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News in the Humanosphere: Taliban attack targets polio vaccine workers, killing 15

Pakistani Polio Vaccination Team administering polio drops to children during "Anti-polio campaign" at a suburb of Lahore, Pakistan. File 2014. (Photo by Rana Sajid Hussain / Pacific Press/Sipa USA)

Pakistan is one of two Polio endemic countries in the world. The other is Afghanistan. “A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polio vaccination center in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people, officials said, in a Taliban-claimed attack. The victims, mainly policemen, had been gathering outside the center to accompany polio workers on the third day of a vaccination campaign which has been frequently targeted by Taliban and other Islamist militant groups in Pakistan.” (AFP

The Obama administration is planning to expand a program to let would-be migrants from Central America apply for refugee status before they attempt to come to the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday. (AP

Canada welcomed its 10,000th Syrian refugee, the government announced Wednesday, although almost two weeks behind schedule and far fewer than it had originally planned to resettle by now. (AFP

Denmark’s Parliament started to debate a raft of proposals on changing immigration laws, including a measure that would allow the authorities to confiscate all valuables belonging to refugees worth over 10,000 Danish crowns ($1,450), and then use them to pay for the refugee’s stay.  (Reuters

Depressing news organization closure of the day: The head of Al Jazeera America announced today the closure of its cable news channel, in a memo yesterday. Fortunately, its digital news presence will expand in the U.S. (NY Times


A suicide bomber killed 12 worshippers Wednesday at a mosque in northern Cameroon, an area regularly targeted by Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists, officials said. (AFP

An Ethiopian official says plans to integrate the capital with surrounding towns have been canceled following deadly protests by locals who opposed the move. (AP

LRA rebels killed a villager and abducted dozens of others during two weekend raids in a remote diamond-producing area of Central African Republic, local residents and officials said. (Reuters

Twelve soldiers and a civilian have been arrested so far in connection with last month’s failed coup in Niger, Defense Minister Mahamadou Karidjo said on Wednesday. (AFP

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court began its year Wednesday with a request from 15 death row prisoners for their sentences to be commuted. Rights lawyers are hoping the death penalty will be outlawed in Zimbabwe this year. (VOA

Burkina Faso’s newly elected President Roch Marc Kabore broke with the past on Wednesday by naming a cabinet packed with ministers who had not served under the previous toppled administration. (Reuters

Doctors Without Borders announced the launch of a vaccination campaign in the Central African Republic that will cover about one-quarter of all children. (MSF

A judge at the International Criminal Court has postponed a crucial pretrial hearing for an alleged Islamic radical charged with involvement in the 2012 destruction of historic mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu. (AP

Uganda says it will get the best deal from its oil and invest the profits in infrastructure and agriculture, but there are formidable obstacles on the path to prosperity. (Guardian

China’s imports from Africa fell nearly 40 percent last year, officials said Wednesday, as low commodity prices and slowing growth in the Asian giant hit trade. (AFP

As the wheels come off a decadelong commodities supercycle, Africa’s oil-producing and metal-rich giants find themselves facing a dangerous mix of lower export revenues, depreciating currencies, declining financial flows from China, falling domestic demand and higher debt costs following last month’s U.S. interest rate rise. (Guardian


Aid groups hope to deliver more food and medicine today to three besieged Syrian towns, including Madaya, where residents have reportedly starved to death, a U.N. official said. (AFP

The activist sister of prominent jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was released on Wednesday after being detained in the kingdom, Human Rights Watch said. (AFP


Organizers of the World Economic Forum in Davos say they have revoked an invitation to a delegation from North Korea, in what appears to be an international rebuke over the secretive Communist country’s nuclear test this month. (AP

Feminists in China are embracing Taiwan’s presidential front-runner Tsai Ing-wen as a role model – in a country where the last woman leader was the empress dowager more than a century ago. (Reuters

A Norwegian company said it has canceled plans to build a $1.5 billion hydropower plant in Nepal to generate electricity in an energy-starved country where people get only a few hours of power every day. (AP

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the Pakistani consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, stoking fears over the spread of the ultra-radical movement in Afghanistan. (Reuters

The Americas

A group of 180 Cuban migrants took a step closer to their dream of a new life in the United States Wednesday after flying out of Costa Rica in a trial run designed to blaze a path for thousands of stranded compatriots to follow. (AFP

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Buenos Aires against the new Argentine government’s reforms, including measures they say curb press freedom. (AFP

The United States criticized the government of the Caribbean island nation St Lucia on Tuesday for failing to prosecute police accused of keeping death-lists and killing suspected criminals during a misguided campaign to attract tourists. (Reuters

…and the rest

A report from a group of international health experts convened in the wake of the Ebola crisis warned that infectious diseases represent a threat matched only by wars and natural disasters when it comes to endangering life and disrupting societies. (Guardian

Global warming is likely to disrupt a natural cycle of ice ages and contribute to delaying the onset of the next big freeze until about 100,000 years from now, scientists said. (Reuters

Denmark’s parliament began debating Wednesday a controversial plan to seize refugees’ valuables, with the bill widely expected to pass a January 26 vote after being backed by a majority of lawmakers. (AFP

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday more foreign criminals would be expelled once new restrictions are rolled out in the wake of sexual attacks on women blamed on migrants in Cologne. (Reuters


Can Gordon Brown Save a Generation of Syrian Children? (UN Dispatch

Haiti six years after the quake – What’s changed? (TRF

Occupy Charity: Big Money in Few Hands (Tiny Spark

With Ebola in check, are we ready for next outbreak? (AFP

Obama’s final State of the Union big on foreign policy themes (The Interpreter

Will India open its temples and mosques to menstruating women? (Guardian

Ebola: timeline of an epidemic (AFP

Jamaica’s Drought Tool Could Turn the Table on Climate Change (IPS

Graveyard to the Doha Development Round? (Addis Fortune

Teaching abroad: ‘Volunteers had little educational benefit to the kids’ (Guardian

Change of Direction for African Union? (ISS

New Funds for Syrian Refugees, But More Needed (IPS


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