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!
May 20 to 25, 2019
Accidents and natural disasters led to deaths in China and India, while attacks or riots in Indonesia, Nepal, and Tajikistan left many dead as well. In China, there were strong winds and an explosion caused by a gas leak from a cargo ship, and in India there was a fire in a building. In Indonesia – following the re-election of President Joko Widodo – there were post-election riots. In Nepal, there were three separate explosions. And in Tajikistan, there was a riot by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
- Despite having the world’s biggest population of elephants, Botswana lifted its suspension on elephant hunting. “Critic … say the drive is geared to win rural votes in an October election and could damage tourism“.
- The high court in Kenya upheld a colonial-era law banning same-sex relations. “There was not enough evidence of discrimination against the LGBTQI community and therefore it upheld the ban“.
- Malawi is holding its sixth nationwide election since it transitioned from a dictatorship into a multiparty democracy in 1994.
- In China, “Alphabet’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software, and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing“. The American government has sought to blacklist Huawei globally.
- Later, the United States announced some temporary exceptions to an export blacklist against Huawei, and in response Alphabet’s Google held off its plans to cut access to some Android services on new Huawei smartphones.
- Strong winds in Beijing, China killed four people and disrupted flights and train services. In China too, a gas leak from a cargo ship led to an explosion which killed at least 10 people.
- A fire in an Indian building killed at least 15 students.
- The elections commission of Indonesia announced that President Joko Widodo was re-elected with 55.5 per cent of the vote. Later in the week, riots in Jakarta resulted in the deaths of six people.
- Given the country’s ageing population and shortage of workers, 96.7 per cent of Japanese graduates were employed in 2018, compared to the historic high of 98 per cent in 2017.
- Three separate explosions in Kathmandu, Nepal, left at least four people dead. No group has yet claimed responsibility.
- Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill resigned after weeks of high-level defections from the ruling party.
- In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is shipping truckloads of garbage – said to be illegally shipped – back to Canada.
- A riot by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Tajikistan left three prison guards killed.
- Former Prime Minister of Thailand Prem Tinsulanonda died at the age of 98. “With power frequently changing hands due to the country’s carousel of military coups, [he] was widely viewed by world leaders as a reliable interlocutor to Bangkok’s elite“.
- Early results from the European elections have indicated increased seat shares for the three Eurosceptic or hard-right groups – from 21 to 23 per cent – as well as increased political fragmentation in the European Parliament.
- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May announced she will resign as Conservative party leader on June 7.
The Middle East
- President Donald Trump has ordered more troops to the Middle East, as tensions between Iran and the United States escalate.
- Air raids in an Islamist-held Syrian town killed 12 civilians. “The market was crowded with people out and about after breaking the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan“.
- The crash of a floatplane in Alaska killed two people.
- Storms in Missouri left three people dead. A tornado in Oklahoma also killed at least two people.
- Congressional Republican Justin Amash became the first elected representative of his party to suggest that President Donald Trump has committed impeachable offences. He was later blasted by the president.
- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – who was arrested after seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London and subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching bail in 2012 – had his Swedish investigation into a rape allegation reopened. In the United States, he was indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for leaks from 2010.
- An attack at a bar in Brazil left 11 people dead. “Brazil hit a record high of 64,000 homicides in 2017, 70 per cent of which were due to firearms, according to official statistics“, and most of the violence is also gang-related.
- The collapse of a dam in Brazil is likely to bury a town in mining waste. This comes just months after the collapse of another mine-waste dam built by mining giant Vale, with criminal charges filed against them.
- A Guatemalan boy who was detained by border agents of the United States for six days died in custody. He was the fifth minor from his country to die after being apprehended by border agents.