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News in the Humanosphere: Massive floods across South America

More than 160,000 people have been driven from their homes in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in some of the worst floods in decades, which have left at least six people dead, authorities have said. The areas hardest hit in the week leading up to Christmas were in Paraguay, where four people have been killed by falling trees. President Horacio Cartes has declared a state of emergency to free up more than $3.5 million in disaster funds. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ZvMemu)

Iraqi Forces Retake Ramadi… “Iraq’s army declared victory over Islamic State fighters in a provincial capital west of Baghdad on Sunday, the first major triumph for the U.S.-trained force since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the militants 18 months ago. The capture of Ramadi, capital of mainly Sunni-Muslim Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital, deprives Islamic State militants of their biggest prize of 2015. The fighters seized it in May after government troops fled in a defeat which prompted Washington to take a hard look at strategy in its ongoing air war against the militants.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1IxoY3q)

The One Child Policy is Now Officially Over…China officially ended its one child policy on Sunday with the signing into law of a bill allowing all married couples to have a second child as it attempts to cope with an ageing population and shrinking workforce. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ZvMyl6)

WowWowWeeWow.Very Niiice…British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife, actor Isla Fisher  are donating $1 million to help Syrian refugees, the charities receiving the money announced Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1YKHRSh)

Africa

At least 14 people were killed and several others injured by Boko Haram gunmen in a Christmas Day attack on a village in northeastern Nigeria, vigilantes said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1YKHkjn)

Mali has signed an agreement with China Railway Construction Corp to renovate a rail line linking its capital Bamako to the border with neighbouring Senegal at a cost of $1.486 billion, the West African nation’s transport minister said on Saturday. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1IxoXfO)

Islamist fighters killed 10 Tuareg rebels in two attacks near northern Mali’s border with Algeria this week in a growing wave of violence, Tuareg officials said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JCHwu0)

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde on Saturday appointed a new prime minister, he said in a decree, after being sworn in earlier this week for a controversial new five-year term. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1YGBHrD)

Rival Burundi factions travelled to Uganda on Sunday ahead of talks aimed at ending months of violence, diplomats said, as the African Union pushes the government to accept a peacekeeping force. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ZvMJgt)

Made homeless and jobless by conflict, young Muslims displaced by sectarian violence who are now sleeping out in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui see Wednesday’s elections as their only salvation. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1YGC59H)

Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for an attack in northeastern Kenya that killed at least two police officers Sunday. (VOA http://bit.ly/1mIueqX)

#RhodesMustNotFall…South Africa’s last white president, F. W. de Klerk, on Saturday criticised a campaign to remove a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes from an Oxford college. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1mItrGG)

MENA

Overnight fighting between Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels and pro-government forces in the southwestern Taiz province killed 31 people, including eight civilians, Yemeni officials said Saturday. (AP http://bit.ly/1mItn9S)

Israeli ministers Sunday endorsed contentious draft legislation to toughen rules on rights groups receiving funds from abroad, the justice minister said, in a move left-wing NGOs have called a witch-hunt. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1PrhDUr)

Asia

China’s rubber-stamp national legislature on Sunday approved the country’s first anti-terrorism law, amid concerns that its requirements that tech companies share information with the government could hurt business interests and further infringe upon human rights. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YGC1qq)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday said that Muslim countries should strive to improve the world’s opinion of Islam. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1YGC8lH)

Muslim rebels’ Christmas attacks on Christian villages in the southern Philippines have left at least 14 people dead. (VOA http://bit.ly/1PrhJLN)

A group of Filipino protesters has landed on a disputed Philippine-held island in the South China Sea, a local government official said on Sunday, in a risky expedition that may trigger a strong reaction from China. (CSM http://bit.ly/1Ixp3Ef)

The Americas

Firefighters gained the upper hand on a wildfire northwest of Los Angeles that burned about 1,240 acres of land, forced the closure of parts of a major highway and led to evacuations, fire officials said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JCHuCi)

…and the rest

Hundreds more people were told to leave their homes in northern England Sunday as Prime Minister David Cameron said more troops would be deployed to protect peoples’ lives and property after weeks of heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YKHKGn)

Opinion/Blogs

In the midst of war, where’s the water? Syrians use digital map to find out (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PrhkJ6)

What a failed terror attack in Kenya can teach Americans. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1IxpBtM)

Are Indian college dorms turning into women’s prisons. (Al Jazeera http://wapo.st/1IxpBtM)

To defeat ISIL, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must be resolved. (Al Jazeera http://wapo.st/1IxpBtM)

 

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