Report: Big Tobacco Pays Big Bribes

A new BBC documentary has explosive new allegations of corruption facilitated by a huge global company. “British American Tobacco, one of Britain’s biggest companies, has been accused of bribing senior politicians and civil servants in a bid to sabotage anti-smoking laws. The allegations by whistleblowers from the company, and supported by court documents, relate to the company’s operations in several African countries. Paul Hopkins, who served in the Irish Special Forces before working for BAT, claims he broke the law for the tobacco firm. ‘I was a commercial hitman,’ he said in an interview broadcast on BBC One’s Panorama. Commenting on the practice of bribery, Mr Hopkins, who worked for BAT in Kenya for 13 years, said: ‘It was explained to me in Africa that’s the cost of doing business.’” (The Telgraph

It’s Official...Gayle Smith was –finally–confirmed as the new head of USAID. (NYT

Meme of the Day: #PopeBars. A photo of Pope Francis in CAR appears to show him holding a mic as a rapper would. This lead to all sorts of hilarity on the internets. Our fav: From @EweNitedNations

I love it when you call me Il Papa/Throw Your Hands in the air as if you’s a true prayer”.

World AIDS Day

With today marking World AIDS day, here are some stories on HIV/AIDS reported in the lead up to the occasion.

Efforts to get lifesaving antiretrovial drugs to HIV-positive patients in many sub-Saharan African countries are routinely failing at “the last mile”, an international medical group said on Monday. (AFP

UNICEF says the number of adolescents dying from AIDS has tripled over the last 15 years, most having acquired the disease when they were infants. (Al Jazeera

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, certain groups at high risk for HIV and AIDS in Kenya remain marginalized when it comes to accessing testing and treatment – LGBT. (VOA

Hunger and poverty are just some of the threats facing the AIDS orphans of Qudeni, a village that, like thousands of other villages in South Africa, is struggling not just with the virus but the aftermath of a generation of parents lost to AIDS. (Reuters

A look into HIV/AIDS hotspot Western Kenya and the efforts undertaken to reduce the spread and burden of it. (AFP

Ugandan health organizations are using peer counseling as a way to reach young people with HIV, and those who at the greatest risk. (Kep Correspondents

Climate Change Summit

Countries most vulnerable to climate change have seized the political initiative at the start of the UN climate talks in Paris by challenging the US, China and Europe to raise their ambitions and set a long-term temperature goal of 1.5C rather than the 2C target. (Guardian

The World Bank on Monday launched a $500 million market-based scheme designed to help developing countries pay for emission reductions and combat climate change. (Reuters

The U.N. climate conference in Paris is most likely humanity’s last chance to thwart global environmental disaster, Pope Francis said on Monday, warning the world was “at the limits of suicide.” (Reuters

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that climate-related disasters are taking an ever greater toll on the poor and can wipe out decades of development gains, as he launched a global partnership to boost the resilience of vulnerable communities. (TRF

Choking smog blanketed Beijing and much of northern China Monday as climate change talks opened in Paris and a new Chinese report raised the alarm about rising sea levels. (AFP

The fights against terrorism and global warming are closely linked, French President Francois Hollande said on Monday as world leaders met in Paris for climate change talks two weeks after deadly Islamist militant attacks in France’s capital. (Reuters

Tropical deforestation, a significant driver of climate change, could be cut in half by 2020 if countries follow Brazil’s example in protecting the rainforest with better law enforcement and more transparency, a study released on Monday said. (TRF


Gunmen in Burundi shot dead an army major and wounded the husband of the senate’s deputy speaker, police said Monday, the latest violence in near daily gun battles. (AFP

Clashes between rebels and soldiers in a town in eastern Congo killed at least 30 people, including civilians, rebels and a United Nations peacekeeper, the director of an activist group said Monday. (AP

Central African Republic: Pope Francis ventured into one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods on Monday to implore Christians and Muslims to end a spiral of hate, vendetta and bloodshed that has killed thousands over the past three years and divided a nation. (Reuters

A fresh wave of Burundian refugees has entered Uganda this month amid concerns that violence in Burundi is escalating. New arrivals say they fled after pro-government militia and security forces targeted their families. (VOA

The pieces continue to come together for implementing the peace agreement between South Sudan and rebels who have been opposing the government. (VOA

AU leaders in Zambia said ending FGM is a priority but governments must create and enforce laws to stop problem. (Al Jazeera

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe lashed out at “miserly” developed nations at the UN climate summit Monday, accusing them of trying to shift the burden for curbing carbon emissions onto poor countries. (AFP

African leaders called at a global climate summit Monday for the world to help save drought-stricken Lake Chad and avert an even greater flow of refugees fleeing to Europe. (AFP


A Jerusalem court found two Israelis guilty Monday of the burning alive of a Palestinian teen in the run-up to last year’s Gaza war, but held off on convicting the alleged ringleader, raising the risk of fresh tensions. (AFP

Russian air strikes in support of the Syrian government have killed more than 1,500 people, a third of them civilians, since they began two months ago, a monitor said Monday. (AFP


Thailand’s army on Monday detained two leaders of an opposition group who were planning to visit a public park dedicated to the monarchy that has been at the center of a corruption scandal involving the military government. (Reuters

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned on Monday of an imminent attack in the Afghan capital, saying it had received credible reports of a threat within the next two days, although it had no other details. (Reuters

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will meet President Thein Sein and military chief Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday, their first meeting since she won an historic election earlier this month, a senior government official said. (Reuters

Unrest over Nepal’s new constitution has led to severe shortages of fuel, food, medicines and vaccines, putting more than three million children at risk of disease during the harsh winter months, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said. (TRF

Developing countries need room to develop while fighting climate change, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi told delegates at the start of two weeks of U.N. talks in Paris on Monday. (Reuters

The Americas

The Brazilian state of Pernambuco has declared a state of emergency to help speed up the official response to Zika fever. The mosquito-borne virus from Africa has been linked to a spike in birth defects across the country. (BBC

A new Amnesty International report details El Salvador’s devastating abortion ban’s impact of a comprehensive ban that hits the young, poor and single hardest. (Guardian

Eight candidates in last month’s disputed presidential vote are demanding changes in Haiti’s electoral council and national police department. And if that doesn’t happen by next month, they are calling for a transitional government to oversee new general elections. (AP

The embattled speaker of Brazil’s House of Representatives has vehemently denied reports that a document seized in a corruption probe suggests he received nearly $12 million to support legislation favoring a top investment bank. (AP

Guatemalan prison officials say the number of people killed in a fight between inmates has risen to 16. (BBC

…and the rest

The European Union and United States should reach agreement next month on a new framework to replace the Safe Harbour pact enabling data transfers from Europe to the United States, European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told a newspaper. (Reuters


The subtle diplomatic genius of the Paris Climate Talks. (UN Dispatch

How Uganda’s economy has received a boost from hosting refugees (Quartz

Africa’s answer to 70-year old problem of how to beat repeat infections (The Conversation

The secretive trade agreements that could scupper climate change action​ (Guardian

Can Paris Climate Deal End Funding Drought to Help the Poor? (TRF

Climate pledges: Who’s doing what? (AFP

Can world leaders reach agreement on a deal to cut carbon emissions? (Guardian

The EU’s ‘short-sighted’ migration deal with Turkey (IRIN

How South Africa can spread renewable energy to low income areas (Quartz

It’s Getting Better All The Time (Foreign Policy

Is one continent, one country a viable strategy for Africa-China relations? (Africa is a Country

Saving the World, Startup-Style (NYT Magazine