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 23 to 28, 2018
Wildfires in Greece – the worst in a decade – killed dozens, extreme temperature records were recorded in Europe and Japan, while thousands were displaced in Laos after a dam collapsed. In Greece, thousands of tourists and residents were also forced “to flee in cars and buses, on foot, aboard boats, and on makeshift rafts”, and the country’s emergency services and fleet of water-dropping aircraft were stretched to capacity. Extreme temperature records have also caused wildfires to rage in the last months in Sweden and in the United Kingdom, and dozens of people have been killed by a heatwave in Japan. And in Laos, the collapse of a partly built hydropower dam left thousands displaced and hundreds missing.
- A May Ebola outbreak in DR Congo claimed dozens of lives, but has now ended “in what appeared to be twin triumphs for a new vaccine and rapid response”. The government, with the World Health Organisation, had moved quickly with containment and vaccinations.
- In Nigeria, a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives in a mosque killed at least eight people.
- 11 South African taxi drivers, “returning … from the funeral of a colleague”, were shot dead by gunmen.
- Landslides near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border killed at least five people.
- Chinese children are required by law to be vaccinated, and it was revealed that a major drug producer has been distributing hundreds of thousands of faulty vaccines. Recalls and investigations are now underway.
- The collapse of an under-construction building in India killed at least one person.
- Japan’s two-week long heatwave has killed at least 80 people.
- The collapse of a dam in Laos left hundreds of people missing.
- Ahead of a nationwide election in Pakistan, a suicide bomb attack killed at least 31 people.
- Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached last year after months of protests against her, was sentenced earlier this year to 24 years in prison for bribery and the abuse of power. She has just been sentenced to eight more years in prison.
- A two-year state of emergency in Turkey ended. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – who won a decisive victory in the presidential elections last month – is now consolidating his power and formalising his repressive political tactics.
- Floods in Vietnam killed at least 10 people. The country has been hit by three tropical storms this year.
- In France, a bodyguard of President Emmanuel Macron was embroiled in a scandal after he was filmed beating up a protestor. The bodyguard was wearing a police helmet, even though he is not a policeman.
- Forest fires in Greece – the worst in a decade – burned at least seven people to death. The toll is expected to rise significantly.
- The death toll continued to rise. The country’s entire fleet of water-dropping aircraft was mobilised.
- In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May’s conservative party colleagues “remained firmly divided between the Brexit hardliners and the pro-[European Union] Europhiles”, reflecting a broader political divide in the country. This comes a week after the turmoil was marked by the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
The Middle East
- In Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed at least 14 people at the entrance to the Kabul international airport. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the attack. A suicide bombing last week killed at least seven people, in a city which has been the site of unrest and violence – especially against civilians – since the start of the year.
- In Iraq, three teenage gunmen who stormed a governor’s headquarters killed one employee. The three gunmen were later shot dead.
- In Israel: Tens of thousands of Israelis protested a surrogacy law which would allow single ladies to surrogacy, but not men or gay couples. This follows the passing of a contested law last week, declaring the country the nation-state of the Jewish people.
- Israel evacuated hundreds of White Helmets rescue workers out of Syria, though 3,000 of them still remain in the country.
- A gunman in Canada shot 14 people, killing at least one of them. The gunman was killed after exchanging fire with the police.
- A wildfire in California killed one person.
- With fears over the implications of an escalating trade war, following tit-for-tat tariffs earlier this year, the Trump administration announced S$16.36 billion in emergency aid to farmers. Republicans fear a backlash to the administration’s tariff-driven trade approach.
- President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker met with President Donald Trump, agreeing to work towards lowering tariffs.