This week, we discuss the recent protests in Hong Kong and what might happen next; what other states can learn from Louisiana's education reforms; lessons from the Battle for Baghdad; how autonomous vehicles could help in “transit deserts”; a U.S. Coast Guard policy change that could help improve gender diversity; and China's stranglehold on critical raw materials.
Tensions remain high in Hong Kong following massive protests against a plan that would allow extraditions to mainland China. To better understand the situation, we're revisiting a RAND paper that explores how Hong Kong's relationship with Beijing has evolved over time, where Hong Kong might be headed in the future, and more. Notably, the authors explain that disaffection in Hong Kong poses a dilemma for Beijing. As this week's events suggest, Beijing views meeting the demands of political activists in Hong Kong as unacceptable. But a crackdown in the territory could jeopardize the peaceful progress of China's unification project.
Louisiana is taking bold strides to reform its education system. A new series of RAND reports explores where the state has had success and where challenges remain. The early findings provide valuable insights for other states looking to make big education changes. For example, Louisiana's experience shows that it's important to plan for equity challenges. Also, elevating educators' voices when communicating about reforms can help promote buy-in.
A new RAND report recounts the Iraq War's Battle for Baghdad from prewar planning to withdrawal. This clash provides a wealth of insights about how to reimagine future urban combat. And the lessons learned from Baghdad could help leaders avoid repeating mistakes. This is important, because instability and insurgency are sure to be part of the future. If history is any guide, Washington will look to the Army to deal with these challenges.
In the outer reaches of many U.S. cities, demand for transportation vastly exceeds supply. According to RAND's Laura Fraade-Blanar, automated vehicles could help people who live in these “transit deserts.” AVs would likely be used in two ways: ride-sharing and autonomous buses or shuttles. She notes that declines in funding for public transit could make things worse in these areas. This is why AV transit would have to be designed as a complement rather than a competitor.
The U.S. Coast Guard has eliminated the use of gender-specific pronouns in promotion packages and professional evaluations. This change is part of an ongoing effort to attract and retain more women. And it was informed by RAND experts' analysis released earlier this year. Women's focus groups in the study cited issues with advancement, including the perception of bias in evaluations. With this shift, the Coast Guard may help reduce perceptions of such bias.
China dominates the global market for many raw materials that are critical to U.S. manufacturing. American companies need these materials to make hard drives, batteries, night-vision goggles, lasers, and much more. As the U.S.-China trade conflict deepens, Beijing is threatening to withhold some of its most-valuable resources. What can Washington do? According to RAND's Richard Silberglitt, who recently testified before the U.S.–China Commission, there are several ways to increase U.S. resilience to disruptions in the supply of critical materials.
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