The Pulse

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


Ziyan Tejani

After a challenging school year due to coronavirus disruptions, tens of thousands of Australian high school students have begun their final exams.

Both New South Wales and Victoria, Australia’s most populous states, have announced further easing of social distancing requirements, while working hard to prevent another outbreak.

Central Asia and South Asia

Samuel Garrett

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has spent a day drifting and performing donuts at the Interior Ministry’s motorsport centre. Turkmenistan faces a severe economic crisis and food shortages, while Turkmen authorities insist the country is coronavirus-free.  

Sri Lanka’s parliament has passed constitutional amendments increasing the powers of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa has been accused of war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war.  

Anti-government protests in Pakistan have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and taken aim at the growing role of the military in Pakistani politics.

East Asia

Louis Devine

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech on the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. Xi’s comments rebuking “unilateralism, protectionism, and extreme egoism” appear to be directed at the United States. Notably, Xi’s speech occurred at the same time as the US Presidential debate, in which both candidates argued over how they would “punish” China.   

Japan has signed a free trade deal with the United Kingdom. It is the first such trade deal signed by the UK since voting to leave the European Union.   

Taiwan is reportedly considering a trade deal with India. Beijing reacted negatively to the news, claiming it undermines the One China Policy.   

In South Korea, 32 people have died after receiving a flu vaccination. The country aims to vaccinate 30 million of its citizens ahead of flu season, to avoid further complicating the COVID-19 outbreak.


Eliza Archer

Sweden has joined a growing group of countries that have banned Huawei and ZTE from 5G mobile citing growing security concerns. China has responded warning Sweden could see a “negative impact on China-Sweden economic cooperation and the Swedish Business operating in China” if they did not reconsider the ban.

The “Mercosur” trade deal between the EU and a number of South American countries has been held up as France, Austria and Ireland have said they will block the deal in the European Parliament if more is not done to combat deforestation in the Amazon and to ensure the South American parties meet their Paris Agreement obligations. Given such action would require cooperation from Brazils far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, the EU’s new Commissioner for trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, has said ratification now seems unlikely.

Thousands have taken to the streets across Poland to protest changes to the countries already strict abortion laws. The court decision on Thursday said abortion of malformed foetuses was unconstitutional. The protests took place despite rapidly rising coronavirus numbers and fears of an overwhelmed health system.

Latin America

Dylan Gaymer

Chileans are set to vote on Sunday in a national referendum to replace their constitution written during the Pinochet dictatorship. Constitutional reform has been a critical component to the Chilean protests that have been ongoing since October 2019.

Bolivia's 'Movement Towards Socialism' (MAS) party has secured election victory with President-elect Luis Arce receiving 55.1 per cent of the votes. This is a historic win for the party, taking place a year after a coup overthrew former MAS President Evo Morales and installed right-wing Senator Jeanine Áñez.

Middle East and North Africa

Holly-Rose Biskup-Harwig

New Zealand and the Pacific

Rhiannon Arthur

The first flight from New Zealand to Australia in seven months touched down in Sydney airport on Friday 16 October as part of the new Trans-Tasman bubble established between the two countries. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: "This is great news for tourism, it's also great news for family reunification and great for businesses." Currently the bubble is for one-way travel from New Zealand to Australia, and only extended to New South Wales and the Northern Territory. It is expected that Pacific islander nations will be included in the bubble in coming months.

North America

Declan Curtin

Coronavirus cases in the US have hit a record high this week as the Covid Tracking Project reported 83,010 new cases on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 77,363 daily cases reported on July 16.   

On Friday, Donald Trump and Joe Biden clashed in the final US presidential debate before the election on November 3. While the candidates sparred on topics including North Korea and the coronavirus, debate moderator Kristen Welker stood out, and has received bi-partisan praise, for her success keeping both candidates on topic and preventing the kind of interruptions which marred the first debate.   

General elections are scheduled to be held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on November 5. The election is primarily between the five term incumbent Unity Labour Party led by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and the New Democratic Party led by Godwin Friday.

Southeast Asia

Iain D. Johnson

On October 22nd, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha rescinded the state of national emergency declared in response to a series of pro-democracy protests across the country. The move followed an ultimatum issued by pro-democracy demonstrators demanding the Prime Minister resign by October 25th.   

In his first overseas trip since taking office, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi. The leaders have pledged to deepen security ties and have signed an agreement that will supply Vietnam with Japanese military technology.  

An October 20th report from ASEAN’s Parliamentarians for Human Rights network has assessed ASEAN’s response to Myanmar’s Rakhine Crisis and found that a chronic lack of leadership and institutional weakness has led to an ineffective response from the regional organisation.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Cassius Hynam

Peaceful #EndSARS protesters waving Nigerian flags were shot at by soldiers in Lagos on Tuesday night, resulting in 12 casualties. In an address to the nation on Thursday, President Buhari failed to mention the shootings whilst authorities have denied orders were given to soldiers to shoot.   

Kenya, a leading nation in the fight against female genital mutilation, has witnessed a worrying spike in young women undergoing the procedure in recent months. It is believed pandemic associated effects, such as more home-schooling and economic uncertainty, has prompted the spike.    

Alpha Condé, the incumbent Guinean President, has won a controversial third term in office. Guinean media has suggested up to 30 protesters have died since last Saturday’s election, as opposition supporters argue the election was marred by fraud and that Condé’s third term is illegitimate.

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