Let the Games Begin

The Olympics are no boon for Rio. “No medals have yet been awarded, and Rio is already an exemplar of the Olympics’ disastrous model of urban development and planning.This is a disaster 30 years in the making. As with almost all host cities over the last couple of decades, Rio is unlikely to see any perceptible post-Olympics rise in growth, employment, wages, or tourism, and the gains that are made in terms of new transport infrastructure and housing are overwhelmingly focused on neighborhoods that are already super wealthy.” (QZ http://bit.ly/2aUuxOo)

On a  more positive note…”For the first time, a refugee team will compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It will comprise those two Syrian swimmers, an Ethiopian marathoner, two Congolese judokas and five South Sudanese middle-distance runners. They will represent more than 60 million refugees across the world, the highest total since World War II, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. They will provide a human story to a worldwide crisis. They will walk into Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night under the same flag not as victims, but as competitors.” (WaPo http://wapo.st/2aUvuq0)

New UN Report shows Yemen is a mess…”Yemen’s Houthi rebels used civilians as human shields, Islamic State militants in the country received an influx of cash and al Qaeda has improved its roadside bombs, according to a confidential report by United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on Yemen.The 105-page report to the U.N. Security Council, seen by Reuters on Thursday, also said a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia had violated international humanitarian law by bombing a civilian home in Al-Mahala village in May, and the monitors were investigating three other cases in which civilians were bombed.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/2axjSWI)

Tens of millions in aid money allegedly diverted to Hamas…Israeli prosecutors charged a World Vision aid worker on Thursday with diverting tens of millions of dollars meant for aid projects to Hamas. Mohammad El Halabi, who was arrested in June, is accused of infiltrating the aid group and running sham programs on behalf of Hamas in Gaza. World Vision issued a statement that said it is “shocked” by the charges and that there is no reason to believe they are true. (Humanosphere http://buff.ly/2aDPkRI)

Security Council Holds Second Straw Poll Today on the Next UN Secretary General (Xinhua http://bit.ly/2aUvTJ4)


Government soldiers and security forces in South Sudan executed civilians and gang-raped women and girls during and after ethnically-charged fighting last month in the capital Juba, the United Nations said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2aZ4LWz)

Floods and heavy rain in Sudan have killed 76 people and destroyed thousands of homes in recent days, the interior minister said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2apmLHp)

East African leaders will gather in Ethiopia on Friday to discuss a regional intervention force to back up UN troops in South Sudan, an initiative vehemently opposed by President Salva Kiir. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aX5k6o)

South Africa’s local elections have delivered a sharp setback to the African National Congress, as partial results showed falling support for the party that ended apartheid. (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/2aUw3ju)

Chad has banned opposition rallies planned for this weekend, ahead of Monday’s swearing-in ceremony for President Idriss Deby’s fifth term, the interior ministry announced in a decree. (AFP http://bit.ly/2aUwQkA)

The Malian defence ministry on Thursday admitted six soldiers have been missing since a deadly jihadist attack in July on a military base in the heart of the country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aUKpjZ)

The world must not forget about the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency on West Africa’s Lake Chad region where 100,000 people are uprooted, as fears of famine rise in northeast Nigeria, aid agencies said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ2BWJ)

The World Health Organization and its partners shipped more than 6 million yellow fever vaccines to Angola in February to quash an emerging epidemic, yet when they asked country officials the following month what happened to the vaccines, they discovered that about 1 million doses had mysteriously disappeared. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayDz4r)

World Breastfeeding Week has taken on special urgency in Cameroon where a recent government survey revealed that as many as 70 percent of babies are not exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life. Health workers in Cameroon are trying to get the message out. (VOA http://bit.ly/2apl3Wc)



Human rights activists on Thursday demanded clemency for a Senegalese maid who was trafficked to Saudi Arabia and may face the death penalty after being charged with killing her employer. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2ayXZqU)

The World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and UNICEF completed an urgent relief operation to provide a one-month ration of desperately-needed food and hygiene supplies to more than 75,000 people who are trapped along a land embankment, or berm, at the Syria-Jordan border.  (WFP http://bit.ly/2aUwYAG)

Cranes hoisted huge white bags with rice, lentils and dates from Jordan into tent camps on the Syrian side of a border berm — an unprecedented way of delivering U.N. aid to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians cut off from outside help for almost two months. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayXj4S)

The White House and Hillary Clinton faced questions Thursday about a $400-million cash payment to Iran early this year, there was a bit of shared incredulity that it has suddenly become an issue in the presidential campaign. After all, the White House’s spokesman noted, President Obama publicly announced the payment last January as part of the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. (WSJ http://lat.ms/2aUuUbU)

Shell companies created by the law firm behind the “Panama Papers” played a central role in alleged Italian bribes paid to Algerian officials for energy contracts, an investigative journalism group said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2ayDuOc)

A Turkish gay rights organization says a gay Syrian refugee has been found decapitated in Istanbul. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aZ4B1u)


A Chinese rights activist whose health is deteriorating after a three-month hunger strike should be released and given medical care, United Nations human rights experts said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2ayY4ec)

The death of a schoolgirl three days after she was set on fire by a stalker in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has sparked outrage from activists who said the law was failing victims of unwanted advances from men. (VOA http://bit.ly/2aZ2rPi)

Only 20 percent of Pacific Island households have access to electricity — and the cost is among the highest in the world, according to a senior World Bank official. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2axVfa6)

At least 30 children have died in northwestern Myanmar since mid-June from an unknown disease that causes breathing difficulty, officials said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aBDs5C)

Nepal’s new Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda named a minority leader to the key position of home minister in his first appointments on Thursday, seeking reconciliation after months of protests by southern plainsfolk over a new constitution. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ5yqB)

The Americas

Three experimental Zika vaccines protected monkeys against infection from the virus, an encouraging sign as research moves into studies in people. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayDwWj)

The United States is deeply concerned about Venezuela’s failure to embrace a robust dialogue to address its political crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ3ajD)

Colombia says it will deport more than 1,200 Cubans who’ve been stranded in the South American country. (CNN http://cnn.it/2ayEOQS)

Cuba says it has diagnosed the Zika virus in two people who appear to have contracted it inside the country, which has been largely successful in controlling the disease. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayE8eu)

The Colombian government and FARC rebel group will sign a peace agreement after the guerrillas hold a final internal conference to approve the historic deal, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2apmfJo)

...and the rest

Major progress has been made in curbing the number of children going to bed hungry, but a deadly combination of discrimination and poverty means some groups are being left behind, an international children’s charity said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ2P0b)

Italy’s anti-corruption authority is investigating Rome’s public rubbish management agency as concerns grow that waste problems plaguing the capital could turn critical. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2axUmi5)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday the government is compelled to overhaul state institutions after an abortive military coup attempted to topple him. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aBCDtL)


One of the most stable Democracies in Africa Faces A Tough Test. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2axjFmj)

Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Protection (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/2axTIRj)

How to tell humanitarian disaster stories responsibly (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aBCG8S)

World Vision “humanitarian hero” accused of funnelling millions to Hamas (IRIN http://bit.ly/2aUKlRh)

Look at 11 key challenges facing Nepal’s new government (AP http://yhoo.it/2apngBi)

Will US strikes on IS deepen Libya divisions? (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aX6w9K)

It was genocide with a template. We must seek justice for the Yazidi people (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aMnPrc)

Who and what is missing from the Yemen peace process? (IRIN http://bit.ly/2apl9gT)