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 24 to 29, 2019
President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to set foot in North Korea, sharing a symbolic handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the demilitarised zone. “With no time for the all-important backroom diplomacy, it is expected to be largely a photo opportunity“, and this handshake follows two prior meetings in Singapore and Vietnam which did not result in any deal.
- Internal clashes within DR Congo have driven many across the border to Uganda “at a rate of 311 a day“. More refugees are still expected.
- At least 41 miners were killed in DR Congo when part of a copper and cobalt mine collapsed.
- Former president of Gambia Yahya Jammeh – who was defeated in his 2016 re-election bid – has been accused of rape.
- In the same day that two suicide attacks rocked Tunis, Tunisia, President Beji Caid Essebsi was rushed to the hospital. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria took responsibility for the attacks, but did not offer any evidence.
- The collapse of an under-construction building in Cambodia left at least three people dead. The death toll later rose to at least 18.
- The death toll later hit 24 – with a similar number injured – with no further survivors expected to be found under the debris. “Three Chinese nationals and a Cambodian landowner have been held for questioning over the building collapse“.
- In India, at least 14 people were killed during a stampede at a religious gathering.
- Chennai, India is dealing with a water crisis as reservoirs have completely dried up. Water tank trucks have now been deployed. The causes are a combination of low rainfall, an inefficient water supply system, as well as political inaction.
- A suicide bomb attack on a special army counter-terrorism unit in the Philippines left three soldiers and two of the bombers dead.
- In a surprise move, President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena extended a state of emergency by invoking provisions of the public security act. The president “has been criticised for failing to act on precise Indian intelligence” on the attacks in April.
- The Czech Republic saw its biggest protests since 1989, the period when communism ended. Tens of thousands of protestors are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, though a no-confidence vote by the opposition parties is likely to fail.
- Following elections in Denmark, the country “became the third Nordic country this year to form a leftist government“. Leader of the Social Democrats Mette Frederiksen will also become Denmark’s youngest-ever prime minister.
- A landmark court ruling in France has found the government guilty of not doing enough to limit air pollution around Paris.
- A crash between two warplanes in Germany left one pilot killed.
- Anti-government protests in Georgia – underlining a strong animosity towards Russia – continued for a fourth straight day, with calls “for the resignation of the interior minister and for changes in the election code“.
- The Italian cities of Cortina and Milan will host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
- The state-owned railway operator in the Netherlands accepted a recommendation to pay reparations “to relatives of thousands of people it transported to Nazi death camps during the second world war“.
The Middle East
- A Peace to Prosperity workshop in Bahrain was intended to solve the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but neither Israel nor Palestine is attending. The latter claims its prefers a political solution to a monetary one.
- As tensions in Iran continue to build, President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions, preferring that option to a military strike. The United States then banned the Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei from accessing the international financial system. Eight other military commanders also had sanctions imposed on them, leading Iran to proclaim the end of diplomacy between the two countries.
- A murder-suicide in California left five people killed.
- In California too, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to ban e-cigarettes.
- The crash of a church charter bus in Colorado left two people dead.
- President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to set foot in North Korea
- The poor living and sanitary conditions for hundreds of migrant children at Border Patrol facilities in the United States have drawn attention, resulting in relocation for many of them. The acting head of Customs and Border Protection later resigned.
- The road to 2020 kicked off with two nights of Democratic presidential debates involving the 20 frontrunners.
- After 20 years of negotiations, a free-trade deal was signed between the European Union (EU) and Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This historic Mercosur-EU deal is also set to boost the electoral prospects of the Latin American governments.
- In an assessment of anti-corruption capacity in Latin America, Chile had the highest overall score, indicating it as the “most likely country in the study for corruption to be uncovered, punished, and deterred“. Venezuela came in last.