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.
Prince sues ‘Forbes’
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s wealthiest businessmen has launched a libel action against Forbes magazine over claims it underestimated his fortune by US$9.6 billion. Alwaleed vowed to sever ties with Forbes in March when its coveted annual Rich List valued him at US$20 billion — placing him as the 26th-most wealthy billionaire on the planet. The prince said he was worth closer to US$30 billion and accused the respected US magazine of being “demonstrably biased” against Saudi Arabian firms. Now Alwaleed has taken his complaints to the High Court in London, filing a defamation claim against Forbes’ publisher, its editor Randall Lane and two of its journalists, according to court documents.
Swim-star actress passes
Esther Williams, a swimming champion who went on to become a star of Hollywood’s golden era in the 1940s and 1950s, died on Thursday at her home in Beverly Hills, her publicist said. Williams passed away peacefully in her sleep, the actress’ representative Harlan Boll said. She was 91. A teenage swim star whose Olympic aspirations were thwarted by World War II, Williams was famous for making glitzy aquatic-themed movies featuring swimming and escapism for war-weary audiences.
Chan leaves mark, again
Film star Jackie Chan (成龍) on Thursday became the first person to twice leave the imprints of his hands and feet in cement at Hollywood’s famed Chinese Theater. Chan, who has starred in about 150 films in a career spanning more than 40 years, first left imprints in the forecourt of the theater in 1997. However, over the years, as ownership of the theater changed hands, the cement slab featuring Chan’s prints was lost.
Police lift parliament siege
About 1,500 lawmakers, civil servants and foreign guests have been freed from the parliament building after police special forces broke a siege by protesters demanding action on a new ID law. Nearly 3,000 people formed a chain around the parliament on Thursday, trapping those attending an investment meeting. Protesters intended to prevent lawmakers from leaving until they passed new legislation but were persuaded to give in because of the foreigners trapped inside.