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!
July 2 to 7, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants into her country, agreed to tighten Germany’s border with Austria and to build screening camps for asylum seekers, so as to save her government. In the face of an internal rebellion, she is at her weakest point in office. In response to these planned restrictions in Germany, Austria said it would work to protect its own borders, “with the risk of a domino effect in Europe”. And related to this European issue of immigration, the Danish government has been criticised for its assimilation programmes in low-income immigrant neighbourhoods and its “increasingly sub-human vernacular used to describe Muslim immigrants”, while the Polish government carried out a sweeping purge of the Supreme Court.
- Having been at odds for years, Eritrea and Ethiopia – both of which signed a peace deal in 2000 after a two-year war, but never complied with it – are now willing to engage in conflict resolution. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed can take some credit for first extending the olive branch, since economic cooperation and stability is likely to follow if ties improve.
- In South Africa, three suspected rhino poachers were said to be mauled to death and eaten by lions
- A collision between a coach and a truck in China killed at least 18 people. “Speeding, dangerous passing, poorly maintained vehicles, and fatigued drivers are the major cause of traffic accidents in China”.
- The 21st anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule was marked by a rally attended by thousands.
- In India: At least 48 people were killed were killed in a bus crash; a family of 11 was found dead, “most of them hanging from the ceiling of their home, blindfolded, gagged and with hands tied behind the back”; and a blast in a fireworks factory killed nine labourers.
- At least 12 people died in Indonesia, after a ferry sank.
- In Malaysia, following the electoral defeat of scandal-plagued Prime Minister Najib Razak in May, acting Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi won the party’s internal polls “to continue leading Malaysia’s largest party”. He has pledged to return the party to power.
- Later in the week, Mr. Razak was arrested by anti-corruption investigators and charged in court for his connection to “the multibillion-dollar financial scandal at the 1MDB state fund he helped set up”.
- Heavy rains in Pakistan – causing roof collapses and electrocution in rain-related incidents – killed at least six people.
- Within the span of two days in the Philippines, two elected local officials were assassinated.
- In Sochi, Russia, a resident was killed after a car mounted a pavement and hit pedestrians.
- Typhoon Prapiroon in South Korea killed at least one person.
- In Thailand, 12 boys and their coach who were trapped for nine days in a cave were found. Rescue is underway.
- In response to planned restrictions in Germany, Austria said it would work to protect its own borders.
- In the face of a rebellion from her government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is at her weakest point in office. Even though the European Union struck a tentative deal on migration, the chancellor later agreed “to build camps for those seeking asylum and to tighten the border with Austria to save her government”.
- Two citizens in the United Kingdom were critically ill from an exposure to the Novichok nerve agent, which was used in a March 2018 attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil.
- The Polish government “carried out a sweeping purge of the Supreme Court”, thereby eroding the judiciary’s independence. The European Union had triggered Article 7 against Poland in December last year for a risk of serious breach to the rule of law.
The Middle East
- In Afghanistan, at least 19 people – “in a crowd of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus”, and including an election candidate – were killed in a suicide bombing. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the attack.
- A suicide bombing in Iraq – targeting a warehouse storing ballot boxes – killed at least one person. The country’s parliamentary elections in May remain plagued by allegations of fraud, with vote recounts expected.
- Iran is facing a economic and political crisis, and it is also experiencing “its most prolonged, extensive and severe drought in over 30 years”, prompting protestors to take to the streets.
- The sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of Libya killed at least three babies.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency said at least 270,000 Syrians have fled their homes “since the government launched an offensive against rebels more than two weeks ago” (in June). The number is likely to grow.
- The deaths of six people are connected to a heat wave in Montreal, Canada.
- For months, a strain of E. coli bacteria which contaminated romaine lettuce is likely to have caused the deaths of five people. Federal officials have now traced the source to an irrigation canal in Arizona.
- Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt resigned amid allegations of legal and ethical violations.
- In Guatemala, the number of people missing after a June volcanic eruption has increased to 332, up from 197 previously. The government’s inadequate response has also been criticised.
- Former mayor of Mexico City Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the presidential elections in Mexico by a landslide, becoming the country’s first leftist president in decades. His election – capitalising on a population which is weary of endemic corruption and rising crimes rates – could however strain relations with the United States.
- In Mexico, at least 24 people were killed in a series of explosions.