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 25 to June 1, 2019
Austria had its first female chancellor, the fallout from the European elections continued, and United Kingdom (UK) parliamentarian Boris Johnson has emerged as front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May. In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stepped down following the passage of a vote of no confidence in parliament – two weeks after the vice-chancellor resigned over allegations of corruption – and top court justice Brigitte Bierlein was named by the president as Austria’s first female chancellor. In Europe, no clear winner has yet emerged for the President of the European Commission, as the two oldest centre-right and centre-left political groups had their poorest performance since 1979. And in the UK, parliamentarian Mr. Johnson, who has emerged as front-runner to replace the prime minister, been ordered to face accusations that while holding public office, he lied in order to sway voter opinion on Brexit.
- At least 30 people were killed when a boat in DR Congo capsized.
- Following his election last year, Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed is now looking to return displaced people to their homes. The United Nations estimates that 2.4 million Ethiopians have been displaced due to conflict between ethnic groups.
- In one of its most restrictive moves ever, Bangladesh imposed a 65-day national ban on coastal fishing. The government is trying to conserve fish and shrimp stocks, but fishermen are planning protests if compensations do not follow.
- A stabbing spree in Japan left one girl killed. A man arrested over the incident later died too.
- Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhinoceros died, “leaving behind just one female of the same rare species in captivity in the country“. Experts estimate that there are fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinoceros in the wild.
- Malaysia is sending back over 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste to more developed countries. This follows the decision by the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte to ship truckloads of smuggled garbage back to Canada.
- In Nepal, in one of the deadliest climbing seasons ever, 11 climbers have died on Mount Everest. The country’s government had issues a record number of permits this year, and climbers have witnessed lines of more than 100 people waiting to summit.
- Two weeks after the vice-chancellor of Austria resigned over allegations of corruption, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stepped down following the passage of a vote of no confidence in parliament.
- Later in the week, top court justice Brigitte Bierlein was named by the president as Austria’s first female chancellor, “tasked with forming a caretaker government until September’s snap election“.
- The fallout from the European elections continued, as the two oldest centre-right and centre-left political groups emerged as the two biggest winners. Their collective numbers, however, are their poorest performance since 1979 and do not constitute a majority.
- In addition, no clear winner has yet emerged for the President of the European Commission.
- A boat carrying tourists in Budapest, Hungary capsized and sank, killing at least seven people.
- In the United Kingdom, parliamentarian Boris Johnson – who has emerged as front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May – has been ordered “to face accusations that while holding public office, he lied in order to sway voter opinion on Brexit“.
The Middle East
- An attack by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan – on the country’s historic minaret of Jam – left 18 security force officers dead.
- Iraq is offering to mediate in the crisis between Iran and the United States.
- A series of explosions in Kirkuk, Iraq left at least five people killed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
- Despite winning elections last month, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has been struggling to form a new government. Later in the week, lawmakers voted 74-45 to dissolve parliament after Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, which has never happened before in Israeli history. A new election will be held on September 17.
- A shooting at a municipal centre in Virginia left at least 11 people dead.
- President Donald Trump announced that he was slapping a five per cent tariff on all Mexican imports so as to pressure the country to address the number of migrants trying to cross the Mexico-United States border.
- The measles situation in the United States has continued to worsen. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of cases in the first five months of 2019 is now higher than in any full year since 1992.
- Clashes between inmates in a Brazilian jail left 15 people dead. In January 2017, “the same facility was the scene of a prison rebellion that lasted almost 20 hours and left 56 people dead“.
- Later, it was reported that 57 inmates died in riots at four prisons. The reasons for the riots remain unclear.
- In the first four months of 2019, police officers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil have gunned down 558 people, “the highest number in this period since the state began keeping records more than two decades ago“.
- A bus crash in Mexico left at least 23 people killed.