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!
November 5 to 10, 2018
At the conclusion of the midterm elections in the United States, the Democrats took back the House of Representatives, while the Republicans strengthened its control of the Senate. President Donald Trump characterised the evening as a “tremendous success”. It was one of the most diverse – with a record number of women, LGBTQ candidates, and Muslims running, and the election of the first Muslim woman and the first Native American woman in Congress, the youngest congresswoman ever, and the country’s first openly gay male governor – yet most expensive mid-terms ever. Over five billion dollars were spent. In a polarised and partisan Congress, the House of Representatives is likely to be an investigatory body, launching investigations into Mr. Trump and his cabinet and going after his tax returns, while Senate is likely to continue minting judges across the country.
- In Cameroon, 79 children from a boarding school were kidnapped by armed men. Authorities were “not able to say who the kidnappers were, and did not rule out secessionists“.
- Later in the week, all 78 children and a driver were released. A principal and a teacher are still held.
- Four of six endangered black rhinos which were relocated to Chad from South Africa have died, “possibly of starvation“.
- In Ghana, the police use of force to arrest students protesting the possibility of all-male halls becoming mixed – leading to the temporary closure of a university – has raised questions about police violence in the country.
- Threats from a powerful politician in Tanzania to round up members of the LGBT community have led many to fear for their lives, “hiding in their homes and even fleeing the country“.
- The collision of two buses in Zimbabwe killed 47 people.
- In China, a fight between a bus driver and an angry passenger led to the crash of a bus into the Yangtze River, killing 13. Later in the week, a truck which hit 13 cars in China killed more than 20 people.
- In Japan, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation is finalising a compensation fund to pay compensation to the families of 3,765 Chinese victims, who had been forced to labour at coal mines during wartime.
- A new government report in Japan found that “more Japanese children and teenagers killed themselves between 2016 and 2017 than in any year since 1986“. 250 of them took their own lives.
- 56.4 per cent of voters in New Caledonia chose to remain part of France, instead of backing independence. “The referendum was the result of a process that started 30 years ago to end years of violence between independence supporters and opponents that had overall claimed more than 70 lives“.
- In Pakistan, a Christian woman named Asia Bibi – who spent eight years on death row on false charges of blasphemy – was acquitted. The acquittal has prompted anti-blasphemy protests across the country.
- The top court in South Korea ruled that “South Korean men can legally reject their mandatory military service on conscientious or religious grounds without punishment“. About 19,350 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been sent to prison since the Korean War.
- Following in the footsteps of Hungary and the United States, Austria withdrew from a non-binding United Nations pact on migration, with concerns over the compromise of sovereignty and the blurring of lines “between legal and illegal migration“.
- In France, up to eight people might have been buried when two buildings collapsed.
- In France too, six people were arrested for their involvement in a suspected plot to attack President Emmanuel Macron.
- The death toll from violent storms in Italy has risen to at least 17.
The Middle East
- In an apparent insider attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, one United States service member was killed. This comes weeks after legislative elections in the country and after the death of a powerful provincial police chief.
- Bahraini opposition leader Ali Salman was handed a life sentence, after he was found guilty of spying for Qatar.
- In Egypt, seven Christians were killed by gunman in an attack on their bus. No group immediately claimed responsibility. Later, the Egyptian interior ministry said its forces killed 19 militants who were involved in the deadly attack.
- The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil, banking, and shipping industries, after President Donald Trump disavowed the 2015 nuclear deal last year. This comes as Iran celebrated its 1979 attack on the United States embassy.
- Accidents and shootings in the United States: A fatal crash in California left four people dead; two people were killed in a shooting in Florida; and the partial collapse of a building in Baltimore, Maryland killed two people.
- In New York, 17 children in the Orthodox Jewish community were diagnosed with measles.
- Attorney-General Jeff Sessions resigned, at the request of President Donald Trump.
- At the conclusion of the midterm elections in the United States, the Democrats took back the House of Representations, while the Republicans strengthened its control of the Senate.