“From Cairo to Cape Town” — African Countries Take Step Towards Huge Free Trade Zone

It will be called TFTA — the Tripartite Free Trade Area. “Representatives from 25 African nations signed an initial agreement on Wednesday to create a free-trade zone linking three economic blocs that would unite 57 percent of the continent’s population. The deal would combine the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the South African Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC)…The alliance would bring together more than 60 percent of the continent’s gross domestic product, valued at $1.2 trillion, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on the last day of a week-long conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/1B2nrys)

But is it sure to disappoint? Some commentary and analysis from Quartz (QZ http://bit.ly/1L28O1l)

Will the EPA Start to Regulate Airline Emissions? The US Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said greenhouse gases from aircraft endanger human health, taking the first step toward regulating emissions from the domestic aviation industry…The “endangerment finding” by the Environmental Protection Agency would allow the administration to implement a global carbon dioxide emissions standard being developed by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1f2UiZX)

“Quote” of the Day: “The very concept of aid is, and I believe should be, a constant exploration of societies and self. For foreigners working to supply aid outside of their own countries, not to mention outside of their own homes, or in the mirror itself, it is a constant struggle.” – Sean Penn in the Huffington Post http://huff.to/1GedU6m


Burundi’s embattled president has officially delayed the presidential election, after weeks of protests sparked by his decision to run for a third term. (VOA http://bit.ly/1FS21Qh) 

Hundreds of thousands of people risk starvation in South Sudan where a resurgence in fighting and deepening food shortages have left some with nothing to eat except water lilies, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1B2npXr)

Dozens of armed men suspected of being Islamist militants attacked a police base in southern Mali early on Wednesday, security sources said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1B2nryG)

It’s estimated thousands of children in Ghana work in dangerous, unlicensed gold mines. A new report says they risk injury when mines collapse and are exposed to dust and mercury poisoning. (VOA http://bit.ly/1FS1HkE)

1-800-SUDAN…A Filipino teenager has been flown to Sudan to undergo life-saving heart surgery at a charity-run hospital that has become a world leader in complex heart operations. (AFP http://bit.ly/1KpYuz4)

Improving access to education, healthcare and jobs for women in the arid Sahel region of Africa could play an important part in rolling back poverty in one of the world’s most underdeveloped areas, the U.N. special envoy to the region said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1B2nt9E)

Public outcry and parliament have forced Malawian President Peter Mutharika to suspend the sale of a state-owned bank which has been weighed down by bad loans. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MonNjB) 

South Africa’s poultry industry could lose close to $72 million in turnover and about 6,500 jobs as a result of an agreement to allow duty-free imported chicken from the United States, an industry association said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Kq1gnZ)

U.N. forces have deployed ground troops, attack helicopters and drones to support a campaign by Democratic Republic of Congo’s army against rebels in the northeast of the country, the head of its U.N. peacekeeping mission said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1FS9qPt) 

A child forced to marry at just 13 who then poisoned her 35-year-old husband and three friends is set to be freed in Nigeria, lawyers and a judge said Wednesday, amid fears for her safety and future. (AP http://yhoo.it/1f2UkB6) 


Egyptian security forces have arrested dozens of activists ahead of a general strike planned for Thursday, activists and security sources say, part of what the activists describe as an unrelenting crackdown on dissent. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1MonIMC)

Police in Egypt say they have foiled an attempted suicide bomb attack at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, one of the country’s most popular tourist sites. (BBC http://bbc.in/1L27oUH )

Tunisia’s navy on Wednesday rescued 356 migrants including a two-month-old baby girl off the country’s southeastern coast near Ben Guerdane, the Red Crescent said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1f2UmZS) 

Kuwait is to send $300 million in humanitarian aid to conflict-hit neighbours Iraq and Yemen, the foreign ministry announced Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1f2UlFj) 

Egypt’s antiquities minister issued orders on Wednesday to intensify security at antiquities sites across the country in coordination with the Interior Ministry, in comments reported by state news agency MENA on Wednesday.  (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FS9sXI) 

On a backstreet in Jerusalem sit the sparse offices of B’Tselem, an Israeli organization that has long been a bane of successive governments, tirelessly flagging military abuses in occupied Palestinian territory. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FS9tuF) 


Recent quakes in Nepal and Malaysia have shaken the Philippines into action, with authorities scaling up earthquake preparedness drills and safety inspections of public buildings in the capital Manila. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1MonOEa)

A $6 billion hydropower dam planned for a site in Myanmar’s Shan state is drawing fierce opposition from locals who say it will flood an area nearly the size of Singapore, destroying 100 communities. (VOA http://bit.ly/1B2o9Mq)

Law enforcement officials must be prepare for a long struggle in the campaign to get corrupt officials who have fled abroad back to China, with 214 suspects being returned to the country as of the end of May, the Ministry of Public Security said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1f2Uhp8)

A joint South Korean-World Health Organization mission studying an outbreak of MERS recommended on Wednesday that schools be reopened, as they were unlikely to spread the disease, just as school boards recommended more be shut. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FS9ui8)

The Americas

The European Union has committed $133 million in investment support for Latin America and Caribbean nations at the start of their two-day summit. (AP http://yhoo.it/1FS9zCG)

Paraguay’s government has been advised to take “precautionary measures” to ensure the health of a 10-year-old girl who is pregnant after allegedly being raped by her stepfather. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KpYtLx)

The progress that Latin America has made in reducing child mortality is cited by international institutions as an example for cutting the under-five mortality rate by two thirds. But this overall picture conceals huge differences between and within countries in the region. (IPS http://bit.ly/1GecXuQ)

A US federal appeals court upheld a controversial Texas state law requiring nearly all facilities that perform abortions to operate like hospital-style surgical centers. (NPR http://n.pr/1TbnbmF) 

…and the rest

Almost 170 million youth are trapped in child labor, deprived of education and facing a life without decent jobs, the International Labor Organization said on Wednesday. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1f2UkkC)

A global climate agreement being negotiated this week in Bonn is supposed to apply to all countries, from large industrialized economies to tiny island nations. (AP http://yhoo.it/1f2Ungo)

As the United Nations continues its negotiations to both define and refine a new set of Sustainable Development Goals before a summit meeting of world leaders in September, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed support for a new “International Decade for Water for Sustainable Development.” (IPS http://bit.ly/1GecUzg)


Inside Al Jazeera: Is the pan-Arab channel a propaganda outfit or an essential voice? (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/1KpWLtu)

This is not the Middle Eastern order you are looking for (Monkey Cage http://wapo.st/1MID6nW)

The microfinance delusion: who really wins? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1f2PAM3)

Time for a new deal for Middle East’s displaced? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1f2Qh81)

Why Are Threats to Civil Society Growing Around the World? (IPS http://bit.ly/1FRZGol)

All in the Family: Explaining the Persistence of Female Genital Cutting in West Africa (Marc Bellemare http://bit.ly/1GedlcI)

India’s domestic workers need a break (Guardian http://bit.ly/1f2Q3xE)

Is World Cup Game Over for Qatar? (VOA http://bit.ly/1TbmqKe)

Justine Greening: The days of ignoring poverty because it’s far away are over (Guardian http://bit.ly/1FS6sL4)

Loan Guarantees and Financial Inclusion in the Developing World (CFR http://on.cfr.org/1QMdK9h)

What future for Development Advocacy? Three Paradoxes and Seven Directions (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1IFJT32)

Turning the Digital Revolution into a Health Revolution to Achieve the SDGs (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1FJs8tv

TB–The Forgotten Health Crisis, by Eric Goosby. (The Hill http://bit.ly/1L27dbP )