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News Briefs One

South Korea to Probe Massacre

The Washington Post

South Korean prosecutors announced Thursday that they plan to reopen their investigation into a 1980 machine-gun massacre of civilians and the role two former presidents had in it.

Choi Hwan, head of the Seoul prosecutor's office, said he has formed a team to investigate the deadly repression of a civil uprising 15 years ago and the military coup that preceded it. By official count, 192 protesters in the city of Kwangju were gunned down or beaten to death. Opposition groups say the number is as high as 2,000.

Only last July, prosecutors announced they had finished an investigation into the massacre and decided not to indict two military leaders who became president, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo. But last week, President Kim Young Sam announced he will seek legislation to facilitate a full investigation into the killings.

Choi said those involved in the "military mutiny" in December 1979 and the May 1980 massacre, including Chun and Roh, "will be subject to investigation."

Groups protesting the massacre have also criticized the U.S. military - which has maintained a large presence on the divided peninsula since the Korean War - for what they view as its complicity in the bloody battle between Korean military leaders and protesting youths.

The United States has repeatedly said it was in no way involved in the incident, but there is a lingering belief in Korea that at the very least, the U.S. military should never have allowed the military coup leaders to mobilize against the protesters.

Outside Chun's house Monday, police battled student protesters demanding the former president's arrest.

Advances Made in Cancer Study


New studies of the damaging mutations found in the gene that causes some inherited cancers suggest that the position of the damage near the front of the gene, or near the back - helps determine the risk of ovarian cancer vs. breast cancer, scientists said.

The new results, published Thursday in Nature Genetics by geneticist Bruce Ponder's team in England, indicate that damage in the first half of the BRCA-1 gene's chemical message is more likely to cause ovarian cancer than mutations that hit in the second half.

According to geneticist Mary-Claire King, Ponder's work suggests that extra-short versions of the BRCA-1 protein are more likely to cause ovarian cancer, while longer - but still abnormal - versions are more likely to be involved in breast cancer.

Ponder said he and his colleagues at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge believe that cells in the ovary can still use the mutant protein if it has not been shortened too much. In contrast, breast cells may need the whole protein to avoid becoming cancerous.

The work was done by analyzing the mutant BRCA-1 genes found in families especially susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer.

River Levels Decrease as Flood Nears End in Washington

Los Angeles Times

Rain slackened and river levels inched downward all around a sodden western Washington state Thursday as residents and officials began to take stock of damage from widespread flooding after three days of drenching rains.

But most rivers continued to be under a flood warning, and downstream communities defended their ground with massive sandbagging campaigns. In the town of Mount Vernon, population 30,000, hundreds of high school students and others laid down 175,000 sandbags to keep out the cresting Skagit River. It appeared to be working.

"We expect it will hold," said Skagit County spokesman Ric Boge. "It looks like the effort is paying off." There was continuing concern farther downstream, where workers were furiously trying to shore up the levee protecting Fir Island, a low lying farm community near the Skagit River delta.

Washington Gov. Mike Lowry has declared emergencies in 16 counties and put the National Guard on alert to assist in flood operations.