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Some mixed news for the US economy; demonstrators in Hong Kong step up their protests.


A record-long economic expansion for the US

 Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • July marks the longest economic expansion in US history — 121 months, to be exact. [Quartz / Eshe Nelson]
  • Part of why the expansion has been so long is because of how slow the pace of annual GDP growth has been in comparison to other periods. [Axios / Courtenay Brown]
  • The US is also experiencing its longest stretch of monthly job gains, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in the past five decades. Wage growth, however, has been weak in comparison to the surging job market. [The Hill / Sylvan Lane]
  • The expansion has also been uneven. While major cities like New York and Los Angeles have seen a significant boost in their economies, rural areas are lagging, further perpetuating a wealth gap. [CBS News / Irina Ivanova]
  • The growth in jobs has also been mostly in the service industry, thus doing little to help manufacturing communities that were hit hard by the 2008 recession. [The Hill / Sylvan Lane]
  • This inequality could be why people aren’t widely celebrating the economic growth. Rather, the good economic conditions — which often bolster the popularity of the president — are doing little for President Trump, whose approval rating is only at 38 percent, according to a survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. [AP / Josh Boak and Hannah Fingerhut]
  • 2020 Democratic candidates, who see this as an opportunity to recruit voters who are unhappy with the wealth gap, are building their campaigns around a wealth tax and a $15 minimum wage. [AP / Christopher Rugaber]
  • As an economy recovers, it’s normal for a gradual slowdown in its growth, which can be seen in last month’s lower hiring numbers. Experts, however, are worried that Trump’s recent trade wars could kill the expansion. [CBS News / Irina Ivanova]

Hong Kong protests escalate as demonstrators occupy legislative building

  • The protests in Hong Kong escalated as some demonstrators broke off from the peaceful main march to occupy and vandalize the legislative building. [South China Morning Post]
  • A quick reminder: All of this started because of a now-shelved extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong to send criminal suspects for trial in mainland China. Hong Kong citizens were concerned that this could lead to unfair political prosecution by China. [CNN / James Griffiths, Julia Hollingsworth, Ben Westcott, and Eliza Mackintosh]
  • The unrest began on Monday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, as protesters flooded the streets to demand more independence from China. When the demonstrators gathered near a convention center where lawmakers were celebrating the anniversary, police used batons and pepper spray to push back the crowd. [South China Morning Post / Denise Tsang, Su Xinqi, and Chris Lau]
  • A few hundred young protesters, angered by the police’s response, broke down the doors of the legislative building later that night, occupying and vandalizing the building for about three hours. Riot police later cleared out the building and nearby streets using tear gas. [AP / Ken Moritsugu]
  • This marks a significant turn in the movement: Protesters are divided between those who want to march peacefully and those who want more immediate action, even if it requires violence. Part of this divide could stem from the lack of leadership, which has been a point of pride for the protesters up until now. [NYT / Javier C. Hernández]
  • Experts also predict that the unrest will give China more of a reason to tighten its control over Hong Kong. President Xi Jinping, who has tried to distance himself from the movement until now, might become involved in cracking down on the protesters to bolster his image of authority. [Guardian / Simon Tisdall]

Miscellaneous

  • ProPublica exposed a private Facebook group for Border Patrol agents, where they shared derogatory comments about Latinx lawmakers and migrants. [ProPublica / A.C. Thompson]
  • A man who said he was a substitute teacher gave interviews to several news outlets as a survivor of the Santa Fe High School shootings in 2018. It turns out he was never at the scene. [Texas Tribune / Alex Samuels]
  • Botswana, long considered one of the last great elephant refuges, lifted its ban on trophy hunting for elephants in May. Experts are now particularly concerned following a new report that shows poaching is on the rise in the country. [NYT / Rachel Nuwer]
  • An updated Californian law in 2016 required companies to add warning labels to products that contain toxic ingredients. Yet Amazon has failed to do so for a number of skin care products it sells. [Vice / Ankita Rao]
  • As women’s wages are changing, so is motherhood. A growing number of upper-middle-class and middle-class women who are choosing to be single moms. [WSJ / Veronica Dagher]

Verbatim

“We have been too peaceful for the past few times, so the police think we are easily bullied. The younger people are risking their safety and their futures for us.” [Natalie Fung, who provided food and drinks for protesters occupying the Hong Kong legislative buidling, on why a more confrontational approach is necessary]


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