News in the Humanosphere: Somewhat encouraging Ebola news from Sierra Leone

Holiday party in Sierra Leone. Credit: UNDP

The trendlines seem to be improving in the hardest-hit country. “Sierra Leone, the country worst affected by Ebola, reported nearly 250 new confirmed cases in the past week but the spread of the virus there may be slowing, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. …‘There are signs that case incidence may have leveled off in Sierra Leone, although with 248 new confirmed cases reported in the week to Jan. 4, it remains by far the worst-affected country at present,’ the WHO said.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Av8TTY)

New Boko Haram ‘killing spree’: Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of people and burned down homes in the northeast Nigerian town of Baga in the past two days, in a second killing spree since seizing control there at the weekend, witnesses said on Thursday. Two locals said the Islamist insurgents began shooting indiscriminately and burning buildings on Tuesday evening in raids on the civilian population that carried on into Wednesday.  (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Axfu2B)

A global slowdown: Global trade should expand more slowly over the next decade than it did in the 30 years before the financial crisis, the World Bank said, citing forecasts for slower economic growth and longer-term shifts in trade patterns. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HVPVcj)

Africa
Delays in aid disbursements over graft allegations in the energy sector and revenue shortfalls risk undermining Tanzania’s sturdy economic growth, the IMF said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1s9yilH)

Washington should call for a United Nations arms embargo on South Sudan’s warring parties, rights groups said in a letter published on Thursday, as analysts warned that fighting would flare up in the approaching dry season. (TRF http://bit.ly/1wxPKg3)

Chad’s prime minister has appealed for international aid for thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram across the border into the Lake Chad region. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1x03Oy4)

Ugandan renegade General David Sejusa, chairman of Free Uganda, said regime change in Uganda can only come about from within, not another country or through social media. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Ax3Ap)

Gambia’s government accused the former head of the West African nation’s presidential guard of leading a small group, including two former U.S. soldiers, in a failed attempt to oust President Yahya Jammeh last month. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1wxQaDd)

For Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, daily life can be a struggle. Yet rather than shy away from the difficulties, some Ugandans are putting it all out there with Bombastic, the country’s first LGBT magazine. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HVPSgT)

MENA
The WHO has been unable to get a desperately needed medical aid convoy through to civilians in the rebel-held part of Aleppo despite a government promise last month to give it access. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/14vgiat)

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are appealing for $19 million to provide emergency winter assistance to nearly a half million displaced people who have fled from militant Islamist attacks to Irbil and Dohuk in Iraq’s Kurdish region. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HVQ2ok)

The Libyan branch of the Islamic State group says it has executed two Tunisian journalists who went missing in September. (VOA http://bit.ly/1wZRpu1)

A liberal activist sentenced to prison and flogging in Saudi Arabia will face a first round of lashes on Friday, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1BQSgBP)

Asia
Thailand’s government on Thursday urged supporters of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to stay out of Bangkok when the legislature begins an impeachment hearing against her which could test the country’s fragile calm under military rule. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HVPX45)

Successive Australian aid cuts have “jerked around” the Marshall Islands and severely hampered development projects, according to the Pacific nation’s foreign minister, Tony de Brum. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1wxVjer)

Around a half million coal workers in India called off their strike following an assurance by the government it wouldn’t sell state-run Coal India Ltd. to private investors. (AP http://yhoo.it/14vggPM)

Billionaire financier George Soros has urged the West to step up aid to Ukraine, outlining steps towards a $50 billion financing package that he said should be viewed as a bulwark against an increasingly aggressive Russia. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/14vggzm)

Three people have been killed in Bangladesh, bringing to seven the number of deaths since protests over a disputed election turned violent earlier this week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1BQS9pI)

The Americas
Mexican teachers have broken into various public buildings in capital city of the state of Guerrero in a continuation of their protests related to the disappearance of 43 students more than three months ago. (Agencia EFE http://bit.ly/1s9BsG)

At least five dissidents were free Thursday in what a leading human rights advocate said was part of Cuba’s deal with Washington to release 53 members of the island’s political opposition. (AP http://yhoo.it/14vger8)

The leader of Paraguay’s ACA rebel group, Albino Jara, was killed in a clash with special security forces in the north, the authorities say. (BBC http://bbc.in/1wxV7vN)

Nine people who visited Disneyland or Disneyland California Adventure Park during December have confirmed measles cases, state health officials said. Seven of the patients live in California and two live in Utah. (NPR http://n.pr/1Ax4sdI)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to increase cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean as he opened a forum in Beijing with leaders from the region. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HVPXRC)

A part of a Texas abortion law — one that requires that any clinic performing abortions meet stringent, hospital-like medical standards — is on trial this week in a U.S. appeals court. (NPR http://n.pr/1s9AUjq)

Opinion/Blogs
These stories will drive the agenda at the United Nations in 2015 (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/14zSkeN)

“I don’t think Africa needs a savior. America needs a savior” (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/14vrT9j)

5 challenges for the U.N. in 2015 (The Conversation http://bit.ly/14AgzcS)

Attack on French magazine a “black day” for press freedom (IPS http://bit.ly/1AwWbGJ)

Tied Aid credits: Out-dated instrument or option for the future? (Ideas for development http://bit.ly/1BM2TFM)

Did the Islamic State commit genocide? The Yazidis and Kurds say they did (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1s9Bfm6)

An ICC indicted LRA commander is in U.S. custody. So what now? (Justice in Conflict http://bit.ly/1zXrt4l)

From pyramids to Rubik’s cubes (Medium http://bit.ly/1xJwsc6)

On the rate of development progress (Development Policy http://bit.ly/14vrkfG)

Despite ups and downs, the ICC is here to stay (Justice in Conflict http://bit.ly/14vrnIv)

Research/Reports
Two medical groups say doctors could replace the Pap smear with a different test to screen many women for cervical cancer. But that recommendation, included in an “interim guidance” released Thursday, is highly controversial; other experts call it premature. (NPR http://n.pr/1wxTXQV)

Governments need to plan better for rising migration driven by climate change, experts said on Thursday, citing evidence that extreme weather and natural disasters force far more people from their homes than wars. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1BQT4Xc)

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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.