News in the Humanosphere: Mass protests defeat proposed Polish abortion ban

Following protests by tens of thousands of women, Polish lawmakers on Thursday rejected plans for a near-total ban on abortion, in a hastily arranged vote that marks the first major domestic setback for the conservative government. The ruling Law and Justice party (PIS) unexpectedly withdrew its support for draft proposals drawn up by an independent anti-abortion campaign group after an unscheduled parliamentary committee meeting late on Wednesday. “PiS continues to back the protection of life,” party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a devout Catholic, told parliament. “And it will continue to take action in this respect but it will be considered action.” (Reuters http://buff.ly/2dUPgTF)

Paris agreement to enter into force in 30 days…President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the world had arrived at a “historic moment” as it was announced this week that the Paris climate agreement to combat climate change would come into force this year. Speaking in the White House’s Rose Garden, Obama hailed the agreement negotiated by more than 200 countries to cap emissions as a key tool in the world’s attempts to mitigate the damage from man-made climate change. “If we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet,” Mr. Obama said.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/2dfMhAG)

Stat of the day: Out of only eight hospitals still functioning in east Aleppo, four hospitals and a blood bank were damaged by bombing in four days, one of them twice. (MSF http://bit.ly/2dLHvzO)

Africa

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara called on parliament on Wednesday to approve a new constitution that he says will draw a line under years of turmoil and war but which the opposition calls a backward step for democracy. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtsxME)

All 10 members of Kenya’s election commission have resigned, the government said on Wednesday, after months of protests by the opposition which accused the body of bias that made it unfit to oversee elections due next August. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dsMoxX)

The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to make all of its large-scale agricultural contracts public, in an effort to increase transparency over land deals and improve management of natural resources, officials and researchers said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dFtv9i)

The U.N. has only limited access to Jebel Marra, the location in Sudan where Amnesty International alleges Sudanese government forces have used chemical weapons, U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Herve Ladsous said. (IPS http://buff.ly/2dL1PwK)

A U.S. citizen was killed and foreign-owned factories and equipment damaged during a wave of protests over land and political rights in Ethiopia this week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2cU9mYJ)

Clashes between police and students protesting about the cost of education forced South Africa’s Wits and Cape Town universities to suspend classes on Wednesday for the second time in less than a month. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtu6uc)

Thousands of Senegalese men set off for Europe each year, risking their lives on treacherous journeys through the Sahara desert and across the Mediterranean sea. Most fail. Many die. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2dT2qNq)

MENA

The rebel-held east of Syria’s Aleppo has officially been declared a “besieged area”, following a months-long government offensive and a lack of access for aid workers, the UN said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dT6sFt)

The U.N. on Wednesday released stark satellite images showing the most recent destruction of Syria’s embattled northern city of Aleppo, which has been pounded by Syrian and Russian airstrikes since the collapse of a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire two weeks ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dFtO3H)

A delegation of prosecutors from the International Criminal Court is starting a five-day visit on Wednesday to Israel and the Palestinian territories, the court said, describing it as an outreach trip that will not be gathering any evidence. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dLEtM0)

Morocco will elect a parliament on Friday for the first time since an Islamist-led government took office following Arab Spring uprisings that toppled leaders across the region. (AP http://yhoo.it/2cU7D5I)

Asia

Regional powers agreed to try to revive Afghanistan’s stalled peace process after almost 40 years of conflict, the EU’s foreign policy chief said on Wednesday, as governments began to raise some $13 billion to fund the country through 2020. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dFrGcf)

The United Nations’ highest court on Wednesday rejected nuclear disarmament cases filed by the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands against Britain, India and Pakistan, saying it did not have jurisdiction. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dT33GU)

Campaigners are calling for Myanmar to review the convictions of 20 Muslims jailed on terrorism charges after the Southeast Asian country repealed an authoritarian law under which they were convicted. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtqMze)

Thailand stopped Hong Kong teen pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong from entering the country to give a talk and sent him home, raising questions about whether it acted at China’s behest. An activist and a Thai immigration official said Bangkok responded to a request from Beijing, though a Thai government spokesman denied that. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dT7kKu)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appealed Wednesday for sustained international help for his insurgency-wracked country, promising international donors that the government would concentrate its future efforts on tackling rampant poverty. (AP http://yhoo.it/2cUaTh9)

Cambodia’s main opposition party on Wednesday welcomed a sign of cooling political tension after authorities refrained from arresting its leader, Kem Sokha, on his emergence from months of being holed up in party headquarters. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtuCIP)

The Americas

Brazilian President Michel Temer’s government introduced to Congress on Tuesday a landmark constitutional amendment to cap public spending, pressing ahead with unpopular reforms in the wake of last weekend’s municipal elections. (VOA http://bit.ly/2dtrRqG)

U.S. Secretary Of State Kerry spoke with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to reaffirm U.S. support for efforts seeking peace in the country, the State Department said on Wednesday, days after Colombians rejected a deal between Colombia’s government and Marxist guerrillas. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2cU89k4)

For decades, jobs at Venezuela’s state-run oil giant PDVSA were coveted for above average salaries, generous benefits and cheap credit that brought home ownership and vacationing abroad within reach for many workers. Now, in Venezuela’s asphyxiating economy, even PDVSA employees are struggling to pay for everything from food and bus rides to school fees as triple-digit inflation eats away incomes. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dFtxht)

…and the rest

Greek police detained 214 Syrian refugees after they crossed a river that forms a natural border with Turkey, authorities said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/2cU7RJR)

Prime Minister Viktor Orban is known for his outspoken hostility to migrants and has built a razor-wire border fence to keep them out, but he has also quietly opened Hungary’s doors to foreigners rich enough to pay to live in the country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dsHQYq)

Prime Minister Theresa May threw down the Brexit gauntlet to Brussels Wednesday in a speech calling for “maximum freedom” in Europe’s single market despite a backlash against her hard line on immigration. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dLGk3D)

Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged on Wednesday that her open-door migrant policy had unleashed a wave of aggression from right-wing opponents in Germany but made clear that her course was unchanged. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2cU8m6U)

Desperate and cold after spending the night out in the open, more than 100 migrants who set off on foot toward the Hungarian border to protest EU’s closed borders agreed Wednesday to end their march and return to the Serbian capital of Belgrade. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dT5Hwh)

Opinion/Blogs

We’re gonna need a lot more teachers (Humanosphere http://buff.ly/2dT2DQU)

How can we reach an SDG target when we’re moving in the wrong direction? (Guardian http://bit.ly/2dSswA4)

Are Agricultural Cooperatives Still Relevant? (The Monitor http://bit.ly/2cU7ijs)

Colombian women struggle after ‘no’ vote against peace accord (PRI http://bit.ly/2dtsGjh)

Rwandans feel the pinch as Burundi fallout hits home (IRIN http://bit.ly/2dtrJHN)

Aleppo will eventually fall, but Syrian war will go on (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dLG8kC)

8 insights to end child marriage (Devex http://buff.ly/2dFuTIQ)

They fled Aleppo. Now they’re starting a new life in rural Denmark. (PRI http://bit.ly/2dsJg5n)

What next for Colombia? (IRIN http://buff.ly/2dfB1UR)

Why A Really Big Fish Isn’t Always Good For Business (Goats and Soda http://buff.ly/2dfAEtD)

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