This keeps happening. “Three motorcycle-riding assailants hacked and shot to death a student opponent of radical Islam as he was walking with a friend along a street in Bangladesh’s capital, police said Thursday. The killing on Wednesday night follows a string of similar attacks last year, when at least five secular bloggers and publishers were killed, allegedly by radical Islamists. Police suspect 28-year-old Nazimuddin Samad was targeted for his outspoken atheism in the Muslim-majority country and for supporting a 2013 movement to demand capital punishment for war crimes involving the independence war against Pakistan in 1971, according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nurul Amin.” (CBS http://cbsn.ws/1RHijG1)

ISIS militants abduct 300 Syrian factory workers near Damascus…”At the factory headquarters in Damascus, a spokeswoman declined to discuss the kidnapped workers’ fate, saying authorities had told the company to refrain from commenting on the abduction. “The situation is not easy at all,” she told The Associated Press. There was no formal responsibility claim for the kidnapping, but the IS-linked Aamaq agency posted a video showing the deserted cement factory, located near a military air base. The video showed what appeared to be a Syrian soldier lying on the ground, apparently dead. One militant is seen driving a truck, towing away a fork lift.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1RHhD3v)

Quote of the day: “In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president,” said Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during an interview with the BBC. (VOA http://bit.ly/20ceb2O)

Record breaker of the day…The UN says it expects more than 130 countries to sign the Paris Climate Agreement on April 22, the first day it’s open for signing. This would break the previously held record of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which had 119 signatories on its first day in 1994. (UN http://bit.ly/1RHiVLQ)

Muppet of the day…Meet Zari, the first female muppet on the Afghan version of Sesame Street. (Vulture http://bit.ly/1RHk1qV )

 

Africa

Chronic shortages of essential medical supplies are worsening an already dire humanitarian situation in war-torn South Sudan, MSF warned Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MWYOJc)

More than 30,000 people displaced by fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been cut off from aid because of ongoing insecurity, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/20ce8E7)

USAID said it will provide almost $68 million for emergency food aid in Sudan, raising the total it’s given for humanitarian relief there to $351 million since 2015. (Bloomberg http://bloom.bg/1RHiHo0 )

Ethiopia must carry out mass doping tests on up to 200 athletes by November or be the latest to face further action by the World Anti-Doping Agency and a possible ban by the IAAF, track and field officials in the country said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Xkkgsj)

South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar said on Thursday he would return to the capital Juba on April 18 to form a transitional government with President Salva Kiir, more than two years after a feud between the two erupted into war. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Wgbqxo)

The United States expressed dismay Thursday at the conduct of presidential elections in the Republic of Congo, which returned longtime leader Denis Sassou Nguesso to power. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1XkjDyN)

Boko Haram fighters have kidnapped and conscripted thousands of young men and women since 2013. Soldiers from a regional force — composed of fighters from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon —  continue to liberate captives by the hundreds during an operation to flush the terrorists from their remaining hideouts, but those formerly held say their struggles are far from over. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MWW1Qg)

MENA

A Saudi-led coalition battling Shiite rebels and their allies in Yemen used U.S.-supplied bombs in an airstrike last month on a market that killed at least 119 people, a human rights group said Thursday, further highlighting American involvement in the conflict. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MWYIl3)

Human Rights Watch called Thursday for Iraq to allow aid to reach starving residents of the city of Fallujah, and for the Islamic State group to allow civilians to leave. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MWYMkO)

The start of a new round of peace talks on the Syrian war has been pushed back by two days so that U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura can travel to Damascus and Tehran to sound out their position on a political transition, the envoy said on Thursday. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1RHhQn2)

The United Nations said Thursday it is aiming to begin a large-scale evacuation of wounded and sick people from four besieged towns in war-ravaged Syria within the next week. (AFP http://yhoo.it/20ce7A2)

Morocco’s official news agency says eight foreigners have been expelled for supporting prisoners convicted for their roles in deadly protests in Western Sahara. (AP http://yhoo.it/1XkjED2)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gently pressed Bahrain on human rights on Thursday as he praised security cooperation with the Gulf monarchy, where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in part as a bulwark against Iran. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Xkklw4)

The U.N. envoy to Libya has urged a rapid, complete handover of power to a unity government that arrived in Tripoli a week ago, warning that a fragile peace in the city may not hold if the new government is unable to deliver. (Reuters http://bit.ly/20cgdQz)

In the past three months, the Israeli military has more than tripled its demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank, United Nations’ figures show, raising alarm among diplomats and human rights groups over what they regard as a sustained violation of international law. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1XkjBHm)

Asia

Introducing a fresh chill in Indo-Pak ties, Pakistan on Thursday said the bilateral peace process stands “suspended”, indicating that it would not allow Indian investigators to travel there and accused India of creating unrest in its territory. (India Express  http://bit.ly/1RHknOi)

An apartment building in southern Taiwan that collapsed during a February earthquake, killing 115 people, was shoddily built with only about half the load-bearing capacity required, prosecutors in Taiwan said Thursday as they announced charges against five builders. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Xkkmjz)

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday vowed to press for the release of political prisoners and student activists, hinting that a mass amnesty may be imminent as her government seeks to stamp its mark on power in the former junta-run nation. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Xkki3t)

The Americas

A Brazilian court has ordered the government to suspend its agrarian reform program, citing evidence that instead of helping the poor it was used to hand out free land to thousands of politicians, business owners and wealthy individuals. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Wgao4m)

Panama is creating an international panel to help improve transparency in its offshore financial industry. (BBC http://bbc.in/20cgnav)

A synagogue in Buenos Aires will host the first official same-sex Jewish marriage held in a synagogue in Latin America. (Forward http://bit.ly/1RHiCAA)

Public employees in Venezuela will take long weekends under the government’s latest bid to ease a nationwide power crisis. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MWYBpy)

Rio de Janeiro’s preparations for South America’s first Olympics have not been implicated in the spreading corruption scandal that grips Brazil, Mayor Eduardo Paes said on Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1YhST25)

Colombia’s highest court is paving the way for same-sex couples to marry in the conservative Roman Catholic nation. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MWWKAX)

Illegally mined gold has overtaken cocaine to become Peru and Colombia’s most lucrative illicit export, according to a new report that warns the shift from drug cultivation to criminal mining in many Latin American countries is fuelling “staggering” human rights abuses and wrecking the environment. (Guardian http://bit.ly/20ce4Eu)

…and the rest

The World Bank is boosting spending by 50 percent to help poorer countries battle global warming and power 150 million homes with renewable energy. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MWWLF8)

Migrants held on the Greek islands Lesbos and Chios live in “appalling” conditions with little access to legal aid or information about their fate under a European Union agreement that will send some back to Turkey, Amnesty International said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1YhSUTI)

Reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet-warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas, scientists said on Thursday. (TRF http://yhoo.it/20cgcvL)

Government envoys, civil society advocates, social media gurus and U.N. officials have opened a two-day conference billed as the first of its kind to tackle violent extremism, part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s efforts to address the root causes of terrorism. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MWYLNK)

Opinion/Blogs

Western Sahara is a totally forgotten crisis. But it’s suddenly back in the news all because of a misplaced word uttered by Ban Ki Moon. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/25N7QPl)

Recession in Brazil means backslide for the fight against poverty (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/20chWVS)

Leaving women out of development statistics just doesn’t add up (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MWQdGF)

Why France Is Adopting A New Law That Criminalizes The Clients, Not Prostitutes (Huff Po http://huff.to/1RHhRYm)

In Nagorno-Karabakh, a “Frozen” war turns hot. Thousands of lives are at risk. (UN Dispatch  http://bit.ly/1PWNo2N)

How To Fight Zika When Your Country Is In Trouble: Improvise (NPR http://n.pr/1XkgK10)

Learning from History for Progress (IPS http://bit.ly/1XkhenR)

Where are Children Adopted During 1984 Famine Now? (Addis Standard http://bit.ly/1XkhKlF)

Is Samoa’s Obesity Epidemic A Harbinger For Other Developing Nations? (The Salt http://n.pr/1XkjAD4)

The contribution of health partnerships in universal health coverage (Devex http://bit.ly/20chRBw)

 

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