Fire in the Himalayas

Heatwave and drought are a perilous combination. “Nepal and parts of northern India are battling their worst forest fires in years that have devastated thousands of hectares of woodland, killed at least 18 people and sent a pall of smoke across the southern Himalayas that can been seen from space.In Nepal, 11 people have died while trying to fight fires that have razed 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) of forest across the country, the worst in six years. ‘This year we have experienced a longer spell of dry weather and the temperatures have risen significantly, contributing to the disaster,’ Forest Ministry official Krishna Prasad Acharya told Reuters.The worst forest fires in four years in India’s northern Uttarakhand state have killed at least seven people and disrupted the lives of thousands, an emergency official said on Monday.”  (Reuters

It’s World Press Freedom Day…To mark the occassion, the annual World Press Freedom Prize/Cano prize is awarded today in Finland..”The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016 has been awarded to Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist and outspoken atheist from Azerbaijan. The prize is given for an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger. (MeriNews

Missed Investment Opportunity….”Jason Njoku, founder of iROKOtv, the online streaming service often dubbed the ‘Netflix of Africa’, says his early investors made a whopping 3,000% profit on their early investment. Less than a year old at the time, Njoku says the investors paid $80,000 for 10% of the iROKOtv but sold the entire stake earlier this year to other existing investors, for $2.4 million. (Quartz

Stat of the day…”In 2015, 88 300 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered to be unaccompanied minors. While their number always stood between 11 000 and 13 000 in the EU over the period 2008-2013, it almost doubled in 2014 to reach slightly more than 23 000 persons, then nearly quadrupled in 2015. (EU )


Liberia’s and Guinea’s last known Ebola patients in a latest flare-up of the disease that hit both countries have now been discharged. All remaining contacts of confirmed cases that were placed under a 3-week period of medical monitoring have been cleared. (WHO

Aid workers said hopes were fading of finding more survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building in Kenya’s capital on Monday, as the death toll reached 21. (Reuters

Ivory Coast will break up its long-standing electricity and water monopolies and introduce competition to reduce prices amid growing public concern over price increases, President Alassane Ouattara said. (Reuters

An Amnesty International official says members of the Gambian opposition arrested last month by President Yahya Jammeh’s government are prisoners of conscience and should be released because they were simply expressing their political opinion as guaranteed under the Gambian constitution. (VOA

Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help. (VOA


Egypt’s journalists’ syndicate called for the dismissal of the interior minister and an immediate sit-in at its headquarters in downtown Cairo on Monday, to protest the police detention of two journalists on its premises the night earlier. (AP

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is “getting closer to a place of understanding” on restarting a ceasefire in Syria that includes the largest city, Aleppo, where the death toll from airstrikes continued to mount Monday. (VOA


Cambodia has shortened the school day by one hour to help students cope with a heat wave that has pushed temperatures as high as 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP

Japan’s foreign minister announced a $7 billion initiative Monday to promote development in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region, which encompasses parts of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand through which the river flows. (AP

Survivors of Indonesia’s anti-communist massacres in 1965 submitted a list of what they say are more than 100 mass graves to the government on Monday after the president called for an investigation into the killings. (AP

A series of brutal killings of liberals, academics, bloggers, foreigners and religious minorities in Bangladesh has spread deep fear in the country and raised worrying questions about whether the secular traditions of a moderate Muslim country are under threat from extremist Islamic groups. (VOA

The Americas

Two US missionaries have been found dead in a rural area of the Caribbean island of Jamaica notorious for its high rates of crime, police say. (BBC

Colombia has deported alleged drug lord Gerson Galvez, who has been described as Peru’s most wanted man. (BBC

A boat capsized in rough waters during a violent weekend storm, killing eight people, while another was swept away by a river, officials in Haiti said Monday.  (AFP )

…and the rest

Police evacuated more than one thousand people from a makeshift migrant camp near a Paris metro station on Monday, the third time the camp has been cleared in as many months. (AFP

Germany and some other EU countries are planning to ask the EU Commission for an extension of border controls within the Schengen passport-free travel zone for another six months because they fear a new wave of migrants. (AP

Austria saw a sharp increase last year in the number of incidents involving xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-semitism, a report showed on Monday, following the arrival of large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants and refugees. (Reuters

A sweeping free trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States would lower food safety and environmental standards, Greenpeace said on Monday, citing confidential documents from the talks. (Reuters


Veteran Journalist Tom Nagorski Witnessed an Iconic Moment in News History (among many) (Global Dispatches Podcast

Do Colombia’s FARC rebels have a hidden fortune? (AFP

Joseph Kabila’s presidential ambitions could push Congo to the brink (Guardian

Can Whistle-Blowing Keep Corruption At Bay? (New Times

Disunity in Europe: What does the future hold for refugee response? (Devex

Samuel Abrams on Education and the Commercial Mindset (International Educuation News

Australian aid tumbled in 2015 (The Interpreter

Can raising labor standards and wages increase sweatshop productivity? (Chris Blattman

How early access to antenatal care can stop mothers dying in childbirth (The Conversation

Why Hasn’t Jacob Zuma’s Latest Anti-Anticorruption Effort Succeeded Yet? (Global Anticorruption Blog