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!
October 10 to 15, 2016
Support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump – inside and outside his party – is dwindling, after an article in “The New York Times” claimed that Mr. Trump received a substantial tax deduction in 1995, allowing him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for almost two decades, and after a three-minute recording published by “The Washington Post” caught him making lewd comments about women in 2005. Within his own party, Senator John McCain withdrew his endorsement and speaker of the House Paul Ryan informed congressional Republicans that he would no longer defend Mr. Trump, Senate candidates “are preparing ads asking voters to elect them as a check on [Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton] in the White House“, and big-money donors are also asking for their money back.
Outside his party, the latest polls-only forecast by “FiveThirtyEight” gives Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton an 85 per cent chance to win the presidency. Just 24 days to go, before the end of a rancorous election season.
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- After at least 52 died in a stampede last week and violent clashes in the country, the government of Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency to reassure foreign investors. There is frustration with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and its authoritarianism – despite economic growth – and different groups are now calling for regime change.
- President of Malawi Peter Mutharika has not returned to his country after the annual United Nations General Assembly in September, fuelling speculations – especially with the lack of information – about his health.
- Attacks by South Sudanese soldiers on international humanitarian personnel and diplomatic staff members highlight strained relations between South Sudan and the United Nations. Threats of violence have increased, against the backdrop of a three-year civil war.
- China announced the debut of the Chinese Open Trial Network website, which hosts and live-streams videos of criminal, administrative, and civil proceedings. This initiative stems from “Beijing’s desire to assert greater control over a vast, dispersed legal system and minimize the plague of every country’s judicial system: inconsistent judgments”, though basic reforms may be needed.
- South Korean technology company Samsung has permanently halted production of its smartphone Galaxy Note 7, following reports of continued problems even after the defective devices had been replaced.
- Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej – the world’s longest-reigning monarch – died at age 88. The country “now moves into unknown territory but in the short term, with the royalist army firmly in power, there may be a period of stability“.
- Whereas the disenfranchised in the United Kingdom and the United States are older working-class voters, Leader of the euro-sceptic National Front party in France Marine Le Pen – who advocates economic protectionism and opposition to immigration, for instance – is drawing support from young politicians and voters.
- The Azov Battalion summer camp in Ukraine trains children between the ages of 8 and 16 to become “elite patriots“, training for battle and singing songs about death to Russians. “Foreign Policy” published a photo essay about the camp.
- Foreign academics in the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom were informed that they “would not be asked to contribute to government work and analysis on Brexit because they are not British nationals“.
- The pound has been down by 15 per cent (on a trade-weighted basis) since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which “The Economist” reckons hints at “how painful a ‘hard’ Brexit would be“.
The Middle East
- American and Iraqi troops are preparing to retake the city of Mosul, Iraq, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This will not defeat ISIS, because it claims Raqqa, Syria as its de facto capital. Even so, the fight in Mosul will also be tough, and responsibility for post-conflict peace-building in the city remains unclear.
- Lawmakers in the United States have been critical of the “continuing civilian carnage caused by the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen“, and are now calling for President Barack Obama to pull American support for the kingdom. Concerns over war crimes have surfaced after airstrikes on a funeral – reportedly led by Saudi Arabia – killed more than 100 people in the country’s capital, Sana.
- A father of four in Sana, Yemen writes about the experience of being “caught in a war between Iranian-backed rebels and Saudi Arabia“, and the daily routines of his wife and four children.
- The United States formally accused Russia of “stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals“. Attribution by President Barack Obama of these cyber-attacks to Russia could be followed by economic sanctions or covert action against Russian targets.
- The second debate between United States presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been described as one of the most bitter and rancorous in recent history. “FiveThirtyEight” said Mrs. Clinton “probably ended the night in a better place than she started it … [even if Mr. Trump] made it through the rest of the debate with a relatively good performance“.
- Colombian voters might have voted against a historic peace deal with former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but in the town of Bojayá – where an attack in 2002 killed at least 79 people – support for the deal here was 96 per cent. President Juan Manuel Santos, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week, visited this municipality, and said he would donate his prize money to victims of the armed conflict.
- Hurricane Matthew devastated southern Haiti, destroying houses and leaving villages under water.