Kenny G. Visits Hong Kong Protests


From our China Real Time blog today:

Observers wondering who exactly the ‘foreign influences’ are that Beijing has so darkly accused of helping spur protests in Hong Kong got one possible glimpse — in the shape of American saxophonist Kenny G.

Photos of the curly-maned musician in Hong Kong began surfacing on social media Wednesday afternoon, with Mr. G posing with protesters on the scene, a cardigan tossed around his shoulder, before images of tents pitched across town.

Mr. G’s verified Twitter account appeared to confirm his visit, with the musician posting a smiling selfie backdropped by protest posters, with the accompanying caption: “in Hong Kong at the sight [sic] of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation.”

(Mr. G also traveled elsewhere in China earlier last month, performing multiple shows in cities from Chongqing to Shanghai. During that time, he also posted an image of himself in a neon-strung room playing music beside a man who bears a striking resemblance to Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, with the commentary: “This is what happens when I go to China…My music is super popular there. Look at my Chinese big brother! He can sing.” Mr. Chan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.)

And:

Queried on the subject at Wednesday’s daily foreign ministry news briefing in Beijing, authorities were distinctly less amused to see the musician pop up in the Chinese territory, which has been rocked by protesters demanding greater democracy in the former British colony. For weeks, party and pro-Beijing media have reiterated their belief that such protesters have been driven by foreign forces bent on undermining Chinese rule.

From the NYT back in May:

There are many things about modern China that defy easy explanation: parents posing their children next to live tigers, the sight of grown women wearing furry cat-ear headbands while shopping, the performance-art-like spectacle of strangers napping together in Ikea display beds.

But no mystery is more confounding than that ofthe 1989 smash-hit instrumental by the American saxophone superstar Kenny G.

For years the tune, in all its seductive woodwind glory, has been a staple of Chinese society. Every day, “Going Home” is piped into shopping malls, schools, train stations and fitness centers as a signal to the public that it is time, indeed, to go home.

The song in question:

NYT’s Roger Cohen, Writing from Singapore, on ‘Asia’s American Angst’

The New York Times‘s Roger Cohen, writing from Singapore, says Asia needs the United States to counter China. And it’s not getting that now.

Further, a new, regionally assertive India under Modi is a long way off:

Outside China, there is a consistent theme in Asia. It is concern that declining American power, credibility and commitment will leave the way open for Beijing to exercise dominance over the region. President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” has been dismissed as hot air. American objectives announced without consequence betray a weak presidency; Asians have drawn their conclusions.

And:

Singapore’s success has depended on its ability to leapfrog geography, but it could only do that because the geography was not hostile. It could depend on the fact that the foreign territorial waters at its door remained open. Japan has been restrained from going nuclear by the assurance of America’s treaty commitment to its defense. From north to south Asia, such assumptions appear a little shakier.

And:

It is all of these things, plus an uneasy general feeling. The “pivot to Asia,” like the Syrian “red line,” like “Assad must go,” betrayed a common theme: words without meaning from an American president, commitments without follow-up, phrases without plans. In Asia as in Europe, these things get noted.

The American idea is still strong in Asia. Look no further than the brave pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. But ideas require commitment to back them.

Read the whole thing.

Cohen’s column also mentions this May piece by Razeen Sally in the Straits Times. It’s about “global cities”:

Today, there appear to be only five global cities. London and New York are at the top, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore, Asia’s two services hubs. Dubai, the Middle East hub, is the newest and smallest kid on the block. Shanghai has global-city aspirations, but it is held back by China’s economic restrictions – the vestiges of an ex-command economy – and its Leninist political system. Tokyo remains too Japan-centric, a far cry from a global city.

The global city has a relentless market logic. It is where Adam Smith, David Hume, Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek would feel most at home. It has to be the most open to trade, foreign capital and migrant workers. It must have among the most business-friendly regulatory environments.

Neymar 4-0 Japan

2014 10 15 neymar show

Just very briefly: Yes, we were at the game here in Singapore last night to see Neymar single handedly demolish Japan and overtake Bebeto to become the Selecao’s fifth leading scorer of all time — at the age of just 22:

Neymar scored all four goals as Brazil eased to a 4-0 friendly win over Japan in Singapore.
The 22-year-old has now taken his tally to 40 in 58 internationals.
He rounded Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and slotted in for the first, before adding a second from a pass by Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.
The Barcelona forward, who helped Brazil to victory against Argentina on Saturday, swept in to make it 3-0 and headed the fourth from Kaka’s cross.
Neymar also went close with a free-kick that hit the post, while Kaka’s header was pushed on to the bar by Kawashima.

The pitch was poor.

Japan were in disarray.

The rest of the Brazil side were less than scintilating.

But Neymar. His quickness, his control, his creativity, his pinpoint finishing.

Yes, he’s that good.

Here’s a video I shot of his third goal, though it’s not great footage:

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Neymar bags his third, a real poacher's goal, against Japan here in Singapore tonight. Brazil 4-0 Japan.

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And here’s a video of all his goals:

Spectacular.

Worth Reading: An In-Depth NYT Travel Story on Cuenca, Ecuador and the Country’s Southern Coast

Long-time Newley.com readers will recall that about a decade ago I spent a year living and working in the fascinating, staggeringly picturesque city Cuenca, Ecuador, which is situated some 8,000 feet high in the Andean foothills.

I loved my time there, met some great people who remain my close friends, and think of the country often.

Indeed, I still keep an eye on international news about Ecuador, and came across this recent New York Times travel story by Michelle Higgins, headlined “Three Sides of Ecuador“:

On our nine-day trip in July we focused on three of these offerings — beaches, mountains and colonial charm. The plan was to head north along the Pacific coast, then head east into the Andean highlands for high-altitude trails before spending time with family in the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, where my mother was born. (We ended up doing it all, but not in that order, given our detour.)

Many travel pieces about the country focus, understandably, on other places: destinations in the north (the capital, Quito), the east (the Amazon jungle), and/or the far west (the Galapagos).

But this story, I was delighted to find, is not just about Cuenca, but about other areas I know well, like Cajas National Park and towns along the country’s southern coast coast, such as Puerto Lopez.

The food, the people, the insane driving conditions, and even the whale watching: there’s lots of good stuff here. And there’s a slideshow of photos by Meridith Kohut.

7 Links

  1. The Kitchen Network: America’s underground Chinese restaurant workersThe New Yorker
  2. Finding the Dinosaur: A ‘Step Brothers’ AppreciationRolling Stone
  3. You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the JudgeThe New York Times
  4. 15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging — Anil Dash
  5. The Woman Who Walked 10,000 Miles (No Exaggeration) in Three YearsThe New York Times Magazine
  6. Which China expert are you? — China Daily Show
  7. Embedded above: Science Cat on Twitter.

(Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)

David De Gea’s Goalkeeping Masterclass Against Everton

As I Tweeted on Sunday, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea was absolutely incredible in his team’s 2-1 victory over Everton.

It was the kind of goalkeeping performance you only see once ever few years: The variety of saves, many late in the game, combined with the importance of securing all three points at home as Manchester United, a team in transition, struggle to succeed.

As the Vine below illustrates, there was the Spaniard’s fantastic penalty save — De Gea guessed correctly, diving to his right and parrying the shot well away from danger. And then there was the instinctive save late in the game, sprawling to his right again, followed by the last minute wonder-save, to his left, which is drawing most of the plaudits.

Here’s another look at that last one:

The final save, as I also Tweeted, was reminiscent of this classic stop by Fabien Barthez for the Red Devils years ago:

But there was another save that appeared to be routine that also stood out to me because of the agility it took for De Gea to get down quickly to his right and catch the ball just outside his right foot. Always difficult, and he did it perfectly:

As Eric Steele — the goalkeeping coach when Man U bought De Gea — noted on the BBC yesterday, De Gea not only has all the physical tools, but he’s also extremely even-keeled.

All in all, not bad for a 23-year-old — much less one who many pundits and fans said, after he’d made several errors after his debut, wouldn’t be good enough.

Just think where he’ll be in a a decade, when he’s in his prime.

U.S. Security Firm Identifies Android, iOS Spyware Targeting Hong Kong Protesters

That’s the subject of a story I wrote Friday:

A U.S. mobile security firm says it has uncovered smartphone spyware aimed at pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong that comes disguised as an app created by a community of socially minded programmers.

When activated, the Android app reveals the smartphone user’s geographical location, text messages, address book, emails and more, San Francisco-based Lacoon Mobile Security said this week.

Lacoon notes that a link to download the spyware began spreading via chats on the WhatsApp messaging app in recent weeks. Messages, which arrived from an unknown account, said “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK for the coordination of Occupy Central!”

Clicking on an accompanying link infects users’ phones.

Click through to read the rest.

FireChat App Takes Off Amid Hong Kong Protests

That’s the subject of a brief story I wrote yesterday:

A new mobile messaging app that enables users to communicate in the absence of cellular or Internet connections is seeing a surge in downloads among Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.

The free FireChat app, which launched in March, was downloaded 100,000 times in Hong Kong between Sunday morning and Monday morning, said Micha Benoliel, co-founder and chief executive of San Francisco-based Open Garden, which developed the app.

It is unclear how many protesters are using it to communicate regularly during the protests, which mark Hong Kong’s most serious confrontation with Beijing in more than a decade. Students and other protesters have flooded the city’s streets in the weeks since Beijing’s decision on Aug. 31 to impose limits on how Hong Kong elects its leader. The protests escalated Sunday, with police using pepper spray and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

Click through for more.

2 Stories from Last Week: BlackBerry Passport Exclusive and Evernote CEO Interview

Just briefly, two stories I wanted to point out from last week.

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you might have missed ‘em.

First, in a Wall Street Journal exclusive, I broke the news Monday that BlackBerry’s new square-shaped smartphone, the Passport, will cost $599:

BlackBerry Ltd. plans to sell its new square-screen smartphone at a lower price than rival products, as the company attempts to regain some of the ground it has lost in the global market.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said in an interview Monday that its Passport smartphone, which will go on sale starting Wednesday, will cost $599 in the U.S. without subsidies. The phone will be priced differently in some other countries based on taxes and tariffs, he noted.

Mr. Chen said that compared with similar smartphones produced by competitors, the Passport should cost in the $700 range. “But I figure that to try to get the market interested, we’re going to start a little lower than that.”

Second, on Wednesday, a colleague and I interviewed Evernote Chief Executive Phil Libin, who talked about a possible IPO and Evernote as an acquisition target:

Note-taking app Evernote Corp. has been approached in the past about a potential acquisition but prefers not to sell itself, and is considering an initial public offering in the next few years, its chief executive said.

“We’ve been approached by lots of companies as an acquisition target and I would never rule anything out, ” Phil Libin told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday.

He declined to specify the companies but called them “the usual suspects.” “The last thing we’re looking at is to have an exit,” he said. In February, Mr. Libin said a post on the anonymous messaging service Secret alleging that Evernote was about to be purchased was baseless.

Redwood City, Calif.-based Evernote has received several rounds of funding worth more than $250 million from the likes of venture-capital firms Sequoia Capital and Morgenthaler Ventures. Launched in 2008, the company allows users to store and sync text and other content across devices. It recently passed the 100 million-user mark, Mr. Libin said.