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Saturday, October 22, 2016

So many seemingly small moments reveal the heart of the protest unfolding in Hong Kong.

Thousands of citizens, most of them students, are flooding the streets to demand the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, and to insist on democratic elections for his successor.

And all this, gleaned from various news reports:

Demonstrators not only cleaning up their trash but sorting it, too, for recycling.

Art installations springing up.

Protesters greeting riot police by raising their hands in the air to telegraph their peaceful intentions.

Schoolchildren pinning bright yellow ribbons to shirts and wrapping them around their wrists to show solidarity with university students.

On sidewalks and in the streets, cardboard boxes brimming with medical supplies, food and water donated to the students. Students pointing plastic spray bottles at fellow protesters and misting them in the heat.

Clusters of colorful umbrellas bloom like poppies in a field of humans. First intended to guard against Hong Kong’s ubiquitous rain showers, they are now a symbol of resistance — of the “Umbrella Revolution” — after many tried to use them as protection against police tear gas fired into the crowd last Sunday.

Frequently, crowds sing the chorus of a 1980s ballad by the Hong Kong group Beyond, titled “Boundless Oceans Vast Skies”:

Forgive me for being unruly and untamed and loving freedom all my life…

Still free and independent,

Forever singing my own song out loud, going everywhere.

All of this is happening because Hong Kong’s young people want to live in a democracy.

As I write, we do not yet know how China will respond. It is uncertain how this is going to go.

My short time in Hong Kong, however, makes me certain of its students’ motives and their intentions. The protests have been peaceful because that is their nature — which is not to be mistaken for lack of resolve.

In late 2009, I was one of seven American journalists invited to Hong Kong Baptist University’s third annual Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop. It was more than a week’s worth of seminars, panels and one-on-one discussions with Chinese graduate students studying journalism for a year in Hong Kong.

For most of them, it was their first trip off the mainland. For the first time, they could set up Facebook accounts and use Gmail, both of which were blocked in China. They decided to use American names, too, such as May and Charlene, Ben and Jack.

Also for the first time, they could engage, openly and without reservation, in conversations about what it’s like to practice journalism without fear of prison. To feel free to challenge those in charge because you’re protected by something called the First Amendment.

They were as respectful as they were relentless, pressing and pushing us to explain practices that to them were unthinkable. Questioning our government? Requesting official documents — and getting them? Without fear of retribution? Of prison?

Privately, some of us U.S. journalists worried about what we were encouraging. Could all this how-to discussion about journalism in a democracy hurt them? How could it possibly help when they were required to return to China at the end of their academic year?

One of the sessions we had during my time at the workshop was a “woman’s panel.” The room was packed with young women armed with cameras and questions. They needed little coaxing to talk about gender issues in their country.

After about 45 minutes of “girls” this and “girls” that, I finally shared my observation: “Why are we talking about girls?” I asked. “I see only women in this room.”

Quick study, that bunch. Later that day, I was boarding a shuttle bus on campus when a group of female students started calling out my name. I turned and was greeted by 10 waving, smiling students, who started yelling all at once.

“Connie, we are women!” they shouted, their faces beaming. “We are women!”

When I hear about the students of Hong Kong taking to the streets, my mind fills with memories of the ones who went before them. Those students I met who were so strong, so willful. So full of joy.

I am still in touch with some of them. I marvel at how they are carving out lives that sometimes make me nervous for their safety. They call me “mother Connie” for good reason.

That single year in Hong Kong gave them a taste of freedom. Regardless of where they live now, there is no going back.

China may be in information lockdown, but the Mays, Charlenes, Bens and Jacks, they know what’s happening in Hong Kong.

I can feel their smiles.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including …And His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez

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  • charleo1

    An op-ed. in the Wall Street Journal reads, “The desire for freedom is natural, when a society becomes as affluent as Honk Kong. But, talk to the protesters and another theme emerges. Saving the qualities that make their city unique. They want democracy as a bulwark against the influx of mainland authoritarian values.” “With their understanding, that democracy is about both political choice, and moral values.” “The people of Hong Kong are today in the vanguard of the global fight for freedom.” So why has the press in the U.S. the World’s oldest democracy, given such short shrift to this enormously impactful story? Bloomberg covered what their editors assumed would be of the greatest concern for Americans. How the civil disorder might effect stock prices World Wide. The press, seemingly loathe to remind Americans, that the Authoritarian Communist regime in China, that many of our biggest corporations are now in bed with, is just as repressive, just as dismissive of human Rights. Has the same capacity for brutality, and is just as ugly as it ever was. Have been happily exploiting the labor of people who have no Right to strike, no say in the subsistence wages, the dangerous, or toxic working conditions. Indeed, no freedom of speech, no Right to assemble, no Right to criticize their government’s decisions, no reproductive Rights, and no vote to choose the individual, or individuals, that have the power to make all those decisions for them. While the Right Wing propagandists in this Country, call any effort to empower labor, support wages, and equal pay, protect reproductive Rights, or point out the corrosive impact of money on our democracy. Or the threat the widening gulf between the ultra rich in our Country, and everyone else is posing to our way of life, and our freedom. We’re often called Communist, for caring about such things as universal
    healthcare, clean air, and potable water, and the greatest environmental challenge man has ever faced on a global scale, climate change. Let’s be clear. The Communist in Beijing have no National Health Plan, the workers, no unions to represent them. And the Communist in China are now having to deal with. And some of the most environmentally poisoned areas on the planet. It’s as though they have taken a page out of the current GOP playbook.

    • Sand_Cat

      You hit the nail on the head! Well said!

    • joe schmo

      I think the answer is simple…. Your local ‘Liberal baised’ media will not make more out of this story because they want us to become like the China ruled by Mao Zedong. For a change, open your eyes…..

      • charleo1

        So name the largest trade union in China, if Liberals are so Communist like. If we’re just itching to make the U.S. just like Mao’s China. I’ll bet one can’t throw a rock without hitting a union hall, or a food stamp office over there! And I have noticed most media has a Right leaning tilt to it, when the story concerns corporate clients, and their advertising revenues. But let’s see if we can find more of that Liberal stench you’re always talking about in Liberal Communist China. If Communist China is so much like the Liberals in the U.S. Can you describe China’s National Healthcare policy? The way they provide that great cradle to grave Communist hammock? Or, when does Mao’s liberal Social Security program kick in? I’m guessing at around 40 years of age. If not, how does Social Security work in Communist China?

        • joe schmo

          Sir, you don’t understand Communism whatsoever. Trade Unions are part of the reason why we have NO jobs. You misunderstand me, Communist China has gotten more Nationalized/Capitalized and now they want to take that away from the people. The Government IS the trade union. The dictate policy over jobs and how much people get paid. We haven’t gotten quite that far yet but if things don’t change they most certainly will. Our healthcare program is just and example. Most like it will end up being quality only if you can pay out of pocket for it. Otherwise everyone will get the same old horrible care. It will be more like cradle-grave. Everyone in Communist countries get a specified amount to live on. It is pittance but nonetheless it’s something.

          “The main complaint in Communist Europe was the lack of democracy (Something we are seeing less and less of). They did not feel they
          had any real say in the way the country was run. Interestingly, one of
          their main complaints was how the system created inequality. They
          believed that Communist Party officials had too many privileges.”

          “The system in China scared me a great deal. People seemed totally
          brainwashed by government propaganda. A lot of what I found seemed the
          very antithesis of communism. The state had complete control over the
          trade unions* and had a policy of taking young women from the rural areas
          to work in factories run by the Chinese Army. No wonder they could (and
          can) produce goods far cheaper than those factories in the western
          world. A recent report suggested that young women living in rural China
          had the highest rate of suicide in the world.”

          ” No freedom to say and write what one believes; a warped world
          view from politicalization of the media; intellectuals must be dishonest
          or silent to survive; economic stagnation (the more modern the tech
          basis, the lower GDP and the more stagnation), corruption of the
          intelligentsia if its members want to prosper. ”

          “Not to trust in people near you; everybody could be informer of the
          “Securitate”, the political policy. It was dangerous to criticize the
          policy of the Communist Party or the fact that you couldn’t find food in
          stores, or the political leaders. In fact it was dangerous to criticize
          no matter what.” (MY MY THIS SOUNDS EERILY FAMILIAR)

          “The attempt of the totalitarian state to control not only your actions,
          but your thoughts as well. This prohibition on the free and unfettered
          exchange of ideas – that is, the unacceptability of free speech and
          freedom of the press, and the prohibition on engaging in writing (and
          reading) that was “politically incorrect,” is perhaps the most odious
          aspect of Communism to someone brought up in the West.”

          People were well cared for under this form of Socialism, yet were unhappy and afraid. My family escaped from and also lived under Communism. You don’t know what you are talking about.

          • charleo1

            There are no trade unions in China, because they are not allowed. They have no National Health Plan, and their answer to retirement is to require children, by
            law, to take care of their parents, when they become unable to work. There are factory owners, who pay relatively high fees to the Central Government. But, the government takes no interest in the conditions in the shop. Workers are allowed to quit, but it’s not a
            Right. They may be kept, and forced to work, if orders need to be filled. Locks may be installed on the outside of the factory doors, at the owner’s discretion. To, “prevent theft,” or workers running off. Does that sound like any place you want to work? How about supporting such abuses? Writing favorable trade policies, putting Americans in direct competition with $10.00 a day forced Chinese labor. Then blaming Americans, trying to keep their head above water, for being too greedy. Blame a democratic government that listens to it’s people. And absolve a Communist one, that doesn’t. For just being, quote, “good Capitalists,” in offering labor at the lowest price. Then saying to American labor, give up your Rights to bargain for better wages, and benefits, and entitlements. Then lower the taxes on our profits to zero, and we might consider bringing some of the jobs back. And, that’s just fine with some morals less, unpatriotic, jack asses. That hate Democrats, and the
            thought of people actually believing in empowering their own elected government, over the corporation. More than they might feel uncomfortable empowering Authoritarian regimes, and impoverishing millions of their fellow Americans. So if you want to know why I despise your politics, there’s a few of my top reasons. They are, in a word dumb. Based in near total ignorance. And will turn this Country into something no one, not even ideologues like yourself, would want. Your excuse would be, I didn’t know. I have no such excuse, because I know exactly what their agenda is.

          • joe schmo

            Sorry….I just read that there are most certainly trade unions and they are under the Governments control. Do you people ever look up anything before you respond?

            I will re-post it here:

            “The state had complete control over the trade unions* and had a policy of taking young women from the rural areas to work in factories run by the Chinese Army. No wonder they could (and can) produce goods far cheaper than those factories in the western world. A recent report suggested that young women living in rural China had the highest rate of suicide in the world.”

            America has gotten waaayyyyy to spoiled and as I stated before Unions started out as a good thing and now are not really worth much. They need to be revamped. Yes, at first there was some good. They eliminated child labor and set a standard for the workers. Communist Europe also did the same. Working over your 8-5 time frame was not allowed.

            Liberals are more like the European Communists than the Chinese. I never said we were like the Chinese. I do know European Communism quite well since my family lived under it. Yes, and Marx’s ideology wasn’t enacted the way he wanted. He wanted a utopian people state and the way it turned out is that the Government ruled over the people with an iron fist. Most likely because not everyone would go along with the agenda willingly. We Conservatives see that, and until this whole situation changes or hits home, you won’t see it for what it is.

            I truly understand Chinese obstinance with regard to Communism, specifically since they had more of a Capitalistic lifestyle.

          • charleo1

            China has no independent union, who’s reps are not
            chosen by the gov. You do understand just because
            they call it a union, doesn’t mean it is one? At least as is understood to be a union here. It would be the equivalent to the head of the UAW, working for the car companies. They can call it anything they want.
            So, I looked this up a long time ago. Would you think we had a democracy if Barack Obama got to
            pick the next two candidates we all got to vote on
            to replace him? Would you need to look it up, if I said, we have a democracy, because Obama said so, and we all get to vote? So if, as you claim, American labour is spoiled, and Chinese labour is
            committing suicide, because they have no say in
            their wages, and working conditions. Under a Communist Government, with a Capitalistic lifestyle.
            You must assume then, labour would be better off,
            better represented, if the union, and the labour they propose to represent, was controlled by the same
            corporation they worked for? And that’s freedom?
            And corporations would never go back to their 19th
            century abuses? And you trust that? Why? And again, I’m a Communist, because I don’t trust them
            to have all the power? And because I assume they
            certainly would go directly back to their former abuses, if allowed. Because, I assume they would do whatever is allowed to increase profit. And you
            miss this very important element because?

  • joe schmo

    Most of these students doing the protesting know what it is like to grow up in a somewhat free China. They cannot even comprehend what it was like in old China with Mao Zedong at the helm. A time before they were allowed to be inspired, become innovation, make money the good old capitalist way, and have a voice. Now that they have had freedom, they realize there is nothing else more important than what freedom invokes. As the article indicates:

    “Forgive me for being unruly and untamed and loving freedom all my life…
    Still free and independent,
    Forever singing my own song out loud, going everywhere.”

    I am very surprised that an article like this ended up on the ‘Memo’ because, in our case it is just the opposite. We are becoming more and more suppressed and we have less and less freedom to express ourselves. Your side is bordering on Marxism. Next time you think about the word ‘freedom’, think about what the first amendment really stands for without being bigoted.

    • charleo1

      Okay, who is the, “We,” you talk about as becoming more, and more, “suppressed?” And how for Pet’s sake, is your freedom to express yourself being hindered? Tell you what. Even being a borderline Marxist, like you think I am. I’ll bet, as long as you make no terrorist threats, and don’t get yourself sued for slander, you can say out loud any opinion you happen to have, on any subject you care to name. But I don’t believe those protesting the unelected, Communist regime in Beijing, can be sure of that. And there is nothing free for long, if within the reach of the Chinese State. And many of these protesters would risk imprisonment, and death, and may yet pay that price. For the freedoms you have, the freedoms, you now turn your nose up at. So, the First Amendment also stands for that. This, “Marxist’s,” Right, to lecture you on the meaning of freedom of speech.

      • joe schmo

        1)Obamacare WE HAD NO CHOICE DID WE?
        2)Ethnic/Gay Remarks (which I wouldn’t say anyway because of a common courtesy for all, but where is the freedom of speech there for everyone without going to prison or getting sued) It’s O.K. to slander and demean white people. NO LONGER ALLOWED FOR EVERYONE, YOU WILL BE PUNISHED)
        3) Freedom of religion which is constantly being attacked by Gays and Atheists. From removing nativity sets to getting rid of a cross that has been in a certain location for decades. Companies not wanting to serve Gays because of religious beliefs. ( NOT ALLOWED. YOU WILL BE PUNISHED)
        4) Pot and drug legalization (Drugs leave a person delusional and you would see it that all illegal drugs become legal) Pot over Cigarettes (I don’t smoke, it’s the principle of the thing…to each their own. Freedom of choice) DOESN’T MAKE SENSE
        5) Environmental issues over natural fuel resources/jobs (Once again forced on ALL of us whether we like it or not)
        6) No border security. Illegals over legal citizens both in social programs and where jobs are concerned (WE HAVE NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER NOW DO WE?) Oh and I might add. Anyone is welcome….even Ebola infested individuals. (I think bringing these people in is intentional)
        7) Police trying to protect the national and local security of the public. They are constantly being attacked for doing their job (CRIMINALS OVER INNOCENT VICTIMS and THOSE PROTECTING THE PUBLIC) How many police have been victims of violence lately?
        9) 2nd Amendment rights being attacked and more and more of the Amendment is being striped away. (CALIFORNIA IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG)

        Get a clue and wake up! Read it and weep….

        FREEDOMS! How dare you. You no longer know what that word means. If it suits you then it’s called freedom for the rest of us it is pure suppression. Just wait until it hits home.

        You can deny it all you like…. You are a Marxist…. Do you remember what happened to the Weimar Republic. Just keep it up….

        • charleo1

          You have no case, Joe. Americans had a chance in 2012, to reject the healthcare law. They had a chance to elect a new President that promised to repeal it. And an opportunity to put the GOP in charge of the Senate, and increase their majority in the House, and the people did none of those things. “We,” had a choice, and made a decision you didn’t agree with. So, of course, your Rights were violated. The losers of elections are not victims of tyranny in a democracy, Joe. They are just losers. I assume no one denied you of your vote? Your guy didn’t win. Get over it. Also, the atheists, and Gays have only one thing in common. A militaristic religious Right, that is attempting to bully the Courts into codifying their moral Biblical code, into enforceable criminal law. It’s their usual, true religious arrogance, and authoritarianism, cloaked in their typical phony humility. And the down the rabbit hole, ass backwards defense of it, by the common Right Wing tactic of making the aggressor, the religious zealots, the victims. In the entirely unConstitutional efforts to stick their big noses in, where no one but them, including most of the Republican Party, believe they have not the least bit of business. And, to further your victimhood, you want them to be discreet. Like in the Islamist Republic of, you fill in the blank. Where their laws are all f***ed up with their religion. But, as long as you feel your Rights are protected, is the important thing here. Right? You don’t believe in it. Well I don’t believe, in professional wrestling. But I’m not suggesting it be made illegal, or discreet. Does that make me a victim? And your Second Amendment Rights are being attacked? Again, poor little victim. We have in this Country more guns in private hands, than any Country in the World. Big guns, little guns, laws against criminals from obtaining guns, that are so weak, they are non-existent, for criminals. As a Country we are literally bristling with firearms. And our murder rate is by far, the highest in the industrialized World. And the Federal Government has not enacted a single restriction. Even when the majority of legal gun owners themselves have said they favored background checks for all gun sales, by a two to one majority. And you think your Right to bear arms in under assault? Yes you do, because you’re being lied to. And made to think you’re being picked on. That somehow without a single restriction being enacted, you’re losing your Right to self defense! Ahead of the UN takeover, no doubt. It’s garbage. A case of garbage they are feeding you, to manipulate you. And garbage out, when you believe it, and cast your vote accordingly. And that’s all they care about. You believing you’re the victim, and the Gays, and the atheists and the Socialist are all trying to force you to go along. It’s all bullshit, Joe. Every bit of it. Most people are smart enough to know we need strong environmental laws, and regulations, Why? Because when we didn’t, they made a toxic shit hole out of the only places we all have to live, is why. And taxpayers footed most of the bills in cleaning it up. And that got changed, and most people are glad it did. And if it ups the price of a gallon of gas, most sensible people, especially those with children, are in favor of it. Too bad about the Koch Bros. I hope they’ll be alright, and don’t lose their Aspen digs. But, either way, I’m happy with the trade off, considering the alternative. It’s
          a fact of life, Joe. That sometimes doing the Right thing, is not going to sit well with everyone. The
          religious ideologues think two men, or two women
          together is a sin. And, if they ran things, a lot more things would be prohibited. So people would rather
          mind their own business, and live, and let live. Than wonder what was going to be forbidden next. And,
          what’s so God Damned wrong with that? No skin off your nose, when two people of the same sex have
          a relationship, and they are happy with it. And when
          you or someone else runs their mouth about it, and others tell tell them to stuff it, who’s Rights are violated? Who goes to jail for any of that? When a
          celebrity mouths off, and the sponsors drop the show, because they don’t want to suffer the lost sales. Who’s suppressing speech? The sponsors
          should then be prohibited from doing what they see
          as best for their own bottom line? And just keep being associated in the public arena with the idiot?
          Come on. your entire rant is based on your false
          victimhood. It’s bullshit.

          • joe schmo

            Quite a book you wrote there. I will try to reply to the best of my ability…..

            No! Obamacare was forced down our throats. When in the history of this country has something been forced. Not voted in….forced. There was no public vote on government healthcare was there? If we would have been given a choice then many people would have opted out and kept their insurance and that is something the government could not have because they needed the money for this ‘frufarah.’

            Yah, like we really had a chance. Republicans did not get out to vote. I think they learned their lesson. Remember he didn’t win by a landslide either. What a mistake. We definitely know that now.

            Militaristic Right? Is that what your atheistic tyrannical media calls it? May I remind you one more time. Our country was based on Judeo-Christian values. Sorry you do not agree. We have every right to believe in what we want just like any other Religious sect in this Country. It only becomes a problem when Christianity is attacked. I will stand up for Christianity until I die. Remember wars were mostly fought over religion. Go ahead promote your decadence. We all know what happened to Rome. ‘Phony humility.’ Did you know that middle class Christian’s give the most in Charity. “A militaristic religious Right, that is attempting to bully the Courts into codifying their moral Biblical code, into enforceable criminal law.” -Well, I hate to tell you this but the Bible has it’s own code of ethics. The Bible is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Not my problem. Only God can right the wrong of humans. I have no say so in the matter.

            “Again, poor little victim. We have in this Country more guns in private hands, than any Country in the World. Big guns, little guns, laws against criminals from obtaining guns, that are so weak, they are non-existent, for criminals. As a Country we are literally bristling with firearms. And our murder rate is by far, the highest in the industrialized World.” -On this one, I feel sorry for you. You won’t be able to disarm the Right in the near future. If there was ever a fight… I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be on your side. What would you defend yourself with ‘sticks and stones?’ Besides the main reason the Right reserves the right to bare arms is we don’t want our Government to just come in and take us over. That is something you do not understand because of your indoctrination. WE ARE NOT BEING LIED TO THE THREAT IS THERE. I live in a state that just initiated some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Don’t give me that bullshit!

            Ah…the UN…wouldn’t trust them as far as I can spit. Obama seems to go to the UN for everything. After all, Obama is not really an American in the true sense of the word. He is pretty close to annihilating this country but that’s OK. Putin knows what’s going on, but, of course, our lying media is making him look like a tyrant. You are so indoctrinated that if this was the last day of the earth’s existence you would believe it isn’t so.

            I don’t disagree with you entirely with regards to environmental laws. I think we as a country have come a hell of a long way and we do need them. But just like anything else that starts out as a good thing, extremism always ruins it. Global warming is a farce and your side has made millions through your ignorance in believing that it exists.. There is plenty of proof to prove you otherwise but we won’t get into that. I have uploaded proof time and time again.

            Well, I guess I can say the same about Soros. Just hope he doesn’t destroy this country like he did England. At least England got wise to the fact that he was profiting off their failing economy. Too bad, our loss. At least the ‘Koch’s’ are for America:) Something I don’t believe you understand anymore.
            You see your elitists have nothing on the Conservative rich but either way you look at it they are both bad. “The Liberal elitists are very happy to give away other peoples money, but guard their own purse strings possessively. The sad thing is that they have gotten so wise in their own eyes that they have lost objectivity, thus rendering themselves quite useless when it comes to truly improving the lot of the downtrodden in our society.” – Dr. Ben Carson (By this he means anyone poor specifically African Americans who own their souls to the government) You might want to read his book ‘One Nation.’ Ben Carson came from nothing. He knows full well how the left has incarcerated and profited from ethnic groups.

            You would want to have this country be a party of one. Remember….we live here to.

            You have been indoctrinated by your party. This is the same thing that occurred in Germany before WWII. History DOES repeat itself.
            …and for your information Conservatives NEVER think they are victims, we believe in facts and proof over emotional jargon. Victimization is your mantra.

            Charleo…just keep thinking the way you do. The more you continue to act ununified, the closer we come to collapsing as a Nation:)

  • sleepvark

    Having just spent a year living in central China at a major university, there are a few things not commonly known over here about the Chinese people.
    Yes, the government routinely squelches certain social media apps. It’s kind of like our old 55 mph speed limits. Everybody ignores them, and the ruling class loses face, or just looks foolish by our way of thinking. The Chinese people have become a nation of hackers, inversely competent at it with increasing age. The suppression of social media is a sad little joke to those guys. They are a lot smarter and better educated than a lot of people, especially in their government , are willing to recognize.
    Another thing is that the Chinese people are no strangers to student protest, and the possible government induced horrors that may well follow. The literature of Lu Xun has powerful accounts of such things dating back to the 1920’s and 30’s. The present government has a ripe opportunity to show itself to be unlike many of its brutal 20th century predecessors. I hope for the sake of many of my friends over there that the government will act in an enlightened fashion.
    It will be interesting to see what kind of heroic actions on both sides of the equation will come to light.

    • charleo1

      Well said. And I too hope the Communist Regime, will this time, turn away from it’s repressive, and brutal past. And decide to start down a pathway that leads toward the respect of human Rights. And the realization that a great people best serves the interests of their Country, when they are free to follow their wildest dreams.