Saturday, September 27, 2014
Hong Kong democracy push gathers steam; India's 'Great Power' game; Orange juice seeks a brand rebuild
1 Hong Kong democracy move attracts thousands (Juliana Liu on BBC) The leader of Hong Kong's Occupy Central pro-democracy movement has announced the launch of a mass disobedience campaign. Benny Tai addressed thousands who had gathered outside government headquarters in central Hong Kong. It comes a day after the arrests of more than 60 protesters who had entered a restricted area on the same site.
Students and activists oppose Beijing's decision to rule out fully democratic elections in Hong Kong in 2017. Mr Tai, a co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, announced the launch of a campaign to blockade the heart of Hong Kong's financial centre, in a surprise announcement on Saturday. The launch was originally due to be announced at the start of next month.
Saturday's demonstrations were joined not just by students, but by many others. The numbers swelled from the hundreds to the thousands, with police closing roads surrounding the area and urging demonstrators, especially minors, to go home. Occupy Central says pepper spray was used without warning, and has condemned the use of "unnecessary force" against "peaceful protesters".
On Thursday, about 2,000 university students held a night-time protest at the house of the Hong Kong leader, Chief Executive CY Leung. Hong Kong operates under a "one country, two systems" arrangement with Beijing, which means citizens are allowed the right to protest. In August, Beijing decided that candidates for the 2017 chief executive election would first have to be approved by a nominating committee. Activists have argued that this does not amount to true democracy.
2 India’s ‘Great Power’ game (Munir Akram in Dawn) The election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and geopolitical developments — particularly the US pivot to Asia and the Russia’s new Cold War with the West — have revived India’s prospects of achieving Great Power status. In quick succession, Modi has visited Japan’s ‘nationalistic’ prime minister; hosted China’s president; and is being received this week by the US president in Washington.
The US obviously wishes to embrace India as a partner in containing a rising China, responding to a resurgent Russia and fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’. The most proximate impediment to India’s quest for Great Power status remains Pakistan. So long as Pakistan does not accept India’s regional pre-eminence, other South Asian states will also resist Indian diktat. India cannot feel free to play a great global power role so long as it is strategically tied down in South Asia by Pakistan.
India under Modi has maintained the multifaceted Indian strategy to break down Pakistan’s will and capacity to resist Indian domination. In this endeavour, India is being actively assisted by certain quarters in the West. Insufficient thought has been given in New Delhi and Western capitals to the unintended consequences of this strategy. It has strengthened the political position of the nationalists and the Islamic extremists in Pakistan.
The combination of unresolved disputes, specially Kashmir, the likelihood of terrorist incidents and a nuclear hair-trigger military environment, has made the India-Pakistan impasse the single greatest threat to international peace and security. New Delhi’s bid for Great Power status could be quickly compromised if another war broke out, by design or accident, with Pakistan.
3 Orange juice seeks a brand rebuild (Alexandra Wexler & Leslie Josephs in The Wall Street Journal) Plagued by plummeting demand for their juice and a deadly tree disease, Florida's orange growers are calling on a higher power. His name is Captain Citrus. The Florida Department of Citrus has revamped its mascot with the help of Marvel Entertainment from a green-caped orange wielding a carton of juice to a muscular young man in a skintight yellow-and-orange suit, powered by the sun.
The agency, which is funded by a tax on oranges grown in Florida, hopes a series of custom comic books featuring Captain Citrus alongside the rest of Marvel's popular Avengers characters will help recruit a new generation of orange-juice drinkers.
With Americans giving orange juice the cold shoulder, producers and growers are looking for ways to refresh its image. As dietary awareness has grown, the sugar content of the onetime breakfast-table staple has damaged its reputation as a health drink. And it is getting crowded out of the beverage aisle by upstarts including coconut water, açai juice and energy drinks.
Per capita orange-juice consumption is down 45% from its 1998 peak, having fallen to 3.2 gallons a person in 2012 from 5.8 gallons 16 years ago, according to the most recent data from the US Department of Agriculture. Orange juice's waning popularity presents a challenge to PepsiCo, maker of Tropicana, and Coca-Cola, which produces the Minute Maid and Simply brands.
Orange-juice makers have been paying more for the fruit due to limited supplies after a bacterial disease—so-called citrus greening—ravaged the US crop. For the season that ends this month, Florida produced its smallest crop in 29 years. Meanwhile, consumers are having to pay more; for the four weeks ended Aug. 30, orange juice prices averaged $6.46 a gallon, up 4.5% from a year earlier, according to data from Nielsen.