Trudeau apologises for donning brownface

Justin Trudeau, now the prime minister of Canada, appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 Arabian Nights -themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught. | Photo by: Time

Sept 22: Trudeau apologises for donning brownface, Taiwan loses second ally in a week, and Singapore holds first-ever climate change rally

North America and Canada

  • Australian PM Scott Morrison will be visiting the United States for an eight-day visit from Sept 19 to Sept 27 which will include a state dinner by President Donald Trump at the White House. The only other leader to have received such an honour from Mr Trump was French President Emmanuel Macron.
  • With a sudden spike of interest rates in the repo (a form of short-term borrowing, mainly in government securities) market, the Fed has intervened by injecting more than $200 billion to boost bank reserves and promote continued lending. This marks the first time such an intervention has taken place since the 2008 financial crisis.
  • A formal complaint from an intelligence official has been triggered when Donald Trump refuted a report with claims of him making promises to a foreign leader. It is not yet known whom the complaint was made by, and what promise – if any – was actually made.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised after photos of him, donning brownface and blackface as a young man, resurfaced. He has also mentioned that he has no intention of resignation, and will continue his campaign for re-election in October. The photos have also brought about mixed responses in Canadian media. 

Latin America

  • Riot police and anti-government protesters clashed in Honduras as the country commemorated its 198th anniversary of independence from Spain. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernández – who faced allegations of accepting money from drug cartels in his 2013 campaign.
  • Personal data on almost every Ecuadorian citizen has been found to be leaked. The leaked database includes almost over 20 million individuals. A general manager of an IT consulting firm Novaestrat has since been arrested. It is suspected that the firm possibly had access to these sensitive information during the rule of the former political regime, when it was granted multiple government contracts.
  • Just 10 months into his presidency, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador seeks to launch a new investigation into the 2014 disappearance of 43 trainee teachers in Guerrero state which was a key pledge of his campaign. The original investigation which concluded that the bodies of the missing were burned and dumped into the sea by a local gang has been questioned as satellite images showed no findings of fire on the night of the disappearance. 
  • Two Cuban officials to the United Nations have been expelled by the United States on grounds of “influence operations against the United States”. It has also restricted the travel of the remaining members of Cuba’s mission to the United Nations. No substance of the allegations have been yet provided.


  • India cut its corporate tax rates in an attempt to bolster investments and economic growth in a persistently sluggish economy. So far, rates have been cut four times this year and the benchmark rate currently sits at a near-decade low.
  • Chinese-Australian MP Gladys Liu comes under heavy scrutiny amidst growing anxiety in Australia over Chinese interference in its domestic politics. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a response in defence of Ms Liu, citing the political assault as a ‘smear campaign’ orchestrated by the opposition Labour Party.
  • Last week, Kiribati becomes the second country after Solomon Islands to discontinue diplomatic ties with Taiwan and switch diplomatic recognition to China. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu commented on Beijing’s use of “dollar diplomacy” to prise its allies away.
  • Swami Chinmayanand, a former federal minister from the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been arrested over allegations of rape and blackmail. This comes as the second allegation against a prominent BJP politician from Uttar Pradesh this year.
  • Chinese tech giant Huawei launched its flagship Mate 30 phone, with no Google apps, in Munich last Thursday (Sept 19) at the Rethink Possibilities Event. The company has also added that it is dedicating US$1 billion to develop Huawei Mobile Services as a substitute for the Google Play Store and Google Services.
  • Asia stocks mostly edged higher last Thursday as the U.S. Federal Reserves cut interest rates overnight although Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by 1.07 per cent.
  • More than 1,700 turned up at Singapore’s first Climate Rally last Saturday (Sept 21). The rally, with the same name as its organisers, coincided with the global climate change youth movement started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. 


  • Over 300,000 protested across British cities including Glasgow, Manchester, and London, urging “climate justice”. In Westminster, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the climate change protest and he cited the need to net zero emissions a lot quicker than the government’s stipulated target in 2050.
  • A peaceful climate march in Paris last Saturday (Sept 21) has been halted after it was infiltrated by other protest groups. Groups of anarchist demonstrators joined in, breaking windows and setting fire to street barricades. Tear gas was fired and over 100 arrests were made. The entire security operation involved 7,000 police officers.
  • The European Union has received Britain’s Brexit proposal as both sides aim to break the stalemate. The announcement comes after remarks from the Finnish Prime Minister on the urgent need for the United Kingdom to deliver more details by Sept 30.
  • With Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S) recently breaking ranks with the right-wing League party to form a centre-left coalition with the Democratic Party, an alliance of the Greens in the European Parliament with M5S is also looking to become more probable. This comes after the Greens agreed to having talks with the populists.
  • Despite opposition from the Bucharest government on grounds of alleged corruption, Romania’s former anti-corruption chief Laura Codruta Kovesi is poised to become the European Union’s first public prosecutor. Her new title commences the following year when the European Public Prosecutor office opens.
  • The United Nations apologises for an article on its website which pinned the blame on Spanish Republicans for the massacre of the town of Guernica in 1937.

Middle East

  • Hundreds of protestors have gathered and clashed with security forces in the port city of Suez last Saturday (Sept 21) to call for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s resignation. The protests were in response to corruption allegations against President Sisi’s government. At least 74 people have been arrested.
  • Election results in Israel will have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and political rival Benny Gantz competing over leadership as both parties failed to garner sufficient votes to form a coalition with majority. Mr Netanyahu has implored Mr Gantz to commence negotiations on a joint administration. Despite that, however, Mr Gantz has responded by ruling out such a solution. Mr Gantz wants a unity government – one that is led by him.
  • A new report from Amnesty International claims that thousands of workers in Qatar continue to face mistreatment despite promises to improve rights ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Responding to the report, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) stated that it takes “World Cup workers’ rights very seriously”.
  • Oil prices surged the most on record after attacks on Saudi oil installations. The USA has since pinned the blame on Iran for the sudden crisis.
  • Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has warned that foreign forces are threatening the security of the Gulf, after the US said it was deploying troops to the region at the request of Saudi Arabia. Mr Rouhani intends to present a new Gulf peace initiative at the United Nations in the coming days.


  • Tunisia’s ousted former President, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, has died in exile. His death came just days after Tunisia’s second free presidential election. No candidate has won an outright majority thus far and the election is set to proceed to the run-off. The exact date is yet to be announced.
  • A Sudanese migrant attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe has been killed by Libyan coastguards after being taken back to Libya. The incident was met with condemnation by the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The IOM has called for Libyan authorities to conduct proper investigations on this matter.
  • Tanzania has been rebuked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for failing to provide information about possible Ebola virus infections. Tanzania has said it has no suspected or confirmed cases. The latest outbreak has killed more than 2,000 in eastern DR Congo, with Uganda battling to stop any spread.
  • Nigeria has suspended the work of Action Against Hunger aid group after allegations of supplying militant Islamist group Boko Haram with food and drugs.
  • The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court appealed last Monday (Sept 16) against the acquittal of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo over post-electoral violence that killed around 3 000 people.
  • Russia and Uganda have agreed to work together in the field of nuclear energy, the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom said last Wednesday (Sept 18), as Moscow seeks to strengthen its influence in Africa.
  • A police chief in Mali’s central Ségou region, Issiaka Tounkara, died last Thursday (Sept 19) when protesters torched the police station amidst calls for his resignation.
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