President Xi is in Seattle today and all Seattle can think about is traffic.
President Xi is in Seattle today and all anyone can think about is traffic. Kaliva /

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP – A Penny Dreadful, playing Feb. 8-26 at Intiman Theatre
Laugh till it hurts at this outrageous camp comedy the NYTimes calls “Wickedly funny!”

The President of China, Xi Jinping, Is in Seattle Today: He's meeting Governor Jay Inslee and Ambassador Gary Locke in Everett this morning before meeting with more politicians (and Mayor Ed Murray) this afternoon. He'll be speaking at a banquet tonight, too, before heading to the US-China Internet Industry Forum in Redmond, Boeing's Everett factory, Tacoma's Lincoln High School, and dinner with Bill Gates tomorrow. Next stop: the White House, then the United Nations.

He's Rolling Deep: President Xi's visit will also feature Chinese "internet czar" Lu Wei, China's pop star first lady Peng Liyuan, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China executive chairman Jiang Jianqing.

Wait, Lincoln High School? "Lincoln apparently was chosen because Xi requested to see an American high school during his Puget Sound visit, and Lincoln has a formal agreement for exchanges with educators in the city of Fuzhou," the TNT reports. Fun fact: Tacoma port commissioner Connie Bacon, who signed the exchange agreement, once hosted Xi's delegation at her home "for a dinner of shrimp and avocado followed by spaghetti with meatballs."

Everyone Is Really, Really Worried About Traffic: Seven square blocks around the Westin Hotel will be shut down for two whole days. Pedestrians will have to go through security checkpoints. The city suggests commuters just stay home. Another overturned fish truck clusterfuck on the highway cannot happen again, not in a million years. EVERYBODY'S GOTTA BE ON OUR A-GAME, OKAY?

Enough About Traffic! We're Going to Talk About the US-China Internet Industry Forum in Redmond: "In addition to Microsoft executives, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been invited and reportedly plans to attend, as does Alibaba CEO Jack Ma," Geekwire reports. "Executives from companies including Facebook, IBM, Google and Uber have also been invited. Some of these sites, including Facebook and Google, are currently blocked from mainland China."

This Is Important Because China Just Passed a National Security Law That Mandates All Information Systems Must Be "Secure and Controllable": It's assumed that the law means China now requires "back doors" for government snooping in computer software. And China has asked American tech companies to comply. "It also means that if they comply, U.S. tech leaders risk compromising customer data, transferring proprietary technology to their Chinese competitors and suffering reputational damage by helping the regime’s censorship and social-control apparatus," the Wall Street Journal opinion page writes.

Human Rights Watch Wrote an Open Letter to CEOs Participating in the US-China Internet Industry Forum: China already operates one of the most extensive internet censorship systems in the world, i.e. the Great Firewall. But under President Xi, China has exerted even greater control over its netizens by restricting access to Virtual Private Networks and detaining bloggers, Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth writes. HRW is concerned about American tech companies agreeing to participate in Chinese censorship and surveillance: "We urge that you use this occasion to ask President Xi to reverse his government’s expansion of surveillance, censorship, and data collection, and urge him and other leaders to protect privacy and other human rights online." (In April, a coalition of human rights groups and Nobel laureates also wrote an open letter to President Xi regarding the detention of five women human rights activists.)

You Have to Read This Old Report About US Tech Companies Enabling Censorship of Chinese Internet Users: "In this report, we have documented the different ways in which companies such as Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, and Skype are assisting and reinforcing the Chinese government’s system of arbitrary, opaque and unaccountable political censorship," Human Rights Watch wrote back in 2006. Microsoft, for example, once censored the words "democracy" and "freedom" in its Chinese blogs at the Chinese government's request.

Its really difficult to depict an invisible internet firewall visually, but these protesters in 2009 did a pretty good job.
It's really difficult to depict the Great Firewall visually, but these protesters in 2009 did a pretty good job. Jose Gil /

But the Great Firewall Is Also Costing American Tech Companies Billions: Because Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Snapchat, and more are blocked.

President Xi's Security Team Is Worried About Protesters: "One of their requests: United States security personnel guarantee that protesters will be kept out of sight and earshot of Mr. Xi," the New York Times reports. "The Chinese worry that protesters from Falun Gong, the spiritual sect, or critics of China’s policies in Tibet might appear in the same camera frame as Mr. Xi. In 2006, a Falun Gong protester disrupted a reception for President Hu on the White House lawn, an episode Mr. Xi’s trip planners do not want repeated." Seattle protesters, however, reportedly plan to stay outside the Westin Hotel until 9 p.m. tonight.

Really Quick, in Other News: The Department of Justice is giving $600,000 to the Seattle Police Department for body cams. The Seattle city council passed a resolution asking the state to lift its ban on rent control. (Because council president Tim Burgess introduced his own rent control resolution!) And, on Monday, the city council also passed a nonbinding resolution supporting "zero use of detention for youth."

Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer: Jan 13-Feb 14 at Bagley Wright Theatre
Part theater, part revival, and all power, this one-woman show will have your head nodding and hands clapping!