- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

NORTH KOREA

South urges that sanctions remain

SEOUL | U.N. sanctions on North Korea must remain in place even if the communist nation comes back to international nuclear disarmament talks, South Korea’s foreign minister said Thursday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said Monday that his government is willing to rejoin the six-nation nuclear talks depending on progress in its negotiations with the United States. Pyongyang withdrew from the six-party talks after conducting a rocket test in April and a nuclear test in May. It said at the time it would never return to the talks, which also involve China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan expressed doubts about the North’s statement, saying Pyongyang’s “true intentions are unclear.” Mr. Yu cited the regime’s habit of reaching disarmament pacts and then backtracking after receiving aid and concessions.

JAPAN

Typhoon rips main island

TOKYO | A powerful typhoon tore through Japan’s main island Thursday, peeling roofs off houses, cutting electricity to hundreds of thousands and forcing flight cancellations before turning back toward the sea. At least two men died.

During morning rush hour, more than 2 million commuters in Tokyo were stranded for hours as train services on several lines were suspended, while in other regions trucks were toppled on highways and bridges were destroyed by flash floods.

A man died when his motorbike slammed into a downed tree in the coastal prefecture of Wakayama, and another was killed by a falling tree just north of Tokyo, police said.

By evening, Typhoon Melor was downgraded to a tropical storm.

INDONESIA

Anti-corruption chief on trial for murder

JAKARTA | The chief of Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission went on trial Thursday charged with masterminding the murder of the head of a state-owned company.

Antasari Azhar, 56, was arrested in May, two months after Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, director of pharmaceutical company PT Putra Rajawali Banjaran, was fatally shot at a golf course on the outskirts of Jakarta, the capital.

Mr. Azhar has denied wrongdoing, describing his arrest as a smear campaign in retaliation for his efforts to put high-ranking officials behind bars.

But local media have speculated the slaying was a crime of passion, citing relatives of the victim who claimed both Zulkarnaen and Mr. Azhar were involved with a 22-year-old female golf caddy.

AUSTRALIA

Show apologizes for blackface skit

ADELAIDE | An Australian variety show host has apologized for a skit in which singers parodying the Jackson Five performed in blackface.

American singer and actor Harry Connick Jr., who was serving as a guest judge on Wednesday night’s “Hey Hey It’s Saturday,” was visibly shocked by the skit, in which four men with afro wigs and blackface sang and danced behind a Michael Jackson impersonator wearing white makeup.

Mr. Connick, 42, gave the performance a zero score and told them that if it had been done in the United States it would have been pulled off the air.

Blackface was a traditional trope of minstrel shows in the U.S. that dates to the 19th century. Whites playing stock black characters - usually offensive stereotypes meant to demean - rubbed coal, grease or shoe polish on their faces. Blackface performances are not common in Australia.

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