News in the Humanosphere: Gunmen storm Mali hotel, killing at least 27

Updated: Gunmen launched an attack early Friday on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako. Early reports indicate at least 27 people were killed, according to the latest reports. BBC reports that Malian special forces entered the hotel to end the siege. An estimated 170 people are being held hostage. “They were in car with a diplomatic license plate. They were masked. At the gate of the hotel, the guard stopped them and they start firing. We fled,” said a gardener who witnessed the attack. (BBC http://bbc.in/1S8ARN1)

Four Balkan countries shut their borders: Most nations along Europe’s refugee corridor abruptly shut their borders Thursday to those not coming from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq, leaving thousands desperately seeking a better life in the continent stranded at Balkan border crossings. … Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia weren’t allowing in so-called economic migrants whose countries aren’t shattered by war. (AP http://yhoo.it/1lx2PaR)

Congress votes to restrict Syrian refugee resettlement: The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation aimed at tightening controls on refugees from Syria and Iraq, in what Republican leaders say is a swift and strong response to last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The vote was 289 to 137. The bill will face obstacles in the Senate and President Obama threatened a veto if it reaches his desk. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1HbFq8S)

Sad polar bear fact of the day: Polar bears look set to see their numbers dwindle by nearly third by mid-century, a top conservation body said Thursday, warning climate change poses the greatest threat to the king of the Arctic. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1j9KIWT)

Africa

Government soldiers raped 14 women over a three-day period in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the human rights office of the U.N. mission in Congo said in a report. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1QQ9RmU)

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday urged Burundian leader Pierre Nkurunziza to revive peace talks and prevent the east African nation from plunging into full-blown war. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1QQ9WXW)

Police in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo fired teargas to disperse stone-throwing students whose protest against a feared increase in school fees is the latest sign of unrest ahead of a tense election season. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1QQ9Yio)

Chad’s national assembly extended a state of emergency in the western Lake Chad region by four months following a double attack by Boko Haram militants that killed some 12 people. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1lx151j)

Two high-ranking Kenyan civil servants were on Wednesday charged in court over trying to block another senior official from informing the police about a plot to steal $6.8 million. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1j9KLSl)

South Africa’s military said it dismissed 47 peacekeepers serving in the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo for violating curfew. (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/1kI3mqu)

Nigeria’s police force, widely seen as corrupt and inefficient, has launched a scheme to improve its negative image to address public complaints against bad cops, its spokesman said on Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MWiivj)

MENA

The United Nations said today that the ongoing conflict in Yemen has resulted in over 32,000 casualties, with people 5,700 killed, including 830 women and children, alongside a sharp rise in human rights violations – nearly 8,875 or an average of 43 violations occurring every day. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/1HbG7PD )

Two separate attacks by Palestinians against Israelis on Thursday left five people dead, including one American and one Palestinian, and scores injured, Israeli authorities said. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1HbFIg0)

The United States wants to work with other countries to provide additional weaponry to Syrian opposition forces battling Islamic State, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1j9M8AD)

Islamic State militants released a video on Thursday threatening the White House with suicide bombings and car blasts and vowing to conduct more attacks on France. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1HbFW6J)

The United States is offering uncharacteristically sharp criticism of Israel after a policeman captured on camera beating an American citizen was sentenced to six weeks community service. (CBS http://cbsn.ws/1HbFCVz)  

Seven journalists and activists are facing trial in Morocco in a case widely criticized by human rights groups as politically motivated. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HbbJ7U)

President Obama said Thursday efforts to defeat the Islamic State group will not succeed until there is a political agreement in Syria, and that he does not believe a settlement should leave President Bashar al-Assad in power. (VOA http://bit.ly/1j9MdEm)

Asia

The president of Kiribati on Thursday said he was disappointed by the Australian government’s decision to approve a giant coal mine, as he urged the major exporter of the commodity to take action on climate change ahead of a key summit in Paris. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1j9KGOH)

Shortages of life-saving medicine because of political protests in Nepal that have blocked key roads could lead to a crisis, as hospitals have started to cut services, doctors said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1QQcSnh)

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lx2OUu)

The Americas

A poll by an independent research group has found deep public suspicion of the first round of the presidential election in Haiti, a finding that is likely to fuel calls by opposition parties for a recount of the disputed results. (AP http://yhoo.it/1S6TQrh)

Argentina’s president has blocked the extradition of a man who fled Denver and started a new life in the South American country after he was charged with killing his wife over a decade ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/1j9KNK6)

Brazil’s Congress has upheld President Dilma Rousseff’s vetoes of two bills to raise public spending — a victory for the leftist leader as she tries to close a gaping fiscal deficit and regain investors’ confidence. (VOA http://bit.ly/1lx0IDZ)

Honduran authorities said they had intercepted a total of six Syrians traveling on doctored Greek passports in the past week, and that they were the first such cases detected in the Central American country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S6STza)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he had ordered an investigation into allegations that the U.S. government had spied on state oil company workers for a decade. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S6TRvl)

…and the rest

Kosovo’s Western backers lashed out Thursday at the country’s opposition parties over their “continued use of violence to achieve political goals.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1QQcMfC)

A compromise struck by the United States, Japan and other major nations will restrict export financing to build coal power plants overseas, but not eliminate it completely. (AP http://yhoo.it/1S6TPUe)

Too many FIFA member federations are secretive about what they do and how they spend money, according to an anti-corruption monitor’s study. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1O61sLs)

Republicans moved for the second time in 24 hours on Wednesday to try to weaken President Obama’s position at the Paris climate negotiations, opposing a deal at the summit and threatening to block $3bn in aid pledged to developing countries. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1QQcO75)

Europe’s migrant crisis will be resolved at the EU’s exterior border and beyond, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1S6VOYF)

Opinion/Blogs

What the Dayton peace accords can inform us about an international diplomatic solution in Syria. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1PC4ZT8)

How bad is the drought in Ethiopia? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1MWiiLY)

Reading, writing and sanitation: how kids are key to ending toilet taboos (Guardian http://bit.ly/1j9M9Ey)

Environment: a Silent Victim of the Syrian Conflict (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1QQ9Y1O)

What Are the Prospects of Africa’s Media in New Era? (The Citizen http://bit.ly/1QQbsJI)

Lessons From Three Cities On Why Sanitation Is Such a Challenge (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1MWicUw)

How equal are you? (BBC News http://bbc.in/1QQbwc9)

When All the Cameras Are in Paris, Who Will Shine a Light On Burundi? (The News Times http://bit.ly/1QQcSDT)

What Could Be the Answer If African Migrants Are Repartriated? (The Point http://bit.ly/1S6VPfh)

Is Thwarting El Nino’s Negative Effects Beyond Ethiopian Capacity? (The Ethiopian Herald http://bit.ly/1S6VSYo)

Push Cash Aid Despite Neighbour Envy  (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1j9Ntas)

If You Follow These Signs, You’ll Flush With Success: #WorldToiletDay (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1j9NsmV)

Why financial transparency matters (CNN http://cnn.it/1MprsPC)

Progress Against Undernutrition, But Uneven (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1l7R9eh)

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