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!
December 3 to 8, 2018
Following the uncertainty last week, there is continued unrest in Europe, with major protests in France, Brexit challenges in the United Kingdom, and worry about the use of cyberattacks to manipulate elections. In France, for the third weekend in a row, major protests against mounting gas prices and eco-taxes continued. This “yellow vest” movement has become a wider protest against President Emmanuel Macron, who announced a suspension of fuel tax and utility hikes later in the week. In the United Kingdom, for the first time ever, the British government was found in contempt of Parliament after it refused to publish the full legal advice underpinning its Brexit plan. And in Europe in general, a survey found that 61 per cent of Europeans worry about the use of cyberattacks to manipulate elections.
- President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari “denied claims that he had died and been replaced by a Sudanese impostor“.
- In a country where trust in the police – with its limited capacity – is low, South African vigilante groups who promised to stop gang violence were initially embraced. Yet mob justice killings have increased, and these groups are now more violent.
- The collision of a bus and a taxi in Hong Kong left five people dead.
- In Indonesia, a jailbreak left 90 inmates on the run. Some, however, were quickly recaptured.
- A gas explosion in a mall in Sarawak, Malaysia killed three people.
- Following the altercation between Russia and Ukraine, Russia is bulking up its defences in Crimea.
- A survey found that 61 per cent of Europeans worry about the use of cyberattacks to manipulate elections. In the same week, an international hearing at the British Parliament focused on Facebook and its role in spreading misinformation about elections.
- For the third weekend in a row, major protests against mounting gas prices and eco-taxes in France continued. “The ‘yellow vest’ movement erupted on social media in October and has since become a wider protest against [President Emmanuel Macron]“.
- Later in the week, Mr. Macron announced a suspension of fuel tax and utility hikes.
- In Georgia, former foreign minister and French-born Salome Zurabishvili won the country’s presidential election with 59.6 per cent of the vote, becoming the first female president.
- Slovakia became the eighth European Union country to withdraw from a non-binding United Nations pact on migration.
- In the Spanish region of Andalusia, the far-right Vox party won 12 seats, “in the first electoral success for the far-right since the country’s return to democracy in the late 1970s“.
- For the first time ever in the United Kingdom, the British government was found in contempt of Parliament “after it refused to publish the full legal advice underpinning its Brexit plan“.
The Middle East
- A suicide bomber in Iran killed two people outside a police station.
- The deaths of two girls in Israel – the 23rd and 24th female victims of domestic violence against women this year – “have led to a week of protests and a nationwide ‘women’s strike’” against government inaction.
- Even as he denies any wrongdoing and as he decries allegations as a witch hunt, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has been plagued by corruption allegations, and this week the Israeli police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu be indicted for receiving bribes and other criminal charges, “the third and most severe corruption case he has faced this year“.
- Qatar announced that it was leaving the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, to focus on natural gas production. Qatar denied that its decision was linked to a Saudi-led blockade since June 2017.
- A month after Canada, Mexico, and the United States accepted a reworked NAFTA, they “agreed on a deal in principle to govern the more than trillion dollars of mutual trade after a year and a half of acrimonious negotiations“.
- Former United States president George H. W. Bush died at the age of 94.
- The United States is in its longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s. Of the 2.8 million American deaths in 2017, suicides and drug overdoses also pushed up the number of deaths.
- American hospitality company Marriott revealed that the information of up to 500 million of its guests had been compromised.
- At the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Donald Trump “agreed to a temporary truce on trade“, after a series of tit-for-tat tariffs throughout the year.
- And as leaders gathered for the summit, Argentina sinks deeper into recession and is suffering the worst drought in decades. Earlier this year, the country has requested for a record bailout loan deal.