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 10 to 15, 2018
Following two weeks of uncertainty and unrest in Europe, events surrounding France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) continue to dominate the global discourse. In France, a shooting in Strasbourg left two people dead. In addition, major protests against mounting gas prices and eco-taxes have become a wider protest against President Emmanuel Macron, even if heavy security have prevented the large-scale destruction of previous weeks. Mr. Macron is now planning for people earning minimum wage to get extra money per month and to get rid of some taxes and hikes.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down as party leader of her ruling Christian Democrats, and her ally, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, was later elected as leader. And in the UK, the European Court of Justice first ruled that the country can unilaterally revoke Article 50. With the prospect of a defeat on her Brexit deal and facing a barrage of criticisms, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May said she would seek to delay a parliamentary vote, in the same week she won her party’s vote of no confidence by a vote of 200 to 117.
- In Cameroon, the Anglophone conflict has resulted in a deadlock between the country’s military force and the forces of Anglophone Cameroon. “Many Cameroonians are desperate for a peaceful solution to the conflict“.
- As a result of climate change, pollution by oil companies, and illegal fishing by foreign vessels, Nigeria faces the threat of depleting fish stocks. “Half of the fish species in waters off West Africa are already overexploited“.
- Former protest leader Nikol Pashinyan was put in power as Armenia’s prime minister in May this year, but later resigned to trigger an early election. His bloc won more than 70 per cent of the vote, winning a parliamentary majority in the process.
- An out-of-control school bus in Hong Kong killed at least four people.
- In Kashmir, India, a bus skidded off a mountainous road and fell into a gorge, killing at least 11 people. “Deadly road accidents are common in India due to overloading, the poor condition of roads and reckless driving“.
- In a reversal, the Malaysian government refused to ratify a United Nations convention against racial discrimination, prompting tens of thousands of Malay Muslims to rally and to celebrate.
- The crash of a high-speed train in Turkey killed four people.
- The euro is used by 60 countries around the world, and European economists have found that the currency “is only second to the dollar in terms of usage for international payments and as a reserve currency“.
- The European Court of Justice ruled that the United Kingdom (UK) can “unilaterally” revoke Article 50. The court sided with the advice of its top legal officer, who declared that the UK “has the power to withdraw its notification to leave the [European Union] under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without the agreement of other member states“.
- Major protests against mounting gas prices and eco-taxes in France have become a wider protest against President Emmanuel Macron, even if heavy security have prevented the large-scale destruction of previous weeks.
- Mr. Macron is now planning for people earning minimum wage to get extra money per month and to get rid of some taxes and hikes.
- Later in the week, a shooting in Strasbourg, France left two people dead.
- Following the start of her fourth term earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not seek another term as the country’s chancellor. While she plans to stay chancellor till 2021, Miss Merkel stepped down as party leader of her ruling Christian Democrats. Her ally, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, was later elected as party leader.
- Rail workers in Germany went on strike over pay, resulting in a four-hour stoppage.
- A stampede at an Italian nightclub left six people dead.
- With the prospect of a defeat on her Brexit deal and facing a barrage of criticisms, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May said she would seek to delay a parliamentary vote.
- By a vote of 200 to 117, later in the week, the prime minister won her party’s vote of no confidence.
The Middle East
- Peace talks over Yemen’s ongoing civil war began in Sweden, with an initial agreement by warring asides to exchange prisoners.
- Later in the week, it was clarified that no agreement had yet been reached. In the country, there are two separate but overlapping conflicts, and more than 10,000 lives have been lost.
- The chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei was arrested in Canada. The charges against her are not clear, and she could face extradition to the United States.
- An intense snowstorm in parts of the southeastern United States left at least three people dead.
- President Donald Trump announced that his chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year.
- A gunman in Brazil killed four people in a cathedral. “Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and gunfire is an almost daily occurrence in poor suburbs – but mass shootings are rare“.
- Ecuador has benefited from China’s lending spree, yet with the decline in oil prices some of its Chinese debt are now onerous.