Massive Protests in Venezuela

Could this be the end of Chavismo? “Venezuela’s opposition stepped up its push to remove leftist Pres. Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday with rallies that drew hundreds of thousands of protesters and calls for a general strike and march on the presidential palace. Enraged by last week’s suspension of their push for a referendum to remove Maduro and determined to end 17 years of socialism in the South American OPEC nation, Venezuela’s opposition has sharply ramped up tactics in recent days.In the restive city of San Cristobal, masked protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs in clashes with security forces and attacked the local headquarters of the electoral council. In Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second largest city, five people were injured, one with a bullet wound, opposition activists said. Maduro, the unpopular 53-year-old successor of Hugo Chavez who has presided over an unprecedented economic crisis in Venezuela, accuses them of seeking a coup with U.S. help. (NBC

And Now, Gambia…”Gambia says it is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court in The Hague — the third nation to do so this month. On Oct. 12, Burundi, whose president is being investigated by the ICC, voted to withdraw from the tribunal. About a week later, South Africa announced it had submitted a written notice to the U.N. saying it intended to leave the ICC. South Africa previously failed to honor an ICC arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted in 2009 on charges that he committed war crimes and genocide in Darfur.” (NPR

Harrowing discovery…The French aid group Doctors without Borders said Wednesday it had found a pile of 25 migrants who died in apocalyptic conditions, perishing in a pool of fuel and seawater aboard a crowded dinghy off Libya. (AFP

Stat of the day: More than 40% of female MPs interviewed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union said they had received threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction while serving their terms, including threats to kidnap or kill their children. (Guardian

Stat of the day #2: The global gap in earnings between men and women will not be closed for another 170 years if current trends continue, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. (AP


South African police on Wednesday fired stun grenades to disperse student protesters outside parliament as the finance minister delivered a speech warning of the country’s weakening economy. (AFP

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said Wednesday it had negotiated the release of 145 child soldiers from two rebel groups in South Sudan. (AFP

Eight democracy activists were arrested in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday before a planned demonstration against the delay of the presidential election, fellow activists said. (Reuters

African states unhappy with the International Criminal Court should work to reform it from within rather than pulling out, Botswanan foreign minister Pelomoni Venson-Moitoi, a candidate to become the next African Union chief, said. (Reuters

Ethiopia on Wednesday denied that a string of withdrawals of troops from towns in Somalia were connected to the state of emergency declared in response to nearly a year of anti-government protests. (AFP

A spokesman for South Sudan’s president has said a committee is looking at whether the war-torn country should add three or four more states to its current total of 28. (VOA

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has requested lawmakers to approve a plan to obtain 30 billion dollars in foreign loans to finance key projects and plug budget deficits in the next three years. (AFP

Ethiopia’s government has ruled out holding new nationwide elections to address the grievances behind nearly a year of deadly protests. But the opposition says the changes the government is undertaking are not good enough. (VOA

South Africa’s Public Protector, a constitutionally-mandated anti-graft watchdog, confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation into possible undue political influence by wealthy friends of President Jacob Zuma was final. (Reuters

Foreign food businesses attacked during recent protests by the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia face a tough choice to stay or leave and lose their investment. (Guardian

Angola’s Supreme Court has asked President José Eduardo dos Santos to respond to an inquiry on why he appointed his daughter as head of the state oil firm, according to court documents. (Reuters


More than 3,300 fleeing Iraqis sought help from the government on day nine of its offensive to retake Mosul, the most for a single day so far, a minister said Wednesday. (AFP

Yemeni army units backed by an Arab coalition attacked positions held by Houthi rebels in a strategic province east of the capital on Wednesday, a day after a U.N. envoy delivered a peace proposal to the Iran-allied fighters that control Sanaa. (Reuters

Air strikes on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province hit a school and the surrounding area on Wednesday, killing at least 26 civilians including many children, a monitor and activists said. (AFP

Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday of the dangers civilians face from landmines placed by Islamic State fighters as battles continue to recapture control of areas in Syria and Iraq. (VOA

The U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO condemned as “inflammatory” a resolution approved Wednesday by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee on the status of conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls _ a document that Israel says denies Judaism’s deep ties to the holy site Temple Mount. (VOA


Refugees are no longer welcome in Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, or in Europe, even though the war at home is getting worse and record numbers of people are fleeing their homes due to violence. The government is ill-equipped to deal with the crisis. (IRIN

Mixed nationality families are being torn apart as Pakistan forces Afghan refugees back to their homeland, where the government and allies including the United States are battling the Taliban and other Islamist militant groups. (IRIN

In the last decade, as Gurgaon boomed, massive construction projects created tens of thousands of jobs making it a hotspot for migrant labor. But many projects have been stalled due to a slowdown in demand. The situation is no different in other parts of India. (VOA

The Americas

A young woman in Haiti was killed and five others injured when a fight broke out while authorities were distributing food to hurricane victims, government officials said Wednesday. (AP

The United States will for the first time abstain from a vote at the United Nations calling for an end to the US embargo against Cuba, Ambassador Samantha Power said Wednesday. (AFP

The Buenos Aires Herald published its last daily edition after 140 years on Wednesday, blaming tough economic conditions and a broad shift among readers to digital media. (Reuters

Scientists are planning to release an army of millions of modified mosquitoes in areas of Brazil and Colombia. They say the unusual approach is an attempt to provide “revolutionary protection” against mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and chikungunya. (BBC

…and the rest

French authorities declared the Calais migrant camp known as “the jungle” empty on Wednesday, after fires set by departing migrants accelerated plans to evacuate the burgeoning slum. (AP

European NGOs have rounded on EU governments over the growing use of foreign aid budgets to meet refugee costs at home, claiming that the strategy artificially inflates official figures for development assistance despite money never reaching the poor countries for which it was intended. (Guardian

A group of Syrian refugees protested on Wednesday at the European Asylum Support Office premises in a migrant camp on the Greek island of Chios, forcing its staff to evacuate, officials said. (Reuters

Researchers trying to spread a form of bacteria across mosquito populations in the hope that the microorganisms will interfere with the transmission of the Zika virus. (AP

Kyrgyzstan’s government resigned on Wednesday after President Almazbek Atambayev’s party quit the ruling majority coalition earlier this week, deepening a rift between the pro-Russian leader and his former allies. (Reuters


Why African states have started leaving the ICC (AP

Why do peace deals fall at the final hurdle? (IRIN

Will the closure of India’s sterilisation camps end botched operations? (Guardian