Penalizing Criminals with the Hangman’s Noose

China’s penchant for the death penalty could be an isolating factor
By Genevieve Long

There’s something to be said for being a good student of history, especially when it comes to China. Just consider the past two years. In that time, China has demonstrated a particular, repetitive, and deadly problem: melamine.

Melamine is a common industrial chemical with applications as a coating on dinnerware, and as a fire retardant, among other thing. It was never intended for consumption by living beings, human or otherwise. Even though the World Health Organization declared a “safe” level of melamine for human consumption in Dec., 2008, the scientific jury is still out on the long-term effects of melamine when consumed by humans, at any level.

Enter China’s milk and pet-food manufacturing industries. In 2007, it was discovered that melamine was being added to animal feed and pet food to boost the apparent protein level. The result was thousands of dead American household pets, and a subsequent uproar in the U.S. public and government. It also ultimately led to the indictment of several parties involved it the scandal by the U.S. government, and stricter standards by the FDA.

Fast-forward to late 2008, and history repeats itself as thousands of Chinese babies get seriously ill from melamine-contaminated baby milk. Watered-down milk from farmers and producers trying to up product volume and profit margins found its way to unscrupulous manufacturers masking the lower protein level with melamine. It’s a practice that has been happening for years, according to what one whistle-blowing farmer, Jiang Weisuo, told NPR late last year.

Because information is tightly controlled by the communist party, it may not be possible to know how many infants were actually sickened and killed. The last count publicly revealed was almost 300,000 sickened. At least six infants died from kidney failure.

As China continues to grow at a rate so fast that it almost outpaces itself, its political system under the communist party languishes. The imbalance of an archaic political system that overuses extreme punishments like the death penalty is nearly tipping the scales of a balanced society.

Legal punishments following both melamine scandals fall into that category. The Chinese Communist Party sentenced the head of the Chinese Food and Drug Administration to the death penalty in 2007 for his role in contaminated pet food. Following the recent contaminated milk scandal, two men were sentenced to death and 19 others given heavy sentences for their roles.

These seem like unusually harsh punishments until statistics are taken into account. For example, Amnesty International puts China at the top of the list of countries that use the death penalty in law or practice. While there has been a decrease in the death penalty worldwide since 1988, China is a different story. In 2007, China killed more than 470 people using the death penalty.

As China’s economy becomes more and more intertwined with the rest of the world, when will its practices of legal jurisdiction and punishment fall into line with the norms of other industrialized nations? Arguably, it may not be possible with the current form of government in place, which discourages dissent and emphasizes psychological and spiritual obedience to the communist party.

The answer could be that the road for China to become a true superpower will inevitably involve an overhauled government system. Likely something closer to a democracy—representative of the people’s needs and wishes. If this kind of government already existed in China, instead of two more deaths in the wake of the most recent melamine scandal, the complaints of grieving parents who publicly appealed for answers would have been heard. But instead, the parents who bravely stepped forward were taken into police custody and refused to speak to the media when released. Serious, open, public debates are a hallmark of a healthy democracy.

China has far to go to become a superpower that exercises judicial restraint in sentencing, and does not fear the voices of its own citizens.

Veteran Journalist Gets a Bird’s Eye View of America’s Best Counterterrorism Force

Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey examines the NYPD’s fight against terrorism in his new book, “Securing the City

By Genevieve Long for the Foreign Policy Association

When the American public thinks of the United States fighting terrorism, the federal government naturally comes to mind. Yet for some in New York City, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the bureaucracy of the CIA, FBI, DHS, DIA and NSA proved too cumbersome to be effective in preventing attacks. Raymond Kelly was one of the people with this opinion, and after being reinstated as New York Police Department Commissioner in 2002, he created an elite force to go inside the world of potential terrorists—in cities throughout around the planet. The result, seven years later, is described in Christopher Dickey’s new book, “Securing the City”.

Dickey, who is Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek, is a veteran journalist, war correspondent, and author of several books. He has also written for a number of magazines, including Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and others.

Dickey’s book is already garnering accolades not only for its incisive look a rarely examined section of the NYPD, and for highlighting the dense amount of red tape that stands between the federal government and its ability to effectively fight terrorism.

Commissioner Kelly has focused on recruiting native-speakers of key languages needed to track activity in the world of terrorism—including Arabic, Farsi, and Dari. He has also seen to it that agents are stationed not just throughout New York’s five boroughs, but around the world. The NYPD’s counterterrorism network of about 600 agents is posted in major international cities, and the agents speak the languages and know the streets of the terrorist communities they are watching. Many of them, in a manner reflective of New York City’s general ethnic makeup, are foreign-born.

They know the slang of the back streets of Karachi because they are from the back streets of Karachi,” said Kelly during a recent appearance at the Overseas Press Club in New York for a Q&A with Christopher Dickey. He cooperated closely with Dickey for the book.

In contrast, it would be almost impossible for foreign-born applicants to get a similar position with the federal government because of prohibitive laws.

Dickey’s level of extraordinary access to the NYPD’s counterterrorism force for his book is somewhat of an anomaly. That alone could make the book worth reading. As NYPD Deputy Commissioner recently said, “If we gave brought the media out to see us work, that’s all we would ever do.” According to Browne, Dickey was given special access because of his affiliation with Newsweek and the impending publication of his book.

Dickey will continue his book tour at the Houston Forum on February 23 and at the World Affairs Council in Dallas on February 24.

Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down

By Robert F. Worth for The New York Times

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai’s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage.

Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse.

“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Brutal Torture and Disappearance of Renowned Attorney Demands a Clear International Response

Published in the Canada Free Press by Falun Dafa Information Center

NEW YORK – Chinese security forces’ severe torture and disappearance of leading human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gao Zhisheng highlights the life-threatening danger facing Falun Gong adherents and those who come to their defense in China and must prompt a strong international response, the Falun Dafa Information Center said Thursday.

“Gao Zhisheng has repeatedly risked his life to stand up against injustice. He has been abducted and tortured largely for defending Falun Gong adherents publicly, exposing the atrocities they have suffered and calling upon the regime’s leadership to end its campaign against this large group of ordinary Chinese seeking to practice their faith in peace,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Erping Zhang.

“His horrific treatment for doing so should be a wake-up call to the international community of the Chinese regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law. Gao’s case shows clearly that absent international pressure with teeth, China’s leaders cannot be depended upon to uphold the basic dignity and rights of their own people.”

Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese rights lawyer featured on the front page of the New York Times in 2005 and listed among the top three candidates for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize, relayed the brutal torture he suffered in police custody in 2007 in a statement released on his behalf on Monday and published by the China Aid Association and Human Rights in China. (statement)

Several days before the letter was made public, on Feb. 4, Gao was again abducted by Chinese authorities. His current whereabouts remain unknown and he is at severe risk of torture.

Torture Account

In the statement released Monday, Gao describes the treatment at the hands of Chinese security agents after he was abducted on September 21, 2007 for writing a letter to the U.S. Congress detailing abuses surrounding preparation for the Olympic games.

Gao describes in great detail being stripped naked, thrown to a concrete floor where several officials beat him and shocked him with electric batons all over his body, including on his genitals and in his mouth. On other occasions, Gao was pinned down while torturers pierced his genitals with sharp objects. During the abuse, his torturers repeatedly linked his treatment to that of Falun Gong, whose persecution he is known for publicly condemning:

“The 12 courses [of torture techniques] we’re going to give to you were practiced on the Falun Gong,” Gao recounts one torturer named Wang saying. “We can torture you to death without your body being found.”

SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Chinese Human Rights Attorney Recounts Torture

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/11777

On Dec. 31, 2004, the noted human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng wrote his first open letter to China’s top leaders, “An Open Letter to China’s National Peoples’ Congress.” That was followed by his second letter “Stop Persecuting Believers of Freedom and Mend Your Ties with the Chinese People” written on Oct. 18, 2005 and third letter “Why One of China’s Top Attorneys Broke with the Communist Party” on Dec. 12, 2005.

In November 2005, Gao’s law firm in Beijing was suspended. On Aug. 15, 2006, Gao was kidnapped. Later, he was arrested with the excuse of “inciting subversion of state power.” On Dec. 12, 2006, the court conducted a trial without allowing Gao’s attorney to present his case. In the same year, on Dec. 22, Gao was sentenced to a 3-year term on the pretense of “inciting subversion of state power,” with 5 years on probation.

It has been over 2 years since all Gao’s connections to the outside world were cut off. In May 2007, the American Board of Trial Advocates granted Gao the Courageous Advocacy Award. In September 2007, Gao was kidnapped again and subjected to torture for 50 days, as recounted in this letter.

Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia

My account of more than 50 days of torture in 2007

These words from me today will be finally revealed one day. They will expose the true face of today’s China and will disclose the unimaginable heart and characteristics of the “ruling party” in China.

Of course, these words will inevitably bring unpleasant and even disturbed, embarrassed feelings to those global “good friends” and “nice partners” of today’s Chinese Communist Party—IF these global “good friends” and “nice partners” still have some concern in their hearts for the value of human conscience and morality.

Today, the suddenly well off CCP has not only gained more and more global “good friends” and “nice partners” but also has spoken more and more loudly such perverted slogans as “China is a country with rule of law.” Both will be disastrous to the progress and development of the human rights of the Chinese people.

Around 8 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2007 the authorities notified me orally that I should go for a mind re-education talk. I found there were some unusual things happening this time. The secret police, who used to follow me very closely, kept a greater distance. I was walking down the street that day and, when I turned a corner, about six or seven strangers started walking towards me. I suddenly felt a strong blow to the back of my neck and fell face down on the ground. Someone yanked my hair and a black hood was immediately pulled over my head.

I was brought to a vehicle and was put in it. Although I couldn’t see, it seemed to me that it had two benches with a space in the middle. I was put in the space in the middle on the floor. My right cheek was on the ground. All of a sudden a boot was put on my face holding me down. Many hands started searching all over me. My belt was pulled off and then used to tie my hands behind my back. At least four people put their feet on me holding me down.

About 40 minutes later I was dragged out of the car. My pants were falling down around my knees and I was dragged into a room. No one had said anything at all to me until that time. The hood was pulled off of my head at this time. Immediately men began cursing and hitting me. “***, your date of death has come today. Brothers, let’s give him a brutal lesson today. Beat him to death.”

Then, four men with electric shock prods began beating my head and all over my body. Nothing but the noise of the beating and my anxious breathing could be heard. I was beaten so severely that my whole body began uncontrollably shaking.

“Don’t pretend to do that!” shouted a guy I later learned is named Wang. Then a very strong and tall (approximately 6’ 1”) man grabbed my hair and pulled me up off the ground. Then Wang began beating me on the face terribly.

“***, you are not worthy to wear black clothes. Are you a Mafia leader? Pull off all of his clothes.”

All my clothes were pulled off and I was totally naked. Wang yelled again, and someone kicked me in the back of my legs, and I collapsed to the floor. The big guy continued to pull my hair and forced me to lift my head to see Wang.

At this time, I could see that there were five people in the room. Four of the men were holding electric prods, and one was holding my belt.

“You listen, Gao, today your uncles want nothing but to make your life worse than death. I tell you the truth, your matter is not only between you and the government.

“Look at the floor! There is not a single drop of water. After a while the water will be above your ankles. After a while you will learn where the water will come from.”

While Wang was saying this, the electric shock prods were put on my face and upper body shocking me.

Wang then said, “Come on guys, deliver the second course!” Then, the electric shock batons were put all over me. And my full body, my heart, lungs and muscles began jumping under my skin uncontrollably. I was writhing on the ground in pain, trying to crawl away. Wang then shocked me in my genitals.

My begging them to stop only resulted in laughing and more unbelievable torture. Wang then used the electric shock baton three more times on my genitals while shouting loudly.

After a few hours of this I had no energy to even beg, let alone try to escape. But my mind was still clear. I felt my body was jerking very strongly when the baton touched me. I clearly felt some water sprinkled on my arms and legs as I was jerking. It was then I realized that this was sweat from me, and I realized what Wang had meant about the water.

It seems that the torturers themselves were also tired. Before the dawn came, three of them left the room. “We will come back later to give him the next course,” Wang said.

The two left in the room, put a chair in the middle of the room and pulled me up and set me in the chair. One of them had five pieces of cigarettes in his mouth. One man stood behind me and the man with the cigarettes was in front.

The man behind grabbed my hair and pulled my head forward and down. The other man used the cigarettes to fill my nose and eyes with smoke over and over. They did this with the utmost patience. After a while I didn’t have any feeling except for some tears dropping on my legs.

This continued for about two hours. Then some other guys came in replacing the previous two. My eyes could not see because they were now swollen shut.

The new guys started talking, “Gao, are you still able to hear with your ears? I tell you the truth, these guys are experts in cracking down on Mafia guys. They are heavies. This time they are chosen specifically and carefully by the higher authorities for this purpose.

“Can you hear who I am? My last name is Jiang. I followed you to Xiajiang after you were released last year.”

“Are you the one from Penglai City, Shandong?” I asked.

“Yes, your memory is still good. I told you, you would come back sooner or later. When I saw you the way you behaved in Xiajiang, I knew you would be back. You even looked down upon our police.

“Shouldn’t we help you have a better lesson? You wrote that letter to American congressmen. Look at you, you traitor. What could you be given by your American lord? The American Congress counts for nothing. This is China. It is the Communist Party’s territory.

“To capture your life is as easy as stepping on an ant. If you dare to continue to write your stupid articles, the government has to make its attitude clear. Now, did you see that attitude tonight?” Jiang spoke slowly.

I asked, “How can you face the beating of Chinese and use Mafia tactics on Chinese taxpayers?”

“You are an object to be beaten,” said Jiang. “You know that in your heart better than most. Taxpayers count for nothing in China. Don’t talk about this term ‘taxpayers.’”

While he was saying this, someone else entered the room. I recognized the voice to be Wang’s. “Don’t talk to him with your mouth. Give him the real thing. Your uncles have prepared 12 courses. We only finished 3 last night.

“Your chief uncle doesn’t like to talk and so after a while you will see that you will have to eat your own S*** and drink your own piss. A toothpick will touch your light [sexual organs].

“Don’t you talk about torture by the Communist Party yet, because we will give you a comprehensive lesson now!

“You are correct, we torture Falun Gong. Everything is right. The 12 courses we’re going to give to you were practiced on the Falun Gong. To tell you the truth. I am not afraid of you if you continue to write. We can torture you to death without your body being found.

“You stinky outsider [meaning, not from Beijing]! What are you thinking even being here?”

In the following hours of torture, I passed out several times because of lack of water and food, and heavy sweating. I was lying down on the cold floor naked. I felt several times someone come and open my eyes and shine a flashlight in them to see if I was still alive.

When I would come to, I smelled the strong odor of stinky urine. My face, nose, and hair were filled with the smell. Obviously, but I don’t know when, someone had urinated on my face and head.

This torture continued until around noon on the third day. I don’t know where I got the strength to endure, but somehow I struggled to get away from their grasp and began to beat my head on the table.

I was shouting the names of my two children (Tiangyu and GeGe) and trying to kill myself. But my attempt did not succeed. I thank Almighty God for this. It is He who rescued me. I truly felt God drag me back from that state and give me my life.

My eyes were full of blood, though, because of my head-banging. I fell on the ground. Immediately, three people sat on my body. One was on my face. They were laughing. They said I used my death to try to scare them. They said they have just seen this too many times.

They then continued the torture again until that night. I could not see anything with my eyes anymore. I could still hear my torturers though, and again they gathered after they had dinner.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE

New Book Takes Readers Inside the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Work

By Genevieve Long for The Epoch Times

With 32,000 police, the New York Police Department is the country’s largest police force and has been hardest-hit by terrorist attacks. It’s an operation that needs to have more than a few tricks up its sleeve.

One of these is the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit—an elite group of 600 officers and analysts stationed in New York City and throughout the world. The work of the unit, which was created after 9/11, is detailed in the new book “Securing the City” by Christopher Dickey. Dickey is the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek Magazine.

The book, which was released this month, was written with the close cooperation of the NYPD and police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who says the specialized unit was created because information from the federal government was too slow in coming. After 9/11, he realized the NYPD could no longer rely on the CIA, FBI and NSA to keep New York City safe.

“Everything is bureaucratized, everything is slowed down in the federal government,” said Kelly during a recent discussion with “Securing the City” author Charles Dickey at the Overseas Press Club in Manhattan. Kelly says in the years since 9/11, the NYPD has focused on how to create a highly skilled and versatile unit with members who not only understands the world of terrorists, but who speak their language and even their slang.

Kelly says these basic communication skills are vital to the work they do.

“We took all of the speakers of the sensitive languages and sent them to Berlitz [language schools],” said Kelly. Many of those used for the special assignment are foreign-born immigrants who the federal government will not clear to do counterterrorism work. Kelly thinks that such an exclusion is a mistake, and understanding subtle linguistic nuances can make for truly useful intelligence. “They know the slang of the back streets of Karachi because they are from the back streets of Karachi,” said Kelly about the members of the unit.

In addition to extensive international field work and intelligence gathering, the unit also works side-by-side with the beat police in the NYPD who are deeply familiar with the city’s five boroughs. This includes the use of Critical Response Vehicles (CRVs).

Twice a day, approximately five times a week, 75 police cars—or CRVs—with two police officers each from various parts of the city gather at a rallying point, get the day’s counterterrorism briefing, and break off into smaller groups. The rallying points change constantly and sometimes cause a stir when they are in major tourist areas like Times Square. The unpredictable movement of the CRVs, coupled with their sudden, massive presence also acts as a warning to potential terrorist attackers. The enormous police presence is impossible to ignore, and impossible to predict.

The NYPD’s counterterrorism unit also closely watches broader changes in the stability of international situations, such as the war in Afghanistan, and resurgent Taliban forces there.

“We pay a lot of attention to what goes on in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Kelly. “You cannot separate Pakistan from Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban.”

Although New York has been hit repeatedly by terrorist attacks and is the ongoing target of sinister plots, book author Christopher Dickey says the city’s large number of immigrants is its best insurance. That’s largely due to the fact that immigrants traditionally tend to become personally vested in their adopted city, reducing the chance they would attack a place they call home.

“New York keeps taking it on the chin,” said Dickey, who adds that despite past attacks against New York, there is still less to fear than most places. “The safest big cities in the U.S. are those with the highest number of first-generation immigrants.”

Dickey’s book, “Securing the City”, is available at Amazon.com and in major bookstores.