Milestones

4 minute read
David Lau

RELEASED. JILL CARROLL, 28, U.S. journalist abducted in January by Iraqi gunmen who threatened to kill her if their demandthat all female detainees in Iraq be releasedwas not met; after 82 days and protests from leaders worldwide; on a Baghdad street. After her release Carroll said: “I am happy to be free and want to be with my family.”

SENTENCED. RACHID RAMDA, 36, to 10 years in prison for aiding the Algerian terrorists behind a 1995 bombing campaign of the Paris subway and other targets that left eight dead and over 150 injured; in Paris. Algerian-born Ramda, who was extradited from Britain in December, was convicted of financing and providing logistical support to Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group. He will now face murder charges for his role in the attacks. If found guilty, Ramda could be sentenced to life in jail.

SUED. JET LI, 42, charismatic Chinese martial-arts star; by the descendants of Qing-dynasty kung fu master Huo Yuanjia, whom Li portrayed in the recent film Fearless; in Beijing. Huo’s relatives say that the movie contains many inaccuracies about his lifefor example, that he killed innocent people for sportand maligns the family’s reputation. The suit, which also names as defendants the movie’s producers and distributors, calls for the film to be pulled from theaters and a public apology to be issued.

RESIGNED. SEIJI MAEHARA, 43, as leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the country’s largest opposition party, to take “full responsibility” for a scandal involving a colleague’s unfounded bribery allegations; along with several other party members; in Tokyo. DPJ lawmaker Hisayasu Nagata admitted last month that he couldn’t verify his accusation that Livedoor founder Takafumi Horie had bribed the son of the Liberal Democratic Party’s secretary-general. “I hope this will renew the public’s faith and rebuild the party,” Maehara said upon stepping down.

DIED. JOHN MCGAHERN, 71, Irish novelist whose early assaults on Ireland’s religious and sexual hypocrisy were long shunned at home; in Dublin. After his 1965 novel The Dark was banned and he was forced out of his teaching job, McGahern moved abroad, living in England, France and the U.S. It was only after he resettled in his native Leitrim in the early 1970s that Ireland began to cherish his work, recognizing itself in his quiet portraits of a country riven by the pressures of the modern world.

DIED. STANISLAW LEM, 84, Polish writer of ruminative science-fiction classics, most famously Solaris, a metaphysical-psychological tale that spawned a 1972 film and a 2002 remake starring George Clooney; in Krakow, Poland. Lem, who battled communist censorsand tweaked them in novels such as The Futurological Congresswrote more than 50 books that were translated into 40 languages and sold 27 million copies worldwide.

DIED. CASPAR WEINBERGER, 88, wry, intellectual public servant whose long record of toil in the White Houses of Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan was marred by a late, rare blemish: a 1992 indictment for allegedly covering up facts in the Iran-contra scandal, which he vigorously denied and for which he was pardoned; in Bangor, Maine. As Reagan’s Defense Secretary, Weinberger presided over a $2 trillion peacetime military buildupthe biggest in U.S. historyand backed the controversial, never-implemented Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars. After finding himself at odds with Reagan’s arms-control negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev, Weinberger retired in 1987. Yet despite his reputation as a dedicated hawk, he opposed excessive military intervention. “I did not arm to attack,” he said of his cold war efforts, “[but] to make war less likely.”

Numbers
1.6 MILLION Number of people who died of respiratory disease last year in China, according to researchers
320 MILLION Number of smokers in China, representing 30% of the world’s cigarette consumers

$52,000 Value of Britain’s Samuel Johnson Award for nonfiction writing, which this year counts among its finalists the anonymous Iraqi woman behind the blog Baghdad Burning
$1,000 An average Iraqi’s annual income

$853.7 BILLION China’s foreign-currency reserves, which surpassed Japan’s as the world’s largest
$202 BILLION China’s 2005 trade surplus with the U.S., a record high that is partly fueled by Beijing’s booming reserves

4 Number of women inducted this week as Pakistan’s first female fighter pilots
80% Proportion of women estimated to suffer from domestic violence in Pakistan

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