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 12 to 17, 2018
The European Union and the United Kingdom (UK) reached a draft agreement over Brexit, but Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May lost cabinet and junior ministers in the process. Sweden still has no government, and Austria and the Czech Republic withdrew from a non-binding United Nations pact on migration. In the UK, Miss May won her cabinet’s support for the draft agreement, though she lost two cabinet ministers – Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey – along with a number of other junior ministers, and the agreement still needs the approval of parliament. And in Sweden, lawmakers rejected a proposed minority coalition led by the second-largest party, the first time in Swedish history that a proposal for a new prime minister has been defeated.
- The derailment of a freight train in DR Congo killed at least 10 stowaways.
- DR Congo is also facing the worst Ebola outbreak in its history. More than 200 people have died from Ebola since August this year. The World Health Organisation has declared an end to an outbreak last year, but there were outbreaks in May and August this year.
- In Mogadishu, Somalia, at least 20 people were killed after at least two car bombs and heavy gunfire which followed. The death toll from the car bombs later rose to at least 52 people. About 100 people were injured in the blast.
- South Sudan is one of the main sources of refugees in the world, and amidst insecurity and instability in the country “the transition to democracy is more likely to be achieved through building institutional checks and balances“.
- In China, sales of the world’s largest consumer sales event, Single’s Day, exceeded US$30.8 (S$42.4) billion.
- A fire in a studio complex in Seoul, South Korea killed seven tenants.
- The Supreme Court in Sri Lanka overturned the president’s order to dissolve parliament, which had rejected the prime minister appointed by the president. The political crisis in the country has also turned deadly.
- Last week, Austria withdrew from a non-binding United Nations pact on migration, and this week the Czech Republic expressed its intent to do the same. This came a day after the European Union commission expressed its disappointment towards Austria.
- The European Union and the United Kingdom (UK) reached a draft agreement over Brexit. Later in the week, Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May won her cabinet’s support for the draft agreement, though it still needs the approval of the parliament.
- The prime minister, however, lost two cabinet ministers – Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey – along with a number of other junior ministers.
- In September this year, Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven lost a no-confidence vote and stepped down, after national elections resulted in a hung parliament. This week, lawmakers rejected a proposed minority coalition led by the second-largest party, “the first time in Swedish history that a proposal for a new prime minister has been defeated“.
The Middle East
- In Afghanistan, at least 242 security force members were killed in the past week. The country’s president revealed that since 2015, “more than 28,000 Afghan police officers and soldiers have been killed“.
- An undercover Israeli raid in the Gaza Strip left at least six Palestinians dead.
- Flash floods in Jordan killed 11 and forced the evacuation of almost 4,000 tourists.
- Saudi Arabia first claimed that prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a supposed fistfight. Then, it said that the killing was premeditated. Now, its public prosecutor is saying that Mr. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered.
- In 24 hours of Yemeni clashes between government loyalists and rebels, at least 149 people were killed. The United Nations is now working on a blueprint for ceasefire to ease the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
- Fires in California left at least 29 people dead. As the death toll increased to at least 50, the Camp Fire in the north became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
- 12 people – including a police officer – were killed at a bar shooting, in Los Angeles, California. The gunman also killed himself. “It was the second mass shooting in America in less than two weeks“, after a shooting at Pittsburgh.
- Given fears of increasing rates of usage among minors, electronic cigarette company Juul announced that it was removing most of its flavoured e-cigarettes and shutting down its social media accounts.
- In Colombia, after the 2016 peace agreement with former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, “killings of social leaders and civic activists have risen sharply across the country“. 121 were killed in 2017, and 110 in 2018 thus far.
- With more than 10 killings for every 100,000 women, El Salvador posted “the highest rate of femicide in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017“. Across the region last year, at least 2,795 women aged 15 and above were murdered.