- The United States (US) Democrats keep control of the Senate in the mid-terms after clinching 50 seats last Sunday (Nov 13). This comes after Senator Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election in Nevada. The Democrats can now break the tie with Vice President Kamala Harris, giving a mandate for incumbent President Joe Biden to push through legislation crucial to his campaign.
- Former US President Donald Trump warned rising Republican star Ron DeSantis against a presidential bid in 2024 last Wednesday (Nov 9). He said that if DeSantis did so, the party would be harmed. He then threatened to release scandalous information about him with no details. This comes as DeSantis won a 19.4 per cent landslide victory in the mid-term gubernatorial elections in Florida.
- The US government stopped taking applications for student loan forgiveness last Saturday (Nov 12) after a ruling had determined it was illegal on Thursday (Nov 10). District Judge Mark Pitterman said that the plan had overstepped congressional powers. The debt forgiveness pledge had aimed to cancel up to US$10,000 (S$13,726) in federal student loans for those who earned less than US$125,000 (S$171,585) per year.
- Climate activists in British Columbia, Canada threw maple syrup onto an Emily Carr painting and glued themselves to the wall last Saturday (Nov 12). The protestors are demanding an end to the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project, which is currently under construction. It was opposed by Wet’suwet’en First Nation chiefs in 2020 but had been stopped short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Bank of Mexico (Banxico) increased interest rates to 10 per cent as they raised their benchmark rates by 75 basis points last Thursday (Nov 10). It has been raised by 6 per cent since June 2021. This was done in an effort to curb inflationary stresses even as annual headline inflation fell to 8.41 per cent in October, with core inflation rising to a 22-year high of 8.42 per cent. Banxico attributed inflation to long-running external shocks like the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
- Argentina announced a new exchange rate last Tuesday (Nov 8) in hopes of boosting exports and foreign currency reserves. Economy Minister Sergio Massa aims for this measure to bolster the fall in local producer exports that the year’s adverse weather had impacted adversely.
- Protests broke out in Santa Cruz, Bolivia last Friday (Nov 11) following three weeks of a general strike. The demonstrators had urged for a new census to receive more funding and representation in congress. The demonstrations were also widely seen to be organised by the supporters of right-wing opposition to protest against left-wing President Luis Arce as farmer’s union offices were looted and set on fire.
- Brazil’s military announced that they saw no evidence of electoral fraud last Thursday (Nov 10). They did, however, propose improvements to the voting system but concluded that the results of the election were final. Winning President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s predecessor Jair Bolsonaro had repeatedly claimed election fraud in the lead-up to polling day.
- Chile’s National Statistics Institute published data that showed its inflation slowed in October last Tuesday (Nov 8). From 0.5 per cent on a monthly basis in October, it fell to 0.9 per cent in September and from 12.8 per cent on a 12-month basis in October, it fell from 13.4 per cent in September.
- Colombia’s congress approves its “most progressive reform in history” last Thursday (Nov 10). President Gustavo Petro’s tax reform had been approved in the lower chamber of congress and senate. The reforms imposed higher tax rates on high-income sectors and are a part of Petro’s plan to redistribute wealth and finance social programs.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bangladesh reached a “staff-level” agreement last Wednesday (Nov 9) to a US$4.5 billion (S$6.18 billion) support program. This staff-level agreement is expected to be greenlit by the IMF Executive Board in the coming weeks after the organisation had determined that Bangladesh had constructed an acceptable program to create growth, tame inflation, and boost the financial sector.
- South Korea announced that North Korea had fired at least one ballistic missile last Wednesday (Nov 9) after identifying debris. North Korea had stated that they had made the launches in response to “dangerous” Washington-Seoul military drills.
- Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba pressed on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to condemn Russia’s invasion last Saturday (Nov 12). He had also called on ASEAN members to stop Russia from playing “hunger games”, referring to Russia’s pull-out on Oct 29 from a deal brokered by the United Nations (UN) to ease grain flows that could ease the global food crisis.
- ASEAN leaders agreed that Myanmar’s junta must comply with a problem resolution plan based on “measurable indicators” and a “specific timeline” last Friday (Nov 11). Indonesian President Joko Widodo had also said that ASEAN cannot be “held hostage” to the situation. The junta had couped the previous administration and was responsible for the deaths of at least 1,500 civilians.
- ASEAN agreed “in principle” to the admission of Timor-Leste into the bloc last Friday (Nov 11). Timor-Leste will first be granted observer status and will build on an “objective criteria-based roadmap. The nation has a 1.37 million population and gained independence from Indonesia in 2002. The former Portuguese colony is the only Southeast-Asian country outside of the bloc.
- Australia formalised a cyber police task force last Saturday (Nov 12). The country had recently been a target of hacks impacting millions of Australians. At least eight prominent firms had been hacked since September, including telcos and Medibank, Australia’s biggest healthcare insurer.
- Following accusations of Russia using Iranian drones in Ukraine, a senior Russian security official met Iranian leaders in Tehran last Wednesday (Nov 9), pledging closer ties. The Kremlin also released a statement last Saturday (Nov 12) that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi look to deepen political, trade and economic cooperation over a phone call.
- Germany and Iceland submitted a request last Friday (Nov 11) for a special session at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) “to address the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially with respect to women and children,” on Nov 24. At least one-third of the UNHCR’s voting members supported the request, and Iran opposed it.
- Protests in Portugal stormed into the building where Portuguese economy minister Antonia Costa e Silva was, demanding his resignation last Saturday (Nov 12). The protesters demanded climate action, believing that the UN COP27 Summit is not enough, especially with governments being intertwined with fossil fuels lobbyists and big companies. UN experts reported last Tuesday (Nov 8) that promises by the private sector to achieve net-zero emissions are often just greenwashing.
- Anti-government protesters broke through a police barricade at the office of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama last Saturday (Nov 12). Tens of thousands protested against corruption, rising poverty and the large volume of people leaving the country. Britain saw a surge of migrants crossing the English Channel, many of which British ministers claim are Albanians. The protests are seen as an attempt by former President and Prime Minister Sali Berisha “flex[ing] his muscles before the May 2023 elections”.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian forces destroyed key infrastructure: communications, water, heat and electricity in Kherson before fleeing. Zelensky vows to restore everything. The humanitarian situation in Kherson is severe but residents still celebrated their liberation. Kherson citizens noted that the Russians left last Wednesday (Nov 9) at night.
- The UN Decolonization Committee has adopted a draft Palestinian resolution requesting the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory”. 98 countries voted yes, 52 abstained and 17 voted against the resolution last Friday (Nov 11). Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the resolution is a “diplomatic and legal breakthrough” that will “open a new era for holding Israel accountable for its war crimes”.
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced last Saturday (Nov 12) that he is committed to creating a “peace corridor” between Russia and Ukraine, “the best way for this is a path from dialogue to peace”. Erdogan hosted talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations earlier this year. Ukraine reaffirmed last Tuesday that talks can only commence if Russia relinquishes all occupied territory. Russia refuted last Friday that the goals of its “special military operation” could be achieved through peace talks but Kyiv’s position made peace talks impossible.
- Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman reaffirmed the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+) decision to lower targeted production despite opposition from the US and others. Salman said, “Our theme is being cautious” in light of the “uncertainties” in the global economy last Friday (Nov 11). OPEC+ is expected to meet on Dec 4 in Vienna, a day before the Group of Seven countries agree to cap Russian oil sales is due to go into effect.
- UN’s nuclear watchdog announced last Wednesday (Nov 9) that the recent meeting in Vienna saw no new information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, but ensures that talks will continue. Iran is looking to end IAEA’s investigation of its nuclear activity to revive the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The pact limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for Western sanctions, which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
- Yemen’s Houthi group launched a drone attack on the southern Qena port in Shabwa last Wednesday (Nov 9) in their increased effort to put pressure to extract economic gains in the UN-led talks for an extended truce deal. Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarea said the operations were to safeguard Yemen’s oil wealth for its people. The Yemeni government relies heavily on oil revenues, is struggling to pay public wages and is faced with a dire humanitarian crisis brought on by the war.
- An agreement between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces laying out the roadmap for implementation of a peace deal was signed last Saturday (Nov 12). The peace deal implementation negotiations have taken place since last Monday (Nov 7). The Ethiopian civil war spanned over two years, claimed thousands of human lives and displaced millions. Both sides are committed to the declaration, believing it is the only way to restore peace and security, following the unexpected diplomatic breakthrough of agreeing to a ceasefire.
- Fighting between the leaders of the rebel group M23 and the Congolese army restarted last Friday (Nov 11). M23 had a major resurgence this year, forcing tens of thousands to flee and accused the army of working with another rebel group, the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. The fighting caused a diplomatic rift between Congo and Rwanda whom Congo accused of supporting M23 which the latter denies. The two countries met for talks last Saturday to try to ease the tensions.
- Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan confirmed last Sunday (Nov 13) that a new political framework for the country is under negotiation. Burhan harshly warned the former ruling party he had ousted in a coup, to not interfere with the military or in politics. The military is in the process of creating a new draft constitution to achieve a new agreement with the country’s political parties.
- US-supported Somalia’s army and associated clam militias have killed 20 Al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab fighters in the latest clash between the two groups, last Wednesday (Nov 9). The army and militias also captured El Gorof and Wabho, towns which had been in al Shabaab control for almost 10 years. Al Shabaab has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government to implement its interpretation of Islamic law and has killed tens of thousands since 2006.
- Sanaa Seif, sister to British-Egyptian prisoner hunger striker Abd el-Fattah, landed in Egypt last Monday (Nov 7) to campaign for his release from jail. Fattah was detained for spreading false news and his prominence during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. He has been on a hunger strike for 220 days in protest of his detention and prison conditions. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced last Monday (Nov 7) he had raised the case with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, hoping to resolve the issue quickly.