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Interviews with death-row prisoners a hit on Chinese TV

Interviews Before Execution


Death-row TV show

"In Henan Province, in central China, millions of people have been tuning in every week to watch an extraordinary talk show called Interviews Before Execution, in which a reporter interviews murderers condemned to death," BBC News reports. "The show ran for just over five years, until it was taken off air on Friday. Every Monday morning, reporter Ding Yu and her team scoured court reports to find cases to cover on their program. … To Western eyes the show's format may seem exploitative, but Ding disagrees. 'Some viewers may consider it cruel to ask a criminal to do an interview when they are about to be executed. On the contrary, they want to be heard,' she says. … Ding interviewed a prisoner every week until the program was taken off air. The move follows a handful of reports about the show in foreign media."

Reading a pupil's posts

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"A 12-year-old girl is suing her school in Minnesota after being forced to hand over her Facebook password and [being]punished for posts she made on the social networking site," The Telegraph reports. "The case has been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, and comes amid growing concern in the United States about individuals' ability to keep their e-mail and other online accounts secret from their school, employer and government authorities. … In the Minnesota case, the 12-year-old girl, known only as RS, is said to have been punished by teachers at Minnewaska Area Middle School for things she wrote on Facebook while at home, and using her own computer."

Got nothing to hide?

"When the government gathers or analyzes personal information, many people say they're not worried. 'I've got nothing to hide,' they declare," Daniel Solove writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education. "… I encountered the nothing-to-hide argument so frequently in news interviews, discussions and the like that I decided to probe the issue. I asked the readers of my blog, Concurring Opinions, whether there are good responses to the nothing-to-hide argument. I received a torrent of comments" including:

  • “My response is, ‘So do you have curtains?’ or ‘Can I see your credit-card bills for the last year?’ ”
  • “I don’t have anything to hide. But I don’t have anything I feel like showing you, either.”
  • “If you have nothing to hide, then you don’t have a life.”
  • “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”

Samantha gets a rabbit

"An elderly gorilla that lives at a Pennsylvania zoo has a new companion: a bunny named Panda," Associated Press reports. "The Erie Zoo's gorilla, Samantha, has been without a full-time friend since the death of Rudy, a male gorilla, in 2005. But officials say the 47-year-old western lowland gorilla is too old to be paired with another gorilla. So they opted last month to introduce her to Panda, a Dutch rabbit. The Erie Times-News reports Samantha and Panda get along well. Samantha will gently scratch under the bunny's chin and share her food. Officials at the zoo say Samantha has always had a gentle personality."

Brawling to Brahms

"It gets so quiet during the second movement of the Brahms Symphony No. 2, you could almost hear a pin drop," says the Chicago Sun-Times. "Or a sneeze. Or a fist hitting a face. Such was the case Thursday night at Orchestra Hall in a ruckus the Chicago Symphony Orchestra officially described as an 'incident' between 'two patrons.' But shocked concertgoers and police called it a fist-fight in one of the boxes – where the elite typically sit and expect a more refined experience. Just as the second movement was drawing to a gentle close – with music director Riccardo Muti at the podium – a man in his 30s, according to police, started punching a 67-year-old man inside one of the boxes. 'We heard a rather loud thump,' said Steve Robinson, general manager of Chicago's classical and folk music station 98.7 WFMT. … Some in the audience thought a patron had suffered some kind of medical emergency. But police said it was a fight stemming from an argument over seats in the box. … The victim was left with a cut on his forehead, while the other man left before police arrived, authorities said."

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Thought du jour

"An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind."

- Walter Bagehot (1826-77), British economist and journalist

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