News in the Humanosphere: A new dawn in Indonesia as Widodo assumes the presidency

Joko Widodo waves to his supporters. (Credit: EPA/ADI WEDA)

Joko Widodo is sworn into office as president of Indonesia today. He was born in a slum, and he’s run a remarkable campaign as a “man of the people” and true outsider to Indonesia’s often corrupt political elite. He oozes charisma. But can he lead? “Mr Widodo, or Jokowi as he is known, has several significant tasks immediately in front of him, and will be judged by how well he handles them. Among the first is dealing with a fuel subsidy bill that is blowing out to more than $US20 billion, draining a hole in a budget when funds are needed for education and health programs, and overhauling the nation’s shoddy infrastructure. The cheap fuel provided by the government’s subsidy is mainly enjoyed by the well-off, according to the World Bank, but a rise in the fuel price hurts the poorest the most. As does any subsequent rise in inflation. This is the tricky scenario that Mr Widodo will face first.” (ABC-Australia http://ab.co/1t0Uoov)

Some Good News on the Ebola Vaccine Front… “A senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, Dr. Sullivan has worked for years on a vaccine that has been proven to block Ebola in research monkeys. NIH is now racing to telescope what would have been a five- to 10-year testing plan into a few months. The vaccine is scheduled to undergo full human testing by early 2015 and could be in use potentially in time to help stem the disease in stricken West Africa.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/1t0USuT)

And… Britain’s biggest drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said on Saturday work to develop a vaccine to combat Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa, was moving at a rapid pace. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1uqgQ79)

Ebola
Canada will start sending more than 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to Switzerland this week as part of the global fight against the deadly virus, a Geneva hospital said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1uqk4Yv)

Oxfam is appealing to European Union foreign ministers to do more to fight Ebola; a disease Oxfam said could be the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation.” (VOA http://bit.ly/10b2cJE)

France’s foreign minister said Sunday a call by unions representing Air France cabin staff to suspend flights to Ebola-hit Guinea would encourage riskier forms of travel that could spread the virus even faster. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1uqmfLx)

Spain has agreed to allow the U.S. to use two military bases in the southwest of the country to support its efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. (AP http://yhoo.it/1uqmVjZ)

Africa
The United Nations peacekeeping chief on Saturday urged the Malian government to show a strong signal of its commitment to peace as negotiations with rebels restarted. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1yPUbrN)

UNHCR reports that the number of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan has passed the 100,000 mark, while funding remains low. (OCHA http://bit.ly/10aYC2p)

A wave of violence hours after Nigeria’s government announced a truce with Boko Haram raised doubt on Sunday about whether more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militants will really be released, deflating the new hopes of their parents. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/10aZEeD)

Zambia’s main workers union is threatening to embark on an indefinite strike and hold a series of protests later this month if President Michael Sata’s government fails to lift an ongoing pay freeze for all public sector workers. (VOA http://bit.ly/10b0gks)

Attorneys for Mozambique’s main opposition RENAMO party are gathering evidence to launch a legal challenge of the credibility of the recently concluded presidential and parliamentary elections, citing “overwhelming” instances of voter irregularities. (VOA http://bit.ly/1uqjpX2)

The U.N. rights chief on Sunday condemned Kinshasa for expelling his top envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and accused the authorities of intimidating other members of his staff. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1uqmnLb)

Between heeding a message from officials to remain calm and another to flee looming attacks by Ugandan rebels, the choice for many residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo town of Beni is clear – they are leaving. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10b3bJX)

MENA
The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused more than 400,000 residents to flee to Turkey. (VOA http://bit.ly/1uqiuFX)

Some 40,000 persons are confirmed displaced in Iraq’s Anbar Governorate, but the total figure could be much higher as insecurity continues unabated and people continue to flee. (OCHA http://bit.ly/10aZqV1)

Award-winning Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told AFP Sunday that she has been barred from practising for three years and will hold a protest against the decision this week. (AFP http://yhoo.it/10b044R)

Iraqi authorities have executed at least 60 people so far in 2014, a United Nations report said Sunday, expressing concern that “irreversible miscarriages of justice” were taking place in some death penalty cases. (AP http://yhoo.it/1uqjDgJ)

Asia
Violent clashes erupted in Hong Kong early on Sunday for a second night, deepening a sense of impasse between a government with limited options and a pro-democracy movement increasingly willing to confront police. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1yPUToV)

At least 40 people remain missing, and presumed dead, after a deadly, unexpected blizzard struck a popular Himalayan trekking route last week. (VOA http://bit.ly/10aYbVy)

The most important meeting of the year for the 205 members of China’s ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee, beginning Monday, will focus on how to rule the country in accordance with law. (AP http://yhoo.it/1uqhotS)

The Americas

Twenty-two people have died in Nicaragua during several days of heavy rains, nine of them in the capital Managua when a wall collapsed. (BBC http://bbc.in/1CHxFPt)

Global anti-corruption campaigners at Transparency International elected Peruvian lawyer José Ugaz as its new head on Sunday marking a shift from quiet diplomacy in combating fraud and bribery toward more grassroots activism. (TRF http://yhoo.it/10b1lsw)

Opinion/Blogs
How Ebola Could Save Thousands of U.S. Lives (allAfrica http://bit.ly/1yPULGf)

Ebola: Africa’s image takes a hit (AP http://yhoo.it/1uqmEOe)

Liberians Wonder If Duncan’s Death Was A Result Of Racism (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1uqmKFv)

This is the World Health Organization that Member States Created (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/10bGGET)

Is fighting rebel groups the only way to defeat them? (Rachel Strohm http://bit.ly/10bGJjX)

Zero poverty? The Sustainable Development Goals aren’t quite there yet  (ODI http://bit.ly/10bGOnz)

Ebola: Where we are; where we should be (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/10bGS6S)

Let them drown (Roving Bandit http://bit.ly/1qXjlwS)

Which countries are driving global growth? (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1qXjtMI)

State violence and domestic abuse (Journeys towards Justice http://bit.ly/1qXjyQq)

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About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.