No Bo trial before March
Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來) will not stand trial until March at the earliest, state media said yesterday, as about 40 journalists descended on a court rumored to be hearing his case this week. Speculation mounted on Friday that details of the biggest scandal to hit the Chinese Communist Party in decades would be heard at a court in the southwestern city of Guiyang, after reports in a Hong Kong newspaper. Bo, the former party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, faces charges of “bending the law,” taking bribes and “improper sexual relations with multiple women.” However, the Guiyang court denied it was scheduled to hear the case. The Global Times newspaper, citing “a source close to the country’s top judicial body” said the trial would not take place until after China’s annual National People’s Congress meeting in March.
Rapist files porn lawsuit
A jailed rapist has filed a lawsuit against prison authorities seeking the return of hundreds of pornographic photos seized from his cell, an official said yesterday. The 46-year-old sued after 200 photographs were confiscated when he was transferred to a prison in the southwestern city of Gwangju late last year, a spokesman at the facility said. While prisoners are allowed adult magazines, the images obtained by the rapist were “out of line,” the spokesman said. “Allowing him to keep them runs counter to the prison’s purpose of rehabilitation, given their sheer volume and the level of obscenity,” the spokesman said. In his lawsuit, the convict claimed he was being deprived of items deemed necessary during incarceration.
Teen gets political role
The country’s choice as one of the most important figures in the Tibetan religious hierarchy has been given his first political appointment, state media said yesterday, aged just 16. Beijing enthroned Sonam Phuntsok in 2000 as the seventh Reting Rinpoche, a line of figures who have traditionally taken charge between the death of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and the identification of his successor. His selection was seen as an attempt by Beijing to increase its control over reincarnations of Tibetan lamas and to legitimize its rule over the region. The teenager has become the youngest member of the Tibet Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the China Daily said, and has pledged to uphold “patriotism.” In an interview with the state-run newspaper following his appointment, the teenager was quoted as saying he would “keep the Reting lineage of patriotism and the love for the religion.”
Ankara bans hookahs
After banning smoking in public places, the government has gone one step further by clamping down on an ancient tradition — the hookah, or water pipe. As of Sunday it is no longer permitted to smoke the “hubbly-bubbly” in cafes, bars or restaurants as the conservative Islamic government cracks down on tobacco use. In 2009 the government made it illegal to smoke in public places, but only barred use of the hookah by minors, and cafes continued to offer fruity tobacco mixes in water pipes, drawing the wrath of health authorities. Health experts warn that its fruity flavors make users forget that they are in fact inhaling tobacco, and say that since the smoke lasts longer than a cigarette it is even more dangerous.