Top of the Morning: Al Shebaab Strikes Again

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Presidential Palace in Mogadishu Attacked…Al Shebab claims responsibility. The president was not inside the palace when it was attacked, says Somali officials. But this attack is another audacious example of al Shebab’s resilience. “Somalia’s Islamist Shebab rebels carried out a major bomb and armed assault against the country’s presidential palace late Tuesday, penetrating the heavily-fortified complex before blowing themselves up…Police said the attackers launched a two-pronged attack against the presidential complex, setting off a large bomb at the rear of the compound and then storming in via another entrance. The attack came shortly after the start of Iftar, when Muslims end the day’s Ramadan fast. Authorities gave no details of casualties on their side. It was also impossible to confirm reports that the embassy of Djibouti, which has troops in Somalia and whose mission is close to the presidential palace, had also come under direct attack.  (Bangkok Post

UN Agrees to New Peacekeeping Payment Formula…A potential budget crisis is avoided. “After weeks of negotiation, UN member states agreed to a new compensation rate for UN Peacekeeping. The new rate amounts to a 10% raise for the first two years, to $1,332/soldier/month, and then further increasing to $1,365 in the third year and $1,410 in the fourth.  In other words, it will cost the United Nations just under $16,000 for each of the approximately 100,000 blue helmets serving across 16 missions in 2014.” (UN Dispatch

Ebola Update: Fifty new cases of Ebola and 25 deaths have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since July 3, as the deadly virus continues to spread in families, the WHO said on Tuesday. (Reuters


Facing censure at home and overseas for a perceived failure to protect civilians from violent Islamists, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has launched an international media offensive to try to turn the tide of public opinion in his favor. (Reuters

France said on Tuesday is was pinning its hopes on regional peace talks to halt violence in Central African Republic, a day after rebels and armed Muslim civilians launched a deadly grenade attack on a church compound. (Reuters

Cameroon raised the base salary for government workers and the military on Monday and entered negotiations with transport workers in an effort to head off potential social unrest after it cancelled fuel subsidies last week in a bid to cut costs. (Reuters

More sub-Saharan Africans are living in extreme poverty now than in 1990, said a major United Nations report, warning the region will miss most of its development goals. (AP


A new survey indicates more than 145,000 Syrian refugee families are headed by women who are struggling to make ends meet. (VOA

Human Rights Watch urged Morocco to stop prosecuting and jailing people for their sexual orientation, after an appeals court upheld the convictions of six men accused of homosexual acts. (AP


Booming demand for food in China’s southern and eastern cities is worsening water shortages in arid northern provinces, adding to the country’s environmental problems, new research shows. (Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry says any action to seize power illegally in Afghanistan would lead to the end of US financial and security support. (AP

Macau’s mono-economy of gaming is creating a generation of workers steeped in the monotonous work of baccarat dealing and spinning roulette wheels, but with few of the transferable skills needed in today’s globalised knowledge economy. (IPS

Progress made during recovery stages after the November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines could be undermined without job creation strategies to secure stability beyond short-term livelihood projects, warn aid agencies and government officials. (IRIN

The Americas

UN officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the US to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the US and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum. (AP

Some US insurance companies charge the highest copays for HIV/AIDS drugs, even generics, the civil rights complaint alleges. This could discourage high-cost patients from enrolling in the plans. (NPR

A Nicaraguan committee approved a proposed route for a $40 billion shipping channel across the Central American country that would compete with the Panama Canal. (VOA


Delivering on the Data Revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa (CGD

Ebola cannot be cured but west Africa’s epidemic may have been preventable (Guardian

Namibia’s ‘zebra’ politics could make it stand out from the global herd (allAfrica

What could a big election in Indonesia mean for decentralisation? (ODI

Who Will Foot the Bill for Africa’s New Intervention Force? (Institute for Security Studies

Leaked agreement shows Tanzania may not get a good deal for gas (African Arguments


With 17 months before the MDGs reach their targets by the December 2015 deadline, the United Nations is trumpeting its limited successes – but with guarded optimism. (IPS

How Should Donors Respond to Resource Windfalls in Poor Countries? From Aid to Insurance (CGD

Global value chain analysis: What’s new, what’s different, what’s missing? (ODI