News in the Humanosphere: U.N. Security Council scrambles to meet after chemical attack kills dozens in Syria

In East Ghouta, Syria, rural Damascus, a child's plush toy lies in the rubble of a destroyed building. (Credit: UNICEF/UN013166/Al Shami)

The United Nations Security Council prepared for emergency talks on Wednesday after the worst chemical attack in Syria in years, as condemnation of the assault continued to pour in and donor nations met in Brussels and called yet again for an end to the six-year war. Pope Francis called the attack “an unacceptable massacre”; the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, deplored “the use of these barbaric weapons”; and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said that Syria’s government bore primary responsibility. “The horrific events of yesterday demonstrate, unfortunately, that war crimes are going on in Syria,” António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said in Brussels on Wednesday. (NY Times http://nyti.ms/2oCnMqd)

The cost of war…Syria’s six-year conflict has caused at least $16 billion in damage to agriculture – about a third of the country’s GDP – a U.N. agency said, calling for more funds to salvage local food production as millions go hungry. (VOA http://bit.ly/2nFZat3)

Africa

Authorities in southern Somalia are searching for five World Health Organization workers who were abducted by suspected al-Shabab militants. (VOA http://bit.ly/2nG4FaZ)

Blocking streets with riot shields and using pepper-spray on protesters, Venezuelan security forces impeded an opposition rally in Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro’s unpopular socialist government. (Reuters https://yhoo.it/2nYS0lY)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sacked his interior secretary and close political ally amid reports of alleged corruption in what his officials said Tuesday was a warning that he would not tolerate any wrongdoing even in his Cabinet. (AP http://bit.ly/2nG94Ld)

The U.N. refugee agency warns a lack of funding is threatening life-saving assistance for millions of Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them. (VOA http://bit.ly/2nYYrp6)

Russia threw up a hurdle in a US plan to hold a high-profile debate later this month on human rights during the US presidency of the UN Security Council. (AFP https://yhoo.it/2nYVTHS)

Nigeria’s government and military are not doing enough to ensure the release of 195 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls held by Boko Haram Islamic extremists for nearly three years, the Bring Back Our Girls group said Tuesday. (VOA http://bit.ly/2nGdly0)

With China’s preferred candidate selected as Hong Kong’s next chief executive, another blow to the morale of the city’s democracy activists, their young leaders are taking a page from Beijing’s playbook and preparing for a long battle. (VOA http://bit.ly/2nYUbpW)

The faction of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram led by Abubakar Shekau released a video on Tuesday denying that fighters are dying of hunger in its northeast Nigerian forest base. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2oyVOvs)

Former U.S. President George W. Bush touted his signature aid project for Africa during a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, saying he hoped Washington would recognize its importance in saving lives threatened by AIDS. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2oyLK5w)

Opinion/Blogs

Chemical Weapons Were Used in Syria. And Now Comes Another Big Test for Trump at the UN (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2o6UUG1)

Why Are African Men and Women Still Fleeing to Yemen? (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/2nYXmOi)

UN convenes Rohingya abuse investigation, but Myanmar says it won’t cooperate (IRIN http://buff.ly/2oVTYS6)

10 things to know about the global labour force (ODI http://bit.ly/2nZ6mmv)

Shakespeare, the Bible, Einstein et al on Doing Development Differently (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/2oyVRaG)

Even the Marshall Plan was once called ‘Operation Rat-Hole’ (Devex http://bit.ly/2nZaXoD)

Photos That Celebrate Ghana’s L.G.B.T. Community (NYT Lens http://nyti.ms/2nG5Qr4)

Students unite for open innovation and global access to tuberculosis drug sutezolid (Lancet Global Health http://bit.ly/2nG67KC)

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