(CNN) -- NBA
star Yao Ming announced his retirement during a
news conference in China on Wednesday. "I need
to make a personal decision," Yao said. "I am
ending my basketball career. I am very grateful. I
like to thank my family members and my parents.
And the Houston Rockets."
Voted an All-Star
player eight times while playing for the Houston
Rockets, he was one of the most successful
overseas players in the league.
Yao has chalked
up a career average of 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and
1.9 blocks. His field-goal percentage was
In recent years, however, he struggled
with foot and ankle injuries, and missed the
2009-2010 season. He suffered a stress fracture on
his left ankle, and missed last season after
playing only five games.
Yao has been
undergoing treatment and training in recent
months, but some doubted he could make a
The 30-year-old said he struggled to
learn English when he first came to the United
States, and grew a lot during his time in the
country. "Nine years ago, I came to Houston as
a tall, skinny player. I grew to a man there. I
also had my daughter there. I thank you all," Yao
said during the packed news conference in
Yao's retirement comes the same year
as another NBA giant Shaquille O'Neal . Both
seven-footers battled for many years.
Bryant said Yao opened up doors for Chinese
players to feel they could play in the
NBA. "All that started with Yao," Bryant
NBA Commissioner David Stern said the
player has done his country proud. "Yao has
been without question a transformational player
for our league," Stern said. "And a source of
enormous pride to the people of China and people
of Chinese descent in the United
2. Killing of infants
on the rise in
(CNN) -- At a morgue in Pakistan's
largest city, five linen pouches -- each the size
of a loaf of bread -- line the shelf of a walk-in
Wrapped inside each small sack is the
corpse of an infant.
The babies are victims of
what one relief agency calls Pakistan's worst
unfolding tragedy: the killing and dumping of
"Sometimes they hang them, and
sometimes they kill by the knife, and sometimes we
find bodies which have been burned," said Anwar
Kazmi, a manager at Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's
largest privately run social service and relief
Records at Edhi Foundation show that
more than 1,200 newborns were killed and dumped in
Pakistan last year, an increase of about 200 from
the previous year.
Families view many of these
children as illegitimate in a culture that
condemns those born outside of
Statistics show that roughly nine out
of 10 are baby girls, which families may consider
too costly to keep in a country where women
frequently are not allowed to work.
3. Japanese man guilty
of killing British teacher; receives life
(CNN) -- A Japanese man who admitted to
raping and strangling a British teacher has been
found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Tatsuya Ichihashi was convicted Thursday of
rape, murder and discarding a body after a
month-long trial that riveted Japan in much the
same way the Casey Anthony trial did the United
The victim Lindsay Hawker's battered,
naked body was found in a bathtub in Ichihashi's
apartment in March 2007 -- buried in
Ichihashi then went on the run, altering
his face through cosmetic surgery several times to
After he was arrested two and
half years later, Ichihashi acknowledged killing
Hawker. But the question at the center of the
trial was whether he intended to.
parents who were in Chiba District Court, east of
Tokyo, for the verdict had asked prosecutors to
hand down the harshest sentence: death.
case began in March 2007 when surveillance video
showed Ichihashi meeting up with Hawker at a
coffee shop in the town of Ichikawa in Chiba
Prefecture for an English lesson.
told Hawker to follow him to his apartment so he
could pay her, prosecutors said.
killing when police arrived to interview
Ichihashi, he fled.
He snipped his own lips
with a pair of scissors, cut off two moles and --
as he flitted from one construction job to another
across the country -- he would drop in at clinics
to undergo more cosmetic surgery, prosecutors
Authorities offered a 10 million yen
reward ($127,000) reward for information leading
to Ichihashi's capture. They finally caught up
with him at a ferry terminal in the western
Japanese city of Osaka in November
Ichihashi went on trial in July, amid
wall-to-wall coverage in local media. Just as in
the case of Casey Anthony -- the Florida mother
who was accused and later acquitted of killing her
2-year-old daugther -- television stations offered
play-by-play accounts of every
Before the verdict was read
Thursday, hundreds of people lined up outside
court to take part in a lottery that would allow
57 of them seats inside.
4. Japan soccer team
gets heroes' welcome
At perhaps the
most tense time in Sunday’s FIFA Women's World Cup
final - preparations for the penalty kick shootout
- TV cameras showed Japanese coach Norio Sasaki
smiling and laughing with his players. Cameras
focused on the U.S. women showed a different mood,
with expressions of grit, focus and
The contrast was stark, and that
wasn’t a surprise to Sasaki.
"It seemed to me
there was more pressure on the Americans," he
It was a remarkable moment for Japan, a
country that has had little to smile about this
year, and a keen insight from the coach of a team
that had not beaten the Americans in 25
But Sasaki’s assessment was
The Japanese women made three of the
four shots they took in the penalty shootout,
while the Americans could find the net on only
"We had made it all the way to the final,
extra time and penalties. We had come a long way,
so maybe we handled the pressure better. We had
twice come back, and that eased the psychological
pressure," he said in an Agence France-Presse
story on NDTV.com.
The Japanese team lifted the
trophy as world champions. They also lifted the
spirits of a nation struggling to recover from the
March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more
than 20,000 people dead or missing, destroyed
miles and miles of cities and farmland, and caused
a leak from a nuclear power plant that has turned
of a 25-mile radius around the plant into a
virtual no-man’s land.
Japan's emotional win
For all the smiles and
laughs in Japan’s pre-shootout huddle in
Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday, it was a different
tack from the one Sasaki took before his team’s
quarterfinal against defending champion Germany,
when he showed them pictures of the March 11
devastation as inspiration.
Those images gave the Japanese women
something to fight for and made them want to be an
“Japan has been hurt, and so many
lives have been affected,” captain and leading
scorer Homare Sawa said in a New York Times
report. “We cannot change that. But Japan is
coming back, and this was our chance to represent
our nation and show that we never stopped
Sawa was right about that. Twice,
Japan fell behind by a goal against the Americans,
once in regulation and once in overtime, and twice
they got tying goals as the clocked ticked into
the final minutes.
"Not one of the players gave
up," Sasaki said, according to ESPN.com.
White, a professor of anthropology at Boston
University and an expert on Japanese culture, said
the women’s performance illustrated some key
qualities of Japanese society: hard work and
“It wasn’t only skills that got
them close. … It’s the effort that counts,” White
They’d certainly put in an historic
effort taking down Germany and then favored Sweden
in a semifinal, and then tying the top-ranked U.S.
team through 120 minutes. And White says that
could account for the light mood as the Japanese
team prepared for the penalty shootout.
women were jubilant that they’d gotten that far,”
she said, but they probably thought they had an
“They believe in will,” she said,
showing “when we put our minds to something we can
Add one more quality that brought
White said Sasaki’s
smiles showed that.
“It sure looked like he was
at one with the women, working with them instead
of above them,” White said.
The team was
nicknamed the nadeshiko, a floral metaphor for an
ideal Japanese woman with virtues including
loyalty, domestic ability, wisdom and humility.
Not mentioned is leadership, but that’s a quality
the team took Sunday.
The nation’s defense
minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, said he hopes its
politicians can learn from the women’s spirit and
teamwork as officials try to solve the nuclear
crisis at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear
“I am delighted. The team showed
great perseverance and sent a good message toward
recovery from the major disaster,” he said,
according to a report on JapanToday.com.
Tokyo’s sports bars in the early morning hours
Monday, average citizens, at least, were buying
"At a time when things are going so bad for
Japan, this news makes me so happy," Saori
Shiratori was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles
"When we won, I went crazy and hugged
everyone I could," Yuri Itoga told the Times.
"This ecstatic feeling is a lot more intense
because we suffered the disaster in March. It
makes me feel like I can't just sit around and do
5. Paris Hilton walks
out on ABC News interview
Hilton if her "celebrity moment" is over in the
interview, and she just might walk out on
you. ABC News' Dan Harris did just
that when speaking with Hilton at her Los Angeles
home this week. He inquired if Hilton was
concerned about other famous-for-being-famous
celebs like Kim Kardashian eclipsing her own
stardom - that would be a "no," she said - or if
she was concerned about reports that the ratings
for her reality show, "The World According to
Paris," were low (she's not worried about that,
But when Harris asked Hilton if she
worries that her celebrity "moment [has] passed,"
Hilton paused, gives a little laugh and a stiff
smirk before walking away to speak with her
publicist, Harris says in a clip from the
After what Harris calls a "long,
heated" conversation, Hilton returned to continue
- after some "cajoling," according to ABC News -
Now 30, Hilton explains, "I've
been in the business for 15 years now, so it's
been a very long time. Just like any other
business person or someone in the industry, it's
always important to reinvent yourself and come up
with new projects."
By the end of the
interview, though, Hilton seemed more relaxed, and
hugged Harris as he departed.