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News Briefs I

Ex-S. Korean President Will Be Indicted on Bribery Charges

Los Angeles Times
SEOUL, South Korea

South Korean prosecutors confirmed Monday that they will indict former President Roh Tae Woo Tuesday on bribery charges in connection with a $653 million slush fund he has admitted to amassing while in office.

Up to two dozen top business tycoons were also expected to face indictment Tuesday on charges of bribing Roh, although prosecutors indicated that at most only a few of them would face immediate arrest.

The full implications of the slush-fund scandal - which exploded onto South Korea's political scene with a tearful, publicly televised late-October confession by Roh - are still unfolding. The severity or leniency of treatment meted out to heads of the huge South Korean conglomerates, known as "chaebols," could have a major impact on the country's economy.

When Roh confessed to having accumulated the slush fund, Kim Dae Jung, head of the main opposition party, the National Congress for New Politics who also ran for president in 1992, swiftly admitted that he received a no-strings-attached gift of $2.5 million from Roh in connection with that campaign. A key opposition demand now is that President Kim also confess any links to the fund.

Car Blast in Grozny Leaves at Least 11 Dead, 60 Injured

Los Angeles Times

In the deadliest reminder to date that conflict still convulses rebel Chechnya, a car-bomb explosion Monday killed at least 11 people and injured more than 60 at a busy outdoor bazaar on the doorstep of the Moscow-installed government.

The noon blast in the center of Grozny, Chechnya's shattered capital, blew out windows for several blocks, hurled one car 30 feet and singed trees in the square where the detonation left a six-foot-wide crater.

Monday's attack was the latest demonstration by Chechen rebels that they can wreak havoc throughout Russia, even if they have all but lost the war that started after the Kremlin sent troops into Chechnya last Dec. 11.

Union Surrenders, Orders Caterpillar Strikers Back to Work

Los Angeles Times

Seventeen months into a labor walkout that has become a dismal and costly failure, the United Auto Workers on Sunday ordered 9,000 workers at Caterpillar Inc. to return to their jobs, even as those strikers over the weekend voted down the company's latest contract proposal.

"The longer the union stays without a contract, the worse the company's offers become," said line-crosser Jim Mangan. "By striking, the union has allowed the company to find out how easy it is to replace union workers."

Instead of surrendering to union demands, Caterpillar attempted something unprecedented for a manufacturer of its size. It kept its factories running at full speed, using managers, office workers and union line-crossers. With the demand high for its tractors, Caterpillar produced a run of record profits while its largest union stood on the street.

By now, most workers have sacrificed nearly two years in Caterpillar wages, about $80,000, though the union has supported them with $300 a week in strike pay. "You can get by on that," said striker Terry Smith. "But it's like being in a raft, trying to avoid the high waves."