■ Hong Kong
Ang Lee may cast Zhang
Taiwanese director Ang Lee (李安), who helped propel Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) to international stardom with the box office hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, may cast the actress again in his upcoming Chinese thriller, a news report said. Lee's assistant Li Liangshan confirmed that Zhang was among a number of Chinese actors who are in talks to star in Lee's new movie Lust, Caution, the Chinese-language news Web site Sina.com reported on Friday. While Li did not deny that Zhang has been chosen for the role of a revolutionary youth, he only said that moviemakers were "in many talks with many Chinese actors and have not yet made a decision," Sina.com said.
Mao auction canceled
The planned sale by the Huachen auction house of a 55-year-old portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) was canceled after "advice from the government" following opposition from thousands of people who said the picture should be saved for the nation, the official Xinhua news agency said. The painting, owned by an unnamed Chinese American, had been expected to fetch up to 1.2 million yuan (US$150,000) at auction, but the owner was now "in discussion with a number of museums in China about donating the artwork," it said. It was a prototype for posters and for the paintings that were displayed on the Tiananmen rostrum in the 1950s and 1960s.
Schoolgirls commit suicide
Five schoolgirls, in an apparent group suicide, drowned themselves by leaping into a river with their hands tied, police said yesterday. The bodies of the girls, who all attended seventh grade together, were discovered in the Thai Binh River about 150km northeast of Hanoi. Their hands had been bound together with red ribbons from school. Police believe the girls, two of whom were twin sisters, leapt to their deaths on Wednesday evening, but their bodies were not discovered until Friday. "The families found suicide notes," said Le Xuan Ba, chief investigator with the Thanh Ha police department in Hai Duong Province. "In the notes they said they were sorry to their parents and friends."
Toy truck scares birds
A toy truck has been developed by a Singapore Air Force unit to scare birds away from airfields by broadcasting noises of barking dogs and avian screams of distress, the inventors said yesterday. The remote-controlled gadget can protect planes against potentially catastrophic bird strikes. "As we're from a squadron that flies remote-controlled planes, we're in tune with remote-controlled stuff, so we toyed with the idea of fitting [the truck] with various systems," the Straits Times quoted Captain Tong Wei Jye as saying. While startling birds with the noise, the toy truck does not harm the wildlife.
■ Hong Kong
Inventor wins college slot
Teenage inventor, Chan Yikhei, who also has a planet named after him, has become the first Hong Kong student to win a place at university before finishing high school, media reports said yesterday. The 16-year old will study electronic and computer engineering after being accepted by Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology, the South China Morning Post said. Paul Chu, the university president, said: "We not only looked at his academic performance and his achievements. We are also satisfied that he is mature enough.