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!
October 1 to 6, 2018
As Brexit nears, and as the Conservative party in the United Kingdom (UK) concluded its party conference, Prime Minister Theresa May delivered one of her most effective speeches of her tenure. Earlier in the week – following the persistent Brexit disagreements between the European Union (EU) and the UK, the prime minister had said that a “no-deal Brexit would be preferable to the EU proposals that would risk breaking up the UK”. Following these Brexit developments, however, was a report that the rate of child poverty has increased in the country: About 600,000 children have fallen back into “relative poverty” since 2012, and the number of children who seek food handouts from the country’s largest network of food banks has more than tripled from 127,000 to 484,000.
- The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon – where English-speaking residents have been complaining “that their language and culture are marginalised by Cameroon’s French-speaking government and legislators” – has been met with force.
- At least 10 people were killed after a hand grenade exploded in South Sudan.
- Chinese movie star Fan Binging, whose “whose June disappearance touched off wild speculation about her whereabouts”, has been ordered to pay S$177 million in overdue taxes and fines.
- This year, India’s increasing activist Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence, and has criminalised the “triple talaq” practice. Now, it “has struck down a colonial-era law that made adultery illegal”.
- An earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia killed hundreds, and the death toll is expected to rise.
- The death toll later rose to at least 1,234.
- In Malaysia, six divers died “while looking for a teenage boy who fell into a mining pond”.
- In Myanmar, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for her apparent apathy to the situation in the Rakhine state and to the plight of two Reuters journalists found guilty of and imprisoned for a breach of law on state secrets. Now, Canada has stripped her of her honorary citizenship.
- The detonation of a roadside bomb by Kurdish militants killed four Turkish soldiers.
- One year after Catalonia voted in a referendum in favour of independence, and weeks after a million gathered in Barcelona to celebrate and to boost the independence bid, Catalan separatists spread out to block and streets and pack city plazas.
- Following the persistent Brexit disagreements between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that a “no-deal Brexit would be preferable to the EU proposals that would risk breaking up the UK”.
- A referendum in Macedonia – “of whether to rename the country to North Macedonia” so as to end a dispute with neighbouring Greece and to join NATO – ended inconclusively. 91 per cent of voters favoured the name change, but the turnout was only at 36.5 per cent.
- In the United Kingdom, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the rate of child poverty has increased: “Since 2012, about 600,000 children have fallen back into ‘relative poverty’”. The number of children who seek food handouts from the country’s largest network of food banks has more than tripled from 127,000 to 484,000.
- In the United Kingdom too, the Conservative party concluded its party conference, as Prime Minister Theresa May delivered one of her most effective speeches of her tenure.
The Middle East
- At least 13 people were killed in Afghanistan, by a suicide bomber at an election rally. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, in a country trapped in a circle of increased violence since early this year.
- In clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, seven Palestinians were killed. Palestinians have been protesting at least weekly since March this year, with at least 194 Palestinians killed.
- Following the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement in May this year, the United States – “in response to a United Nations court order that the United States lift sanctions on Iran” – terminated its 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran. The United States is likely to pull out of other diplomatic agreements and international bodies.
- Forging a last-gasp deal, Canada, Mexico, and the United States accepted a reworked NAFTA, now renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The country’s respectively legislatures will now have to approve the deal.
- A plane crash in California killed a passenger.
- A shootout in Mississippi left two police officers dead.
- One law enforcement officer was killed during a standoff with a shooter who opened fire, in South Carolina.
- Facebook said that up to 50 million of its accounts “were breached in a security flaw exploited by hackers”.
- Brazil state oil giant Petrobras was fined US$853 million (S$1.2 billion) by American and Brazilian authorities “for covering up a massive bribery scheme involving Brazilian politicians and political parties”.
- The migrant crisis in Venezuela continues to plague the country, affecting Latin America. “All the countries in the region are suffering the consequences of what is happening in Venezuela”, and Colombia in particular functions as a transit.