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News in the Humanosphere: Former New Zealand PM joins U.N. secretary-general race

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the HDR 2014 launch event in Tokyo. UNDP

Helen Clark tosses her hat in the ring to become the next secretary-general. Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand and current administrator of the United Nations Development Program is the eighth declared candidate and fourth women to put forth her name to succeed Ban Ki-moon. She becomes the highest profile candidate and also the only non-European to join the race. “Clark said she was ‘very honored’ to receive the full backing of the New Zealand government, and the amount of traffic coming in indicated significant support from New Zealand. She said she intended to run an ‘accessible’ campaign and would set out her priorities in the course of the campaign.” (NZ Herald

A global health milestone…The Philippines on Monday launched the first public immunization program for dengue fever, seeking to administer to a million schoolchildren the world’s first licensed vaccine against a mosquito-borne disease that the World Health Organization estimates infects 390 million people a year globally. (AP

Trouble in Brazzaville…Police in Congo’s capital Brazzaville exchanged heavy fire with unidentified gunmen on Monday, witnesses said, in the first significant outbreak of violence since President Denis Sassou Nguesso won re-election last month in a disputed poll. (Reuters

Quote of the day: You see that dog?” asked Younis, a young Moroccan man, pointing to one of Lesbos’ many street dogs. “That dog has more rights than me.” (VOA

Panama Papers fallout

Iceland’s prime minister insisted Monday he would not resign after documents leaked in a media investigation linked him to an offshore company that would represent a serious conflict of interest. (AP

Bollywood’s Amitabh Bachchan and martial arts movie star Jackie Chan are among celebrities who feature Monday in a massive leak of documents, some of which reveal hidden offshore assets. (AFP

A Panamanian shell company may have helped hide millions of dollars from the Brink’s-Mat heist, a British gold bullion robbery that is etched in criminal folklore, leaked tax documents allege. (AFP

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday denied any wrongdoing after documents leaked from a Panama law firm showed him holding three offshore accounts that could be used as tax havens. (AFP

A nephew of South African President Jacob Zuma and the son of Ghana’s former president John Agyekum Kufuor were among African figures named in the Panama Papers trove of leaked tax documents. (AFP

And authorities in France, the Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, Australia and Norway announced plans to investigate individuals and corporations named in the leaked documents.


Nigeria’s army arrested the leader of Islamist militant group Ansaru, a splinter faction of Boko Haram that has been accused of kidnapping and killing Westerners. (Reuters

The secondary school in Nigeria where 276 girls were abducted nearly two years ago remains in poor condition, despite promises from the president to provide assistance a year ago. (AFP

Drone delivery might be years away in the U.S., but it’s becoming a reality in Rwanda this summer. A San Francisco-based drone delivery company says it’ll start making its first deliveries of blood and medicine in Rwanda in July. (VOA

A French warship plows through the sparkling waters between Africa and Arabia on a joint training drill with the U.S. that highlights Djibouti’s growing strategic role for the world’s militaries. (AFP

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, has denied acting dishonestly during a long-running scandal over improper state spending at his private home, Nkandla, the day after a scathing constitutional court ruling on the saga. (Guardian


Several al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front members including its spokesman have been killed in air strikes and regime forces have retaken a strategic town from the Islamic State group in the latest setbacks for jihadists in Syria. (AFP

Human Rights Watch said Monday the Syrian government has not lived up to commitments to allow unhindered humanitarian deliveries to besieged areas where the United Nations says hundreds of thousands of people are badly in need of aid. (VOA


Scores of women who were barred entry to a Hindu temple in India’s western Maharashtra state despite a court order in their favor have vowed to carry on the fight for equal access to places of worship, with the government also backing the court’s stand. (

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi has dropped plans to run two major ministries but will act as spokeswoman for the country’s new president, a ruling party official said Monday. (AFP

Animal rights activists are seeking to shut down an annual summer dog meat festival in southern China blamed for blackening the country’s international reputation as well as fueling extreme cruelty to canines and unhygienic food handling practices. (AP

Myanmar is No. 2 in the world for opium production. As Myanmar’s new parliament faces major reform challenges, a drug epidemic remains deeply rooted in some ethnic states with growers allowed to produce opium with impunity. (VOA

Hundreds of people, including priests, environmental activists, and fishermen, protested in Sri Lanka’s capital on Monday, demanding the government halt a $1.5 billion Chinese-funded port city project. (AP

Mehbooba Mufti, the leader of the pro-India Peoples’ Democratic party, has become the first female chief minister of India-controlled Kashmir. (Guardian

The Americas

A leading human rights group says Venezuelan police committed widespread human rights abuses during a nationwide crime crackdown last year in which 245 died. (AP

New Mexico offers stunning ski slopes, high desert vistas, and cultural sites, all sights you’ll see in the state’s tourism campaign called “New Mexico True.” But the state also has the highest child poverty rate in the nation – a truth that an advocacy group highlighted with its parody campaign, “New Mexico Truth.” (NPR

…and the rest

An internal audit has found important deficiencies and lapses in the U.N.’s involvement with two foundations and several nongovernmental organizations linked to an alleged bribery case involving former General Assembly president John Ashe. (AP

Trillions of dollars of non-bank financial assets around the world are vulnerable to the effects of global warming, according to a study on Monday that says tougher action to curb greenhouse gas emissions makes sense for investors. (Reuters

The U.K. home secretary Theresa May has urged police to investigate claims that child survivors of the Nepal earthquake and other vulnerable children are being sold to British families to work as domestic slaves. (Guardian

Russia said on Monday that Turkey should stop its interference into the internal affairs of neighboring nations and support of terrorism. (Reuters

From prison camps in North Korea to mass graves in Burundi, satellite images have become a powerful tool to monitor conflicts and abuses of human rights. (Guardian


Forget about antiquities; what about Palmyra’s civilians? (IRIN

Balancing Economic Potential of Marine and Social Life (Inter Press Service

65% of All Humans Will Live in Cities by 2050. The UN Wants You To Be Prepared (UN Dispatch

Expat pay in the aid sector: your responses (Guardian

How Europe built fences to keep people out (Reuters

Teacher Turnover and Student Performance (Development Impact

Why haven’t more Latin American countries joined EITI? (Devex

Several African public figures (and associates) mentioned in the Panama Papers (Africanist Perspective

Important lessons for Africa as strong institutions win out over a strong man (The Conversation

How to Save Europe From Itself (Foreign Policy


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