December 9 roundup: Regional organisations NATO and OPEC gather

President Donald Trump

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last two weeks (November 16 to December 9, 2019).

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Gatherings of regional organisations the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) were marked by conflicts and negotiations. In London, the United Kingdom (UK), military alliance NATO commemorated its 70th anniversary, but the meeting was overshadowed by a viral video footage showing Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and other world leaders apparently mocking President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump cancelled a planned news conference thereafter and left earlier than planned.

The 14 OPEC nations and 10 allied countries met in Vienna, Austria, where de facto leader Saudi Arabia threatened to boost production unilaterally if output curbs are not adhered to. The cartel then agreed to cut output by about 40 per cent next year.

Political unrest: In France, a mass strike was planned against proposed changes to the country’s retirement system. In Iran, non-government organisation Amnesty International reported that at least 208 people have been killed amid protests over rising gas prices. And in Malta, amid a crisis over the assassination of a journalist, the country’s prime minister said he would resign, but has yet to do so.

Political and electoral breakthroughs: In Finland, Social Democrat Sanna Marin was elected by her party to become the country’s youngest-ever head of government. In Iraq, the prime minister submitted his resignation to parliament – which was later accepted – a day after 40 people were shot and killed by security forces at anti-government protests.

And at the district elections in Hong Kong – which saw a record turnout rate of 71 per cent, compared to 47 per cent the last time these elections were held – pro-democracy candidates won by a landslide, winning over 300 of the 452 open district councillor seats. China offered no direct comment on the results and later blamed the result on foreign interference.

American response to China and impeachment proceedings: Geopolitically, Congress passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the House passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, both prompting outrage from China.

Domestically, the Democratic-led House of Representatives approved a report alleging that President Donald Trump – who has denied any wrongdoing – solicited foreign election interference and placed “his own personal and political interests above the national interests” when he pushed Ukraine to investigate a political rival. Speaker Nancy Pelosi then asked the House Judiciary Committee to draft impeachment articles against the president, two of which were later unveiled.

Man-made failings and natural disasters: In Dresden’s Royal Palace, Germany’s largest collection of historic treasures was broken into. The stolen cache of antique jewellery and precious stones are reported to be worth over a billion euros. Russia was banned for four years for doping-related offences and attempts to mislead authorities. In Samoa, a measles outbreak has killed 60 people since October, in a country with low vaccination rates. Schools have been closed and public services were shut for two days. And in Yemen, a new outbreak of dengue fever was reported in the country, where cases of cholera and malaria are still being dealt with.

And in Albania, an earthquake killed at least 46 people.

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