The Pulse

The biggest headlines from around the world, all in one place. Published every Sunday.


Ziyan Tejani

China has announced 212% tariffs on Australian wine exports, which has dealt a heavy blow to the valuable sector of Australia’s export market. This has come at a time of escalating tensions and a deteriorating relationship between Australia and China.  

Australia braces for what will be the most significant heatwave of the season. Strong winds and severe heat, in excess of 45C, is expected in many parts of Australia. A number of extreme weather warnings have been released in anticipation of bushfires and storms.

Central Asia and South Asia

Samuel Garrett

Bhutan has established formal diplomatic relations with Israel, making it the latest in a series of states to recognise and normalise ties with Israel. 

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has backed a constitutional referendum to establish a presidential system of rule, after little more than an hour of debate. Concerns over a potential return to presidential authoritarianism in Kyrgyzstan have existed since a political revolution in October. 

Afghan journalist Malalai Maiwand was shot dead by armed gunmen in Jalalabad. Numerous journalists have been killed in Afghanistan in recent months.

East Asia

Louis Devine

During a recent military parade, North Korea displayed what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). A functional SLBM would mark a significant improvement in North Korea’s nuclear capacity. Unlike land-based ballistic missiles, SLBMs can survive an adversary’s nuclear strike by hiding underwater, giving North Korea what is called a “second strike capability”.   

Thirteen World Health Organisation officials (WHO) have arrived in Wuhan, China. The team aims to investigate the origins of COVID-19. China had previously delayed entry for WHO officials seeking to investigate the origins of a virus that has so far infected 92 million people worldwide.   

Tokyo is currently battling a resurgent wave of COVID-19. Hospitals are overwhelmed and being forced to turn away new patients. On January 14, Japan recorded 6,594 new infections.


Eliza Archer

The Italian Government has introduced a rule that bans inter-town travel during the Christmas period, a move that has horrified the Italian public and caused intense backlash. Italy registered its highest daily death toll of the pandemic this week.

A new security law in France has seen citizens take to the streets. The proposed law would grant greater power to the police among other measures and has been classified by UN experts as ““incompatible” with international law and human rights.

In Belgium, the Grand Mosque in the EU quarter of Brussels has had its application to be recognised as a local faith community denied as the government reports the mosque is home to Moroccan spies. In France, 76 mosques have been accused of “separatism” by the French government and are said to be encouraging extremism.

József Szájer, a Hungarian MEP who helped draft Hungary’s strict heterosexual marriage laws was caught shimmying down a drainpipe to get away from a gay-orgy that broke Belgium’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Latin America

Dylan Gaymer

Venezuelans are set to vote on a new parliament to decide the makeup of the National Assembly. Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by more than 60 countries as the interim President of Venezuela, currently leads the National Assembly and has announced a boycott of the vote.

Argentina's Senate has approved a one-time levy on approximately 12,000 of the country's richest citizens to help with the country's COVID-19 measures. Millionaires with assets of more than 200 million pesos (AUD $3.4 million) will be taxed to assist the government to purchase health supplies and offer economic relief to struggling businesses.

Middle East and North Africa

Holly-Rose Biskup-Harwig

The US has said they will sanction Gebran Bassil the leader of Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement for assisting the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah. The decision has been approved by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Treasury Department.

Iraq - anti-government demonstrator killed in Basra protests. Several dozen protestors took to the streets on Friday 6th November demanding jobs and basic services from their PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the country’s southern oil hub. Omar Fadhel was killed when he was hit by at least one bullet and 40 others are wounded as hundreds of protesters and the anti-riot police clashed.

UN warns of a catastrophic turning point in parts of Yemen, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and South Sudan as they risk slipping into famine within a few weeks. The pandemic has caused severe levels of food insecurity with access to food becoming minimal. The Food Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme found millions are on the brink of famine as the pandemic plunders employment, disrupts agricultural activities, slashes remittances and sends crude prices spiralling.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei mocks US democracy in a tweet saying

"What a spectacle! One says this s the most fraudulent election in US history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office. His rival says Trump intends to rig the election! This is how #USElections & US democracy are."

New Zealand and the Pacific

Rhiannon Arthur

Pacific island leaders will meet on Friday December 11 for a virtual Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) summit to demand urgent global action to combat climate change ahead of a UN summit on Saturday. The PIF's virtual summit will give Pacific leaders an opportunity to put pressure on the global community to make bolder climate targets. PIF's secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor wants Australia to commit to phasing out fossil fuels and adopt the 2050 target. It is expected that Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce at the summit that Australia will no longer count past emissions reductions in order to reach the Paris goals.

North America

Declan Curtin

President-Elect Joe Biden has been approved by the General Services Administration to begin working with US federal agencies and accessing transitions funds. The move was sanctioned by President Trump but he stressed that the decision does not amount to a concession. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his nation's plan to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 2021. Trudeau’s government will work closely with the military to deliver medication to “everyone who wants a vaccine”, while stressing that it will be available to Indigenous and rural communities where health care services are limited at the best of times.

Southeast Asia

Iain D. Johnson

Rescue efforts are underway to save buried survivors in Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck on January 15.  As protests in Thailand continue into 2021, a total of 41 pro-democracy demonstrators have now been charged under Thailand’s strict lese majeste since the youth-led protest movement began in July 2020.  

Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah has declared a state of emergency in response to escalating COVID-19 cases. The move will suspend the Malaysian parliament until August 1 and will allow Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet to approve laws without parliamentary approval.  

Chinese-made vaccine Sinovac has been approved for emergency use in Indonesia while in the Philippines senators have begun to question the government preference for Sinovac after a Brazilian trial demonstrated the vaccine to be only 50.4% effective at preventing symptomatic infections.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Cassius Hynam

Reports have emerged from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region of Eritrean refugees being killed, abduced, or forcibly sent home, according to the United Nations. It represents yet another worrying development in the conflict between Ethiopian and TPLF forces which has raged since November 4.  

It is believed several hundred students are still missing after armed gunmen stormed an all-boys' boarding school Friday night in Nigeria’s Katsina region. The siege lasted over an hour, and witnesses report seeing students being taken by the gunmen. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.  

Ghana’s opposition leader and former President, John Mahama, has accused the military of interfering in the recent Ghanian election. Mahama picked up 47.36% of the vote according to the electoral commission but is demanding a “declaration of the legitimate results.”

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