Frank Dikotter, an historian from Hong Kong, has been allowed wide access to Chinese Communist Party archives. Speaking at the Independent Literary Festival, Dikotter described Mao Zedong as the greatest mass murderer in human history. According to the historian, the entire death toll from the Second World War was 55 million people. Mao alone was responsible for the death of a mind-numbing 55 million in the years after the war.

Swedish currencyThe move toward a cashless society is accelerating in Sweden as plastic payments become the norm and various government officials, unions, and high-profile Swedes push for a ban on cash, supposedly to reduce robberies. But opposition to the proposal is mounting as well.

Six months after the close of the Winter Olympics, Vancouver taxpayers have been slapped with a bill for $1 billion in unsold Olympic Village units. Business Insider reports, “Sixty-six percent of Vancouver’s pricey Olympic Village condos remain unsold — a total of 483 units at the massive False Creek development that served as athletes’ housing during the two-week 2010 games.”

In the aftermath of the furor over one Florida church’s plans to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a new case of book-burning is drawing attention. Australian lawyer Alex Stewart, a self-proclaimed atheist, was not content merely to burn the Koran, but chose to burn the Bible as well.

France got into big trouble this week over its deportation of Gypsies early this week, and its move to ban veils that hide the faces of women won't help matters any.