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News in the Humanosphere: U.S. attempt to spark unrest in Cuba exposed

A fiasco involving an apparent attempt to leverage underground hip-hop scene to foment social change. “The idea was to use Cuban musicians ‘to break the information blockade’ and build a network of young people seeking ‘social change,’ documents show. But the operation was amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful. On at least six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program; they also confiscated computer hardware, and in some cases it contained information that jeopardized Cubans who likely had no idea they were caught up in a clandestine U.S. operation. Still, contractors working for the U.S. Agency for International Development kept putting themselves and their targets at risk, the AP investigation found.” (AP

Comings and Goings … The U.K. government’s aid watchdog, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, tapped former Overseas Development Institute Director Dr. Alison Evans as its new head. (Guardian

A new study finds rampant violence throughout the world takes a particularly heavy toll on women and children. The World Health Organization, which has just published its first status report on the prevention of violence, is calling for greater efforts globally to prevent violence. (VOA


Swiss researchers have suspended the testing of one of the leading Ebola vaccine candidates after some volunteers reported unexpected side effects. (AP

An American nurse who was exposed to Ebola while volunteering in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone will be admitted to the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in Maryland on Thursday, NIH announced. (Reuters

GAVI, the global vaccines alliance, has committed up to $300 million to buy Ebola vaccines and is ready to begin procurement as soon as the World Health Organization recommends one for use, the alliance said on Thursday. (Reuters

The Islamic Development Bank says the Saudi king has pledged $35 million to help fight Ebola in hard-hit West African countries. (AP


French forces in northern Mali have killed a senior commander of the al Mourabitoun Islamist group who was wanted by the United States, a defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday. (VOA

Five HIV-positive women in Kenya are suing the government and two top international NGOs, claiming they were sterilized without their consent. The group this week filed a legal action against parties including the Kenyan health ministry, Doctors Without Borders and Marie Stopes International. (Guardian

Doctors Without Borders and the Ministry of Health are distributing malaria drugs to 1.5 million people in Sierra Leone. It’s being done because many infected with malaria parasites have the same symptoms as those with Ebola. (VOA

U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic have arrested a Chadian warlord wanted by authorities for abuses against the population in the north of country, the U.N. mission and the government said. (Reuters

Suspected war criminals in Central African Republic are carrying out atrocities and terrorizing people, and the United Nations and CAR government must try harder to bring them to justice, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday. (Reuters

Niger needs more international assistance to help it confront a looming food crisis compounded by an influx of refugees fleeing attacks by Boko Haram Islamist fighters in neighboring Nigeria, the country’s prime minister said. (VOA

South Africa is suffering from worsening electricity blackouts as state-run utility Eskom falls deeper into crisis. Eskom, which provides South Africa with 95 percent of its electricity, says it will suffer a massive $21 billion funding shortfall over the next four years. (VOA

Judges at the International Criminal Court ordered Ivory Coast on Thursday to hand over Simone Gbagbo, the wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo, who is in The Hague awaiting trial. (Reuters

At least seven women have been killed in “barbaric” attacks in Somalia after Shebab insurgents beheaded a soldier’s wife, prompting revenge executions of women close to the Islamists, elders said Thursday. (AFP


Rebels in southern Syria say they have taken a step toward unity that may attract more support from their Western and Arab backers, forging a joint defense pact to help shield them from government forces and Islamic State. (VOA

Several states pledged on Thursday to back a U.N. nuclear agency request for $5.7 million as soon as possible to pay for its monitoring of an extended, interim nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. (Reuters

France’s upper house of parliament on Thursday urged the government to recognize Palestine as a state, following a similar and highly symbolic vote in the lower house. (AFP


Authorities in Hong Kong have begun a final push to clear barricades and encampments from streets outside government offices in the port city, drawing more than two months of pro-democracy protests to a close. (VOA

Vietnam has arrested another well-known blogger as part of what critics see as a continued campaign against government opponents. (VOA

To the Shan, Karen, Karenni and other ethnic minorities living in the river’s basin, the six proposed hydro-power dams symbolize violence, anxiety about the future and a tool used by authorities to secure a greater grip over their lives. Some minority leaders say tensions over the dams could even re-ignite civil war in Myanmar. (AP

Malaysia has summoned the U.S. ambassador after both he and Vice President Joe Biden questioned a government decision to retain and strengthen a controversial law limiting free speech, despite earlier pledging to abolish it. (AFP

The Russian Direct Investment Fund and India’s IDFC agreed on Thursday to invest up to $1 billion in Indian infrastructure projects including in ports, toll roads and hydropower, to deepen economic ties between the two countries. (Reuters

There has been a surge in crimes against India’s sexual minorities, including rape, assault, blackmail and harassment, since the country’s top court reinstated a ban on gay sex a year ago, activists said on Thursday. (Reuters

The Americas

Opportunity International announced Credit Suisse will help support a new education initiative to improve the quality, availability and affordability of education in impoverished areas of Latin America, Africa and Asia by providing school improvement and school fee loans, and piloting innovative education finance services to increase the number of students in school and improve the quality of education they receive. (Business Wire

A provision that could have hampered U.S. food aid was cut from the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 by the Senate. (Humanosphere

Cuban police detained peaceful demonstrators at a busy Havana square on Wednesday, shoving dissidents into squad cars in front of onlookers on International Human Rights Day. (VOA

High in the Peruvian Andes, the glacier-fed lake Laguna 513 brims with meltwater atop a populated valley in a region prone to earthquakes. Scientists warn that if a giant chunk of ice from the Hualcan glacier breaks off it could trigger a tsunami-like wave in Laguna 513 and send a lethal torrent of water cascading down the valley. (Reuters


Banning Uber won’t make Delhi women any safer, and it could make things worse (TIME

The one big concept complicating the Lima Climate Talks ( UN Dispatch

Weigh in: What will Raj Shah do after leaving USAID? (Humanosphere

There’s bad news for people who love avocados (Mic

Making positive deviants the new normal (Reboot

U.S. falls short on human rights (VOA

Fear grips Egypt’s civil society as Sisi regime restricts NGOs (GlobalPost

A puzzling, piddling aid cut: Australian funding for UNEP (DevPolicy

Does the aid bill really show the U.K.’s commitment to development? (The Guardian

Water woes in Lima: A glimpse of our future? (BBC

What happened to Darfur after George Clooney came to town? (The Guardian

Can theories of change help us ‘do development differently?’ (The Asia Foundation

Ebola diary: ‘We knew if Ebola takes root in Nigeria, all Africa will be on fire’ (The Guardian


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]