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 17 to 22, 2018
Floods struck Nigeria, as Hurricane Florence struck North and South Carolina and as Typhoon Mangkhut struck the Philippines, before affecting China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Typhoons are in the northwest Pacific, while hurricanes are in the Atlantic and northeast Pacific. In Nigeria, floods – the effects of which are made worse by a growing population and the lack of infrastructure – killed more than a 100 people. In the United States, Hurricane Florence hit North and South Carolina, killing at least 41 people. And in Asia, Typhoon Mangkhut hit China, Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines, killing at least 81 people in the Philippines.
- Two terror attacks in Burkina Faso left at least nine civilians dead. “Since 2015, [the country] has battled increased Islamist violence of the sort that plagues neighbouring Mali and Niger”.
- The collapse of an overloaded riverboat in DR Congo left at least 27 people dead.
- Floods in Nigeria killed more than 100 people. “A growing population, lax control of new construction, and a lack of good drainage infrastructure” have worsened the effects of seasonal flooding.
- A cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has worsened. At least 28 people are dead, and an emergency has been declared.
- In one of Australia’s biggest-ever food scares, there are reports “of dozens of cases of needles embedded in strawberries and other fruits”. Similar cases of sabotage are also under investigation.
- A ferry caught fire and sank in Indonesia, killing at least 13 people.
- Since July this year, Indonesia have been struck by quakes and aftershocks which killed about 500 people. Now, a malaria outbreak has infected at least 137 people, including babies and pregnant women.
- Suspected alcohol poisoning in Malaysia left at least 15 people dead.
- Two Reuters journalists in Myanmar – for covering the situation in the Rakhine state – were found guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and were therefore jailed for seven years. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticised for her apparent apathy, defended the imprisonment of the journalists, drawing harsh criticisms.
- With denuclearisation the main focus of the inter-Korean summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “agreed to shut one of the country’s main missile testing and launch sites”.
- The Philippines prepared itself for Typhoon Mangkhut, which is expected to be one of the strongest super typhoons in the country’s history. The intense rains which follow could trigger landslides and flash floods. After hitting the Philippines, Typhoon Mangkhut – the most powerful storm of the year – affected China, Hong Kong and Macau.
- A thousand demonstrators gathered in Saint Petersburg, Russia to protest against a plan to raise the state pension age.
- Turkey’s currency fell to a record low last week. This week, the central bank “defied the wishes of the president and hiked interest rates”, in an assertion of its independence.
- In Turkey too, almost 600 workers were arrested after “a protest over work-related deaths and poor conditions at the construction site for Istanbul’s third airport”. 160 of them have since been released.
- Seven people in Hanoi, Vietnam died, after taking drugs at a dance music festival.
- President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a state of the union speech, addressing “the core issues of migration and European sovereignty” and emphasising the importance of reciprocal relations with Africa.
- Following the resignation of his environment minister and sports minister, French President Emmanuel Macron – whose approval ratings have gone down – is set to lose his interior minister Gérard Collomb.
- The European Parliament voted to trigger Article 7 against Hungary, which is said to be at risk of “breaching the [European Union’s] core values”. Article 7 was previously triggered against Poland in December 2017 for a risk of serious breach to the rule of law.
- In Ireland, Storm Ali killed at least two people.
The Middle East
- Russia said Syria shot down one of its military plane, killing 15 people. Israel was blamed by Russia.
- There are two separate but overlapping conflicts in Yemen, where “many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste”. The malnourishment crisis continues to worsen.
- In Boston, suspected gas line explosions in three communities – which caused dozens of homes to ignite – killed one person.
- A shooting in Wisconsin left the shooter dead.
- A shooting in Maryland left four people dead, including the female suspect.
- Hurricane Florence struck North and South Carolina, with expectations of extreme flooding and historic rainfall. Hurricane Florence was later downgraded to a tropical depression, after wind speeds slowed down slightly.
- Tit-for-tat tariffs between China and the United States are set to continue, with more trade in goods to be affected.
- In Mexico, “gunmen with rifles and pistols killed three people”.
- In a country where poverty is rife and where economic overhauls are in progress, President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro splurged on expensive steak and smoked Cuban cigars in Turkey, where he dined at the restaurant of chef Nusret Gökçe, or “Salt Bae”.