TIME fun

Feel Good Friday: 15 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From flying off mountains to backflipping in Palestine, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Malaysia

Malaysia’s Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim Awaits Sodomy Appeal Verdict

MALAYSIA-POLITICS-OPPOSITION
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim addresses the media after a meeting with senior Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) leaders in Subang Jaya on Aug. 17, 2014. Manan Vatsyayana—AFP/Getty Images

The 67-year-old's conviction has been slammed by human rights groups as "politically motivated"

Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim returns to court next week to learn whether he will be jailed on sodomy charges.

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Federal Court will hear Anwar’s appeal of his March conviction for engaging in homosexual acts, charges both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say amount to “politically motivated persecution.”

Speaking to TIME on Friday, Anwar said his chances “didn’t look good.”

“Most of Malaysia does not believe that I will get a fair trial or a decision based on the facts of the law,” he said. “But I want to show young people that [my conviction] is a small price to pay in the struggle for freedom and justice.”

Anwar was originally arrested on July 16, 2008, after a former male aide alleged the pair had engaged in consensual sexual relations — criminalized under Malaysia’s colonial-era “sodomy law.” The High Court then acquitted Anwar on Jan. 9, 2012, ruling that DNA samples vital to the prosecution case could have been contaminated.

On March 7, 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Anwar to five years imprisonment. The hearing was originally scheduled for April but was curiously moved forward a month. This meant Anwar was disqualified from running in the Kajang district state assembly election on March 23.

Phil Robertson, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, has urged the Malaysian authorities to drop the case or risk making a “travesty of the country’s criminal justice system.”

“Prosecuting Anwar for something that should never be considered a crime shows how far the government is prepared to go to remove a political opponent,” he said.

Anwar’s imprisonment has been stayed during his appeal, but if convicted he faces five years in prison plus a mandatory five-year prohibition on running for office, effectively ending the 67-year-old’s political career.

Malaysia’s May 5, 2013, general elections saw the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) coalition led by Anwar win 50% of the popular vote. However, this only translated to 89 parliamentary seats due to the “first past the post” electoral system. (The incumbent National Front coalition government of Prime Minister Najib Razak gained 47% of the vote but 133 seats.)

Anwar and independent observers have alleged electoral irregularities and widespread gerrymandering, and thousands took to the streets to demand an investigation. Najib’s administration strenuously denies any impropriety.

TIME Video Games

The 5 Best PlayStation 4 Games Right Now

The essential video game checklist for new PlayStation 4 owners

So you just picked up a PlayStation 4, and you’re wondering what to buy. Or maybe you haven’t bought one yet, but you’re leaning in Sony’s general direction. Either way, we think these are hands-down the best games on platform at the moment.

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

    Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag‘s Caribbean setting is sun-dappled, tropical and thoroughly tattooed, a sultry archipelago of jungle-scapes, cerulean skies and grizzled buccaneers. You’re a pirate neophyte as the game begins, rising through the pirate echelons, rubbing elbows with everyone from Blackbeard to Anne Bonny, working to hammer out a kind of egalitarianism that’s often overlooked in Hollywood’s rush to mythologize pirates as unshowered, bloodthirsty, money-grubbing mercenaries preying on the weak like peg-legged sociopaths.

    Buy this game if… You like pirates, boats, sneaking around and scaling everything in sight, light naval and economic simulations, alternate history tales slathered with cabalistic conspiracies, ginormous open-worlds with gobs of collection-oriented side activities, a literal archipelago of elaborate locales to survey, and a central story you can engage at your own pace, whether chewing through missions one after another, or ignoring them entirely.

    Steer clear if… You don’t like open-ended games or having to travel vast distances to make things happen, have no interest in the particulars of naval combat, find scads of collection quests repetitive, don’t like pirates or early 18th century settings, expect hand-to-hand combat that evolves and challenges, and hate having to slink through the shadows.

    What critics said: “…great fun when you let your impulses guide you” (Game Informer); “…the most generous Assassin’s Creed game to date” (Edge); “…an incredible scope to what you can do” (GameSpot).

    ESRB Rating: Mature

  • Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn

    Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn arrived for PlayStation 3 and Windows last September, and after some early launch problems with glitchy servers, it settled into a kind of groove. It’s been humming along since: a lavish fantasy universe with scads of Final Fantasy-ish things to tangle with, craft and explore. The PlayStation 4 version includes the same content, but with vastly prettier versions of things to look at, and the subscription fee (after the 30-day trail period) remains the same: $12.99 a month, after the cost of the game itself.

    Buy this game if… You don’t mind (or actually like) the idea of playing one with a gamepad, you’re in the mood to pick through a mammoth fantasy sandbox, you enjoy the Final Fantasy games (or just different stylistic takes on Western fantasy tropes), or you want to play the best version of this game on a console (and for that matter, the best MMO on any console).

    Steer clear if… You don’t like MMOs, don’t like fantasy settings, or don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee.

    What critics said: “My favorite MMO since World of Warcraft” (Destructoid); “…one of the biggest reversals in fortune we’ve seen for a game” (Gameplanet); “the best venue to experience the staggering world” (GameSpot).

    ESRB Rating: Teen

  • Flower

    What would you do if you were the wind? The dream of a potted plant on an urban windowsill? Don’t worry, Flower isn’t a tedious philosophical treatise on the nature of reality, but as you twist the PlayStation 4’s motion-sensing gamepad to maneuver dancing petals through oceans of grass, stone rings, steel girders, windmills, striated caverns and pallid cityscapes, you may find yourself contemplating whether you’re playing a game, or involved in a form of interactive meditation.

    Buy this game if… You want to try something genuinely different, you enjoy environmental puzzles, you love immersing yourself in beautiful and uniquely imagined virtual worlds.

    Steer clear if… You tend to rush through games (in which case Flower may seem brief).

    What critics said: “…has the power to change the way that you look at the outside world” (Push Square); “…like rediscovering an old friend” (USgamer); “…there’s no prettier way to inaugurate your new console” (Hardcore Gamer).

    ESRB Rating: Everyone

  • The Last of Us Remastered

    Developer Naughty Dog’s original PlayStation 3 tale of a horror-numbed survivor escorting a young girl through a broken zombie-filled near-future world won the 2013’s Writers Guild of America award (“Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing”), an Annie (“Best Animated Video Game”) and a Game Developer’s Choice Award (“Game of the Year”). The PlayStation 4 version is simply the original version remastered, but with all the additional content.

    Buy this game if… You appreciate finely crafted storytelling, you love tenterhooks survival horror games with light stealth elements and a dash of third-person shooting, or you just want to experience one of the finest explorations of the way a relationship can work in an interactive game.

    Steer clear if… You scare easily.

    What critics said: “..the version of Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic story of survival that the developer always intended us to play” (EGM); “…a fabulous story, riffing on Cormac McCarthy and other bleak post-apocalyptic fiction” (Telegraph); “…the definitive edition of an already outstanding affair” (Push Square).

    ESRB Rating: Mature

  • Resogun

    Imagine a side-scrolling shoot-em-up (shmup), only the levels fold around until the ends touch, turning the game into a cylinder you can vector across either left or right. The object of the game is to free and save tiny retro-stick-figure humans, powering up your ship and executing special attacks that include a kind of battle-ram maneuver that lets you arrow through waves of enemies, annihilating them without destroying yourself.

    Buy this game if… You love shmups (this is one of the best), you love uniquely convoluted shmups with gorgeous retro-particle animations and effects, you want the option to play a shmup on a difficulty setting that’ll be the challenge of your life.

    Steer clear if… Twitchy, punishing shooting games aren’t your thing.

    What critics said: “…an eye-searing blur of a loop” (Destructoid); “…brilliant stuff, always thrilling and constantly rewarding” (Telegraph); “stands as one of the best ways to be introduced to the recently launched PlayStation 4″ (EGM).

    ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

TIME Careers & Workplace

15 Exceptional Ways to Kick Your Productivity Way Up

To do
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Here's how you can quickly get on track

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Being productive is a great thing. Not only does it increase your self-confidence and sense of well-being, it can also make you more effective and your company more profitable. The ultimate reward for keeping your focus and being productive is more free time for you. And who doesn’t want more free time?

Everyone hits productivity lows, which is OK as long as they don’t last too long. Here are 15 ways to kick your productivity into high gear.

Don’t know where to begin?

1. The first step is to create a to-do list. When is the best time to create a to-do list? At the end of your workday while everything is still fresh in your mind or Sunday night after (hopefully) a restful weekend. This allows you to shut out work completely once you’re home for the night or weekend and to hit the ground running with your list in hand the next morning. It’s always a good idea to keep some paper handy during your workday to take notes and add things to your to-do list. This allows you to clear your head by getting those thoughts onto paper so you can continue to focus on the task at hand.

2. The next step is to choose one difficult, possibly longer task on your list to complete first. The sense of achievement you experience from checking off that one really hard thing on your list helps set the tone for the easier tasks to follow. They will feel like a walk in the park after you’ve tackled the hard stuff.

When is the best time to be productive?

3. A lot of this depends on who you are as a person. It is often suggested that we get up early and get to work while things are still quiet—less office chatter, fewer interruptions, just peace and solitude. Although this advice is good for some, it’s not good for everyone—we’re not all early birds. You need to dig deep and figure out when you are most productive. Maybe it’s closer to noon when you begin to feel the stirrings of being alive and able to produce. The point here is, don’t push through your to-do list during times when you tend to be the least productive—choose those times when you function at your best. Save easy to-dos for your less productive times of the day.

Hit a wall?

4. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air. Even a five-minute walk can wake you up and make you feel rejuvenated enough to dig back into work.

5. Take time out to clean and organize your desk and perhaps redecorate.Sometimes the clutter, the dust, and the really dirty keyboard can be a distraction. It’s amazing how cleaning your desk and making it an organized, beautiful place to work again can boost your productivity. Consider a new chair or adding some plants or a fish in a small bowl. Research has proved that the simple addition of a plant can increase productivity by 15 percent.

6. Take some time to browse the Web–look up things that are of interest to you.Research has shown that if you take a short break to surf the Web—say five to 15 minutes—you will feel refreshed and ready to throw yourself into work again. You may even find new inspiration and think of a new way to get through the current to-do.

7. Try laughter. Watch a couple of skits from Saturday Night Live or some other comedy show you enjoy, even if for only five minutes. Laughter increases productivity and makes you feel happier too.

8. Stand at your desk, stretch, and try deep breathing for at least five minutes. A good recipe for deep breathing: Inhale through your nose while counting slowly to 7; hold your breath for another slow count to 7; and then slowly exhale through your mouth for a slow count to 7. Go through this process 7 to 10 times. Now pat yourself on the back for completing your first meditation session and because you feel much better and can get back to work.

9. Take a snack break–the high-protein, high-fiber variety. This kind of snack—search the Web for ideas—will give you the brain boost you need for increased productivity. Sugary, high-carb snacks just bog you down and make it more likely that you will want to take a nap instead of work.

10. Stay hydrated. The older you get, the harder it is to sense that you’re thirsty. Dehydration can cause sleepiness, confusion, irritability, and other side effects (another great Web search opportunity). What is the best way to hydrate? Water—keep it handy at all times and keep drinking the stuff. It will help you maintain your focus, stay awake, and keep your productivity on high.

11. If your wall is still up, try taking a nap for up to 20 minutes. Yes, you read that right. Go to your car, a couch, or other place you feel comfortable—and take a nap. Naps as short as 15 minutes can increase alertness, improve your mood, and get your productivity juices flowing again.

Do you multitask?

12. Don’t. Research has shown that multitasking can be a productivity crusher, causing wasted time and more errors. Boost your productivity by focusing on one to-do at a time instead of switching from task to task. Occasionally, you will have to switch tasks if something hot hits your desk. Just make this the exception and not the norm. Better to place that hot item at the top of your to-do list and finish what you were doing first, thereby keeping your productivity from ending with a screeching halt.

If nothing seems to be working

13. Sometimes the problem is constant distractions. Shut off the email ping, put a Do Not Disturb Sign on your office door, or wear some headphones to shut out the noise. Research has shown that each distraction can cause up to a 20-minute delay in productivity. This can really add up, with multiple distractions decreasing productivity significantly.

14. Take a vacation. Not just a long weekend–a real vacation away from it all. If you can, take a couple weeks. Two weeks is optimal for complete recovery from the stresses of work. It’s amazing how real time away from work can give you a whole new perspective and research has shown that even a weeklong vacation increases reaction time and productivity.

15. Last resort. Perhaps you are having trouble with productivity because you simply don’t enjoy what you’re doing anymore. Think about your current work choice—is it still resonating with you? Do you ever feel excited about your work? If the answer is no, it may be time to find a new job or career entirely. If you can find your real passion in life, your productivity will go through the roof without your even trying.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Mark Zuckerberg’s 10 Best Quotes Ever

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivers a speech in Jakarta on October 13, 2014.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivers a speech in Jakarta on October 13, 2014. ROMEO GACAD—AFP/Getty Images

The best from the ever-quotable founder of Facebook

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is a true pioneer in the realm of technology. Time has named him among the top 100 most influential people in the world, and his personal wealth is currently estimated at more than $34 billion. (A portion of that wealth, he just announced, will be dedicated to combating the Ebola virus.) Zuckerberg famously launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in February 2004. Today, the social network has, on average, over 800 million daily users, and was most recently valued at $200 billion, Time reports.

In honor of the wunderkind’s unprecedented success, here are 10 of his best quotes to inspire entrepreneurs in any industry. (We’ll admit, some of them are just as out-of-the-box as Zuckerberg himself.)

1. “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” —From an October 2011 interview at Y Combinator’s Startup School in Palo Alto, California.

2. “The question isn’t ‘What do we want to know about people?’ It’s, ‘What do people want to tell about themselves?” —From a November 2011 interview with Charlie Rose.

3. “I literally coded Facebook in my dorm room and launched it from my dorm room. I rented a server for $85 a month, and I funded it by putting an ad on the site, and we’ve funded ever since by putting ads on the site.” —In the same Charlie Rose interview, Zuckberg spoke about the social media giant’s humble beginnings.

4. “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” —From a speech given to his colleagues at Facebook about relevance, as reported by The New York Times.

5. “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” —In an interview with Business Insider’s Henry Blodget, Zuckberg opened up about innovation, management, and more. Recently, however, he announced that Facebook would be changing this motto.

6. “This is a perverse thing, personally, but I would rather be in the cycle where people are underestimating us. It gives us the latitude to go out and make big bets that excite and amaze people.” —The entrepreneur offered his thoughts on dealing with skeptics, in an interview at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF conference in September 2012, as reported by Forbes.

7. “People can be really smart or have skills that are directly applicable, but if they don’t really believe in it, then they are not going to really work hard.” —From a Stanford University speaker series on hiring the right people, given October 2005.

8. “People don’t care about what someone says about you in a movie–or even what you say, right? They care about what you build.” —From an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in July 2010.

9. “In Silicon Valley, you get this feeling that you have to be out here. But it’s not the only place to be. If I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston. [Silicon Valley] is a little short-term focused and that bothers me.” —Also from the October 2011 interview at Y Combinator’s Startup School in Palo Alto, California.

10. “The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’ … Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time. —From Marcia Amidon Lusted’s biography Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Creator.

Envious of the tech prodigy’s entrepreneurial success? Take his advice, and start breaking something today.

TIME Nigeria

Dozens More Women And Girls Abducted By Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls
A man poses with a sign in front of police officers in riot gear during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 14, 2014. Olamikan Gbemiga—AP

Residents say the kidnappings come a day after a truce between the militants and the Nigerian government

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been accused of abducting dozens more women and girls from two villages in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa state.

Residents say the alleged kidnappings, which haven’t been confirmed by authorities, took place a day after a reported truce between the militants and Nigerian government, the BBC says.

The government hopes negotiations with Boko Haram will secure the release of more than 200 girls who were taken hostage by the militants in April. But the Islamist group has not confirmed the ceasefire.

The April kidnapping, in Borno state, sparked mass protests in Nigeria and calls for the government to do more to save the girls under the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Meanwhile a bomb blasted through a bus station Wednesday in northern Bauchi state, killing five people and injuring 12. No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.

[BBC]

TIME People

Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino Stops Chemotherapy

Ex-Boston Mayor Menino Cancer
FILE - In this April 21, 2014 file photo, from left, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, former Mayor Thomas Menino, and four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers walk past the finish line before the start of the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston. Elise Amendola—AP

The announcement came as a shock to Bostonians who see Menino as an indelible presence in their city

Former Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino has stopped treatment for advanced cancer, the much-beloved titan of Boston politics said on Wednesday.

Menino’s announcement startled and saddened Bostonians, who have seen the five-term mayor — perhaps still the most recognizable person in Boston’s political scene — carry on with business as usual since he was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer in Feb., the Boston Globe reports. Menino had left office just a month before the diagnosis.

“While I continue to fight this terrible disease, I feel it is time for me to spend more time with my family, grandkids, and friends,” Menino said in a statement. “Angela [Menino’s wife] and I are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support and kindness shown to our family and ask that everyone keep us in their thoughts and prayers.”

The 71-year-old also suspended a tour to promote his book, Mayor for a New America.

Menino helmed Boston for two decades as the city’s longest-serving mayor, and he is widely credited with shepherding Boston through tough economic times to become a bright, resurgent city.

“It’s hard to do anything in the public eye, and even this, even this, you do with class,” said one commentator on the statement posted to Menino’s Facebook page.

“Thanks Mr. Mayor,” he said.

[The Boston Globe]

TIME The Philippines

Philippine Transgender Murder Becomes a Rallying Point for LGBT Rights

A Filipino activist holds flowers and a slogan during prayers in suburban Quezon city, Philippines on Thursday Oct. 23, 2014, to call for justice for the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude. Aaron Favila—AP

Activists say the death of Jennifer Laude highlights the vulnerable position of trans people in the Philippines

The burial of transgender woman Jennifer Laude has sparked a “National Day of Outrage” in the Philippines, with LGBT organizations staging candlelight vigils across the country on Friday.

A U.S. Marine has been accused of her killing.

“We will deliver messages of solidarity and push for justice,” says Charlese Saballe, chairwoman of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). “The media attention to Jennifer’s case means a slow movement toward bringing transgender issues to the mainstream.”

Following Laude’s Oct. 11 murder, media have mostly focused on the fact that suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton has been held under U.S. guard, under a defense agreement between the two countries. Loud criticism has been raised over the agreement, with protesters attempting to carry a mock coffin to the U.S. embassy in Manila on Friday.

However, as Steven Rood, the Asia Foundation’s representative in the Philippines, points out, much of that will blow over.

“There’s the sensitivity of not treating Filipinos as second-class citizens in their own country,” he says. “But the backdrop is that the average Filipino citizen is very much in favor of having U.S. troops here. This doesn’t threaten U.S.-Filipino relations; the strategic benefits for the alliance will override this specific issue.”

Rather, some people hope that the strong bilateral connection between the two countries could impact the LGBT rights struggle in the Philippines. LGBT groups have participated in several protests outside the U.S. embassy in Manila and at vigils in the U.S.

“If media and other groups in the U.S. frame [Laude’s murder] as a hate crime and focuses on transgender rights, it might trickle down to people in society here and affect how they treat transgender and LGBT people,” says Saballe.

While visible, LGBT people in the Philippines lack anti-discriminatory legislation and the legal recognition of transgender available in many other countries, including the U.S.

“[Seen] with American eyes, the position of the LGBT community in the Philippines is an unusual one,” says Rood. “It’s a normal part of the Filipino community, but the violence they may be subjected to has not been very visible. This will certainly be a rallying cry.”

Saballe, whose organization also monitors violence against LGBT people in the Philippines, stresses that the community is “not really accepted in society.” She adds, “Only days after Jennifer was killed, two other trans women were murdered.”

Friday’s protest action is being held simultaneously in four cities in the Philippines, with a solidarity event also arranged in the Netherlands and a discussion forum in Thailand.

TIME Crime

NYPD Officers Shoot And Kill Man Who Attacked Them With a Hatchet

Police Shooting
In this frame grab taken from video provided by the New York Police Department, an unidentified man approaches New York City police officers with a hatchet, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in the Queens borough of New York. AP

One of the officers is in hospital in critical but stable condition

A man was shot and killed in Queens on Thursday after he attacked four New York Police Department officers with a hatchet.

The assailant, who is yet to be identified, was seen taking the hatchet out of a backpack before assaulting the rookie officers around 2 p.m., the Associated Press reported.

One of the officers blocked the first swing of the hatchet with his arm, while the second took a serious blow to the head. The other two officers then drew their guns and fatally shot the attacker, with a stray bullet also wounding a woman standing nearby who has now been hospitalized.

The New York Times reported that the officer who was struck in the head is 25-year-old Kenneth Healey. Police Commissioner William Bratton said in a news conference that Healey had received “a very serious injury to the backside of his head” and was in critical but stable condition.

The man did not say anything to the officers before attacking them, and Bratton said a motive for the attack was still being established. The commissioner also said the officers were posing together for a photograph requested by a pedestrian when the attack occurred.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Protesters Feel Betrayed by Their Own Government

Students Continue To Protest In Hong Kong Following Negotiation Talks
A pro-democracy protester displays his T-shirt on a street in Mongkok district on October 22, 2014 in Hong Kong. Kong Ng—Getty Images

The only solution to the monthlong protest, they insist, is for the local government to fight for Hong Kong's rights instead of always capitulating to China

Hong Kong and China are “one country” with “two systems.” Yet these days, pro-democracy protesters say, the emphasis is patently on “one country.”

Just shy of one month into the protests paralyzing key traffic arteries in Hong Kong, democracy supporters here are outraged over what they say is the local government’s failure to meet even low expectations for interceding on their behalf to Beijing.

“Under normal circumstances, the government should argue the people’s case in Beijing and help Hong Kong to secure universal suffrage,” says Emily Lau, chair of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party.

“But it has done the reverse,” she says, “by urging Hong Kong people to accept the unacceptable.”

Indeed, supporters of the protests point to concrete steps Hong Kong’s top leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, could take — but hasn’t — to get Beijing to end the deadlock. That Leung hasn’t approached Beijing for reforms, but has instead encouraged protesters to back down, illustrates to demonstrators one of the chief reasons for their ongoing sit-ins: if Beijing gets to vet candidates for Hong Kong’s top leader, as it plans to do in 2017, this city is bound to get another local government unwilling to defend “two systems.”

“We are supposed to have autonomy,” said 30-year-old civil servant Cheong Kung on Thursday night, as he leaned back on his hands in the main protest area of Harcourt Road (recently dubbed Umbrella Square by protesters after the movement’s symbol). “Supposed to have it,” he added with wry emphasis. “Supposed.”

“This is why we are here,” said his friend Yai Pon, 30, a travel writer. “If we don’t get universal suffrage, we will never really have autonomy.”

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, called the Basic Law, promises the territory “a high degree of autonomy” from China, to which it was returned in 1997 after 156 years of British rule. But protesters say the Hong Kong government has let Beijing chisel at that autonomy for years — most recently by not challenging the Aug. 31 decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Beijing, on electoral reforms in Hong Kong.

The NPC’s decision says Beijing will sieve candidates for Hong Kong’s top leader through a 1,200-member committee widely seen as stacked with Beijing loyalists. To get on the ballot, candidates must win at least half the committee’s votes. Protesters see this process as a violation of the Basic Law’s promise that Hong Kong people can elect the chief executive by “universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.” They say it is undemocratic to put someone in Hong Kong’s top seat who, by virtue of the manner in which they were elected, has already let the whittling of local autonomy to continue.

“The concept of autonomy assumes that is in in the interest of the autonomous government is to defend its autonomy,” says Michael Davis, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong.

“But there is a feeling that what we have in Hong Kong is a government that represents Beijing’s interests and is delinquent in representing Hong Kong’s interests to Beijing,” says Davis. “I think that’s at the heart of all this.”

Since Sept. 28, protesters, who on at least one night numbered 10,000, have stood, sat and slept in the streets to lobby Beijing to revisit the Aug. 31 decision. In recent days, Umbrella Square has acquired a sense of semi-permanence, turning into a village of tents arranged in tidy rows under the perennial neon twinkle of the city’s skyscrapers.

Not everyone in Hong Kong agrees with the protests. Many residents are anguished over the disruption the protests are presenting to local commerce, especially retailers in the protest areas, and to taxi and truck drivers affected by the traffic diversions and gridlocks the sit-ins have wrought. A sizable portion of the population — mostly working class and elderly — is also pro-Beijing and view the democracy movement as a threat to their livelihoods.

Yet the most recent public-opinion poll from the Chinese University of Hong Kong shows that support for the protests for the first time exceeds opposition to them. The results of the poll, conducted between Oct. 8 and 15, indicate that 37.8% of respondents support what’s been dubbed the Umbrella Movement, while 35.5% oppose it.

In September, before the protests kicked off, 46.3% of public opposed activists’ plans to occupy the streets, and 31.3% said they favored such plans.

Protesters say that demonstrable support here for electoral reform obligates the Hong Kong government to communicate such support to Beijing and ask that the demands be addressed. They point in particular to a line in the Basic Law that says the election method “shall be specified in the light of the actual situation” in Hong Kong.

“The actual situation right now is very different than it was on Aug. 31,” says Surya Deva, a professor of law at the City University of Hong Kong. “The chief executive should submit a report to the NPC on the new situation. He should convey that there should be a pathway for a democratic candidate to stand for election.”

“There is no legal issue here,” says Deva. “The chief executive is legally allowed to ask the NPC to reconsider, and the NPC is constitutionally allowed to change, or even void, its decision.”

In a televised meeting between students and government officials this week, students urged the officials to “have courage” and bring protesters’ demands to Beijing.

The Hong Kong government “has the constitutional duty to fight for a democratic reform proposal for Hong Kong,” said Yvonne Leung, a delegate for the Hong Kong Student Federation.

Yet Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s No. 2 official, said the government was prepared to send a new report just to the relatively lowly Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, not to the NPC. Students pressed Lam for an explanation of what could come of sending a report to the office, which was uninvolved in the Aug. 31 decision, but received no answer.

Neither the students nor the government has announced plans for a second round of talks. On Friday activists said they will poll protesters on the government’s offer to write to the council, while on Thursday the government said it would stage an exhibition on the Basic Law, so that “members of the public may also gain a better understanding” of it. The government has repeatedly insisted that the NPC decision is consistent with Hong Kong’s laws.

Hilary Lee, 20, a manager at a local school who was staffing a supplies station near the outskirts of the protests in Admiralty district on Thursday night, said she would be willing “to go step by step” toward a more democratic government, but did not see the government taking any steps.

“I’m waiting here until C.Y. Leung apologizes and until he does something that would make me feel like, O.K., change is coming,” she says, referring to Leung by his initials, as he is commonly known. “But the government is not doing anything.”

Mark Cheung, 28, a videographer who has lived in Umbrella Square for almost a month, said he is not optimistic that the government’s do-nothing zeitgeist will change: “The Hong Kong government has not fought for the right of Hong Kong people to have fair elections. And I’m pretty sure they’re not going to do anything different now.”

“They could,” he says, “but they won’t.”

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