In Hong Kong, they may be protesting with umbrellas, but in Taiwan earlier this year, it was sunflowers. Hong Kong's protesters know as well as PRC policymakers that Taiwan is still watching very closely, and Beijing's wrong-footed response in Hong Kong today could halt Ma's push for greater Taiwanese cooperation.
While Berkeley is more progressive than many places in the U.S, it is clear that the culture of large-scale student activism has changed. Many claim the youth of today are apathetic. Others say they just engage in different ways. It may also be that exorbitant college fees play a large part in taking the radical edge out of the student population.
Ferguson was not just an event in which police overreacted to heated demonstrations; it's a symptom of a generalized hatred of democracy in this country -- the hatred of the truly bold idea that politics should be the work of everyday people and that power should not be concentrated in the hands of a few.