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News in the Humanosphere: Pope makes climate change a priority for the church

credit: Mazur/

The Pope keeps getting awesomer. Pope Francis will make combating climate change a priority of the Church. “At the end of 2015, the nations of the world will meet in Paris and attempt to hammer out a global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And Pope Francis hopes that the world’s Catholics, as well as other major religions, will be a big part of serious climate action. This includes a series of steps next year. Francis is expected to tell the planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics why acting on climate change is essential to the faith using an influential church document called an encyclical. This has been long-rumored, but will reportedly be released to the world’s 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests following a papal visit to the hurricane-damaged city of Tacloban in the Philippines [in March].” (Think Progress

Plus: How Pope Francis became a diplomatic ninja (Global Dispatches Podcast

After 13 years, NATO officially ends Afghanistan combat mission: But a new mission will begin. “Beginning Jan. 1, the new mission will provide training and support for Afghanistan’s military, with the U.S. accounting for almost 11,000 of the 13,500 members of the residual force.”  (NYT

Former world soccer player of the year George Weah has won a seat in Liberia’s Senate to represent the capital, defeating the son of the president and boosting his political fortunes ahead of a presidential election in 2017. (Reuters

A leader of Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, who has a $3 million U.S. bounty on his head, has surrendered, a Somali government official and local media said on Saturday, although the militants said he had long left their organization. (Reuters

West Africa’s fight to contain Ebola has hampered the campaign against malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that is claiming many thousands more lives than the dreaded virus. (AP

A mobile application created by some of the world’s leading technology companies, such as Facebook, Nokia and Samsung, is giving Africans free access to websites with medical advice, educational tools, job vacancies and local news. (Guardian

The spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Zambia says representatives from political parties and representatives from civil society and faith-based groups will travel to South Africa on Sunday to monitor the printing of the ballot papers for next month’s presidential by-election. (VOA

The United States is awarding $15,000 each to five pairs of U.S. and Ethiopian universities for research and development projects. (VOA

Just more than a year ago, the Central African Republic appeared to be on the verge of a genocide.  A prompt intervention by French forces halted mass killings in the capital, and violence there between Muslims and Christians or animists largely subsided in 2014.  But inter-communal violence continues elsewhere in the country, and peacekeepers cannot establish peace on their own. (VOA

The continued presence of troops from the Uganda People’s Defense Force in South Sudan complicates peace talks between the administration in Juba and rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, according to Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, a leading member of the rebel movement. (VOA

Libya has called on Italy to send firefighters to prevent a fire spreading out of control at Es Sider, the country’s biggest oil port, officials said on Saturday. (Reuters

The Islamic State militant group has killed 1,878 people in Syria during the past six months, the majority of them civilians, a British-based Syrian monitoring organization said on Sunday. (Reuters

Egypt on Sunday said it banned Ridley Scott’s biblical epic “Exodus: Gods & Kings” because the Hollywood blockbuster distorts Egypt’s history and presents a “racist” image of Jews. (AP

Security officials and tribal leaders in Yemen say 12 people have been killed in clashes between tribesmen and Shiite rebels north of the capital Sanaa. (AP

The Palestinians are pressing for a U.N. Security Council vote this week on a resolution that would call for an end to Israel’s occupation within three years. (AP

Twenty-four people have been killed and eight others are missing due to floods and mudslides caused by incessant rain around Sri Lanka over the past week, officials said Sunday. (AP

Sri Lanka’s largest Muslim political party on Sunday defected from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s camp to support the opposition candidate in next month’s presidential election. (AP

Rescuers in Malaysia are struggling to reach thousands of people affected by the country’s worst flooding in three decades to deliver food and medical aid. (VOA

Judges in China sentence thousands of people to death every year. And China executes more people each year than any other country. However, the Chinese government has been lowering the number of crimes for which people can be executed. (VOA

The Americas
A huge transformation in indigenous identity has swept through Bolivian society in recent years following the election of Evo Morales as president in 2006. (BBC

In an effort to reduce the spread of dengue fever, a team of developers in Costa Rica have created a free app to allow the public to easily report the standing water that acts as mosquito hatcheries, and allow the government to quickly spray these areas with pesticides. (Guardian

Farmers already scrambling to find workers in California — the leading U.S. grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts — fear an even greater labor shortage under President Obama’s executive action to block some 5 million people from deportation. (AP

Why 2015 will be a huge year for humanity (UN Dispatch

My rookie year working in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone (The Globe and Mail

Where did the Indian Ocean tsunami aid money go? (The Guardian

Lessons learned a decade after the Indian Ocean tsunami (USAID Impact

Aceh’s unfinished recovery (IRIN

$100 million fund aims to kickstart next generation of African businesses (The Guardian

Asking the right questions in development (An Africanist Perspective

Who’s next? (open the echo chamber

The twelve days of Christmas (aid edition)™ (Aid Thoughts


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]