Last `gang' member dies
Yao Wenyuan (姚文元), the final surviving member of the Gang of Four blamed for political violence during China's 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, has died, the government said yesterday. Yao was 74. Yao died of diabetes on Dec. 23, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The Gang of Four, led by Jiang Qing (江青), the wife of then-Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東), was blamed for persecuting thousands of people during the Cultural Revolution. The Gang was arrested in 1976 after Mao's death. Yao spent 20 years in prison and was released in 1996, Xinhua said.
Fossil smugglers sentenced
A Chinese-Canadian academic and five other people have been sentenced to prison for trafficking nearly 3,000 dinosaur and other fossils from China, the government said yesterday. The case is the biggest known crime of its kind, the official Xinhua news agency said. Zhu Chunlin (朱春林), a 46-year-old Canadian, was given a seven-year sentence on Thursday by the Jinhua Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang Province, the report said.
Truck plunge kills nine
A truck loaded with construction material swerved off a mountain road and plunged into a river gorge in northern India, killing all nine people on board, including seven from Nepal, an official said yesterday. The accident occurred late on Thursday night near the mountain town of Almora, located in the Himalayan foothills in India's Uttar Pradesh state, M.B.S. Chawla, a government official, said. Chawla said some of the workers were perched atop construction material while others were at the rear of the vehicle.
Man kidnaps newborn
A man walked into a hospital room in northern Japan early yesterday morning and kidnapped a 10-day-old infant from his mother's side, police said. The man -- wearing red-framed glasses, a black leather jacket, white pants and a white mask -- entered the third-floor room at Hikarigaoka Spellman Hospital in Sendai city and distracted the woman by claiming there was a fire, state police spokesman Toshinori Kitaki said. The man then snatched the baby and fled through an emergency exit, Kitaki said. The mother, Yumi Yamada, 23, was unhurt in the pre-dawn break-in, he said.
Cinnamon good for diabetics
Researchers have found new proof that cinnamon can relieve diabetes by lowering sugar levels, a report said yesterday. A three-year study carried out by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia showed that the spice has positive effects on Type II diabetes, the kind which typically develops during adulthood, the Star newspaper said. Research chief Mohammad Roji said herbalists all over the world used cinnamon to treat diarrhea and arthritis because of its ability to improve circulation, heal wounds and prevent ulcers and allergies. "In the last decade, laboratory studies have also revealed that cinnamon extract mimicked insulin action in the cells," he said, according to the daily.
More snow forecast
The nation braced for more snow yesterday after some of the heaviest snowfall on record that has left at least 28 people dead and paralyzed transport. Almost 4m of snow have piled up in the worst-hit areas of Niigata near the Japan Sea coast, though the snowiest season of the year is yet to come. Television pictures showed drifts burying the ground floors of houses and almost covering street lamps. Many train passengers were left stranded as services, including the high-speed bullet trains connecting Akita Preferecture with Tokyo, came to a halt. Japan's Meteorological Agency said heavier-than-usual snowfall would likely continue through the month.