- Seven people were killed and at least 36 were injured during a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on Monday (July 4). The shooting took place at a 4th of July parade in the affluent suburb. The gunman, 21, was apprehended after an hours-long manhunt and has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. President Joe Biden said he was “shocked” and will “not give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence”. The President signed the first major gun safety legislation in decades last month, although the bipartisan bill does not put a ban on any weapons.
- Hundreds were arrested as more than 1,000 protestors gathered outside the White House, during a demonstration demanding greater executive action be taken against the recent Supreme Court ruling that removed federal abortion protection in the United States (US). Demonstrations took place in several cities across the US on Saturday (July 9) after action taken by the Biden administration had “come up short”. President Biden signed an executive order on Friday (July 8) to mitigate some of the effects of the ruling. The order outlined access to medication abortion and emergency contraception, as well as safeguards for patient privacy.
- An inquiry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) concluded that US border agents probably violated US immigration law and used “unnecessary force”. The report on Friday (July 8) is the result of a probe into the incident last year, where US border agents on horseback charged Haitian migrants, forcing them into the Rio Grande river in Texas. The incident sparked public rage and comparisons to America’s history of slavery. At least four officers may face disciplinary measures. The report did not recommend any officers be fired.
- Canadian telecom company Rogers Communications experienced an over 15-hour outage on Friday (July 8), causing disruptions for civilians, businesses, banks and emergency services. The major network provider said the failure occurred after “a maintenance update in our core network”. Canadians thronged coffee shops and libraries in search of an Internet connection. Banks reported issues with ATM services and cashless payment, while 911 hotlines reported difficulty receiving incoming emergency calls.
- The US said last Saturday (July 9) that they will send more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine as part of a new US$400 million (S$562 million) weapons package to aid the nation against Russian bombardments. According to a senior defence officer, the US will be sending four more HIMARS systems, totalling 12 overall. The US started providing the weapon systems last month, after assurances that they would not be used to target Russian territory.
- Protestors in Argentina marched towards the presidential palace last Saturday (July 9), to criticise President Alberto Fernandez’s government for high inflation and national debt. Currently, Argentina is facing inflation of over 60 per cent, which puts huge pressure on the peso currency and leads to high import costs for gas. President Fernandez faces opposition from the militant left-wing of the ruling coalition that encourages more state spending in order to ease the burden of Argentinians facing the brunt of the inflation. In response to anti-government protests, President Fernandez urges for unity.
- Colombia’s President-elect Petro Gustavo Petro proposed a ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) last Tuesday (July 5) in hopes of moving towards peace negotiations. The ELN is the last major rebel group in the country, with about 2500 fighters. Petro, who is a former rebel with the M-19 movement said that he had sent a message to the ELN and other existing armed groups that “the time for peace has come”.
- Chile’s Constitutional Assembly presented President Gabriel Boric with a proposal for a new constitution for the South American country last Monday (July 4), where Chileans will then decide whether to adopt the constitution in a nationwide plebiscite in September. A majority of Chileans have blamed the existing constitution, which was written under the influence of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman’s neoliberal model, for inequalities in the country. The new constitution bases itself upon social and ecological factors, enshrining the rights of Chile’s indigenous peoples and a new national healthcare system.
- The federal court in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires sentenced 19 former military officers to long prison terms for their crimes against humanity last Wednesday (July 6). Among the 19 was Gen Santiago Riveros, who was given a life sentence after being found guilty of more than 100 crimes. The crimes of those implicit during the country’s military dictatorships from 1976 to 1983 included forced disappearances, murder, torture and kidnapping. It revealed that the crimes were committed against an estimated 350 victims.
- The national space agency Inpe reported last Sunday (July 10) that deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil hit a six-year high. 3,988sq km of land have been cleared from January to June, an increase from last year’s 3,088sq km. Environmentalists blame the increasing levels of deforestation on Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who withdrew environmental protections. The Amazon plays an essential role in fighting climate change, by absorbing vast amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared on Saturday (July 9) that he will step down from office next Wednesday (July 13). The announcement came after dissenters stormed his official residence and set the prime minister’s house on fire. Hundreds of thousands protested on the streets of the capital city of Colombo, calling for Mr Rajapaksa to resign after months of civil dissent over the country’s economic decline. The economic decline has caused an impact on the country’s imports of fuel, food and medicine. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also agreed to resign.
- About 50,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes last Tuesday (July 5) as floods hit Sydney, Australia for the third time this year. Parts of the city have received about eight months of rain in four days. Roads have been cut off, some houses are under water and thousands have been left without power. More than 20 people have been killed this year as a result of widespread flooding across Australia, particularly in the state of New South Wales.
- Japan’s former and longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was pronounced dead last Friday (July 8) after being shot while delivering an election campaign speech in the southern Japanese city of Nara. According to local police, the suspect of the shooting, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami’s motive was due to a specific grudge against an organisation that he believed Mr Abe was a part of. Gun violence in Japan is extremely rare where handguns are prohibited. Investigations into the assassination are still ongoing.
- More than 40 people have died after a landslide hit a railway construction site last Wednesday (July 6) in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur. A further 20 people have been declared missing as rescue efforts have been hindered by heavy rains. Most of the victims were labourers and members of a volunteer force of the local army. Meanwhile, another north-eastern state, Assam, has been severely impacted by floods and landslides triggered by monsoon rains which have resulted in millions displaced and 150 people dead.
- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa requested help from Russian President Vladimir Putin last Wednesday (July 6) to import fuel into Sri Lanka as the country encounters its worst economic decline in the last seven decades. This comes after hundreds of civilians took to the streets to protest in Colombo against the government’s failed attempts to end weeks of shortages of fuel, power, food and medicine. Annual inflation hit a record high of 54.6 per cent last month as food costs rose by more than 80 per cent.
- At least 15 dead and about 20 more feared buried under debris after Russian rockets struck an apartment building in Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine on Saturday (July 9) according to local officials. The apartment complex is resided by mostly workers in nearby factories. The attack was the most recent in a series of strikes against civilian areas in eastern Ukraine, even as Russia constantly claims it is only striking targets of military value in the war.
- Ukraine announced last Thursday (July 7) that it is investigating more than 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression allegedly perpetrated by Russia since the start of its war on Ukraine. Reports of between 200 to 300 war crimes are being received daily according to prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine took place on 24 February and it denies all allegations of war crimes. The International Criminal Court has sent its biggest team of detectives ever to the country to assist in several investigations.
- A “state of contingency” is declared in Portugal as wildfires sweep the northern and central parts of the country. Around 3,000 firefighters have been deployed to ease the blaze amid dangerous temperatures which have resulted in the injury of at least 29 civilians. The local government has also sent 60 aircraft to assist on the ground. Fires have been burning in multiple spots since last week and nearly 250 new fires were reported to have started last Friday and Saturday (July 8 & 9).
- Italy declared a state of emergency last Tuesday (July 5) in five regions in the north amid the worst drought in the last 70 years. About 30 per cent of Italy’s agricultural produce is endangered by the drought, according to Coldiretti, an Italian agricultural company. Meanwhile, multiple municipalities have also announced water rationing possibly compounded by water shortages caused by hot weather and low rainfall.
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Thursday (July 7) that he would step down from his position after his successor is chosen. This comes after losing the support of ministers and lawmakers. His three-year tenure was concluded by scandals such as the breaching of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown rules, an opulent renovation of his official residence and the delegation of a minister who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
- Russia vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution on Friday (July 7) that would extend aid to Syria across the Bab al-Hawa border. The resolution would renew aid authorisation in place since 2014 and sustains more than 2.4 million people in the northwestern Idlib region of Syria, under the control of rebels. Out of 15 countries in the UN Security Council, China abstained from voting while Russia pushed for a six-month plan which Western counterparts believe would cause logistical issues for NGOs. The resolution expired on Sunday (July 10) and would require members to find common ground to be renewed.
- The president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz in Ramallah, occupied West Bank, on Thursday (July 6). It is the third such meeting within the last two years. Gantz had said the meeting was for “the purpose of security and civil coordination in preparation” for Biden’s visit and “to continue close security coordination” between the PA and Israel. The controversial agreement between the two leaders requires the PA to share intelligence about Palestinian activists and those wanted by Israel and has sparked continual public outrage among Palestinians, who took to the streets in anti-PA protests last year.
- Palestinians expressed disappointment and frustration after the US concluded that journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s death was a possible accident on Tuesday (July 5). The report concluded the bullet was likely fired by the Israeli military, which contradicted the Israeli position that it may have originated from either Palestinian or Israeli fire. The US’ position reignited Palestinian concerns that Washington is not a suitable or impartial mediator between Israel and Palestine. The Palestinian Authority’s ministry of foreign affairs called the findings as providing Israel “a safe way of evading responsibility for killing Abu Akleh”.
- Tunisia’s President Kais Saied published an amended version of the nation’s constitution on Friday (July 8). The amendments were mostly small and formal, despite the original draft being criticised for potentiality “paving the way for a dictatorship”.
- US President Joe Biden defended his decision to visit the Middle East in the following week on Saturday (July 9). President Biden assured those concerned with human rights violations in the region, such as the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s alleged ordering of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, that human rights and “fundamental freedoms” are “always on the agenda” when he visits other nations. Through his visit, Washington seeks to normalise ties between Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the rest of the Gulf, among other goals. The US President is also expected to discuss oil production and energy shortages in the West due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
- Nine patients were killed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s clinic last Thursday (July 7) during a raid. The perpetrators are believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group. The ADF is said to be the deadliest of armed militias in eastern DRC and is said to be linked to the armed group ISIL (ISIS).
- The DRC and Rwanda agreed last Wednesday (July 6) to reduce tensions amidst recent clashes over the M23 rebel fighting. The Congolese presidency claimed this to be a “de-escalation process”, where both countries are to revive a Congo-Rwanda commission that will resume activities this Tuesday (July 12). Clashes over the M23 rebels, which mostly comprise of Tutsi fighters in the DRC, saw the DRC suspecting Rwanda of supporting the group, while Rwanda in turn accused the DRC of supporting a rebel group that was complicit in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
- The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) carried out a massacre in the western Oromia state last Monday (July 4). According to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s statement, the rebel group was harming civilians that were in the Hawa Gelan district of Qellem Wollega. “We will pursue this terrorist group to the end and eradicate it,” he added. The rebel group has been blamed for a number of killings targeting Amharas, Ethiopia’s second-largest ethnic group.
- Two United Nations (UN) peacekeepers were killed while five others were severely wounded by an improvised explosive device in northern Mali last Tuesday (July 5). According to Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the incident took place between the village of Tessalit and the city of Gao. Mali has seen insecurity rising since armed groups who were complicit in its arid north a decade ago increased attacks and seized territory. The conflict so far has resulted in thousands killed, and millions displaced across the Sahel region.
- Two people in Ghana tested positive for Marburg, a highly infectious disease similar to Ebola, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s statement last Thursday (July 7). The two patients in the southern Ashanti region later passed on in the hospital. Symptoms for Marburg include diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting. The WHO added that “[p]reparations for a possible outbreak response are being set up swiftly as further investigations are underway”.