Friday Morning Open Thread: The Internet Is For Remembering Grudges

Hey, remember Pepper Spray Everything Cop? (It was in all the media!) UC Davis would rather you didn’t. The LA Times reports that UC Davis is SOL on this:

… Newly released documents obtained by the Sacramento Bee show the university worked to clean up both its own image and that of Chancellor Linda Katehi.

In one case, UC Davis worked with Maryland company Nevins & Associates on a six-month contract that paid $15,000 a month, according to a copy of the contract. That contract was signed in January 2013, just a few months after the UC regents agreed to pay a settlement to 21 UC Davis students and alumni who sued the university….

As part of its contract, Nevins & Associates said it would work to remedy the “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor” through “strategic placement of online content.”…

Results, right now the top three insta-google results for ‘UC Davis’ are about the coverup, rather than the original incident; first two results for Chancellor Linda Katehi are local news covering last night’s calls for her resignation.

Apart from snark fatigue (and/or cursing tree pollen, if your histamines are as hairtrigger as mine), what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another week?

Au Revoir, #OccupyHongKong

The PRC tanks never rolled in, but eventually the street-clearing trucks did. According to the Washington Post, “Evidence has emerged that authorities have drawn up a blacklist of those involved in the protests, with several young people denied entry into mainland China in recent weeks.” There are rumors that “Beijing has permanently transferred large numbers of security and intelligence specialists to Hong Kong to keep a much closer eye on the Chinese Communist Party’s many critics.” The protestors made it to the website (though not the cover) of the Rolling Stone. And “leading Hong Kong businesswoman & member of the city’s Executive Council… who is also a board member at the prominent bank HSBC” Laura Cha earned brief international noteriety with a bizarre historical analogy: American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later,” she was quoted as saying by the Standard newspaper. “So why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?”

Louisa Lim, in the New Yorker, “Scenes from Occupy Hong Kong’s Last Stand“:

… “We don’t want this to be over,” Theresia Hui, a business consultant in her forties, said. She was distributing free bookmarks stamped with motifs of the Umbrella Movement, as the protests have come to be known—a reference to the umbrellas deployed by students to shield themselves from teargas. For her, the tent city, brimming with collaborative creativity, had been a transformative experience. When university students began boycotting classes at the end of September, she decided to stay neutral. Then police fired teargas at protesters, and she experienced a political awakening. “I was white, and then I became dark yellow, even golden yellow,” she says, referring to the color adopted by the Umbrella Movement. “The government made me this way. They pushed me to become deep yellow.” The use of teargas and the subsequent violence in late September has resulted in plummeting public satisfaction with Hong Kong’s police force—once lauded as Asia’s finest. They are now ranked below China’s People’s Liberation Army in popularity. Read more

#OccupyHongKong: “After A Hectic Week…”

From the SCMP liveblog:

After a hectic week, Occupy Central protest sites are quiet on Monday as some demonstrators leave for work, others remain and authorities keep their distance.

Occupy supporters and the government are currently in a deadlock over negotiations. Preliminary discussions to prepare for talks with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor have begun, but progress has been slow with both sides disagreeing on the guidelines behind the meetings…

From the NYTimes, “China’s Outer Regions Watch Hong Kong Protests Intently“:

… Among Tibetans and Uighurs, beleaguered ethnic minorities in China’s far west, there is hope that the protests will draw international scrutiny to what they say are Beijing’s broken promises for greater autonomy.

The central government’s refusal to even talk with pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, exiled activists add, also highlights a longstanding complaint among many ethnic minority groups in China: the party’s reliance on force over dialogue when dealing with politically delicate matters.

“We’ve seen this movie before, but when people stand up to the Chinese government in places like Lhasa or Urumqi and meet brutal resistance, there is no foreign media to show the world what’s happening,” said Nury Turkel, a Uighur-American lawyer and activist, referring to the regional capitals of Tibet and Xinjiang. “The difference here is what’s happening in Hong Kong is taking place in real time, for all the world to see.”

Few places are watching the protests as closely as Taiwan, the self-governed island that China claims as part of its territory. Read more

#OccupyHongKong (#UmbrellaRevolution)

From the NYTimes:

As the people of Hong Kong gathered over the past week in the city’s central business district staging the biggest pro-democracy protest in a Chinese-controlled area in decades, headlines around the world compared today’s movement to the 1989 student demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

While the authorities have not yet used the brutal force that the Chinese army used to suppress the 1989 protests, observers are concerned about the possibility.

The latest warning coming from Beijing has been especially reminiscent of the 1989 rhetoric, and worryingly so, analysts say. The People’s Daily, a government-controlled newspaper, said the protests are creating “chaos.” “That is a significant term in Chinese Communist Party ideology, suggesting that the situation could threaten the Party’s hold on power, and therefore that decisive action is required,” writes Al Pessin at the Voice of America. Mr. Pessin writes that the same word was used 25 years ago to describe Tiananmen Square.

The memory of Tiananmen and its historical legacy is crucial to today’s “Umbrella Revolution,” named so after the ubiquitous umbrellas that the protesters held to defend themselves from tear gas and pepper spray used by the police. Hong Kong, the only area under Chinese control with freedom of speech, commemorates the massacre with an annual vigil. As Max Fisher writes for Vox, that part of Chinese history has been so heavily censored in mainland China that many in the younger generation had never heard of it. Hong Kongers feel responsible to keep the memory alive, Mr. Fisher says, but they are also scared they could face the same repression…

In a plea for action in The Wall Street Journal, Yang Jianli and Teng Biao, former political prisoners in China, ask the world to prevent Tiananmen from happening again. Mr. Yianli and Mr. Biao ask the Obama administration to put pressure on the Chinese government to allow democratic elections in Hong Kong and “forcefully condemn” violence against demonstrators. “The United States and the international community share the responsibility to prevent another murderous attack on pro-democracy demonstrators,” they write. “While the Tiananmen Square massacre surprised the world, this time the world is on notice.”

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#OccupyHongKong (Still)

James Fallows has been providing a most informative series of links at the Atlantic. He wrote on Tuesday:

It would be wonderful to think that the PRC leadership would take the soft-power, high-road route out of this confrontation. It could recognize the maturity and responsibility of the newly politically aware Hong Kong populace. It could cannily assess the advantages to China of “controlling” Hong Kong while letting it continue to operate with rule of law, uncensored Internet, untrammeled media, free universities, transparent financial markets, and all the other attributes of a first-world center. With a light hand, the PRC government could have it both ways.

But that’s not likely. Any more than it’s likely that the current leaders will throw the doors to China open to the world’s journalists—which would be the best way to advance the country’s image, given that more interesting/good is underway there than depressing/bad—or that they’ll uncensor the Internet or realize that they’re magnifying their problems in the long run by jailing, for life, a moderate, intellectual leader of the Uighur cause. This is why it is hard to imagine a pleasant ending to the currently inspiring movement in Hong Kong.

I could say that the Chinese leadership is on a self-destructive course—but, hell, I have said that about America at countless stages. For now, thanks to Hai Zhang; consider reading these items; and most sincere admiration and best wishes to the people of Hong Kong.

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