Eric Jou reports on Beijing's hot mystery room businesses, in which customers are locked into single-room funhouses where they have to solve a mystery in order to escape. Some mysteries are supernatural, others are crime-scenes, and others are "hospital-themed." They're inspired by similar video-games and cost less than a movie-ticket to play.
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A report on Vocativ reports on rumors on Chinese social media and Taiwanese newspapers that the rich and powerful hire "body doubles" to go on trial for them and even serve their prison sentences. High-profile Chinese trials, like those of Gu Kalai (the wife of Bo Xilai, convicted of murdering Neil Heywood), and Hu Bin (the son of an important official who killed a man in a hit-and-run, using a Mitsubishi custom sports car) have attracted speculation about the use of ti-shen, poor people hired to stand in for the rich perps. When they appeared in court, their appearances were arguably different from their earlier media photos.
I could not find any other sources reporting on this story, apart from this Chinese message-board linked in the Vocativ article. Given that it plays into the widespread perception of Chinese corruption and oligarchy, I'm on the fence about it. If you have more information, I'd love to hear it through the comments.
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I've told you before about Ghosts With Shit Jobs, Jim Munroe's mockumentary about "a future where China's the first world and North America’s the third world." Jim and co took the movie to the Beijing International Film Festival and documented their experience showing it to a Chinese audience.
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More than half of China's donated organs come from executed prisoners. The Chinese government now says it will begin phasing out that practice, starting in November. All new organ donors must volunteer. Of course, there's good reason to be skeptical of this announcement. As Smithsonian points out, the practice has already been illegal since 2006
with not much done to change it. Meanwhile, a harrowing 2011 investigative report
by Ethan Gutmann in the Weekly Standard revealed a system that leaves plenty of room for "volunteer" loopholes. — Maggie
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit against Cisco, which seeks to call the company to account for actively participating in human rights abuses in China through its participation in China's network surveillance. In 2008, a leaked PowerPoint presentation showed that Cisco was participating in initiatives like "Combat Falun Gong Evil Religion and Other Hostilities." The case's plaintiff has been detained and harassed in China since filing his suit. EFF's amicus brief carefully lays out the case against Cisco and explains how they actively collaborated in programs of surveillance and repression.
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This year's annual Wikipedia conference, Wikimania, was held in Hong Kong, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales devoted some time in his speech and subsequent interviews to a discussion of the site's relationship to the Chinese authorities. Wikipedia is heavily censored by the Great Firewall, which blocks many queries and pages, and an encrypted, unfilterable version of Wikipedia is blocked altogether. Wales ruled out shutting down the unencrypted version for now, on technical grounds, but said that the site would never censor itself in response to government threats.
More significantly, Wales ruled out completely any participation in China's "real name" policy, which requires online services to track user activity and associate it with their real names, saying he would not comply with this, "not for five seconds."
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New York Times China correspondent Edward Wong describes his life in heavily polluted Beijing
, where he no longer feels safe running outside and, in order to bike around town, dons a black air filter face mask that makes him "look like an Asian Darth Vader". — Maggie
From the Abandoned Geography Tumblr: an overgrown and abandoned rollercoaster in Hubei Province, China.
Abandoned roller coaster in Hubei Province, China
UK Prime Minister David Cameron (and his thin-skinned, slandering advisor Claire Perry) have been cynically appealing to the Tory's reactionary base by promising to purge the British Internet of porn with a Chinese style, opt-out Great Firewall. Cameron has held out the UK ISP TalkTalk as a paragon in this regard, praising its "Homesafe" blocking product.
Now the BBC reports that Homesafe was built by Huawei, the Chinese IT giant Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in China's People's Liberation Army. Huawei has been characterized by senior Western spooks as an arm of the Chinese intelligence service, conducting industrial espionage on its behalf.
A poorly understood feature of censorship software is that it is also surveillance software. In order to stop you from clicking on "bad" things, it must intercept all of your clicks and examine them to make sure they're not on the blacklist.
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The International Campaign for Tibet
reports that "Two Tibetan monks were shot in the head and several others seriously injured after Chinese police opened fire at a crowd gathered to peacefully celebrate the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Nyitso, Tawu, eastern Tibet, on Saturday (July 6)." — Xeni
Members of the decadent nouveau riche of Shenzhen in South China have provoked online outrage by taking up breast-milk consumption as a high-status health treatment. According to sources quoted in the Times of India, agencies recruit wet nurses from among recent mothers and pay them $2,000-$4,000 to allow rich people to nurse from their breasts, or to pump milk for later consumption.
"This adds to China's problem of treating women as consumer goods and the moral degradation of China's rich," wrote Cao Baoyin, a writer and regular commentator in Chinese media, on his blog.
Breast milk drinking by rich adults provokes outrage in China [Saibal Dasgupta/Times of India]
As the world marks the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday, the Tibetan community marks a grim milestone: 120 Tibetans, mostly youth, have burned themselves alive to protest China’s repressive rule. Xeni Jardin traveled to Washington, DC to document a group of Tibetan-American activists asking lawmakers to open up immigration doors for political refugees, and hold China accountable.
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"China’s surveillance system is extremely wild, there are no rules governing it that are worth speaking of,” says
a Beijing lawyer named Xie Yanyi, who filed a public information request with the police to reveal how China’s own surveillance operations work. The New York Times reports that
"he filed the request as a private citizen, said there were three programs in particular he wanted to know more about: Golden Shield, Great Wall and Green Dam." — Xeni
When Hong Kong let Edward Snowden leave the country instead of arresting him in accord with the official US request on the grounds that the request was incomplete and invalid, many of us (myself included) assumed that there was a certain amount of nose-thumbing going on. But as it turns out, the US government's extradition request to Hong Kong was remarkably sloppy.
The request didn't include Snowden's full name or passport number. It didn't include a rationale explaining "how two of the three charges the US mentioned in its arrest request fell within the scope of a US-Hong Kong rendition of fugitive offenders agreement signed in 1996." It didn't include any evidence for the charges. And the US didn't respond to prompt requests for clarification from Hong Kong.
HK authorities requested clarification by email on Jun 17 and 21, and by "speed post" on Jun 21. They have yet to receive a response.
I confess I don't understand this. Was it that the bureaucrats pursuing Snowden were incompetent? Arrogant? Paralyzed by infighting? It's a truly astonishing degree of sloppiness.
Hong Kong minister rejects US accusations of deliberately delaying Snowden's arrest
GE isn't the only one getting into the 3D-printed airplane part game. But, instead of little fuel injectors for turbines
, the Chinese company AVIC Heavy Machinery and China's Northwestern Polytechnical University are printing off 5-meter-long titanium wing spars
and equally long wing beams
. (Thanks, Tim Heffernan!) — Maggie