Hands off my organs! And other headlines

    It’s not often that a whole week goes by and I can still feel good about myself at the end of it. But so far this week I haven’t traded US military secrets for beer, I haven’t said anything I’ve had to retract and I haven’t been punched in the face by a Senator even once. This makes for a better week than the poor Chicago Cubbies had, no? Also celebrating victories are Chinese prisoners who get to keep their organs and Belgium because… well, they still exist, and that’s always helpful. Bringing up the rear is one Mexican who should have run faster.

    China brings out its dead, but won’t cut them up

    The Chinese announced this week that they’ll stop “stealing” organs from the unsuspecting prisoners they just executed. Or at the very least, they’ll only transplant the organs into the prisoner’s immediate relatives.

    It’s proven fact that dead people don’t need their organs. Furthermore, poke a dead person with a stick and you’ll hear nary a peep or protest! With this enlightening empirical evidence, I pronounce China’s policy useless.

    Plus China only uses people that are dead already and would certainly never make people dead for their organs. It’s not like they have a shiny fleet of mobile execution buses to make shuttling between the condemned easier (oops, retract that: apparently they do).

    China has been accused by heartless (and gutless, and possibly kidney-less) critics of harvesting organs out of death row inmates, road accident victims and other assorted dead people found in hospitals without consent, then selling the organs to the highest Western bidder.

    You’d think a few strategic cuts would be enough to prove the government is stealing organs from executed people, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like a clever Communist. The Chinese government, after doing its deed on the dead, hauls the bodies straight to a crematorium and burns them without giving relatives or outsiders the chance to examine the bodies.

    This announcement was made presumably to better the Chinese record on human rights, civil liberties and other such Western imperialist mumbo-jumbo. And it’s probably no coincidence that the Beijing Olympics next year will inevitably attract annoying Western reporters with nothing better to do than recycle those same old “humanitarian abuse” China stories they’ve been churning out for years.

    The fastest Mexican

    Roberto Madrazo, a presidential candidate in Mexico last year and current marathon enthusiast, is my kind of runner: a guy who doesn’t like to run.

    He finished this year’s Berlin marathon with the fastest time in the over-55 age category, a good 57 minutes faster than his last marathon attempt in April.

    Instead of doing something silly like running faster this time, Madrazo achieved a phenomenal time by not running the full race. Brilliant.

    The Berlin race organizers had outfitted every runner with a microchip to record when he or she passed each 5-kilometer interval in the race. Madrazo’s tracking chip has him showing up at the 12-mile point after one hour, 42 minutes and 42 seconds, which is in keeping with his previous marathon times. He then disappears from the record until the 35-km marker, near the very end of the race.

    The point where he disappears and the one where he reappears seem to be a short distance apart on Potsdamer Strasse, and conveniently enough only a few blocks from the Turkish döner kebab stalls in Kreuzberg, a Berlin suburb. Yum.

    I spent last weekend sitting in a car for 15 hours, hardly moving; thousands of people spent the past 6 months running around, training for the chance to run around some more in this past weekend’s Chicago marathon. I got to see my sister; those other guys got to collapse from heat exhaustion. Obviously, physical exertion is bad for you.

    Bidding on Belgium

    Put down your map, Miss South Carolina, and boot up your computer: Belgium has moved from the atlas to eBay.

    A disgruntled Belgian put his country up for sale in an advertisement that read, “For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts… can be bought as a whole (not recommended)…. free premium: the king and his court (costs not included),” but the posting did warn of the “$300 billion of National Debt.”

    It was initially offered at the price of one euro, but the auction was halted by eBay after 26 bids, with the highest coming in at €10 million ($14 million).

    The site accepted the ad saying it was funny, but later yanked it. “We decided to take it down, just to avoid confusion,” said Peter Burin, PR manager of eBay Belgium. He also said eBay doesn’t sell things that are virtual or “unrealistic,” which is possibly offensive to the 10.4 million real people who live there.

    Belgium is such a hot commodity that even its elected officials can’t stop fighting over it. Four months after the June 10 election the country is still sans a coalition government. The feud between the representatives of Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia puts to shame Northwestern’s North campus/South campus divide.


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