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1. Yao Ming retirement marks end of an era

(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 52.4.
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 comeback.
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 Shanghai.
Yao's retirement comes the same year as another NBA giant Shaquille O'Neal . Both seven-footers battled for many years.
Kobe Bryant said Yao opened up doors for Chinese players to feel they could play in the NBA.
"All that started with Yao," Bryant said.
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 States."

2. Killing of infants on the rise in Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan (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 freezer.
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 newborns.
"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 agency.
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 marriage.
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 sentence

Tokyo (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 States.
The victim Lindsay Hawker's battered, naked body was found in a bathtub in Ichihashi's apartment in March 2007 -- buried in sand.
Ichihashi then went on the run, altering his face through cosmetic surgery several times to elude arrest.
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.
Hawker's parents who were in Chiba District Court, east of Tokyo, for the verdict had asked prosecutors to hand down the harshest sentence: death.
The 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.
Later, he told Hawker to follow him to his apartment so he could pay her, prosecutors said.
After the 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 said.
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 2009.
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 development.
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 determination.
The contrast was stark, and that wasn’t a surprise to Sasaki.
"It seemed to me there was more pressure on the Americans," he said.
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 games.
But Sasaki’s assessment was spot-on.
The Japanese women made three of the four shots they took in the penalty shootout, while the Americans could find the net on only one.
"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.
High-resolution gallery: 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.
SI.com: World-class moments
Those images gave the Japanese women something to fight for and made them want to be an example.
“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 working.”
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.
Merry 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 resilience.
“It wasn’t only skills that got them close. … It’s the effort that counts,” White said.
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.
“The women were jubilant that they’d gotten that far,” she said, but they probably thought they had an edge, too.
“They believe in will,” she said, showing “when we put our minds to something we can do it.”
Add one more quality that brought confidence: teamwork.
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 power plant.
“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.
In Tokyo’s sports bars in the early morning hours Monday, average citizens, at least, were buying in.
"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 Times.
"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 nothing."

5. Paris Hilton walks out on ABC News interview

Ask Paris 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, either).
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 interview.
After what Harris calls a "long, heated" conversation, Hilton returned to continue - after some "cajoling," according to ABC News - the interview.
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.

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