- The United States announced a new US$725 million (S$1.04 billion) military aid package for Ukraine last Saturday (Oct 15), amid Russia’s resumed missile attacks on Kyiv. The new aid package aims to restock ammunition for advanced weapons systems used in Ukraine’s counteroffensive. It includes more ammunition for HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems), which totals US military assistance to Ukraine at US$18.3 billion (S$26.1 billion) since the start of President Biden’s administration.
- It was reported last Thursday (Oct 14) that the state of California started to vote on the November 8 elections that would enact abortion and contraception rights in the state’s constitution. The ballot measure, known as Proposition One, would declare that the state “shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives”. Polls suggest that about two-thirds of California voters are in favour of the amendment. This comes at a time when abortion rights are under threat across the United States, following the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v Wade – a case that put in place the legal right to an abortion.
- The Congress of the Union of Mexico voted last Thursday (Oct 13) in favour of extending military presence on the country’s streets until 2028. As part of Mexico’s war against drugs, the streets have seen years of military troops carrying out public security duties against gangs that control the drug trade. The bill was passed after 339 voted in favour and 155 against, in the Chamber of Deputies. Human rights groups have brought up the prevalence of violence and human rights abuses as a result of police militarisation while critics argued that extending the military’s presence would further militarise the country. The legislation, however, will still have to be passed by the legislatures of 31 states and Mexico City, to come into law.
- Thousands of people took to the streets last Tuesday (Oct 11) in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, against the government’s decision to seek foreign military assistance to subdue gang-related violence. Demonstrators demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Many people were shot and one person was reported to have been killed during the rallies which protesters blamed on the police for the death. Police have also been seen using tear gas to disperse protesters.
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s Justice ministry called for an investigation last Thursday (Oct 14) and a probe into whether polls manipulated election results. The first round of votes for the presidential election significantly understated the support for the incumbent Bolsonaro. However, experts believe that the efforts were to prosecute and punish institutes rather than improve electoral polls.
- The United Nations reported last Wednesday (Oct 13), that three-quarters of the six million Venezuelan migrants in Latin America do not have enough food, shelter, employment or medical care. The UN Refugee Agency said that many are forced to turn to sex work to meet their basic needs. The number of Venezuelans waiting to cross dangerous terrain into safer regions continues to increase. Venezuelans recently became the second largest nationality stopped at the US border.
- Shane Cienfuegos is the first person in Chilean history to receive a non-binary national identity document last Friday (Oct 14), in a country that does not legally recognise non-binary people. Cienfuegos heads the social intervention activities for the Trans Diversity Organisation of Chile. They called it a “collective victory” after a nine-year bureaucratic and legal battle. Chile only gives such recognition to people who win a court ruling.
- Ecuador’s government and indigenous community leaders ended months of talks with a deal last Friday (Oct 14). The talks, which began after President Gilermo Lasso ended the deadly protests in June, led to 218 agreements to implement economic and environmental concessions. Leonidas Iza, president of the indigenous organisation CONAIE, warned that this was just the beginning – partial advances with most failing to meet the requirements laid out in the June protests.
- Transparency International (TI) announced last Tuesday (Oct 10) that Brazil has fallen in the global corruption ranking, from ‘moderate’ to ‘limited’ due to government interference in the work of law enforcement agencies, which has caused serious consequences for anti-graft efforts. The implementation of the mechanisms was established by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which could set back Brazil’s plans to join the OECD.
- Tensions between North Korea and South Korea continue to escalate, with counter-retaliating military actions on both sides. Both Japan and South Korea reported that North Korea launched a missile last Friday (Oct 14), making it its 41st ballistic missile test this year. The North then fired 2 rounds of artillery shells. After this, 10 North Korean warplanes flew close to the sea border and the Military Demarcation Line. The South imposed its first unilateral sanctions against the North; Japan issued a warning. The South also conducted an emergency air raid with its air force.
- The week-long 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China commenced last Sunday (Oct 16). President Xi Jinping is expected to win another term which would secure him as the country’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. Xi’s opening speech clearly outlined Hong Kong’s successful integration into China, making Taiwan next, and that China was not above using force and “all necessary measures”. Xi reaffirmed China’s efforts in reforming the global governance system, opposing any unilateralism, protectionism and bullying.
- In response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party last Sunday (Oct 16), Taiwan’s presidential office said “maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region is the common responsibility of both sides and meeting on the battlefield is not an option.” Taiwan also affirmed that it would not compromise on freedom, democracy and its sovereignty.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last Thursday (Oct 13), that most Asian central banks had to tighten their monetary policy further as inflation continues to rise due to US interest rate hikes. The IMF warned that the large currency depreciations and rising interest rates could potentially worsen the economic situation in Asian countries with high debt, as Asia remains the world’s largest debtor.
- India reversed the 2019 ruling granting voting rights to new residents of its Jammu and Kashmir regions last Thursday (Oct 13). The reversal came after political parties voiced their anger: calling the new voting rights a bid to change the demographics of the country’s only Muslim-majority region. Prior to the reversal, Kashmir was expected to add 2.5 million voters to the rolls, accounting for more than a third of the current numbers.
- 11 were killed and 15 others wounded in a shooting at a Russian military base in southwestern Belgorod after a gunman opened fire on volunteer soldiers last Saturday (Oct 15). It is said to be perpetrated by two assailants who are nationals from an unspecified former Soviet republic. The shooting comes amid a mobilisation ordered by President Vladimir Putin to strengthen Russian forces in Ukraine, which has since triggered protests and caused hundreds of thousands to flee Russia. It also came a week after a blast damaged a bridge in Crimea, the region annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
- Environmental activists were caught on video throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting Sunflowers at London’s National Gallery last Friday (Oct 14). The video was posted by The Just Stop Oil campaign group, which showed two activists committing the act, before glueing themselves to a wall. According to the National Gallery, only minor damage to the frame was sustained, with the painting remaining unharmed. Just Stop Oil has held protests for the last two weeks in London. The intention of throwing tomato soup at the painting as an act of protest was to demand the UK government to halt all new oil and gas projects with the overarching message being to “choose life over art”. Both activists have since been arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
- Two brothers George Degiorgio and Alfred Degiorgio, have been sentenced to 40 years in prison last Friday (Oct 14) after pleading guilty to the car-bomb murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which had triggered angry protests in Malta. Hours before pleading guilty during the trial, the two brothers entered not-guilty pleas over Caruana Galizia’s death in October 2017. The convicted were also ordered to pay €50 thousand (S$69.3 thousand) each from the money they received as a result of the crime, as well as court costs. Prosecutors have alleged that the brothers were hired by a top Maltese businessman with government ties – who will go on a separate trial for his crimes.
- British Prime Minister Liz Truss appointed Jeremy Hunt to replace Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor of the Exchequer last Friday (Oct 14) and scrapped initial plans to cut corporation tax. Kwarteng stepped down only after a month in his role and three weeks after he announced a tax-cutting “mini-budget” that sent the pound plunging to record lows against the US dollar. Kwarteng was the United Kingdom’s shortest-serving chancellor since 1970.
- A state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu coal mine in Amasra in northern Turkey exploded last Friday (Oct 14), killing 41 and leaving 28 injured. The preliminary assessment showed that the explosion was likely caused by flammable gases found in coal mines – firedamp. The explosion occurred 300 metres below the entrance of the mine.
- Amidst a new wave of nearly daily Israeli military violence in the occupied West Bank, thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested in solidarity with the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem last Friday (Oct 14). The rallies were called by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Mosher Al-Masry, a senior Hamas official said that the protests reaffirmed the unity of all Palestinians, following a reconciliation deal signed by rival Palestinian groups last Thursday (Oct 13).
- Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi firebrand leader, announced his refusal to join the new government being formed by Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani and under newly elected President Abdul Latif Rashid, last Saturday (Oct 15). al-Sadr alleged the incoming government is in “clear subordination to militias” and would “not meet the people’s aspirations”, and refused to partake in this government “or any other candidate from among the old faces of those affiliated with the corrupt”.
- OPEC+’s move to cut oil production despite US’ lobbying efforts, faced accusations from the US that the decision to do so was politically rather than economically motivated. Saudi Arabia rejected the US’s accusations of supporting their ally Russia in international conflicts and that it was politically motivated against the US, last Thursday (Oct 13). Saudi Arabia asserted that the decision was purely economic.
- Six people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, including two army colonels, were sentenced to death last Saturday (Oct 15) for the murder of two Chinese mine workers in March. Another four military personnel in connection to the murder were sentenced to 10 years in jail. The two army colonels were accused of planning an attack on a convoy in March, with the intention of stealing four gold bars and US$6,000 (S$8,500) in cash being transported by the victims, who were returning from a gold mine. The defence team has since said that they would appeal against the charges.
- The death toll passed 500, as widespread floods ravaged Nigeria last Friday (Oct 14), leaving more than 90,000 homes underwater and blocking food and fuel supplies. The ministries for humanitarian affairs and for disaster management reported that the floods have hit 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states and impacted around 1.4 million people. According to Nigerian authorities, the floods resulted from a build-up from heavier than usual rains earlier in the summer, which intensified after water releases from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon.
- At least 11 civilians were killed and 53 injured in central Mali, after a bus hit an explosive device last Thursday (Oct 13) afternoon. According to a security source, the explosion occurred on the road between Bandiagara and Goundaka in the Mopti area. The region is known as a breeding ground for violence by armed groups where mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remain popular weapons. In Mali, thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced out of their homes due to recurring violence by armed rebel groups in the last decade or so. Last year alone, 103 people were killed and 297 injured by IEDs and mines.
- A three-week lockdown was declared in Mubende and Kassanda, Uganda last Sunday (Oct 16) following an Ebola outbreak in early September. Bars, nightclubs, places of worship and entertainment venues will be closed and a curfew enforced in both districts. The measure came after President Yoweri Museveni initially said they were not required. The outbreak has since killed 19 people among 58 recorded cases. It was suggested that the real number of deaths and cases might be higher. This latest outbreak is of the Sudan strain of the virus, for which there is no approved vaccine.
- Thousands took to the streets last Sunday (Oct 16) in Tunis, Tunisia in protest against President Kais Saied, condemning him of autocracy and reversing the democratic progress made since the 2011 uprising. Calling for accountability for the country’s economic crisis was also one of the components that fueled the demonstrations. The protests come more than a year after former Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi was sacked. Mr Saied has since then pushed through a constitution, establishing his one-man rule. The new constitution gave the head of state full executive control, the supreme command of the army, and the ability to appoint a government without parliamentary approval.