News in the Humanosphere: U.S. and China further joint climate change efforts

US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the US Ambassador's Residence in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2014. (US Embassy The Hague/flickr)

Today, the two presidents announce another significant step in their joint climate efforts. The United States and China will sign the Paris Agreement on April 22nd and take their respective domestic steps in order to join the Agreement as early as possible this year. They encourage other Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to do the same, with a view to bringing the Paris Agreement into force as early as possible. The Presidents further express their commitment to work together and with others to promote the full implementation of the Paris Agreement to win the fight against the climate threat. (White House http://1.usa.gov/1Y2DaUD)

Jacob Zuma had a very bad day…”On Thursday, South Africa’s highest court ruled that Mr. Zuma had violated the Constitution by refusing to pay back some of the millions of dollars in public funds spent on the improvements, saying he flouted laws meant to safeguard the country’s young democracy. Dealing a humiliating rebuke to Mr. Zuma, the Constitutional Court’s 11 justices ruled unanimously that the president had “failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.” The court ordered Mr. Zuma to reimburse the state for some of the upgrades once the national treasury determined the appropriate amounts. The improvements cost 246 million rand, or about $16.7 million at current exchange rates.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1PIItlU)

Yay to Canada…”Canada will take in an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees, adding to the more than 25,000 already received in the last few months, Immigration Minister John McCallum said on Thursday in Germany, where an influx of refugees has sparked a backlash. McCallum told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp he was responding to complaints from Canadian groups who want to sponsor Syrian refugees but did not have their applications processed quickly enough to be among the government’s initial target of 25,000.” (Jamestown Sun http://bit.ly/1PIIVRg)

Hack of the day: A Portuguese branch of the Anonymous hacking collective says it has shut down around 20 Angolan government websites in retaliation to the jailing of 17 youth activists for plotting a “rebellion”. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PIiNGj)

Video game of the day: Mamadou is the fictional star of “Cross Dakar City”, a mobile video game which aims to raise awareness of the plight of tens of thousands of children in Senegal who are exploited and forced to beg in the streets by teachers at Koranic schools. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1X0xEBC)

Africa

The United Nations’ aid chief for Somalia begged for cash Thursday to stave off starvation amid intense drought affecting a million people and to pull the war-torn country “back from the tipping point.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1PIiT0C)

The United Nations on Thursday announced 108 new alleged victims of sexual abuse, the vast majority of them minors, by peacekeepers in Central African Republic, and it called “shocking to the core” the report that three girls said a French military commander forced them to have sex with a dog. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TlFzKS)

Twenty soldiers from Democratic Republic of Congo went on trial this week for alleged rape and other crimes committed while serving as U.N. peacekeepers in neighboring Central African Republic, the Congolese government said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1q6Kynt)

Somalia’s al-Shabaab insurgents said they carried out a suicide attack at a hotel in the central town of Galkayo Thursday in which six people died, including a senior local government official. (AFP http://yhoo.it/22SKAR7)

The United States and Nigeria agreed to establish working groups focused on strengthening security cooperation, the economy and tackling corruption after day-long talks at the State Department. (Reuters http://bit.ly/22SKucc)

A retired senior Rwandan politician has died in a Burundian jail where he was being held on suspicion of spying, both countries said on Thursday, adding to cross-border tensions that have increased dangerously in recent months. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TlFXZP)

With more than 2.7 million people uprooted from their homes, the Lake Chad basin is currently home to one of the African continent’s biggest humanitarian crises. (MSF http://bit.ly/1X0zxhJ)

MENA

The United Nations voiced concern on Thursday over stalled aid deliveries to besieged areas in Syria, with convoys delayed or surgical equipment being removed, mainly by government forces. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1pOiSmD)

The World Bank says the Palestinian mobile phone sector lost more than $1 billion in potential earnings over the last three years, largely due to Israeli restrictions. (AP http://yhoo.it/22SKxVp)

The U.K.-based foundation that awarded a Palestinian schoolteacher a $1 million prize for preaching nonviolence is sticking by its choice following revelations that the woman’s husband participated in an attack that killed at least six Israelis three decades ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/1RsrJ8c)

The U.N. Security Council said on Thursday it was ready to consider changes to sanctions on Libya’s sovereign wealth fund once a unity government confirms it has control of it, along with the National Oil Corporation and the central bank. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TlGT0b)

The United Nations says the Syrian government is not allowing aid agencies to deliver life-saving humanitarian relief to hundreds of thousands of people living in several besieged areas in the country. (VOA http://bit.ly/1X0w4Qc)

A project sponsored by the international Red Cross on Thursday installed solar panels at 32 health-care clinics in the Gaza Strip to ensure that vaccines remain refrigerated in the power-starved territory. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TlGTNI)

Lebanon’s armed forces acquired three U.S. helicopters worth $26 million on Thursday to help in efforts to stop Syria’s civil war spilling over its border, along with almost $29 million of British aid as EU countries also step up their support. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1q6KGTO)

Asia

An overpass under construction in the bustling Indian city of Kolkata collapsed on Thursday on to vehicles and street vendors below, killing at least 14 people with more than 100 people feared trapped. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MWWgpm)

Several bombs have gone off in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued south killing one person and wounding dozens in a new wave of violence, the military said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1pOprWe)

South Korea’s constitutional court on Thursday upheld laws that toughened punishment on prostitutes, pimps and their clients. (AP http://yhoo.it/1pOpcKU)

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party moved Thursday to make her a special state adviser, giving her access to every tier of government and cementing her control over Myanmar’s first civilian administration in decades. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MWWiNR)

The chronic air pollution blanketing much of northern India is now threatening the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion, making the once-gleaming walls of the Golden Temple dingy and dull. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MWWjl4)

The Americas

El Salvador plans to boost prison security and deploy more troops in the streets to battle a rising wave of gang violence that has pushed murder rates to record levels, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1PIdjv1)

Brazil’s sports minister is resigning four month before the country hosts the Olympics, the office of embattled President Dilma Rousseff says, amid continuing uncertainty over the fate of six other Cabinet ministers. (AP http://yhoo.it/1PIaGcG)

Mexico does not comply with its own laws on handling unaccompanied child migrants who arrive in the country fleeing violence in Central America, a Human Rights Watch report said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1pOpbXb)

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri has won approval for a repayment deal which should put an end to the country’s 15-year battle with holdout creditors. (BBC http://bbc.in/1q6AR8E)

U.S. military officials have informed Congress that they plan to transfer about a dozen inmates from the terrorist detention facility at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (VOA http://bit.ly/1RswwXe)

…and the rest

Bosnian police arrested 10 people on Thursday suspected of criminal activities which cost the country’s banking sector around $71.2 million or over 10 percent of the central government’s budget. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1PIiQBJ)

GlaxoSmithKline is taking action to make medicines more affordable in developing countries, including waiving patent protection for new drugs in the world’s poorest nations. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PIaytE)

As Greece prepares to deport an initial 500 migrants and refugees on Monday under a controversial agreement between the EU and Turkey, senior Greek officials say the pressure to process applications quickly has become too great, at the expense of legal and ethical standards. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1RssnTg)

Students and workers clashed with police in several French cities on Thursday during angry protests over labour reforms that drew nearly 400,000 people. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1PIdk23)

Migrant returns from Greece to Turkey will begin Monday under the terms of an EU deal that has dismayed aid groups, officials said Thursday as Athens struggled to manage the overload on its soil. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1q6KCn7)

Opinion/Blogs

Negotiations for the next big global environmental treaty kicked off at the UN this week. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/1MW5sdy)

Ignore Standard Good Governance Prescriptions To Accelerate Development (IPS http://bit.ly/1MWLwam)

Chibok girls – do we really care? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1q6AzhV)

Can International Cooperation Stop Global Food Shortages? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1TlTOPS)

Can USAID’s disaster team avert catastrophe in Ethiopia? (Devex http://bit.ly/1q6Pwkb)

Nkandla verdict shows South Africa’s democracy is alive and kicking (Guardian http://bit.ly/1X0Jls9)

International Community Falls Short on Syrian Resettlement (IPS http://bit.ly/1X0wpCk)

Is the South African Government an Accessory to Genocide in Darfur? (Justice in Conflict http://bit.ly/22SVdmZ)

Aid’s new contours: who gave and who got in 2014 (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1UvN2rP)

A Starry-Eyed 4-Step Guide To Wiping Out A Mosquito (NPR http://n.pr/1q6RfFY)

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