Soldiers stripped of bullets
North Korea has been collecting ammunition from its soldiers to pre-empt possible revolt amid growing animosity toward Kim Jong-il’s regime, Free North Korea Radio reported. The move began on Feb. 18, the radio station reported on its Web site, citing a source it declined to identify. The station is run by North Korean defectors in Seoul who claim to be in contact with people in the North.
Bomb kills nine civilians
A roadside bomb struck a civilian vehicle in the east of the country yesterday killing nine civilians, including women and children, a provincial deputy police chief said. The civilians were driving into Khost City, capital of Khost Province, when their van was hit by the blast, Mohammad Yaqoub Mandozai said. “Three women, four children and two men were killed by the roadside bomb explosion. They were all civilians,” Mandozai said.
Duma ratifies transit deal
The lower house of parliament ratified an agreement on Friday that allows the US to ferry troops and supplies across Russian territory for military operations in Afghanistan. The Kremlin-controlled State Duma voted 347 to 95 in favor of the 2009 deal, which has already been implemented pending ratification. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Duma that there have been 780 US flights over Russia — carrying 115,000 US troops and more than 19,000 tonnes of cargo to and from Afghanistan — since September 2009.
PM resignation mulled
A senior lawmaker in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) suggested yesterday that the resignation of Prime Minister Naoto Kan was an option to gain the support of opposition parties in passing bills to implement a workable budget, Kyodo News agency reported. Kan, whose support ratings have dropped to about 20 percent, faces pressure from both inside and outside the party to quit or call a snap election and is struggling to enact a workable budget for this year and next year in a deeply divided parliament. “We need to prioritize the passage of the budget over the DPJ, Mr Kan and whatever,” Kyodo quoted supreme adviser for the DPJ Kozo Watanabe as saying. Rifts in Kan’s own party, which deepened after the party’s long-time powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa was indicted over funding scandals last month, have also distracted the government from dealing with policy problems, such as the country’s massive public debt.
LinkedIn working again
Social networking site LinkedIn is once again accessible, after apparently being blocked by authorities following online calls for Middle East-style protests across the country. The unidentified organizers of the protests have urged citizens to rally today in cities across the country. Last weekend, an initial attempt to organize protests attracted only a handful of participants, but that still proved enough to unnerve the government.Beijing has responded by increasing Internet filtering, stepping up police presence in cities and detaining dissidents. LinkedIn was not accessible in China for a few days this week, but was working again yesterday. The California-based, company has said that it continues to monitor the situation.
Turing’s archive preserved
Papers relating to codebreaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing will go to a local museum after the National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped in to help buy them for the nation. The public-backed fund said on Friday it had donated more than ￡200,000 (US$320,000) to a campaign to stop the notes and scientific papers from going to a private buyer. The documents were put up for auction by Christie’s in November, but did not sell. The papers will go to the Bletchley Park Museum northwest of London, which commemorates the famous World War II codebreaking center. One of the founders of modern computing, Turing worked at Bletchley Park and helped crack Nazi Germany’s secret codes by creating the “Turing bombe,” a forerunner of modern computers.