Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
BEIJING (AP) — A Beijing court on Friday rejected artist Ai Weiwei’s appeal of a more than $2 million fine for tax evasion, a case he says is part of an intimidation campaign to stop him from criticizing the government.
Ai, an internationally renowned artist detained for three months last year after making remarks critical of the government, was barred from the court where the verdict was read.
His lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said the court ruled that authorities used legal procedures in their case against Ai’s design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. Pu said the ruling was made “totally without reason.”
Security was heavy outside the Chaoyang District Court. Plainclothes and uniformed police were blocking roads and forcing media and diplomats to leave the area.
Beijing Fake Cultural Development was ordered to pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in back taxes and fines, in a penalty interpreted by activists as punishment for his criticism of the authoritarian government.
The company appealed the fine and filed a lawsuit accusing the tax bureau of violating laws in handling witnesses, evidence and company accounts in the case.
Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, the legal representative of Beijing Fake Cultural Development, was allowed into the court along with Pu and another lawyer.
Pu said the court’s rejection is just the beginning of the design firm’s defense.
“We have lost this lawsuit but we believe that our action in reality can serve as a symbol of the awakening of civil consciousness,” Pu said. “We do not recognize the legality of the ruling.”
Since he emerged from detention last year, Ai has been refused permission to travel and is under constant surveillance. He still frequently criticizes the government on Twitter, which is blocked in China but accessible to tech-savvy citizens.
A sculptor, photographer and installation artist, Ai has increasingly used his art and online profile to draw attention to injustices in Chinese society and the need for greater transparency and rule of law.
Before his own detention last April, he was using Twitter to publicize the disappearance of fellow activists in a widespread crackdown by the government.
He also has spoken out about a number of national scandals, including the deaths of students in shoddily built schools that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, children killed or sickened by tainted infant formula and a deadly high-rise fire in Shanghai that killed 58 people and was blamed on negligent workers and corrupt inspectors.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.