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News in the Humanosphere: Faltering Zimbabwe paralyzed by general strike

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, July 2011. Credit: Al Jazeera English

A general strike paralyzed Zimbabwe on Wednesday as shops and businesses shut down, public transport came to a halt and children were turned away from school. Across the country, people protested against President Robert Mugabe’s 36-year rule, some by staying away from work, others by blocking roads and burning tires. Police responded by firing tear gas at any gatherings. A spiraling economic crisis means that Zimbabwe has run out of money. The regime can no longer pay civil servants or teachers and strict limits have been imposed on the amount that ordinary people can withdraw from bank accounts. (Telegraph

U.S. slaps sanctions on North Korean leaders…The Obama administration on Wednesday announced it was imposing sanctions on North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, personally, blacklisting the unpredictable ruler for human rights abuses for the first time as his reclusive government aggressively presses forward with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The State Department took the unusual step of naming Mr. Kim and 10 other senior officials it said were responsible for grave human rights abuses in a five-page report detailing repression in North Korea.” (NYT

A (brief) respite is possible…The Syrian military declared a unilateral, three-day ceasefire for the entire country on Wednesday, coinciding with the start of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, state media reported. (AP

Quote of the day: “The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein, I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.” Former British prime minister Tony Blair in response to the Chilcot inquiry’s findings. (AFP


Two Dutch soldiers were killed and another seriously injured during a training exercise in Mali on Wednesday afternoon, the latest casualties in a mission that has become the most deadly place for United Nations peacekeepers to serve. (Reuters

Cameroon says Boko Haram fighters attacked a command post on its northern border with Nigeria. The attack followed a series of targeted military operations in the area that the government says destroyed at least 10 bomb-making laboratories. (VOA

Authorities in Gambia have sacked 27 government officials including 10 permanent secretaries on suspicion of having fraudulently acquired official cars and other items, state television said. (Reuters

Mass killings, rape, torture, abductions and forced cannibalism have led to an increase in mental illness in South Sudan, with patients routinely housed in prisons due to an “almost total” absence of mental health care, a rights group said on Wednesday. (Reuters

At least 12 people were killed in Central African Republic in fighting between two factions of a former rebel group in the center of the town of Bambari, medical and local sources said. (Reuters

The World Health Organization said that it will launch emergency yellow fever vaccination campaigns along the border between Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Congolese capital Kinshasa next month. (Reuters

The Red Cross launched a $1.4 million emergency appeal Wednesday to fight the spread of yellow fever in Angola, which faces its worst outbreak in 30 years. (VOA

Political uncertainty over Democratic Republic of the Congo’s next presidential election could spiral into a severe crisis and United Nations peacekeepers are developing contingency plans for widespread violence, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned. (Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday toured a memorial for victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda during the first visit by a sitting Israeli prime minister to sub-Saharan Africa in three decades. (AP

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Africa on Thursday, seeking to boost his country’s economic influence in a region long dominated by rival Asian power China. (Yahoo


The long-awaited British inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq has been published. Led by former senior civil servant John Chilcot, the report took over seven years to prepare and runs over 2 million words. The report did not analyze the legality of the invasion and instead focused on the British decision-making process in the run-up to the war in 2003. (AP

Israel relaunched the bidding process to build 42 new homes in a settlement in the occupied West Bank where a Palestinian stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli last week, an NGO said. (AFP

A Baghdad bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed at least 250 people, officials said, raising the toll of what was already one of the deadliest attacks in Iraq. (AFP

Human Rights Watch warned on Wednesday that European Union measures on curbing the flow of migrants from Libya to the bloc risk condemning asylum-seekers to “violent abuse” by armed groups in the North African nation. (VOA

The U.N. envoy to Libya said Wednesday that the Cabinet based in the North African country’s eastern region is not internationally recognized, remarks that were in response to criticism leveled the previous day by the premier of that government. (AP


President Barack Obama, calling Afghanistan’s security situation precarious, said on Wednesday he will keep U.S. troop levels there at 8,400 through the end of his administration rather than reducing them to 5,500 by year’s end as previously planned. (Reuters

The bloody weekend attack by Bangladeshi militants that left more than two dozen dead was also an attack on the country’s vital garment industry. (AP

Sri Lanka’s government plans to set up a special court by next year to hear allegations of abuses during the country’s decades-long civil war, the foreign minister said Wednesday. (AP

A U.N. panel says China has arbitrarily detained an American woman in violation of international human rights norms, bringing her case back into public attention ahead of a visit to Beijing by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week. (AP

More children are falling victim to contagious diseases in Muslim-majority Malaysia, worrying health authorities as parents reject immunization programs for fear the vaccines used infringe strict religious rules. (Reuters

North Korea released water from a dam near its border with the South without warning early Wednesday morning, increasing fears of floods in areas already hit by heavy rainfall in recent days. (VOA

The Americas

The Special Force against Drug Trafficking arrested 1,800 people in Bolivia and seized about 101 tons of drugs as part of the operations executed today across the South American country. (Prensa Latina

With one month to go to the start of the Rio Olympics in Brazil, the state of Rio de Janeiro is experiencing a financial crisis. (BBC

Trash and treasure in Brazil’s Jóquei landfill – in pictures (Guardian

…and the rest

European Union lawmakers have endorsed plans for a new border and coast guard agency to help manage thousands of people trying to reach Europe in search of sanctuary or jobs. (AP

A charity worker will stand trial in France in November on charges of falsely reporting being attacked by a couple shouting “Allahu Akbar,” the public prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday. (Reuters

The United States, Singapore, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Israel are getting the biggest bang for their buck in economic and digital innovation, according to a survey released Wednesday by the organizers of the Davos economic forum. (AP

Combined efforts to prevent further human suffering, strengthen resilience and safeguard livelihoods in the wake of El Niño’s devastating effects worldwide must be rapidly ramped-up by governments and the international community, U.N. leaders said. (FAO


Why is the rape crisis in rural India passing under the radar? (Guardian

Why Brexit is bad for NATO, Europe’s defence (AFP

Angus Deaton: Do we need to rethink the Robin Hood principle? (WEF

Good enough for the poor (WhyDev

#LintonLies: How Zambians Are Using Social Media To Talk Back (Goats and Soda

Louise Linton’s Zambia is not the Zambia I know (Guardian

4 lessons learned tackling tuberculosis in Syria (Devex

What happens to teenage migrants in Sicily? (IRIN

Great new 110 page guide to humanitarian campaigning (From Poverty to Power


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