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News in the Humanosphere: South Africa’s political woes lead to junk status rating

South African President Jacob Zuma. (Credit: Linh Do/flickr)

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) downgraded South Africa’s rating to junk status, as the country’s currency continued to slide following a major cabinet reshuffle. In an unscheduled review that prompted a sell-off in South African assets, S&P cited the impact of divisions in the government of President Jacob Zuma that led to leadership changes, including the departure of former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.”This has increased the likelihood that economic growth and fiscal outcomes could suffer,” said S&P, which cut its rating by one notch to BB+ – its highest non-investment grade mark – and also assigned Africa’s most industrialized economy a negative outlook. (Al Jazeera

Things are getting tense in Kinshasa…Congolese police deployed heavily across the capital Kinshasa on Monday as opposition calls for a general strike after a breakdown in talks with President Joseph Kabila’s allies last week raised fears of renewed violence. Security forces in Democratic Republic of the Congo killed dozens in protests over election delays last year but the strike appeared to be peaceful on Monday morning as stores and banks were shuttered and streets quiet. (Reuters

Latest on the St. Petersburg metro bombing. (Radio Free Europe

Top Stories

Colombia’s Farc rebel group offered to help rebuild a town devastated by landslides that killed at least 254 people. (BBC

The United Nations World Food Program pledged $253 million to fund a five-year plan to end hunger in Zimbabwe, which is emerging from a devastating drought that left more than 4 million people in need of food aid last year. (Reuters

Leftist candidate Lenin Moreno appeared to have won Ecuador’s presidential election but his opposition rival refused to recognize the results, calling on his supporters to take to the streets to guard against fraud. (AP

An international human rights group accused Israel of barring foreign researchers from entering the Gaza Strip to document abuses, saying the restrictions call into question Israel’s stated commitment to investigating possible rights violations. (VOA

Mali’s opposition took tentative steps towards ending its boycott of a political summit enshrined in the country’s 2015 peace deal after the government extended a deadline to facilitate extra talks. (AFP

The Group of 77, joined by China, extended its support for a proposed new global compact on migrants. The UN General Assembly, which approved the relevant resolution last month, will soon begin a preparatory process for inter-governmental negotiations for “a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.” (IPS

An agreement between Italy and Libya to fight people-smuggling in the north African nation will lead to migrants being returned to camps where they are held against their will, extorted and abused, Doctors without Borders said on Monday. (Reuters

Major regional surveys say corruption in Asia remains a major development challenge for governments, although China’s crackdown on corruption under President Xi Jinping is seen as having an impact on public perceptions. (VOA

A compassionate refugee policy led Uganda to welcome 800,000 people escaping conflict and famine in South Sudan, but the strain is starting to show. (Guardian


Richard Haass admits he was probably being too candid. (Global Dispatches podcast

With Civilian Deaths Mounting in Mosul, Will the International Criminal Court Intervene? (UN Dispatch

This common argument for U.S. foreign aid is actually quite xenophobic (WaPo

Time for change: harnessing the potential of humanitarian cash transfers (ODI

The UN is pushing for a dual-track response to the food insecurity crises. Is this feasible? (Devex

Mali: Desperate or Dangerous? The Jihadist Merger (ISS

Do People Care More About Corruption Than They Used To? Evidence from the US and Germany (Global Anticorruption Blog

Ethiopia extends emergency as old antagonisms fester (IRIN

Cash or program aid – a delicate balance (Devpolicy

Ahead of the Brussels conference (UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon

Out of Sight, Exploited and Alone: A Joint Brief on the Situation for Unaccompanied and Separated Children in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia (Save the Children and IRC

World Bank Ignores Land Grabbing (Inter Press Service

The Political Economy of Underinvestment in Education (Roving Bandit


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