Monday Sunrise Briefs: Hong Kong and Portland protests, Venezuela

Aly Song/Reuters
As many as 1.7 million people marched to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong Aug. 18, 2019.

We protest in peace.

Perhaps the biggest – and most peaceful – pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong this summer occurred Sunday. By one estimate, 1.7 million people (1 in every 4 residents) endured heavy rains while Beijing watched and warned. Earlier in the week, protesters shut down the city’s airport. But they didn’t provoke police Sunday, and they sent a deliberate message: “They’ve been telling everyone we’re rioters. The march today is to show everyone we are not,” one of the protesters told Reuters. 

Crafting an exit plan: Members of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle are in secret talks with U.S. officials to remove the president, according to The Associated Press and Axios. Diosdado Cabello (an alleged drug lord and major power broker within Venezuela’s political and military elite), as well as the defense and interior ministers, is among those in indirect contact with the Americans. The communications suggest Mr. Maduro’s support is weakening, even after an opposition-led military uprising in April was easily quashed. 

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events that happened this weekend (while you were kayaking, attending a lawn concert, and enjoying an offline life).

Rejecting peace? Historically, when the prospects for peace rise, extremists opposed to peace increase their attacks. The Islamic State took responsibility Sunday for a Pakistani suicide bomber who killed 63 people at a wedding in Kabul Saturday. In recent weeks, Taliban and U.S. officials have been negotiating over a possible end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The Islamic State is not allied with the Taliban.

Provocateurs and peacemakers: In Portland, Oregon, both far-right and far-left demonstrators claimed victory. So did Portland’s mayor and police, relieved that a gathering Saturday of more than 1,000 far-right protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators wasn’t as violent as feared. Small groups clashed, but police kept the sides separated so there was no major melee. The politically liberal city has been deliberately chosen for free-speech rallies by “alt-right” groups. Meanwhile, in three separate cases in Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut, white men, each in their 20s, were arrested after allegedly threatening to commit mass shootings

AP Photo/Moriah Ratner
Anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, in this case a "Banana Bloc Dance Party," gathered on Aug. 17, 2019, in downtown Portland, Oregon. The goal: Photobomb the far-right protesters to make recruiting videos of the event less effective.

Look ahead

Monday, Aug. 19

Thank an aid worker: World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to global aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. On Aug. 19, 2003, the United Nations headquarters in Iraq was hit by a terrorist bombing, killing 22 people. 

Wednesday, Aug. 21

Look Ma, no gravity: Astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan are scheduled for a spacewalk to attach the new International Docking Adapter 3 (IDA-3) to the Harmony module to facilitate docking by Boeing and SpaceX crew ships. The 6 1/2 hour job will be livestreamed by NASA starting at 6:30 a.m. ET. 

Saturday, Aug. 24

G-7 equality summit: Leaders from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada as well as the European Union gather in Biarritz, France, for three days. Expected topics include making capitalism fairer, reducing environmental inequality, countering terrorists, and improving partnerships with African nations. 

Pigskins and higher ed: The college football season begins Saturday night with the Florida Gators versus the Miami Hurricanes, with kickoff at 7 p.m. ET, and Arizona versus Hawaii at 10:30 p.m. ET.  

Generosity watch

A seed of kindness grows: At a refugee camp in the Netherlands, a 5-year-old Iraqi girl was given a red bike. 

Mevan Babaker never forgot that bike. And 24 years later, she wanted to find and thank the man who had given her an enduring gift of self worth. “As a refugee child, moving from place to place, not really knowing whether you’re going to have any safety that night, what you’re going to be eating that evening, if you’re going to be eating at all,” Ms. Babaker told The Washington Post. “It was a magical thing to be gifted something that I thought was just too big for me. And I think that gift became the basis of how I felt about myself.

She posted her story and old photos on Twitter. Within hours she found him. The next day, Ms. Babaker met up with Egbert, a now 72-year-old man in Germany. “More than anything, I remember these small kindnesses growing up, they helped shape me,” she wrote.

 

Courtesy Mevan Babaker
Mevan Babaker reunited with Egbert, the man who gave her a red bicycle.

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor editors and readers:

Coddling our children: How ‘safety first’ ethos is destabilizing US society

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about reviving the lost art of Islamic wedding contracts, and their new role in strengthening Muslim marriages.

Finally, the Monitor’s five best stories in Friday’s subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Low interest rates are often a cure. Now they’re also a symptom.
  2. Rashida Tlaib, Israel, and what her district wants
  3. So many guns, so little data: An economist on US gun violence
  4. Watershed moment: How Chesapeake Bay turned its H2O around
  5. ‘One Child Nation’ lays bare China’s population choices

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