Monday Morning Open Thread: Occupy Central (HK)

Click on the link for the Hong-Kong-based South China Morning Post‘s full story.

From the NYTimes:

A wave of public protest in Hong Kong extended into the working week on Monday as thousands of residents defied a government call to abandon street blockades across the city, students boycotted classes and the city’s influential bar association added to condemnation of a police crackdown on protesters a day earlier.

The continued public resistance underscored the difficulties that the Hong Kong government faces in defusing widespread anger that erupted on Sunday, after the police used tear gas, pepper spray and batons to break up a three-day sit-in by students and other residents demanding democratic elections in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

The Hong Kong government said Monday morning that it had pulled back the riot police from roads across the city where thousands of determined protesters were blocking traffic. The government urged the demonstrators to end their street sit-ins so that life in this busy commercial city could return to normal.

But in the Admiralty area, home to the government’s offices and a focus of the demonstrators’ anger, many of the protesters who were occupying a main road said they were determined to stay until the city’s top leader, Leung Chun-ying, resigned and answered their demands for democratic elections to choose his successor…

The protesters are calling for fully democratic elections for the city’s leader, the chief executive, in 2017. Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, had been promised universal suffrage by that date. But under China’s plan for conducting those elections, only candidates vetted by a Beijing-friendly committee would be allowed to run…

Slate aggregates reports from the weekend, including multiple video clips, here.

James Fallows, at the Atlantic, has a report from one of the protestors: “When we felt threatened, we opened umbrellas and raised our hands“.

The Wall Street Journal‘s “China Real Time” section has a live blog:

There will be no fireworks in Hong Kong to celebrate National Day this year.

The Oct. 1 fireworks show, one of the world’s finest, takes place in the skies above Victoria Harbor and annually showcases the city’s stunning skyline against a backdrop of exploding colors. However, in a statement, the Hong Kong government announced that out of “regard to public transport arrangements and public safety considerations,” the display would be canceled.

The government said it anticipated that the main roads leading to popular viewing points “may continue to be seriously affected” on that date, which will mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China…

A las Barricadas

National Journal blind squirrel Ron Fournier may have stumbled over an acorn today while seeking explanations for Eric Cantor’s tsunami-earthquake-sharknado primary loss:

But what may be in the air is a peaceful populist revolt—a bottom-up, tech-fueled assault on 20th-century political institutions…In Washington, Cantor’s defeat is being chalked up to the tea party’s intolerance toward immigration reform…. While he paid a price for flirting with a White House compromise, Cantor’s greater sin was inauthenticity—brazenly flip-flopping on the issue. Typical politician. Worse, voters sensed that Cantor was more interested in becoming House speaker than in representing their interests. He spent more money at steakhouses than rival David Brat spent on his entire campaign. Typical politician.

Fournier goes on to crib ideas from a 2013 memo from a former Clinton White House political flak, Doug Sosnik, who cites “an increasing populist push” from left to right. Fournier writes:

Which side of the barricade are you on? Populists from the right and the left—from the tea party and libertarian-leaning Rand Paul to economic populist Elizabeth Warren—are positioning themselves among the insurgents. Sosnik pointed to six areas of consensus that eventually may unite the divergent populist forces:

— A pullback from the rest of the world, with more of an inward focus.
— A desire to go after big banks and other large financial institutions.
— Elimination of corporate welfare.
— Reducing special deals for the rich.
— Pushing back on the violation of the public’s privacy by the government and big business.
— Reducing the size of government.

Much of this strikes me as “No Labels” pablum. Does anyone seriously believe Rand Paul wants to eliminate corporate welfare and quit rigging the game for the rich? Does anyone think Elizabeth Warren wants to slash the size of an already decimated public sector? Hogwash.

But a much smarter person than Ron Fournier detects a whiff of populism in the electorate too: Here’s Balloon Juice colleague Kay from one of the Cantor grave-dancing threads the other day:

Voters said Cantor was “out of touch” and that’s a problem for both Republicans and Democrats, IMO. I hear “out of touch” more often than I hear any specific complaint. There’s a real populist shift on both sides, I think.

The Tea Party’s will be horrible and xenophobic but the Democrats need to address it, develop a liberal version, or conservatives will run away with the whole concept. I think it’s real.

I think she’s right. As the only one of the two viable political parties in this country that is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the 1%, Democrats should benefit from a populist groundswell, but only if they recognize and channel it.

From President Obama down, many have addressed the income inequality issue and the basic unfairness of how the game is rigged right now, thanks to GOP policies. That’s a message every damn one of them needs to be shouting from the rooftops for the next two years.

Pussy Riot Supports Cecily McMillan

From the Guardian:

A majority of the jurors who this week convicted an Occupy Wall Street activist of assaulting a New York police officer have asked the judge in her case to not send her to prison.

Cecily McMillan was on Monday found guilty of deliberately elbowing officer Grantley Bovell in the face, as he led her out of a protest in March 2012. She was convicted of second-degree assault, a felony, and faces up to seven years in prison. She was denied bail and is being detained at Riker’s Island jail.

However, nine of the 12 jurors who unanimously reached the verdict have since taken the unusual step of writing to Judge Ronald Zweibel to request that he not give her a prison sentence on 19 May…

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that several jurors, who were barred from researching the trial while it was happening, were shocked to discover that McMillan could receive a substantial prison term when they searched for details online, minutes after being dismissed…

For the record, I grew up in a physically violent family, and it took me years to break the habit of taking a swing at anyone who approached me from behind. And that was just for tapping me on the shoulder.

Open Thread: It Can’t Be Irony If They Don’t Know What That Word Means

“No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” — Lily Tomlin

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Rolling Jubilee


A small bit of brightness, courtesy commentor Piratedan:

An Occupy Wall Street spin-off group has bought up $14.7 million worth of Americans’ personal medical debt and forgiven it over the last year as part of its Rolling Jubilee project, the group announced Monday.

The Rolling Jubilee project, organized by Occupy Wall Street’s Strike Debt group, has so far spent $400,000 to buy the debt, in the process relieving 2,693 people of the money they owed for medical services Occupy thinks should be free…

The project, which launched on Nov. 15, 2012, raises money through small, individual contributions, and then uses that money to purchase distressed and defaulted debt from the lenders, who in this case are hospitals or medical groups…

Andrew Ross, a member of Occupy’s Strike Debt group and a professor at New York University, said the group was able to buy debt at a 50-to-1 ratio…

“One person wrote back and said that he had gone through periods of being homeless and he was trying to get back on his feet,” Ross said, calling the elimination of debt a huge relief.

Ross said the group has $200,000 left to spend, and they hope to target student loan debt next.

To address the objection most often raised when I wrote about this last year, the Strike Debt group reiterates in the NBC comment section:

Before embarking on the Rolling Jubilee, we consulted with the #1-ranked tax attorney in the USA. Here is what he had to say: (in short: No, debtors will not have to worry about income taxes for debt cancellation).

What’s on the agenda for the day?

Later Night Open Thread: In This Week’s ‘Worst Person’ Competition…

pepper spray bill of rights
To cap the recent discussion of ‘people who should never be put in a position to abuse the authority they crave’, a snippet from NYMag:

“Pepper spraying a bunch of seated student protesters might turn out to be one of the best career decisions John Pike ever made, despite the fact that the former University of California at Davis police lieutenant lost his job over it. Pike is now seeking worker’s compensation benefits from the university, for psychiatric injury. If the State Department of Industrial Relations awards him disability benefits, “it will cover income, health and other benefits until he turns 65,” the Davis Enterprise reports. Pike, who made $121,680 a year with the university, was 39 when his employment with Davis ended last year…”

I try to be sensitive to others’ pain, but I’m finding it hard to muster sympathy for “Waaah, after I made myself unemployable, people were mean to me on the internet!” as an excuse for a permanent disability waiver.

pepper spray see i told you

Open Thread: “There Is No Justice, Unless You Make Your Own”

A little uplift for your morning. Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick explain their latest “short, opinionated documentary” for the NYTImes, “Occupy Bakery”:

We first met Mahoma López, the subject of this Op-Doc video, in April 2012 at a secret meeting in a McDonald’s on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We’d spent the previous autumn documenting the Occupy Wall Street protests. Mr. López had reached out to the Occupy movement for help with his struggle to improve conditions at his workplace — the original Hot & Crusty bakery and cafe at 63rd Street and Second Avenue. At first he seemed a quiet, humble worker — the kind customers often overlook as they wait in line for sandwiches and coffee. But Mr. López would not be invisible for long…

In the early 20th century, immigrants were at the forefront of the labor movement that helped build our middle class. Today, when the fastest growing job sectors are retail and food preparation, the struggles of low-income workers and their families matter more than ever. Turning these jobs into living-wage jobs while fixing our broken immigration system would lift millions out of poverty and benefit our entire economy by increasing consumption and tax revenue. Mr. López’s story is part of a growing wave of low-wage and immigrant workers organizing across New York City and around the country that has the potential to spark this kind of change.

It’s time we admit it: America runs on the labor of the undocumented. Their struggle for rights, inside and outside the workplace, is an inseparable part of our democratic project.

Well worth the seven minutes, take my word.