the last sound bite

The imposition of the death penalty wholesale. There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of criminals to keep feeding this part of the entertainment complex. In fact, it could be argued its simply an extension of death that is already viewed on television, or the death enactments in video games. These are literally virtual, unknown people. Maybe the government says they are real, but maybe its just enactments. Doubtful.

This is a srange twist to reality television in which a Chinese version of euthanasia and population control is mass entertainment.It can be argued that the death penalty be imposed in certain extreme cases and under a variety of caveats before being carried out, which means for all intents and purposes there should be no death penalty. The Chinese case is just shy of being a snuff movie, a kind of voyeurism before the trigger is pulled, and not seemingly much different that enactments of public stonings, hangings and body dismemberments that have occurred under the aegis of Islamic societies.

---Chinese police officers rehearsing executions--- Read More:

…sitting opposite Ding in handcuffs and leg chains. The interviews typically begin in a lighter mood with questions about the subject’s favorite music, movies and other past-times, then gradually moves on to more serious questions about details of the subject’s crime. The interviews usually end with the condemned prisoner making an apology and delivering a farewell message. Read more: …who would advertise on the show?

…Minutes before they are executed, Chinese inmates appear on national television to talk about their crimes. The show is called Interviews Before Execution, and it’s been a popular prime-time series in China for five years. The condemned, often in the presence of family members, confess and apologize for their crimes to host Ding Yu. The BBC is making a documentary about the show and officials are concerned it may damage the perception of Chinese human rights. Source:

---The painting, titled Execution, was inspired by the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and near Tiananmen Square in 1989. For a decade, Yue declined to exhibit it in public. The figures in Yue’s paintings all laugh uproariously. One of his works, apparently a self-portrait, shows him dressed as the Pope, guffawing wildly. Another one shows men giddy with laughter with flying geese in the background. Yue explained to Xinhua news agency last month why he depicts people laughing. “The great social changes have caused psychological reactions in individuals -- not only happiness, but also fear of the unknown future. The wild laugh maybe is a try to cover the fear,” Yue said. Read more here:

…“Interviews Before Execution” has become a sensation in Henan Province in central China, with a reported 40 million viewers tuning in Saturday nights to watch the final anguished moments of death-row prisoners and their families. Forty million — that’s nearly every living soul in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and London.

The BBC and PBS are getting in on the phenomenon, too. BBC2 will air a documentary on Monday night about the Chinese program — snarkily being called “The Execution Factor’’ — and another documentary film, “Dead Men Talking,” is available via PBS International.

The Chinese show was approved by the government as a possible deterrent, a way to show the misery that awaits those convicted of capital crimes. It’s also a heads-up to the general citizenry. “We want the audience to be warned,’’ Lu Peijin, head of the channel that produces the show, was quoted on the Web site as saying. “If they are warned, tragedies might be averted. That is good for society.”

--- Yue Minjun’s “Garbage Dump” ---Read More:

The host of the show is a journalist, Ding Yu, who has now interviewed more than 225 murderers, rapists, drug dealers and other assorted felon

bout half her interviewees are women. Ms. Ding is hardly passive in her role. Face to face with one prisoner, she says, “Fortunately, you’re in jail. You’re dangerous to society. You’re excrement.’’ (Except she doesn’t say excrement.) The shackled young man in the orange jumpsuit smiles broadly and replies, “Everyone says that.’’

Ms. Ding also seems to have absorbed a certain amount of soul-ache from her work. In a trailer for the show, she tearfully says, “I have too much garbage in my heart.’’ Read More:

---Zhang Xiaogang has been replaced as #1: based on sales from July 2008 through June 2009, Zeng Fanzhi is now the highest-selling contemporary Chinese artist.--- Read More:


Probably the most popular case so far, according to Daily Mail, was that of Bao Rongting, an openly gay man who murdered his mother and violated her body. Due to public interest in his case, three additional episodes were devoted to him. Rongting attracted public attention probably because of his gay status. Homosexuality is a taboo subject in China, and ads sensationalized his case, describing the interview, inappropriately, as “shining a light on a mysterious group of people in our country.”

The strong public prejudice against gay people was displayed during the interview. No family member came to say farewell and Ding showed her reservations about homosexuality when Rongting asked her do him the last favor of letting him shake her hands. She accepted reluctantly, offered a hand warily and quickly withdrew after a light touch. She commented later: “There was a lot of dirt under his nails. For a long time there was a feeling in this finger. I can’t describe that feeling.”

Read more:

Italy has actually been at the forefront of the fight against capital punishment and recently lobbied the UN Security Council to table a moratorium on the practice. But at home, some of the country’s longest serving prisoners…

…Musumeci said he was tired of dying a little bit every day want the death penalty re-introduced. The letter they sent to President Napolitano was written by a convicted mobster, Carmelo Musumeci, and co-signed by 310 of his fellow lifers. Musumeci, 52, who has been in prison for seventeen years, said he was tired of dying a little bit every day. We want to die just once, he said, and “we are asking for our life sentence to be changed to a death sentence”

It was a candid letter written by a man who, from within his cell, has tried hard to change his life. He has passed his high school exams and now has a degree in law. But his sentence, he says, has transformed the light into shadows. Read More:

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