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Full speaker list released for FREE SPEECH WEEK at UC Berkeley

By | 1st Amendment, First Amendment, Free Speech Is Not Free, Freedom, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech | No Comments

Milo Yiannopoulos confirmed Thursday a full list of speakers scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley during Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27.

Full speaker list released for Free Speech Week at UC Berkeley

The organization originally intended to release the list of confirmed speakers slowly over a period of two weeks, but decided to release the entire list of names at once because reactions to the announcement of former White House chief strategist and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon’s confirmation were “so huge,” according to a press release issued Thursday by Yiannopoulos. Free Speech Week, a joint effort between Yiannopoulos and a conservative campus publication, The Berkeley Patriot, will encompass a variety of themes.

“Berkeley Free Speech Week will be an amazing experience for people of all viewpoints to come together in a festival environment and freely exchange ideas,” Yiannopoulos said in the press release.

The Berkeley Patriot, however, has been having some trouble confirming every speaker on the list, according to Berkeley Patriot news editor Pranav Jandhyala.

Yiannopoulos is scheduled to appear every single day. Other prominent speakers include Bannon; Ann Coulter, whose planned appearance at UC Berkeley fell through two days before; and right-wing InfoWars radio show host Mike Cernovich.

James Damore, the former Google employee who was fired recently for an internal memo mocking the company’s diversity policies, is also scheduled to speak on the second day, “Zuck 2020.”

According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, however, the campus administration is currently unable to confirm a list of speakers. Only three of the speakers have contacted the campus or UCPD to make security arrangements, which is required for all campus events.

Additionally, rental fees for available indoor venues have not been paid, and no venue contracts have been signed.

“To date a number of key deadlines have been missed,” Mogulof said in an email. “While campus officials and venue managers are working diligently to assist the Berkeley Patriot group with its proposed events, the group’s failure to meet important deadlines is making it increasingly difficult to ensure a safe and secure program.”

Below is the list of speakers confirmed to speak on each day of the four-day-long event.

Sept. 24: “Feminism Awareness Day”

  • Miss Elaine
  • Lucian Wintrich
  • Lisa DePasquale
  • Chadwick Moore
  • Milo Yiannopoulos

Sept. 25: “Zuck 2020”

  • Heather Mac Donald
  • Monica Crowley
  • SABO
  • Professor Jordan Peterson
  • James Damore

Sept. 26: “Islamic Peace and Tolerance Day”

  • Michael Malice
  • Raheem Kassam
  • Katie Hopkins
  • Erik Prince
  • Pamela Geller
  • David Horowitz
  • Milo Yiannopoulos

Sept. 27: “Mario Savio is Dead”

  • Mike Cernovich
  • Charles Murray
  • Ariana Rowlands
  • Stelion Onufrei
  • Alex Marlow
  • Milo Yiannopoulos
  • Steve Bannon
  • Ann Coulter

The time and location of these events will be released next week, according to Yiannopoulos’s press office.

Source:  DailyCal.org.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Berkeley has gone berserk against free speech

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It’s not mass insanity, but rather mass infantilism, that necessitated the “unprecedented” security measures taken Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley so that mild-mannered conservative pundit Ben Shapiro might speak there safely.  Worse, the whole campus seems to be having a spoiled-toddler meltdown not just about Shapiro but about the whole idea of free speech. An embarrassing 132 faculty members have lost their faculties, signing a letter demanding a total cessation of classes and organized campus activities due to abject fear of “Free Speech Week” later this month.

Berkeley has gone berserk against free speech

Ben Shapiro

No word yet on how many lollipops the faculty will demand. Or crying pillows. Or stuffed teddy bears for those who need a safe space to recover from the trauma of hearing ideas they don’t like or probably don’t even understand.

(Brown University actually set the standard for this in 2015, with coloring books, Play-Doh, and videos of puppies.)

The Los Angeles Times reports that, for Shapiro alone, Berkeley “has told students that counseling is available to those stressed by all the commotion. A large swath of the campus will be closed off, including the plaza where the free speech movement began in the 1960s. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on security, and police now can use pepper spray on protesters after a 20-year-old ban was lifted by the City Council this week.”

Shapiro isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a right-wing radical. He’s polite, thoughtful, and a strong critic of both President Trump and of the “alt-right” movement that does harbor racists and provocateurs.

But he also belittles (quite rightly) the idea that campuses need “safe spaces” where unwanted ideas are unwelcome, and he holds to other conservative views as well. For half-wits who can’t tell the difference between a conservative and a fascist, Shapiro’s ideological sins are something like Binkley’s Closet of Anxieties emerging from the Bloom County comic strip and galumphing all over campus.

Lefty professors and crybaby students fully believe that a giant spotted snorklewacker is still a giant spotted snorklewacker even if it is, like Shapiro, a courteous one.

Oh, the horror, the horror! Oh, the humanity! Next thing you know, Shapiro might say something nice about supply-side economics, or advocate (Lord forbid) an expansion of health savings accounts.

The hand-wringers all warn of right-wing “violence” incited by right-wing speakers – but on campuses these days, almost all the violence comes from leftists protesting, or rather rioting, against conservative speakers’ right to be heard. Of course, Berkeley itself was awash in left-wing violence early this year in response to a speech by the loathsome but hardly threatening Milo Yiannopoulos, and again just last month against what even the Washington Post labeled as “peaceful” demonstrators. The left also used physical force, shouted down speakers, and even injured people in incidents at Middlebury College, Evergreen State College, Claremont McKenna College, and Auburn University in the past year.

But the Left, using verbal jujitsu, tries to claim that unwanted speech itself is violence. Even The Atlantic, far from a hotbed of conservative thought, ran an article earlier this making mincemeat of that dangerous notion. The false equation of speech with violence is dangerous because “it tells the members of a generation already beset by anxiety and depression that the world is a far more violent and threatening place than it really is.”

The tolerance for, or even encouragement of, radicalized thumb-sucking in response to opposing ideas is seriously retarding the emotional development of a large cohort of collegians, and ill-equipping them to cope with the real world beyond college walls.

To her credit, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ is insisting that free speech is a fundamental right and a cherished value. To respond to speech one finds offensive, she wrote, “the right response is not the heckler’s veto, or what some call platform denial. Call toxic speech out for what it is, [but] don’t shout it down. … [We must] develop inner resilience, which is the surest form of safe space.”

The rock group The Eagles, well known for liberal politics (before liberals lost their minds), put it more bluntly in a 1994 song:

“[People] point their crooked little fingers at everybody else/ Spend all their time feelin’ sorry for themselves/ Victim of this, victim of that/ Your momma’s too thin; your daddy’s too fat: Get over it, Get over it. All this whinin’ and cryin’ and pitchin’ a fit/ Get over it, get over it.”

Words to the wise – and to the whiners.

Source:  WashingtonExaminer.

Steve Bannon agrees to speak at UC Berkeley free speech week

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Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is expected to speak alongside conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Steve Bannon agrees to speak at UC Berkeley ‘free speech’ week

FILE – In this April 29, 2017, file photo, Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist to President Donald Trump, tours The AMES Companies, Inc., with the president in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Will Steve Bannon really show up to speak later this month at UC Berkeley?

In what’s becoming a new tradition at the famously liberal school, a conservative student group on Tuesday insisted it’s bringing the ousted White House chief strategist to campus for a week of events including conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

But UC Berkeley officials said the group still hasn’t satisfied a number or requirements to host the event, setting off another showdown over whether Berkeley will roll out the welcome mat for controversial speakers. So far, the university says, the group hasn’t paid rental fees for venues or signed contracts, and none of the possible speakers have discussed security arrangements with the school.

That didn’t stop Bryce Kasamoto, a senior and spokesman for the student group Berkeley Patriot, from confirming Bannon’s appearance on Tuesday in a text message to this news organization: “I can confirm that Steve Bannon will be speaking at Free Speech Week,” he wrote.

Yiannopoulos also posted a video entitled “Bannon Infiltrates Berkeley” on his website Tuesday.

The group said it will host the controversial speakers during what it is billing “Free Speech Week” beginning Sept. 24. The long-rumored appearances by Yiannopoulos and Bannon are sure to heighten tensions at the campus known as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement as UC officials struggle to balance public safety with free speech rights.

Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter has also accepted an invitation to participate, Kasamoto said, but he declined to confirm her appearance because the group is still working out “logistics and details.”

Coulter was slated to speak at the school in April at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans, but her appearance was canceled after the school said it could not guarantee her safety and security on the date the group wanted. The controversy sparked an uproar from conservatives, with conservative student groups ultimately filing a lawsuit against the university for violating their right to free speech.

In a statement Tuesday, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof indicated that if the student group fails to meet looming deadlines, the university may again halt the speeches because of security concerns.

“The University cannot yet confirm exactly when or if they will be here, nor can it confirm a list of speakers,” he said. “We have repeatedly asked representatives of the Berkeley Patriot to confirm that contracts have been completed between the student organization and each of these speakers; to date they have not.”

“While campus officials and venue managers are working diligently to assist the Berkeley Patriot group with its proposed events, the group’s failure to meet important deadlines is making it increasingly difficult to ensure a safe and secure program,” he continued.

The latest development comes as UC Berkeley is gearing up to host the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro this Thursday, an event the school will use as a test run for its security plan ahead of the “Free Speech Week.”

In February, a Yiannopoulos speech was canceled amid security concerns when demonstrations turned violent, prompting President Trump to tweet his outrage.

Yiannopoulos return to campus, along with Bannon and possibly Coulter, is sure to draw protests and national media attention as the school looks to bat back accusations it has limited conservative free speech in recent months.

UC officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about what the events will cost or how officials will handle security. But Shapiro’s talk, a much smaller-scale operation, is expected to cost at least six figures alone, Mogulof has said.

Source:  MercuryNews.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Free speech on campus?

By | 1st Amendment, First Amendment | No Comments

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen is overseeing a forthcoming declaration reiterating the university’s commitment to the principles of free speech.

Free speech on campus?

But he recently gave a preview of what to expect, one that was both encouraging and discouraging.

He said the UI intends to ensure that “students are exposed to the full diversity of concepts and ideas.” It’s always good to see the UI agreeing with the fundamental idea behind the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But Killeen also spoke of ensuring student “safety” when it comes to evaluating speech, a word that has been used to shut down speech on some campuses.

At the same time, the UI College of Law Dean Vikram Amar noted that so-called hate speech is, for a very good reason, constitutionally protected speech while warning that some “rabble-rousers” aren’t worth hearing or, more importantly, being invited to campus.

Dean Amar is absolutely correct that some people are far more deserving of an audience than others.

But who decides? Aye, there’s the rub.

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one person’s compelling speaker can be another’s utter bore or offensive provocateur.

That’s why the issue is not so much who’s invited to campus to speak, but what type of reception will be granted to the invited speaker.

It should go without saying — but, unfortunately, no longer does — that all speakers should be given a polite reception and that any protests be peaceful.

But the current mood on campus is one of extreme intolerance in some quarters toward those who take positions disfavored by enforcers of campus orthodoxy.

The University of California, Berkeley, is just one school where protesters engaged in extreme violence against persons and property.

Just last week, a UI student group promised the same kind of response here if anyone runs afoul of its self-proclaimed rules.

The Students for Justice in Palestine issued a statement indicating it is willing to use violent tactics to stop people it deems fascists, white supremacists and Zionists from speaking on campus because “speech is not just expression but violence.”

“Just as oppressed and marginalized voices are made oppressed and marginalized by unjust systems of governance and societal organization, so too do these forces seek to protect the rights and speech of literal Nazis, of white supremacists all along the political spectrum, and those who seek to implement and continue all manner of ethnic cleansing or indigenous genocide. This speech is not just expression but violence.”

The student group stated that “we do not believe there is any other option (than violence) when it comes to dealing with fascists and white supremacists.”

“Granting them any platform will only lead to further normalization of their violent ideologies,” decreed the Students for Palestine.

The main, but certainly not the only, problem with that assertion is that it’s the SJP that decides who is a fascist, white supremacist or Zionist, and it will come down on anyone who disagrees with the organization’s world view. That’s particularly true as it relates to Israel, which the SJP characterizes as both fascist and white supremacist.

It’s especially disappointing that college campuses, once beacons of free speech, inquiry and thinking, have become the segment of American society most hostile to those noble concepts.

Perhaps it will change one day — preferably sooner rather than later. But if the respectful airing of points of view on controversial issues is to become the rule, rather than the exception, the UI is going to have to stand up for what is right — freedom of speech for all.

The tepid defense of free speech that President Killeen hints at won’t get the job done.

UI officials need to let campus speakers stand or fall in the marketplace of ideas, oversee law enforcement practices that strictly separate hostile political factions and make it crystal clear that those who violate campus rules will be punished, not given a pass.

It’s no secret the UI has failed miserably on the free speech front in recent months. The disruption of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s speech at a campus awards ceremony was an embarrassment. That was followed by the outrageous decision to back off a planned lecture by a Nobel Prize winner who wanted to discuss his cancer research on campus.

It took a group of zealots to run Rauner out, just one misguided extremist, a faculty member no less, to pull the plug on the Nobel Prize winner.

But whether the free speech foes are large or small, loud or shrill, they must be resisted if the UI is to demonstrate its professed commitment to true diversity of view rather conformity masquerading as diversity.

Source:  News-gazette.com.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Free Speech is Necessary

By | 1st Amendment, Free Speech, Free Speech Is Not Free, Freedom, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech | No Comments
The right to freedom of speech is the hallmark of the American democratic experiment. The United States was the first nation to guarantee an individual’s right to speak freely and openly about one’s thoughts and ideas. It was, and remains, a radical concept. Today, speech is constantly restricted — even in the most democratic of societies. And it appears as if the restrictions that chain free speech are beginning to wash upon our shores as well.

The events in Charlottesville, Va. were, quite clearly, an egregious and despicable act of hatred, bigotry and racism. Any sensible person would agree that the actions taken by the radical neo-Nazis and white nationalists that occupied Charlottesville’s streets represent all that is wrong and evil with our society. However, even these radicals have a right to free speech.

Obviously, I would rather that these deranged lunatics keep their mouths shut and mind their own business. It would be ideal if those who harbor the most deplorable of thoughts and philosophies were to just disappear and leave us all to live our lives in peace. Yet if we try to achieve this ideal by preventing freedom of expression, we risk running a very slippery slope.

If the government, or any body for that matter, has the ability to censor one group of people, a door is opened to future suppressions. The history of tyranny is laden with examples of governments removing freedoms of expression from fringe groups, and then using such removals as justification for steadily removing the freedoms of more and more groups. In essence, the protection of a white nationalist’s freedom of speech is the protection of our own right to speak freely. But there are issues that are boiling that extend well beyond the range of white nationalism.

Free Speech is Necessary

Condoleezza Rice

In 2014, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to speak at Rutgers University. Yet this decision greatly angered students, who were upset at Rice’s involvement in the Iraq War. As a result, students launched a massive — and ultimately successful — effort to pressure Rice to rescind the convocation invitation. This event marks one of the most troubling and disturbing attacks on freedom of thought and speech.

Surely most Americans agree that the Iraq War was an unmitigated disaster and a largely unnecessary conflict. And it is quite clear that as President Bush’s national security advisor, Rice played a role in facilitating American involvement in the region. Yet a poor policy decision does not discredit the ideas of an individual — especially an intellectual powerhouse such as Rice.

By forcing Rice to rescind Rutgers’s speaking invitation, the students at the university were essentially stating that anyone who does not align with their political views is not welcome to speak. And, unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. From Ann Coulter at Berkeley to Ben Shapiro at Cal State, college campuses across the nation are beginning to embrace these sorts of restrictions. If one does not possess the political views of the students, they are unwelcome to speak on their campus.

This philosophy is disturbing on a number of grounds. First of all, these refusals to listen to another person’s ideas and opinions carry a sort of medieval ignorance. Ostracizing those who do not adhere to the majority view is the sort of thinking that led to Galileo and Darwin’s rejection from society. Furthermore, refusing to listen to someone else’s ideas doesn’t make you principled — it makes you weak and insecure. Those who are truly grounded in their ideals and principles are those who truly understand the other side of the argument.

But perhaps the most concerning aspect of this philosophy is that further deepens the divide of this country. You may think that Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro’s ideas are outlandish — but nearly half the country agrees with these people. By refusing to listen to their thoughts and ideas, you are effectively refusing to understand how the other half of this country thinks.

Yet this suppression of free speech is not just limited to college kids on liberal campuses — conservatives are just as guilty as liberals at silencing those they disagree with. Many conservatives seem to genuinely believe that American liberalism is a sort of disease. They believe that liberalism is an ideology whose sole purpose is to hurt hard-working Americans and benefit those who contribute nothing to society (think welfare recipients, college students and the unemployed). Because of this mentality, they too refuse to allow liberals to speak their mind.

As a moderate, I tend to see both sides of the argument. And as someone who personally knows a great deal of liberals and conservatives, I know for a fact that their hatred of one another is driven by their unwillingness to respect the other’s right to speak freely. Each side refuses to truly listen and understand the other side — and as a result, misinformation is spread and people get very, very angry. A fellow student in one of my classes once stated that people who are pro-life want to punish a woman for having sex; a conservative once tried to convince me that liberals want to let Muslims enter the country so that they can establish Sharia law. These utterly ridiculous, offensive and wrong claims are the product of a repression of a free and open dialogue. If civility is to return to our civic discourse, then freedom of speech — and the willingness to actually listen to others’ ideas — must reign as the core of our nation’s principles.

Michael Glanzel is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at mglanzel@cornellsun.com. Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Mondays this semester. 

Source:  CornellSun.com.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Americans Back Free Speech, Oppose SPLC Smears

By | Free Speech, Freedom of Speech | No Comments

A new public opinion survey conducted by McLaughlin and Associates reveals wide support among Americans for constitutional free speech over attempts to silence potentially “offensive” opinions. The revelation comes in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, in which Antifa belligerents clashed with other extremists during a lawful protest, resulting in one woman’s murder.  Despite calls for censorship of what many on the Left consider “hate speech,” 85 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “all Americans are entitled to free speech,” not “just some of us.” A nearly identical number (84.9 percent) regard “free speech as a fundamental right,” while only 9.3 percent hold that “it should be restricted if it offends some people.”

Americans Back Free Speech, Oppose SPLC Smears

But too many still support the violent hate group Antifa.

Worryingly, however, are the poll’s findings on Antifa, or “anti-fascist action”—a far-left network of anarchic terrorists responsible for attacks on conservative and mainstream groups across the country. While 63 percent of respondents oppose Antifa in the wake of the bloodshed in Charlottesville, 21 percent voiced their support for the group. Broken down demographically, support for Antifa was both strongest and most divided among self-identified liberals—42 percent in support, 44 percent opposed. Support was weakest among self-identified moderates (60 percent oppose) and conservatives (80 percent opposed).

Many prominent figures on the Left have refused to denounce Antifa – even after the Department of Homeland Security labeled their activities “domestic terrorist violence.” Some have even endorsed the movement, such as radical activist Shaun King, a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter. As CRC’s Jake Klein notes,

“Mainstream figures endorsing AntiFa potentially represents a major turning point towards the acceptability of political violence. While it’s true that AntiFa fought against violent white supremacists in Charlottesville, most previous violence from them has been directed against much more moderate figures.”

Americans Back Free Speech, Oppose SPLC Smears

The survey also finds that a plurality of Americans (42.8 percent) oppose Internet companies’ use of a “hate group” list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), compared to 31.8 percent who support it.

Founded to combat true hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, the George Soros-funded SPLC has since turned its focus on aggressively targeting mainstream charities which disagree with its extreme ideology. By labelling organizations such as the Family Research Council—a Christian pro-life nonprofit—“hate groups,” the SPLC smears and censors legitimate outlets.

The SPLC’s slurs even inspired a gunman to storm the Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters in August 2012, where he opened fire on employees. During an interview with the FBI, the shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, stated:

“I wanted to kill the people in the building and then smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face … to kill as many people as I could.”

Social scientist Charles Murray has also been a victim of SPLC-inspired violence. Earlier this year, Murray was assaulted by leftist students during a speech he gave at Middlebury College. Murray, who has been accused by the SPLC of promoting “racist pseudoscience” and white supremacism, was attacked by mask-wearing terrorists who decried his political views on the white working class. The students went so far as to grab the hair and twist the neck of the liberal professor, Allison Stanger, who attempted to shield Murray. Stanger was sent to the hospital for a neck brace.

Insert:  Free speech is under attack and we must preserve it for many generations to come.

Source:  CapitalResearch.org.    We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

 

Independence Banners on Hong Kong University Campuses Spark Free Speech Row

By | 1st Amendment, First Amendment, Free Speech, Freedom of Speech | No Comments

A pro-independence banner campaign on the campus of one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious universities has sparked warnings that public calls for the city’s secession from China may be “seditious.”  Executive councillor and barrister Ronny Tong said students who put up large black banners reading “Independence for Hong Kong” on the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) campus could have “broken the law.”

Independence Banners on Hong Kong University Campuses Spark Free Speech Row

A large black banner reading “Independence for Hong Kong” hangs at Culture Square on the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) campus, in undated photo.

“There were student activities on the site, distributing pamphlets and there were other posters put up advocating the independence of Hong Kong,” Tong told government broadcaster RTHK.

“Such action has the risk of infringing section 9 of the Crimes Ordinance, which provides that if any publication is published with seditious intent then it may well be an offense.”

The banners reappeared on Tuesday after authorities at the university’s main campus, which saw one of the biggest student demonstrations during the student strike that launched the Occupy Central movement in 2014, took them down on Monday.

The removal of banners on the CUHK campus sparked the appearance of similar banners and posters on campuses across the city, including the University of Hong Kong, the Education University, City University and the University of Science and Technology.

On Tuesday, university officials warned students by letter that public talk of independence was a breach of Hong Kong’s miniconstitution, the Basic Law, and university regulations.

Freedom of speech

The student union has rejected the criticisms, saying students will defend their right to exercise freedom of speech.

“We are still looking for people who can stand guard over these banners and posters in Culture Square,” union leader Justin Au told journalists.

“We will try to persuade them, and to question the rational basis for trying to remove the banners in a place where students congregate,” he said. “However, we will do our utmost to prevent physical clashes of any kind.”

Former Occupy Central student leader Tommy Cheung said Tong’s claims made no sense, however.

“What law has been broken; they will have to say what law has been broken,” Cheung said. “Nobody has been charged over this, for just talking about Hong Kong independence … when there has been no concrete action.”

“Just discussing something doesn’t break the law, but this attempt to move the goalposts is very problematic,” he said. “Freedom of speech and the autonomy of the students’ union are inviolable, regardless of their stance [on independence].”

Hong Kong University student union leader Wong Ching Tak said CUHK had overreacted.

“Regardless of whether or not you support the idea of Hong Kong independence, I think it was important to take this action based on our support for universal values,” Wong said.

Traditional freedoms seen eroding

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, has vowed to fight “pro-independence forces” in the city and begin fostering a sense of Chinese identity among very young children, sparking fears that she will try to brainwash them into loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Lam, who took office on the 20th anniversary of the July 1, 1997 handover to Chinese rule, said her administration would “strictly” enforce existing law, which she said bans “pro-independence behavior.”

Recent opinion polls by the University of Hong Kong found that 37 percent of respondents identified as Hongkongers, and 21 percent as Chinese, while others chose more ambiguous options like “Hongkongers in China” or “Chinese in Hong Kong.”

But only 3.1 percent of the 18-28 age group said they identified as Chinese, the lowest result since the poll began in 1997.

And a recent opinion poll commissioned by the pro-Beijing group Silent Majority for Hong Kong showed that while more than 70 percent of respondents overall strongly supported Beijing’s view that independence for the city will never be an option, only 51 percent of people aged 18-29 agreed with the Communist Party’s position.

Some 43 percent said they disagreed.

In June, Zhang Xiaoming, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s envoy to the city, warned that young Hong Kong people would be unable to realize their life goals if they were “led astray” by such ideas.

Hong Kong was promised a “high degree of autonomy” and the continuation of its existing freedoms of speech, association and publication under the terms of the 1997 handover to China.

But a string of legal interpretations by China’s parliament of the Basic Law, as well as cross-border detentions of five Hong Kong booksellers, have left many fearing that the city’s traditional freedoms, and its judicial independence, have been seriously eroded.

Source:  Rfa.org.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Media Won’t Talk About Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez Corruption Trial

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Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez upcoming corruption trial has gotten very little attention from members of the media. When they do talk about it, they like to leave out the fact he’s a Democrat.

Media Won’t Talk About Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez Corruption Trial

On Sunday, The New York Times published a 1,288-word article about the trial, which begins Wednesday, without once mentioning Menendez’s political party affiliation. The newspaper of record then stealth-edited the piece hours later. The updated version identifies the New Jersey senator once in the fourth paragraph as a Democrat.

Media Won’t Talk About Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez Corruption Trial

Media Won’t Talk About Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez Corruption Trial

Menendez faces 12 counts of corruption charges, including several bribery and fraud charges. Prosecutors say Menendez took bribes from Dr. Salomon Melgen — a wealthy doctor who was convicted of Medicare fraud earlier this year — throughout his tenure as a U.S. senator. E-mail exchanges between the two men reportedly show that Menendez frequently travelled in Melgen’s private plane to the Dominican Republic for free. In exchange, the Democratic senator reportedly lobbied on behalf of the doctor to government agencies and bureaucrats to settle a $9 million billing dispute between the eye-doctor and the government, among other things.

“Although Menendez did not pay Melgen back for the lavish gifts in money, he did pay him back using the currency of his Senate office to take official action to benefit the South Florida doctor,” prosecutors said, according to Politico

As columnist Phil Kerpen pointed out via Twitter last week, the news arms of the big three networks hadn’t mentioned Menendez by name in months. And the last time they did, it wasn’t even about the criminal case, according to Media Research Center.

Media Won’t Talk About Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez Corruption Trial

Last Friday, a U.S. district court judge denied Bob Menendez request to arrange trial dates around his schedule as a senator so he could vote on legislation in Washington DC. Yet that news garnered little media attention among the cable news networks.

On MSNBC, “Morning Joe” was the only show to talk about Bob Menendez upcoming trial at all this past week, when the hosts interviewed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and asked him a question about the case.

Throughout the months of August and September, MSNBC has covered Mendez’s trial a total of four times on air. CNN, HLN, and CNBC have not covered it at all on air. By contrast, Fox News and Fox Business have discussed Menendez’s trial at least 18 times throughout the month of August and September.

If Bob Menendez is convicted, Christie could chose a Republican to fill the vacant Senate seat, strengthening the GOP’s thin majority in the U.S. Senate.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

How My Parents Stayed Together For 50 Years And Found Faith After Labor Camp

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Given what they had to go through in life, including but not limited to labor camp, it’s remarkable my parents are here today, together, to celebrate this important milestone.

How My Parents Stayed Together For 50 Years And Found Faith After Labor Camp

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It’s an amazing achievement under any normal circumstances. But given what they had to go through in life, it’s remarkable they’re here today, together, to celebrate this important milestone.

Both of my parents were born in China before 1949, and their fate was deeply intertwined with what China had become since. My father is a country boy from Northern China, while my mother is a city girl from Central China. Under Mao’s communist regime, Chinese youth didn’t have any say in where they were to live or for whom they were to work. Government officials and school administrators dictated those decisions through central planning.

So upon their graduation, my parents were told (separately, of course) they needed to relocate to a remote town deep in Southwest China. They wouldn’t dare to say no. Worrying about losing food rations forced many young people like my parents to accept any form of employment anywhere the government assigned them.

Marrying in the Time of the Cultural Revolution

It was at this small town far from home where my parents met. My father first noticed my mother when she was talking to a patient at the front gate of a small clinic. My father told me later that it was my mother’s long, silky black hair that first caught his attention. My parents quickly fell in love and married a year later. Their wedding ceremony consisted of bowing to a portrait of Chairman Mao.

They received a few books by Mao as wedding presents. One of their married friends lent them half of her room for a honeymoon suite. It was only big enough to put a twin bed and two suitcases. My father helped my mother put her bedding right next to his on the small twin bed. They used one of their suitcases as a table and the other as a nightstand. That’s all there was for setting up their first home.

My parents married around the same time that Mao started his notorious Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution brought ordinary people nothing but suffering. There was a shortage of everything: food, cooking oil, cloth, bicycles. All people were classified into various social classes. The good (red) social classes included Communist Party members, soldiers, poor farmers, and factory workers. The bad (black) social classes included landlords, rich peasants, and counter-revolutionaries. Children inherited the class labels of their fathers.

Sent to a Labor Camp

In this time the rule of law was suspended indefinitely. Every organization was given a quota from higher-ups to uncover a certain number of black-class people within. There was no due process, no trial. Initially, my parents thought they would be safe since they had done nothing wrong and both grew up very poor. Yet innocence was not a guarantee of survival. Because my father’s grandfather was classified as a landowner, a category of the “black class,” the party secretary of my father’s work unit announced my dad was a hidden “black class” member. Soon my father was arrested and put into a re-education labor camp.

After my father was arrested, the Communist Party secretary from my dad’s work unit tried to coerce my mother into divorcing my father. She refused because she believed in my father. “My husband is a good and honorable man,” she told the party secretary. He threatened her, advising her to think about it again, because she and her kids would suffer if she remained married to a “black class” member.

My mother was scared, but never lost her faith in my father even after he urged her to divorce him. My father spent three years in the labor camp. He was only allowed to have family visit once every six months. His salary was suspended. My mother, sister, and brother lived on my mother’s salary alone, which was about five dollars per month.

But my mother always made sure my sister and brother put on their best clothes to visit my father. She knew my father didn’t have enough to eat inside the labor camp. Guards often took the food rations meant for the inmates for their own consumption. My mother always tried to save whatever food she could get and bring it to my father.

In the meantime, she never gave up fighting for my father’s release. Her persistence finally paid off, and my father was released in 1973. He was very fortunate. Many people didn’t survive the labor camp —the Chinese gulags—at all. My father gave all the credit to my mother. “If not for her, I would have languished in the labor camp like many others,” he told me later.

From Relief to Another Tragedy

After his release, our family life got back to normal and I became the newest addition. However, life likes to make unexpected twists when one is least prepared. On a hot summer day, I was waiting for my father to pick me up at the kindergarten. He never showed up.

Later, I found out that a truck had made a sudden turn, crashed into his bike, and ran over his right leg. He suffered a great deal of blood loss, and there were so many pieces of fractured bones, the doctor told my mother the only way to save him was to amputate his injured leg. But my mother was determined to find a different way. My father had faith in her reasoning and opted for an alternative treatment plan. My mother found an old Chinese bone-setting doctor who was willing to give it a try. He prescribed a lot of herbal medicines and gave my father numerous acupuncture treatments.

My mother’s strong will held our family together. She gathered us around her and told us to keep our chins up, because daddy would walk tall again. Her faith in my father was proven to be right again. After two long years of an excruciating treatment and rehabilitation process, my father learned to walk on his own once more.

A Life-Changing Visit to the United States

Fast-forward to the present day. I live in the United States now. A couple of years ago, when my parents were visiting me from China, my Chinese neighbor invited them to attend a church service that was performed in Chinese. It was the very first time that my parents were exposed to Christianity because China’s Communist regime is atheist and had long banned all forms of religious teachings and practices for several decades until 1980.

Although there’s increasing tolerance of some forms of religions, the Chinese government still has a tight control on all religious-related matters. Given that my parents have spent most of their lives in such an environment, I thought the novelty of attending church services in the United States would quickly wear off. But I was wrong.

My parents absorbed Christian teachings like sponges, without the slightest reservation. They went to church every Sunday during their visit. A few months later, before they went back to China, they were baptized together. Their testimony at their baptism moved many churchgoers including myself to tears. They explained that before they found God, they hadn’t really lived, but merely survived. Now they found God, they finally saw the light for the first time. They found new meanings in love, marriage, family, this earthly life, and eternity.

For most of their lives, my parents’ love and faith in each other have held their marriage and our family together, no matter what challenges and obstacles life presents. In their golden years, they found the light and put their faith in God. I thank God every day for my parents, for who they are and what they have become. They’re a true inspiration in my life. As they celebrate their 50-year wedding anniversary, all I can say is congratulations, mom and dad! And God bless!

Helen Raleigh is a senior contributor to The Federalist. An immigrant from China, she is the owner of Red Meadow Advisors, LLC, and an immigration policy fellow at the Centennial Institute in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including “Confucius Never Said” and “The Broken Welcome Mat.”

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

The 15 Biggest Movie Bombs Of Summer 2017

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Summer 2017

Summer 2017 overall was a dismal session for Hollywood, with the total box office nearly 16 percent lower than the previous year.

The 15 Biggest Movie Bombs Of Summer 2017

Most outlets cover Hollywood’s massive performers: “Wonder Woman” made $400 million! “Fate of the Furious” cleared more than $1 billion globally!” Then there is me. I trend towards Hollywood’s low-quality retrograde fare, particularly those titles that failed to deliver the entertainment. Thus, at the end of the blockbuster season I look at the titles that made an impact — in the form of a crater.

Summer is when studios make bank. It is the season when careers are made, budgets are broken, and executives get bonused into buying diamond-encrusted padlocks to affix on the gates of the public access steps to the beach on their Malibu property. Well, most years, anyway.

 Summer 2017 overall was a dismal session, with the total box office nearly 16 percent lower than the previous year. To give one example of the futility: summer 2017 broke the record for the worst opening by a movie in 4,000 theaters—three separate times! Studios released tentpole titles week after week, which depleted their success rates as not too many titles had room to flex muscles. The later stages of the calendar were filled with middling titles when a blockbuster would not only rule the theater but draw in audiences, raising the ticket-buying tide.

Numerous factors went into numbering this box-office fail list. Beyond mere performances I used other metrics like overall quality, expectations, budgets, and star power. But for the most part, this is about celebrating general failure. Pop yourself up a box of burnt popcorn, pour a 64-ounce cup of flat soda, and let’s tear into the failures from theaters summer 2017.

15. ‘Wish Upon’

This widely ignored horror offering failed to find an audience in a summer frame with no fright-filled competition and a rather receptive audience. (The sequel to “Annabelle” did robust business.) Despite that favorable atmosphere, this film lacked atmospherics, as it recycled a familiar horror trope for the teen audience. Expected to open in the double-digit range, it struggled to make half of that mark, debuting as the No. 7 film opening weekend and soon as forgotten as a fever dream.

14. ‘Rough Night’

This was an obvious attempt to come up with a female version of “The Hangover” (that ploy always works!). The story was a bachelorette party that goes sideways, and best you can say was at least it was ambitious. Scarlett Johansson toplined the cast, along with Kate McKinnon offering a horrid Australian accent. The ladies had to deal with a male stripper who died and their night descended into scenes of mayhem. Summer 2017 was bad for comedies, and this was emblematic of that hostility, as it suffered a fate worse than its stripper had.

13. ‘Snatched’

Following the breakout success of “Trainwreck,” Amy Schumer made her next attempt at theatrical dominance, but was dashed on the rocks of the comedy-killing reef in this summer 2017. Critics commented that while she teamed well with Goldie Hawn the material was weak. The issue here? Schumer had written the script. While posturing as a media darling of the Left, critics rewarded Amy with scorn for insensitive portrayals of foreign people. Audiences did not snatch up tickets to this in appreciable amounts.

12. ‘The Circle’

I’m sure most are scratching their heads trying to even remember this title. What if I tell you it starred Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, and released in more than 3,000 theaters? Based on the Dave Eggers novel, this technological thriller went nowhere. It debuted with less than $10 million and deleted audiences along the way, barely earning $20 million at the end. On its opening weekend it finished behind a Latino comedy and an Indian Bollywood sequel, of all things.

11. ‘The House’

Despite saturation advertising, here was another comedy audiences condemned. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler starred in this romp about a middle-aged couple who chose to pay for their daughter’s college tuition by converting their home into an unlicensed casino. It was trounced by the animated “Despicable Me 3” and the respected action title “Baby Driver.” It was also the lowest debut of Ferrell’s career in a lead role. You can now set the roof on fire—literally.

10. ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

I know calling a “Transformers” film low-quality is not a risky stance. However, within that robotic universe “Last Knight” is noticeably the worst. These films are infamous for being loud and flashy content-free fare, and audiences have finally tired of them. Falling well short of $200 million in its run, this debuted with a five-day total of less than the four previous releases’ three-day openings. The mitigating factor: overseas this was popular enough to push it to a $600 million global total.

9. ‘Baywatch’

Following the established formula of modern TV adaptations—dispatching traditional elements; snarky variation on the theme; perfunctory cameos—this was yet another comedy that just did not click with anyone. Dwayne Johnson delivered his usual affable performance, but the material did not hold up. It was a constant gag about lifeguards investigating crimes, but the whole enterprise failed to move, like it was swimming through a large patch of seaweed. There was hope European audiences might float the film, but even in Hasselhoff-besotted Germany they stayed out of the water.

8. ‘Cars 3’

Already regarded as the lesser franchise in the glowing Pixar Studios stable, this unneeded third visit to the racetrack met a lowered audience octane. While it debuted at No.  1 with just over $50 million, it soon sputtered in a crowded field and was lost in traffic. For a Pixar release to fail to reach the $150 million mark is notable, and of all of the Pixar titles only one—“The Good Dinosaur”—has a lower box-office take. But I doubt Disney/Pixar even noticed; the product toy line is a huge money-maker.

7. ‘The Mummy’

Universal kicked off its “Dark Universe,” a series of movies based on the monster characters in its vaults. Tom Cruise headlined this CGI-choked affair that was wildly overshadowed by the excitement over “Wonder Woman.” Universal gave Cruise complete control over the script, editing, post-production, and even power to overrule the director. The result did not ignite theaters in what was meant to be a highly touted franchise launch. The overseas returns, while more vigorous, were not enough to keep the studio from losing near $100 million on this release.

6. ‘The Emoji Movie’

While watching a different cinematic disaster this winter, I was bemusedly exposed to the trailer for this fiasco. The crowning touch of famed British thespian Patrick Stewart lending his voice to anthropomorphic fecal matter sums it all up. This film was scorched by critics (a sceptic 8 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and even audiences graded it low. The only surprise is that somehow it found enough kids to force parents into taking them and earned a higher than expected $70 million. (How?)

5. ‘Alien: Covenant’

The attempt to reboot this franchise has become something of a fraught enterprise for 20th Century Fox. After “Prometheus” was a very qualified success, this follow-up was not regarded at all. Up against paltry competition it still under-delivered, failing to even reach the lowered goal of $40 million on its opening weekend. It suffered a stark 71 percent drop in its second week, and by week three it dropped more than 1,100 screens, failing to even achieve $75 million in total. In theory director Ridley Scott still has two planned follow-up titles in this series, which may now be in question.

4. ‘The Dark Tower’

A long-in-the works project, this Stephen King adaptation bounced around different studios, went through numerous director changes, and had multiple scripts written. Sony ended up with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey in a severely cut-down story that should have been fleshed out over multiple films. The fans who long anticipated this arrival stayed away, and even with a modest budget of $60 million the studio lost money on this venture.

3. ‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature’

The original “Nut Job” was a modest qualified success, but far from an animated classic to be remembered for generations. Open Road Films had a small budget and earned enough in returns during the dumping-ground release schedule in January to justify a sequel.

Then they severely miscalculated. Sensing a lull in the competition, the distributor felt they had a chance at glory, and rolled out their sequel in a saturation release in late summer 2017, expecting to draw kids with limited viewing options. Instead the title shattered the record for worst performance of a film released in more than 4,000 screens. The opening weekend was a single-digit disaster, barely earning above $8 million.

2. ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’

Guy Ritchie decided to infuse the Arthurian legend with his stylized film-making. Curiously, he elected to topline the effort with American actor Charlie Hunnan. It was a frenetic exercise with obviously computer-generated locales and some contemporary politics mixed in (Brexit commentary for the loss!).

Sporting a massive studio budget of $175 million and a significant marketing spend, the projections for its debut were scaled down to an embarrassing $25 million, and it then managed to miss that mark by $10 million. The plan was for a six-movie franchise of this tale. I’d wager that has been scrapped, as the British director failed to draw profits from the stone.

1. ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’

That obtuse title was only the beginning of the challenges for this epic sci-fi feature that became an epic failure. French Director Luc Besson had long wanted to produce this space opera property after his successful film “The Fifth Element.” That was back in 1997. The source material is both dated and unknown; it is based on a French comic book Besson read while growing up.

Even with dazzling special effects, there was little interest in this sprawling affair, Estimates on the production costs range from $175-200 million. Factoring promotional costs, this needed to gross around $500 million before realizing a profit. Worldwide it made about 35 percent of that stratospheric goal.

Source: TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.