News in the Humanosphere: Record-breaking cyclone strikes Fiji

Cyclone Winston (NASA)

The death toll from the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Fiji rose to at least six and aerial footage of affected areas showed villages and homes destroyed across the South-Pacific nation. “Given the intensity of the storm and the images we have seen so far, there are strong concerns that the death toll won’t stop climbing,” Raijeli Nicole, Oxfam’s regional director for the Pacific, said in an e-mailed statement. “Hundreds of people will have seen their homes and livelihoods completely destroyed.” (Bloomberg

India to Introduce free injectable contraceptives…“For decades, India has relied on female sterilization as its primary mode of contraception, funding about four million tubal ligations every year, more than any other country. This year, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take a major step toward modernizing that system, introducing injectable contraceptives free of charge in government facilities. The World Health Organization recommends their use without restriction for women of childbearing age.” (NYT

Massive suicide attack in Syria as Kerry suggests “imminent” ceasefire…“Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sunday an agreement with Russia for an imminent, if ‘provisional,’ partial truce in Syria, saying it largely awaited a conversation between President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin to work out final details. Mr. Kerry’s announcement came at the end of a day of meetings in Jordan. Just hours after he spoke, multiple suicide attacks claimed by the Islamic State ripped through the central city of Homs and a suburb of the capital, Damascus, killing more than 100 and wounding dozens. One of the attacks was in an area of Homs where many Alawites, the sect of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, live and work. It was the target last month of another bombing claimed by the Islamic State.” (NYT

Coronation of the day…Rocker Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, was given an honorary title of “local king” by the Malian government for his support of music and the arts in Mali. (Spin

Quote of the day: Pope Francis, to crowds gathered for a mass in St. Peter’s Square. “I appeal to the conscience of those who govern so that international consensus is reached for the abolishment of the death penalty. And I propose to all those among them who are Catholic to make a courageous and exemplary gesture: may no execution sentence be carried out in this Holy Year of Mercy.” (USA Today


The newly elected president of Central African Republic vowed on Sunday to unite the country while thanking his opponent for conceding defeat in a runoff vote. (AP

With fears in Burundi of a new ethnic conflict growing a decade after a civil war ended, diplomats say U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will step up peace efforts by visiting Burundi for talks on Tuesday with President Pierre Nkurunziza. (Reuters

Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 30 years, has been re-elected the country’s president in an election overshadowed by arrests of politicians and allegations of rigging. (Al Jazeera

Ivory Coast has extradited three former members of an elite military unit that staged a brief, failed coup last September, a Burkina Faso official said Sunday. (AP

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou sought re-election Sunday, touting his record of defending the West African nation from Islamic extremists as he vied against 14 other candidates to capture a second five-year term. (AP

The U.S. government must clarify the “irregular activities” of some its diplomats in the country, a spokesman for South Africa’s ruling party said Sunday. (AP

Zambia President Edgar Lungu says he will nominate a female vice presidential running mate for his re-election bid in the August 11 general election. (VOA

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday praised the peaceful conduct of presidential elections in the Central African Republic, calling on the war-torn country’s leaders to maintain a “constructive atmosphere.” (AFP

Mauritania’s defense minister vowed on Sunday that his country’s peacekeepers will never be implicated in the type of sex abuse allegations that have rocked Central African Republic’s U.N. mission in recent months. (AP

President Muhammadu Buhari is to visit the Gulf for a week-long tour, with a focus on ending the global slump in oil prices that has hammered Nigeria’s crude-reliant economy, his office said on Sunday. (AFP


Heavy clashes in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi have left at least 14 people dead and 32 wounded, medical officials said on Saturday. (Reuters

An Egyptian court has sentenced an author to two years in jail for public indecency after excerpts of his sexually explicit novel were published in a literary newspaper. (Reuters

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Saturday he was ready for a ceasefire, on condition “terrorists” did not use a lull in fighting to their advantage and that countries backing insurgents halted support for them. (Reuters

A prominent columnist on Sunday delivered the harshest attack to date against Egypt’s president in the local media, saying that Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi presided over a “theocracy” that is no different from the Islamist-led government he overthrew in 2013. (AP

Tunisia said Sunday it would extend by one month a nationwide state of emergency imposed after a November suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed 12 presidential guards. (AFP

A two-day African economic summit in Egypt ended Sunday amid calls for investment as organisers said several business proposals were negotiated to help boost growth. (AFP


A handful of rebels holed up in a building in the Indian portion of Kashmir exchanged fire with government forces for the second straight day Sunday in a standoff that has left five soldiers and one civilian dead. (AP

Australia warned Sunday that terrorists may be plotting attacks in and around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city. (AP

Suspected Islamist militants stabbed to death a Hindu priest at a temple in Bangladesh on Sunday, and shot and wounded a devotee who went to his aid. (Reuters

Australia said on Sunday a baby girl facing repatriation to an offshore immigration detention camp would go to an onshore facility instead, easing tension that peaked in a blockade outside a hospital where she is a patient. (Reuters

India has deployed thousands of army and paramilitary troops to quell violence that authorities say has killed at least 10 people in the northern Indian state of Haryana. A caste known as the Jats is leading the unrest to demand affirmative-action benefits from the government. (NPR

Beijing is to raise the thresholds for issuing its highest air pollution warnings, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday, two months after acrid smog triggered the city’s first ever “red alerts”. (Reuters

The Americas

Brazilian scientists in Rio de Janeiro have obtained the genome sequence of the Zika virus and found the disease is indeed related to the incidence of microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with small heads and impaired cognition. (CNN

With more than 5,000 cases registered over the last week, the Zika virus outbreak continues to increase in Colombia, where more than 37 thousand people have been infected. (Prensa Latina

Speaking via Skype from Russia, Edward Snowden told an audience of supporters in New Hampshire on Saturday that he is willing to be extradited to the United States if the federal government would guarantee he would get a fair trial. (AP

…and the rest

Austria said Sunday it is beefing up the army at its borders to deal with the inflow of migrants, with 450 more troops from Monday and military police on standby in case of trouble. (AFP

Pope Francis on Sunday called for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, saying the commandment “You shall not kill” was absolute and equally valid for the guilty as for the innocent. (Reuters

The Sepp Blatter era at FIFA is set to finally end Friday when soccer’s scandal-scarred world body picks a new president after nine months of crisis. (AP


Boutros-Ghali, more than an Ali G punchline (Africa is a Country

A $2 Test Might Have Helped This Man With HIV Avoid Daily Spinal Taps (Goats and Soda

AIDS: how far the world has come and how far it needs to go to get to zero (The Conversation

Green growth, activism & Pacific regionalism – in conversation with Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi (DevPolicy

Providing a future for Syria’s children (The Interpreter

Would It Be A Bad Thing to Wipe Out A Species … If It’s A Mosquito? (Goats and Soda

7 Things Donors Don’t Tell You (Development Diaries

Global Innovation Fund’s first investments shed light on mission (Devex

Meryl Streep, if we’re ‘all African’ why aren’t we celebrating African cinema? (Guardian

What do we mean by ‘impact’? (Research to Action

The Warren Buffet approach to foreign aid (Chris Blattman


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