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 15 to 20, 2018
Afghanistan continues to be trapped in a circle of violence, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have made some progress, and in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fragile coalition suffers another blow. In Afghanistan, a bomb went off at an election rally in Afghanistan, killing at least 22 people, and later in the week a bomb placed under a sofa killed an election candidate. In the EU and the UK, following an acrimonious clash last month, a deal seems more likely now, with the EU said to be offering the UK a Canada+++ deal. And in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fragile coalition received another blow, as they received the worst results since the Second World War in Bavaria’s regional elections.
- The derailment of a train in Morocco killed at least six people.
- Suicide bombings in Somalia killed at least 16 people. “The blasts came a day before the first anniversary of a truck bombing that left more than 500 dead in Mogadishu” (in September last year).
- Mudslides and floods in Uganda killed at least 34 people. Dozens more are feared missing.
- In Uganda too, a study of women of reproductive age living with rheumatic heart disease found that while these patients understood the complications during pregnancy, they experience stigma and have little control over reproductive decision-making.
- Former protest leader Nikol Pashinyan was put in power as Armenia’s prime minister in May this year, but said he was resigning from his post “in order for parliament to be dissolved and an early election held”.
- In response to claims that it has been detaining up to a million Muslim members of ethnic minorities, China responded by saying that the camps are instead “training people to work and to speak Chinese”.
- An attack in Russian-annexed Crimea killed at least 18 people, most of whom were teenagers.
- In India, following accusations of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women, junior foreign minister M.J. Akbar resigned.
- At least eight expedition climbers died after a snowstorm in Nepal.
- 14 Iranian security officers were kidnapped by a terror group on the border with Pakistan.
- Following the acrimonious clash over Brexit between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) last month, a deal seems more likely now. The EU is said to be offering the UK a Canada+++ deal, with the three + referring “to close cooperation and coordination on ‘trade’, ‘internal security’, and ‘foreign policy’, respectively”.
- Flash floods in France killed at least 13 people.
- In Germany, three people were killed after a light aircraft crashed into a group of onlookers.
- Since the start of her fourth term earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has lurched from crisis to crisis. Her fragile coalition received another blow, as they received the worst results since the Second World War in Bavaria’s regional elections.
- In Greece, 11 people – said to be migrants travelling with migrants – were killed in a collision between a car and a truck.
The Middle East
- A bomb went off at an election rally in Afghanistan, killing at least 22 people. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. The country has been trapped in a circle of increased violence since early this year.
- Later in the week, a bomb placed under a sofa “killed an Afghan election candidate”, as deadly violence continues to escalate.
- In Afghanistan too, “the powerful police chief of Kandahar province” was killed in an attack.
- Clashes along the Gaza–Israel border left six Palestinians killed. The death toll continues to rise. “At least 204 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since protests began” earlier this year.
- In Yemen, where there are two separate but overlapping conflicts, the malnourishment crisis has worsened. 14 million people are at risk, and Yemen is likely to experience “the world’s most lethal famine for 100 years”.
- Canada formally legalised recreational marijuana. Uruguay first did so in 2013.
- Washington became the 20th state in the United States to get rid of capital punishment.
- The death toll from Hurricane Michael increased to 11 (across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia).
- Facebook removed 559 pages and 251 accounts which were “coordinating the spread of misinformation and spam in the United States”. The social media company has been under fire too, for recent account breaches.
- A trial began on whether Harvard University has been illegally discriminating against Asian-American applicants.
- Pope Francis canonised two Roman Catholic figures, one of whom the murdered Salvadoran archbishop Óscar Romero. In the same week, he – under fire for his handling of such cases – defrocked two more Chilean bishops “accused of sexually abusing minors”.
- Mexico sent federal forces to its southern border, “as a large caravan of Honduran immigrants [head] toward the United States”.