Big HIV Prevention Breakthrough

This counts as good news. “Two large trials of a vaginal ring that slowly secretes an antiretroviral drug into the vagina found that it reduced infections by about 30%. The placebo-controlled trials involved a total of 4500 women in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa. ‘It’s an enormous victory,’ says Sharon Hillier, a reproductive infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania who helped coordinate ASPIRE, the larger of the two studies—and has led trials of similar interventions that failed…The ring, a silicon band that releases an experimental antiretroviral called dapivirine, was tested in South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe among 18- to 45-year-olds. The ASPIRE trial found 27% efficacy overall, while the second trial—called The Ring Study—found a 31% efficacy.’” (Science Mag

This counts as bad news…”The oceans are rising faster than at any point in the last 28 centuries, and human emissions of greenhouse gases are primarily responsible, scientists reported Monday. They added that the flooding that is starting to make life miserable in many coastal towns — like Miami Beach; Norfolk, Va.; and Charleston, S.C. — was largely a consequence of those emissions, and that it is likely to grow worse in coming years. The scientists confirmed previous estimates, but with a larger data set, that if global emissions continue at a high rate over the next few decades, the ocean could rise as much as three or four feet by 2100, as ocean water expands and the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica begin to collapse.” (NYT

This counts as ‘we need to see it to believe it’ news…”The US and Russia have reached a draft agreement on the cessation of hostilities between the Syrian government and opposition groups.The proposal on Monday calls on all sides to sign up to the agreement by midday on Friday February 26 and to cease hostilities by midnight the following day…A statement issued by the US State Department said it was working with Moscow to “develop procedures” to ensure those abiding by the deal are not attacked by the Russian armed forces or the US-led coalition.” (Al Jazeera

Comings and Goings…President Obama nominated career foreign service officers Christine Ann Elder to serve as his ambassador to Liberia and Elizabeth Holzhall Richard to be US Ambassador to Lebanon


At least four people were killed in fresh attacks ahead of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival in Bujumbura Monday, his first visit to Burundi since a crisis began in April last year. (AFP

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was detained for the fourth time in eight days on Monday, after he failed to unseat long-serving President Yoweri Museveni in an election observers say was marked by intimidation and lacked transparency. (Reuters

A new humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Malakal, South Sudan, just days after an attack on a Protection of Civilians camp by government soldiers – the challenge of caring for tens of thousands of survivors. (IRIN

A Chadian student was shot dead and five others wounded Monday when soldiers broke up a protest over a girl’s brutal gang rape, as demonstrations showed no sign of abating ahead of a presidential vote. (AFP

Ethiopian security forces are carrying out a relentless and bloody crackdown on peaceful protests in the Oromia region, at a cost of scores of lives, Human Rights Watch reported Monday. (AFP

Some 1.5 million Somalis have lost access to healthcare over the last two years as around 10 hospitals have closed or cut back their services due to aid shortages, relief agencies said on Monday. (Reuters

Voting in Niger’s presidential and legislative elections stretched into a second day on Monday in areas where logistical problems prevented polling the previous day, delaying the preliminary election results. (Reuters

As the rainy season approaches in Wajir in northeastern Kenya, MSF is warning that the substandard water and sanitation situation is creating ideal conditions for a future increase in cholera cases. (MSF

Democratic Republic of Congo will allow some 150 children adopted by foreign parents, mostly Americans, to leave the country after spending more than two years in legal limbo, the interior ministry said. (Reuters

Four men attacked a taxi driver working for ride hailing company Uber and torched his car in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, police said on Monday, the latest incident of growing harassment against Uber drivers in the East African nation. (Reuters

South Africa will cut its maize forecast in the face of drought and late plantings that will hurt yields, a Reuters poll of five traders showed on Monday. (Reuters


The Islamic State group and other jihadists on Monday cut a vital supply route linking the west of Syria’s second city Aleppo with other government-held territory, a monitoring group said. (AFP

A U.N. official is appealing to Arab League delegates for more funding for Libya, saying the current funds available for the violence-wracked North African country will barely last till the end of March. (AP

Islamic State militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul are manipulating the exchange rate between U.S. dollars and Iraqi dinars to squeeze money out of local people as coalition bombers attack the group’s finances. (Reuters

Condemning rampant war crimes in Syria’s nearly five-year-old war, a report by a UN commission of inquiry said Monday that accountability for these horrors must be part of the peace process. (AFP


Authorities in a north Indian state on Monday began lifting curfews in key towns and protesters gradually removed roadblocks after 12 people died in clashes during their demonstrations for government benefits. (AP

Much of New Delhi’s water supply was cut off after members of an influential Indian caste sabotaged a canal as part of protests seeking preferential treatment that have killed at least 19 people. (AFP

India’s leadership is sorely needed in the Asia-Pacific region, and the United States is prepared to cooperate with India “as never before” on the high seas, a top U.S. diplomat said Monday. (AP

An editor of one of Bangladesh’s most respected newspapers sparked an uproar by admitting that 8 years ago, he published unsubstantiated reports alleging corruption by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, then in the opposition. He says the military fed him the information and pressured him to print it. (AP

A three-day gunbattle in the disputed region of Kashmir ended on Monday when Indian security forces killed two more militants who stormed a government building, a senior police official said. (Reuters

The Americas

The Bolivian president’s attempt to amend the constitution, enabling him to run for a fourth term, seems headed for a defeat, according to an early vote count of Sunday’s referendum. (VOA

A team of U.S. government disease detectives launched an eagerly anticipated research project in Brazil designed to determine whether the Zika virus is really causing a surge of serious birth defects. (NPR

The ex-beauty queen wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has blasted the Mexican government in a TV interview, claiming that they turned her loving husband into the world’s most wanted criminal. (AFP

Cuban President Raul Castro announced Monday that he is dispatching 9,000 soldiers to help keep the Zika virus out of Cuba, calling on the entire country to help kill the mosquito that carries the disease. (AP

The scale of what Venezuela is going through is unclear. Officials alerted the World Health Organization to the first case of Zika here in November but did not release statistics or reach out to the public until two months later. (AP

…and the rest

The leader of a rising German nationalist party on Monday rejected accusations that her rhetoric has helped stoke anti-migrant hatred, a day after a fire at a former hotel being turned into a refugee home. (AP

Six migrants were given a month in prison on Monday for occupying a ferry in northern France, while charities warned thousands could be affected by plans to evict half of the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais. (AFP

Police detained 501 migrants over the weekend who cut their way through Hungary’s steel border fence, the highest number since Hungary sealed off its southern borders in mid-October. (Reuters

Severe water shortages caused by El Nino are putting millions of lives at risk and forcing mass migration as people search for water says international humanitarian aid agency World Vision.

Germany fears xenophobia is taking root in its former communist east, where Islamophobic movement PEGIDA was born and where two recent incidents involving anti-migrant mobs shocked the country. (AFP


Susan Benesch and the fight against “dangerous speech” that leads to genocide. (Global Dispatches Podcast

The UN Human Right’s Council’s Latest Report on Syria is as Terrible as You Would Expect (UN Dispatch

Even good leaders should know when to quit (FT

Uneducated Women Entrepreneurs Defeat Poverty (Inter Press Service

Biometrics in aid and development: game-changer or trouble-maker? (Guardian

Here are America’s five best options for Syria. They’re all terrible. (Vox

Why deportations are hard to do (IRIN

Does the international criminal court help to end conflict or exacerbate it? (Guardian

Where are the ‘Digital Dividends’ from the ICT Revolution? The new World Development Report (From poverty to power

Why Zika-Spreading Mosquitoes Love Feet And Ankles (Goats and Soda

NGOs, Like Ceasar’s Wife, Should Be Above Suspicion: Why Indian Nonprofits Need To Take Transparency More Seriously (GAB

Can China revive the G20? (The Interpreter

Workfare and the politics of dignity (Rachel Strohm

How does gender affect international humanitarian law and humanitarian protection? (ATHA Humanitarian Assistance Podcast )