SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea is offering a $50,000 reward for information about a mysterious missing billionaire who authorities say owns a ferry that sank last month, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing.

The disappearance of Yoo Byung-eun and his son has caused a media frenzy in South Korea. Yoo is a member of a church that critics call a cult and have linked to a 1987 mass suicide; church members deny involvement.

Yoo, 73, was thought to be holed up in a sprawling church compound near Seoul, and there was a tense, dayslong standoff between police and hundreds of church followers, some of whom reportedly threatened to die as martyrs.

But Yoo wasn't there when church members on Wednesday finally opened the compound to authorities, and some speculated that he may have fled to the home of a church follower. Prosecutors and police then announced a 50 million won ($50,000) reward for information about Yoo's location, and 30 million won ($30,000) for details about his eldest son.

Yoo, head of the now-defunct predecessor of the ferry's current operator, Chonghaejin, allegedly still controls the company through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders. Senior prosecutor Kim Hoe-jong said authorities believe Yoo is the chairman of Chonghaejin.

Yoo faces allegations of tax evasion, embezzlement and professional negligence. Prosecutors have said they suspect that the April 16 ferry sinking may have happened because Chonghaejin illicitly funneled profits to Yoo's family, and so failed to spend enough money on safety and personnel. His son, Yoo Dae-gyun, faces embezzlement allegations.

Chonghaejin's official leader, CEO Kim Han-sik, and four other employees have already been arrested. Officials suspect improper stowage and overloading of cargo may have contributed ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. – A suburban Philadelphia math teacher has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student.

Thirty-three-year-old Jessica Streeper of Doylestown is charged in Montgomery County with institutional sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors and related offenses.

Police in Norristown said an anonymous caller alerted them to the alleged relation between the student and Streeper, a teacher at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy. Authorities allege in a criminal complaint that the eighth-grader told them that he had sex with Streeper in her car and in her home.

Streeper remained in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail. A number listed for her had been disconnected and the county public defender's office, listed in court documents as representing her, said Friday that no attorney had been assigned.

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At least 31 people have died and 90 have been injured in an attack on an open-air market in the capital of Xinjiang province in western China Thursday, the latest in a series of violent incidents that the Chinese government has blamed on radical Muslim separatists.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency said that the assailants plowed through crowds of shoppers in off-road vehicles and threw explosives out the window before crashing head-on in the attack in the city of Urumqi. The agency said one of the vehicles then exploded and quotes an eyewitness as saying there were up to a dozen blasts in all.

"I heard four or five explosions. I was very scared. I saw three or four people lying on the ground," Fang Shaoying, the owner of a small supermarket located near the scene of the blast, told the Associated Press.

The Xinjiang regional government said in a statement that the early morning attack was "a serious violent terrorist incident of a particularly vile nature."

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. Recent violence has been blamed on extremists seeking to overthrow Chinese rule in the region, which is home to the native Turkic-speaking Uighurs but has seen large inflows from China's ethnic Han majority in recent decades.

The death toll was the highest for a violent incident in Xinjiang since dayslong riots in Urumqi in 2009 between Uighurs and Hans left almost 200 people dead. Thursday's attack also was the bloodiest single act of violence in Xinjiang in recent history.

Photos from the scene posted to popular Chinese social media site Weibo showed at least three people lying in a street with a large fire in the distance giving off huge plumes of smoke. Others were sitting ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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WASHINGTON – A little girl forced to watch as members of Boko Haram butchered her father and shot her brother showed true grit Wednesday when she recounted the details of her nightmare on Capitol Hill.

Deborah Peter, 15, told her story to members of the media before attending a House hearing where lawmakers debated ways to help counter the Islamist group behind last month’s kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Peter’s hometown of Chibok, Nigeria.

The hearing was at times a showcase opportunity for lawmakers, but Peter’s dramatic story captured most of the attention.

On Dec. 22, 2011, three men came to her home in Chibok. The men, carrying guns, pounded on the door around 7:30 in the evening and demanded to see her father, a Christian pastor.

“They told him to deny his faith and he told them he couldn’t,” Peter, who was then just 12 years old, said.

That’s when the men, who are members of the Islamist radical group Boko Haram, shot her father three times in the chest. He was lying on the floor, dying, when her brother Caleb started screaming.

“Then they shot my brother twice,” Peter said.

After that, Peter says she went into shock. The men forced her to the ground and made her lie between the bloodied corpses. She stayed there all night. It’s where another pastor found her the next morning.

That pastor, a friend of her father’s, was able to get enough money together to pay people to take Peter out of the region. Her mother was forced to stay behind.

The pastor who helped Peter was killed two years later by Boko Haram.

“I want the world to understand what happened to me,” Peter said in a ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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A 31-year-old woman has been arrested after several months posing as a teenage student at a private high school in Texas, local media reported.

Charity Johnson enrolled in October as a sophomore at New Life Christian School in Longview under the name "Charite Stevens," with identification that said she was 15 years old, broadcast station KLTV said.

Johnson told school officials she had been home-schooled and had no prior transcripts. A school district representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tamica Lincoln, a woman who lives in the area, told KLTV she took Johnson in after she claimed to be a teenage orphan from an abusive household, enrolled her in school and met with her teachers.

"I took her in as a child, did her hair, got her clothes and shoes," Lincoln said.

But Lincoln said she started to doubt Johnson's story and alerted police. Johnson was arrested Sunday after identifying herself to police as the alias she used to enroll in school, the TV report said. Johnson was charged with failure to identify and giving false information, according to jail records.

Reuters

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BELGRADE, Serbia – Belgrade braced for a river water surge Monday that threatened to inundate Serbia's main power plant and cause major power cuts in the crisis-stricken country as the Balkans struggle with the consequences of the worst flooding in southeastern Europe in more than a century.

At least 17 people died in Serbia in the five days of flooding caused by unprecedented torrential rain, laying waste to entire towns and villages in the Balkans and sending tens of thousands of people out of their homes, authorities said. At least another 17 died in Bosnia, but the death toll is expected to rise as floodwaters recede in some locations, laying bare the full scale of the damage.

The coal-fired Nikola Tesla power plant supplies electricity for half of Serbia and most of Belgrade. It is located in Obrenovac, the worst flood-hit town near Belgrade where some 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, which were mostly completely submerged in water. Some 2,000 people are still believed trapped in higher floors of buildings, without power or phone lines.

Predrag Maric, a Serbian emergency official, said Monday that the situation in Obrenovac is still critical. He said that so far thousands of soldiers, policemen and volunteers have managed to "defend" the power plant from the surging Sava River waters by building high walls of sandbags.

Three months' worth of rain fell on the Balkan region in three days, producing the worst floods since rainfall measurements began 120 years ago.

Surging water coursed through towns and villages in Serbia and Bosnia and to a lesser extent in Croatia, flowing across streets and into homes, sweeping bridges off their moorings. Sodden hills crumbled into landslides. Hundreds of buses and cars were stranded on flooded roads.

Floodwaters ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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South Korea's president vowed to disband the country's coast guard in her first televised address since last month's ferry disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Park Geun-hye began her speech Monday with a formal bow and ended it by reading the names of passengers and crew who died trying to save others in the April 16 disaster. With her approval ratings plummeting ahead of local elections in about two weeks, Park's speech sought to acknowledge widespread anger over government failures in the tragedy as well as chart a path forward.

Most of the victims were students from a single high school near Seoul who were traveling to the southern tourist island of Jeju.

"We failed to rescue students who we could have saved," Park said. "The ultimate responsibility for not properly dealing with this incident is mine."

Park has apologized before, but critics have called for her to formally address the nation and respond to claims that incompetence, corruption and bad leadership doomed the ferry and those trapped inside it. Monday, Park decried the accumulation of "widespread abnormal practices" that she said triggered the sinking.

A focus was the coast guard, which has been under growing public criticism over allegations of poor coordination and slow search-and-rescue work during the initial stages of the sinking.

Park called the coast guard's rescue operations a failure and said she would push for legislation that would transfer its responsibilities to the National Police Agency and a new government safety agency she plans to establish.

She said the new agency would also take over maritime traffic controlling responsibilities, currently held by the Ocean Ministry, and safety and security responsibilities, held by the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

Park Kwang-on, a spokesman for ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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- Seattle police are looking for a man suspected of stealing the toilet tank from a restaurant bathroom as workers at a Subway sandwich franchise prepared his family’s meal, police said on Monday.

The man went to the Subway shop in West Seattle with his family on Sunday evening. After placing an order, he entered the restroom and remained inside even after his wife knocked on the door, asking why he was taking so long, and then left without him, Seattle police said in a statement.

When the man eventually emerged from the bathroom, he hurriedly exited the store in possession of a large plastic garbage bag, police said.

An employee who later entered the bathroom discovered the toilet tank was missing. In addition, the bathroom sink was stuffed full of paper towels and still running, while the bathroom key was gone, police said.

Subway workers valued the stolen toilet tank at $550, police said. Witnesses at the scene were able to provide police with a description of the man, who remains at large, police said.

Reuters

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ANHUI PROVINCE, China, May 14 (UPI) --A diner at a restaurant in Anhui Province, China, who was surprised by her chewy calamari was probably even more surprised by what happened next.

Customer Mai Liang took a closer look at her seafood dish after noticing that it tasted rubbery and discovered a contraceptive. After she alerted staff about the condom in her cuisine, owner Yi Ze Teng came over.

"Imagine my horror when I turned it over with my fork and it turned out to be a contraceptive," Liang told Metro. "It was disgusting. My first horrific thought was: Is it used?"

UPI

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KINGSTON, N.Y. – Authorities say a homeless man who last year turned in a lost wallet stuffed with money has done it again.

Police in the city of Kingston in New York's Hudson Valley say 67-year-old Hassell "Junior" Barber approached an officer on May 9 and said he wanted to turn in a "wad" of cash he had found on the ground.

The Times Herald-Record of Middletown reports that police aren't saying how much money Barber found. They're attempting to locate the owner.

The money was found on the same street where Barber discovered a wallet containing $485 in cash last July.

He turned it in to police, who tracked down the owner.

Kingston police posted that story on the department's Facebook page, leading to numerous calls from people offering to help Barber. He declined the offers.

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