News in the Humanosphere: U.S. aid worker in Niger kidnapped

Gunmen raided the house of a U.S. aid worker in central Niger on Friday night, killing his guard and housekeeper before driving him across the desert towards Mali, the interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday. Jeffery Woodke, who works for a local non-governmental organization called JEMED and has lived in Niger since 1992, was taken from his home in the town of Abalak at around 2000 GMT by a group of armed men in a Toyota Hilux pickup truck, the statement said. “These criminals are now heading towards Mali. Our forces are on their trail,” said interior minister Mohamed Bazoum. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2dtKjyU)

Long read of the day: The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation. (NYT http://nyti.ms/2e8RMoB)

Africa

Fighting in South Sudan killed at least 60 people this week, the military said on Friday, stoking fears the region could plunge back into full-scale war. (TRF http://tmsnrt.rs/2e8OmBT)

The Ethiopian government has unveiled stringent rules for its state of emergency which the opposition says is meant to curb a wave of protests, sometimes deadly, in the Oromia region and other areas. (VOA http://bit.ly/2e9hyJ3)

Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ruling coalition and other smaller parties have agreed to delay next month’s elections to April 2018 – a move that will anger opposition groups who have accused the president of trying to cling onto power. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtIIcG)

Twenty-one of the over 200 missing Chibok schoolgirls freed after being held by Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists for more than two years on Sunday spoke of their ordeal as they were reunited with their families. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dGYChg)

Malawian President Peter Mutharika returned home Sunday after an unexplained trip to the United States that lasted several weeks, sparking rumors over his health. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2evN99f)

Heavy fighting around the town of Malakal in South Sudan killed dozens of people over the weekend, a military spokesman said on Sunday, after rebels said they would try to seize control of the town. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2e9huJm)

MENA

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting his U.K., French, German and Italian counterparts in London as part of renewed Syria peace efforts.( BBC http://bbc.in/2e8Ruy1)

The United States, Britain and the U.N. peace envoy to Yemen on Sunday urged the warring parties in the country’s civil war to declare a ceasefire they said could start within days. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dGYtdT)

The U.S. Navy on Sunday began investigating a possible overnight missile attack from Yemen on a group of American warships in the Red Sea amid uncertainty about what transpired. (NYT http://nyti.ms/2e8RuxC)

Lebanon’s largest Christian party has rallied thousands of its supporters to push for the election of its leader, former Army Gen. Michel Aoun, as president. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dGXU3X)

A resident says an explosion went off at a militia checkpoint near a camp for displaced Syrians on the border with Jordan. (AP http://yhoo.it/2evM55v)

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces captured the symbolically-significant town of Dabiq from the Islamic State group on Sunday as government forces reversed recent rebel advances in the center of the country. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dtIMcq)

Asia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called India’s neighbor Pakistan the “mothership of terrorism” at a BRICS summit Sunday, underscoring New Delhi’s differences with Islamabad’s close ally China, which is a prominent member of the group. (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/2e9aL24 )

In the latest move in its ambitious space program, China plans to launch a manned spacecraft from the Gobi Desert on Monday. (NYT http://nyti.ms/2e9dbOm)

At least 21 people have been killed by floods in Vietnam’s four central provinces in the past week and eight are still missing, the government said on Sunday amid preparations for another tropical storm to hit the country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dGY7nJ)

Thailand has sought to dispel any concern about a royal succession after Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn said he would delay his ascension to the throne while he mourns his father, and the government stressed on Sunday it was working as normal. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtJkin)

A powerful but fast-moving typhoon blew out of the northern Philippines on Sunday after leaving at least two people dead and displacing more than 15,000, though the region was spared a major disaster due in part to the storm’s speed. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ejSnjD)

The United Nations says around 370,000 registered and undocumented Afghan refugees have returned home from neighboring Pakistan this year, with a significant spike seen since mid-July. (VOA http://bit.ly/2dtJxSJ)

The Americas

Angry Haitians looted aid trucks as the U.N. secretary-general visited parts of the country hit by Hurricane Matthew, which killed 900 people. (BBC http://bbc.in/2e8Uf27)

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s approval rating dropped 8 percentage points to 55 percent after a corruption scandal forced him to fire his health adviser, an Ipsos poll published in a newspaper showed on Sunday. (Rueters http://yhoo.it/2e9eTyZ)

War crimes trials at Guantanamo Bay for suspects accused of attacks against the United States have ground to a near halt a decade after the military courts’ creation, with lawyers warning that some detainees could spend many more years waiting to be tried. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2e6LBjv)

… and the rest

Thousands of protesters massed in the eastern German city of Dresden on Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the anti-migrant and Islamophobic movement Pegida. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2elwhhN)

Amid fears of threats posed by protectionism, the BRICS countries have vowed to deepen economic engagement, tackle the global economic slowdown and combat cross-border terrorism. (VOA http://bit.ly/2evN0T9)

Swedish officials say they have evacuated about 40 people from a refugee center in southern Stockholm after a fire engulfed the building. (AP http://yhoo.it/2evM2GR)

Hungarian journalist Gabor Bordas thought he had seen it all. Over the past two years he had walked away from two top online news sites in protest over political interference. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2e9iP31)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s most prominent domestic critic in the migrant crisis says he will stick to what he says is a “core” demand for a cap on the number of refugees that Germany accepts each year. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dtHwWL)

Opinion/Blogs

We’re in the middle of a dangerous Tuberculosis pandemic and we’re not doing enough to stop it. (UN Dispatch http://buff.ly/2dH3ljn)

Why Is The News About TB So Bad? (NPR http://n.pr/2dGZqTA)

Can the U.N. Habitat summit help the world’s swelling ranks of urban poor? (TRF http://yhoo.it/2dtFmGw)

Planned Parenthood is 100 years old, but the fight for reproductive rights goes on (Guardian http://bit.ly/2ejSSKf)

Burundi’s Awkward — and Mostly Pointless — Farewell to the ICC (Justice in Conflict http://buff.ly/2e6NxbF)

What You Need To Know If You’d Like To Help Post-Hurricane Haiti (Goats and Soda http://buff.ly/2e9nUbx)

Dear ‘Dancing Missionaries’ you are still offensive to Africans (Guardian http://buff.ly/2dH31Ro)

Peace and Justice in Colombia – I Fought the Law and the Law Won (Justice in Conflict http://buff.ly/2e9ocPD)

New U.N. Leader Sets Goals: Humility, Empathy, Empowering Women (Goats and Soda http://buff.ly/2ejY9li)

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