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!
June 18 to 23, 2018
The governments of Germany and Nicaragua have come under threat this week, and in Colombia a conservative candidate won the presidential run-off. In Germany, after interior minister Horst Seehofer announced a tough new immigration policy last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel has two weeks to agree to a new migration policy with the European Union, or face a rebellion from her own government. In Nicaragua, protestors are looking to remove authoritarian President Daniel Ortega and his family from power. And in Colombia, conservative candidate Ivan Duque won the presidential run-off with 54 per cent of the vote. The 2016 peace agreement with former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, remains a key issue.
- Kenya is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and the proposals “to stem the debilitating theft of public resources” range from reform of the country’s legal system to the promotion of socio-economic progress and better standards of living.
- In Africa – and in Niger in particular – to deter migrants from crossing the Sahara before crossing the Mediterranean to head to Europe, “the European Union put pressure on [the] government to ‘break the business model of (people) smugglers’“.
- The latest World Bank report on South Africa identified five key constraints in the country: “The skewed distribution of land and productive assets, skills, low competition and economic integration, limited or expensive spatial connectivity, and climate shocks“.
- A report by a government think-tank in India said that the country “is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage“. With expanding urbanisation, the demand for urban water resources will only increase.
- At least one person was killed in Indonesia, after a boat carrying 80 passengers capsized in bad weather. The death toll could top 190.
- A strong earthquake in Osaka, Japan left three people dead.
- In Myanmar, flooding in the monsoon season has caused landslides and flash floods, though no casualties have been reported.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has two weeks “to agree [to] a new migration policy with European leaders or face a renewed rebellion from her own government“. Her own interior minister Horst Seehofer had announced a tough new immigration policy last week. Previously since as unassailable, the chancellor has been challenged since the start of her fourth term earlier this year.
- “Over a controversial name deal with neighbouring Macedonia”, protestors in Greece gathered as lawmakers discussed a motion of no-confidence against the government. Many Greeks see the issue as an attempt by Macedonia to hijack the country’s heritage.
- “A van ran into a small group of pop music fans near a popular festival” in the Netherlands, killing one person.
- In the United Kingdom, three people died after being hit by a train.
The Middle East
- As Afghanistan celebrated an unprecedented ceasefire with the Taliban, a car bomb killed at least 26 people.
- And in a second assault, a suicide attack – claimed again by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – killed at least 18 people. The Taliban then announced that it would not extend the truce beyond the Muslim Eid holiday, despite expressions of war weariness.
- The Trump administration announced tariffs of 25 per cent on US$50 (S$67.5) billion of Chinese goods. China, in retaliation, said it will “immediately introduce tariff measures of the same scale and strength“. The two countries have been involved in high-level talks since President Donald Trump’s executive orders earlier this year, but the talks have not yielded a compromise.
- One suspect was killed in New Jersey, after gunmen opened fire at an arts and music festival.
- The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, “condemning the ‘hypocrisy’ of its members and its alleged ‘unrelenting bias’ against Israel”. The United States had refused to join the body during its creation in 2006.
- Following political backlash and protests over the separation of families at the United States border, President Donald Trump reversed his previous positions and instead signed an executive order to end that practice.
- Uruguay was the first country in the world to fully legalise the production and sale of marijuana for recreational use, and following a vote on a Cannabis Act in its Senate, Canada is set to be the second.
- Conservative candidate Ivan Duque won the presidential run-off in Colombia, where the 2016 peace agreement with former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, remains a key issue. Mr. Duque won 54 per cent of the vote.
- Nicaragua has been rocked by protests since April this year, and now protestors are looking to remove authoritarian President Daniel Ortega and his family – who appear to have underestimated the strength of the opposition – from power.
- 17 people were killed in Venezuela, after the detonation of a tear gas canister set off a stampede.