Arrest made in N-S deal
A widening investigation by South Korean prosecutors into accusations of big payoffs to induce North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, to agree nearly three years ago to the first meeting between North and South Korean leaders resulted in the arrest on Saturday of a once-powerful financial official. The official, Lee Keun-young, former chairman of South Korea's Financial Supervisory Commission, became the first official to be jailed in a scandal filled with implications for South Korea's policy of attempted reconciliation with the North. Officials said he was being held in custody.
Howard accepts resignation
Prime Minister John Howard yesterday accepted the resignation of the British queen's envoy over a child sex abuse scandal but, facing fierce criticism, defended the churchman he had named to the nation's top unelected job. Governor-General Peter Hollingworth submitted his resignation on Sunday after admitting that, as an Anglican archbishop in the 1990s, he had let a known pedophile remain a priest. An unproven 40-year-old rape case led him to stand aside two weeks ago. Howard, who hand-picked Hollingworth for the job in 2001, said the envoy was right to resign to protect the integrity of the office but defended Hollingworth, 68, saying attitudes toward handling child abuse had changed.
■ The Philippines
Sea collision kills 25
High seas led navy and coast guard ships to call off a search yesterday for any remaining victims of a collision between a wooden ferry and a steel-hulled passenger ship that killed at least 25 people on Sunday. An initial investigation suggested that the captain of the smaller M.V. San Nicolas, which quickly sank after the collision, steered his vessel into the side of the Superferry 12, a senior official said. Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said both skippers turned left to try to avoid colliding, suggesting a communication breakdown may have helped cause the accident. Rescuers found 182 survivors before weather conditions forced them to abandon the search. The San Nicolas listed 168 passengers and a crew of 25, but officials said it appeared more people were aboard than were listed on the manifest
Record Everest climb
Nepalese Sherpa Lhakpa Gela, 36, yesterday clipped almost two hours off the Everest speed climbing record that was set just three days ago, reaching the summit from Base Camp in a time of 10 hours 56 minutes, mountaineering sources said here. The tourism ministry said it was still awaiting confirmation of the claim. Lhakpa, making his tenth ascent of the world's highest peak, set out at 5:00pm Sunday on his quest and undertook the entire climb in darkness, the sources said.
Quake rocks capital
A powerful earthquake rocked northeastern Japan yesterday, causing blackouts in several cities and the closure of highways and railways. Buildings swayed in Tokyo, more than 420km away, and the capital's Narita airport was briefly shutdown. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered 60km below the sea floor off the coast of northeastern Miyagi prefecture, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.
Herd free of disease
There are no new cases of mad cow disease in the herd where Canada's lone infected cow spent its last five months, Canadian officials said on Sunday. Tests were negative for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the cattle slaughtered from a Wanham, Alberta, farm, said Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinarian. "I am encouraged that these test results strongly indicate that BSE has not spread in this herd," Evans told reporters.
Aznar loses little in polls
Spain's ruling conservatives shrugged off popular opposition to their backing of US Iraq policy in local and regional polls Sunday, as Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party gave ground only slightly to the opposition. While the Socialists -- whom opinion polls favored going into the elections -- came out slightly ahead in the popular vote, the PP took major cities such as Burgos and Granada and the region of the Balearic Islands, as well as the mayorship of Madrid. The leftist PSOE got its best score since Aznar roared to power in 1996.
■ United States
Cruise ship fire kills four
A boiler room explosion sparked a fire aboard a cruise ship docked at the Port of Miami early on Sunday, killing four crewmen and injuring 17 others, the Coast Guard said. No passengers were injured in the fire aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Norway, the company and the Coast Guard said. The fire was sparked by a boiler room explosion, possibly caused by a steam leak, Coast Guard Petty Officer Anastasia Burns said. Two crewmen died in the explosion and two others died later at a hospital, she said. Passengers were evacuated and the fire was extinguished. A cruise line spokeswoman said there were 2,135 passengers and 911 crew members aboard the 314m ship.
■ United Kingdom
Redgrave matriarch dead at 92
Actress Rachel Kempson, matriarch of perhaps the century's most accomplished dynasty of actors, has died at the age of 92, her family said. The wife of Sir Michael Redgrave, mother of Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave and grandmother of Natasha and Joely Richardson was a noted stage, film and television actress in her own right, often appearing alongside her more famous daughters. She was best known to television audiences as Lady Manners in the classic British colonial drama "Jewel in the Crown." A family spokesman said she had died of natural causes early on Saturday morning at the upstate New York home of her granddaughter, Natasha Richardson and Richardson's husband, the actor Liam Neeson.
■ United States
Officer defends counterpart
An American officer who served with Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins in Iraq has defended the British officer against allegations of war crimes. The controversial commander of the Royal Irish Regiment is being investigated by the army for breaches of the Geneva convention after a US reservist complained about his treatment of prisoners of war and of an Iraqi civilian. But Major Stan Coerr, a US marines reservist who was also attached to Collins' unit, has called the allegations a "travesty" and claimed the accuser acted out of "spite." British Sunday newspapers named Collins' accuser as Major Re Biastre, a part-time serviceman from New York state, who works as a school counsellor and traffic police officer.