TIME Hong Kong

U.S. Students to Don Yellow in Support of Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement

Secondary school student wears a yellow ribbon pinned to her T-shirt during a rally against Beijing's election framework for Hong Kong, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong
A secondary school student wears a yellow ribbon pinned to her T-shirt during a rally against Beijing's election framework for Hong Kong, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept. 26, 2014. Tyrone Siu—Reuters

Campaign supports the tens of thousands who have taken to the street in the Chinese Special Administrative Region to demand universal suffrage

On Wednesday, as the People’s Republic of China celebrates its 65th anniversary, tens of thousands of American undergraduates from universities across the country will dress in yellow, the identifying color of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

The fight for unfettered elections in the former British colony has reached unprecedented levels over the past four days. Tens of thousands of demonstrators continue to besiege the city’s central business and government districts — braving police batons, tear gas and pepper spray — to demand democratic concessions from Beijing.

In a demonstration of solidarity, the Wear Yellow for Hong Kong campaign was launched by Heather Pickerell, who spent the majority of her childhood living in Hong Kong with her American father and Taiwanese mother before moving to New England three years ago as a freshman at Harvard.

The 21-year-old wasn’t “necessarily supportive” of the push for political reform at home, she says, until Beijing issued a White Paper in early June — a sprawling, 14,500-word tract — that effectively left Hong Kong with little doubt about who was in charge.

“Growing up, we had this innate hope that we’d someday have democracy in Hong Kong,” Pickerell told TIME late Monday night. “Now, I’m realistic. Whatever China wants to do, there’s nothing Hong Kong can do about it. The only real tool we have is international pressure and scrutiny.”

Wearing yellow, in other words, is secondary to the conversation she hopes it engenders. She is among the many who believe — or, at least, gravely hope — that the current groundswell of discontent in Hong Kong could encourage a new culture of domestic politics in China if the international response is loud and coherent enough to compel a change.

And so Pickerell created the Facebook event group on Thursday after delivering a dinner speech on the current situation in Hong Kong to several hundred of her peers in Mather House, her residence hall at Harvard. The page had around 300 members on Sunday — and then nearly 30,000 less than two days later.

A friend from Hong Kong at Yale then brought the solidarity practice to New Haven. It was swiftly embraced at Brown, where the Hong Kong Students’ Association had organized a national conference earlier in the spring to discuss the matter of political reform. Then to Pitzer and Wellesley and the University of Toronto, and now at around 50 other universities and counting.

“I saw the pictures of the protests on Facebook and read my friends’ tweets, and I really needed to do something,” Myron Lam, the Hong Konger who brought the campaign to Brown, where he is a senior, told TIME. “The last few days have shown that there is hope in Hong Kong, but we need to act, and show Beijing that the issue is on the international radar.”

TIME Money

Bank of America To Pay Record $16.65 Billion Fine

Bank Of America Reports Loss Due 6 Billion Dollar Legal Charge
Spencer Platt—Getty Images

$7 billion of it will go to consumers faced with financial hardship

Updated: 10:14 a.m.

The Justice Department announced Thursday that Bank of America will pay a record $16.65 billion fine to settle allegations that it knowingly sold toxic mortgages to investors.

The sum represents the largest settlement between the government and a private corporation in the United States’ history, coming at the end of a long controversy surrounding the bank’s role in the recent financial crisis. In issuing bad subprime loans, some observers say, the bank helped fuel a housing bubble that would ultimately burst in late 2007, devastating the national and global economy.

“We are here to announce a historic step forward in our ongoing effort to protect the American people from financial fraud – and to hold accountable those whose actions threatened the integrity of our financial markets and undermined the stability of our economy,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference announcing the settlement.

Since the end of the financial crisis, the bank has incurred more than $60 billion in losses and legal settlements. Of the latest settlement, $7 billion will go to consumers faced with financial hardship. In turn, the bank largely exonerates itself from further federal scrutiny.

However, not all is forgotten. The New York Times reports that federal prosecutors are preparing a new case against Angelo Mozilo, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America acquired in mid-2008. As the country’s largest lender of mortgages, Countrywide Financial purportedly played a large role in distributing toxic loans. Mozilo has already paid the Securities and Exchange Commission a record $67.5 million settlement.

TIME Social Media

Facebook Could Start Labeling Satirical Posts So You Don’t Think They’re Real

Apple IPads Sales Down
An Apple iPad displays its home screen on August 6, 2014 in London. Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

The confusion is more common than you might expect

Facebook is running what it calls a “small test,” tagging posts from satire outlets like the Onion so that users understand that the content isn’t real.

MarketWatch reports that the social-media platform is running beta tests on some users’ News Feeds, having “received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others,” in the words of a Facebook spokeswoman.

Facebook would not elaborate on the experiments, MarketWatch said.

The confusion is more common than one might expect: there are entire blogs devoted to documenting the dismay of Facebook users who have learned the “news” that Barack Obama has run over Jimmy Carter with his car, or that the Harry Potter series fostered a new wave of Satanism among the America’s elementary school students.

Nor is it limited to Facebook. When the Onion named Kim Jong Un the “sexiest man alive” in 2012, the story was picked up by the People’s Daily — the flagship publication of the Chinese Communist Party, which received the news with unsmiling gravity.

[MarketWatch]

TIME Television

Saturday Night Live Announcer Don Pardo Dies At 96

He spent nearly four decades with SNL and seven at NBC

Don Pardo, the Saturday Night Live announcer whose effusive baritone ushered in the show’s weekly episodes since 1975 — either live or as a prerecording — died on Monday evening at the age of 96.

The Hollywood Reporter says that the longtime showman and media personality — who announced on NBC the breaking news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 — broke his hip last year, but it is unclear if related health issues were factors in his death.

Pardo was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2010 for a lifetime’s achievement in broadcasting.

TIME New York

Amish Sisters Reportedly Kidnapped In New York Are Safe

There are currently no compelling leads on a suspect

A pair of Amish sisters purportedly kidnapped near their home in upstate New York on Wednesday night are safe, authorities told the Associated Press.

Fannie Miller, 12, and her 7-year-old sister Delila were tending to customers at their family’s farm stand at around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night when they went missing, prompting a manhunt as far north as the Canadian border that lasted until the girls appeared at a private residence in Richville, 13 miles from their home.

Their disappearance prompted the State of New York to issue an Amber Alert and created a panic among St. Lawrence County’s Amish community — the second largest in the state — many members of which had gathered for a vigil just before the girls turned up on Thursday.

There are currently no compelling leads on a suspect, although authorities believe that more than one person may have been involved.

TIME South Korea

Pope Francis Meets Asian Youth and Sewol Ferry Survivors

Pope Francis Visits South Korea - Day Two
Pope Francis speaks in Daejeon, South Korea, on Friday, August 15. He is visiting South Korea from August 14 to August 18. Getty Images

He also took to Twitter to urge young Koreans "to see the things in life that really matter"

Pope Francis has said his first Asian mass before a 50,000-strong crowd in the South Korean city of Daejeon, which is playing host to Asian Youth Day — the largest gathering of young Catholics on the continent. The Associated Press (AP) reported that crowds crying “Viva il Papa” greeted him as his open-sided vehicle entered the soccer stadium where the service was held Friday morning. K-pop singers and rappers warmed up the crowd before the pontiff’s arrival.

The pope also met a group of survivors and family members of victims of April’s Sewol ferry disaster, in which almost 300 people, mostly high-school students, were drowned. He will be given a large cross carried by relatives who undertook a 21-day pilgrimage to Jindo Island, near the location where the Sewol capsized, AP said. Pope Francis expressed this hope that the tragedy would bring “all Koreans together in grief and confirm their commitment to work together in solidarity for the common good.”

Later in the day, the pontiff tweeted in both English and Korean, encouraging young people “to see the things in life that really matter.” He also paid a visit to a shrine dedicated to the first Korean to be ordained a Catholic priest, St. Andrew Kim Taegon, who is the patron saint of South Korea and was executed in 1846, at the age of 25, after running foul of the ruling Joseon dynasty.

On Saturday, the pope will hold a ceremony to beatify 124 Korean Catholics martyred in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

South Korea is a rare outpost of Catholicism in Asia. This is the first papal visit to the region since 1989 and reflects what many believe to be the Vatican’s hopes to grow the church in the region.

TIME Iraq

Obama: U.S. ‘Broke’ Siege of Iraqi Mountain

Displaced Iraqi families from the Yazidi community cross the Iraqi-Syrian border at the Fishkhabur crossing, in northern Iraq, on Aug. 13, 2014.
Displaced Iraqi Yezidi families cross the Iraqi-Syrian border in northern Iraq on Aug. 13, 2014 Ahmad Al-Rubaye—AFP/Getty Images

"We helped vulnerable people reach safety and we helped save many innocent lives"

Updated 1:33 p.m. E.T.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that U.S. air strikes and humanitarian drops, as well as the efforts of Kurdish forces, have broken the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, where thousands of members of the Yezidi religious minority had been trapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing, Obama said a U.S. military and civilian team concluded Wednesday that U.S. efforts have dramatically lessened the likelihood that a rescue would need to be staged to free the civilians on the mountain.

“Because of the skill and professionalism of our military and the generosity of our people, we broke the [ISIS] siege of Mount Sinjar,” Obama said. “We helped vulnerable people reach safety and we helped save many innocent lives.”

U.S. military aircraft have carried out around a dozen air strikes in Iraq since Obama authorized military action a week ago, and U.S. transport planes have delivered more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water on the mountain in airdrops carried out over the past seven nights.

Obama maintained that the situation in Iraq remains “dire” for those Iraqis who live in areas under the control of ISIS, which has taken large swaths of territory and several of the country’s largest cities in offensives over the past several months. Obama said the U.S. stands ready to carry out similar humanitarian efforts elsewhere in Iraq if necessary, and reiterated that U.S. air strikes would continue in order to protect American military advisers and diplomatic facilities in Iraq.

Obama added that the burden for a long-term solution to the crisis in Iraq lies on the shoulders of the Iraqi government, saying that after a conversation with newly selected Prime Minister–designate Haider al-Abadi, he is “modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction.”

Al-Abadi would replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is struggling to hold onto power even as domestic factions and international leaders have withdrawn support. Al-Maliki insists that he should have a third term in office, given the success of his Shi‘ite-led faction in an election this past April. However, President Fouad Massoum has asked al-Abadi, a lawmaker from al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, to try to form a government.

TIME Theater

Finding Neverland Will Soar Onto Broadway Next March

The 68th Annual Tony Awards
Jennifer Hudson performs a song from the musical 'Finding Neverland' at the 68th Annual Tony Awards in New York in June 2014. CBS Photo Archive—CBS via Getty Images

The theatrical version comes a decade after the critically acclaimed film about Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie

Finding Neverland, the story of author J.M. Barrie as he sets off to write his opus Peter Pan, will open on Broadway in March 2015, a decade after the release of the critically acclaimed film.

The New York Times reports that the show, bankrolled by veteran producer Harvey Weinstein, received a trial run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Wednesday night — the culmination of a lengthy and highly public production process.

It is the first major theater project that Weinstein has directly tackled, though he is acquainted with Broadway: a 2012 story in the Times described him as a “passive investor” in such successful shows as The Producers and Billy Elliot.

The original film, which starred Johnny Depp as Barrie and received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Original Score, and others, was produced by Miramax Films, which Weinstein founded and runs with his brother Bob.

Much remains up in the air. The show’s creative team, headed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, has yet to announce either a cast or a theater in New York where the show will play.

TIME South Korea

South Korean Protestants Rally Against Pope Francis’ Visit

South Korea Pope
Workers set a platform as they prepare for a special Korean reconciliation mass by Pope Francis at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on Aug. 12, 2014 Ahn Young-joon—AP

Not everyone is happy about the Pontiff's trip

Around 10,000 South Korean Protestants gathered at a convention center near Seoul on Tuesday to protest Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the country.

The demonstration, organized by fundamentalist Protestants who view Catholicism as blasphemous, underscores tension among some denominations in South Korea, where nearly 30% of the population is Christian.

Participants in Tuesday’s protests, the Wall Street Journal reports, sought to undermine recent efforts by moderate Protestant leaders to reconcile differences with the country’s Roman Catholic establishment.

Pope Francis arrives on Thursday — making the first papal visit to East Asia in a quarter of a century — and will remain in South Korea for four days, during which he intends to beatify 124 Korean Catholics killed by dynastic leaders in the 18th and 19th centuries and also celebrate Asian Youth Day, a massive convention for the continent’s young Catholics.

There had been hopes that the Pope would be able to preach unity on the Korean peninsula, however these fell flat after authorities in Pyongyang declined his request to visit North Korea. The Associated Press reports that he will nevertheless issue a “message of peace and reconciliation for all Koreans.”

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