• Chinese fans who stayed up throughout the night to watch Ding Junhui win his second UK Championship snooker title yesterday morning are in for a treat.

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    China's Ding Junhui celebrates after defeating Scotland's John Higgins 10-8 in the final of the Snooker UK Championship in Telford, England, on Sunday.

    Having probably forsaken breakfast to watch the Chinese star's marathon 10-8 final victory over world champion John Higgins, Ding has promised family and friends 276 meat pies.

    "I will bring the pieces for you guys," Ding said on his blog an hour after his victory. "Thank you for spending a whole night supporting my play."

    Ding collected the first prize of 100,000 pounds ($162,455), the largest payday of his career, rose to sixth in the provisional world rankings and was also presented with his weight, 68kg, of the sponsor's product, which totaled 276 pies. "I was excited about winning my body weight in pies," said Ding. "We all made sure we were wearing a few extra layers of clothes for the weigh-in and I wanted to put a few snooker balls in my pockets but I wasn't allowed."

    On a more serious note, Ding said: "I know lots of fans, my family and friends have kept supporting me even when I was struggling over the past few years. I really appreciate that."

    Li Hao, a loyal Ding fan, said it was worth spending a whole night awake, failing to have breakfast and even arriving late for work to see his idol triumph.

    "Having Ding return to his best is the greatest reward for us fans," said Li, a bank employee in Beijing. "We cannot wait to eat the pies and see his trophy when he returns home."

    Asian No 1

    Smiling confidently, kissing the trophy and showing his fist to the audience, Ding, who is generally camera shy, had every reason to celebrate this time.

    He is now the most successful Asian player in professional snooker history. The victory gave Ding, the 2005 UK champion, his fourth ranking event title - surpassing the three titles won by Thailand's James Wattana.

    The 22-year-old also becomes only the seventh player - after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, Doug Mountjoy, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Higgins - to win the UK title twice.

    "I think I am a better player now," Ding said when asked if he had improved in the four years since winning his first UK title. "I am more experienced. Now I tell myself 'don't get angry'.

    "I had been working so hard before this tournament, harder than ever," said Ding. "I did not take a day off and spent at least seven hours in training each day.

    "I started a bit slow in the first match (against Mike Dunn) but I kept focused and felt better match after match."

    It was Ding's first major tournament victory since claiming the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy and suggests he has overcome the mental scars inflicted by a 10-3 hammering at the hands of O'Sullivan in the 2007 Masters final.

    "I tried not to be distracted this summer break. So I traveled a lot in China and had a great time," he said.

    Ding showed signs of improved form after his break when he reached the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters in September.

    He took another step forward in October when he made the final of the Grand Prix at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow.

    Asked about his prospects of winning a first world title, Ding said: "I try every year but there are players better than me ... but anything can happen in tournaments."
    (China Daily)

  • ROME: An attacker hurled a statuette at Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, striking the leader in the face at the end of a rally Sunday and leaving the stunned 73-year-old media mogul with a broken nose and bloodied mouth.

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    Blood covers part of the face of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he was attacked in downtown Milan December 13, 2009. Berlusconi was taken to hospital with blood smeared over his face after a man hurled a small model of Milan cathedral at him at a political rally, police said on Sunday. Police said the 42-year-old man accused of attacking Berlusconi as he signed autographs in Milan was immediately taken into custody. The Italian leader was rushed to a hospital where he was being held overnight. The attack occurred at a time when Berlusconi, one of Italy's wealthiest men, is embroiled in a sex scandal, a divorce case with his wife and public protests demanding his resignation. TV showed the stunned leader with blood under his nose, on his mouth and under one eye as he was lifted to his feet by aides after Sunday's attack. He was hustled into the back of a car, but he immediately got out, apparently to show he was not badly injured. But Berlusconi suffered a "small fracture" of the nose, two broken teeth and an injury to the inside and outside of his lip, said Paolo Klun, chief spokesman for Milan's San Raffaele Hospital. "He wanted to go home right away, but he is being held as a precaution" for overnight observation, Klun said. The premier suffered "a significant bruising trauma from this blunt instrument that was hurled at him." Police first said it appeared the assailant had punched Berlusconi in the face while clutching a souvenir statue of Milan's Duomo, or cathedral with gargoyles that symbolizes the city. But state TV later showed a video, somewhat blurry, of what appeared to be the attacker's hand coming close to Berlusconi's face while holding the statue, then letting go of the object at the last minute as it hit the premier's face. Berlusconi was "very shaken and demoralized," Klun said. "He didn't understand very well what happened to him." Immediately after the attack, the premier, after getting out of the car and without saying a word, was pulled back into the vehicle by bodyguards. The attack occurred after Berlusconi had just finished delivering a long, vigorous speech at the rally to thousands of applauding supporters from his Freedom People party in the square outside the cathedral at about 6:30 p.m. Officials at Milan's police headquarters said they didn't immediately know what the miniature Duomo statue was made of. Berlusconi's spokesman, speaking by telephone from the emergency room from San Raffaele hospital where the premier was taken, told Sky TG24 TV that doctors had decided to keep Berlusconi in the hospital overnight for observation. "We'll see what the doctors say tomorrow morning," spokesman Paolo Bonauiti told Sky. The exams of his jaw area included a CT scan, Bonaiuti said. Police identified the man they were questioning as Massimo Tartaglia, 42. They said Tartaglia didn't have any criminal record but had suffered psychological problems in the past. Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa told reporters he ran to help police hustle the man away from the scene of the attack "to keep him from a possible lynching from the crowd." The assailant "was a man who had mixed in with the people who were applauding (Berlusconi), shaking his hand," La Russa said. The attack occurred at a difficult political time for Berlusconi, who has been plagued by scandals. On Dec. 5, tens of thousands of Italians fed up with the premier marched peacefully through Rome to demand his resignation. The demonstrators expressed dismay over what they see as the businessman's conflict of interests, citing repeated government-backed laws they contend were tailored to help shield Berlusconi from prosecution in cases involving his media, real estate and sports empire. Berlusconi claims the laws benefit all citizens. Other critics cite Berlusconi's sex scandals. Berlusconi's wife is divorcing him after complaining about his infatuation with young women. A southern Italian businessman has told investigators he procured some 30 attractive young women for parties and dinners at the premier's Rome residence and Sardinian villa. Among the guests was a high-end prostitute who claimed she slept with Berlusconi. The premier has denied ever paying for sex. Berlusconi has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and blames his judicial woes on prosecutors he claims sympathize with the opposition left. Several of the cases either ended in acquittal or were dropped when limitation statutes expired. Others are pending. On Sunday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano condemned the "grave and unusual gesture of aggression" against Berlusconi. In a statement, the head of state renewed his plea that conflicting political points of view be expressed "within the limits of responsible self-control" and while "preventing and heading off every impulse and spiral of violence."

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    Police apprehend a man (C) after Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was attacked in downtown Milan December 13, 2009.

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    Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is helped by police after he was attacked in downtown Milan December 13, 2009.

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    Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is helped by police after he was attacked in downtown Milan December 13, 2009.

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    Police officers patrol outside the San Raffaele Hospital where Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was hospitalized in Milan December 13, 2009.

    [Agencies]

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    Members of the Bayi (Aug. 1) Parachute Jumping Team of the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) perform to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macao's return to China, in Macao, south China, Dec. 13, 2009.

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    Members of the Bayi (Aug. 1) Parachute Jumping Team of the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) perform to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macao's return to China, in Macao, south China, Dec. 13, 2009.

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    Members of the Bayi (Aug. 1) Parachute Jumping Team of the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) perform to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macao's return to China, in Macao, south China, Dec. 13, 2009.

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    Members of the Bayi (Aug. 1) Parachute Jumping Team of the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) perform to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macao's return to China, in Macao, south China, Dec. 13, 2009.

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    Members of the Bayi (Aug. 1) Parachute Jumping Team of the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) perform to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macao's return to China, in Macao, south China, Dec. 13, 2009.

    [Xinhua]

  • A young man in his 30s armed with two shotguns, a cleaver and a torch allegedly hunted down his family on Saturday, killing 12, in a village shrouded in mountains in central China's Hunan province.

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    Villagers carry one of the 12 victims allegedly murdered by Liu Aibing in a remote mountain village in Anhua county of Central China's Hunan province on Saturday. Liu, 34, was captured early yesterday in a manhunt that involved 1,000 police. 

    Liu Aibing, 34, a villager from the town of Gaoming, Anhua county, in the province's city of Yiyang, was arrested early yesterday morning nearly six km away after his rampage took the lives of his father, uncles and cousins. Two other relatives are in critical condition and at least six homes have been razed to ashes.

    The critically injured are being treated in a local hospital, police said.

    According to Xinhua News Agency yesterday, Liu had been diagnosed with mental illness. Several relatives of the victims, however, reject the claim that Liu was mentally ill.

    "His family doesn't have a history of suffering from mental illnesses," a villager told Xinhua, who did not want to be named. "And Liu behaves normally."

    The violent killing spree is the latest within a month by suspects allegedly suffering from mental problems.

    Related readings:
    Man arrested after village massacre Killings highlight mental health challenges
    Man arrested after village massacre Suspect captured after killing 12 in Hunan
    On Nov 16, a 21-year-old man reportedly suffering from schizophrenia in the southwestern province of Yunnan murdered six members of his family, including his parents.

    On Nov 28, a depressed villager from near Huhhot in Inner Mongolia killed himself after being suspected of stabbing six to death two days earlier.

    Saturday's killings began early in the morning, after Liu had spent the night at his uncle's home in the destitute village of Yinshanpai.

    Liu, who was said to have had a fierce quarrel with his uncle a month earlier, first allegedly shot his uncle dead using a coarsely handmade shotgun. According to Xinhua, Liu thought his uncle was taking advantage of his father's timber and bamboo business.

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    Liu later opened fire on the family of three of another uncle and set their home ablaze, police said. The blaze quickly spread among the timber homes and nearby trees.

    Awakened by the fire, 60-year-old Liu Jiesu tried to put the blaze out with the help of several of his relatives. But Liu Aibing reportedly shot two dead and slashed Liu Jiesu with a cleaver before the elderly man somehow managed to escape.

    "He (Liu Aibing) carried two shotguns on his back and tried to kill anyone he saw, " Xinhua quoted one villager as saying.

    Liu then turned to two of his cousins' homes, killed both families, five people altogether, and burned down their houses.

    The alleged murderer concluded the bloody spree by setting fire to another uncle's home, killing his father Liu Bifang living inside.

    Police have not confirmed the slayings, but they said that those killed ranged in age from 6 to 86 and all were Liu's relatives.

    After the bloodshed, Liu fled more than 5 km to the nearby village of Wutong in the Qingtang township.

    He was captured just before 7 am in a hill in Qingtang following a manhunt involving about 1,000 police.

    (China Daily)

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    Peace lovers from home and abroad lit candles which form two Chinese characters meaning "Peace" in Peace Park of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing, Jiangsu Provine Dec 12, 2009. A candle lighting ceremony was held in the park in memory of those killed by Japanese invaders in Nanjing Massacre on Dec 13, 1937.

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    Students hold candles in a candle lighting ceremony in Nanjing Dec 12, 2009 to memorize their compatriots killed by Japanese invaders during the Nanjing Massacre which happened in Nanjing on Dec 13, 1937.

     

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    Students put candles into the pool in a candle lighting ceremony in Nanjing Dec 12, 2009 to memorize their compatriots killed by Japanese invaders during the Nanjing Massacre which happened in Nanjing on Dec 13, 1937.

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    Armed police take part in a rehearsal of laying wreaths to victims of Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing Dec 12, 2009.

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    Visitors stands beside the "pit of ten thousand corpses" in memory of compatriots killed during Nanjing Massacre at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Dec 12, 2009.

    [CFP]

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    HONG KONG: Unheralded South Korean Choi Ho-jin upset Olympic champion Lin Dan in straight sets to win the men's badminton final at the East Asian Games on Sunday, in one of the biggest upsets of the meet. Lin, a three-time world champion, blew early leads in both sets and appeared to struggle with the lighting, letting the shuttlecock go on several occasions when it fell in. Down 18-20 in the first set, the world No. 2 saved set point despite slipping, but an easy put-away gave Choi a 1-0 lead. Lin squandered 4-1 and 15-12 leads in the second set and bothered by two close calls that brought Choi back to 15-15. He never recovered, saving one match point down 17-20, but missing a forehand on the second to give Choi the win. The 26-year-old Lin said he was tired after a long season. "I played in so many tournaments in the second half of the year ... I was in France, I was in China," said Lin, who nonetheless praised Choi for playing well. "It's normal. There are so many young players now. They are channeling all their energy at you," he said. The result left China with a relatively poor showing in badminton, even though the sport is one of its strongest. In the women's singles final, world No. 17 Yip Pui-yin of Hong Kong beat fifth-ranked compatriot Zhou Mi 2-1 after Zhou retired with a waist injury while trailing 10-17 in the second set.

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    China's Lin Dan reacts after loosing a point to South Korea's Choi Ho-jin during the men's badminton singles final match at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong December 13, 2009.

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    China's Lin Dan reacts after losing a point to South Korea's Choi Ho-jin during the men's badminton singles final match at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong December 13, 2009.

    [Agencies]

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    U.S singer Kimberly Wyatt of the band the Pussycat Dolls arrives for the World Premiere of Avatar in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    Canadian director James Cameron and his wife U.S. actress Suzy Amis arrive for the world premier of the movie Avatar in London December 10, 2009.

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    British singer Sophie Ellis Bexter arrives for the World Premiere of Avatar in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    Australian actor Sam Worthington arrives for the world premiere of Avatar, in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    U.S. actress Zoe Saldana arrives for the world premiere of the movie Avatar, in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    US actress Zoe Saldana arrives for the world premiere of the movie Avatar, in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    US Actress Sigourney Weaver arrives for the World Premiere of Avatar at Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    Actress Michelle Rodriguez arrives for the world premiere of the movie Avatar, in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    Canadian director James Cameron arrives for the world premiere of the movie Avatar, in Leicester Square in London, December 10, 2009.

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    Canadian director James Cameron and his wife U.S. actress Suzy Amis arrive for the world premier of the movie Avatar in London December 10, 2009.

    [Agencies]

     

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    Singer Taylor Swift performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Adam Lambert introduces an act during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Kris Allen performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Taylor Swift performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Taylor Swift performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Taylor Swift performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Actress Leighton Meester introduces an act during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Actress Leighton Meester introduces an act during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Taylor Swift performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Taylor Swift performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer John Mayer performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer John Mayer performs with Taylor Swift during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Jordin Sparks performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Usher (L) performs with Justin Bieber during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

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    Singer Pitbull performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball in New York December 11, 2009.

    [Agencies]

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    Leona Lewis was reportedly paid $150,000 for a private concert.

    The 'Happy' singer was flown by private jet to Monte Carlo for the birthday party of Romania's richest man on Saturday (05.12.09).

    Leona sang a short set for 25 guests in the exclusive show at a private banqueting suite in the state's Hotel De Paris.

    The singer then flew to Germany where she wowed millions of TV viewers with a performance on hugely popular show 'Wetten Dass', for which she wore a short white dress.

    Although she agreed to perform at the private party, Leona has previously turned down other lucrative earning opportunities. Last month, it emerged Leona had been offered over $1.5 million to appear naked in men's magazine Playboy.

    Although she was "flattered" to have been asked to appear in the pages of the publication, Leona is simply too shy to strip off for a shoot.

    She has previously said: "I'm not that confident! I just don't think I could pose nude, because I'm not that brave."

    Leona is not the only pop star to cash in with a private performance.

    Rihanna is reportedly set to earn $500,000 to perform at a New Year's Eve party (31.12.09).

    The 'Umbrella' singer has been asked to sing at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi to help revellers see in 2010 in what will be her first performance in the Middle East.
    (Agencies)

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    Singer Rihanna blows a kiss at an outdoor concert in New York's Times Square during an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, November 24, 2009.

    One might think Rihanna would welcome a drama-free relationship after her romance with Chris Brown came to such an abrupt and violent end. But one would be wrong.

    When Glamour U.K. asked the singer what she looks for in a man, she made one thing clear — no nice guys.

    “Definitely the high-risk (type),” the Grammy winner said. “I don't like cream puff, corny guys. Usually they are the nice guys, the ones that won't hurt you. They'll pull out the chair for you and the whole nine yards. Everything is perfect and boring … I like the risk. I like the edge. That's the thrill for me.”

    Agencies