- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SOUTH KOREA

Activists issue anti-Pyongyang’s leaflets

SEOUL | South Korea said Monday it could not stop activists launching anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the tightly guarded frontier despite North Korea’s threat to restrict border crossings in retaliation.

The North’s military warned Saturday that it would take “decisive measures” soon unless the South curbed what it called a “despicable psychological smear campaign.”

As a first step, it threatened to scrap military agreements guaranteeing the safety of South Koreans crossing the border — a move that would effectively halt passage to and from a joint industrial estate at Kaesong in the North.

The warning further chilled relations after the North announced last week it was scrapping an agreement on a tour program to its Mount Kumgang resort.

Tensions with Seoul were already high after the unexplained sinking of a South Korean warship near the disputed border on March 26, although the South has not so far accused the North of involvement.

Activists use giant balloons to carry tens of thousands of leaflets — and sometimes DVDs as well — into the communist state. These criticize the alleged lavish lifestyle and womanizing of leader Kim Jong-Il, as well as his reported ill health.

CHINA

Medical parole rejected for jailed dissident

BEIJING | Chinese authorities have rejected a request for medical parole for a dissident who has championed AIDS victims and was imprisoned for sedition after being accused of plotting to disturb the Olympic Games, his wife said Monday.

Zeng Jinyan appealed last week to Beijing prison authorities, saying a medical consent form for her husband Hu Jia when he entered a prison hospital last month showed a possible diagnosis of liver cancer.

The appeal brought immediate support from some human rights groups, and a petition in Chinese backing the medical parole has been circulating online.

But a prison hospital director called Mr. Hu’s mother Monday morning and said the request for parole had been rejected, and that Mr. Hu has been moved from the hospital back to prison, Mrs. Zeng said.

The prison director told Mr. Hu’s mother that Mr. Hu had a “blood tumor” on his liver and his health didn’t meet the conditions of medical parole.

Mrs. Zeng said she wants a written response and is still asking for medical parole.

Mr. Hu, 36, is serving a 3½-year jail term for sedition that is set to end in June 2011. The charge stems from police accusations that he had planned to work with foreigners to disturb the Olympic Games.

VATICAN CITY

Vatican requires bishops to report sex abuse

The Vatican responded Monday to charges that it had concealed years of clerical sex abuse by making it clear for the first time that bishops and other high-ranking clerics should report such crimes to police if required by law.

Victims have charged that the Catholic Church created what amounted to a conspiracy to cover up abuse by keeping charges of abuse secret and not reporting them to civil authorities.

The Vatican has insisted that it has long been the Catholic Church’s policy for bishops, like all Christians, to obey civil laws. In a new guide for lay readers posted on its Web site, the Vatican explicitly spells out such a policy.

“Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed,” the Vatican guidelines said.

That phrase was not included in a draft of the guidelines obtained Friday by the Associated Press. The rest of the guidelines follow previously known and public procedures for handling canonical investigations and trials of suspected abuse.

The Vatican offered no explanation for the addition.

RUSSIA

Visiting U.S. officials to discuss adoptions

MOSCOW | A delegation of high-level State Department officials will visit Moscow for consultations after Russia threatened to freeze adoptions for U.S. families, the U.S. Embassy said Monday.

Russia threatened Friday to suspend all such adoptions after a 7-year-old boy adopted by a Tennessee woman was sent alone on a flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems. The case has caused outrage in Russia.

U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle said in a statement Monday that the delegation will discuss a possible agreement or bilateral understanding to ensure the well-being of Russian children adopted by families in the United States.

A freeze could affect hundreds of American families. Last year, nearly 1,600 Russian children were adopted in the U.S., according to the National Council For Adoption, a U.S. adoption advocacy nonprofit group.

Placing children inside Russia remains difficult. There are more than 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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