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!
April 9 to 14, 2018
On charges of corruptions, former presidents in Brazil, South Korea, and Zimbabwe are now in prison, or could potentially face time in prison. In Brazil, a week after he had an arrest warrant issued against him, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva turned himself in to the police, effectively removing him from the country’s presidential election in October this year. In South Korea, former president Park Geun-hye – who was impeached last year – was sentenced to 20 years in prison for multiple charges, including bribery and the abuse of power. Miss Park is the third former South Korean leader to be convicted on criminal charges after leaving office, though her two predecessors Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo received presidential pardons after about two years of imprisonment. Her successor, former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was also indicted for corruption this week. And in Zimbabwe, former president Jacob Zuma has been charged with corruption linked to a 1990 arms deal, months after he fell from power.
- 257 people died in Algeria, when a military plane crashed in a field.
- Elections in DR Congo are long overdue, and last year the United Nations (UN) activated its highest level of emergency to allow for additional resources to be channelled into the country. The UN plans to host a donor conference next week, but “President Joseph Kabila has said that it will boycott the gathering, denying that his central African nation faces a humanitarian crisis at all”.
- Public hospital workers in Togo are demonstrating against problems in the country’s medical system. Doctors and nurses are “walking out of the central hospital, blocking new patients from entering, and encouraging existing patients to seek private treatment elsewhere”. They are blaming government corruption and ineptitude for malfunctioning equipment, unreliable utility supplies, and low salaries.
- Major student protests in Bangladesh against government job quotas in favour of special groups – such as families of veterans from the country’s war of independence and disadvantaged minorities – left at least 100 people injured.
- The rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in India “has become another battleground in India’s religious wars“, as Hindu nationalists have rallied to defend the eight accused men, all of whom are Hindu.
- At least 27 people were killed in India, after their bus skidded off the road.
- At least 60 people have been killed in Indonesia, after drinking illegal homemade alcohol. The death toll then rose to at least 90, and the city of Bandung also declared a state of emergency.
- A landslide in Japan left one man dead and several others missing.
- Following the dissolution of the Malaysian parliament, Prime Minister Najib Razak called for the country’s general election.
- For months Myanmar has been under the spotlight for its assault against more than 650,000 Rohingyas, with Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi criticised for her apparent apathy. This week, seven Myanmar soldiers were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour “for participating in a massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslim men“. And for reporting on this massacre, two Reuters journalists were arrested in December, and “will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison“.
- Six people died in a helicopter crash in Russia.
- Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who was impeached last year after months of protests against her, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for multiple charges, “including bribery and [the] abuse of power”. Her confidante Choi Soon-sil, who was alleged to have meddled in state affairs despite holding no government position, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February this year.
- Days later, former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was indicted for corruption. He has been charged with “power abuse, embezzlement, and tax evasion“. If convicted, Mr. Lee could be jailed for life.
- The crash of a hot air balloon in Jeju, South Korea, left one tourist dead.
- The European Defence Agency of the European Union (EU) is working to enhance the mobility and the interoperability of military within and beyond the EU, with an emphasis on military requirements, transport infrastructure, and regulatory procedures.
- In Germany, a car drove into a group of people and killed several people.
The Middle East
- A bomb attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Iraq left at least 16 people dead.
- Palestinian demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border continued, leading to a rise in the death toll.
- In the last rebel-held town near Syria’s capital, the government has been accused of launching a suspected chemical attack, killing dozens of people. The administration of President Bashar al-Assad has denied the attack. This comes a year after the United States had launched cruise missiles in response to a sarin attack in the country.
- Thereafter, a Syrian air base was hit by missiles. Russia blamed Israel, which declined to comment.
- In Canada, a crash between a bus “carrying a junior ice hockey team” and a lorry killed at least 14 people.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the office, home, and hotel room of President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan said he will not seek re-election in November.
- Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg testified for two days – first to a joint hearing of two Senate committees, and then to a House of Representatives committee – but “one of the most stunning revelations … was not anything Mr Zuckerberg said, but how little America’s politicians seemed to know about Facebook and the way the world of digital communications operates“.
- A week after former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had an arrest warrant issued against him – for a criminal conviction – he turned himself in to the police after “a tense stand-off with the authorities after he ignored a court-ordered deadline to begin a prison sentence“. Requests by his lawyer to delay or to suspend the arrest were denied by higher court judges.
- At least eight Colombian police officers were killed in an explosives blast.