The sound of Buddhist chants wafts through an annex of the Songtang Hospice, the first private facility of its kind in Beijing. A group of lay Buddhists is trying to ease the passage of a recently departed soul of a patient.
When I first visited this place nearly two decades ago, the average patient stayed just 18 days. Now, it caters to people who are not terminally ill, and the average stay is about five years.
Typhoon Usagi, which stormed ashore north of Hong Kong on Sunday evening, has been blamed for at least 25 deaths in south China's Guangdong province. Some 8,490 houses reportedly collapsed in the typhoon's winds, officials say.
"A total of 5.48 million people were affected and 310,000 residents were displaced due to the storm," reports the Xinhua state news agency, adding that the storm has caused an estimated $1.16 billion in direct economic losses.
A Chinese court has sentenced Bo Xilai, the former Politburo member who was snared on graft charges, to life in prison. The sentence for offenses that include bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power, completes a shocking fall for Bo, who had been a rising star in China's political system.
"Bribes received directly by Bo or via his family totaled 20.44 million yuan (about 3.3 million U.S. dollars), the court decided," reports state news agency Xinhua.
A court in East China sentenced former top Chinese official Bo Xilai to life in prison for corruption after one of the highest-profile political trials of recent years.
Media coverage of the court hearings transfixed audiences with details of murder, a love triangle and lavish official life styles. The case may prove to be a political Pandora's box that could bring down even higher-ranking officials and widen divisions over the country's future direction.