Add yet another item to the list of things China has changed for the sake of an uncontroversial Olympics: the way it executes people. (Note to self: this is a really good opening sentence. Save it for a historical novel too.)
More people in China will still probably receive the death penalty than in all other countries combined. (The bad.) China considers the number a state secret. Amnesty International estimates that in 2006, 1,051 people were executed.
That represented a 40% drop from the year before. (The good.) Interviews with human-rights advocates, lawyers and defendants suggest the pace of executions decelerated last year as well. Officials sum up the essence of the death-penalty reforms as "kill fewer, kill carefully." Especially notable is that higher courts, which used to rubber stamp death-penalty verdicts, have reviewed a few cases and even reversed a few death sentences.
Wow! If we keep going at this rate, then certain people who think humankind can only survive if 95% of its species dies will have to find some other way to go about saving the world. On another note, now all China has to do to be Olympic-worthy is to allow Bibles in the same fashion they allow copies/translations of the Quran in the country.