Tag Archives: London

Death Row Reality Show a Hit in China

Map of death penalty

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Think American television programming leaves something to be desired?

“Interviews Before Execution” is a sensation in China, with 40 million viewers tuning in Saturday nights to watch the last moments of death-row prisoners and their families. Forty million is nearly every living soul in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and London.

The Chinese government approved the show as a deterrent, a way to show the misery that awaits those convicted of capital crimes.

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

China last year removed thirteen nonviolent offenses from the list of crimes punishable by death. About forty-seven crimes now carry possible death sentences.

Although the exact number of annual executions is a state secret, China remains by far the leading executioner in the world.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Sick Sad World, World

Bill Gates Speaks with South London School about Philanthropy

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When a south London secondary school asked for an inspiring guest speaker to talk to their pupils, they didn’t expect Bill Gates to turn up.

He did.

Mr. Gates received a rapturous welcome from a hall full of south London teenagers.

His break in computing, he said, was when he was asked to fix the school timetable that baffled the teachers. “I was known as a computer nut. I’d stay on it night and day,” he said.

He told pupils how he’d dropped out of Harvard “still dreaming of a personal computer” and had begun on the road to become the Microsoft mogul.

“If I hadn’t given my money away, I would now have more money than anyone else on the planet,” he said casually. No big deal.

His philanthropy is on an epic scale. He is planning to eradicate diseases in his lifetime that have plagued humanity for thousands of years.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already given $26 billion to fund health, development and education projects. Mr. Gates is working full-time on donating the income from an endowment worth $33.5 billion.

He told the schoolchildren how his foundation was working to get rid of every case of polio, a scourge which paralyses hundreds and thousands of people each year.

There’s a list of twelve diseases he wants to target, and he said that what had surprised him was that these illnesses had not been stopped already. “I was stunned how little resources had gone into this,” he said.

His foundation’s work is carried out with a “hard-nosed mathematical” approach, he says, calculating the impact in terms of “dollars per year of life saved”.

He is applying the same attention to detail that made him such a business success into the business of saving lives.

Mr. Gates took questions from the students and children who joined via video-link from Libya, Russia, Uganda and Kenya as part of the BBC program World Have Your Say. They asked about discrimination against homosexuals, disability, and, in the case of Uganda, the difficulty of living in a community with HIV/Aids.

“When I was your age, I didn’t know much about poverty,” he told them, describing his school as “super nice” and a place where he was the kid who was good at math.

Now he is immersed in tackling the worst diseases in the poorest communities in the world. “The goal is equity. If we don’t have these diseases, why should people in Africa or Asia?”

One of the girls in the audience, speaking afterwards, was particularly impressed that he had worked hard to earn the money that he had now decided to give.

Unprompted, another pupil described his decision to give his fortune away as “really inspiring”.

Via the BBC.

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Filed under Cheers!, Health, Science, Technology

AIBA Wants Female Boxers to Wear Miniskirts at Olympics

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Women’s boxing will make its début at this year’s Olympic Games in London, but it seems their participation will come with an outrageous catch: female boxers might be required to wear miniskirts in the ring.

The Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) is considering the dress code because skirts will make the female athletes look “elegant” and “distinguish” them from their male counterparts.

Elizabeth Plank, an amateur boxer, is petitioning the AIBA to abandon the miniskirt regulation. She says, “The idea that female boxers should be made to wear skirts reduces these skilled athletes to sex objects. It undermines the respect they have long fought for.” Competing in unfamiliar clothing could even impact the boxers’ performances.

Ms. Plank isn’t the only boxer speaking out against the proposed dress code. Three-time world champion Katie Taylor says, “I don’t even wear miniskirts on a night out, so I definitely won’t be wearing miniskirts in the ring.”

The AIBA will be considering public opinion and feedback from the boxing world before making its decision next week. Click here to sign Ms. Plank’s campaign calling on the AIBA to abandon its sexist plans to require female boxers to wear miniskirts in the ring.

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Filed under Entertainment, Fashion, Sick Sad World, War on Women

Breaking: Conrad Murray Sentenced

English: Justice for Michael Jackson demonstra...

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Dr. Conrad Murray has been sentenced to four years in custody in the death of Michael Jackson.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Mr. Jackson’s death.

Prosecutors successfully argued that Dr. Murray’s reckless use of the anesthetic propofol to help Mr. Jackson sleep, without proper monitoring, led to the singer’s death.

Testimony during Dr. Murray’s trial revealed that he gave propofol nearly every night in the two months before the singer’s June 25, 2009, death.

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Rihanna Heads to Her Show on the Underground

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On Wednesday, Rihanna played a sold-out show at the 20,000 seat O2 Arena in London. To get to the show, she hit the Tube just like the fans also headed to her show.

She chatted with people in her car and posed for pictures on the way to the show. A spokesperson for the London Underground said she showed up unannounced and made no special arrangements. He added:

Millions of Londoners and visitors know Oyster gives you easy access to the capital’s transport network including fast, frequent and reliable Tube services. It’s great Rihanna seems to agree.

Well played, sir. Well played.

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Woman Arrested for 2010 Stockholm Bombing


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A 28–year–old woman has been arrested in Luton as part of an investigation into a suicide bombing in Sweden in December last year, Scotland Yard says.

She was held on Tuesday on suspicion of the preparation of terrorist acts.

The Met Police said she was questioned at a central London police station and later bailed until November.

Taimour Al–Abdaly, 28, an Iraqi-born Swede who had been based in Luton, blew himself up in Stockholm on 11 December last year.

Two people were injured after two explosions in the Swedish capital’s shopping district. Abdaly apparently killed himself as he tried to set off a car bomb in the busy street.

It later emerged that Abdaly had moved to the UK in 2001 to study and at the time of the bombing had lived in Luton with his wife and three children.

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Amy Winehouse Toxicology Report Disclosed

Amy Winehouse‘s spokesperson has released a statement saying that toxicology tests show that no illegal drugs were in the singer’s body when she passed away.

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Filed under Entertainment, Notable Passings