News Watch

Heavy rains caused flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia, in late December, killing at least 21 people and displacing more than 62,000. More than 14 inches of rain fell on Dec. 31, the most rain ever measured in one day since records in the country began in 1996.

Jakarta, currently the capital of Indonesia, is considered one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world and is prone to yearly flooding. In August 2019, Indonesia’s president announced that the capital would be moved to a...

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The Philippines was struck by three natural disasters in December.

On Dec. 3, Typhoon Kammuri made landfall near the capital, Manila, with wind gusts up to 146 miles per hour. At least two people were killed, and more than 200,000 people were forced to evacuate to shelters.

On Dec. 15, an earthquake measuring 6.8 in magnitude occurred near the city of Davao on Mindanao island, killing at least three people and injuring 31. It was the fifth earthquake measuring over magnitude 5...

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Major bushfires in eastern Australia continued to rage in December. One town of 400 in New South Wales, Balmoral, was completely destroyed. Since the fires began in September 2019, at least 19 people had been killed as of press time, with 17 missing, and thousands of homes had burned as wildfires covered millions of acres of land.

The Australian bushfires coincided with a lack of rainfall and a record-setting heat wave that kept temperatures in eastern Australia over 100ºF for...

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A Bek Air Fokker 100 passenger plane carrying 93 passengers crashed shortly after takeoff in the Kazakhstani city of Almaty on Dec. 27, killing 12 people. The plane was to fly to the capital, Nur-Sultan (Astana), but hit a building near the airport in heavy fog.

The cause of the accident was being investigated at press time, and all Bek Air flights had been grounded by order of Kazakhstan’s air authority.

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Violent protests broke out in India against a controversial citizenship law passed by the government on Dec. 12. The law grants citizenship to Hindu, Christian and minority-religion asylum seekers from the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh while specifically denying citizenship to Muslim asylum seekers from those countries. The law was not yet in effect at press time, with a number of legal challenges pending.

A ban against protests, covering Delhi and the...

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Hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets in more than 40 cities across France, beginning Dec. 5, to protest pension reforms proposed by president Emmanuel Macron. The new pension rules would raise the retirement age and reduce monthly payments.

The worker strikes, ongoing at press time, had caused intercity French train routes and high-speed cross-country trains to periodically shut down. Additionally, during the strikes, hundreds of international and domestic flights were...

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Amnesty International is accusing police in Beirut, Lebanon, of excessive violence after at least 135 people were injured when police broke up a peaceful protest on Dec. 14.

Protests in Lebanon regarding income inequality and the high rate of unemployment were ongoing at press time. Protesters had demanded that the prime minister resign, which he did on Dec. 18. Hezbollah, a militant group that holds seats in Lebanon’s Parliament yet is considered a terrorist organization by the...

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The Pacific island nation of Samoa (not to be confused with neighboring American Samoa, a US territory) declared a state of emergency on Nov. 16 due to an outbreak of measles, with more than 5,000 people infected (out of a population of 200,000) and 72 deaths, mostly infants. The state of emergency ended on Dec. 27.

The outbreak was blamed on influential local healers who had recommended that people not vaccinate their children, instead offering natural cures. One such person was...

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