency has yet to find any trace of 90 bathtub toys that were dropped through holes in Greenland’s ice three months ago in an effort to track the way the Arctic icecap is melting. Scientists threw the ducks into tubular holes known as moulins in the Jakobshavn glacier, hoping they would find their way into channels beneath the hard-packed surface, to track the flow of melt water into the ocean. The ducks were chosen for their buoyancy and ability to withstand low temperatures. NASA is offering US$100 to the first person who finds a duck. The ducks have an e-mail address stamped on them, together with the word “reward” in three languages, including Inuit.
Decapitated soldiers found
Police on Sunday found nine decapitated bodies and the army identified eight soldiers who had died fighting powerful drug gangs and whose murders were seen as a brazen challenge to the government. The bodies showed signs of torture. They were left on the side of a highway about an hour north of the tourist resort of Acapulco in the southern state of Guerrero, state police said. Their heads were stuffed in a plastic bag and left outside a shopping center.
Avalanches kill tourists
Avalanches in the Austrian Alps killed three German tourists on Sunday and blocked several roads in the Vorarlberg and Tyrol provinces, officials said. A 22-year-old unnamed snowboarder was buried by an avalanche on a closed slope in the Bregenzerwald region. His skiing partner was partly buried but managed to free himself, police were quoted as saying by the Austria Press Agency. In the Kleinwalsertal region, a 40-year-old man died under the snow after triggering an avalanche while skiing outside the prepared slopes, the press agency quoted police as saying. A 49-year-old skier who was reported missing on Saturday was found dead buried by an avalanche in the Grossvenediger region on Sunday, police said.