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!
May 28 to June 2, 2018
There were presidential developments in Colombia and Venezuela in the past weeks. In Colombia, the presidential race is headed to a June run-off between conservative candidate Ivan Duque and leftist Gustavo Petro, and the 2016 peace agreement with former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is a key issue. In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro may have won a second term last week, but his poverty-stricken country is compelling people to move out of the country.
- In response to high-profile cyber-attacks, Kenya signed the Computer and Cyber Crime Act into law. But the new act appears too vague, with concerns that it could also open “the door to privacy violations [and] censorship”.
- Suspected Islamists in Mozambique beheaded 10 people. No arrests have been made yet.
- Tanzania commemorated 54 years of independence, though the government’s “creeping authoritarianism” – with heavy-handed police response to protests, brutal suppression of riots, as well as limitations on journalists and on online content – has been of concern.
- In Bangladesh, “a sweeping crackdown on alleged drug dealers” since May 15 has left at least 91 people dead.
- A Nipah virus outbreak in India – first reported last week – has now killed at least 13 people.
- Thousands in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir “headed back to their homes near the de facto border with rival Pakistan”, after the armies of the two countries agreed to stop their exchange of artillery fire.
- Days after President Donald Trump cancelled a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Mr. Kim met with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in a bid to revive the summit. This is the second time the leaders of the two Koreas have met.
- The death toll from Sri Lanka’s monsoon rains has increased to 23.
- Three people in Liege, Belgium were killed in an apparent terror attack.
- The General Data Protection Regulation is a European Union data protection act which “seeks to give citizens greater control over their personal data and strengthen individual privacy rights“, and tech companies have been rushing to meet the requirements.
- In France, for scaling “four storeys up a building in Paris to rescue a dangling toddler“, a Malian migrant was named an honorary French citizen after meeting President Emmanuel Macron.
- A massive blaze in Germany’s largest amusement park left seven firefighters injured. 250 firefighters were mobilised through the night to extinguish the fire, as 25,000 people evacuated rom the park. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
- With one of the strictest abortion laws in the world, a referendum in Ireland will decide if these laws will be changed. Days later, voters voted to overturn the ban.
- Italy’s president gave a coalition of populist parties – including the Five Star Movement and the League (Lega Nord), who are antagonistic to the European Union – the green light to form a government.
- A Russian journalist targeted by Russia faked his own death in Ukraine, and later appeared in a press conference to announce this hoax “to thwart a real plot by Russian intelligence to murder him”.
The Middle East
- Two members of a Palestinian militant group were killed by Israeli tanks in the Gaza Strip. “Hostilities over the Gaza frontier have soared” since the mass Palestinian demonstrations in March this year.
- A cyclone hit a Yemeni island, leaving 17 people missing. Cyclone Mekunu is expected to hit Yemen directly.
- A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services said the agency “had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States“, with fears that they could be victims of human traffickers.
- In Florida, Subtropical Storm Alberto made landfall and killed at least two people.
- Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria last September, and since then problems have only persisted. A new study now estimates that “up to 4,600 more deaths than usual occurred, far more than earlier studies have suggested”.
- President Donald Trump announced “he would place punitive tariffs on US$50 (S$66.9) billion of Chinese imports and restrict investment in the American hi-tech industry”, in a continuation of the tit-for-tat tariffs between the two countries.
- Mr. Trump also imposed tariffs on aluminium (10 per cent) and steel (25 per cent) imports from Canada, the European Union, and Mexico, three of the country’s biggest trading partners. The countries have vowed to retaliate. The executive order was signed by Mr. Trump in March this year, though since then the negotiations over exemptions have not been successful.
- Producer Harvey Weinstein was indicted by a grand jury “on two counts of rape and another of a criminal sexual act”. Mr. Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment and rape by more than 80 women.
- In Brazil, truckers mounted more than 550 road blockages, with some calling for the government to step down.
- The presidential race in Colombia is headed to a June run-off between conservative candidate Ivan Duque and leftist Gustavo Petro. The 2016 peace agreement with former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is a key issue.
- President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro may have won a second term last week, but his poverty-stricken country is compelling people to move. 52,000 move into Brazil in the last year, for “work and a chance at a new life“.