Week #12 (26/08-01/09/2019)

A graph showing South Korea’s fertility rate from 1960-2017. The rate falls to a record low in 2018, dropped to 0.98. | Credit: The World Bank

AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST

The Lebanese army said they have fired (27/08) two of three Israeli drones near the countries’ border as it violated Lebanon’s airspace. Each drone, despite two of them being fired, managed to return back to Israel. A day after the incident, the Israeli army said the drones have completed their mission and no Israeli Defense Forces damage was reported.

Reported from Senegal (31/08), on an average August day, at least 70% of the 10,000 fires burning worldwide occurred in Africa, which NASA has called the “fire continent”. NASA satellite imagery showed around 6,000 fires in Angola, more than 3,000 in Congo, and, as a comparison, just over 2,000 in Brazil. Forest fires in Africa are mostly caused naturally by savanna fires and man-made through small farmers’ slash-and-burn activities. Although deforestation is not occurring on the same scale as in South America and that some fires are also part of their ecology, future threats to its tropical forests are on the horizon as global economic forces expand in the region.

ASIA

Being wary of possible attacks, Islamic clerics in Sri Lanka urged (27/08) Muslim women to continue to refrain from wearing face veils, at least until the government clarifies whether they are once again allowed. The advice was conveyed despite the emergency rule, declared after the Easter attacks on three churches and three tourist hotels, has ended four months ago.

Twenty-eight protesters have been arrested after a protest (28/08) in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia on allegation of damaging and burning properties, violence, provocation, and looting. Civil unrest triggered by perceived racial and ethnic discrimination has been ongoing in Papua from two weeks ago, although the police have said the situation was now calmer.

People in South Korea have fewer children than ever before—last year's total fertility rate dropped to its lowest since records started, the government said (29/08). The overall fertility rate, which measures women’s average numbers of kids in her lifetime, fell to 0.98 in 2018—or less than one child per woman—from previously 1.05 in 2017.

Hong Kong police have arrested three prominent Hong Kong democracy activists, namely Joshua Wong and Angela Chow (30/08), who are respectively the secretary general and member of the Demosisto group, and Andy Chan (29/08), the leader of the banned pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. Wong and Chow are both investigated on suspicion of “organizing unorganized assembly” and “knowingly participating in unauthorized assembly”. Meanwhile, Chan was arrested on suspicion of “participating in riots” and “attacking police” during a protest on July 13.

AUSTRALIA & OCEANIA

Deportation of a Tamil family of four was reprieved (29/08) following public outcry and an injunction ordered over a phone. The family was on an airplane mid-air off to Sri Lanka when the call forced it to land over 3,000 km away in Darwin, Australia. The family came to Australia after fleeing Sri Lanka’s civil war. Although not considered as refugees and thus not owed protection, many Australians, including lawmakers, called for the government to show compassion to the family who have stayed and worked—and eventually married with two children—in the country since several years ago.

More than 700 cases of measles have been recorded (30/08) in Auckland, New Zealand this year and the country’s public health minister is doing their best to contain the outbreak to stop it spreading around the country and around the Pacific region. Particular concerns were especially addressed to the countries such as Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands which have lower vaccination rates.

EUROPE

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suspended the United Kingdoms (U.K.) Parliament (28/08) for five weeks ahead of October 31—a move that limits the MPs’ time to debate Brexit. Impromptu protests calling for Johnson’s resignation were being held in major city centres (28/08) across the country including in Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Brighton, Durham, Milton Keynes, and Chester just hours after the suspension was set in motion. Remainers, and even some in favour of Brexit, have called Johnson’s decision a coup.

An Afghan asylum seeker previously unknown to the police and the intelligence services has killed a 19-year-old and injured eight others after going on a rampage with a skewer and knife in Lyon, France (31/08). The motive behind the attack is still not clear.

LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced (29/08) that he would gather Amazon nations to discuss the rainforest’s preservation, protection, and development on September 6 in Leticia, Colombia. The announcement came after Bolsonaro met Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera in Brasilia, who then declared that “environmental problems must be met while respecting ‘national sovereignty’”. The statement is in line with Bolsonaro’s accusation against Germany and France whom he said had tried to buy Brazil’s sovereignty through their aid of USD 20 million at the G7 meeting.  

Bahamian authorities’ last-minute plea for those in low-lying areas to evacuate has fallen on deaf ears as dozens were ignoring the order despite Hurricane Dorian is quickly approaching the Abaco Islands, Bahama, at the speed of 7mph. The hurricane is also expected to cross Grand Bahama, carrying “catastrophic conditions” with it. A hurricane researcher from Colorado State University, Phil Klotzbach, said, “It’s going to be really, really bad for the Bahamas. Abaco is going to get wiped.”

THE UNITED STATES (U.S.) & CANADA

Sixteen years old Swede environmental activist Greta Thunberg has arrived in New York, the United States (U.S.) (29/08), to participate in the United Nations (UN) climate summits in New York City and Chile. Thunberg spent 15 days sailing from Plymouth, the U.K., on a zero-emissions yacht, completing a 3,000-mile voyage across the Atlantic. From West Texas, a gunman killed five people and injured at least 21 others on a shooting spree (01/09). The gunman was then shot and killed by police in a gun battle. The shooter was identified as a white male in his 30s, but his name and motive are not yet given.