News in the Humanosphere: Gunmen attack French satirical newspaper; kill 12

Heavily armed gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that has sparked anger in the past among Muslims for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohamed, Wednesday and killed at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades. “An act of exceptional barbarism has just been committed here in Paris against a newspaper, meaning (against) the expression of liberty,” President Francois Hollande said at the scene. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1wVqAah)

Shell-ing out big bucks in compensation to Nigeria: This is the largest payment of its kind. “Royal Dutch Shell is to pay more than $80 million to a Nigerian fishing community ‘devastated’ by two serious oil spills in 2008, it was announced Wednesday, while the clean-up could take years. … A small number of claims by neighboring communities are potentially heading towards settlement in Nigeria. Stvyn Obodoekwe from the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, which works on environmental and development issues in the Niger Delta, described the settlement as ‘very, very significant.’ ‘Shell and other operators will now need to be very careful, knowing that they can be found liable,’ he said.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1wVq7Vt)

Act of Solidarity of the Day: The cover of the Berlin Daily, BZ: http://bit.ly/1AGNckZ

Stat of the Day: 5.5 million refugees around the world, which is the highest since 1996. This is according to the latest data from the U.N. Refugee Agency  “UNHCR’s new ‘Mid-Year Trends 2014’ report, which shows that of the 5.5 million who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries. Taking into account existing displaced populations, data revisions, voluntary returns and resettlement, the number of people being helped by UNHCR stood at 46.3 million as of mid-2014 – some 3.4 million more than at the end of 2013 and a record high. (UNHCR http://bit.ly/1AGNLv9)

Africa
Somalia’s Shebab militants have executed four people accused of spying for the United States, Ethiopia and the country’s internationally backed government, officials and witnesses said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1FoCa8a)

A man purporting to be the leader of Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram has threatened to step up violence in neighboring Cameroon unless it scraps its constitution and embraces Islam. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1xGa6YB)

Uganda’s army confirmed on Wednesday that U.S. and African forces in the Central African Republic were holding a senior commander from the LRA, a guerrilla group known for its brutal attacks on people in the region. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1xGane4)

A military offensive by Somali and African Union forces has pushed al Shabaab Islamists into two dwindling pockets of territory, in the north and south, the A.U.’s special envoy said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1xGa7M9)

Mozambique police have released an opposition spokesman they had arrested for allegedly leading an illegal demonstration and inciting violence, local media cited his lawyer as saying on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1xGaq9O)

Volunteer medics returning to Britain after fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa face unfounded stigma that can be made worse by official safety guidelines, charities said on Tuesday. (TRF http://bit.ly/1xGauXd)

Kenya’s director of public prosecutions has ordered an investigation into the killing of a man who was a defence witness in the case involving Kenya’s deputy president at the ICC. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1wVz3Ky)

Civil society and religious organizations in the Central African Republic are working to rebuild trust and harmony in a country fraught with ethnic and religious animosity since the overthrow of President François Bozizé in March 2013. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1HP6kPI)

MENA
Syrians have overtaken Afghans as the largest refugee population aside from Palestinians, fleeing to more than 100 countries to escape war in their homeland, the United Nations said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1xSO3Qw)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said late Tuesday that the state of Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1, a high-stakes move that will enable the Palestinians to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. (AP http://yhoo.it/1xFY3dJ)

Republican Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill on Wednesday that would immediately halt U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they halt their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Dytwzn)

Snow fell in parts of the Middle East on Wednesday as a powerful winter storm swept through the region, killing two Syrian refugees in Lebanon and forcing thousands who have fled their country’s civil war to huddle for warmth in tents in refugee camps. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wVrovG)

Aid agencies dismissed on Wednesday the idea of relocating hundreds of thousands of storm-hit Syrian refugees across the Middle East, citing the large number of refugees, a shortage of funding and a lack of authority. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1s67aE2)

A report by the OPCW chemical watchdog has concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine gas was used in attacks on three villages in Syria last year. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1wVn8fV)

Asia
China on Wednesday granted public interest groups more power to sue those that flout environmental protection laws, the country’s highest court said, as Beijing steps up efforts to curb pollution that regularly chokes major cities. (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/1wVqpvt)

Nepal will issue passports to sexual minorities, adding a third gender category, an official said on Wednesday in a sign of the conservative Hindu-majority country becoming more liberal since the end of a decade-long civil war. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1wVrnrQ)

The Americas
At least 10 decapitated bodies and 11 heads have been discovered in unmarked graves in violence-plagued Guerrero state in southern Mexico, authorities said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1FoC6W7)

A teenage Honduran AIDS activist who was abducted in the city of San Pedro Sula on Tuesday has been released. (BBC http://bbc.in/1At1Mhh)

Mexican authorities ordered the closure of a private clinic where a woman died on the sidewalk after being denied care. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wVnbYS)

Pro-administration messages scattered through the pages of Venezuela’s textbooks have become yet another point of conflict in this hyper-polarized country, where Hugo Chavez’s socialist party won a bare majority in the presidential elections of 2013. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wVqm2S)

Brazil’s health minister has unveiled new rules aimed at stemming what he calls an “epidemic of cesareans” by private health-care providers and promoting natural births. (AP http://yhoo.it/1DytwiO)

Opinion/Blogs
Who has responsibility for Ebola? The IMF, the West, or unpleasant accounting?(The Washington Post http://wapo.st/1xGxmpu)

To cure Ebola, look at sepsis (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1xSVNlt)

Uruguay’s year in weed: 3 big successes, 3 burning questions (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1Dyv24o)

12 powerful political cartoons responding to the Charlie Hebdo attack (Vox http://bit.ly/1AGaBTQ)

The IMF and Ebola (Roving Bandit http://bit.ly/1wVOzpO)

How to make surveys in war zones better, and why this is important (The Washington Post http://wapo.st/1wVOB0T)

A dead deadline? January 2015 and the FDLR are still around (Ethuin http://bit.ly/1xGyFEM)

Four reasons military operations against the FDLR will have limited success (Congo Siasa http://bit.ly/1xGyQA0)

Should development be kinky? A response to Pritchett and Kenny (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1wVPSVJ)

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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.