USA is Pulling Military from the Ebola Fight

At one point nearly 3,000 troops were deployed to the region. “President Barack Obama is set to announce on Wednesday that he will bring back nearly all of the 1,300 U.S. troops deployed in West Africa to fight the Ebola epidemic by April 30, the White House said late on Tuesday. Obama, who was excoriated last fall for a slow start to his Ebola outbreak response, will hold a White House event to showcase how U.S. leadership helped stem the epidemic, which has killed almost 9,000 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The number of new cases each week has dropped to about 150 in recent reports, down from more than 1,000 new cases per week in October, the White House said.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1E66qjc)

Just in time for the new season of House of Cards…Netflix began selling its Internet video service in Cuba in what appears to be a largely symbolic move driven by the recent loosening of U.S. restrictions on doing business with the communist-run island. (AP http://yhoo.it/1ATjvig)

Bend it like…David Beckham has marked his 10th year as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF by setting up a new personal fund, saying he wants to “raise millions” to help protect the world’s most vulnerable children. (AP http://yhoo.it/1vgC3lq)

Humanity Affirming Missive of the Day: Slain aid worker Kyla Mueller wrote an extraordinarily beautiful letter while being held captive by ISIS. She was confirmed to have been killed today. (Vox http://bit.ly/1E65yv9)

Stat of the Day: The number of deaths from Ebola has risen to 9,152, a sharp increase following weeks in which the outbreak appeared to be weakening. (VOA http://bit.ly/1E3nzdp)

Nigeria/Boko Haram

The UN food agency on Tuesday voiced concern for the 125,000 Nigerian refugees who have fled to southeast Niger, where Boko Haram militants have launched attacks in recent days. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1DfPwAC)

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic extremists have abducted about 30 people including eight Cameroonian girls and killed seven hostages in two bus hijackings in Cameroon and Nigeria, Cameroon residents and a Nigerian intelligence officer said Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1y7wt4Y)

The decision to postpone Nigeria’s elections by six weeks has met with criticism at home and abroad. Voters in Nigeria say they are disappointed. (VOA http://bit.ly/1vgC5tH)

Niger’s parliament unanimously authorized sending troops to battle Boko Haram militants as part of a regional force, lawmakers said after a vote late Monday. (VOA http://bit.ly/1y7wupH)

Africa

International troops clashed with ex-Seleka rebels in Central African Republic Tuesday, just a day after at least 10 villagers were killed in a new flare up of violence. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ztxvsx)

Rebels in South Sudan stormed towns in two states on Tuesday and were repulsed, the army said, barely a week after signing another ceasefire deal with the government that was meant to end 15 months of conflict. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1DfPxo3)

International donors at a conference in Nairobi have pledged an additional $529 million toward humanitarian relief in war-torn South Sudan. But despite the outpouring of goodwill at the conference, there was an undercurrent of frustration with the country’s leadership for prolonging the civil conflict. (VOA http://bit.ly/1vgBV5x)

Around a dozen Guineans were wounded Monday in clashes with police after the arrest of an imam who led funeral prayers for a suspected victim of Ebola. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ATk5N0)

Rights activists have demanded the release of a former government minister and a top army officer they say are being held without charge by Gambian secret police. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1vgBYhJ)

Rebel fighters in South Sudan bombarded government positions Tuesday in the oil town of Bentiu, a day after the UN launched a $1.8 billion aid appeal to stave off famine in the war-wracked country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1y7vdPk)

Nearly a quarter of a million people have been affected by the devastating floods that ripped through Malawi a month ago, and with rains still falling, many of the 230,000 who were forced to flee their homes have been unable to return and rebuild their lives, the UN said. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Df09ne)

In Guinea, where West Africa’s Ebola outbreak began, hostility towards aid workers – fuelled by ever more far-fetched rumours – is undermining efforts to contain the deadly virus. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1y7wLZH)

Some 16,600 children are registered as having lost one or both parents, or their primary caregivers to Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but less than 3 per cent have had to be placed outside family or community care. (UNICEF http://bit.ly/1CdSELK)

More than 300 people, including opposition leaders, remain in detention in Democratic Republic of Congo after protests last month, reinforcing concerns that President Joseph Kabila plans to cling to power beyond his legal mandate. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1y7wG8s)

A British gold mining firm whose hired police officers​ were involved in an incident that saw ​Tanzanian villagers killed and injured has settled claims brought against it in the London high court. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1DB7nSV)

MENA

The Islamic State group’s affiliate in Egypt has released video purporting to show the beheading of eight Bedouin men it accused of working for the Egyptian and Israeli armies. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Df0bve)

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency says authorities have executed a Syrian man convicted of smuggling a large quantity of amphetamine pills. (AP http://yhoo.it/1DeZMcg)

Human Rights Watch urged the Louvre and Guggenheim museums Tuesday to pressure the United Arab Emirates to end worker abuse on a project that will host branches of the institutions. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1E3nuX7)

The offensive by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq has displaced an estimated 2 million people, and psychiatrists say as many as half of them may be suffering psychological effects from their ordeal. (VOA http://bit.ly/1DfPU1L)

Asia

An upstart anti-establishment party crushed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in a Delhi state election on Tuesday, smashing an aura of invincibility built around Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he swept to power last year. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1CdSIes)

Malaysia’s highest court has upheld a sodomy conviction against Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, rejecting a final appeal in a case dating back almost seven years. (VOA http://bit.ly/1M9IyB5)

Nepal formed two commissions Tuesday that would probe crimes committed during a decade-long communist insurgency and investigate the cases of hundreds of people who disappeared during the period, a government minister said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1y7v6Do)

Thailand and Myanmar are working on big plans to boost trade and entice businesses to locate along their long land border. The influx of money is reshaping a region that has suffered from long-running ethnic conflicts. (VOA http://bit.ly/1DeTOIl)

Ten infants and young children died in a single night in an overcrowded state-run hospital in northeastern Bangladesh, prompting authorities to investigate whether staff negligence was involved, officials said Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1DeZFxe)

The U.N. Human Rights office said on Tuesday it was “disappointed” by the Malaysian Federal Court ruling upholding the conviction on sodomy charges of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1y7viCD)

East Timor’s president chose former health minister Rui Araujo to be the new prime minister of the poverty-stricken country, the government said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1y7wAO8)

Myanmar troops fought Kokang ethnic rebels in clashes near the Chinese border that the government says the guerrillas provoked, state media reported Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1E3niqU)

The Americas

Mexican officials have been approached by more than 100 people who fear their relatives are among 60 bodies found rotting in an abandoned crematorium in Acapulco, authorities said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1M9IjWK)

Police in Haiti have clashed with anti-government protesters angry about the high cost of fuel. Several people were injured as police moved in to clear roadblocks set up in the capital, Port-au-Prince. (BBC http://bbc.in/1CdSBj0)

An Argentine prosecutor’s mysterious death days after he made criminal charges against President Cristina Fernandez is part of an attempt to unseat her and bring neoliberals back to power, a senior government official said”. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1M9Ivp5)

Condoms are the latest item to become scarce — and costly — in Venezuela. Once easy to find, condoms disappeared from pharmacy shelves as the year started, along with many food and cleaning products. (AP http://yhoo.it/1vgC5d7)

The HIV pandemic in the Caribbean is fueled by a range of social and economic inequalities and is sustained by high levels of stigma, discrimination against the most at-risk and marginalized populations and persistent gender inequality, violence and homophobia. (IPS http://bit.ly/1ztxiFL)

A plan to reduce climate-changing emissions from Brazil’s steel industry has failed, causing the amount of carbon pollution produced by the sector to double in less than a decade, researchers said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1DfPlVZ)

Opinion/Blogs

Why democracy may have to wait in the Central African Republic (IRIN http://bit.ly/1y7fIa7)

People Power, the Solution to Climate Inaction (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1Df05DZ)

Can Somalia Pull Out of Perpetual Crisis? (VOA http://bit.ly/1ztxPaA)

When did extreme poverty end in today’s “rich world”? (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1vhtQh1)

Economics has an Africa problem (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1zTUccY)

Key Economic Debates in Nigeria’s Election (Sahel Blog http://bit.ly/1zTUhgT)

Things You Can’t Say in Burma (Wronging Rights http://bit.ly/1MaD214)

Making Sense of the Decision to Postpone Nigeria’s February 14 Elections (An Africanist Perspective http://bit.ly/1zTUrVr)

Debunking 4 arguments in favour of voluntourism (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1MaD6xX)

Research/Reports

Safety Nets in Africa: Effective Mechanisms to Reach the Poor and Most Vulnerable (World Bank http://bit.ly/1E3pdLZ)

Discussion

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