To the usual wave of public indifference, Lynda Block, who killed a policeman nine years ago, was herself killed in an Alabama jail on Friday, the 25th person to be executed in the US this year. However, she is likely to earn a special footnote in history as the last person ever to suffer that most American of deaths: the electric chair. \nAlabama is replacing electrocution as its favored means of capital punishment, leaving Nebraska, where executions are rare, as the only state that prescribes it. Nebraska is expected to follow suit shortly. After 102 years, one of the most grisly traditions of US law enforcement is about to die. \nBlock, 54, was strapped into Alabama's brightly-painted chair, known as "Yellow Mama," and, just after midnight, subjected to a 2,050-volt charge for 20 seconds, then a further 250 volts for 100 seconds. Witnesses saw her body tense, and steam rise from the sponge on her head and the electrode on her left leg. \nShe refused a last meal and said nothing. "She never displayed any emotion," the Alabama police commissioner, Mike Haley, said. "Her stare was a very blank stare, an emotionless stare." It was Alabama's first execution of a woman since 1957, and the US' first this year. \nBlock was no ordinary killer. She was a wife and mother who loved the opera and did volunteer work in her local library in Florida before joining a libertarian group that claimed to have seceded from the country. \nShe claimed to have shot the policeman who was questioning her companion in self-defense, because he had his hand on his holster. \nHowever, she refused to appeal, saying that she was willing to "die for the Constitution." \nIt is the Constitution that has put paid to Yellow Mama. Though the US Supreme Court has upheld the legality of executions, it has hinted that the electric chair could be covered by the eighth amendment, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." There have been several botched electrocutions, including one in Florida in 1990 where Jesse Tafero had flames, sparks and smoke coming out of his hood. In Alabama, Horace Dunkins reportedly burned to death because the cables were wrongly connected. \nAlmost all US executions now take place using lethal injection. A diminishing handful of states offer the chair, the gas chamber, hanging or, in Utah, the firing squad as alternatives, but these are now only likely to be used if the inmate insists. \n"There is a remote possibility that someone might choose to be electrocuted, perhaps to embarrass the [system]," said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center. "But I feel confident in saying this is the last person who will not have the choice." \nThe first person killed by this method was William Kemmler, in New York in 1890.
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
NO SIGN OF WAR: Only if Taiwanese showed determination to defend the nation would others be willing to help in the event of a Chinese attack, the premier said Should China launch a war against Taiwan, the military would fight to the last standing person, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday, adding that the nation has fully fleshed-out defense strategies. “Beijing has continued its acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs that it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Yen said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Asked how long Taiwan could withstand an attack from China, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “Taiwan will not fall.” Any belligerent force that initiates acts of war would pay a heavy price, and so too would Beijing,
Two Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) were suspended by their employers on Sunday after mentioning Taiwan and showing the national flag during a livestream, stoking controversy that was inflamed further when it was discovered that their management company issued distinct apologies in Japanese and Mandarin. While reading YouTube analytics over livestream on Thursday and Friday last week, Hololive VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato named Taiwan as contributing a high percentage of viewers. Users on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili were quick to criticize the two and report their accounts, prompting Hololive’s parent company, Cover Corp, to suspend the streamers for three
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a