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!
September 3 to 8, 2018
Brazil and Ecuador, in Latin America, were sites of disasters, where a fire engulfed a national museum and a bus crash killed at least 11 people. India, Japan, and North Korea, in Asia, were sites of natural disasters, where some of the worst typhoons and floods struck. In Brazil, a fire engulfed the National Museum of Brazil – which had fallen into disrepair in recent years – threatening the collection of more than 20 million items. in Ecuador, a bus driver driving over the speed limit resulted in a bus crash which killed at least 11 people.
In Kerala, India, as the death toll from the worst floods in the state’s history continued to increase, the state is now battling an outbreak of bacterial diseases, transmitted via the urine of infected animals. In Japan, Typhoon Jebi, one of the strongest in 25 years, killed at least six people. Days later, a powerful earthquake hit Hokkaido, killing at least nine people. And in North Korea, severe flooding killed at least 76 people. Thousands were left homeless.
- Madagascar processes about 80 per cent of the world’s vanilla, the price of which has increased to more than US$600 (S$823.70) per kilogram, more than the cost of silver. The windfall, however, has attracted violent criminal networks.
- A car bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, left at least six people dead. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.
- Ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, China will turn to large-scale genetic screening, using complete genome sequencing to test the country’s athletes “for speed, endurance, and explosive force”.
- During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, China, President Xi Jinping announced a US$60 (S$82.6) billion package “of aid, investment and loans to Africa”. Leaders of 53 African countries were in attendance.
- As the death toll from the worst floods in India’s Kerala state continued to increase, the state is now battling an outbreak of bacterial diseases, “transmitted via the urine of infected animals”.
- India’s Supreme Court ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence. “Although public opinion in India’s biggest cities has been in favour of scrapping the law, there remains strong opposition among religious groups and in conservative rural communities”.
- In Japan, Typhoon Jebi – one of the strongest in 25 years – killed at least six people. Days later, a powerful earthquake hit Hokkaido, killing at least nine people. Aftershocks continued to rock the area.
- In Myanmar, for covering the situation in the Rakhine state, a judge found two Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo guilty “of breaching a law on state secrets and jailed them for seven years”.
- In North Korea, severe flooding killed at least 76 people. Thousands were left homeless.
- A bombing in the Philippines, which ripped through an Internet café, killed one person.
- The mayor in Cebu, the Philippines, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in his office building. This follows the shooting of two other town mayors in other parts of the country, two months ago.
- British and French fisherman clashed over shellfish. In the English Channel, “French law bans scallop-scraping until October while British rules allow it year-round”, and the spectre of Brexit has only complicated the conflict.
- Even though the European Union and the United Kingdom previously declared that they want to wrap up Brexit negotiations in October, the new deadline is now mid-November, raising the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.
- Right-wing demonstrations in Chemnitz, Germany – a city with a history of neo-Nazi protests continued. A crowd of 8,000 were “led by several hundred identifiable neo-Nazis”, with more marches planned.
- Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini are forming an anti-migrant coalition, “with both challenging France to re-open its border crossing at Ventimiglia which was a launching point for migrants crossing into France”.
- A bus crashed into the pillar of a viaduct in Spain, killing five people.
- Following a nerve-agent attack of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil, Russia’s involvement was mooted as a possibility. Now, the United Kingdom has charged two Russians in absentia for the attempted murder.
The Middle East
- A helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed at least 12 people. “The helicopter was carrying munitions and exploded on impact”.
- Two blasts in Kabul, Afghanistan, left at least 20 people dead. There were no immediate claims of responsibility.
- Violent clashes between protestors and security forces led to the closure of Iraq’s main seaport.
- Two Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen (in early- and end-August) have killed civilian casualties, including children. In a rare move, the coalition acknowledged that its attacks were unjustified, and pledged to hold individuals accountable.
- Following Apple, Amazon became the second American company to reach a market value of one trillion dollars.
- Citing budget issues, President Donald Trump announced a pay freeze for about two million federal employees.
- In Cincinnati, Ohio, a gunman killed three people. Police officers later shot and killed the gunman.
- As Argentina’s currency fell to an all-time low, and with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, President Mauricio Macri asked the International Monetary Fund for a bailout loan deal of US$50 (S$68.6) billion.
- In Brazil, a fire engulfed the National Museum of Brazil – which had fallen into disrepair in recent years – threatening the collection of more than 20 million items. “The museum had fallen into disrepair in recent years, as the country itself struggled with a crippled economy and political instability“.
- A bus crash in Ecuador killed at least 11 people. The bus driver was driving over the speed limit, and in the country “carelessness and recklessness continue to be the main causes of these tragic accidents”.
- In a first joint effort to craft a common policy, ministers from 12 Latin American countries met for two days to discuss “how they can cooperate to end the massive Venezuelan migrant crisis that has jolted the region”.
- A news cameraman in Cancun, Mexico was shot the night before his wedding day, and against the background of other slain journalists (and of general violence) there are questions as to whether he was killed because of his profession.