Making the click-through worthwhile: Protestors in Hong Kong expand their list of demands, Joe Biden’s support seems to be dropping as Elizabeth Warren gets a little lift in the polls, and Harvard rescinds its acceptance of Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv over old texts and comments.
Hong Kong Protests Continue
In Hong Kong, pro-democracy protestors are continuing their efforts to block a bill that would allow extradition to China, but their list of demands is expanding. On Sunday, protestors swarmed the streets even after the government agreed to suspend the bill in question and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam offered an apology over the measure.
From the New York Times:
The sheer size of the demonstration — organizers gave an unverified estimate of close to two million of the territory’s seven million people — made clear the public remained unsatisfied.
Many of the protesters said they were disappointed with Mrs. Lam’s statement, saying it seemed insincere. . . .
The marchers filled broad avenues and ran the length of downtown Hong Kong, parents with their children, groups of students and numerous retirees. Reflecting their changing mood, most dressed in black, a stark change from the white most wore the previous week.
They chanted and carried signs listing their demands: the complete withdrawal of the bill, not just an indefinite suspension; an impartial investigation into the police use of force during Wednesday’s clashes with protesters; and the rescinding of the official description of that protest as an illegal riot, which could expose anyone arrested during the violent demonstration to long jail terms.
Many of the demonstrators are beginning to call for Lam’s resignation, as well as for the departure of her ministers for justice and security, but the leader shows no signs of preparing to step down. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that President Trump will discuss the protests with Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit at the end of the month in Japan.
Some observers suggest that Lam’s decision to suspend the proposed bill should be viewed as a huge concession to demonstrators’ demands, comparing these protests to previous demonstrations in Hong Kong over anti-democratic Chinese policies. From Timothy McLaughlin at The Atlantic this morning:
Though it was not completely withdrawn, the proposal’s temporary shelving was a concession that had been unthinkable, even to the most committed demonstrators, just a few days earlier. It marked a deeply embarrassing retreat for Lam, who, in a humiliating press conference, repeatedly dodged questions about her ability to lead, the possibility of stepping down, and why she hadn’t moved to suspend the bill earlier—before the accusations of police brutality.
Hong Kong’s recent protests have drawn comparisons to the 2014 Umbrella Movement demonstrations, which saw young protesters occupy thoroughfares for 79 days to call for universal suffrage for Hong Kong. There are, however, significant differences, perhaps the most obvious of them being the lack of a clear leader. Five years ago, Joshua Wong, just a teenager at the time, rose to be the central figure of the movement. Time magazine put him on its cover, and the Financial Times called him “the teen doing battle with Beijing.” Wong was released Monday morning after serving nearly five weeks in jail on charges stemming from his involvement in the 2014 protests. Moments after being escorted from jail, he called for Lam to step down and the extradition bill to be withdrawn.
No single person has risen to Wong’s status this time around, but the Civil Human Rights Front—a coalition of 50 organizations, including pro-democracy political parties—has been instrumental in building and helping sustain the protest movement, and in the process has obtained remarkable results, even if incomplete by its own measure.
Biden Starts to Slump as Warren Slowly Rises
As the Democratic primary lurches toward its first round of debates — which will feature nearly the entire field with 20 candidates on stage, split between two debates — former vice president Joe Biden seems to be losing his luster, even as he continues to lead the pack in polls.
He has spent the last several weeks making relatively little news, aside from his sudden decision to backtrack from his decades of support for the Hyde amendment, a bipartisan rider added to federal spending bills to prohibit the direct public funding of abortion procedures. After calling himself “personally pro-life” during his decades in office, and backing Hyde out of a supposed desire to protect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans, Biden’s reversal on this issue was a clear concession to the demands of the increasingly radical pro-abortion Left.
Until his reversal on Hyde, Biden was the only candidate in the field with a policy position other than total support for government-funded abortion on demand. Since entering the race, the former Delaware senator hasn’t commented on his previous support for the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. His choice to back taxpayer funding for abortion came after several weeks of uncertainty, first telling an activist that he no longer supported the amendment, then claiming he had “misheard” the question and still supported Hyde, and then finally reversing himself yet again to say he no now longer supports it.
As Biden falters a bit on policy, his poll numbers appear to be lagging. At the start of the month, he led his next-closest competitor, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, by nearly 20 points. The latest poll of the field, from Fox News, shows Biden up by only 9 points.
And his slump comes as Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren seems to be on the rise, showing up third behind Biden and Sanders in four national surveys over the last week, as well as in several polls of voters in early primary states. Even so, the extent of Biden’s slide is hard to gauge, because his decline in support likely has been distributed somewhat evenly among his rivals.
Harvard Rescinds Kyle Kashuv’s Admission over Old Comments
This morning, Kyle Kashuv — a high-school graduate who survived the mass shooting last February in Parkland, Fla. — announced that Harvard University has withdrawn his offer of admission after his past racist comments came to light. Here’s the letter Harvard sent Kashuv announcing the decision:
7/ Harvard decided to rescind my admission with the following letter. pic.twitter.com/P3bLkF3hHn
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) June 17, 2019
The comments in question appeared in a Google document that Kashuv had with friends in high school and that he wrote when he was 16 years old. Since the remarks were publicized, Kashuv issued a lengthy apology and cooperated with Harvard’s requests for further information. According to Kashuv, some of his political opponents then began to repeatedly contact Harvard and urge the university to rescind his admission.
After being notified of Harvard’s decision, Kashuv requested an in-person meeting with administration officials to discuss the situation, but the university declined. Here’s some of what Kashuv said this morning about his offer being rescinded:
11/ Throughout its history, Harvard’s faculty has included slave owners, segregationists, bigots and antisemites. If Harvard is suggesting that growth isn't possible and that our past defines our future, then Harvard is an inherently racist institution.
But I don't believe that.
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) June 17, 2019
Harvard’s decision is incredibly disappointing. The rise of social media has made it possible for egregious comments such as Kashuv’s to linger forever, and we have yet to shape the norms we will apply for personal growth and recovering from mistakes. Harvard’s choice to deny Kashuv admission over his comments is more evidence that too much of our society isn’t willing acknowledge sincere repentance or allow for forgiveness. We’ve lost sight of the importance of grace.