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 25 to 30, 2018
Blasts hit African political rallies in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. In Ethiopia, an explosion hit a rally attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – who is popular with the people, though his ruling party is not – after he had finished giving a speech. While the attempted assassination on a national leader is not new in the country, “the scale and the audacity of this attack is unprecedented“. And in Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived a blast at a party rally. Mr. Mnangagwa was campaigning for votes ahead of nationwide elections, following the ousting of 93-year-old Robert Mugabe last year.
- An explosion hit a rally attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, after he had finished giving a speech. Mr. Ahmed was sworn in as prime minister in April this year, following the resignation of Ethiopia’s former prime minister in February.
- In what is likely to be consistent across the neighbouring African countries, researchers found that Malawian school children with disabilities cannot access and operate drinking water facilities, and have to deal with unclean pit latrines.
- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa “survived a blast” near the VVIP stage at a party rally. Mr. Mnangagwa was campaigning for votes ahead of nationwide elections in July, following the ousting of 93-year-old Robert Mugabe last year.
- In Shanghai, China, a man armed with a vegetable knife attacked four students, killing two of them.
- A rare violent crime in Japan left two people – a police officer and a security guard – dead.
- Turkey – which has been in a state of emergency since 2016 – held its presidential elections. This also comes a year after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won a referendum to change the country’s constitution, which got rid of the position of the prime minister.
- Mr. Erdoğan won a decisive victory, “lengthening his 15-year grip on power and granting him vastly expanded authority over the legislature and judiciary“. He won about 53 per cent of the vote, which therefore means a run-off is not necessary.
- The European Union struck a tentative deal on migration, after nine hours of overnight talks. Proposals include the creation of new voluntary asylum centres and helping Africa tackle its developmental challenges, though “no agreement was reached on how to reform the Dublin asylum system”. This offers German Chancellor Angela Merkel a lifeline, in the face of a rebellion from her government.
- Between 1939 and 1975 in Spain, under the military dictatorship rule of General Francisco Franco, about 300,000 babies were stolen from their mothers and sold for adoption. Now, an 85-year-old doctor is the first person to stand trial over the practice.
- The United Kingdom passed the Withdrawal Bill, though now the attention turns to the Trade Bill, which decides “whether the government should pursue a customs union with the [European Union] or not”.
- Having had its licence revoked in London, the United Kingdom last year, Uber has now been granted a 15-month licence to operate, after introducing “limits on the number of hours drivers can operate before taking a break“, new insurance policies, and a 24/7 helpline.
The Middle East
- In Saudi Arabia, members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or Opec, the international oil cartel, “agreed on a combined increase in crude oil output of one million barrels per day” to meet extra demand.
- Russian strikes in Syria killed 22 civilians, “the bloodiest day yet of the government’s offensive in the strategic region”.
- The Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries.
- Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court announced his retirement. Mr. Trump could now turn the court solidly conservative.
- In Maryland, at least five people were killed in a newsroom by a gunman.
- The death toll following a June volcanic eruption in Guatemala stands at 110, though the government’s inadequate response has been criticised. Individuals and organisations outside the government, instead, were involved in rescue and recovery missions.
- Ahead of the elections in Mexico, “the number of political candidates killed in [the country] has increased dramatically“.
- The World Health Organisation confirmed the return of polio to Papua New Guinea, “18 years after the Pacific nation was declared free of the disease” (since 1996). Inadequate sanitation and hygiene were cited as contributors.
- In 2016, President of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro “opened a large swath of [the country] to national and foreign mining companies“, and now these extensive mining projects have resulted in deforestation and pollution.