The Death of Us

Amnesty International yesterday released a report on the number of executions last year: at least 1,200 people were hung, decapitated, shot, electrocuted or lethally injected last year in twenty-four countries, and 3,347 more went to death row.  Eighty-eight per cent of executions took place in the usual suspects: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States.  At a minimum, 540 people were executed in China, and AI estimates this figure is lowballed, because the number of executions in China is a state secret.  Apparently the actual number might prove embarrassing to the Chinese government in the run up to the Olympics is a political and social matter internal to China.

The full report is here.

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The Unsnuffable Fire

Oh yeah, I am mad. After watching Tibetan monks get clubbed on Al-Jazeera, hearing about gay activists being jailed for being, well, gay activists (most notable Hu Jia), and hearing ad nauseam about Chinese labour conditions, the other day I came to the jumping conclusion that perhaps the time of the Olympics had passed. Continue reading

Hoohaw of Olympian Proportions

When discussing the Olympics, regrettably a certain amount of hoohaw is inevitable, hoohaw being defined as hay processed, refined, and ultimately emitted from the non-frontal regions of Equus caballus, also known as the common horse. The hoohaw varies in degree and amount. A large lump, indeed, the greatest lump of hoohaw is how Olympics represents the finest athletes from the world over competing in the best spirit of friendship and sportsmanship. It’s such a lovely sentiment I half-believe it even as I write it. Unfortunately it isn’t true. The Olympic Games are not about athletes and sport any more than the television’s raison-d’etre is providing quality programming or the Iraq War is making the world safe for democracy. Continue reading