Five Stories: May 29, 2020

5 Stories to Watch Next Week

There are simply too many developing stories to follow in the world. To make things easier, we narrowed them down to five that you should really watch next week:

China tightens hold over Hong Kong — China’s rubber-stamp parliament on Thursday approved a sweeping new national security law for Hong Kong that crushes its autonomy and effectively brings the city under Beijing’s total control. Among other things, the law will criminalize acts such as protesting and criticizing Beijing and essentially end the framework of “one country, two systems,” which China agreed to when Britain gave Beijing control of the city back in 1997. President Trump said last week that the US would respond “very strongly” if China moved forward with the law. This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US no longer views Hong Kong as sufficiently independent from China. The US may strip Hong Kong of its special status and look to punish Beijing. As of this writing, the Trump administration is planning to cancel the visas of some Chinese graduate students and researchers who are associated with Chinese universities with ties to the Chinese military. Look next week for this tension between Washington and Beijing to escalate further. And watch for pro-democracy activists to protest China’s new law. Widespread protests could easily lead to widespread violence, with Beijing taking brutal steps to crush the demonstrations.

Protests over George Floyd’s death — The death of George Floyd, an African American man, while in police custody has ignited riots and protests that are spreading throughout the country. Those demonstrating say Floyd’s death was the latest instance of police brutality against black men. Video footage showing a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck triggered riots in Minneapolis, where he was killed. A police station was even set on fire. Now protests are spreading nationwide. President Trump has offered to provide Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D.) manpower to help control the riots. Watch over the weekend and next week to see how this situation progresses.

Escalating fight between Trump and Twitter — Late Thursday night, Twitter censored a tweet from President Trump for “glorifying violence.” In response to the riots in Minneapolis, the president tweeted, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.” He then added a second tweet, which Twitter targeted. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let this happen,” the president wrote. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you.” Twitter added a disclaimer that hides the second tweet, saying it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” but allows users to view it by clicking “view” because the message “may be in the public’s interest.”

Earlier this week, Twitter attached a fact-check to a tweet from President Trump, warning users that, despite the president’s claims about mail-in voting, “fact checkers” say there is “no evidence” that it would increase risk of voter fraud. Twitter’s actions prompted President Trump to sign an executive order that interprets a 1996 law as not shielding websites and tech companies that engage in censorship and political conduct from lawsuits. This back-and-forth will surely continue into next week. We’ll have to watch how it develops.

NC needs to approve RNC’s August convention — The Republican National Committee set June 3 as the deadline for officials in North Carolina to approve the RNC’s in-person political convention in August. On Thursday, the RNC sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D.) outlining a number of safety protocols it said it would invoke during the convention in Charlotte because of the coronavirus pandemic. The governor had requested a safety plan from the RNC, which has criticized Cooper and other state officials for dragging their feet and not providing their own guidelines. We’ll see next week whether North Carolina, which President Trump has chastised for reopening slower than other states, approves of the Republican National Convention by the RNC’s deadline.

US ends nuclear waivers for Iran, disrupts Iranian fuel shipments to VenezuelaSecretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday that the US will end its waivers that allowed Chinese, Russian, and European companies to work on Iran’s nuclear sites without coming under American sanctions. “The Iranian regime has continued its nuclear brinkmanship by expanding proliferation-sensitive activities,” Pompeo said in a statement. “These escalatory actions are unacceptable, and I cannot justify renewing the waiver.” Iran dismissed the move as a “desperate attempt” to “distract public opinion from its continued defeats at the hands of Iran.” A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran added, “Ending waivers for nuclear cooperation with Iran … has effectively no impact on Iran’s continued work.” We’ll need to watch next week whether there is any fallout from Washington’s decision, which will hamper Iran’s ability to advance its nuclear program.

The US and Iran are also clashing over the latter’s attempts to deliver shipments of fuel to Venezuela, which is also a target of American sanctions. The US has disrupted some Iranian shipments by threatening sanctions against shippers. The tankers would have been unable to get insurance and access to international banking if they delivered the Iranian fuel to Venezuela. Iran wants money, Venezuela wants fuel, and both countries want to undermine the US. So, expect this story to continue next week.