News in the Humanosphere: Meet the Americans who (allegedly) backed the coup in Gambia

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

Did you see that bizarre story last week about a plot in Gambia to overthrow long-serving ruler Yahya Jammeh? Turns out it may have its roots in the American heartland. “The American defendants, both of Gambian descent, were in federal custody. They have been charged with conspiring to violate the Neutrality Act, a seldom-invoked law that prohibits Americans from fighting against a nation at peace with the United States. The defendants were identified as Cherno Njie, 57, of Austin, Texas, and Papa Faal, 46, of Brooklyn Center, Minn. It was not immediately clear whether they had lawyers or whether other Americans were also under investigation in the case.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1FdqFR3)

Progress! A city in central India has elected the country’s first transgender mayor, nine months after a court ruled that transgender be recognized as a legal third gender, local media reported. (TRF http://yhoo.it/14dJEKr)

Africa
Boko Haram fighters have overpowered Nigerian soldiers at a military base in the far northeastern town of Baga, forcing residents and soldiers to flee. The military has not issued a statement about Saturday’s attack, but sources say the Islamist insurgents have full control of the town. (VOA http://bit.ly/14dLAlV)

Burundi’s army killed 95 attackers from an unidentified group based in neighboring Congo that wants to move across the border and launch ambushes to try to disrupt this year’s elections, a spokesman said on Monday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rXPRoz)

Radical Islamic militants attacked a central Malian town at dawn Monday, the closest they have struck to the capital since a French-led war forced them from power across the desert north nearly two years ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/14dJ0N0)

The United States has charged two men for their involvement in the failed Dec. 30 attempt to overthrow the government of Gambia, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rXPwlS)

Liberia plans to reopen schools in February, six months after the government ordered them closed because of the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 3,400 people in the West African nation, an official said on Monday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rXPRVA)

Ebola survivors in the three West African countries worst hit by the epidemic will share their stories through a mobile application to be launched on Monday, in a UNICEF-backed campaign to inform and fight stigma around the disease. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rXPUAP)

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo was set Monday to convene a major political meeting in his native province of Katanga, amid controversy over a possible third term in office. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1tK0L2u)

An official of Cameroon’s Ministry of Basic Education in northern Cameroon, says thousands of teachers, students and pupils have fled schools located along the border with Nigeria due to bloody confrontations between the Cameroon military and suspected Boko Haram militants. (VOA http://bit.ly/14dLwmp)

The World Health Organization recently called for 900 more epidemiologists to join the battle against Ebola in West Africa. That’s triple the current number. Epidemiologists study the patterns of disease outbreaks to determine how they spread and where they may go next. (VOA http://bit.ly/1ysrDFb)

MENA
A former Tunisian interior minister has been nominated as prime minister to form a new government after an agreement among political parties in the newly elected parliament, congress speaker Mohamed Nacer said on Monday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1wQ7GkW)

A new round of U.N.-brokered peace talks aimed at ending the escalating political crisis in Libya has been delayed once again and will not take place early this week as originally planned, diplomatic sources said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1rXPTN7)

Hamas said on Monday it was “totally opposed” to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s plans to re-submit to the U.N. Security Council a resolution on ending Israel’s occupation, which failed last week. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1tK0L2B)

Syria’s Western-backed political opposition group, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, has elected a new presidential committee and a president widely seen as not tied to any of the body’s international sponsors. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1BBhGTU)

Asia
Clashes between police and opposition activists and a separate attack by unidentified gunmen left at least four people dead in Bangladesh on Monday amid heightened tensions on the anniversary of elections boycotted by a major opposition alliance last year. (AP http://yhoo.it/1tK0Nrh)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the United States might want to “re-examine” the timetable for removing the remaining U.S.-led coalition troops in the country by the end of 2016. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/17dsM8j)

An interesting story about an Indian philanthropist and surgeon who is trying to change how cardiac care is delivered in India.  (NPR http://n.pr/1FdnWab)

Fighting is intensifying in Kashmir ahead of President Obama’s visit to India later this month. (Reuters  http://reut.rs/1FdosoI)

The Americas
Brazil’s ruling Workers Party would back former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to seek a third term in 2018, the country’s chief of staff said in an interview published Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1rXQjTX)
Opinion/Blogs
Chris Blattman discusses cash transfers, the economic effects of child soldiers and his circuitous route to becoming an international development economist.  (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1wdinz6)

Mexico scandals expose government without answers (AP http://yhoo.it/1BqPXaj)

Sierra Leone was recovering but Ebola has changed everything (The Guardian http://bit.ly/1BBieJk)

Africa in 2015: A New Year’s guide (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1BBig43)

Losing the fight against tuberculosis (NY Times http://nyti.ms/1wQaiPR)

Three ways the international development community can work better with China in 2015 (ODI http://bit.ly/1BBiKaj)

U.S. foreign policy: What to watch in 2015 (VOA http://bit.ly/14dM8s4)

Tensions rise as Sri Lankans prepare for historic polls (IPS http://bit.ly/1AwIQwG)

Technology competitions: Setting young entrepreneurs up to fail? (The Guardian http://bit.ly/17duyGy)

The do-good start-ups of Nairobi (Businessweek http://buswk.co/1BBkYXf)

In Haiti, battling disease with open-air clinics (NY Times http://nyti.ms/1BBkYGz)

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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]humanosphere.org.