TIME

Morning Must Reads: November 26

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Ferguson Protests Across the U.S.

Anger over a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown to death, continued to reverberate around the country on Tuesday, with protests and demonstrations from coast to coast

Thanksgiving Travel Tips

There are going to be some 41 million people in motion before and after Thanksgiving. Here’s how to navigate the chaos

 

Bill Cosby’s Nephew Speaks Out

Braxton Cosby, head of Cosby Media Productions, said his 77-year-old uncle “is innocent” in light of the “unjustified claims” of sex assault by multiple women

 

The One Battle Michael Brown’s Family Will Win

Body-worn cameras are poised to become standard for police around the U.S. after the tragedy in Ferguson, Mo. Circumstances surrounding the death of teenager Michael Brown, shot by police officer Darren Wilson, remain muddled due to the lack of visual evidence

S.F. Passes First-Ever Retail Worker ‘Bill of Rights’

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved new protections for the city’s retail workers aimed at giving staffers more predictable schedules and access to extra hours ahead of their hectic Thanksgiving and Black Friday shifts

 

Thanksgiving Travel Chaos Amid Winter Storms

More than 200 commercial flights had been canceled by late Tuesday night ahead of the busiest travel day of the year for Americans, as weather forecasters predict that snowstorms and rain are likely to pound the northeast throughout Wednesday and Thursday

 

ISIS Got Up to $45 Million in Ransoms, U.N. Says

A U.N. expert told a meeting of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee that an estimated $120 million in ransoms were paid to terrorist groups between 2004 and 2012. She called kidnapping “the core al-Qaeda tactic for generating revenue”

 

Ebola Isolation Is ‘Vacation’ for U.S. Service Members

Ebola quarantine for health care workers has been likened to prison, but isolation for military personnel appears much more relaxed. American service members returning from missions in West Africa are required to undergo 21-day quarantines

 

HBO Lands Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain Documentary

Two years after airing Brett Morgen’s Rolling Stones documentary, Crossfire Hurricane, HBO has signed up to air his long-simmering documentary on Kurt Cobain. The film will debut on HBO, and Universal will release the film internationally in 2015

 

Hong Kong Police Clear Protest Site

Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong, who featured last month on the cover of TIME’s international edition, was arrested Wednesday along with several more pro-democracy activists, after police continued their crackdown on the Mong Kok protest site

 

The First 3-D Printer in Space Prints Its First Object

The object, a replacement faceplate for the printer’s casing that holds its internal wiring in place, is one of about 20 objects that will be printed aboard International Space Station over the coming weeks and then sent down to Earth for analysis

Johnny Depp Doesn’t Care Anymore

Johnny Depp doesn’t care anymore — not about what you think, nor what his critics think, nor even about what he himself thinks. But contrary to what it sounds like, the Hollywood superstar says letting go of expectations allows him to be more free and versatile

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Police Arrest Top Student Leaders and Clear Protest Site

The Mong Kok protest area had been occupied by pro-democracy activists for nearly 60 days

Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong, who featured last month on the cover of TIME’s international edition, was arrested Wednesday along with several more pro-democracy activists, after police continued their crackdown on one of the city’s three protest areas.

An activist arrested with the 18-year-old said on his Facebook page that they had been brought to a police station in northwest Kowloon. They are expected to be charged with contempt of court for allegedly obstructing the removal of barricades at the Mong Kok protest site.

By noon local time, little remained of the site, which was first occupied nearly 60 days ago by mostly young protesters demanding free and open elections for the city’s highest political office. Some protesters had started abandoning the site in the early morning. Tents, books, mats and the other detritus of an eight-week sit-in were left strewn across the road.

At its peak, the protest area — located in the heart of one of the most densely populated places on earth — was a tented community of hundreds if not thousands of students and activists, complete with supply stations, first-aid posts, a study area, library and religious shrines. Musical performances took place in the evening and academics gave lectures.

However, as police dismantled barricades and drove protesters down an eerily shuttered Nathan Road on Wednesday morning — with cleaners following behind to carry away tents and debris — traffic partially resumed along this key section of Kowloon’s major thoroughfare for the first time in two months. Municipal trucks hosed down the road and opponents of the occupation, who had massed on the sidewalks, cheered loudly.

Protesters watched in grim silence or else were seen hurriedly running down the street with bags of possessions, attempting to escape advancing police. Little resistance was offered. One man quickly genuflected in front of a cross that had been the centerpiece of a makeshift chapel set up for the protesters, then he grabbed the cross and ran.

“How can we fight back?” asked one 20-year-old demonstrator, surnamed Tsang. “We don’t have the power to fight back.”

Bailiffs began clearing the area yesterday as part of civil injunction brought by transport companies angered at the protesters’ closure of a key intersection.

Police initially gathered to ensure that bailiffs could enforce the court order, but later stepped up their action to end a protest that had sprawled across several city blocks, angering local residents and business operators for weeks. In overnight clashes, police used pepper-spray cannons on demonstrators, chasing them down side streets and arresting at least 80.

After Wednesday’s clearance, the Hong Kong Federation of Students, whose deputy leader Lester Shum was arrested along with Wong, issued a statement describing the police as the “tool of suppression of an autocratic administration” and accusing the government of daring to “use tyranny and bury justice.” It warned that if the current crackdown continued, “we will have no choice but to take our action to the next step,” but did not elaborate on what that escalation might consist of.

Police previously attempted to clear the Mong Kok site on Oct. 17 only for huge crowds to reclaim it after nightfall. This time, it is by no means certain that demonstrators will be able to do the same, even though some are already vowing to do so on social media. The police will be prepared for a counterattack, the clearance has been much more thorough, and the demonstrators are operating in a different political climate, with local polls showing that the majority of Hong Kongers want the occupations to end. The movement is also becoming increasingly divided over aims and tactics.

In the meantime, attention is turning to the city’s largest protest site, located in the downtown Admiralty district. There, thousands of demonstrators have pitched their tents in uneasy proximity to the Hong Kong Police Headquarters and the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army. Barricades remain in place, but the site’s perimeters are not secure and provocateurs and police crisscross the area at will. The young inhabitants spend their days strumming guitars, reading political treatises, making protest art and looking otherwise unable to mount a convincing resistance of the clearance that is looking increasingly imminent.

— With reporting by Elizabeth Barber and Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME Hong Kong

Fresh Clashes in Hong Kong Between Police and Pro-Democracy Protesters

A pro-democracy protester chants at an occupied area before the barricade is removed in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on Nov. 25, 2014.
A pro-democracy protester chants at an occupied area before the barricade is removed in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on Nov. 25, 2014 Kin Cheung—AP

Dozens were arrested including a prominent lawmaker

Hong Kong police charged, and used pepper-spray cannons, on peaceful pro-democracy protesters Tuesday night local time in a bid to clear streets in the Mong Kok district, location of one of city’s three protest areas.

Dozens of people, including firebrand lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, were arrested in clashes that took place in the vicinity of the luxurious Langham Place Hotel, popular with international visitors.

Colorful umbrellas, symbol of what has been termed the Umbrella Revolution, were hurriedly unfurled as mostly young protesters sought to protect themselves from pepper spray.

The atmosphere at the Mong Kok site, in the heart of the teeming Kowloon peninsula, had been tense for several hours after bailiffs dismantled barricades at a key intersection earlier in the day. The bailiffs were enforcing a civil injunction brought by transport companies objecting to the two-month occupation of the area by protesters, who are demanding free elections for this city of 7.2 million.

Scuffles broke out and arrests were made after police accused protesters of obstructing the court order and instructed the crowd — among them high school students still in school uniform — to disperse.

Police in riot gear then spent hours attempting to contain running groups of protesters, who attempted to erect fresh barricades in the densely populated narrow streets leading off Nathan Road, Kowloon’s main north-south thoroughfare. Pepper-spray cannon, mounted on mobile towers, were deployed and used liberally on the crowd.

After a tense standoff on Shantung Street, officers then charged, scattering demonstrators and arresting some who were unable to escape.

Just one block away, hundreds of tents where protesters have been sleeping for weeks remained untouched. A clearance action is expected Wednesday and is almost certain to lead to further clashes. For now, however, the mood on the streets is defiant.

“Police can’t take this all back,” 31-year-old protester Ryan Cheung told TIME. “They don’t have the right and they know they don’t have the right. They say it’s the law but that’s just an excuse.” Cheung said he would remain on the streets “as long as it goes on.”

Besides the Mong Kok site, protesters also occupy a significant portion of the downtown Admiralty district — the city’s largest protest area — with their tents pitched beneath the looming headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army and Central Government Offices. A small site in the Causeway Bay shopping district, popular with tourists, is also occupied.

With reporting by Elizabeth Barber / Hong Kong

TIME Asia

More Barricades Come Down at Hong Kong Democracy Protests

City bailiffs encounter no major opposition

Hong Kong bailiffs dismantled barricades at a major intersection in the Mong Kok protest area on Tuesday.

The site, on the teeming Kowloon peninsula, is one of three urban locations that have been occupied for almost two months by protesters demanding free elections for this city of 7.2 million.

Workers in white hard hats started taking down barricades at the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street on Tuesday morning. Many activists did not resist but simply retreated with their tents and belongings to the main part of the site, which stretches for several blocks down Nathan Road and remains untouched. However, scuffles also broke out, pepper spray was used and about a dozen protesters were arrested for obstructing the bailiffs in their work, including Liberal Hong Kong politician Leung “Long hair” Kwok-Hung.

One-way traffic has now resumed on Argyle Street, but protesters and onlookers have spilled into adjoining roads. Police presence remains high in the area, with officers warning people to leave. Further clearance operations are expected in the coming days.

This morning’s action was taken in order to enforce a civil injunction granted to a bus company and two taxi companies, who successfully argued in court that the barricades at the intersection were obstructing their business.

Similar legal means were used last week to force the removal of some barricades at the fringes of the main protest site in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong Island.

Critics of the authorities say the reliance on private litigation to restore order is a sign of the government’s weakness.

“I think this is a political problem that the government is not solving with politics,” said a 50-year-old retiree, who only identified himself by his surname Lim.

Unique among Hong Kong’s three protest sites, Mong Kok is not just a commercial area but a high-density residential neighborhood as well.

Currently dozens, perhaps hundreds, of colorful tents still festoon both sides of Nathan Road, completely blocking the main thoroughfare through the district. Protesters have set up a study area, makeshift library, supply tents, first-aid posts and even an elaborate altar to the martial deity Guan Yu.

Many of the area’s mostly blue-collar residents have complained bitterly about the disruption the protest is causing to their daily lives, generating heated arguments and scuffles with the protesters on a daily basis. The area is thus seen as the “front line” of the Hong Kong protests and attracts a more radical brand of demonstrator than the other protest zones, as well as their more vociferous opponents.

For these reasons, any attempt to clear the Mong Kok site completely could easily spill over into clashes.

On Oct. 17, police cleared the site in the morning, only for thousands of supporters to reclaim it after nightfall. That night, and ones before that, were marred with scattered violence.

“If they remove this roadblock, we will come back soon,” said a nurse who identified himself as Siu at the protest site in Mong Kok.

While recent polls have shown that a majority of the city’s residents now think that the occupations should end, it appears that large numbers of protesters have no intention of withdrawing.

With reporting by Helen Regan and David Stout / Hong Kong

TIME Hong Kong

British Banker Rurik Jutting Is Fit to Stand Trial for Hong Kong Murders

Rurik George Caton Jutting
In this photo taken through tinted glass, Rurik George Caton Jutting, a 29-year-old British banker, sits in a prison bus arriving at a court in Hong Kong on Nov. 10, 2014 Vincent Yu—AP

However, the high-profile case will now be adjourned until July 2015 to allow for extensive DNA testing of evidence

A young British banker accused of murdering two young Indonesian women in his Hong Kong apartment, leaving the body of one of them to rot in a suitcase for days, is psychologically fit to stand trial.

A judge said in a Hong Kong court on Monday that a report, based on two weeks of psychiatric testing, had cleared the way for judicial proceedings against Rurik George Caton Jutting, 29.

Judge Bina Chainrai also accepted the prosecution’s request to adjourn the case until July 6 to allow 28 weeks for the DNA testing of some 200 pieces of evidence. The defense had no objection to the adjournment.

Jutting, dressed in the same “New York” T-shirt he has worn on his previous court appearances, stood with his hands folded, index finger twitching, as he watched the proceedings. Jutting has not entered a plea in the case and will not do so until at least his next court appearance in almost eight months’ time. He is being held without bail in a Hong Kong jail.

Prosecutors contend that Jutting, a Cambridge graduate and former Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee, murdered Seneng Mujiasih, 28, also known as Jesse Lorena, and Sumarti Ningsih, 23, on different days in his apartment in Hong Kong Island’s gaudy Wan Chai district. Both women had left Indonesia for Hong Kong to earn more than they could back home, in hopes of supporting their families and bettering themselves upon their return.

The case has fascinated an affluent city that is both unused to violent crime and to seeing the lives of its thousands of poor temporary foreign workers, like Sumarti and Seneng, thrown into such stark relief.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protest Sites Slammed By ‘Largest Cyberattack Ever’

Pro-democracy activists join arms as they face off with police outside the Legislative Council building on Nov. 19, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy activists join arms as they face off with police outside the Legislative Council building on Nov. 19, 2014, in Hong Kong. Chris McGrath—Getty Images

The company that protects the independent media outlets said the attacks are unprecedented in scale

Media websites connected to the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement have been slammed in recent months with what has been described as one of the largest cyberattacks the Internet has ever seen.

The attacks have been leveled against websites for Apple Daily and PopVote, which held a mock-vote for Hong Kong chief executive. One of the protestors’ key demands is a free and open election for chief executive of the onetime British enclave.

The content delivery network Cloudfare, which services the sites, says the Denial of Service—or DDoS—attacks are the largest in the history of the Internet, by far. An attack in Europe brought 400 Gbps in attack traffic against an unidentified victim—the Hong Kong attacks are 500 Gbps in scale, Forbes reports. “[It’s] larger than any attack we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen some of the biggest attacks the Internet has seen,” Cloudshare CEO Matthew Prince said.

“It’s safe to say the attackers are not sympathetic with the Hong Kong democracy movement,” Prince told Forbes, “but I don’t think we can necessarily say it’s the Chinese government. It could very well be an individual, or someone trying to make the Chinese government look bad.”

[Forbes]

TIME Hong Kong

Survey Shows Half of Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters Ready to Retreat

Masked pro-democracy protesters pack their belongings, before they are removed by bailiffs under a court injunction, at Mong Kok shopping district in Hong Kong
Masked pro-democracy protesters who have occupied a street at Mong Kok shopping district in Hong Kong pack their belongings on Nov. 19, 2014, before they are removed by bailiffs under a court injunction Bobby Yip—Reuters

A group of volunteers polled more than 2,000 people occupying the streets

Half of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters would clear the streets if asked by the student leaders, according to an informal survey of more than 2,000 participants over the weekend.

The poll was conducted by 20 protesters and volunteers and showed a near-even split between the 2,183 protesters surveyed, the South China Morning Post reports. While 958 responders said they would retreat if directed by the protest leaders, 963 said they would ignore such a request and continue occupying the streets; 262 were undecided.

The movement is ongoing 53 days after tens of thousands of Hong Kongers first flooded the streets demanding the right to freely elect their own chief executive, the city’s political leader. They consider the Chinese government’s announcement that any candidates for the 2017 election would have to be first screened by a committee curated by Beijing as a betrayal of earlier promises.

However, calls for the remaining protesters to end their sit-in are growing. Authorities have begun enforcing multiple injunctions aimed at reclaiming roads blocked by a sea of tents. Earlier this week, another survey of 513 citizens by the University of Hong Kong revealed that 83% wanted the protests to end.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters Clash With Police

At least six protesters were arrested Wednesday

Tension between Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters and police boiled over Wednesday, resulting in one of the most violent confrontations in weeks. Demonstrators had aimed to break into a government building but were repelled by officers in protective gear, in a dustup that occurred hours after some of the barricaded roads were ordered to be cleared. The dismantling comes after student leaders were refused entry to Beijing in a bid to meet with senior Chinese leaders about their demands.

Read more: Hong Kong Stands Up

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters Greet Court Officials With Indifference

Farcical scenes as bailiffs take down some barricades then retreat leaving other barriers untouched

Hong Kong officials began enforcing the first of several court injunctions and started removing barricades in part of the downtown Admiralty district on Tuesday morning, in the first attempt to clear the streets through judicial means since the Umbrella Revolution began almost two months ago.

But if the action was meant as a show of strength by the unpopular administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying against protesters who are demanding free elections, it was a failure and at times degenerated into farce.

The injunction had been obtained by the owners of an office building, CITIC Tower, against demonstrators who had erected barricades partially blocking vehicular access to the property, which looms over Tim Mei Avenue on the fringe of Hong Kong’s largest protest area.

However, bailiffs were only able to hastily remove a few barricades because the locations of those targeted for removal were only vaguely marked on maps relating to the injunction, allowing protesters to dispute the precise terms of the court order.

Nervous looking representatives of CITIC Tower were drowned out by a cocksure protester with a loudhailer as they attempted to negotiate. Nimble young students in hoodies and face masks were also able to seize metal barriers before white-gloved, middle-aged bailiffs could reach them. The students then carried the barriers off to reinforce barricades erected elsewhere.

Pro-democracy legislator Albert Ho, who has been giving legal advice to the protesters, said the fact that a private entity such as CITIC Tower had to resort to a civil action to clear the barricades showed the government’s weakness.

“The only explanation is that the administration has lost its confidence — because of a lack of authority and a lack of legitimacy — to enforce the law,” he said.

Earlier in the day, uniformed and plainclothes police remained on standby as bailiffs read out a court order to smirking students before dismantling the makeshift barricades. But none of the expected clashes materialized. Instead, most demonstrators lazed in the bright fall sunshine, while 18-year-old student leader Joshua Wong nonchalantly skateboarded up and down the road.

Around the corner on Harcourt Road, the main protest area, dubbed Umbrella Square, lay unmolested. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of tents, formed a sea of color. At the western extremity of the site a large yellow banner read “Welcome to the Hong Kong Commune.”

Thousands of protesters have occupied crucial roads in the Admiralty district — a city-center area of gleaming corporate towers and the central government offices — and two other major commercial areas since a campaign of civil disobedience first commenced on Sept. 28.

They are seeking full democracy for Hong Kong, with the right to freely nominate and vote for candidates for the city’s top job. At present, the territory’s sovereign power, China, will only permit direct elections if it vets the candidates.

However, seven weeks in, the movement appears to be losing part of the goodwill it once enjoyed among the city’s residents. Ongoing traffic delays are forcing some parents to leave home before dawn to get their children to school on time, while retailers in the protest zones have seen their takings plummet.

A new survey published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong this week claimed that approximately 67% of the city’s residents are now in favor of the demonstrators leaving the streets.

But the feeble enforcement action on Tuesday shows that it will be difficult to dislodge the protesters, who continue to enjoy high levels of morale.

“Students and activists will respect the judgment of the courts,” Joshua Wong told TIME. “But it’s unnecessary to clear the whole of Tim Mei Avenue.”

For now, the protest site remains virtually unchanged. But many believe that today was merely a dress rehearsal for what is to come.

“This morning is more or less intended to be a show for the public,” said legislator Ho. He said he thought that the government also wanted to show the more radical protesters encamped across Victoria Harbor in the Mong Kok area of Kowloon, that it was serious about enforcing the law.

Others believe that it is only a matter of time before the government takes a tougher approach. “We think they are waiting for the right time to do something,” said protester Alex, 22. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

With reporting by Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME China

China Stock-Market Link Shows Promise and Frustration of Beijing’s Reforms

A banner introducing the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect is displayed in front of a panel showing the closing blue-chip Hang Seng Index at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in Hong Kong
A banner introducing the Shanghai–Hong Kong Stock Connect is displayed in front of a panel showing the closing blue-chip Hang Seng Index at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in Hong Kong on Nov. 10, 2014 Bobby Yip—Reuters

The new connection between the exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong is another small step toward prying open China’s financial system to the world

When Great Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, it did so under the formula of “one country, two systems.” Though officially controlled by Beijing, Hong Kong maintained a separate governing, legal and financial system from the mainland. Starting Monday, however, the relationship is changing to something more like “one country, two a-bit-more-connected systems.”

That’s because of Shanghai–Hong Kong Stock Connect, a pilot program that is linking the stock exchanges of the two metropolises together. For the first time, investors in Hong Kong and China will be able to directly trade shares on each other’s stock markets.

This may sound like an arcane event in the heady world of global finance, of interest only to a few local traders. But it’s not. Even though China is the world’s second largest economy, its financial system and capital markets remain fairly closed off. Controls limit flows of money in and out of the country, while foreign investors can buy Chinese shares only on a highly restricted basis. The Connect program is a step in a much bigger process with much bigger implications for the global economy — opening China up to international finance and upgrading its financial markets. The Stock Connect scheme “should increase the scale and relevance of these markets and also improve market efficiency and the robustness of China’s financial system in general,” HSBC equity strategists noted in a recent report. “We also believe the co-operation between Hong Kong and Shanghai shows the way forward for other markets in China — i.e. a coordinated and controlled approach to opening markets.”

If Beijing continues to reform its financial system — as its top leaders have pledged — the consequences could be huge. Already a titan in manufacturing, a China with a more open, professional and market-oriented financial sector could also become a major player in international banking and other services. Just as newly wealthy Chinese shoppers are reshaping global consumer markets, Chinese investors, once able to more freely take their money out of the country, would become much more important on the world stage too. HSBC, in its report, pointed out that if the Hong Kong exchange was integrated with China’s bourses (in Shanghai and Shenzhen), it would be the second largest stock market in the world, based on the combined value of their listed companies.

That is, of course, in theory only. China never employs the big-bang strategy when it comes to reform, and the Connect program is no different. At the start, the amount of money flowing through the scheme in either direction has been capped, to about $49 billion into China and $41 billion into Hong Kong. That may sound like a lot, but in fact, each figure is the equivalent of only 1% of the total capitalization of the markets in China and Hong Kong. Many investors may dither on the sidelines for the moment since there is some remaining uncertainty over how the scheme will actually operate.

Most analysts also doubt the scheme will be expanded quickly. “The Connect scheme has the potential over the medium term to become an important conduit for flows into and out of China,” commented Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at research firm Capital Economics. However, “most likely, the Connect scheme will be scaled up only slowly. And it has been devised so that flows will be monitored and could be curtailed if they threatened market or economic instability.”

So like much of China’s recent reform efforts, the promise of what could be and the reality of what actually is differ greatly. On a certain level, that makes sense. If China threw its unsophisticated and ill-prepared financial system to the trials of global money flows, disaster could result. At the same time, Beijing’s policymakers introduce change in such tiny steps it’s hard to tell when they might actually get somewhere.

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