Russian spaceship designer

Russian spaceship designer Konstantin Feoktistov, the only non-Communist space traveler in the history of the Soviet space program, died of unspecified causes late Saturday in Moscow.

In 1964, he traveled aboard the Voskhod spaceship as part of the first group space flight in history.

Mr. Feoktistov played a key role in the development of the Voskhod.

Approval of his flight met resistance from the Politburo since Mr. Feoktistov was not a Communist Party member at the time.

Until 1990, Mr. Feoktistov helped design Soviet spaceships and stations such as Soyuz, Progress and Mir.

He criticized the idea of manned space flights to other planets as a "stupid" waste of money.


Thai leader and cooking show host

Samak Sundaravej, a firebrand right-wing politician and TV cooking show host who briefly served as Thailand's prime minister and considered himself a proxy for ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, died of cancer Tuesday.

He died at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok after a long battle with liver cancer, hospital official Navachamol Sangkaew said.

Known as a straight-talker with a penchant for the profane, his political career spanned four decades, including a stint as an anti-communist rabble rouser, but many supporters remembered him best for his TV show called "Tasting and Complaining," a mix of traditional Thai cooking and rants on pet subjects.

His tenure as prime minister coincided with one of the worst political crises in Thailand's history and followed the September 2006 coup that ousted Mr. Thaksin. Mr. Samak rose to power and became the focus of street rallies by anti-Thaksin protesters who demanded his resignation.


Translator of Chinese literature

Renowned Chinese literature translator Yang Xianyi died Monday in Beijing after a long illness, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

Together with his British wife, Gladys Taylor, Mr. Yang translated classics such as the 18th-century "A Dream of Red Mansions" as well as more modern works by 20th-century writers such as Lu Xun.

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