Relatives get passports
Dissident Chen Guangcheng’s (陳光誠) brother, Chen Guangfu (陳光福), and their mother have been given their first-ever passports. “We received [the passports] by post, there was no reason stated for why they arrived now,” Chen Guangfu said. “Guangcheng will go to Taiwan on June 23 ... if possible we will travel to Taiwan to meet him and his family.” The announcement came on the same day President Xi Jinping (習近平) and US President Barack Obama were to begin a summit in California.
Europeans criticize Aliyev
The EU, Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday for signing legislation making defamation over the Internet a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. They accused Aliyev and his government of tightening curbs on free expression before elections scheduled for October. Parliament last month passed amendments imposing fines of up to 1,000 manats (US$1,250) and prison terms of up to three years for defamation committed online. Aliyev signed the legislation this week.
No bras for test-takers
More than 9 million students packed exam halls nationwide yesterday for the first day of the two-day university entrance exam known as the gaokao — with attempts to stop cheating even leading to bans on metal bra clasps. Students in Jilin Province were banned from wearing clothing with metal parts and authorities installed metal detectors in exam centers to clamp down on “wireless cheating devices,” the Global Times reported.
Dunne resigns as minister
Peter Dunne, suspected of leaking a report on the nation’s spy agency, stepped down yesterday as revenue minister, but said he would remain a member of parliament. He said he did not leak the report to a journalist, but had made errors of judgment nevertheless. His resignation came after an inquiry into the leak found that Dunne had exchanged 86 emails with Fairfax Media reporter Andrea Vance in the two weeks before she published a scoop on the report.
Bomb kills seven Georgians
A suicide bomber detonated a small truck loaded with explosives in Helmand Province on Thursday evening, killing seven Georgian soldiers, NATO and Georgian officials said yesterday. The explosives were detonated outside a Georgian military base in Nawzad district, chief of the Georgian army joint staff, General Irakli Dzneladze said. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Beaten leftist activist dies
A young student and left-wing activist who was beaten up by skinheads in Paris died on Thursday amid calls for radical far-right groups to be banned. Clement Meric, 18, had been left brain dead after being hit several times by an attacker wearing a knuckleduster on Wednesday near the Saint Lazare railway station. Police said they have arrested seven people in connection with the attack. Meric — a member of the Solidaires students’ union and a far-left anti-fascist movement — was attacked about 6pm on Wednesday evening.
Tom Sharpe passes
Tom Sharpe, the author of a string of novels including the campus classic Porterhouse Blue has died aged 85. Sharpe’s Spanish publisher, Anagrama, said he died on Thursday in Llafranc, the Catalan town where he lived. His physician, Montserrat Verdaguer, said the cause was complications from diabetes. Sharpe’s first novel, the South Africa-set Riotous Assembly, was published in 1971. He became one of Britain’s most popular comic novelists with books that combined satire and farce.