DIED. BILL MAULDIN, 81, American army sergeant turned Pulitzer prizewinning cartoonist; in Newport Beach, California. Mauldin's unconquerable GIs Willie and Joe inspired and immortalized the courage of American soldiers in World War II. After the war, Mauldin became a syndicated cartoonist and won his second Pulitzer for depicting Soviet novelist Boris Pasternak saying to another prisoner: "I won the Nobel Prize for Literature. What was your crime?"
DIED. HARIVANSHRAI BACHCHAN, 96, eminent Hindi poet and father of Bollywood film icon Amitabh Bachchan; in Bombay. The elder Bachchan is best remembered for Madhushala (Tavern), a 135-verse epic that celebrates the virtues of drinking. He was appointed a member of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of Parliament, from 1966 to 1972 for his contribution to Hindi literature.
DIED. RICHARD CRENNA,76, versatile Emmy Award-winning actor; in Los Angeles. Crenna was known to 1950s TV viewers as the grandson of a meddling hillbilly in The Real McCoys and later to moviegoers as Rambo's Vietnam War commander in First Blood (1982) and its two sequels. Crenna's movie credits also include the suspense thriller Wait Until Dark (1967) and sizzling film noir Body Heat (1981).
DIED. AL HIRSCHFELD, 99, New York Times caricaturist whose flowing black-and-white sketches wittily captured Broadway personalities, world leaders and political figures during a career that spanned more than 70 years; in New York City. Hirschfeld's work is on permanent display in Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art. He was awarded two Tony awards and was to be honored with the National Medal of Arts.
ELECTED. NAJAT AL-HAJJAJI, Libya's Ambassador to the United Nations, as head of the 53-nation Human Rights Commission; in Geneva. In a secret ballot, 33 countries voted for al-Hajjaji despite strong opposition from the U.S., which condemned Libya for its human-rights record.
EXILED. FANG JUE, 47, former Chinese bureaucrat and prominent dissident, who was sentenced to prison in 1998 after calling for free elections; to the U.S. Although Fang was released from prison last July, he was detained again in November as part of a government crackdown prior to the 16th Party Congress. His expulsion comes a month after pro-democracy activist Xu Wenli was released and exiled, also to the U.S.
MURDERED. LI HAICANG, 47, Chinese steel tycoon ranked by Forbes magazine as China's 27th-richest person in 2002, by a man who shot Li in the head before turning the gun on himself; in Yuncheng, Shanxi province. The alleged killer, failed businessman Feng Yinliang, was reportedly trying to persuade Li to purchase his factory's land.
$58 million is the estimated cost of Canberra's deadly bushfires, which have destroyed 451 homes
$2.7 billion in foreign aid will help rebuild Indonesia's war-torn Aceh province and Bali's battered tourist economy
56 percent of Hong Kong women regard having children as a necessity to carry on their husband's bloodline, according to a survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong
30 Afghan women from the Ministry of Women's Affairs will be the first of their sex to receive driving licenses since the collapse of the Taliban
180 million people around the world are unemployed, according to the International Labour Organization
60 percent is how much average food portions in the U.S. have increased since the 1970s
800,000 cattle have died of cold and starvation in Mongolia's fourth-successive winter of disastrous weather
Afghanistan's Chief Justice Fazel Hadi Shinwari has banned cable television in the country after receiving complaints about immoral content. His move recalled Taliban-era prohibitions on all TV and music