Sep 26, 2019

Fires and fury in Indonesia

A fire rages in Riau province, Indonesia. Photo: Jefta Images/Barcroft Media via Getty

Slash-and-burn farming is to blame for many of the nearly 2,000 wildfires that have spread smoke over swathes of Indonesia and caused respiratory problems for at least 920,000 people, the New York Times reports.

Context: The government tends to ignore violations from palm oil and wood pulp producers who intentionally start the fires, but pressure is mounting on President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to take action.

  • Jokowi was re-elected in April, but his popularity has been sliding since he approved a law to defang an anti-corruption commission.
  • Student protestors filled the streets of Jakarta this week, "blocking traffic, pulling down fencing and torching a police post," the Times reports. Police responded with tear gas.
  • The students are urging Jokowi to rescind the law and reject a proposed overhaul of the criminal code backed by arch-conservative Islamists.

The big picture: Jokowi's image as a modernizing reformer is now undergoing a reevaluation.

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Hong Kong protestors march in support of pro-democracy leader

Pro-democracy protestors in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong, Oct. 20. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters marched in Hong Kong on Sunday in defiance of a police ban against assembly, rallying in support of a pro-democracy group leader who was attacked by five men wielding hammers three days earlier, according to the BBC.

The state of play: Though the march was largely peaceful, some protestors threw firebombs at police and vandalized Chinese banks and shops. Police responded by shooting tear gas canisters and deploying water cannons loaded with a blue irritant used to mark protestors for later arrest.

Go deeperArrowOct 20, 2019

Hong Kong police fire tear gas on protesters ahead of China anniversary

Thousands of people hold an unsanctioned march through the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/Getty Images

Hong Kong police fired tear gas, water cannon and blue-dyed liquid on protesters taking part in a massive, unsanctioned march against totalitarianism during a violent weekend of clashes with authorities, Bloomberg reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 29, 2019

On China anniversary, violence erupts between Hong Kong police and protesters

Hong Kong police fire water cannons and blue dye from the central government complex toward protesters. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

Violent clashes erupted across Hong Kong between police and protesters as tens of thousands defied a marching ban on Tuesday, China's 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule, the New York Times reports.

What's happening: A police officer shot a pro-democracy protester in the first incident of its nature since the protests started months ago, reports AP, which called the event an "escalation of the monthslong unrest that has rocked the city."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 1, 2019