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 17 to 22, 2018
President Donald Trump and his administration had a busy week: In response to the Las Vegas shooting last year, the sale of bump stocks is now banned; the Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan criminal justice bill; and the Trump Foundation agreed to dissolve, after New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against it for violations of federal and state laws. Mr. Trump also declared an end to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, in Syria, prompting the resignation of Defence Secretary James Mattis.
- In Nigeria, 12 soldiers were killed after fighting with Islamists.
- Before the ouster of former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, it was assumed that his wife, Grace Mugabe, would succeed her husband. Now, an arrest warrant has been issued for her in South Africa for an alleged assault.
- An accident at a coal mine in China killed seven miners. “Deadly mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record, despite efforts to improve coal production conditions and crack down on illegal mines“.
- A suspected food poisoning in India – after participants shared food at a religious ceremony – has caused at least 11 deaths.
- A fire at a hospital in Mumbai, India, left at least eight people – including a three-month-old baby – dead.
- In India-administered Kashmir, Indian troops fired on protestors and killed seven civilians.
- Malaysia charged American multinational investment bank and services company Goldman Sachs related to an investment fund scandal.
- A political crisis in Sri Lanka – which later turned deadly – revolving around the president’s order to dissolve parliament has ended with the reinstatement of former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
- Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel resigned in the face of opposition against his migration policy.
- A mining accident in the Czech Republic killed at least one miner.
- European countries have consecutively withdrawn from a non-binding United Nations pact on migration, which was just formally approved by over 160 countries. “The migration pact is the first international document on migration management, consisting of 23 objectives to open up legal migration and discourage illegal border crossing“.
- A car ploughed into a bus stop in Germany, killing one woman.
- At the end of the COP24 climate change conference in Poland, more than 190 countries agreed “on a set of rules meant to help curb global warming“. Yet, some critical issues were delayed, alongside other complications.
- After a ruling by the European Court of Justice that Poland had to suspend a law which lowered the retirement age for its Supreme Court judges, the country’s president signed legislation reinstating the judges who were forced into early retirement.
- A helicopter ambulance crash in Portugal killed four people.
- With the prospect of a defeat on her Brexit deal and facing a barrage of criticisms, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May had delayed a parliamentary vote. It is now scheduled for the week starting on January 14 next year.
The Middle East
- An airstrike targeting a Taliban commander in Afghanistan killed at least 20 Afghan civilians.
- Despite peace talks over Yemen’s ongoing civil war, airstrikes and fierce clashes left at least 29 fighters dead.
- Devastated by Hurricane Maria, about 2,975 people have died in Puerto Rico. In addition, about 130,000 people – or four per cent of the population – have since left the island.
- Gun rights activist Maria Butina became the first Russian national to be convicted of conspiracy related to the 2016 presidential elections in the United States.
- President Donald Trump and his administration had a busy week: In response to the Las Vegas shooting last year, the sale of bump stocks is now banned; the Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan criminal justice bill; and the Trump Foundation agreed to dissolve, after New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against it for violations of federal and state laws.
- Mr. Trump also declared an end to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, in Syria.
- Defence Secretary James Mattis resigned. He wrote: “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defence whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position“.
- Brazil’s most famous medium and spiritual healer João Teixeira de Faria has been accused by more than 200 women of sexual abuse.
- Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was found guilty of receiving over a million dollars in bribes and remains locked up. Now, a surprise ruling by the country’s Supreme Court could result in his release.