USA Lifts Sanctions on Two Developing Countries

Myanmar… “The White House issued the announcement during a visit with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s leader, whose victory in democratic elections last year was viewed by the Obama administration as a triumph in the president’s strategy of engaging with countries the United States had long shunned. ‘Recognizing the progress toward democratic transition that Myanmar has achieved, including through the election of a civilian-led government, and in an effort to support inclusive economic growth, the United States will terminate the National Emergency with respect to Myanmar and will revoke the Executive Order-based framework of the Burma sanctions program,’ the White House statement said.” (NYT

…And Cote D’Ivoire…U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday lifted economic sanctions that were placed on Ivory Coast more than 10 years ago during a civil war, citing a successful presidential election last year and progress on fighting illegal trafficking of natural resources. (Reuters

The NGO Community is Mostly Hailing This New Access To Meds Report…A United Nations high-level panel on access to medicines has called for major changes to the way in which research and development (R&D) of life-saving medicines is funded in order to make them more affordable for patients around the world and fight neglected diseases. The report from the panel, established by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, warns that “it is imperative that governments increase their current levels of investment in health technology innovation” in order to provide “fair rewards for the inventors while ensuring that prices remain fair and affordable”. The panel, which was made up of a wide range of global experts, including pharmaceutical industry leaders, public health officials and human rights campaigners, recommended that “innovative financing methods … delink the costs of R&D from the end prices of health technologies”. The final report also called for greater transparency of R&D costs, something campaigners have long pushed for.” (Guardian

Stat of the Day…The Obama administration is pressing ahead with plans to boost the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. as a national debate rages over immigration and security. The increase to 110,000 represents a nearly 30 percent increase over the current fiscal year. It is also a more than 57 percent jump since 2015. (NBC


South Sudan’s authorities have shut down a prominent newspaper, the Nation Mirror, the editor said on Wednesday, after it published details of a report released by a U.S.-based group alleging misuse of state funds by the nation’s leaders. (Reuters

An Ethiopian marathon runner who made a protest gesture against government violence versus members of his tribe at last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that he wants to stay in the United States. (Reuters

Zimbabwe’s government said it had dropped plans to cut public sector jobs and bonuses less than a week after they were announced, as activists called for more protests against economic mismanagement and shortages.  (Reuters

The jihadist group Boko Haram has released a new video without its embattled leader Abubakar Shekau, lending weight to claims by the Nigerian army he had been gravely wounded in an air strike. (AFP

Seven Niger soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in two separate attacks by Boko Haram Islamists over the past week, the army has said. (AFP

Zimbabwe’s high court on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of protest leader Promise Mkwananzi ahead of mass anti-government demonstrations planned later this week. (AFP

Africa faces a crippling deficit of engineering skills, which will stunt its future economic growth and lead to hardship for the continent’s growing population, a conference on engineering heard. (Guardian


Two migrant aid workers from Germany who were held by Libyan coastguards have been freed, the group Sea Eye said Wednesday, adding that the circumstances of their arrest remain unclear. (AFP

The United States on Wednesday announced it was providing $181 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Iraq ahead of an operation to retake the jihadist hub of Mosul. (AFP

Rescuers pulled some 650 migrants to safety and recovered five dead bodies from boats in difficulty off the coast of Libya on Wednesday, Italy’s coastguard said in a statement. (Reuters

Saudi Arabia, a key backer of Syria’s rebels, has welcomed a ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Washington, but stressed President Bashar al-Assad’s regime must abide by it. (AFP

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday pressed Russia and the United States to do more to ensure the delivery of much-needed aid to Syrians as a ceasefire was largely holding. (AFP

The German cabinet gave the green light on Wednesday to send up to 650 troops to join a new NATO mission to combat arms smuggling by the Islamic State militant group in the Mediterranean Sea. (Reuters


Floods in North Korea that have left hundreds dead or missing are the “worst disaster” to hit the country since World War II, state media said on Wednesday. (AFP

India promised $1billion in development aid to Afghanistan Wednesday during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s two-day trip to New Delhi. (VOA

The United States government plans to sign a loan guarantee with five Myanmar microfinance institutions to support more than $10 million in loans to small businesses in the country, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday. (Reuters

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he has never seen tensions on the Korean peninsula as high as they are today and he called on the Security Council to take urgent action to prevent “provocative actions” by North Korea. (AP

Malaysian democracy group Bersih said on Wednesday it would hold a protest rally calling for the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak to allow an independent investigation into the financial scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad. (Reuters

Residents of a southern Chinese village once seen as a cradle of grassroots democracy were in shock on Wednesday after a “wild crackdown” by police in clashes with protesters which they said led to about 70 people being detained. (Reuters

The Americas

Venezuela’s opposition and the government have held backdoor negotiations as the two sides retrench in their positions for and against a referendum on cutting short President Nicolas Maduro’s term. (AP

Residents of Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order bottled water or filters be provided to them to prevent further lead exposure, 2-1/2 years after the city’s water supply was found to be contaminated. (Reuters

Federal prosecutors in Brazil have asked a judge to file corruption charges against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (BBC

The man who led the Colombian government to a peace deal with the country’s main leftist rebel group has warned that if the public vote against the deal, it could take 10 years before new negotiations are started. (BBC

Hundreds of FARC rebels are converging on a camp in southern Colombia to pour cement, shore up dirt roads and set up communications ahead of the group’s congress this week, where delegates will ratify a peace deal to end 52 years of war. (VOA

The effects of climate change endanger U.S. military operations and could increase the danger of international conflict, according to three new documents endorsed by retired top U.S. military officers and former national security officials. (Reuters

…and the rest

Concerns that British aid funding will be diverted away from supporting the world’s poorest people towards facilitating trade have been raised by NGOs. (Guardian

A British nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone has been cleared of misconduct charges that stemmed from questions about her elevated temperature when she returned to Britain from West Africa. (AP

A possible causal link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease has been suggested by scientists after they conducted detailed studies of brain tissue, in a joint British-Mexican project. (Reuters

Human rights campaigners on Wednesday urged voters in Hungary to boycott what they termed an “inhumane” referendum on migrant relocation under an EU quota plan. (AFP


Map of the Day: What Countries Have Ratified The Paris Climate Agreement? (UN Dispatch

Let’s not wait another two years to act on the refugee crisis (IRIN

What Doctors Learned From 42 Infants With Microcephaly (Goats and Soda

Developing Countries Innovative Drivers of Sustainable Development (IPS

Our vision for aid? Help the poorest people help themselves (Guardian

How Boko Haram Is Keeping Polio Alive In Nigeria (Goats and Soda

Effective Altruism: Too true to be good (IRIN

DIVIDED AMERICA: How China fueled pain and Trump support (AP
Please help sharpen up the World Bank’s theory of change on governance and law (From Poverty to Power