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News in the Humanosphere: Big elections in Myanmar

President Barack Obama reaches to shakes hands with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Burmese will go to the polls on Sunday (or, at least some of them will be permitted to)  in what is a marginally free and fair election. But these elections are a big deal because it is still the most profound challenge to Myanmar’s military backed government.Good explainer from the New York Times. “Moreover, it will be a crucial test of the popularity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and democracy icon who is believed to be the country’s most popular politician. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was held under house arrest for 15 years during military rule, hopes a strong victory at the polls could finally give her party political power even though she is barred from becoming president.” (NYT

Quote of the Day:  I’m sorry to hear that, I still do not know what happened,” — A text message from an American military liaison to MSF, hours after the Kunduz hospital attack. MSF released a damning new report detailing their efforts to inform US officials of the bombing. (WaPo

Stat of the day: The European Commission expects some 3 million asylum seekers to arrive in the European Union by 2017, who would boost the EU’s economic output and even improve public finances in the longer-term if integrated into the workforce. (Reuters

Burma Votes

A Myanmar student leader has been arrested just days ahead of landmark polls, a relative said on Thursday, after another activist was detained for rallies in March that sparked fears of a return to junta-era tactics. (AFP

One of Myanmar’s most powerful politicians, ousted as leader of the ruling party in August, said Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party was the most popular in the country and he would work with the Nobel laureate in parliament after an historic election. (Reuters

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters not to “exaggerate” the problems of the country, in response to a question about Rohingya, the country’s persecuted Muslim minority living in western Rakhine State. (Reuters


The African Union has warned of its “deep concern” for troubled Burundi and the wider region if rivals do not resolve political differences peacefully. (AFP

Tanzania’s new president John Magufuli was sworn in on Thursday, promising to unite the country after a contested vote, create more jobs and drive up economic growth. (Reuters

Niger’s air force bombed a Boko Haram base in the country’s southeast and arrested more than 20 militants, security sources said on Thursday, in its biggest counter-attack in eight months. (Reuters

A cargo plane that crashed soon after takeoff, killing at least 37 people, was not authorized to carry passengers, the chief of South Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority said Thursday. (AP

Africa’s biggest telecommunications company is locked in a nasty battle with one of the most powerful governments on the continent, Nigeria, with billions of dollars at stake. (AP

A mobile hospital that can be up and running anywhere in Sierra Leone within 48 hours will form the bedrock of the country’s response to future Ebola outbreaks. (Guardian


At least 19 civilians and some Islamic State group fighters were killed Thursday in air raids against jihadist positions in the Syrian town of Bukamal, near the Iraqi border, a monitor said. (AFP

Chemical weapons experts have determined that mustard gas was used during fighting in Syria in August, according to a report by an international watchdog. (Reuters

Syria’s government is profiting from money charged to families of people trying to find loved ones forcibly disappeared in what are crimes against humanity, rights group Amnesty International charged Thursday. (AFP

A roadside car bomb killed at least nine people and wounded four others in northeast Lebanon on Thursday, in an area close to the Syrian border where violence has spilled over from the war next door, security sources said. (Reuters


MSF said on Thursday it was hard to believe a U.S. strike on an Afghan hospital last month was a mistake, as it had reports of fleeing people being shot from an aircraft. (Reuters

The death toll from the collapse of a four-story factory building in eastern Pakistan rose to 20 on Thursday, as rescuers with cranes and construction equipment continued digging for survivors, officials said. (AP

America’s top diplomat for Asia said on it was hard to see which Taiwanese political party would benefit most in January elections from a meeting this week between the country’s leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Reuters

Thailand’s junta launched on Thursday a crackdown on organized crime, its latest effort to clean up the country and improve the image of the military government as it struggles to get a sluggish economy on track. (Reuters

The Americas

In a historic decision, Colombia’s constitutional court opened the door for same-sex couples to legally adopt children in the conservative South American nation. (AP

A dam holding back waste water from an iron ore mine burst on Thursday in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais and local media reported as many as 16 people may have been killed. (Reuters

Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow won a record third term in a snap general election in the tiny English-speaking Central American country on Wednesday, after his party gained a clear majority in parliament. (Reuters

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a move to allow the planting of genetically modified soya seeds in two states, arguing that indigenous communities that had fought the move should be consulted before it was approved. (Reuters

…and the rest

The cold Aegean Sea claimed the lives of two more migrant children early Thursday, sparking protests in Greece as the UN warned another 600,000 people could arrive by February. (AFP

The Swedish finance ministry is looking into what the consequences would be if Sweden were to cut its development aid budget by 60%. (EurActiv

Since the start of the summer, the Greek island of Lesbos has assumed notoriety as the main gateway into Europe for thousands of desperate refugees. But as the lives lost in the risky Aegean Sea crossing relentlessly rise, the island has a new challenge — finding space to bury the dead. (AFP

There are now 15 projects in operation worldwide that have captured 28 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from coal and industrial plants this year, a technology that must be scaled-up to tackle climate change, a report released Thursday said. (Reuters

Renewable energy supply in eight major economies will collectively more than double by 2030 due to new national climate and energy plans, according to a study by the think tank World Resources Institute. (Reuters

World food prices rose in October, spurred by weather-driven concerns about sugar and palm oil supplies, but remained well below their equivalent level a year ago, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. (Reuters

Refugees and migrants are likely to keep coming to Europe at a rate of up to 5,000 per day via Turkey this winter, the United Nations said on Thursday, meaning that more than a million people will have fled to the continent this year. (Reuters


The trouble with data: Did poverty in Rwanda go up or down? (Humanosphere

Gawker got pranked. Kony isn’t looking for peace. Here are the facts. (Monkey Cage

Is China’s rise relevant to today’s poorest states? (From Poverty to Power

Obligations, repayments and regulations: the debt conundrum in the global South (The Conversation

Can elections and a ceasefire bring peace to Myanmar? (IRIN

Capitalism isn’t dead; it can become a force for good in society (Guardian

Bangladesh Can Become a Beacon for Rapid Malnutrition Reduction—If It Chooses To (Development Horizons

Confessions of a humanitarian: My amoebas and I have gone through so much together (Guardian

Will Yemen’s storm yet prove disastrous? (IRIN

From Rhetoric to Action: How Africa Can Achieve SDG 16 (Development Diaries

Ebola’s footprint on health system strengthening (Devex

How to Grow a Movement of Women Leaders in Global Health: Interview with co-founders of Women in Global Health (

Is Global Development Working? Yes, Here’s How — free webinar with Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development on Tuesday, November 10:


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