Words like "freedom" and "democracy" get thrown around so much that it's easy to forgot how much they really mean. Anyone following the ongoing protests inside Hong Kong is seeing firsthand what real bravery looks like in the face of fear. Yes, there is some nuance in the overall debate about China'a role in governing Hong Kong. But there can be no debating the freedom, dignity and human rights every person on this planet is entitled to.

If you believe in freedom of expression, and if you care about the ongoing struggles in Hong Kong, then it's important to make your voice heard. After all, even in the United States there has been an embarrassing willingness on the part of some organizations like the National Basketball Association to stifle freedom of speech when it comes to fans sharing their support for those brave souls making their voices heard thousands of miles away from the safety of a NBA arena.

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The Planet

Hong Kong Fights Litter Pandemic With Hi-Tech Public Shaming

Hong Kong’s new eco-ad campaign utilizes DNA analysis to create digital portraits of litterbugs.

Each city seems to tackle trash in its own, unique way. In New York City, that way seems to be almost non-existent, as this coffin left in the street and used-mattress mountain will attest. Hong Kong, however, has decided to go hi-tech in its approach to trash reduction. Recently, in honor of Earth Day, Hong Kong Cleanup, Ecozine, The Nature Conservancy, and Ogilvy teamed up to create a new eco-friendly campaign to fight the city’s ongoing litter issues with serious creativity. The Face of Litter utilizes DNA traces from street rubbish to construct life-like digital portraits of litterbugs. Scientists can determine a litterer's eye, hair, and skin color, even their ancestry, from DNA left on the smallest piece of trash. The technology is now so advanced it can even assess the shape of the trash person’s face, as well as a relatively accurate portrait.

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7 Places Where Citizens Got Loud in 2014

Here’s why this was the year of the protest.

In recent years, amid the rise of social media and online petitions, it’s been easy to feel like the transformative and successful movements of the past century—the civil rights movement, anti-apartheid protests, and anti-Vietnam War protests—were destined to become relics of history. However, if there was ever a year to debunk the claims of “slacktivism” and “armchair activism” that have proliferated during the internet era, 2014 was it.

In many ways, the anti-government protests in Turkey and the anti-sexual harassment protests in India in 2013 hinted at the groundswell of protests that would follow from West Africa to Eastern Europe to Central America. Protesters boldly challenged entire governments, hegemonies, and systemic injustices in discrete ways that somehow felt greater than the sum of their grievances. Though not all were nonviolent, most of the protests demonstrated an impassioned form of civic engagement that will leave indelible imprints upon the history books of the future.

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This Gigantic Rubber Duckie Comes in Peace

The big rubber duckie that doesn't discriminate.

In Hong Kong, a giant, inflatable rubber duckie descended on the city this week. Like something out of a very G-rated science fiction movie, this bright yellow, 54-foot-duck with a Mona Lisa smile floated through the city's Victoria Harbour, much to the delight of bystanders. The massive bath toy will remain in the harbor through June 9, and is the brainchild of artist Florentijn Hofman, who has already taken it to Sydney, Sao Paulo, Osaka and beyond.

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