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News in the Humanosphere: USAID finds itself embroiled in another Cuba scandal

Credit: @Doug88888/Flickr

A scoop from the Associated Press: The US government hired young operatives from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru to gin up opposition in Cuba. “USAID hired Creative Associates International, a Washington-based company, as part of a civil society program against Cuba’s communist government. The same company was central to the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” — a messaging network revealed in April by The Associated Press, designed to reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. According to internal documents obtained by the AP and interviews in six countries, USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: An HIV-prevention workshop one called the “perfect excuse” to recruit political activists, according to a report by Murillo’s group. For all the risks, some travelers were paid as little as $5.41 an hour. (AP

5 findings about USAID travelers’ program in Cuba

Ebola Outbreak
Ebola has spread in Nigeria: a doctor who treated a Liberian traveller has fallen ill with the disease. (Al Jazeera

Medical teams struggling to curb Ebola in west Africa have been discouraging bush meat consumption, believed to have caused the outbreak, but some rural communities dependent on the meat for protein are determined to continue their traditional hunting practices. (IRIN

The United States is sending at least 50 disease-control specialists to West Africa to help find, respond to and stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has claimed more than 700 lives. (VOA

Monrovia’s overcrowded and understaffed Elwa Hospital has had to turn away Ebola cases this week, a scenario exacerbated by the withdrawal of some international staff following the infection of two U.S. health workers here. (Reuters

The United States will announce nearly $1 billion in business deals, increase funding for peacekeeping and commit billions of dollars to expanding food and power programs in Africa during a summit this week, U.S. and development officials say. (Reuters

More donor support is needed to help close the $1.5 billion funding gap in the Sahel this year and protect the livelihoods of the estimated 20.2 million people who are at risk of food insecurity. Only 30 percent of the $2.2 billion dollar appeal to fight hunger and malnutrition, and build resilience in the region has been met by donors as of July, according to OCHA. (IRIN

The International Organization for Migration this week begins a river transport service for critically ill cholera patients, taking them to treatment centers in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. (VOA

Africans see jobs, education and security as their biggest areas of concern, according to a poll on Monday conducted by ONE, the anti-poverty campaign. (Reuters

Nigeria accounts for one third of all new AIDS infections among children in the 20 worst hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa. (IPS

While most industries in Zimbabwe are shutting down, the food business continues to thrive. (IPS

South Sudan’s foreign minister says President Salva Kiir will seek Washington’s assistance in ending over seven months of conflict at the U.S. – Africa summit scheduled to begin this week. (VOA

Claiming it had achieved most of its objectives and pressured by Western allies to stop causing civilian casualties in Gaza, Israel moved to wind down its operations there on Monday — either unilaterally or through a new Egyptian-brokered cease-fire announced late in the day. (NYT

The Israeli military has told residents of several neighborhoods in Gaza that they may return home, seeming to indicate that the operation to destroy infiltration tunnels has ended in these parts of the enclave. However, most Gazans say they do not believe they will be safe. (VOA

Reconstruction in Gaza, where heavy Israeli bombardment in a war with Islamist militants has caused widespread devastation and displaced a half-million people, will cost at least $6 billion, the Palestinian deputy prime minister says. (VOA

Women and children are badly affected by the rise in alcohol consumption in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. (IPS

Fleeing the violence in North Waziristan, displaced Pakistanis are confronting a new enemy in southern Sindh Province – prejudice. (IRIN

Authorities in Bangladesh say an overloaded ferry carrying at least 200 passengers has sunk on a river in central Bangladesh. (VOA

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor, but now some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. (VOA

The Americas
Indigenous people in Costa Rica, hemmed in by violent attacks from farmers and ranchers who invade their land and burn down their homes, have found a new ally: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who met with 36 native leaders during a recent visit to this country. (IPS

Colombian experts are investigating whether a soldier who died on Sunday after buying poisoned pork was the victim of left-wing rebels. (BBC

Ten Reasons for Saying ‘No’ to the North Over Trade (IPS

Why has Africa fallen behind the rest of the world’s economies? (Guardian

AGOA: Is It About Opportunities or Arm-Twisting? (CGD

Turn On, Retweet, Tune Out (Foreign Policy

Have recent global health gains gone to the poor? (Brett Keller

We should defend the rights of Gaza’s children (ODI

USA’s Latin America policy finally grows up (Cherokee Gothic

What Is Good about the Good Country Index? (CGD


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]