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News in the Humanosphere: Zimbabwe’s president faces biggest public challenge in a decade

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses the U.N. General Assembly. (UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

Organizers of a general strike against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe pledged on Thursday to continue action until he falls, as a spontaneous social media movement has coalesced into the biggest uprising against his rule in nearly a decade. Zimbabweans have been using the Internet in recent weeks to mobilize for street protests against Mugabe’s government, bypassing traditional opposition parties as anger grows over his administration’s handling of a failing economy. Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader at 92, has led the former British colony since independence in 1980. (Reuters

Hat in the UNSG ring…Costa Rica nominated former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres on Thursday to be the next U.N. Secretary-general, making her the 12th candidate to enter the race ahead of the first Security Council secret ballot later this month. (Reuters

Living in a material world…Madonna’s welcome in Kenya was in contrast to the criticism she faced after visiting Malawi in 2013 when she was accused by Malawi of expecting its government to be forever chained in an “obligation of gratitude” towards her for adopting two Malawian children and contributing to the construction of classrooms there. (TRF


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday denied reports of an attempt on his life in Kenya during his heavily guarded African tour this week in which he seeks allies after decades of relationships strained by the Palestinian issue. (AP

France sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the African country in 1994. (Reuters

For nearly two years, Ebola stormed across this corner of west Africa, devastating communities and health systems that were already among the world’s poorest. But within that public health emergency was a second crisis, acute but nearly invisible: one of mental health care. (Guardian

The United Nations’ food agency said on Thursday it needed $730 million over the next 12 months for relief in seven southern African countries hit hard by a blistering drought and faced a $610 million shortfall. (Reuters

South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Thursday it will receive additional funds to investigate whether President Jacob Zuma allowed the wealthy Gupta family to make government appointments. (Reuters


In a multi-pronged offensive, Syrian government forces and their allies pushed into an area north of the city of Aleppo on Thursday, threatening a key supply line for the city’s opposition-held quarters and setting off intense clashes with rebels, activists said. (AP

Italian navy officials say they have recovered 217 bodies from the hull of a migrant ship that sank off Libya last year in a tragedy that sparked the EU to beef up Mediterranean rescue operations. (AP

A growing number of Gazans fed up with their erratic electricity supply are turning to solar power in an area where the sun shines for the vast majority of the year. (AFP

Two years after Gaza’s last devastating conflict with Israel, rights groups vented frustration Thursday over the slow pace of reconstruction in the Palestinian territory and lack of war crimes prosecutions. (AFP

Amnesty International and the European Parliament on Thursday urged Bahrain to release a prominent human rights defender and denounced repression against freedom of expression in the tiny Gulf kingdom. (AFP


Water levels are starting to recede in central and eastern China Thursday following a week of heavy downpours that broke levees, flooded cities and villages, halted public transportation and left at least 181 people dead or missing. (AP

At least 24 people were injured in an explosion last night in a commuter train carriage in Taipei’s Songshan Railway Station, in what is believed to be the worst train blast in Taipei. (Straits Times

The Philippine president warned a Chinese drug suspect that he may die at Manila’s airport if he returns from abroad, in televised remarks Thursday that underscored the brazen rhetoric and methods he intends to use to fight the illegal drug trade. (AP

An assistant to a prominent Chinese rights lawyer was released on bail Thursday, just ahead of the anniversary of a national crackdown on rights defenders. (AP

After Thursday’s deadly attack by suspected Islamists near a mosque in Bangladesh where hundreds of thousands had gathered for Eid prayers, the country’s information minister says the government is not ruling out the possibility of a link between homegrown militant groups and transnational terror outfits. (VOA

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family have built a multi-million-dollar business empire spanning the impoverished country’s most lucrative sectors, a watchdog said Thursday, warning foreign investors against bankrolling his regime. (AFP

The Americas

The man who led efforts to impeach Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff has resigned as speaker of the lower house of congress. (AP

Several thousand people demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, calling for a “boycott” of the Olympic Games less than a month ahead of an event plagued by a financial crisis and crime. (AFP

Police in Rio de Janeiro state, which hosts next month’s Olympics, killed at least 645 people in the last year and 8,000 over the decade, a rights group said Thursday. (AFP

…and the rest

The British government has pledged £100 million to support programs to get more of the world’s poorest girls into school. (Guardian

Despite the many imponderables transfixing domestic politics, it already seems clear that Brexit will have a mainly detrimental effect on Britain’s international role, certainly in the short term. The U.K. is likely to have less aid money and less influence, while the success of the leave campaign could also signal a more inward-looking agenda. (Guardian

Serbia’s government on Thursday accused Hungary of enacting harsher border control policies and breaching international law by returning migrants across their shared frontier. (AP

The United States will provide nearly $23 million in additional humanitarian aid to help people affected by the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the State Department said on Thursday. (Reuters

An Italian man who the authorities say hurled racist abuse at a Nigerian couple and beat the husband when he came to his wife’s defense was charged on Thursday with manslaughter, after the husband died from his injuries. (NYT

After mass sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, the German Parliament on Thursday voted in favor of a stricter sexual-assault law that also could ease deportation rules for refugees convicted of sex-related offenses. (WaPo


If you have 20 minutes and want to understand the reasons why South Sudan’s 5th birthday will not be a celebration, have a listen to this Global Dispaches podcast interview with Oxfam’s humanitarian policy expert. (Global Dispatches

Is a Referendum a Valid Tool for Democracy? (IPS

Will Myanmar’s Rohingya finally become citizens in their own country? (IRIN

We won’t conquer the mountains of the SDGs without humility (Guardian

The U.N. and Global Economic Stagnation (IPS

Will Rio Games really be a catastrophe? (CNN

How Sudan’s diaspora uses social media to marshal Ramadan meals (Guardian

Millions Of Women Take A Long Walk With A 40-Pound Water Can (Goats and Soda

What’s next for Japanese aid in UHC push (Devex


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