News Timeline: August 2019


August 2 – East Asia: HONG KONG / CHINA
Demonstrations in Hong Kong continue despite the government withdrawing the controversial extradition bill. The protesters are angry about the erosion of the region’s special freedoms and violent response by the police. They demand a complete scrapping of the extradition bill, universal elections for the region’s chief executive office and the Legislative Council, amnesty for the arrested protesters, and an independent inquiry into the police brutality.
(Aug 6): The protesters shut down the airport, while the Chinese government in Beijing condemns the protests and issues a warning implying it might intervene to end the demonstrations.
(Aug 11): The police confront the activists firing again tear gas into the crowds.
(Aug 12): The protesters block the airport leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
(Aug 18): The protesters continue their rallies, but for the first time in weeks they are peaceful.[1]

August 2 – North America / Europe:
The United States officially withdraws from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) accusing Russia of violating the treaty. The INF Treaty, which banned missiles with ranges between 310-3,400 miles, was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Both the United States and NATO claim they have evidence that Russia has deployed a new type of cruise missile. The collapse of the agreement raises fears of a new arms race between the U.S., Russia, and China. The most important agreement of the old Cold War years – the New Start Treaty – that limits long-range nuclear weapons is set to expire in February 2021.[2]
Chart of estimated global nuclear warheads arsenals

August 2 – Middle East: SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia relaxes the male guardianship rules giving women over 21 the right to apply for passports and travel independently. Women are also being given the right to register births, marriages or divorces. The guardianship system gives husbands, father, brothers, and other male relatives the right to make major life decisions about and for women. While the country’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, relaxes strict prohibitions on women, he has also cracked down on activists who campaign for women’s rights, detaining many and putting them on trial. The critics say this makes the Saudi Prince look good giving an appearance of the reforms coming from the government. However, women still need permission from male relatives to marry, or even leave prison if they have been detained. They still cannot pass on citizenship to their children, nor can they provide consent for their children to marry.[3]
‘Why I Fled Saudi Arabia And Sought Asylum In The UK’ Video (03:38 min)

August 5 – South Asia: INDIA / PAKISTAN
India’s government revokes Article 370 of the constitution that gives the Indian-administered Kashmir wide-ranging autonomy, except for the clause that states that Kashmir is an integral part of India. The region’s autonomy included a separate constitution, a flag and its own legal system, while foreign affairs, defense and communications were in the hands of India’s central government. The legislators also propose splitting the region into Kashmir and Ladakh and downgrading them to union territories. The government claims that revoking the Article 370 will help the region’s development by bringing outside investment, and will help its integration with India.

The government also revokes the provision 35A (added to the Article 370 later), which gave the residents of Kashmir special privileges, including the exclusive right to own property in the state. Critics say that when people from other Indian states will be allowed to buy land and move into Kashmir, it will change its unique demographic character as the only Muslim-majority state in India.[4] Pakistan condemns the move and expels top Indian diplomats and suspends trade between the two countries. It also files the case with the United Nations to look into the dispute.[5]

Background: During the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, it was expected that Muslim-majority Kashmir would join Pakistan. However, the leader of Kashmir decided to join the Indian union in return for help against an invasion of tribesmen from Pakistan. This led to war between India and Pakistan and partitioning the region between the two countries.[6] Both India and Pakistan continue to claim the entire Kashmir region, and tensions remain high along the line of control.
Map of the Kashmir region

August 22 – Global Environment / Latin America: BRAZIL
Satellites spot a significant spike in wildfires in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. According to Brazil’s Institute of Space, so far there have been more than 74,000 fires this year, which is 80 percent more than last year. A lot of these fires are in the Amazon. Many of these fires are set to clear the forestland by cattle ranchers and illegal loggers. The environmentalists blame Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro for encouraging the fires by weakening government environmental enforcement agencies. The fires in the Amazon are a global concern.  As the lungs of the world, the Amazon rainforest stores vast amounts of carbon, crucial for slowing climate change.[7]
Photos showing the devastation by fires in the Amazon rainforest
Why the rainforest helps fight climate change, (video: 01:36 min)

August 29 – Global Health / Europe / North America:
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the measles disease is on the rise with four European countries, Albania, Czechia, Greece and the United Kingdom, losing their status of being free of measles.[8] Countries are considered measles-free when there is no transmission for 12 months. In total, 49 of the 53 countries in Europe reported over 160 000 measles cases and over 100 measles-related deaths between 1 January 2018 and 30 May 2019. Compared to 2016, when only 13 cases were reported, this represents a dramatic resurgence of this highly contagious and potentially fatal illness.[9] The United States has also seen a spike in measles cases, with 1,234 cases in 31 states between January 1 and August 29, 2019, the highest number in 25 years.[10] The majority of these cases are among people who were not vaccinated against measles. Worldwide, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine are suffering the largest outbreaks of measles. The disease can be prevented through two doses of the MMR vaccine. Misinformation and lies about the vaccine, and in some countries lack of access to vaccines, is blamed for the spikes in cases of this serious disease.[11]
What are vaccines, how do they work and why are people skeptical?



[1] “Hong Kong: Timeline of extradition protests.” BBC News. August 19, 2019. Web. Accessed August 19, 2019.
[2] “INF nuclear treaty: US pulls out of Cold War-era pact with Russia.” BBC News. 2 August 2019. Web. Accessed August 21, 2019.
[3] “Saudi Arabia allows women to travel independently.” BBC News. August 2, 2019. Web. Accessed August 24, 2019.
[4] “Article 370: India strips disputed Kashmir of special status.” BBC News. August 5, 2019. Web. Accessed August 19, 2019
[5] “Kashmir dispute: Pakistan downgrades ties with India.” BBC News. August 7, 2019. Web. Accessed August 20, 2019.
[6] Rais Akhtar and William Kirk. “Jammu and Kashmir.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. August 07, 2019. Web. Accessed August 19, 2019
[7] “Satellites Show Thousands Of Fires Sweeping Through Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest.” NPR. All Things Considered. August 22, 2019. Web. Accessed August 23, 19.
[8] The World Health Organization (WHO). “European Region loses ground in effort to eliminate measles.” Press Release. August 29, 2019. Web. Accessed September 3, 2019 from
[9] The World Health Organization (WHO). “Situation report # 1: Measles in the Who European Region.” Regional Office for Europe. July 2019. Web. Accessed September 3, 2019 from
[10] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Measles Cases and Outbreaks: Measles Cases in 2019.” 2019. Web. Accessed September 3, 2019 from
[11] “Measles: Four European nations lose eradication status.” BBC News. August 29, 2019. Web. Accessed September 3, 2019