This roundup covers news summaries across six regions: Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. Wherever possible I draw links to Singapore, but I think it is more important to understand geopolitical developments around the world, to draw attention to meaningful news stories, and to highlight both positive and negative events.
Around the world, I rely primarily on the email newsletters from “The Economist“, “Foreign Policy“, “Muck Rack“, “The New York Times“, “The Wall Street Journal“, and “The World Post“. In Singapore, the weekly digests from the European Union Centre and the Middle East Institute are handy. Do send me recommendations of news outlets or articles too, to jinyao.guan.yin.miao[a]gmail.com!
July 3 to 8, 2017
Last week, the world was rocked by disasters and accidents. This week, there is no respite from misfortune, as the headlines are dominated by attacks and bombings around the world. In Europe, eight were injured in France after a shooting outside a mosque, at least 18 were killed in a bus crash in Germany, and a man was arrested in Spain for shooting two policemen, causing both to be seriously injured. In the Middle East, suicide bombers claimed 14 lives – in a camp for displaced individuals – in Iraq, and at least 20 lives in Syria. In the United States, in an “isolated” shooting incident, a former employee of a New York City hospital killed one doctor. And in Latin America, there was a shootout in Mexico, and lawmakers in Venezuela were besieged by supporters of the president.
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- Around 60 African refugees drowned, when their rubber dinghy capsized in the Mediterranean.
- At least 77 people in the Central African Republic died after a passenger-laden heavy goods lorry tipped over.
- Following an outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo in May, the World Health Organisation has declared an end to this outbreak. “This was the eighth outbreak of Ebola the Central African nation has experienced since 1976“, during which four people died.
- A boiler explosion in a garment factory in Bangladesh killed 10 people. The garment-making industry – the second-biggest in the world, after China – has been criticised for a long time “for failing to improve working conditions in supply chains characterised by long hours, low pay, poor safety standards and a lack of union representation for workers“.
- China is complaining that India has sent troops across at Doka La in the Himalayas, “to block a Chinese road construction team“, though the opaque positions of Bhutan and the other two countries involved must be considered too.
- At least five people – mostly workers responding to a reported leak – were killed in a gas pipeline explosion in China.
- Almost 400,000 people were evacuated in Japan, as a result of “heavy rain and overflowing rivers“.
- At the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election – seen as a bellwether for national politics in Japan – “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party suffered a historic defeat“, winning just 23 out of 127 seats.
- 20 years ago, the British handed over the city of Hong Kong back to China. 20 years on, there are anxieties over the city’s future, as clashes have crippled “the government’s ability to make difficult decisions and complete important construction projects“.
Later, the city’s new chief executive, Carrie Lam – also the first female to hold the post – was sworn in by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi launched the country’s “biggest tax reform in its 70-year history“, with the aim of subsuming state and central levies to increase government revenue and to further economic integration. Short-term disruption is expected. Last year, the implementation of a de-monetisation campaign to clamp down on corruption was widely panned.
- North Korea “claimed it successfully test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile“, and if true – since it is difficult to confirm details – this could be the country’s most successful missile test yet.
The European Commission has found Google guilty of “abusing its monopoly in online search“, and the technology company will have to pay a fine of S$3.78 billion. Google is appealing, and Europe’s highest court the European Court of Justice will make a decision.
- Eight people were injured in France, after a shooting outside a mosque. This is not treated as a terrorist attack.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel is girding her country and her European partners “for a more conflictual relationship with the United States“. This comes just a month after she said that Europeans must take their destiny into their own hands.
- Lawmakers in Germany voted to legalise same-sex marriage, even though Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure.
- A crash between a bus and a truck in Germany killed at least 18 people.
- Portugal is highly exposed to the effects of global warming, and two weeks ago raging forest wildfires killed 64 people, many of whom were motorists trapped in their cars. This week, nine firefighters and one other person were injured in two forest fires.
The Middle East
- In Egypt, transfer of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia was halted by the country’s top constitutional court, but President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has gone on to ratify the deal, following ratification by the parliament.
- Eight months into the battle for Mosul, Iraq, might be coming to an end. The Great Mosque of al-Nuri – where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria proclaimed its “caliphate” – was taken over by coalition forces, even though militants remain in the city.
- 14 people were also killed in the country, after a suicide bomber attacked a camp for displaced Iraqis.
- A suicide bomber in Syria killed at least 20 people, in central Damascus, the capital of the country.
A former employee of a New York City hospital killed one doctor and wounded six other people in an “isolated” shooting incident.
President Donald Trump’s travel ban went into effect, defining the “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
- The noose is a “powerful symbol of bigotry and hatred directed at African-Americans“, and recently there has been a series of reports – even at a United States Mint – involving the use of nooses as an expression of this bigotry and hatred.
- A shootout in Mexico between “police and two rival drug gangs” left at least 14 people dead. May was the deadliest month in the country – the second-deadliest country in the world, based on homicide numbers – since 1997, when records were kept.
- In Peru, high-tech 3D-printing was used to reconstruct the face of “the first known female governor” in the country.
- Later, supporters of the government in Venezuela burst into the opposition-controlled congress, “attacking and besieging lawmakers“. Seven lawmakers were injured, and more than 350 politicians, journalists, and guests were trapped during the siege.