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July 06, 2015

The people of Hong Kong courageously campaign for democracy

They remember what they learned when they were still part of Britain's legal system -- the rule of just law and representative democracy. They are brave. They are defying the biggest Communist state in the world.

Sorry we missed covering this July 1st march, the latest in a series of half a million men and women marches in Hong Kong --

From Reuters Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters marched in Hong Kong on Tuesday, many calling for the city's leader to be sacked, in what could turn out to be the biggest challenge to Chinese Communist Party rule in more than a decade.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said his government would do its "utmost" to move towards universal suffrage and stressed the need for stability after nearly 800,000 people voted for full democracy in an unofficial referendum last month.

Organisers put the number of protesters at more than 510,000, emphasising this was a conservative estimate. Police said some 98,600 had joined the protest at its peak.

Johnson Yeung, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, one of the organisers of the march, said activists would take to the streets to occupy the business district if China does not respond to demands for a direct election in 2017.

. . ."The Hong Kong government is now controlled by the Chinese government," said Daniel Cheng, 24, a recent graduate who now works as a building surveyor. "My mom said not to be arrested, to be careful. I will try, but I think I should do what I can for Hong Kong, my colleagues, my classmates, my friends."

. . .Activists from the League of Social Democrats burned a copy of a "white paper" released by Beijing last month that reasserted its authority over the former British colony. The group also burned a portrait of Leung.

"This could be the last chance to make our voices heard," said Lam Sui-pan, a 22-year-old human rights volunteer, at the end of the march. A veteran of the last five processions, he said he had never seen such a big turnout.

. . .Anson Chan, Hong Kong's former top civil servant and a key supporter of the unofficial referendum, said the vote was clear.

"They (voters) are not taken in by recent suggestions that we should pocket whatever we are offered in the hope that more would come later," she said. "This is just rubbish."

Organisers of the annual July 1 rally, marking the day the territory returned to China in 1997, were expecting the largest turnout since 2003, when half a million people demonstrated against proposed anti-subversion laws that were later scrapped.

. . ."I think in view of the vote of almost 800,000 people in favor of democracy, real democracy, not the type of democracy Beijing is suggesting, that today is probably going to be one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the democratic movement in Hong Kong," said lawyer Sean Leonard, from the think tank HKU International Institute of Financial Law. "It's about time Beijing woke up."

Some unforgotten history from an earlier post --

William McGurn wrote about 1950s Hong Kong -
By any measure, the future for this Asian country looked bleak. Enormously overcrowded, its normal population had skyrocketed, increased not just by a naturally high birthrate but also by revolution in a neighboring country - forcing thousands of desperate refugees upon its borders. Lacking natural resources and utterly dependent upon its unpleasant neighbor for water and food, the country's situation had deteriorated so badly that a local UN official declared the only way for it to survive would be with massive Western aid. An American newspaper proclaimed the country to be 'dying,'. . .

'Virtually every sizable vacant site . . . was occupied, and when there was no flat land remaining, [people] moved up to the hillsides and colonized the ravines and slopes which were too steep for normal development. The huts were constructed of such material as they could lay hands on at little or no cost - flattened sheets of tin, woodened boarding, cardboard, sacking slung on frames. . . . Land was scarce even for the squatters and the huts were packed like dense honeycombs or irregular warrens at different levels, with little ventilation and no regular access. The shacks themselves were crowded beyond endurance. . . . Density was at a rate of two thousand persons to an acre in single-story huts. There was, of course, no sanitation.'

There was, however, a British administration and the rights and protections of common law. There was also the inestimable Sir John Cowperthwaite, Financial Secretary of the Crown Colony, who arrived in 1961. He did not respond as Democratic candidates in America or Labour MPs in Britain would respond to this sort of crisis – with promises of big government programs.

Cowperthwaite was a classical free-trader in a tradition that stretches from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman and Sir Keith Joseph. Like them Cowperthwaite believed that The only cases where the masses have escaped from grinding poverty. . .the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. . .There is no alternative way of improving the lot of the ordinary person that can hold a candle to the productive activities of the free-enterprise system – and productive, creative and energetic people ruled by just law.

Under Cowperthwaite’s administration Hong Kong became a city with six million prosperous and largely peaceful citizens under a non-interventionist government whose foundation was British common law. Hong Kong was knit together with the institutions, charities, trusts, schools, associations and societies that help people to help each other. . .

July 04, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

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Photo Credit: Raleigh South Carolina

On July 4th 1776 Brits in America declared their independence and their allegiance to the principles of justice and fair play.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Inspired by the Declaration of Independence, Americans born in America or coming from other lands created a country where freedom of speech, freedom of religion, just laws, limited-constitutional-representative government, and equality of opportunity (not equality of outcome) were established and defended, again and again.

They based their principles on principles established and defended in Britain for over a thousand years. See the Liberty Timeline.

They didn't give up when powerful, greedy, small-minded people and ideological fanatics tried to destroy freedom and fair play -- sometimes under the name of freedom and fair play!

We will not give up today.


July 01, 2015

Happy Canada Day! Strong and free!

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Canadians celebrate July 1st, the day in 1867 when Britain's Canadian colonies united, giving rise to the great country of Canada. (Credit: Wiki)

Their national anthem calls them strong and free. Their t-shirts proclaim it.

Canadians live under the rule of just common laws which protect their property, their freedom and their lives. These were Britain's gifts to them.

Empires are not in the habit of willingly granting self-rule to their people. In 1867, in the British North America Act, Britain did.

As long ago as 1839, the British Parliament had begun to wonder what to do about the energetic people living in British colonies north of the United States. Parliament asked for recommendations. An unlikely trio provided them.

They were the Earl of Durham (known as 'Radical Jack'), brilliant Charles Buller, and Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Edward had written about land reform in Australia while languishing in Newgate prison, where he had been sent for eloping with an under-age heiress.

In a blunt report they recommended a union of the colonies with local self-government. Small, local government empowered Canadians to solve their own problems, create their own opportunities and live in freedom.

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Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Canada's Constitution and Her Majesty's Government in Canada are modelled after Britain's Constitution. Independence flourishes. Image: Wikipedia

Canadians seem happy with their big, beautiful, northern country. In our experience there is a relaxed, kind, and productive atmosphere here with big skies and big mountains and vast plains. Canada's flag can be seen flying everywhere.

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Yoho National Park in Canada's Rocky Mountains

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Saskatchewan

Canada sends its wood, gas and oil around the world. As Mark Steyn wrote, "Canada is a resource economy. . .It has the second largest oil reserves in the world. Image: Citizens for Justice

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Obtaining that energy, on which our lives as lived today depend, is not a pretty sight. The Athabasca oil sands. Canadians are working toward renewable sources of energy. Image by NASA.

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Vancouver

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Stanley Park, Vancouver

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The Jade Canoe by Bill Reid at Vancouver International Airport is a tribute to Canada's native heritage. Image: vancouver 21

Reid was born in Victoria, British Columbia to an American father of Scottish-German descent and a mother from the Haida, one of the First Nations of the Pacific coast. He developed a keen interest in Haida art while working as a radio announcer in Toronto. He first learnt about his heritage from his maternal grandfather, who had himself been trained by Charles Edenshaw, a Haida artist of great renown (Wiki).

Visiting Canada a few years ago, The Queen said --

"I have been a witness to this country for more than half its history since Confederation. I have watched with enormous admiration how Canada has grown and matured while remaining true to its history, its distinctive character, and its values.

"This nation has dedicated itself to being a caring home for its own, a sanctuary for others and an example for the world. We have just now seen images of the Canadian forces [on a giant screen], and diplomats and humanitarian workers at work across the globe providing their support and assistance to others in dangerous and hostile circumstances, and earning the respect of us all.

"At home, Canadians have many reasons for optimism, even in trying times. The recent success of the Vancouver Olympics was about more than the thrill of the gold medal for Canada’s hockey team. [Crowd cheers].

"As well as renewing a sense of common purpose within this country, the Olympics showed to others something of the extraordinary warmth and enthusiasm of the people as Canada welcomed participants and audiences from around the globe.

"In many ways, Canada is proudly asserting itself on the international scene and looking to the future with confidence. I wish you all the very happiest Canada Day. God bless you all and God bless Canada."

A few more posts that might interest you --

Exploring Canada with Alexander Mackenzie is here. The St Lawrence Seaway is here. Newfoundland is here. Making the invisible visible in Vancouver is here.

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Canada's NEOSS space telescope

In addition to monitoring the Sun's magnetic energy, Canada is building the world’s first space telescope designed to detect and track asteroids as well as satellites.

Called NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), this spacecraft will improve surveillance of asteroids that pose a collision hazard with Earth. It will build on Canada’s expertise in compact “microsatellite” design."

June 27, 2015

Show your support for UK armed forces

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"Armed Forces Day was established in 2009 to honour the country's servicemen and women and their families across the Army, Navy and RAF. It aims to allow the public to demonstrate their support for the forces."

The Liberty Timeline glows with stories of their bravery in defending our liberty and our lives.

Every day is a good day to thank UK armed forces personnel for their dedication and courage.

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