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 23 to 28, 2018
Afghanistan, Madagascar, and Nicaragua were rocked by electoral violence, while two weeks of mass street protests in Armenia led to the resignation of the country’s prime minister. A suicide blast at a voter registration centre in Afghanistan – claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – killed at least 57 people, one person was killed in Madagascar when police fired tear gas at opposition demonstrators protesting new electoral laws, while in Nicaragua violent protests over planned changes to the social security system, which were later scrapped, left at least 10 people dead. Violent attacks also affected Canada (when a van drove into pedestrians), Nigeria (in a church attack), Pakistan (by three suicide bombs), Tennessee (where a gunman killed four people), and Yemen (after airstrikes hit a wedding party).
- One person was killed in Madagascar, when police “fired tear gas at opposition demonstrators protesting against new electoral laws”.
- A church attack by a gunman in Nigeria left 19 people dead.
- Following two weeks of mass street protests, Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan announced his resignation. He “had faced accusations of clinging to power when parliament elected him as prime minister last week“.
- A fire in a karaoke lounge in China killed 18 people.
- Following the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl and a string of other brutal cases in India – and the ensuing outrage and protests – an executive order was passed by the country’s cabinet “to make the rape of a girl under 12 punishable by the death penalty”.
- At least 37 Maoist militants were killed in Indian security forces after a four-hour gun battle.
- The collision between a train and a school bus in India left at least 11 children dead.
- A fire at an illegal oil well in Indonesia left at least 18 people dead.
- A road accident in North Korea left at least 32 Chinese tourists and four North Korean officials dead.
- Three suicide bomb attacks in Quetta, Pakistan, left six police officials dead.
- The holiday island of Boracay in the Philippines is now closed to tourists for a six-month clean-up.
- Given volatility in current global markets and the desire to stem the tide of protectionism, the European Commission “is working to push forth and hasten the conclusion of its comprehensive trade agreements with Japan and Singapore”.
- “Triggered by the daytime assault last week of two young men wearing skullcaps in an upscale neighborhood” in Berlin, thousands of Germans of different faiths donned skullcaps and marched in different cities as a show of solidarity to protest anti-Semitism.
- For killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall in August last year, Danish submarine inventor Peter Madsen was formally charged for murder in January this year. Following his conviction, he was sentenced to life in prison.
- In the United Kingdom, Prince Charles “was approved as the successor to Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth”, despite calls for the role to be rotated among the 53 member states of the Commonwealth.
The Middle East
- A suicide blast at a voter registration centre in Kabul, Afghanistan killed 57 people. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the attack. Since January this year, the city has been struck by multiple attacks. As the death roll rose, another bomb detonated near another registration centre in northern Afghanistan, killing at least five more.
- A flash flood swept away at least nine teenage students in Israel.
- For the fourth Friday in a row, Palestinians protested along the Israel-Gaza border, with the death toll rising to at least 37.
- At least 33 people were killed after airstrikes hit a wedding party in Yemen, the site of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
- In Toronto, Canada, at least nine people were killed when a van drove into pedestrians on a street.
- Teacher protests over low pay and school budget cuts – which started in West Virginia – extended to Arizona, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.
- Community bank Wells Fargo – as a result of its high-pressure sales culture – had used questionable sales tactics by secretly signing up customers for credit cards. 3.5 million accounts had been affected. In the hardest action taken by the Trump administration against a Wall Street bank, Wells Fargo was fined a total of US$1 (S$1.32) billion by two federal regulators.
- Former FBI Director James Comey – who was fired in May last year and who is now on a book tour – had up to his firing last year penned contemporaneous memos after his “troubling” private conversations with President Donald Trump. Some of the redacted memos have now been made public.
- A naked gunman killed four people in Tennessee.
- Protesting “the privatised pension system created under the dictatorship of [former president] Augusto Pinochet”, which has generated low returns to pensioners, 10,000 people marched in Chile demanding an end to the system.
- In March this year, three Mexican students – “doing schoolwork at the wrong place at the wrong time” when they arrived at a house surveilled by traffickers waiting for a rival gang member – were kidnapped, beaten, killed, and had their bodies dissolved in sulphuric acid. Their deaths have since prompted large-scale demonstrations and an examination of persistent violence in the country.
- Violent protests over “the government’s planned changes to the social security system” in Nicaragua left at least 10 people dead. After at least 25 people were killed in these protests, President Daniel Ortega scrapped the planned changes.
- Former president of the Senate Mario Abdo Benítez – of the long dominant Colorado Partido – won Paraguay’s presidential election.