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.
In what has now become a familiar refrain, yet another product from China has caused the death of a third infant and thousands of others to become seriously ill, some to the point of kidney failure.
The grim news Wednesday was coupled with an announcement that China’s biggest dairy is one of three companies that have joined the massive recall of infant milk formula after the chemical melamine was found by health officials, the Associated Press reports.
This is the second major scandal in recent years involving Chinese-made baby formula, theAPreported. In 2004, phony formula that contained no nutrients was linked to more than 200 cases of malnutrition and at least 12 infant deaths.
We need look no further than this for the health of our “global economy.” In the US corporations’ mad rush to send jobs overseas to increase the bottom line and cut the hugest cost…American wages….something was overlooked. The quality and standards we as a nation have become accustomed to expect. How much longer should this failed experiment be allowed to continue before we accept that a trickle down economy does not work? How many of our children have to die before it’s recognized that the “best interests” corporations have in mind is their own bottom line? Not the health of their workers or the safety of the products, or the best interest of the consumer. Their bottom line. Thousands are laid off with no prospects while CEO’s and top execs are given golden parachutes from the retirement savings of their employees. Jobs are sent overseas with no new markets created to fill the void. And the middle class continues to shrink, with the nation’s poor expanding.
It is time to admit that Ayn Rand’s ideas were no more than that. Ideas. And idealistic, unworkable ones at that. It isn’t a case of finding the right people for the job, because the market will NOT correct itself. Rapacious greed will win out over better human nature every time.
I believe a global economy can work. But if it is going to work, there HAS to be oversight. There has to be restraint. And there has to be enforced regulation. People, infants, have already died. What more do we need to prove that?