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 29 to May 4, 2019
In Asia, the imperial succession in Japan was marked by its first abdication in more than two centuries, while in Thailand a three-day coronation – after the king married the deputy head of his personal security detail – included a procession and a public holiday. And in Africa: Protestors in Algeria were worried about the persistence of the old ruling elite and the influence of the military despite the departure of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the conclusion of controversial parliamentary elections in Benin led to the deployment of soldiers against hundreds of protestors, and protestors in Sudan join in a sit-in outside the country’s defence ministry.
- For the 11th consecutive week, even after the departure of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in early-April, protestors in Algeria – worried about the persistence of the old ruling elite and the influence of the military – demonstrated for more extensive changes.
- The conclusion of controversial parliamentary elections in Benin – with a turnout of just 23 per cent, given that opposition parties had been effectively barred from fielding any candidates – led to the deployment of soldiers against hundreds of protestors.
- Following Cyclone Idai in March this year – as well as subsequent concerns over the spread of cholera – Cyclone Kenneth has further ravaged Mozambique, leaving at least five people dead and putting about 700,000 people at risk.
- In a defeat for South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya – who has naturally elevated levels of testosterone – the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that female athletes with elevated male hormones can be barred from races against other women.
- Hundreds of thousands of protestors in Sudan joined a sit-in outside the country’s defence ministry “to press the ruling military council to hand over power to a civilian government“. This comes weeks after the ouster of Former President Omar al-Bashir.
- Cyclone Fani hit India. More than 100 million people are in its path. Before the cyclone hit Bangladesh, where nine people had already died, at least 12 people were reported to be killed in India.
- Days of heavy rain triggered floods and landslides in Indonesia which killed at least 10 people.
- Government figures in Japan revealed a population decline of 449,000 in 2018. “The fewest number of babies were born this year since records began in 1899“, and it is also the third straight year when the number has been below one million.
- The imperial succession in Japan was marked by its first abdication in more than two centuries, as Emperor Akihito stepped down for Crown Prince Naruhito.
- A fire abroad a flight in Russia – which made a hard landing – left at least 13 people dead. The death toll later rose to 41.
- Following a string of serious bombings in Sri Lanka which left at least 253 dead, the government declared a curfew and blocked access to major social media and messaging sites. The ban was lifted this week.
- King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun of Thailand, or Rama X – who succeeded the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016 – will feature in a three-day coronation which includes a procession and a public holiday.
- Ahead of the elaborate coronation ceremonies, the king also married the deputy head of his personal security detail.
- A regional summit in Germany concluded with Kosovo and Serbia agreeing to continue talks to resolve their current conflict.
- A beluga whale found off the coast of Norway has been potentially identified as being trained by the Russian navy.
- National elections in Spain resulted in no outright winner, even as the incumbent Socialist party of the prime minister – who will have to assemble a coalition with other parties – won the largest share of the vote. Far-right party Vox continued its electoral gains.
- In the United Kingdom, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was fired for allegedly leaking sensitive information about the government’s review and plant to use telecommunications equipment by Huawei. Mr. Williamson strongly denies the allegation.
- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – who was arrested last month after spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the United Kingdom (UK) – was sentenced by a UK court to 50 weeks in jail for breaching bail in 2012.
- Local elections in the United Kingdom also resulted in significant losses for the Conservatives and some losses for Labour.
The Middle East
- The Israel Defence Forces reported that Gaza militants fired approximately 90 rockets towards Israel within an hour.
- In the Middle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria released an 18-minute video of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
- A shooting a Californian synagogue left one congregant dead. A man was detained in connection to the shooting.
- A shooting on a university campus in North Carolina left two people killed.
- In the continued stand-off between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó, Mr. Guaidó made his strongest call yet for the military to help oust the president.
- Later in the week, Mr. Maduro’s government went against opposition leaders accused of planning a military insurrection.