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Fair courts. Independent prosecutors. Clean police. Leaders who are held to account… These things are essential for a society to function under what we call rule of law. In a busy news week, three of the biggest stories in the world shared a common thread: the rule of law is in trouble.

After violent clashes in Hong Kong between police and activists, local legislators have postponed debate over a controversial new law that would permit the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China. More protests are expected this weekend, but Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who enjoys the strong backing of China's leadership in Beijing, still intends to see the law through.

Spoiler: it's only a matter of time before she does. That will leave Hong Kongers subject to a mainland judicial system that is far more politicized and opaque than their local courts. What's more, Ms. Lam wants to dust off long-shelved proposals that would give Chinese authorities more leeway to crack down on dissent in the former British territory.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Kremlin responded to an unusually strong outcry over the bogus jailing of Moscow-based investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, by intervening to scrap the charges and fire two senior officers responsible for the arrest. That sounds like good news – and for Mr Golunov it most certainly is. But selective intervention by a Tsar-like president isn't at all the same thing as true rule of law. Both the arrest and subsequent intervention by President Vladimir Putin reinforce the pattern of arbitrary power that is one of Russia's biggest and most stubborn problems.

And sometimes the rule of law can suffer if prosecutors abuse that power. Over to Brazil, where the judge who heard trials in the massive "Lavo Jato" corruption investigation that's jailed hundreds of once-untouchable business leaders and politicians -- including the popular leftist former president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva -- appears to have been improperly coordinating with prosecutors. That's according to leaked conversations published by The Intercept earlier this week. The revelations raise questions not only about Lula's conviction, but about the fairness and transparency of the whole probe. And it doesn't help that judge in question -- Sergio Moro -- is now Justice Minister under President Jair Bolsonaro, who cruised to victory in last year's presidential election after Lula was disqualified due to his conviction. Talk about an own-goal for the rule of law.

The supply chains for today's technology giants are fantastically complex — yet it's often true that the most essential and irreplaceable components come from a small number of countries. Here's a look at some key components of the Chinese networking giant Huawei and how suppliers have responded to Washington's ban on sales of US technology to the company. The ban, which also includes components from other countries that contain significant US technology or materials, has quickly gone global, threatening Huawei's survival.

Can Trump win in 2020? There are lots of good arguments on both sides of that question, which you can read here. But one thing's for sure: if Trump wants to repeat in 2020 he'll need to improve his standing in many of the critical so-called "swing states", which are perennially up for grabs between the Democratic and Republican candidates. In 2016 Trump won almost all those states, but since then, public opinion of the president has soured. See the graphic below for a look at President Trump's current standing in these battleground states, and how his approval rating overall compares with past presidents.

Seventy-five years ago this Thursday, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in Northern France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany in World War II. As allies and former enemies pay tribute to the dead and honor a dwindling band of surviving D-Day veterans this week, we are mindful of the broader panorama of suffering that the Second World War inflicted on nations across the globe. Here is a look at total military and civilian deaths, by country.


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Thirty years ago today, the Chinese government ordered soldiers to open fire on students and blue-collar workers who had taken over Tiananmen square in central Beijing to demand more political freedom and less corruption. Nobody knows how many people were killed, but estimates run into the thousands.

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By cracking down on the Tiananmen Square protesters 30 years ago, China's leadership bet that the country could successfully marry strict one-party rule with economic liberalization. That gamble appears to have paid off – in the years since, China has gone from bit player to driving force in the global economy, while lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Here's a look at China's economy then and now.

Unless you live in China, you have almost certainly seen the iconic photo or video of the man with two shopping bags who faced down a column of tanks as they moved through Tiananmen Square. And you might remember the moment when several people pulled him out of harm's way. The photo, by AP photographer Jeff Widener, is one of the most iconic and stirring images in history – the mechanized killing power of the state stopped in its tracks by a single human being. To this day, that human being has never been identified. Theories abound about what happened to him. Was he killed? Did he go into hiding? Surely no one has ever been so widely recognized and yet so anonymous.

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