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 22 to 27, 2019
In the same week China organised the second Belt and Road Forum, the sentencing of four Occupy leaders in Hong Kong marked the end of years of prosecutions and tens of thousands protested against a government plan to allow extraditions to mainland China. In China: A lift crash left 11 people dead, the government formally arrested the former head of Interpol Meng Hongwei, and the Belt and Road Forum drew representatives from over 150 countries. And in Hong Kong, four of nine Occupy leaders were sentenced up to 16 months for their involvement in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, and an extradition proposal sparked one of the biggest protests in recent years.
- An innovative child malaria vaccine test – the first in the world – was rolled out in Malawi. Ghana and Kenya will follow suit. These countries “already run large programmes to tackle malaria, including the use of bed nets, yet still have high numbers of cases“.
- In Nigeria during an Easter procession, 10 people were killed when a policeman rammed his car into a group of children.
- Heavy rains in South Africa caused flooding and mudslides, causing the deaths of more than 50 people.
- African swine fever has affected pork production in every Chinese province, leading to the culling of more than a million pigs. In China too, a lift crash left 11 people dead.
- Having confirmed that it was holding the former head of Interpol Meng Hongwei last year, China formally arrested Mr. Meng “on suspicion of accepting bribes“. He is expected to be charged soon.
- The second Belt and Road Forum in China drew representatives from over 150 countries.
- The sentencing of four of nine Occupy leaders – for up to 16 months – marks the end of years of prosecutions against leaders and participants involved in Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement.
- In India, at least 10 people were killed when a bus plunged into a gorge.
- More than 100 Indonesian election workers and police officers are said to have died from exhaustion during the country’s one-day vote, which “saw the participation of an estimated 81 per cent of the 193 million eligible voters“.
- 20 years after the repeal of a eugenics law, Japan will compensate victims who were, through a decades-long government programme, “forcibly sterilised because of intellectual disabilities, mental illness, or genetic disorders“.
- The Supreme Court of Myanmar rejected the appeal of two Reuters journalists – who had been charged under the Official Secrets Act for covering the situation in the Rakhine state – to have their convictions and sentences overturned.
- In Myanmar too, a landslide enfolded jade miners and more than 50 people are feared to have died. “Fatal landslides in the area are common, with victims often from impoverished ethnic communities looking for scraps left behind by big firms“.
- For the first time in a summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- A powerful earthquake in the Philippines left at least five people dead.
- Following a string of serious bombings in Sri Lanka which left at least 290 dead, the government lifted a curfew a day after.
- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) later claimed responsibility, making it the deadliest attack ISIS has ever claimed. Later, however, the Sri Lanka government revised the death toll from 359 to 253 due to double counting.
- For the 23rd consecutive weekend, French “yellow vest” protestors demonstrated against the government. In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral, many juxtapose the money raised for its reconstruction with growing wealth inequality in the country.
- The first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is introducing new legislation for a second Scottish independence referendum in the event that Brexit goes ahead. “Repeated opinion polls show a narrow majority of Scottish people are against independence“.
- The United Kingdom will welcome President Donald Trump in June with an official state visit.
The Middle East
- Following parliamentary approval last week, voters in Egypt – with 88.8 per cent voting in favour – approved changes which would allow President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to extend his stint and to expand his powers.
- For terror-related crimes, Saudi Arabia executed 37 people, one of whom was crucified. Whether the trials were fair is in dispute.
- Measles spread to Los Angeles, California, bringing the national total to 626 confirmed cases across 22 states. Later in the week, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2019 is now the worst year for measles in 25 years.
- A small plane crash in Texas left six people dead.
- Having withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal last year, the Trump administration announced it was ending waivers which had allowed eight countries to continue their imports of Iranian oil.
- Between 2017 and 2018, the murder rate in Brazil decreased by 13 per cent. And while the increasingly unpopular President Jair Bolsonaro should not take the credit, this trend can only be sustained by legislative reforms and policy improvements.
- Central American asylum-seekers in the United States mainly come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and research is showing that amidst violence in their countries they are subject to sexual violence and human trafficking during their journeys up North.