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 10 to 15, 2018
Kabul, Afghanistan has been the site of intensified terror attacks since early this year, and even in August the violence throughout the country has only persisted. This week, multiple attacks left more than 100 people dead, as Taliban insurgents signalled a willingness to further talks with the United States (US). A day after an attack killed more than 60 people, Taliban insurgents killed at least 57 Afghan police officers and soldiers in four attacks. Thereafter, a bombing at a peaceful protest killed at least 32 people. Taliban insurgents denied the group’s role in the attack, and instead signalled a willingness to send a delegation to further talks with US officials to end the conflict in the country.
- Following the signing of a formal declaration of peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea since July this year, crossing points on the shared border of the two countries were reopened.
- 19 people were killed in South Sudan, after a small plane crashed into a lake.
- A cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has killed at least 20 people. A state of emergency was declared in the capital.
- Up to five people were found dead in Perth, Australia. “Violent crime with multiple victims is rare in Australia but this was the second major incident in Western Australia this year”.
- Three people were killed in Hunan, China, after a car drove into a crowd.
- The plunging of a bus into a valley in India killed 50 people. It is “one of the deadliest accidents on the country’s notorious roads in recent years”.
- The death toll of the earthquake in Hokkaido, Japan from last week rose to 37.
- A Singapore-bound bus in Malaysia lost control and crashed into a hauler truck, killing three people. Later in the week, the collapse of a bridge in Kedah, Malaysia, killed two teenage boys.
- In South Korea, a 61-year-old man was diagnosed with the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or Mers, marking “the first time since July 2015 that an outbreak of Mers has been reported” in the country.
- Almost a year after Catalonia voted in a referendum in favour of independence, about one million people gathered in Barcelona to celebrate and to “boost a bid for independence”.
- At the annual European Union ambassadors conference, tensions over budget, immigration, the continued rise of far-right political parties, and trade with the United States dominated the agenda.
- The far-right party Sweden Democrats, in Sweden’s national elections, won 17.6 per cent of the vote, “a significant increase over the 13 per cent they won four years ago”. The centre-left Social Democrats won 28.4 per cent of the vote, and the centre-right Moderates won 19.8 per cent.
- In the Vatican, Pope Francis “summoned top Catholic officials to discuss the escalating sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the church”. The pope’s response thus far has been widely criticised.
The Middle East
- In Afghanistan, “Taliban insurgents killed at least 57 Afghan police officers and soldiers in four attacks”. This came a day after a separate attack killed more than 60 people.
- Later, a bombing at a peaceful protest killed at least 32 people. “Taliban insurgents are responsible for most of the growing number of casualties across Afghanistan”, though they denied the group’s role in the attack. Instead, it signalled a willingness to send a delegation “for further talks with United States officials about ending the conflict in Afghanistan”.
- For their participation in the 2013 demonstrations, a court in Egypt upheld the death sentences “against 75 Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters”. This mass trial has been widely condemned around the world.
- Missiles hit the headquarters of an Iranian Kurdish opposition party in Iraq, killing at least 12 people. Iran was blamed.
- A shooting in Alabama left one person killed.
- A shooting rampage in California left five people – including the shooter – dead.
- In Brazil, far-right frontrunner for the presidential election Jair Bolsonaro was hospitalised in intensive care “after being stabbed during a campaign event”. The vote will be held next month.
- In Brazil too, “heavily armed men blew down the front gate of a maximum security prison”, killing one policeman and allowing more than 100 inmates to escape.
- In a country where inflation is expected to hit one million per cent by the end of the year, and in spite of an economic overhaul, around 2.3 million Venezuelans – or seven per cent of the population – have left the country in the past few years.