10 things we learned at Brookings in August

Fireworks explode behind Washington Huskies quarterback prior to a game.

August is typically thought of as a slow period for Washington D.C., but there was plenty of new research and analysis from experts at Brookings.  Here’s a list of 10 things we learned from their work.

1. What is the future of U.S. leadership in foreign assistance?

Displaced Afghans load aid near the site of a landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province May 5, 2014. Grief-stricken and desititute Afghan villagers vented anger with their government as they scrambled for emergency aid, three days after deadly landslides engulfed their homes. Some 300 homes in Aab Bareek, a village in the Argo district of Badakhshan, a remote and mountainous northeastern province, were buried under up to 50 metres of earth and debris. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: DISASTER) - GM1EA56055K01

At the 15th annual Brookings-Blum Roundtable held earlier this month, leaders in the international development space convened to discuss the biggest challenges facing the future of global poverty reduction. Listen to four of the attendees describe some of those challenges in a recent episode of the Brookings Cafeteria podcast, and read Brookings President John R. Allen’s reflection on both the roundtable and state of U.S. leadership in foreign aid.

2. The legal argument for why President Trump has likely obstructed justice

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to journalists who are members of the White house travel pool on board Air Force One during his flight to Palm Beach, Florida while over South Carolina, U.S., February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1E3D1572C0

Brookings Senior Fellow Norman Eisen, Noah Bookbinder, and Barry H. Berke have updated their 2017 report outlining how President Trump has obstructed justice since taking office. In this second edition they consider information that was previously not publicly available, including knowledge that the president demanded the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and they look at what future actions Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congress might take.

3. A quarter of workers with occupational licenses are health care workers

A nurse updates a patient's chart on a laptop at ProMedicas Heartland facility in Sylvania, Ohio, U.S., May 14, 2018. Picture taken May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczeyk - RC14D7963010

Based on examination of a new collection of comprehensive worker-level data on occupational licensing, Ryan Nunn discusses a Hamilton Project policy proposal on how licensing is imposed on non-physician health care workers. “[T]his research supports the conclusion,” Nunn writes, “that we could benefit from reforming licensing rules in the health care sector, loosening scope of practice limitations that currently prevent licensed non-physician providers from working to the full extent of their training and experience.”

4. Keys for managing the U.S.-China relationship

Chinese and U.S. flags are set up for a meeting during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at China's Ministry of Transport in Beijing, China April 27, 2018. Picture taken April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee - RC187D978C20

According to Ryan Hass, under Donald Trump and Xi Jinping the relationship between the United States and China has “deteriorated further and faster than at any point since the establishment of official ties in 1979.” In a new report, Hass outlines potential principles for managing competition between the two countries, allowing each to pursue their strategic goals while preventing future conflict.

For more on the U.S.-China relationship, listen to David Dollar’s recent Intersections podcast on the escalating trade war and consequences of new tariffs.

5. Loss of mutual respect reflects trend toward a more tribalized society

People wait in line at the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Granada Hills January 2, 2015. The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Friday begin issuing driver licenses under AB 60, the new law requiring DMV to issue a driver license to applicants regardless of immigration status in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT POLITICS LAW) - GM1EB121UEN01

Richard Reeves argues that there’s a deeper kind of inequality between classes, caused not by a lack of resources, but by a lack of respect. “Our deeper challenge is to restore respect,” he writes, “especially for those who are very different to us, or who have very different views to us. Disagreement is one thing; disrespect is quite another. If we want a better society, we need to restore some of the respect that has been lost. This is a task for each one of us, in the thick of our everyday life.”

6. A “smart city” is more than sensors and software systems

City skyline with Internet icons

Today’s metropolitan areas are larger than ever, encompassing massive land areas and multiple counties. Building “smart” in these places requires thinking past cities themselves and instead looking at “smart regions,” argue Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane. They offer four steps to achieve a smart city vision, “to continue the modernization of cities and suburbs in the digital age.”

7. A new tool to determine whether you are in the global middle class

A man watches the Huaxi village, at Jiangsu province.

The Washington Post has created a calculator using Brookings data to determine just how much money it takes to be considered part of the global middle class. According to Homi Kharas, vice president for the Global Economy and Development program, over half the world’s population will fall into that category by 2020.

Explore the calculator here, and read Kharas’ corresponding report on the “unprecedented expansion” of the global middle class.

8.  America has not addressed its legacy of slavery and the issues it causes today

People visit the makeshift memorial to car attack victim Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1D3A3DD0D0

Camille Busette, Chris Meserole, Vanessa Williamson, and Andre Perry reflect on the anniversary of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the current state of race and extremism in the United States in a special podcast episode. Busette and Williamson also write on how violent rallies fit within the long history of racism in the United States and how we as a nation could do a better at acknowledging that history moving forward.

9. A model for young, empowered Saudi women

A Saudi woman drives her car in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed - RC149DE96480

Tamara Cofman Wittes describes some of the ways Saudi Arabia is changing under the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by examining what she has seen on her trips to the country and interactions with a Saudi colleague, Hatoon al-Fassi. Hatoon, who has been an advocate for women’s equal participation in society, has recently spent over a month in jail after applying for a driver’s license in June. Wittes writes:

It’s deeply sad and ironic that women who have spent years preparing Saudi society for this future are now imprisoned and silenced. Young Saudi women, seeking to navigate new opportunities in education and employment while holding true to their values, need Hatoon al-Fassi’s wisdom and example showing them the way. I hope they will see her again, and soon.

10. States of the Upper Midwest generate 26 percent of corporate and university patents

Center for discovery at the University of Wisconsin

All or parts of over a dozen U.S. states form the “upper Midwest,” a region once known as America’s industrial heartland that now is home to firms and universities generating innovation and talent. Yet, says John Austin, “a lack of risk capital in the Rust Belt has held back the region’s capacity to translate its formidable innovation and talent assets into new businesses and jobs.” He describes some state-level strategies that could spur more capital investment in the region.