In about 6 hours, a man is going to be put to death in China. His name is Akmal Shaikh. He’s not a hero. He wasn’t jailed for civil unrest or condemned for speaking out against China’s humanitarian transgressions. He is, quite simply, a British national whose mind has betrayed him and led him through a fantasy life as people are sometimes led through a fun house hall of mirrors.
Shaikh left his wife and children for a life on the streets in Poland trying to become alternately an airline magnate and a pop star. He criss crossed the country, sometimes staying in homeless shelters writing hundreds of emails to Tony Blair, Paul McCartney and George W Bush. In his madness, he met a man named ‘Carlos’ who promised to help him become famous. At some point in 2007, while convinced he was on his way to meet music executives, he boarded a plane with a suitcase carrying £250,000.00 worth of heroin from Tajikistan into China. This was seized by customs officials. Shaikh insisted he knew nothing of the drugs, that his friend, due on the next plane, would help explain everything. The friend never showed.
Though mental illness is usually taken into account for severe crimes, the Chinese government takes a very dim view toward drug trafficking. Shaikh was sentenced to death. The British Foreign Office was not even informed of his sentencing until late in 2008, and Shaikh himself was not told of his sentence until 24 hours prior to the scheduled execution.
And so the tale of this very ill man will come to an abrupt end far from his children and family in a little less than six hours. His family, ill from anxiety from the coming execution, can do nothing. Appeals have been put through at the highest level. All that can be done is to wait.
My own governor as recently as 5 years ago denied clemency to a mentally ill inmate for a crime far more heinous (IMO) than drug trafficking. Where do we draw the line? Shaikh, for his deluded fantasies, seems a harmless character. My support for the death penalty waivers when faced with such cases.
President Bush today embarrassed our country for the umpteenth time at the end of the G8 summit:
The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.”
He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.
Every time I think I can no longer be shocked by anything that comes out of his mouth, he manages to top himself.
Call me silly, call me elitist, I don’t care. I am glad we’re coming to the close of the presidency of someone you’d “want to have a beer with.” I’d rather have someone who doesn’t make me cringe every time he opens his mouth.
The first full wedding ceremony for a gay couple was held in London’s Anglican Church; both grooms members of the clergy. Rev. Peter Cowell & Rev. Dr. David Lord were married last month at St. Bartholomew the Great Church.
Rev. Martin Dudley stood in direct defiance of the bishop guidelines, saying:
“I know about the bishops guidelines and I disagree with them. It just seems to me to be utter hypocrisy to deny the fact that there are significant numbers of gay men and women within the church and significant numbers of gay clergy.”
Now more than ever, various religions are being faced with the fact that members of their faith are gay, and those people no longer feel the need to hide their relationships as if they are something shameful.
If religions are to continue to retain congregations and grow, they must recognize that societal mores change over time as our views of what constitutes a person or a relationship changes.
The main issue I have always had with religion – not belief, but religion – is that it attempts to freeze society in a set of rules that applied well to a certain period in history, but which no longer fit as we’ve advanced scientifically and technologically.
So many things we do now would be considered “not what god wants” from a strictly scriptural standpoint. Marriage, at least according to the bible, used to mean anything up to a man and a hundred women, some of whom were as young as 12 years old. That’s changed. So I’m thinking this “one man, one woman” idea is something that can be negotiable as well, and the insistence on it is really just the “ick” factor that certain people are unable to get past.