Democracy activist indicted
A pro-democracy activist jailed in China for more than a year was indicted by the Chinese government Thursday on charges of espionage and entering the country illegally, according to his wife and their lawyer. Yang Jianli could go to trial as early as July 28. The trial will be closed because it involves"`state secrets" according to information provided to Yang's wife Christina Fu. The espionage charges involve events that reportedly occurred more than 10 years ago, Fu said. "As we all know, Jianli is not a spy," Fu said from her Boston home Thursday. "All he wanted to do was to help his countryman, his poor friends and relatives in China." A Chinese citizen with permanent US residency, Yang is founder of the Boston-based Foundation for China in the 21st Century.
Card game ends in blindness
A gambling addict lost the sight in his left eye after playing a card game that lasted three days and three nights, a news report said yesterday. The businessman from Shanghai was found to have a tear in his retina after going blind in one after the non-stop three-day session, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily reported. As well as losing heavily at cards, the gambler had to pay another 20,000 yuan (US$2,400) for two operations which only partially restored his sight, the newspaper said.
Man, snake die after kissing
A drunk man who wrapped a snake around his neck and repeatedly kissed it, died shortly afterward. But the snake died first, it was reported yesterday. The incident took place in the Bhadrak district of the eastern state of Orissa, the Asian Age newspaper reported. Police said Kalindi Behera, 50, caught the snake in a field and told children in his village he was Shiva -- the Hindu god of destruction depicted with a snake around his neck. An inebriated Behera proceeded to dance around the field, kissing the snake several times. The snake bit him on the neck and chest and then died. Next Behera collapsed unconscious. He died later in the district hospital.
Iraqi envoy refuses to leave
Iraq's ambassador to China has armed himself with pistols and locked other diplomats out of the main Iraqi embassy building in Beijing, refusing orders to return to Baghdad, an Iraqi diplomat said yesterday. Mowaffaq Alani was ordered June 6 to return to Iraq, said Talal Al-Khudairi, who said he was asked to take over as representative to China by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. Alani "took over the embassy by force, using pistols," Al-Khudairi said. He said Alani was barring the other diplomats from the main building and had demanded that three diplomats living in the residential building leave, threatening to shoot them if they refuse. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said China wanted the Iraqis to handle the dispute themselves.
Guantanamo inmates return
Eleven men freed from American custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been returned to Pakistan, officials said. The US military said they were among about 30 detainees released in recent days. Pakistani authorities plan to question the 11 freed prisoners for a few days before allowing them to return to their homes, Javed Iqbal Cheema, a senior Interior Ministry official, said Thursday. The men were not identified.
Acclaimed novelist dies
Carol Shields, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who wrote with wit and wonder about love, family and finding one's place in modern times, has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 68. Shields died Wednesday night in Victoria, British Columbia, of complications from breast cancer diagnosed almost five years ago, according to her publisher, Random House. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, she spoke openly about her illness and continued writing. Shields was a finalist for Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, last year for Unless.