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!
August 6 to 11, 2018
Abortion has emerged as an issue of contention in Catholic and Latin American countries, especially after Ireland’s abortion referendum earlier this year. This week, by a vote of 38 to 31 in the Senate, Argentina – where current laws only allow for abortion in cases of rape or when the mother’s health is at risk – voted against a bill to legalise selective abortion, after a vote in the lower house in June. Supporters of the bill rallied in Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, and Peru. And in addition, in Latin America: Brazil’s supreme court is deliberating the loosening of abortion restrictions, while last year Chile’s constitutional court approved a bill allowing abortion in some circumstances.
- In Africa, where consumer protection is scant, the share of household income spent on food expenditure has increased.
- Weeks after a May Ebola outbreak ended in DR Congo, another outbreak has killed 33 people, albeit in another area.
- As Australian farmers continue to suffer from the “worst dry spell in living memory”, the government announced additional funding for a multi-million dollar aid package, in addition to other forms of relief and assistance.
- Tens of thousands of schoolchildren protested the government in Bangladesh for its lax enforcement of road rules.
- Two police officers were killed in China when a knife-wielding murder suspect drove a car into a police station.
- A dynamite explosion in India killed at least 11 workers at a granite quarry.
- In Indonesia, the resort islands of Bali and Lombok were rocked by an earthquake, which has killed at least 82 people. Later in the week, as the death toll rose to at least 131 people, another strong earthquake struck Lombok island.
- It was reported in Japan that Tokyo Medical University – a prestigious medical school – “systematically lowered women’s scores on an admission test in order to admit fewer women” since 2011. The aim was to keep the proportion of female students at 30 per cent.
- The government of Myanmar continues to deny “there was any state-sponsored campaign to remove the Rohingya from Myanmar”, insisting that the Rohingya – who were forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh – are returning to Myanmar.
- 12 schools in Pakistan “were attacked by bombs and set on fire overnight”, and while no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, groups opposed to the education of girls have had a history of such transgressions.
- In July, Greece “had expelled two Russian diplomats and barred two other people from entering the country for trying to bribe officials and foment demonstrations to thwart a deal to allow Macedonia to join NATO”. Russia has now retaliated with expulsions.
- The crash of a vintage World War Two aircraft in Switzerland killed 20 people.
The Middle East
- At least 29 people were killed in Afghanistan, “when suicide bombers disguised in women’s clothing” stormed a mosque.
- In Afghanistan too, a suicide bomber “killed three Nato service members on a foot patrol”. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
- Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador and froze new trade and investment, after Canada complained about the arrest of two Saudi women’s rights activists. Canada has refused to back down.
- Saudi Arabia continued to escalate the feud, saying the kingdom “would no longer send its citizens to Canadian hospitals and that it would withdraw resident physicians from Canadian hospitals”.
- An Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Yemen left dozens of children dead.
- Accidents, incidents, and violence: In California, the crash of a small plane led to the deaths of five people. And in Chicago, 44 people were shot in a single day, including five who were killed.
- In New York: Republican representative Chris Collins was indicted on insider trader charges. Also, New York became the first city in the United States to restrict ride-sharing companies.
- Wildfires in California have grown to be the largest in the state’s history.
- Having announced that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement in May, it reimposed sanctions.
- Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube removed the content of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars site.
- By a vote of 38 to 31 in the Senate, Argentina voted against a bill to legalise selective abortion, after a vote in the lower house in June. “Current laws allow the procedure only in cases of rape, or when the mother’s health is at risk”.
- In Brazil, “2017 was not only the most lethal year on record for environmental activists in [the country], but one of the deadliest in any country”. 57 activists were killed last year.
- Chile became the first country in Latin America “to ban the commercial use of plastic bags”.
- President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro survived an apparent drone assassination attempt. It was said that explosives detonated near Mr. Maduro, but “firefighters near the scene are disputing the government’s version of events”.