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August 2019

Aug 3 ... In the US mass shootings continue from July into August. Twenty-one people are shot to death and ? injured at a Walmart in El Paso Texas, a community of Anglos and Hispanics living harmoniously. The shooter Patrick Crusius, 21, was from the Dallas area, more than 600 miles to the northeast. After his arrest he told investigators that he had set out to kill as many Mexicans as he could. He is described as having published a white nationalist, anti-immigrant manifesto online and having been inspired by the mosque shootings in New Zealand back in March.

Aug 4 ... A mass shooting by Conner Betts, 24, in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, kills 9 and injures 37. He is described as having been suspended in his junior year high school for compiling a "hit list" of those he wanted to kill and a "rape list" of girls he wanted to sexually assault (one of them a cheerleader who didn't know him.) A former girlfriend describes him as unable to sleep because of dark, animal-like shadows that tormented him at night, as having wrestled with hallucinations and menacing voices in his head. But he owned an assault weapon that allowed him to get off 41 rounds in 40 seconds before he was shot and killed by a policeman.

Aug 5 ... From the White House, President Trump says that “our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.” An Republican lawmaker from Middletown, near Dayton, communicated her analysis to the public and blamed the shootings on former President Obama, gay marriage and “drag queen advocates.” The Reverend Mike Huckabee, for governor and Republican presidential candidate, and contemporary TV personality, says, "Let's be real clear. The common denominator in all of this is not the particular weapon. It's the hate inside the heart. It's the loss of morality. It's that disconnecting from a God." Some others want better laws concerning civilians having access to weapons suited only for military combat, and some find fault with the arms industry for encouraging the sale of such weapons and attachments.

Aug 13 ... Since 1997 Hong Kong has been a part of China, and China has agreed to a "one country two systems" policy regarding the area until the year 2047 — a 50-year transition to total political integration with China. In Hong Kong, Joshua Long (age 23) has been leading protests that include violence, shutting down Hong Kong's airport and disrupting its economy. Joshua Long is a Christian anti-Communist. He talks in staccato declarations about democracy with no suggestion of negotiation or compromise (his view of democracy antithetical to China's hostility toward multi-party conflict). Wong's intentions are gigantic: to deny China any authority over Hong Kong, especially beginning in the year 2047. There is an echo here of the extremism of those called the Red Guards and of another kind of extremist, in Tiananmen Square, who wanted a heavenly 100 percent. Wong leads a movement different from the winning style of Martin Luther King Junior. Wong led the failed "umbrella" protests of 2014, and he is expected to fail again except in the sense of his martyrdom.

Aug 16 ... Pacific islands concerned about survival and a rising ocean complain about Australia's coal mining. Coal is one of Australia’s biggest exports, and an Aussie response is that coal is important to job creation and energy needs. The industrial giant Adani, centered in India, has won approval to extract coal in Australia. That coal will be burned by an Adani power plant selling electricity in East Asia, with Adani claiming that coal is indispensable to feeding the energy demands of big developing countries. Australia meanwhile claims that it will reach its Paris Climate Agreement targets.

Aug 17 ... While violent demonstrations battle Hong Kong police and seek goals destined to fail, patience pays off for pro-democracy protesters in Sudan. Sudan's ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance sign an agreement that creates a new governing council (six civilians and five generals) that will lay the way to elections and civilian rule, ending decades of army rule. According to the BBC, "The prime ministers of Ethiopia and Egypt and the South Sudanese president were among regional leaders attending [today's] signing ceremony in Khartoum."

Aug 19 ... Yesterday (Sunday) tens of thousands in Hong Kong are reported as having marched, and there is no indication that their goal of separation from China's political system has been advanced. China's government continues its support of Hong Kong's beleaguered political, business and cultural leaders. China's government doesn't see the cry of the protesters spreading from Hong Kong to mainland Chinese. Perhaps it senses that time in on its side while its army stands by just outside Hong Kong. Despite the size of the protests the protesters are still a minority. Opposition to the protests exists. A movie star, Liu Yufei, has angered protesters by saying she supports the Hong Kong police, and protest leaders (despite their professed love of diverse views) have called for boycotting her work including with Disney studios. One presidential candidate in the US, Senator Gillibrand (D-NY), joins the making of political points among some liberals by trashing China, while President Trump, anticipating negotiations with Xi Jinping says Hong Kong is China's business. Some other China watchers are saying that Communist Party rule can be changed only from within (which has happened), that overthrowing Party rule would take millions of Chinese lives on both sides.

Aug 23 ... The Amazon rainforest - a major source of oxygen for the world — is suffering a record number of fires. Germany's Angela Merkel and France's President Macron are complaining, with Macron calling Brazil's President Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, a liar. And Bolsonaro is telling the two to keep their noses out of Brazil's business. Bolsonaro is criticized for his support of loggers and farmers clearing forest, and indigenous forest dwellers see Bolsonaro's policies as an existential threat. Scientists from Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE) describes the Amazon has having suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Mr Bolsonaro took office in January. Angel Merkel says the Amazon fires should be added to the agenda of the Group of 7 summit meeting to be held this coming weekend in France, and Macron says it should be at the top of the agenda.

Aug 31 ... Yesterday in Hong Kong authorities arrested prominent activists and lawmakers in a move to end 13 weeks of demonstrations. They warned protesters to stay off the streets today, and the arrested were released on bail — expected jail-time rather than a Tiananmen-like massacre that some hostile to China have been talking about. But today (Saturday) there is another big "pro-democracy" demonstration, one protester saying: "maybe we lose, but we fight." He also fantasized by saying, "maybe we win." The protesters attacked the policy with firebombs. Someone asks what would happen if protesters in the US violently attacks the police, closed an airport, or trashed businesses. Protesters explain that they are fighting for democracy. They are opposed to China's one-party politics, which they describe as dictatorial, while people in China-proper remain largely hostile to the protesters. Chinese students studying abroad have been throwing insults and at the Hong Kong demonstrators (and Hongkongers have been complaining of mainlanders buying up Hong Kong's apartments and marrying the most attractive women). Nancy Pelosi, however, has been kind to the protesters, saying that "dreams of freedom, justice and democracy can never be extinguished by injustice and intimidation” — her alternative to the claim that the protesters are not accurately considering what is politically possible.

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Copyright © 2019 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.