SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean police said Tuesday that a badly decomposed body found surrounded by liquor bottles in a field last month was that of a fugitive billionaire businessman blamed for April's ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people.
The body was found in a field of apricot trees in the southern city of Suncheon on June 12, local police station chief Wu Hyung-ho told a news conference. He said DNA and fingerprint samples taken from the body matched those of the wanted man, Yoo Byung-eun.
Wu said the body had decayed beyond recognition when it was found and a more thorough examination was needed to find how and when he died. An initial investigation showed there was no evidence that he was murdered, he said.
The dead man was wearing a pair of expensive shoes and a luxurious Italian brand Loro Piana winter parka. Also found near him were three empty Korean liquor bottles, a cloth bag and a magnifying glass, Wu said.
The state-run National Forensic Service took about 40 days to run the DNA tests. Suncheon police officers said the lab will conduct additional tests to find the cause and timing of Yoo's death.
Police and prosecutors have been seeking Yoo since May and had offered a $500,000 reward for tips about him. They believe Yoo was the owner of the ferry and that his alleged corruption may have contributed to its sinking.
The sinking, one of South Korea's deadliest disasters in decades, has caused an outpouring of national grief and renewed scrutiny about public safety. About 100 days after the disaster, 294 bodies have been retrieved but 10 people are still missing.
Prosecutors said Monday that 139 people had been arrested over the ferry sinking, including all 15 crew members tasked with navigating the ship, and employees at Chonghaejin, a company that operated the ferry, over suspicions of improper stowage and overloading of cargo. The crew members face charges of negligence and failing to perform their duties to rescue passengers, with four of them facing homicide charges.
Yoo faced allegations of tax evasion, embezzlement and professional negligence. Officials suspect the sinking may have happened because Chonghaejin illicitly funneled profits to his family and failed to spend enough money on safety and personnel.
Yoo, head of the now-defunct predecessor of Chonghaejin, allegedly still controlled the company through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders. The government offered a $100,000 bounty for Yoo's eldest son, and one of his daughters was arrested in France in May.
The predecessor company went bankrupt in the late 1990s but Yoo's family continued to operate ferry businesses under the names of other companies, including one that eventually became Chonghaejin.
Yoo is also a member of a church that critics and defectors say is a cult. Yoo's church made headlines in 1987 when 32 people, who critics suspect were church members, were found dead in the attic of a factory near Seoul in what authorities said was a collective murder-suicide pact. Church members have denied involvement.
Yoo was investigated over the deaths after a probe into the dead people's financial transactions showed some of their money was funneled to him. He was cleared of suspicions that he was behind the suicides because of a lack of evidence, but was convicted on a separate fraud charge.
Associated Press writer Jung-yoon Choi contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.
Such work could eventually point to new treatments, although they are many years away. Already, the new results provide the first hard genetic evidence to bolster a theory connecting the immune system to the disease.
More than 100 researchers from around the world collaborated in the biggest-ever genomic mapping of schizophrenia, for which scientists had previously uncovered only about a couple of dozen risk-related genes.
The study included the genetic codes of more than 150,000 people — nearly 37,000 of them diagnosed with the disease. Researchers found 108 genetic markers for risk of getting the disease, 83 of them not previously reported. And scientists say there are still likely more to be found.
"It's a genetic revelation; schizophrenia has been a mystery," said study co-author Steve McCarroll, director of genetics for the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. "Results like this give you things to work on. It takes it out of the zone of guesses about which genes are relevant."
The results were released Monday by the journal Nature. It takes large studies to ferret out genes related to schizophrenia risk because each gene generally has only a very weak effect.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder that makes it hard to tell the difference between what is real and not real, and affects about one out of every 100 people. Studies estimate that it costs $60 billion in the U.S. each year. Scientists have long known that genes play a part, and this work further confirms that.
The results are a "big step" toward finding drug therapies, said study lead author Dr. Michael O'Donovan, deputy director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University School of Medicine in Wales. While 108 genetic markers are a lot, the study authors say they tend to implicate a narrower group of biological functions, giving some but not too many hints for scientists to pursue.
"It's a map or maze. It's telling you were to start, it's not telling you where to end," O'Donovan said.
Scientists who didn't work on the study were excited by the possibilities it opens up.
"This makes me more optimistic than I was yesterday," said American Psychiatric Association president Dr. Paul Summergrad, psychiatrist-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center.
Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the work, said the study provides useful hints about the biology of the disease, especially the link to the immune system.
"This really is a big step forward," Insel said. "It's not an answer; it's a step forward toward an answer."
Scientists already knew that families with autoimmune disorders tend to have higher rates of schizophrenia, and there's been a link between certain viral infections in the second trimester of pregnancy and higher rates of schizophrenia in offspring, Insel said.
With the new work, "now it's very clear that there's something going in the immune system" with schizophrenia, said Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute, which was heavily involved in the research.
O'Donovan figures most people have at least 20 to 30 genes that nudge them toward developing schizophrenia, probably many more, but don't have the disorder itself. That's because it may still take an environmental or emotional trigger to bring on the illness.
Insel was especially excited about one study finding, that people with the most genetic markers were 15 times more likely to have schizophrenia than those with the fewest markers. He said he hoped that scientists can eventually develop a genetic test to identify young people at high risk for the disease, so they can be offered early treatment.
But O'Donovan and McCarroll said the work is way too preliminary to even hint at that. Even the people with elevated risk of schizophrenia according to the test were far more likely to be free of the disorder than to have it.
As for developing treatments, "I don't want to pretend than anybody's going to make drugs easily," Lander said.
But he said the study of schizophrenia genetics is now to the point that "we can actually turn the lights on and see what's going on."
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls turning on her television and seeing a young Chinese girl crying before a judge, without even an interpreter to help her after surviving a harrowing journey to the U.S.
That was the genesis of a law six years ago that is now at the center of an immigration crisis at the nation's Southern border. More than 57,000 youths, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S. illegally since October. Fewer than 2,000 of them have been sent back.
Immigration advocates and many Democrats insist on preserving what they describe as important protections in the 2008 law for unaccompanied youths who flee their home countries or are smuggled to the U.S.
Most Republicans and a few Democrats want to change the law to address circumstances far different from six years ago, when no more than 8,000 kids arrived at the border each year without their parents.
"The 2008 law creates a process that made sense when you're talking about a limited number of children, the victims of sex trafficking. It doesn't make sense when you talk about 50,000 unaccompanied minors," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "The 2008 law wasn't designed to deal with this situation."
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., countered, "The best interest of the child would be what the law says: Hold them in a safe and clean shelter, rather than returning them to face possible death."
The dispute has held up congressional action on President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request for more immigration judges, detention facilities and other resources for the border. Prospects for a compromise are dim, and Congress may leave for its annual summer recess in two weeks without doing anything to deal with the unfolding crisis.
Feinstein's measure was made part of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, named after an 18th century British abolitionist. It passed Congress with no controversy and was signed by former President George W. Bush without a lot of fanfare.
It codified court-ordered protections for unaccompanied young migrants, and modified a distinction in U.S. policy between the treatment of young Mexican migrants and those from other nations.
Under the law, kids from Mexico and Canada who arrive here without their parents or other guardians must go through an initial screening by Border Patrol agents, who can turn them around quickly unless they demonstrate a fear of persecution back home or meet certain other limited criteria.
Advocates say those screenings are inadequate, and a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees this summer said Border Patrol agents make the presumption that Mexican kids don't have protection needs, rather than taking the necessary steps to rule that out.
Youths from other countries, however, are automatically put into deportation proceedings and get an opportunity to make their case before a judge. In the meantime they're supposed to be handed over to the Health and Human Services Department within 72 hours, and from there released into the least restrictive setting that's in their best interest — usually the care of family members, who themselves may be in the country illegally.
There, they may wait for years as their case makes its way through the nation's immigration court system, which has a backlog of more than 350,000 cases. Many never will show up when their day in court does arrive.
In practice they have achieved what they set out to obtain: a new life in America.
"Very, very few are actually being sent back," Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said at a recent Senate hearing on the issue. "The practical effect of our policy is that once a child is placed with a sponsor, it's extremely unlikely that they're going to be deported."
Those circumstances have led Republicans to insist on changes to the 2008 law to allow Central American youths to be treated the same as those from Mexico, so they can be sent home quickly, broadcasting a message to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that new arrivals will not stay. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said he supports such a change.
On the other side are immigration advocates, the Catholic Church and a growing number of Democratic lawmakers, who say many of the youths are fleeing vicious gang violence.
"We're going to be sacrificing the safety of refugee children in the effort to send a message to the home countries," said Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, who was an aide to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., at the time of the law's passage.
Feinstein, Menendez and others also have begun to argue that that the law as written allows the administration flexibility to deal with the current circumstances, because it contains a provision for "exceptional circumstances."
"The process I don't think is the problem," Feinstein said. "The problem is what's at the home of these children."
But such arguments have gotten little traction with Republicans, who appear ready to insist that the law must change in order for them to sign off on money to address the crisis.
"I don't know how Congress can send more money to the border to begin to mitigate the problem if you don't do something about the '08 law that's being abused," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters last week. "And it is being abused."
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg says the best way to honor the 77 people who died in terror attacks three years ago is to "fight for openness, tolerance and diversity."
In a wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday, Solberg said "violent extremism can never be excused."
Far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik has confessed to the July 22, 2011, attacks in which he killed eight people in a bombing attack against the government headquarters and 69 others in a shooting spree at the left-wing Labor Party's youth camp on Utoya island. A ceremony will be held at Utoya later Tuesday.
NEW YORK (AP) — Solid earnings for a range of big companies helped nudge the stock market higher on Tuesday.
The restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill and the cable giant Comcast surged after reporting better results than Wall Street expected.
"The news today is pretty good," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. Kinahan pointed to a report out Tuesday that showed little sign of inflation and an overall stronger outlook for earnings. During conference calls to discuss quarterly results, more CEOs are taking an optimistic tone, he said, instead of warning about possible dangers.
"In the past, they all spent their time tempering expectations," Kinahan said. "This earnings season we're not seeing that at all. I think people are taking comfort in it."
The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 9.90 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,983.53. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61.81 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,113.54. The Nasdaq composite advanced 31.31 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,456.02.
Chipotle surged $69.84, or 12 percent, to $659.77, the biggest gain in the S&P 500 index. The burrito chain reported that stronger sales drove its quarterly profit up 26 percent. The restaurant chain's results beat analysts' expectations, even as it raised prices on a range of menu items.
Comcast, the country's largest cable company, reported quarterly profits that topped Wall Street's targets as more people signed up for Internet service. Comcast gained 81 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $54.63.
Wall Street is in the middle of corporate earnings season, when companies release their quarterly results. Investors pore over those reports to gauge the financial health of Corporate America, and in turn, the U.S. economy. Roughly 150 companies in the S&P 500 will report their results this week, including AT&T and Boeing on Wednesday. Visa and Amazon will report on Thursday.
Not all the results released Tuesday were positive. Weak sales of Diet Coke and fruit juice weighed down Coca-Cola's second-quarter results, leading the company to post weaker revenue than Wall Street expected. Overall profit fell slightly. Coca-Cola's stock sank $1.21, or 3 percent, to $41.19.
Even though companies continue to post higher profits, the market still looks expensive compared to its historical average. The S&P 500 currently trades for 17.4 times earnings over the previous 12 months. The long-run average is closer to 15.
"In the short term, I expect the market to continue higher," said Brad McMillan, the chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial. "But I am concerned about the market's valuation."
On the economic front, investors got another tame report on inflation. U.S. consumer prices inched up 0.3 percent in June, with most of the increase coming from higher gasoline prices, according to the Labor Department. Core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, were up just 0.1 percent. Over the past year, core prices are up 1.9 percent, close to the Federal Reserve's target rate for inflation.
U.S. government bond prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.46 percent. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 17 cents to $104.42 a barrel.
In other company news:
Herbalife jumped $13.75, or 26 percent, to $67.77. Activist investor Bill Ackman, who has a $1 billion bet against the company, vollied his latest attack against the nutritional supplement and weight-loss company, but investors appeared to dismiss it.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's health care law is snarled in another big legal battle, with two federal appeals courts issuing contradictory rulings on a key financing issue within hours of each other Tuesday.