Friday Photo: Putin is just like us!

In which FP channels US Weekly:

Picture taken August 13, 2007 shows Russian President Vladimir Putin fishing in the headwaters of the Yenisei River of the Russian Tuva republic on the border of Mongolia. Putin and Prince Albert II of Monaco are touring the area. (AFP PHOTO/RIA NOVOSTI/KREMLIN POOL/DMITRY ASTAKHOV)


Renowned Chinese artist condemns Beijing Olympics

Ai Wei Wei, one of China's most celebrated artists and the creative genius behind the new, $400 million Beijing National Stadium, has used an interview with Al Jazeera English (embedded below) to courageously denounce his country's upcoming Olympics as "fake and hypocritical."

In the video, Ai gives Beijing the middle finger, and says he wants nothing more to do with the Games. He refuses to attend the opening ceremonies, which are to be held in the very stadium he designed. Ai denounces the ceremonies and the hoopla surrounding them because, he says, the world will not see the "real state of the country, the city, and the people." He adds:

If it is far away from reality, then it is something fake and hypocritical."

Ai knows the "real state" of his country all too well. The son of renowned Chinese poet Ai Qin, his family was sent to a remote labor camp in Xinjiang province during the Cultural Revolution. It is where Ai grew up. Apparently, he sees little distinction between the hardship and suffering his family experienced a half century ago and the conditions of the workers who are building his stadium. They earn $150 per month.

As for fellow artists—particularly director Steven Spielberg—who are reportedly helping to choreograph the show, Ai has this to say:

All the sh*tty directors in the world are involved. It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment. It is mindless."

(Hat tip: Boing Boing)