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 22 to 27, 2018
In Asia, the deadliest Taiwanese rail accident in 27 years killed at least 18 people, while accidents in India, Malaysia, and Myanmar killed dozens. While in Latin America, in Colombia in particular the violent deaths of Venezuelans have significantly increased. In Asia, the derailment of a train in Taiwan killed at least 18 people, a train accident in India killed at least 55, a landslide in a construction site in Malaysia killed two, while a blaze through an overcrowded camp in the Rakhine state in Myanmar killed six. In Latin America, the violent deaths of Venezuelans in Colombia rose more than threefold in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2017, totalling 310 thus far.
- In Ethiopia, members of parliament elected experienced diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president.
- In Nigeria, communal clashes between young Christians and Muslims left 55 people killed.
- About 10 days after Africa’s youngest billionaire, entrepreneur and politician Mohammed Dewji, was kidnapped by gunmen in Tanzania, he was released. Mr. Dewji “could not identify the abductors throughout the period of captivity”.
- In Australia, eight weeks after Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as prime minister, current prime minister Scott Morrison and his Liberal Party have been forced into minority government after the Labour Party won a by-election in Sydney.
- In Hong Kong, the longest sea crossing bridge in the world – the Hong Kong-Zhuhai bridge – was officially opened. It connects Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai, though the project has been criticised for worker deaths and for environmental impact.
- In Hong Kong too, Cathay Pacific Airways revealed that the “personal details of 9.4 million passengers had been illegally accessed by hackers in March“. The airline, however, is likely to avoid harsh punishment.
- At least 55 people in India died, after a train struck people celebrating a Hindu festival.
- A landslide at a construction site in Penang, Malaysia killed two people.
- In the Rakhine state in Myanmar, six Rohingyas were killed “after a blaze tore through an overcrowded camp”.
- The derailment of a train in Taiwan killed at least 18. It is the island’s “deadliest rail accident in 27 years”.
- Co-founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange sued Ecuador – whose embassy in London has given him refuge since 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual-assault charges – for blocking his communications.
- Despite some progress made over Brexit negotiations, any agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom remains elusive, especially over “a customs arrangement that would avoid a hard border in Ireland“.
- In the same week, hundreds of thousands of EU supporters marched through London “to demand that the British government holds a public vote on the terms of Brexit”. In 2016, 52 per cent of voters were in favour of Brexit.
- British Airways in the United Kingdom apologised in September “after the credit card details of hundreds of thousands of its customers were stolen“. A further investigation has revealed that 185,000 more customers may be affected.
The Middle East
- Long-awaited legislative elections in Afghanistan were further marred at violent incidents which had killed at least 28 people. “The elections already had been delayed for three years because of security concerns”.
- Saudi Arabia confirmed that prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dead, after he was killed in a supposed fistfight.
- A virus outbreak in New Jersey has left at least six children dead.
- Pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, and the New York offices of CNN.
- President Donald Trump announced that the United States “is pulling out of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia“, on claims that Russia has violated the agreement. Some claim an arms race could follow.
- In Colombia, violent deaths of Venezuelans “rose more than threefold in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2017“. There was a total of 310 violent deaths, mostly as a result of accidents and suicide.
- A large caravan of Honduran immigrants have been heading towards the United States border through Mexico, to try to claim asylum. The size of the caravan has since ballooned to more than 7,000 people, placing Mexico in a bind.