Least surprising climate news ever. “After month after month of record high temperatures, the final tally is in and 2015 has officially been declared the hottest year since modern record keeping began in 1880. Last year’s temperatures burned through the previous record, with 2015 topping 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday. For context, the only other time that a new record has been greater than the old record by this large a margin was in 1998, officials said.” (CBS http://cbsn.ws/1SxotcH)

 

Terror Strikes in Pakistan…”Armed militants stormed a university in volatile northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens a little more than a year after the massacre of 134 students at a school in the area, officials said. A senior Pakistani Taliban commander claimed responsibility for the assault in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, but an official spokesman later denied involvement, calling the attack “un-Islamic”. The violence nevertheless shows that militants retain the ability to launch attacks, despite a country-wide anti-terrorism crackdown and a military campaign against their strongholds along the lawless border with Afghanistan.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1SxoXjg)

 

And Afghanistan…”A Taliban suicide car bomber targeted a minibus carrying journalists working for a private Afghan television channel on Wednesday, killing seven employees during evening rush hour close to the national parliament in Kabul, officials said.It was the latest in a series of suicide attacks in the Afghan capital that coincide with renewed efforts to revive a peace process with Taliban insurgents that broke down in July.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1Jj1qQn)

 

Stat of the Day (This is not a typo)… 92,446 people, mostly Ethiopians and Somalis,  arrived in Yemen by boat in 2015, one of the highest annual totals recorded over the past decade. A full two thirds arrived since March 2015 when the conflict began. (UNHCR http://bit.ly/1Jj4DiS)

 

Africa

 

Gunmen killed three gendarmes in an overnight ambush near a town in central Mali, the defence ministry said on Wednesday, confirming the latest in a growing wave of attacks that risk spilling over into Mali’s West African neighbours. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Jj2544)

 

Two and a half million people in the Central African Republic, half the population, have too little to eat because of conflict and insecurity, and the number has doubled in the past year, the United Nations World Food Programme said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1OxE5ZS)

 

The violence in Bamako and Ouagadougou underscores how danger has moved from jihadist strongholds far in the desert to the very places where Westerners stay and eat while working in the region. (Globe http://bit.ly/1Jj2gfS)

 

When Burkina Faso swore in its first new president in decades last month, many people hoped the democratic transition would pave the way to an era of progress. Now a deadly raid by al-Qaida militants has shaken that optimism. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Jj2ljF)

 

Al Qaeda’s attack on Burkina Faso proves that “decapitating” a terror group doesn’t always change it for the better. (FP http://atfp.co/1Jj2zqY)

 

The Sudanese government said it had suspended Tearfund, a foreign aid group active in the conflict-ridden region of Darfur, for violating the law and interfering in the internal affairs of the country. (Sudan Tribune http://bit.ly/1Jj3HuJ)

 

Zimbabwe’s top court on Wednesday outlawed marriage for anyone under the age of 18 in a ruling hailed by activists as major progress towards ending child marriage. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1OxE6gq)

 

USAID has announced an additional $5 million contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme for humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, in response to worsening drought conditions and increased food insecurity. (VOA ZImbabwe http://bit.ly/1Jj3yr8)

A Video Game Hero for Africa (CNN http://cnn.it/1Jj2FyX)

 

MENA

Around 100 UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations on Thursday called on citizens worldwide to join an appeal to end the “carnage” in Syria as the conflict there approached its sixth year. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1SxWuJT)

 

The Islamic State destroyed one of the oldest Christian sites in Iraq as part of its campaign against ancient sites in the country. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1Jj27Jg)

 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that neither Russia nor the United States supports a delay in Syrian peace talks, due to start next week, though it was not clear whether he and Secretary of State John F. Kerry had succeeded in determining which opposition groups would participate. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1Jj2aVB)

 

Asia

 

Not since China faced international sanctions over the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre has its economy grown at such a slow pace: just below 7 percent last year. Investors had expected the results, and now they’re looking to Chinese policymakers to enact a stimulus plan. (NPR http://n.pr/1Jj42xw)

The Apple Store may soon be coming to India (Time http://ti.me/1Jj3XtG)

 

Vietnam has accused China of towing a $1 billion oil rig into disputed waters of the South China Sea in a potential re-run of a stand-off that sparked violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam in 2014. (ABC-Australia http://bit.ly/1Jj4bB0)

 

The Americas

 

Haitian lawmakers are debating a measure calling for the suspension of presidential and legislative runoffs set for this weekend. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Nl8VRu)

 

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday pledged to continue to offer support for the local response to the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. (AP http://yhoo.it/1SxWFVA)

 

Several major Canadian cities will temporarily stop taking Syrian refugees, the government said Wednesday, after they revealed that they were struggling to find proper accommodation in the dead of winter. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1OxE5cv)

 

Chile welcomed Latin America’s largest medicinal marijuana farm Tuesday, marking another step in the region’s growing acceptance of therapeutic uses for the formerly illegal plant. (NBC http://nbcnews.to/1Jj3l7e)

 

A U.S. warning that pregnant women should avoid Latin American countries where a mosquito-borne virus is multiplying couldn’t have come at a worse time for a region that’s counting on tourism to give it a boost at a time of economic crises. (ABC http://abcn.ws/1Jj3qrF)

…and the rest

 

The head of a New York-based foundation pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a scheme to bribe a former U.N. General Assembly president to advance various business interests, becoming the second defendant to admit wrongdoing in the case. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Nl97jy)

 

Human slavery and environmental destruction go hand in hand, a complex but encouraging combination that could make efforts to eradicate the global woes easier to focus and succeed, a leading expert argues in a new book. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Nl95bI)

 

Opinion/Blogs

 

Kofi Annan: Vote, make some noise and use your power as a consumer (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Nk3su4)

 

How to fix the funding crisis for humanitarian emergencies (Overseas Development Institute http://bit.ly/1SwCvLC)

 

Has The World Learned The Wrong Lessons From The Ebola Outbreak? (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1SwCtUd)

 

Can Lesotho survive more development? (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1SwChUQ)

 

Ignore the hype: Kenya’s home solar users have not leapfrogged the grid (Africanist Perspective http://bit.ly/1Nk3lPl)

 

3 questions for a leader in technology for disaster response (Devex http://bit.ly/1SwCiYR)

 

Farmers Markets and Food-Borne Illness (NY Times http://nyti.ms/1T4ipb7)

 

Women must be at the peace table for a chance of ending war in Syria (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Nk3tON)

 

#AfricaAtDavos: What Africans Want at Davos 2016 (Development Diaries http://bit.ly/1Nk3ulZ)

 

Peter Singer asks: Is this the most good you can do? (Devex http://bit.ly/1SwCtDu)

 

Coal, poverty and energy access (Devpolicy Blog http://bit.ly/1Nk3xxY)

 

Secret aid worker: by not measuring impact, NGOs are abusing their power (Guardian http://bit.ly/1SwCw2a)

 

 

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