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!
April 8 to 13, 2019
The past week in Brazil was marked by deaths and violence as well as political uncertainty surrounding President Jair Bolsonaro. The collapse of two buildings, following heavy rain and flash floods causing heavy runoff, killed at least two people, while army personnel who mistook a car as belonging to robbers killed one when they opened fire on a family driving to a baby shower. Over the collapse of a mine-waste dam in January, prosecutors plan to file criminal charges against mining giant Vale and its employees. And since his electoral victory last year, Mr. Bolsonaro has been embroiled in multiple controversies with few policies to show for, resulting in a disappointing approval rating of just 34 per cent (compared to his winning vote proportion of over 55 per cent).
- Police in South Africa arrested two suspects alleged to be smuggling 167 rhinoceros horns into Asia. “Demand for [it] is primarily fuelled by consumers in China and Vietnam where it is advertised by some traditional medicine practitioners as a wonder ingredient“.
- Protestors in Sudan have been calling for the resignation of authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir.
- Later in the week, a state of emergency was declared for three months after the Sudanese military – in response to escalating popular protests – removed Mr. al-Bashir from power. It ended the president’s 30 years in power.
- A shooting incident outside a nightclub in Australia left one security guard killed.
- In China, the derailment of a cargo train carrying aluminium ore killed six people.
- In Hong Kong, nine demonstrators were found guilty of causing a public nuisance during their involvement in the 2014 umbrella movement.
- General elections in India began this week, but with about one million polling stations the process is expected to end in May.
- A mudslide in India left 10 impoverished female daily wage labourers buried alive.
- Less than a month after shootings at two New Zealand mosques left at least 50 people dead, the country’s parliament voted 119 to one in favour of a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons. A buyback scheme will follow.
- A bomb which detonated in an outdoor Pakistani market killed at least 16 people. Eight belong to the Hazara community, which has been frequently targeted by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Taliban.
- A fire in a hotel and shopping complex in Bangkok, Thailand killed three people.
- A summit of tough negotiations between China and the European Union (EU) ended with the signing of a joint statement. “The success of the summit was due to a large effort by China to close the gaps in EU’s demands as Beijing was eager to have a joint statement“.
- In the United Kingdom, Brexit has been delayed again, this time till October 31.
- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested, after spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the United Kingdom. He was held by the police following the revocation of his diplomatic status. He was later indicted by the United States.
The Middle East
- An explosive device in Afghanistan killed three American service members and a contractor.
- The first move of its kind, the United States designed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation.
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to form Israel’s next government. Even though the parties of the prime minister and his rival – who conceded defeat – are set to secure about 35 seats each, major right-wing parties have voiced support for Mr. Netanyahu.
- In Libya, since a renegade general ordered his forces to march on the capital, at least 21 people have been killed in clashes.
- A bomb attack in Raqqa, Syria killed eight people.
- Tornadoes in the south of the United States – from Alabama to Texas – killed at least three people.
- In the same week, New York City, New York, declared a public health emergency because of the spread of measles.
- A gas explosion and partial building collapse in North Carolina left one person killed.
- In the United States, thus far, there has been more cases of measles in the first three months of 2019 than in all of 2018.
- Homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tendered her resignation, as President Donald Trump remains frustrated with border issues. Other top-ranking officials within the Department of Homeland Security were also pushed out.
- Brazilian army personnel – mistaking a car as belonging to robbers – opened fire on a family driving to a baby shower, killing one.
- Despite winning his country’s presidential elections with over 55 per cent of the vote last year, the government of President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro – embroiled in multiple controversies with few policies to show for – now has an approval rating of just 34 per cent.
- Prosecutors in Brazil plan to file criminal charges against mining giant Vale and its employees over the collapse of a mine-waste dam.
- Also in Brazil: The collapse of two buildings – following heavy rain and flash floods – killed at least two people. “Heavy runoff from neighbouring hills gushed through some apartment buildings and shops, leaving behind mud and debris“.