The curious juxtaposition of these two stories from China on the same day is striking.

In the first story, two men were sentenced to death for purposely poisoning the food in a snack bar in Shenzhen City with sodium nitrite.  It appears that a deal to develop a skating rink was contingent on removing a popular marketplace, and the ringleaders decided the best way to do that was to poison people at the marketplace, which they did in February 2008.  Two people died and 61 others were poisoned.  Those sentenced to die were the ones who administered the poison.  The manager who masterminded the plan was sentenced to life in prison and the developer of the skating rink was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Meanwhile, just yesterday, in Harbin, 57 people at a shopping center got food poisoning from eating a popular Chinese snack food called malatang.  The verdict:  poisoning from nitrite.  It makes you wonder if someone wanted to put a skating rink in there, too.

UPDATE 2/26/09:  Make that three stories.  Today CNN is reporting that 14 people in Guangzhou were poisoned from a dish of stir-fried pig’s liver.