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!
January 21 to 26, 2019
Venezuela is back in the news for three immediate reasons: Growing popular protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro, the declaration by an opposition lawmaker of the illegitimacy of the government, as well as the involvement of other countries. In the beginning of the week, a small team of soldiers – days ahead of a national call for protests issued by the opposition-controlled National Assembly – attempted an uprising against the government. Later in the week, Vice President of the United States Mike Pence publicly criticised Mr. Maduro, sending a videotaped message to the country’s residents. President Donald Trump then recognised the opposition leader as the interim president. These moves are crafted with the intent to pressure Mr. Maduro to step aside and to restore democracy in Venezuela, and countries in Latin America such as Argentina and Brazil followed with recognitions. Yet countries such as Bolivia, China, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey continue to back the government of Mr. Maduro. The country’s military chief also declared loyalty to him.
- The Human Rights Watch agency reported that Angola decriminalised same-sex relationships, after adopting a new penal code.
- The result of the presidential election in DR Congo remains in dispute, but the country’s Constitutional Court affirmed the results of the electoral commission and rejected the challenge from another opposition candidate.
- Later in the week, opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in as the country’s new president
- More than 100 African migrants died in a wreck off the coast of Libya.
- An attack on a United Nations camp in Mali left 10 peacekeepers killed. The peacekeepers were from Chad.
- A United States airstrike in Somalia killed 52 militants.
- The death of a young doctor during nation-wide, anti-government demonstrations in Sudan “has emerged as a signal moment in a powerful tide of protest” against President Omar al-Bashir. Thousands of demonstrators have since marched on streets.
- In Crimea, two ships caught fire and resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people.
- A bull-wrestling festival in India left at least two spectators gored to death.
- An overflowing dam in Indonesia killed at least 30 people and forced thousands to flee their villages.
- Following the surprising resignation of the king of Malaysia, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang was elected as the country’s new king.
- The yellow vest protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government in France entered its 10th consecutive weekend.
- A resort fire at a ski resort in France left two persons dead.
- The collision of a helicopter and a small aeroplane above the Italian Alps killed at least four people.
- Macedonia’s parliament approval of a constitutional amendment to change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia led to a vote of confidence in Greece, and now demonstrations of tens of thousands of protestors in the country.
- Later in the week, Greek lawmakers ratified the name change deal with Macedonia by a narrow majority.
- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May – dealt a historic defeat and having survived a confidence vote in parliament – presented parliament with a new plan which strongly resembles the one which failed.
The Middle East
- An intelligence base in Afghanistan was infiltrated by the Taliban, who killed 40 to 50 people working for the agency.
- In Israel, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of an Arab Israeli student who was raped and murdered in Australia.
- A deal was struck with public school teachers in Los Angeles, California – who protested over salaries, class sizes, and the hiring of more staff – and they are now expected to return to their classrooms.
- A shooting in Florida left at least five people killed.
- A measles outbreak in Washington has led to a total of 25 confirmed cases. Officials are also fighting against misinformation over immunisation, and the affected county has a lower immunisation rate than other areas in the country.
- President Donald Trump announced a deal to temporarily reopen the government, ending the historic 35-day government shutdown.
- The collapse of a dam in Brazil, which unleashed a torrent of mud, killed several people.
- A car bomb at a police academy in Colombia killed 21 people. A guerrilla group with 2,000 figures took responsibility.
- President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales ended the mandate of a United Nations-backed body which has been investigating corruption for more than a decade, “giving its prosecutors 24 hours to leave the country“. Thousands are now protesting the decision.
- The death toll from the explosion of a ruptured gasoline pipeline in Mexico increased to at least 66.
- A small team of soldiers in Venezuela attempted an uprising against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. They were detained. This took place “days ahead of a national call for protests issued by the opposition-controlled National Assembly“.
- Later in the week, Vice President of the United States Mike Pence publicly criticised Mr. Maduro, sending a videotaped message to the country’s residents. President Donald Trump then recognised the opposition leader as the interim president. These moves are crafted with the intent to pressure Mr. Maduro to step aside and to restore democracy in Venezuela.
- Countries in Latin America such as Argentina and Brazil followed with recognitions, but countries such as Bolivia, China, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey continue to back the government of Mr. Maduro. The country’s military chief also declared loyalty to him.