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Riot police mass today in Hong Kong. Photo: Ivan Cheung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong endured one of the most violent days in five months of protests today, with police shooting a protestor at close range, protestors lighting a man on fire, and Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam denouncing "enemies of the people."

Why it matters: More than 60 people were wounded, according to Lam, and tear gas filled the air in the Central business district in the middle of the work day. Chris Johnson, a former top CIA China analyst now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Michael Morell on the Intelligence Matters podcast that protest leaders realize violence by more "hardcore" elements risks sapping western support.

More takeaways:

1. There's a narrative in Beijing that to send in the troops would play "into a U.S. trap" to isolate China "just as our rise is hitting its stride," Johnson says.

  • "Hong Kong actually has many more things within their domestic emergency powers that they can use and would use before there was a violent crackdown [from the mainland]."

2. Chinese leaders reluctantly concede that the situation in Hong Kong will strengthen nationalists in Taiwan and virtually guarantee the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen in January.

  • "They look at events in Hong Kong and think 'that’s one country two systems? No thank you.'"

3. Chinese elites know what's happening in Hong Kong, but many mainlanders only know the party line and buy the idea of Hong Kongers as "spoiled children who don’t understand the beneficence of China."

4. Chinese overreach isn't the only factor here. Johnson also cites a property crisis driven by "the greed of Hong Kong's tycoons."

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Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

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Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

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Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.