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Florida offers to host 2021 Olympics if Tokyo backs out

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Amid speculation that Tokyo might back out of its 2021 Olympics hosting gig because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Florida has put itself forward as a back-up host.

Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer, on Monday pitched Florida as a host for the 2021 Olympic Games in a letter to the International Olympic Committee.

“Today, I am writing to encourage you to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, Japan to the United States of America, and more specifically to Florida,” Patronis wrote.

“With media reports of leaders in Japan ‘privately’ concluding that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place, there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida to meet with statewide and local officials on holding the Olympics in the Sunshine State,” Patronis continued. “I would welcome the opportunity to pitch Florida and help you make the right contacts to get this done.”

Patronis also made a point of mentioning the Sunshine State’s growing population and praising its distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

“Unlike other states, when the COVID-19 vaccine comes to Florida it doesn’t just sit on the shelf wrapped in government red tape; it moves fast to protect our communities,” Patronis wrote, also touting Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s (R) battle to keep the state’s economy open while combatting the spread of the coronavirus.

Florida, the country’s third-biggest state, right now is ranked number four for coronavirus deaths so far during the pandemic with over 25,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. While California had far stricter restrictions than Florida, the former has the second-most deaths so far. New York has the most deaths of any U.S. state, while Texas has the third-most.

Patronis took a moment to promote that Florida “successfully allowed sports to take place during the pandemic,” such as NFL, NBA, and college football games and UFC events. He also bragged about Disney World being open, saying that it is “an incredible model for how to run a complex organization in the midst of COVID-19.”

Due to Florida being a massive tourist destination, Patronis argued that the Sunshine State is well-suited to handle a massive influx of people, listing off the state’s statistics for transportation infrastructure, lodging, already existing sports facilities, and world-renown health facilities in each of the state’s regions.

On January 13, a state of emergency was issued in Japan after the nation surpassed 300,000 COVID-19 cases, according to The Hill.

The upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are set to start in July, were originally supposed to happen last July but were pushed back.

Last Friday, parties responsible for putting together the Tokyo Games emphasized they would be continuing with the scheduled dates of July 23 to August 8, according to The Japan Times.

“I am determined to realize a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus,” said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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China

REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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