Sexual Assaults in Germany with Global Implications

There is no indication that the people involved in this assault were refugees, but this horrible incident could put big pressure on German politicians like Angela Merkel who promote generous asylum policies. ”The tensions simmering beneath Germany’s willingness to take in one million migrants blew into the open on Tuesday after reports that scores of young women in Cologne had been groped and robbed on New Year’s Eve by gangs of men described by the authorities as having “a North African or Arabic” appearance. The German authorities expressed outrage at the attacks and called them unprecedented in scale and nature, saying hundreds of young men appeared to have participated.” (NYT

Stats of the Day: From the International Organization for Migration. “With 3,771 deaths, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, reports IOM in a year-end summary. By comparison 3,279 deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2014. Globally, IOM estimates that over 5,350 migrants died in 2015. IOM also recorded total sea arrivals to Europe in 2015 at 1,004,356 or almost five times the previous year’s total of 219,000.” (IOM

The Next Big Crisis in the Middle East? “A bomb attack on an Israeli army vehicle close to the Lebanon border has drawn a response from Israel, which shelled Lebanese territory. The militant Hezbollah movement said it had detonated a large explosive device beside armoured vehicles patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms area. Lebanese media said the retaliatory shellfire hit the village of Wazzani. Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah were heightened by the killing of a prominent militant in Syria last month.” (BBC

Hack for democracy…Hackers took over several police websites in Thailand, replacing the home pages with a message saying, “Failed Law. We want Justice!” (AP

Record breaking sports accomplishment of the day: A Mumbai teenager has become the first batsman to score 1000 runs in an officially recognized innings. (AP

Editor’s note: In a recent edition, I made light of a news story where Hillary Clinton warned of potential genocide of Yazidi minority in the Middle East. It was unquestionably wrong and I apologize for my poor judgement. – Tom


Burundi’s government will not take part in peace talks with the opposition scheduled for today, a senior official said, casting fresh doubt on efforts to end months of violence. (Reuters

Former Burundi defence minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye and four other defendants have pleaded guilty to involvement in a failed coup last May during a trial of 28 police and military figures, judicial sources said Tuesday. (AFP

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday she was not in Nigeria to negotiate a loan and urged Africa’s biggest economy to diversify its revenue to try and get out of an economic crisis fueled by the fall in oil prices. (VOA

Despite the high needs, provision of mental health services is limited in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Less than one percent of the government’s health budget goes towards it. There are six mental health hospitals in the entire country and only one mental health outpatient facility, in the capital, Kinshasa. (IRIN

Niger’s electoral register is good enough to enable the country to go ahead with an election on Feb. 21 as long as certain changes are made, the International Organization of the Francophonie said in a report. (Reuters

South Africa’s ruling ANC party on Tuesday launched legal action over a white estate agent’s Facebook comments that compared black beachgoers to monkeys in a growing row about post-apartheid racism. (AFP

Zimbabwe plans to import up to 700,000 tonnes of the staple maize this year to avert hunger as the El Nino weather pattern brings poor rains and affects crops in the Southern African nation, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday. (Reuters

Kenya is in the last stage of adopting genetically modified organisms if an application to secure a licence to supply cotton seeds is approved. (Daily Nation

Award-winning greenhouses designed by two Kenyan students allow farmers to control temperature, humidity and soil moisture on their mobile phones. (Guardian


Syria’s declared chemical arms arsenal has been completely destroyed capping more than two years of delicate work, the global watchdog charged with eliminating the world’s toxic weapons said Tuesday. (AFP

Kuwait became the latest in a growing list of Saudi Arabian allies to cut or downgrade ties with Iran, saying Tuesday that it has recalled its ambassador to Tehran in solidarity with the kingdom as tensions deepen. (WaPo

In the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, skeletal residents are braving landmines and snipers to scrounge for food despite a rare ceasefire deal that was meant to allow aid to enter. (AFP

Beneath this weekend’s rupture in Iranian-Saudi relations lies a deeper fault line between the United States and Saudi Arabia that may hamper U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to end Syria’s civil war, current and former U.S. officials said. (Reuters

New United Nations figures reveal the terrible toll the ongoing conflict in Yemen is taking on civilians. The U.N. human rights office reports more than 8,100 civilians were killed or wounded between March 26 and the end of last year, the vast majority from airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition forces. (VOA


An unknown number of U.S. special operations troops were killed or wounded in two separate incidents in southern Afghanistan, NBC reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified U.S. officials. (Reuters

An explosion was reported on Tuesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad close to foreign consulate buildings including those of India, Pakistan and Iran, a spokesman for the provincial governor said. (Reuters

Indian forces have killed the last of the six militants who attacked an air force base near the Pakistan border over the weekend, the defense minister said Tuesday, though soldiers were still searching the base as a precaution. (AP

Cambodian authorities are cracking down on gun-related violence — by reminding police officers they are banned from carrying firearms while off duty. (AP

Sri Lanka has undertaken preventative steps to turn the heavy rains of El Niño into a gain for farmers. (Reuters

China will not require prospective parents to obtain approval to have two children under the new “two-child policy”, in what appears to be a further relaxation of reproductive controls in the world’s most populous country. (Reuters

Authorities are offering financial help to rebuild damaged homes of nearly 2,000 people after a strong earthquake that struck India’s remote northeast along the border with Myanmar. (AP

The Americas

Haiti’s elections chief says it will be “impossible” to hold a presidential and legislative runoff in time for a democratic transfer of power by the constitutional deadline. (AP

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was summoned to testify as a witness for a lobbyist accused of paying bribes to alter legislation in favor of businesses, local media reported. (Reuters

Edgar Valdez Villareal, known as “La Barbie” and a dual Mexican and American citizen who rose to a top position in the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, plans to plead guilty to U.S. federal charges this week, his attorney said. (CNN

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday eliminated the National Assembly’s control over nomination and removal of central bank directors through a legal reform that the opposition slammed as aimed at curtailing its power a day before it takes leadership of the legislature. (Reuters

…and the rest

The 2015-16 El Nino weather event, one of the three strongest in the past 50 years, has peaked in recent weeks and will likely return to “ENSO Neutral” by the second quarter of this year, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said. (Reuters

Britain should take in 3,000 refugee children who are traveling through Europe alone and are at risk of falling prey to human traffickers, a parliamentary committee said on Tuesday. (Reuters


A “Refugee Convention” for the 21st Century (UN Dispatch

From cluster meetings to sunsetting: how to speak development (jargon) (Guardian

When Television Is More Than an “Idiot Box” (The Development Set

Antibiotics are essential to human health, so why are we wasting them to make farm animals a tiny bit bigger? (UN Dispatch

Ebola dominated neglected disease R&D in FY2014 (DevPolicy

Refugees in Lesbos: are there too many NGOs on the island? (Guardian

Gun Sales Soar After Obama Calls for New Restrictions (NY Times

The next UN secretary-general: 7 women to consider (Devex

A look at where countries stand in Saudi Arabia-Iran dispute (AP

Secret aid worker: It’s unrealistic to expect us to live like monks (Guardian

Researchers map top 100 development questions (SciDevNet
Social Impact Bonds and Financial Inclusion (CFI