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 17 to 22, 2019
Despite recent bids to save the 2015 nuclear accord – which the United States withdrew from last year – Iran said it plans to exceed limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium next week. Iran then shot down an American military drone, and reports also emerged that the United States had called for a retaliatory military strike before it was called off by President Donald Trump at the last minute.
- In Ethiopia, a failed coup in a regional state government led to the deaths of four people, including the country’s army chief of staff. The situation is now under full control of the federal government.
- Even though a suspected case of Ebola in Kenya turned out negative, a national preparedness and response contingency plan is in place. “While Kenya has never had a confirmed Ebola virus case, there has always been a risk“.
- Three suicide bombers in Nigeria killed 30 people in three separate blasts. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
- President of China Xi Jinping landed in Pyongyang, North Korea, becoming the first Chinese leader to visit in 14 years. “Analysts believe that [Mr.] Xi’s trip could portend some movement in the stalled nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States“.
- A week after Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam announced an indefinite suspension of a proposed extradition bill – following a protest of more than one million – nearly two million people marched again in opposition. The chief executive also apologised.
- For the third time in four days, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam softened her stance on the controversial bill.
- In response to American tariffs on aluminium and steel, India put into effect tariffs on 28 United States goods. In India too, at least 100 children have died of encephalitis, a disease which causes the brain to swell. Later in the week, at least 129 children had died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, or AES. Toxins in lychees have been blamed.
- Also in India: At least 30 people were killed after a bus plunged off a mountain road. “Indian roads are among the world’s deadliest, with nearly 148,000 people killed in more than 460,000 accidents in 2017, according to government data“.
- A bus accident in Indonesia, “after a bus passenger tried to wrest control of the steering wheel following an argument with the driver“, killed 12 people and injured dozens more.
- A fire in an Indonesian match factory killed at least 30 people. The cause of the fire remains unclear.
- Following a re-run of the mayoral election in Istanbul – after a challenge by the party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – the candidate for the main opposition party is set for a victory with about 53.6 per cent of the vote.
- Leaders of the European Union did not reach an agreement on who should lead the European Commission and other key institutions.
- In Georgia, there were protests against a Russian lawmaker – who supports Russian President Vladimir Putin – who was allowed to sit in the chair of the country’s parliament during an assembly.
- In a case which has drawn national attention to chauvinism and sexual abuse, the supreme court of Spain overturned a previous sentence for the lesser crime of sexual assault and “found five men who attacked a teenager at a bull-running festival guilty of rape“.
- Investigators brought charges against Russian suspects for the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2015.
- The next prime minister of the United Kingdom will be either former London mayor Boris Johnson or foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt. 160,000 grassroots members of the Conservative Party will now vote for the man to take over from Prime Minister Theresa May in late July.
The Middle East
- Egypt’s first democratically elected leader Mohamed Morsi – who “had been on trial for an espionage case” in relation to a number of foreign organisations – died after suffering from a heart attack in court.
- Despite recent bids to save the 2015 nuclear accord – which the United States withdrew from last year – Iran said it plans to exceed limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium next week.
- Iran shot down an American military drone flying over the country, reportedly sending a clear defensive message to the United States.
- Later in the week, reports emerged that the United States had called for a retaliatory military strike against Iran before it was called off by President Donald Trump at the last minute.
- For the murder of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, a United Nations report is calling for the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman to be investigated. The government is also said to be responsible.
- The crash of a skydiving aircraft in Hawaii killed all nine passengers on board.
- A crash in New Hampshire left seven motorcyclists killed.
- President Donald Trump officially kicked off his 2020 presidential campaign in Florida.
- Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay – including parts of Brazil and Chile – were left without power after “a ‘massive failure’ in an electrical interconnection system“. The cause of the failure is now under investigation.
- The Mexican government has fully deployed National Guard forces on its border with Guatemala, vowing “to crack down on human traffickers after nearly 800 people were found in transport containers headed for the [United States] border“.
- In Peru, new rules – refusing people without passports or visas – were imposed to stop the influx of immigrants from Venezuela.