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!
June 10 to 15, 2019
Hong Kong protestors gathered in multiple demonstrations to oppose a controversial extradition bill to China, leading to its indefinite suspension, while there were advances to same-sex rights in Botswana and Ecuador. In Hong Kong, a protest of one million protestors was followed by an additional one, leading Chief Executive Carrie Lam to announce an indefinite suspension of the proposed extradition bill. In Botswana, the high court overturned a colonial-era law criminalising same-sex relations, and in Ecuador the highest court approved same-sex marriage in a five-to-four vote. This comes in the same week that the supreme court of Brazil voted to criminalise homophobia, and a week after Bhutan decriminalised homosexuality, by voting to repeal provisions saying that “unnatural sex” is illegal.
- The high court of Botswana “overturned a colonial-era law criminalising consensual same-sex relations” – deemed discriminatory, unconstitutional, and against the interests of the public – marking a landmark victory in the continent. This came a month after the high court in Kenya upheld its laws criminalising homosexuality against of the absence of evidence of discrimination.
- In a spillover from DR Congo, the first case of Ebola was reported in Uganda.
- An overnight attack in Mali left nearly 100 people killed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for this ethnic attack. “It came less than three weeks after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon“.
- As the tensions in Sudan continue, the country’s pro-democracy movement is calling for “civil disobedience” against the ruling generals. Protest leaders of the movement have also rejected talks with the generals.
- Torrential downpours in China caused floods, killing at least seven people.
- In the city’s largest demonstration since it was handed back to China in 1997, more than one million protestors gathered in Hong Kong “to oppose a controversial extradition bill that would enable China to extradite fugitives from the city“.
- Despite the massive protest in the city – and an additional one in the week – China showed no interest in retreating from the legislation. Protestors succeeded in blocking Hong Kong’s legislature from voting on the bill, but it is still expected to pass next week.
- At the end of the week, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam announced an indefinite suspension of the proposed extradition bill.
- In India, the wreckage of a plane with 13 missing air force personnel aboard was spotted.
- Since May, one of the longest and most intense heat waves in India’s history has killed at least 36 people.
- Across India too, thousands of doctor went on strike demanding better security at hospitals, following “an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on June 10 that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died“.
- Also in India: Four sanitation workers and three staff died while cleaning a hotel sewer. It is estimated that “nearly 1,800 sewer cleaners have died from suffocation during the last 10 years“.
- The sinking of a boat in Indonesia left two passengers dead and five others missing.
- After announcing his resignation in March this year, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s hand-picked successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a career diplomat, won elections with 70 per cent of the vote. Turn-out was around 77 per cent.
- In Malaysia, “a series of videos depicting a man resembling a cabinet minister having sexual relations with a younger male politician has gone viral“, with the younger politician confessing and claiming the minister to be unfit for any government position.
- About 400 people – including opposition leader Alexei Navalny – were arrested by the Russian police during a street protest.
- In a landmark ruling, the highest court in Ecuador – a country which “has recognised de-facto civil unions for same-sex couples since 2015” – approved same-sex marriage in a five-to-four vote.
- In the United Kingdom, following the formal resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May, Brexiter Boris Johnson won the most support from Conservative Party lawmakers – 114 out of 313 who voted – by a landslide.
- In London, the United Kingdom, a violent night left two teenagers dead in two separate incidents.
- The Vatican “flatly rejected what it cast as the notion that individuals can choose their gender“, citing the threat to “traditional families” and “natural differences” between men and women.
The Middle East
- A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed at least 11 people. An arm of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility.
- German foreign minister Heiko Maas met with Iranian foreign affairs minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as President Hassan Rouhani in a bid to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which the United States withdrew from last year.
- Two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were hit by explosions, attacks which were attributed by the United States – which released video footage and photographs as supposed evidence – to Iran. This came a month after four tankers were damaged in the same area.
- In the footsteps of the European Union, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to ditch all single-use plastics by 2021.
- In Colorado, a state trooper was hit by a vehicle and killed after he stopped to help a road crash.
- The crash-landing of a helicopter in New York killed the pilot.
- In Dallas, Texas, a crane fell onto an apartment complex and killed at least one person.
- By a vote of eight to three, the supreme court of Brazil voted to criminalise homophobia. “The country’s highest court considered it neglect of legislative power not to have outlawed such discrimination until now“.
- Even though 40 per cent of the working age population is between 15 and 29 years old in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20 per cent of youth are not currently working on in school, placing “a severe strain on the region’s economic and developmental growth opportunities“.