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News in he Humanosphere: Protests add pressure on South Africa’s president

South African President Jacob Zuma. (Credit: Linh Do/flickr)

He’s now gone through three finance ministers in less than a week. “Thousands of people marched in major cities across South Africa on Wednesday to demand the resignation of President Jacob Zuma after an important government appointment last week that raised concerns about his handling of the nation’s economy. Protesters in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere have called on the governing African National Congress to recall Mr. Zuma, whose tenure as president has been marred by a series of scandals and accusations of pervasive corruption, but the party has stood by him so far. Last week, Mr. Zuma surprised even members of his own cabinet by abruptly firing Nhlanhla Nene, his well-respected finance minister, who had clashed with the chairwoman of the state-owned South African Airways, Dudu Myeni, who is a close ally of Mr. Zuma’s.”  (NYT

A new “global compact” in the works…At his year-end press conference, Ban Ki-moon announced that he was convening a summit one day before the start of UNGA in September with the aims of creating “a new global compact on human mobility” to address migration and refugee crises. (UN News Centre

Yemen ceasefire on verge of collapse…”Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri of the Saudi coalition said the Iran-allied Houthis had repeatedly broken the ceasefire supposed to begin at midday on Tuesday and that his forces were responding. The truce was intended to last seven days and coincide with the peace talks to try to end a nine-month-old civil war between the Houthis based in Yemen’s north and Saudi-backed southern and eastern fighters loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.” (Reuters

Drastic measures to curb air pollution in Delhi…”India’s Supreme Court has announced a slew of measures to curb record air pollution levels in the capital, Delhi. It has ordered a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel vehicles and stopped trucks more than 10 years old from entering the city. Delhi is experiencing hazardous levels of pollution due to diesel emissions, construction dirt and the burning of crop stubble in farms around the city. Air pollution causes more than 600,000 premature deaths in India each year.” (BBC

My anaconda don’t…Rights groups are lobbying rapper Nicki Minaj to cancel her upcoming concert in Angola, a southern African country often criticized for human rights abuses and corruption. (AP


Over 1,000 Nigerians, out of the thousands who fled attacks by Boko Haram jihadists to neighbouring countries, returned to their homeland this week, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday. (AFP

Burundi has dismissed criticism of its security forces, saying they acted professionally after insurgents attacked military bases in the capital, and also said there was no need to send foreign peacekeepers to the African nation. (Reuters

African Union rights investigators have expressed “great concern” over an “escalation of violence” in Burundi after witnessing some of the heaviest fighting in the troubled country for months. (AFP

Twenty-five Muslim men, including three teenagers, are facing the death penalty in Sudan after being charged with apostasy for following the wrong version of Islam. (Guardian

Some 4,000 child victims of “slavery and exploitation” were removed from cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast between 2012 and 2014, authorities fighting child labour in the world’s top cocoa producer have said. (AFP

The United Nations Security Council approved on Tuesday the deployment of a further 1,100 peacekeepers to South Sudan amid concerns from Russia and Venezuela over the threat of sanctions and the possible use of spy drones by the U.N. mission. (Reuters

UNICEF said it feared hunger in Malawi, which is struggling with food shortages, a long drought and other effects of El Nino, and a stagnant economy. (TRF

The majority of female passengers on public transport in Kenya say they have been harassed, with abuses ranging from derogatory comments to rape, but few report the abuse, according to a survey published on Wednesday. (TRF


Militants in the southern Iraqi desert ambushed and abducted at least 26 hunters from a Qatari safari early Wednesday, officials of both countries reported. The kidnapping victims were said to include some members of senior Qatari royalty. (NYT )

The World Bank and the UN refugee agency have called for a “paradigm shift” in the way the world responds to refugee crises such as the Syrian emergency, warning that the current approach is nearsighted, unsustainable and is consigning hundreds of thousands of exiled people to poverty. (Guardian

The leaders of Libya’s rival parliaments rejected a U.N. peace deal a day before moderates from both sides were due to sign it, highlighting the deep splits challenging international efforts to end the fighting. (Reuters

Saudi Arabia has pledged a total of $8 billion in investment and aid to Egypt over the next five years, as Riyadh looks to boost military and economic ties with its ally. (AFP

Jordan plans to deport about 800 Sudanese asylum seekers to their country, a government spokesman said Wednesday, after troops tore down a makeshift tent camp for the displaced in a pre-dawn raid. (AP

Photographs of thousands of people who reportedly died in government detention centres in Syria present “damning evidence” of crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. (AFP

The goal of diplomatic efforts to end the four-year-old conflict in Syria is to reach a long-term solution that does not involve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday. (Reuters

Curbs on free expression that have accelerated in Kuwait since the 2011 Arab Spring protests swept the Mideast are putting the country at risk of “sliding into deeper repression,” Amnesty International warned in a new report Wednesday. (AP


Rescuers on speedboats hauled rain-soaked residents off rooftops in the Philippine countryside on Wednesday after Typhoon Melor killed at least 11 people and cut power for millions. (AFP

This year saw China loosen its one-child policy, which for decades had prevented millions of families from expanding. The fertility industry abroad is responding to the possibility of scores of Chinese interested in having more children. (VOA

Vietnamese police have detained a well-known human rights activist for spreading propaganda against the communist state as the ruling Communist Party prepares for its five-year congress early next year. (AP

The World Bank has approved a $1.5 billion loan for a state-led sanitation program in India, where millions of people have no access to toilets, the bank said Wednesday. (AP

The mother of the student who died after being gang-raped on a Delhi bus has publicly named her daughter for the first time, in an attempt to end the stigma facing sex attack victims in India. (Guardian

Thailand’s military seized power last year with a promise to eventually restore democracy. But a crackdown against critics of the monarchy and junta suggest the country is locked on a darker trajectory, say U.N. officials and human rights activists. (Reuters

Nepal’s parliament approved new laws Wednesday to allow the government to spend billions of dollars pledged by foreign donors on reconstruction for hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes during a devastating earthquake earlier this year. (AP

The Americas

Surging demand for trucks and SUVs fueled by cheap gasoline is holding back improvements in U.S. fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, a government report due out on Wednesday is expected to show. (Reuters

Costa Rica won a lingering, bitter territorial row with Nicaragua Wednesday when a top UN court ruled it had sovereignty over a small patch of wetlands on the river San Juan. (AFP

The two assailants who broke into the home of Argentine journalist Sergio Hurtado said they were sent to kill him. Instead, Hurtado says they stole his money, sexually abused his wife while keeping a knife to his neck and left with a message: “Don’t keep reporting about drugs.” (AP

…and the rest

Turkish authorities have since September been detaining scores of refugees, including from Iraq and Syria, and abusing and pressuring them to return home in breach of international law, Amnesty International said Wednesday. (AFP

Decisions to stop or cut parts of a program are not taken lightly, but aid agencies are being forced to make them all too often due to shortages in funding. (Guardian

Britain needs to put a carbon emissions limit on power plants bidding for back-up capacity contracts as an auction last week laid bare the contradiction between support for dirty emergency power stations and ambitions to tackle climate change. (Reuters

Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper whose staff was decimated by Islamic extremist gunmen and then beset by internal tensions over an unexpected influx of donations and readers, said Wednesday it will turn over all the money to victims of the three days of attacks in January. (AP

Two people have been arrested at a refugee center in the Austrian city of Salzburg on suspicion of being connected to last month’s Paris attacks, the Salzburg prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday. (Reuters


Is Burundi Headed for Civil War? (VOA

Better Know the Paris Agreement. (Global Dispatches Podcast  

Two-thirds of women in Papua New Guinea suffer domestic abuse – how can it be stopped? (Guardian

Does the Gates Foundation do more harm than good? (Africa is a Country

To keep climate change from driving people into poverty, act now (Devex

Yemen Has A Glimmer Of Hope Amid War, Malnutrition, Malaria (Goats and Soda

This new book probably comes closer than any other to how I teach international development (Chris Blattman

3 questions raised by the Paris climate agreement (Devex

Is There a Trade-Off between “Sustainable” Foods and Food Safety? (Marc Bellemare

Humanitarian principles amid the militarisation of aid: an interview with Vincent Bernard (DevPolicy



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