AP Interview: Wong says China rise means trade trumps rights

Published: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 @ 1:19 AM
Updated: Wednesday, November 01, 2017 @ 1:19 AM

            Young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong listens to questions during an interview outside the legislative council in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. The 21-year-old Wong, who is currently appealing a prison sentence related to pro-democracy protests, warns that China's rise means human rights are in increasingly greater danger of being overshadowed globally by business interests. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong listens to questions during an interview outside the legislative council in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. The 21-year-old Wong, who is currently appealing a prison sentence related to pro-democracy protests, warns that China's rise means human rights are in increasingly greater danger of being overshadowed globally by business interests. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (AP) — Young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong warned Wednesday that China's rise means human rights are in increasingly greater danger of being overshadowed globally by business interests.

He was responding to questions about his expectations for an upcoming Asian tour by U.S. President Donald Trump, who will visit China and four other countries.

The 21-year-old Wong, Hong Kong's most famous activist, is out on bail while he appeals a prison sentence related to his involvement in massive 2014 pro-democracy protests.

"Business interests override human rights," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It unfortunately seems to be a common trend in the world" under a rising China.

During Trump's Asian trip, he said there's likely to be "a lot of uncertainty. No one can expect what will suddenly be published on his Twitter." But he urged Trump to not let human rights lose out to commercial considerations, hinting that U.S. business interests could also someday be directly affected by China's rising clout.

As an example, he referred to the recent case of British human rights activist Benedict Rogers, who was barred from entering Hong Kong on what many suspect to be Beijing's request, and said it might happen again.

"The day may come for U.S. politicians to be blocked from entering Hong Kong and when politicians or businessmen from the U.S. might not be possible to enter such an international financial center, how can they keep silent on the erosion of Hong Kong autonomy?" he said.

Beijing promised to let Hong Kong maintain wide autonomy and civil liberties after its 1997 handover from Britain under the "one country, two systems" blueprint, but pro-democracy activists and lawmakers fear that China's Communist rulers are reneging on their pledge.

Wong urged the U.S. and other Western countries to pay closer attention to "how the China model threatens Asia-Pacific stability."

The China model is a reference to economic development without corresponding democratic reforms, as well as the name of a controversial booklet praising China's one-party rule that the Hong Kong government planned to distribute in 2012 to schools as part of "moral and national education." Wong helped lead protests that forced the government to shelve those plans.

Wong was given bail last week, two months into a six-month prison sentence. He and a fellow activist, Nathan Law, were both sent to prison after the justice secretary won a legal challenge overturning more lenient sentences. The move sparked fears Hong Kong's independent judiciary is under threat. They are due in court Nov. 7 to appeal the sentences.

Wong, who is also awaiting sentencing in another case, is prepared to go back to jail. He turned 21 while behind bars and said it "might not be the last time I will celebrate my birthday inside prison."

Though he has become synonymous with Hong Kong's democracy movement, Wong said it was important not to forget others who are also paying a price but haven't attracted the same international spotlight. About two dozen other young activists are serving prison sentences longer than his, "just because they were asking for democracy, freedom and human rights by non-violent civil disobedience," he said.

During his time behind bars, Wong did compulsory marching exercises 30 minutes a day and ate with a spoon because forks, knives and chopsticks are banned.

Asked if the prison guards singled him out for harsher treatment, he said, "They treated me fairly with swear words and foul language."

Not allowed a phone, he couldn't update his popular social media accounts but said being unplugged allowed him the opportunity for "spiritual reflection." Prison news was limited to Hong Kong's pro-Beijing publications, but he read books such as "I Am Malala" by 20-year-old Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai. Letters from supporters in places like New York, London and Berlin helped buoy his spirits.

Out of prison, he is making the most of time, hanging out with his parents and girlfriend, playing video games and enjoying favorite local foods like Hong Kong-style milk tea.

Wong plans to keep fighting for full democracy in Hong Kong. In the short term, he said his political party, Demosisto , will announce a candidate as early as next week to run in an election next year to fill a seat in the city's semi-democratic legislature vacated when Law was disqualified because of a government legal challenge.

In the long run, he said there's plenty of work to do getting Hong Kongers to "adjust their mindset" to resist Beijing's tightening grip.

"I still believe Hong Kong people can overcome, even though we are inside the prison set by China."


Follow Kelvin Chan on Twitter at twitter.com/chanman and Yi-ling Liu at twitter.com/yilingliu95 .

Honda recalls 800,000 minivans

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 6:20 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Honda is recalling some 800,000 Odyssey minivans because of an issue with seat latches that can tip the seats forward if they’re not correctly latched, the car maker said Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

Honda said the seats in Odysseys from model years 2011 to 2017 may tip forward if not properly latched after the seats are adjusted from side-to-side or re-installing after a seat removal.

Honda offered instructions to Odyssey owners to make sure the affected second-row seats are securely latched.

"This issue will not occur if a seat is properly latched,” the company said in a statement. “Honda has received 46 reports of minor injuries related to this issue.”

‘Transparent’ actress Trace Lysette accuses Jeffrey Tambor of sexual harassment

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 3:42 PM

Jeffrey Tambor’s “Transparent” co-star has accused the actor of sexual harassment.

Trace Lysette, who plays transgender yoga instructor Shea on the Amazon show, claims that Tambor “got physical” with her on the set of the show.

“One day on set during Season 2, Jeffrey, Alexandra Billings and I were all outfitted in pajamas. I was in a flimsy top and matching short shorts. Upon seeing my in my costume, Jeffrey sexualized me with an over the top comment. Alexandra and I laughed it off because it was so absurd and we thought surely it had to be a bad joke. I shook it off. Then later, in between takes, I stood in a corner on the set as the crew reset for a wide shot. My back was against the wall in a corner as Jeffrey approached me. He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas and I pushed him off of me. Again, I laughed it off and rolled my eyes. I had a job to do and I had to do it with Jeffrey, the lead of our show. When they called action, I put that moment in the corner into its own corner of my mind,” Lysette tweeted.

» Ryan Seacrest didn’t know Jeffrey Tambor; thought he was a dead actor

“Compartmentalizing has always been part of my survival tool kit, long before I came to Hollywood. It’s s — tty to admit out loud — and I don’t say it to justify what I went through — but given the journey and circumstances of my life, I was used to being treated as a sexual object by men — this one just happened to be famous.”

She also urged show creator Jill Soloway and Amazon Studios to “remove the problem and let the show go on.”

More than a dozen women have accused porn star Ron Jeremy of sexual assault spanning more than 30 years.

“Transparent” writers have reportedly been prepping Season 5 without Tambor following the initial sexual harassment accusations, but no action has been taken yet.

Tambor denied being a “predator,” but apologized for his actions.

» 'Transparent' star calls for more opportunities for transgender actors

“For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility — of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood. Now I find myself accused of behavior that any civilized person would condemn unreservedly. I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact,” he said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.

“But I have never been a predator — ever. I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

Lysette’s accusations come shortly after Van Barnes, Tambor’s former assistant, accused him of “inappropriate behavior.”

Tambor also denied those claims.

Amazon Studios did not immediately return a request for comment.

Lena Dunham slammed for defending 'Girls' producer accused of rape

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 7:29 AM

Lena Dunham (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Lena Dunham (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Social media users are slamming actress and “Girls” creator Lena Dunham after she defended one of the show’s producers, Murray Miller, following allegations that he raped a teen actress, Page Six reports.

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“Life comes at you fast @lenadunham,” S.E. Cupp tweeted with a screenshot of one of Dunham's previous tweets, which reads, “Things women lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape,” side by side with her defense of Miller.

After actress Aurora Perrineau accused Miller of raping her when she was 17, Dunham and co-showrunner Jenni Konner responded in a joint statement, saying, “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”

>> Read more trending news

Dunham continued her thoughts on Twitter, later writing, “I believe in a lot of things but the first tenet of my politics is to hold up the people who have held me up, who have filled my world with love.”

However, that was also met with the ire and mocking from users:

In her statement, Perinea, now 23, claimed she woke up in Miller’s bed after consuming alcohol with him at a hotel, and he was “having sexual intercourse with me.” On Friday, she filed a police report in regard to the incident. Miller has since “categorically and vehemently” denied the allegation.

LaToya Cantrell elected first female mayor of New Orleans

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 12:43 PM

LaToya Cantrell was elected mayor of New Orleans on Saturday night.
Riccardo S. Savi/WireImage
LaToya Cantrell was elected mayor of New Orleans on Saturday night.(Riccardo S. Savi/WireImage)

LaToya Cantrell made history Saturday night as she was elected New Orleans’ first female mayor, the Times-Picayune reported.

>> Read more trending news

Cantrell defeated fellow Democrat and former Judge Desiree Charbonnet to become the 51st mayor in a city that will celebrate the 300th anniversary of its founding 2018.

Cantrell, a city councilwoman, got 60 percent of the votes over Charbonnet, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.  She won by a margin of 51,342 to 33,729 to take the city's top elected spot after a month-long runoff, WWL reported.

"Almost 300 years, my friends, and New Orleans, we're still making history," Cantrell told supporters at the New Orleans Jazz Market. 

Cantrell also told the crowd she had spoken to Charbonnet over the phone and congratulated her on making history. “Our history was two women making that runoff, and we both deserve to be proud of that,” Cantrell said.

"I truly do not regret one moment of anything about this campaign -- resigning from my position, working every day and talking to people, touching our community and knowing exactly what the needs are. I am so proud to have been in that race," Charbonnet said. "Listen, y'all. If she does well, we all do well."

Cantrell will take over in May, when Mayor Mitch Landrieu steps down after eight years in office, the Times-Picayune reported.