News in the Humanosphere: Support wanes for South Africa’s leading political party in local elections

South African President Jacob Zuma. (Credit: Linh Do/flickr)

South Africa’s urban voters have used local elections to hand the ruling ANC party the first major rebuke at the polls since it swept to power after the end of apartheid over two decades ago. Early results from the municipal elections show huge gains for the Democratic Alliance (DA) in three of the country’s main urban centers. Voters frustrated by flagging economic growth and high unemployment, worried about the looming threat of recession, and frustrated by graft allegations that have dogged the president, Jacob Zuma, have abandoned his party in huge numbers. With vote counting ongoing, the ANC had an overall majority nationwide but had slipped below 50% in the capital Pretoria and the commercial centre Johannesburg, suggesting it would be forced to form a coalition to rule. (Guardian http://buff.ly/2aSQs7P)

The world’s largest democracy just overhauled its tax system…Lawmakers cleared the way on Wednesday for India to forge a single common market out of its tangle of overlapping federal and state taxes, a step analysts describe as the most important economic change in more than two decades. The vote by the upper house of India’s Parliament was cheered by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking to build a legacy as an economic modernizer. Though he won a landslide victory in the 2014 elections, he has struggled to marshal parliamentary support to push through his major economic initiatives, including overhauls of India’s restrictive labor and land-acquisition laws.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/2b3hdUB)

Stat of the day: The new school year for Syrian children is set to start in two months. But fighting, which has displaced more than 11 million people, is also keeping roughly 1 million refugee children out of school. Most of a $1.4 billion pledge in February to get those children back into school has yet to materialize, according to a new report from the U.K. charity Theirworld. (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/2avg3VZ)

Africa

Riot police in Zimbabwe used tear gas and water cannons Wednesday to break up a protest by several hundred demonstrators gathered in Harare in a fresh outbreak of opposition to President Robert Mugabe. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aJbKDb)

Burundi’s government has rejected the deployment of 228 U.N. police to the troubled African nation, saying a French-led U.N. resolution authorizing the force was made without its consent. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2am2baM)

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir fired six ministers allied to his long-time rival Riek Machar late on Tuesday, widening a political rift in the world’s newest nation and drawing threats of more fighting. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aveHL1)

The Islamic State militant group says its West African affiliate, Nigeria-based Boko Haram, has a new leader. In its weekly magazine Naba, IS published an interview with a man identified as Abu Musab al-Barnawi, whom the group called its “governor” for West Africa. (VOA http://bit.ly/2alX5LO)

Nigeria has resumed the payment of allowances to former Niger delta rebels under an amnesty scheme, a spokesman said Wednesday, after low global crude prices plunged the oil-rich country into a financial crisis. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aAppKW)

Farmers in West Africa still reeling from the impact of Ebola, urgently need help or they could be forced to leave their farms to seek work elsewhere, the International Fund for Agricultural Development said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2ayn0D5)

MENA

Aid agencies are warning that northern Iraq is in dire need of support due to a renewed offensive in the area, a funding slowdown and the threat of more attacks on the region’s cities, which are likely to result in hundreds of thousands more people being displaced. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2aUa6ya)

Saudi Arabia has agreed to assist thousands of laid-off Indian workers stranded in the kingdom without money or food, an Indian minister said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2am22nG)

Rights groups are criticizing the detention of an Omani journalist who is apparently held over an article he wrote regarding improper interference in a court case. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aSlHkx)

A cash payment of $400 million delivered from the U.S. to Iran in January became part of the presidential campaign on Wednesday, as Donald J. Trump seized on the money transfer as a sign of what he called the administration’s failed foreign policy – prompting a forceful White House rejection. (NYT http://nyti.ms/2b3gse6)

UNICEF said Wednesday it is “extremely” concerned for the safety and well-being of children caught up in the violence engulfing the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, including the rebel-held eastern neighborhoods under government siege. (AP http://yhoo.it/2am1fmO)

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog Wednesday voiced concern over reports of a chlorine gas attack near the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2ayiPqR)

Syrian government forces launched air strikes against six hospitals in the Aleppo area within a week in attacks that amounted to war crimes, a U.S.-based rights group said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aApa2m)

A major corruption case shaking Iraq has been taken up by the country’s prosecutor general. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aSfZzj)

Asia

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court is considering whether to make gay sex a crime after accepting a judicial review petition from Islamic activists. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aJbPqw)

India: Emergency workers are searching for some 20 people feared dead after two buses plunged into a river when a road bridge gave way after torrential rain. (BBC http://bbc.in/2b3gbIb)

A truck transporting Cambodian garment workers to their factory crashed Wednesday, injuring 33 people, 12 of them critically, the government said. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aJfwwt)

Human rights groups accused Australia on Wednesday of deliberately ignoring the alleged abuse of asylum seekers being held at a remote Pacific island detention facility in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aJfpRw)

Sri Lanka’s pioneering nationwide program to save its damaged mangrove forests is bearing fruit a year on, prompting the U.S. conservation group backing it to look for another island country to launch a similar effort. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aveQxY)

Thai authorities will deploy about 200,000 police for a referendum on a contentious new constitution on Sunday but violence is seen as unlikely, police and the government said on Wednesday, despite widespread opposition to the charter. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aymXYa)

The Americas

Venezuela’s opposition steeled itself for a new battle in its campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro in a referendum, vowing nationwide rallies to pressure the crisis-hit government. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aymZPA)

Six people have died and 10 babies have been born with defects in Honduras in cases feared to have been caused by Zika, the health minister said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aJfSmA)

Drug smuggling arrests and seizures are up in Peru ahead of the Olympic Games in neighboring Brazil, with foreigners carrying packs of cocaine in their stomachs risking death to cash in on a potential spike in demand, police said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2avf1Jp)

The last house of a Rio de Janeiro slum near the Olympic park that was once home to 700 families was demolished late Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayhWyJ)

The widower of a slain Puerto Rico prosecutor is disputing investigators’ findings that she was killed in a carjacking. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayitk5)

A series of murders targeting families, including children, has rocked Mexico in recent weeks, signaling that drug gangs are willing to break an unspoken code of honor within the criminal underworld. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aJg0Te)

…and the rest

The European Union’s response to the surge in migrant arrivals has been “lamentable,” a committee of British lawmakers said Wednesday, slamming the bloc as unprepared to deal with the crisis. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aJg5Xa)

A deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem a flow of migrants has largely held, though Athens is watching with concern events unfolding in Turkey, where an attempted coup was put down last month, Greece’s migration minister told the German newspaper Bild. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aSm7rj)

The United Nations says the number of casualties in fighting in eastern Ukraine is back to last year’s highs. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aAp7ne)

Opinion/Blogs

Congress Has Failed to Fund Zika Response and Now, As Predicted, It’s Come to the USA (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2aJg7OJ)

Africa Can Feed Itself (New Times http://bit.ly/2aJ68ZF)

Britain shouts about immigration but is silent on one of the root causes: climate change (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aOt1fV)

Brexit – What Does It Mean for Development Aid and the Global Fund? (Global Fund Observer http://bit.ly/2aSarot)

Is Hypocrisy The Silent Strategy of Western Democracy? (IPS http://bit.ly/2aygCvQ)

How did Rio’s police become known as the most violent in the world? (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aJbOD6)

What went wrong in Venezuela? (CNN http://cnn.it/2aUa2yv)

Can WHO’s new ‘test and treat’ HIV policy reach those who need it most? (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aAoXwg)

How cities are rewiring international affairs (Devex http://buff.ly/2avgteU)

Could bitcoin change the game in Africa? (Guardian http://bit.ly/2avaK8Y)

Public Trust Theory: A Way Citizens Can Combat Resource Corruption? (Global Anticorruption Blog http://buff.ly/2avfZFA)

Why is Rio de Janeiro finding it so hard to clear up its waste? (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aymSDP)

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