Touchy dates close in
China's Communist Party faces a series of anniversaries from the era of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) this year which may provoke debate about the country's tumultuous political past. One of them is the 40th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution. In May 1966, Mao unleashed the mass campaign against his political rivals that spiraled into a decade of violence and repression. There are also a number of sensitive 30th anniversaries from 1976 including the death of Mao on Sept. 9 and the arrest of the "Gang of Four", marking the end of the Cultural Revolution, on Oct. 6.
Road death figures fall
Accidents on China's roads, the most dangerous in the world, killed almost 100,000 people last year, or 270 a day, but officials yesterday hailed an 8 percent decline from 2004's carnage. The number of injured fell slightly to 470,000 in almost as many accidents, Ministry of Public Security officials said, attributing the decline to better law enforcement. The exact number of deaths was 98,738. WHO estimates are much higher than China's figures, putting the death toll at more than 600 a day and the injury toll at 45,000 a day.
■ Hong Kong
Doctor sold sick notes
A doctor has been struck off the medical register for selling bogus sick notes to a work-shy bus driver, a news report said yesterday. Wong Shing-chung, 67, admitted giving 15 sick notes to bus driver Lam Kai-hung over a seven month period in 2002 in return for payments totaling US$340. He admitted 15 charges of misconduct at a hearing by the city's Medical Council on Wednesday and had his license to practise suspended for 18 months.
Gas field security tightened
Pakistani authorities stepped up security at gas fields in a remote southwestern tribal region yesterday after clashes between security forces and suspected militants left 12 rebels dead, police said. Hundreds of soldiers were guarding the gas fields at Pir Koh, about 400km east of Quetta, where assailants planted a land mine that blew up a vehicle on Wednesday, killing three soldiers and injuring three others. Shortly after the incident, security forces clashed with a group of rebels in a shootout that killed 12 suspected militants, said Abdul Samad Lasi, the region's police chief.
Murder suspect arrested
Police have arrested a reputed separatist leader indicted by a US grand jury for killing two American schoolteachers in an ambush close to a gold mine in Papua in 2002. Anthonius Wamang was arrested along with 12 other separatists in Papua late on Wednesday night according to police and military sources. Wamang was indicted by a grand jury in 2004 accused of two counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and other related offenses. He could face the death penalty if convicted. The ambush took place on a road leading to a giant gold mine owned by Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Mine Inc. where the two Americans were school teachers. It remains unclear whether Indonesia would extradite Wamang.
Hidden women revealed
A photo exhibition displayed in Kabul this week is showing something rarely seen in public in Afghanistan: Afghan women smiling. A mother stands in her garden holding a tray of biscuits and looking happily at the camera, her daughter at her side. Another shows an old woman with a big, near-toothless grin, her blue burqa shroud hiked up over her head. The pictures give a glimpse into the lives of this deeply conservative Muslim country's women, who've been for decades behind all-encompassing veils. The photos, taken during a photography course aimed at giving women skills to find jobs, reinforce hopes that Afghan women's lives are improving.