news·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Changes in Hong Kong and Russia, Seattle, and a Healthy 4th of July

Protesters in Hong Kong
Getty Images
Jul 2, 2020

Things Raising Alarms Abroad

Hong Kong

The Story

Hong Kong feels pretty different right now.

Yeah, what is going on?

The national security law. Earlier this week, China passed a law that lets police crack down on the territory's pro-democracy protests. And the response has been immediate. Yesterday, Hong Kong police arrested hundreds of people protesting the legislation. Hong Kong residents deleted their social media accounts en masse out of fear of being punished for anti-government content. A museum commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is reportedly working fast to digitize its archives in case artifacts are seized.

What are people saying?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered as many as 3 million Hong Kongers residency and a path to citizenship. Johnson said the national security law was a "clear and serious breach" of a 1997 agreement that required China to allow certain political and economic freedoms in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, US lawmakers from across the aisle are working to punish China with sanctions for what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called "the death" of China's "one country, two systems" model.


Critics had warned China's new security law would pose a serious threat to Hong Kong residents' freedoms. Now, they're already seeing changes. And while we haven't seen the full impact of the law, people now risk severe punishment for things like carrying banners – things that weren't illegal a few days ago.


The Story

Russian President Vladimir Putin could stay in power until 2036.


Because of constitutional amendments. Earlier this year, Putin proposed sweeping changes to Russia's constitution. The package of 206 amendments included everything from giving himself more sway over parliament to defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It also hit the reset button on term limits, which could allow Putin to run two more times once his term ends in 2024. It was all put to a referendum and yesterday was the last day to vote.


Get ready for more Putin. Even though an election monitoring group called the process riggedearly results show that voters want Putin, all of Putin, forever, every day.


Putin has been running Russia since 1999. And he's now on his fourth term as president. This latest vote showcases just how strong his hold is on the country, both today and for the foreseeable future.

And Also...This

What's moving the needle...

Seattle. Yesterday, officers there cleared out the autonomous "no cop" zone surrounding a police station, arresting at least 31 people who refused to leave. Hundreds of protesters have gathered in the zone – referred to as CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) and CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) – since last month, calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. But the city's police chief said the zone had become "lawless and brutal" ever since police were forced to evacuate, citing two deadly shootings in the last two weeks as well as multiple robberies and assaults. So yesterday, officers returned to regain control of the area. Protesters have said they should not be blamed for the violence.

What's making changes…

Virginia. Yesterday, a new law went into effect banning discrimination based on someone's hair – specifically saying employers and schools can't discriminate against workers or students for having braids, locks, and twists. Earlier this year, two Black students were suspended from a Texas high school and could not return to school unless they cut their dreadlocks – the first was also told he could not walk at graduation because of his hair. There have been similar stories around the country. California, New York, and New Jersey have already passed laws like this and 13 other states are reportedly looking into it, too.

California. Yesterday, San Francisco police said they'll stop releasing mug shots of people unless they pose a public threat. The police chief said the decision was based in part on research suggesting mug shots can foster racial bias among communities. Experts believe it's the first city to make this move out of concerns about bias. Although there was support for the decision, some victims' rights advocates reportedly questioned how the department will choose which photos to release.

What doesn't look a day over 244...

America. But with daily coronavirus cases reaching a record number yesterday, officials are urging people to take precautions. Here's how to celebrate safely (did someone say "Hamilton?").

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