This Week’s Under-reported News Summary – March 31, 2021

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • US, EU, Canada sanction China over treatment of Uighurs
  • Oregon’s logging industry fighting to keep tax breaks
  • Portland, Oregon's affordable housing could be a model for West

• In conjunction with the European Union, United Kingdom and Canada, the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on China for that nation’s human rights abuses against the Uighur ethnic minority in western China. Beijing reacted quickly, imposing sanctions of its own on European and UK lawmakers and thinktanks.

(“US/Canada Follow EU/UK in Sanctioning Chinese Officials Over Xinjiang,”Guardian, March 22, 2021; “China Breaking Every Article in Genocide Convention,” Guardian, March 9, 2021; “Why Are China’s Consumers Threatening to Boycott H&M and Other Brands?” New York Times, March 25, 2021)

• In the midst of a pandemic-fueled 40 percent increase in lumber prices, timber companies in Oregon are fighting to retain tax breaks which date back to the early 1990s. An investigation conducted by Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Oregonian and ProPublica found that timber companies, increasingly dominated by Wall Street real estate trusts and investment funds, benefited from the tax cuts at the expense of rural counties, which have lost $3 billion in revenue over the last three decades, starving local services.

• During the wave of racial justice protests in the summer of 2020, Portland, Oregon’s city council revised its zoning code with the goal of encouraging the building of new affordable moderate-income housing. The new zoning code, called Residential Infill allows four-unit houses to be built on virtually any residential lot; six units are allowed if half are reserved for low-income earners. The code limits zoning for new single-family homes to 2,500 square feet, down from the previous limit of 6,500. It’s estimated that the zoning overall will help build 24,000 more housing units in the city over the next 20 years.

(“Towns Across the West Face a Housing Crisis. More Sprawl Is Not the Answer.” In These Times, March 9, 2021)

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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