• On July1, the anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China, an estimated half a million people participated in peaceful protests, while young pro-democracy activists broke into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, the symbol of Beijing’s power in the city. After its takeover of Hong Kong in 1997, China pledged to respect free speech as part of its “One Country, Two-Systems ” slogan. However, activists have been increasingly concerned about growing repression in Hong Kong, including the threat seen in the proposed extradition law that would turn over “fugitives” to mainland Chinese courts.
(“Hong Kong Police Forcibly Clear Thousands of Protesters Occupying Legislature Complex,” Washington Post , July 1, 2019; “Hong Kong Protests: What LegCo Graffiti Tells Us,” BBC, July 2, 2019)
• The minimum wage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is stuck at $7.25 an hour, the official federal minimum wage. To make ends meet, many low-income workers must hold down two or three jobs. The city’s government is blocked from raising wages by a state pre-emption law that prohibits municipalities from raising their local minimum wage. Gov. John Bel Edwards pledged to raise Louisiana’s statewide minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, but was blocked by the Republican-run legislature.
( “Blue City Challenge: Clawing Back Power from Red States,” American Prospect, May 15, 2019; “Guatemala Election: What Campaign Chaos Has to Do With Migration North,” Christian Science Monitor, June 17, 2019)
• Sustainable ranching is gaining momentum in the Great Plains states as ranchers and environmentalists have become allies in prairie restoration. Increasing numbers of ranchers are letting their grasslands grow back to pasture. The practice can boost water retention, sequester carbon back into the soil and can increase profits by producing natural and inexpensive feed, allowing ranchers to brand and sell their beef directly to health-conscious consumers and eco-tourists.
This week’s News Summary was narrated by Richard Hill.