And the Winner of the First UN Sec Gen Straw Poll is…

Former UN Refugee Agency Chief Antonio Guterres! Helen Clark, meanwhile, came in fourth place. But there will be more polls. ”Portugal’s former prime minister Antonio Guterres topped the first informal poll to succeed Ban Ki-moon as the next U.N. secretary-general on Jan. 1 followed by Slovenia’s former president Danilo Turk. Two diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the vote was secret, said three candidates had the same support for third place — Irina Bokova of Bulgaria who heads UNESCO, Serbia’s former foreign minister Vuk Jeremic and former Macedonian foreign minister Srgjan Kerim. The 15 council members decided not to reveal the results of their voting to “encourage,” ‘’discourage,’ or express ‘no opinion’ about the 12 candidates — unlike the informal ‘straw’ polls 10 years ago, which were made public and led to Ban’s election to the world’s top diplomatic post.” (ABC


Speaking of Helen Clark…She’s on the Global Dispatches Podcast to discuss the events and experiences in her life and career that may inform her performance as Secretary General. (Global Dispatches podcast


Humanitarian Catastrophe in Borno State Nigeria…“Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) is calling for a major aid response to a humanitarian catastrophe in northeastern Nigeria’s war-torn Borno state, where at least 500,000 people are in urgent need of food, medical care, water and shelter. ‘Aid agencies must deploy a massive relief operation to respond to this humanitarian emergency,’ Dr. Isabelle Defourny, MSF director of operations, said in a statement Wednesday.” (VOA

Mugabe Loses Key Supporters…”Veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war have said they will no longer back President Robert Mugabe in elections, in a surprise revolt that comes after a series of recent nationwide anti-government protests.  The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which had been a pillar of support for the 92-year-old leader for decades, denounced Mugabe on Thursday, calling him dictatorial, manipulative and egocentric.” (Al Jazeera




Human Rights Watch says members of Rwanda’s security forces are arresting poor people who are arbitrarily detained in “transit centers” described as harsh and inhuman. (AP


In the week following a recent round of fighting in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, Doctors Without Borders teams treated more than 2,700 patients in four clinics across the city. (MSF


Mali extended a state of emergency for 10 days on Wednesday, the council of ministers said, after a spate of attacks by armed groups killed dozens and destabilised the vast desert country. (Reuters


Gambia sentenced a prominent lawyer and 18 of his supporters to three years in jail for “unlawful assembly” and for holding a protest without a permit, a court document showed. (Reuters




The head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition called for a suspension of the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State in Syria while reports of dozens of civilian deaths from air strikes around the northern city of Manbij are investigated. (Reuters


Libya’s U.N.-backed unity government has said France had not coordinated with it over the presence of French troops in Libya and that it would not compromise on its sovereignty after France announced the deaths of three of its soldiers there. (Reuters


U.S.-backed Syrian fighters on Thursday gave Islamic State militants 48 hours to leave an encircled town near the Turkish border without a fight, in a last bid effort to protect civilian lives, according to a statement issued by the group. (AP


Hundreds of Israeli police are being drafted into Jerusalem to protect the city’s Gay Pride march on Thursday, a year after an ultra-Orthodox Jew killed a teenager and also stabbed five other people. (AFP


As the Islamic State group loses territory in Iraq and Syria, many IS foreign recruits are believed to be returning to their home countries. (VOA




At least 75 people in northern China have died or gone missing since Monday in some of the worst flooding in years, the government said Thursday. (AP


Myanmar government leader Aung San Suu Kyi has accepted an invitation from President Barack Obama to visit the United States, the government said on Thursday, in what would be her first trip to America since she won an election in November. (Reuters


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday judgment should be withheld until all the facts are known after the U.S. government filed lawsuits seeking to seize $1 billion in assets bought with money stolen from a state fund he oversaw. (Reuters


A journalist from the BBC’s Myanmar-language service walked free from prison on Thursday after a court accepted his appeal against a three-month sentence handed down in June for striking a policeman. (Reuters


A ban on minors being tested for HIV is preventing the Philippines from tackling a surge in infections, particularly among young men. (Guardian


A project in Delhi is giving refugee women from Afghanistan the opportunity to run a catering business. (Guardian


The Americas


Donald Trump gave a wide ranging New York Times interview about foreign policy. He basically pledged to revoke key parts of the NATO treaty, among other unconventional proposals. (NYT


McDonald’s Corp.’s largest franchisee has had to stop selling the Big Mac in Venezuela as it can’t source the bread it needs to make the famous sandwich. (Bloomberg


…and the rest


The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders says a rescue vessel is bringing the bodies of 22 migrants to Sicily after they perished aboard a smugglers’ boat. (AP


Turkey’s nationalist opposition party supports the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency because it is in the national interest, its leader Devlet Bahceli said on Thursday. (Reuters


The world is on track for its hottest year on record and levels of carbon dioxide have reached new highs, further fuelling global warming, the World Meteorological Organization said on Thursday. (Reuters




Feminism Slowly Gaining Support at United Nations (IPS


As Mugabe Fights for His Political Future, Why Is China So Silent? (ISS


Why Healthy Teens Are Taking A Daily Anti-AIDS Pill (Goats and Soda


Peace, security and more peace: the priorities for the African Union (Guardian


In Congo’s Shadow (book review) (Aidnography


What Colombia’s peace process can teach the world (IRIN


Moving along on the do-gooder journey (WhyDev


Failings of humanitarian response (From Poverty to Power


Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The International Criminal Court and the Peace-Justice Debate (Justice in Conflict
An ‘unmistakable sign’ that accurate gender data is top priority (Devex