Week #8 (29/07-04/08/2019)

A major blackout hit the west part of Java island, Indonesia on Sunday. | Credit: Google

AFRICA

Officials in Ethiopia (30/07) believe that they have set a new world record by planting more than 353 million trees in only 12 hours on Monday. Spearheaded by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the planting was part of a wider reforestation campaign named ‘Green Legacy’ which aims to plant four billion trees during the rainy season (between May and October). The head of the Congolese response effort reported that the second patient diagnosed with Ebola in eastern Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (31/07) has died after he sought treatment too late and was already bleeding. Officials fear that the virus has taken root in the densely populated city of 2 million, accelerating the spread of the disease that has claimed more than 1,800 lives over the past year.

AMERICA 

A gunman, identified as 19-year-old Santino William Legan, killed three people, including a six-year-old boy, and injured at least 11 others at the Gilroy garlic festival in northern California, the United States (U.S.) (29/07) before being shot dead by police. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear. One witness claimed that he heard someone shouted, “Why are you doing this?” in which Legan replied, “Because I’m really angry.” As reported (31/07) by the New York Times, two American officials confirmed that Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden is dead. The U.S. had a role in the operation that killed the ‘emerging’ leader in the terror group al Qaeda, but it was not clear what the role was.  

ASIA 

The government of China (30/07) has finally spoken out against the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, accusing them of committing ‘evil and criminal acts.’  Yang Guang, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office spokesman, held a press conference in Beijing and stated, “Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s affairs are China’s domestic affairs.” He added that the Chinese government would not allow any challenge to its authority or threats to national security. Move to Southeast Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s latest visit to the region was greeted by North Korea with twin signals of frustration: test-firing missiles and withholding top diplomats from an opportunity at nuclear talks. The South Korean military claimed that North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea early Wednesday, the second test in less than a week. The launches took place only hours before Pompeo’s arrival in Bangkok, Thailand (01/08) for a regional summit. Pampeo has stated that he would not attend a meeting with the North Koreans. Indonesia’s provinces of DKI Jakarta, Banten, and West Java were hit (04/08) with major power outage on Sunday, affecting thousands of homes and public facilities, including commuting train services and the MRT.  Sripeni Inten Cahyani, acting chief executive of PLN, the state-owned electricity company which has a monopoly on electricity distribution, said the outage was caused by electricity disruption at 11:45 a.m. on the Ungaran-Pemalang Extra High Voltage. 

AUSTRALIA & OCEANIA 

Sydney, Australia (29/07), Australian swimming is being accused of hypocrisy after Queensland swimmer Shayna Jack, who is an Olympic hopeful, was tested positive for anabolic agent Ligandrol, which is popular with bodybuilders. The news emerged only days after teammate Mack Horton refused to share the podium with China’s Sun Yang and called him a ‘drug cheat’ at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea. Following Horton’s action and Jack’s drug test result, China’s state media castigated Australia as a ‘second-class citizen of the West,’ ‘nation of cheats,’ and of ‘white supremacy.’  A powerful, 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck (31/07) about 178 km northwest of Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila. No tsunami warning was issued.

EUROPE

The Italian culture ministry has banned McDonald’s from building a new restaurant in Rome, Italy (01/08). McDonald’s has proposed to build an outlet next to the ancient Baths of Caracalla, prompting strong reactions from the Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli and the Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi, with the latter wrote, “The wonders of Rome must be protected.” Despite the ministry’s decision to revoke authorization, visitors to Rome will not lack access to a Big Mac as McDonald’s already has 40 restaurants in the capital, including near the Vatican and the Spanish Steps. From Llanelwedd, Wales, the United Kingdom (U.K.)’s (02/08) pro-European Union (E.U.) Liberal Democrats beat the Conservatives in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. The Liberal Democrats’ winning is a major blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as it reduces Johnson’s working majority in the House of Common to just one. Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson stated, “Boris Johnson’s shrinking majority makes it clear that he has no mandate to crash us out of the EU.”