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And they are still no-where in sight. “The only information comes from Boko Haram’s leader, who said in a video they are being held captive as “slaves” and will not be returned unless the government swaps imprisoned militants for girls. “The sadder thing is the conversation between the citizens and our government leaves a lot to be desired.  Leaves a lot to be desired,” says Obi Ezekwelizi, one of the leaders of Bring Back Our Girls. Activists say they plan to continue near daily “sit-outs” in Abuja until the girls are rescued.  But the group and the kidnapped girls are also now in the center of Nigerian politics, with the government accusing Bring Back Our Girls of being agents of the opposition.” (VOA http://bit.ly/UoTjJ3)

UN Human Rights Council Authorizes Gaza Probe…“Twenty-nine countries voted for an investigation to be carried out by the body, notably including China, India, and several South American countries.  There were 17 Abstentions, mostly from EU member countries.  There was a single, definitive vote against an investigation: the United States. The EU abstentions speak to the political influence of their relationship with the United States.  The votes for investigation by South American countries is no surprise either, given their poor trade and diplomatic relations with Israel.   The blatant vote against investigation by the U.S. was expected, but interesting nonetheless given the fact that the vote is just for an investigation, not an automatic accusation. “ (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/UoToMO)

HIV/AIDS

The vast majority of AIDS patients are of working age, according to statistics from U.N. AIDS. And so, as the working population changes, AIDS activists say the workplace also needs to adapt. (VOA http://bit.ly/1nB23sb)

Africa

Gambia has taken steps to improve its poor human-rights record after the European Union suspended 150 million euros in development aid this year, activists said, urging tougher action by the international community. (TRF http://bit.ly/1pamF65)

The head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus Ebola in Sierra Leone has himself caught the disease, the government said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1nAZaI6)

Seleka rebels have demanded that Central African Republic be partitioned into a Muslim north and a Christian south, a surprise move at talks aimed at halting religious violence, sources at the meeting said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1nAZjLx)

International NGOs have rebuffed a recent offer by the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo to use drones for humanitarian information gathering, saying this could represent a dangerous “blurring of the lines” between military and humanitarian actors in the conflict. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1panOuA)

The UN refugee agency said it needs three times as much money as it’s already received to provide basic aid to the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic In an effort to revive international support. (VOA http://bit.ly/1paorEm)

Ghana’s government plans to use some of its World Bank loans to fund a free sanitary pad program for young girls in poor rural communities to reduce dropout rates. The initiative is part of a program known as the Ghana secondary school improvement project. (VOA http://bit.ly/1sSbZ2z)

Some 51,247 persons are affected by the floods occurring in Liberia’s Montserrado County, which includes the capital Monrovia. Affected persons are sheltered in schools, churches and in host communities. Malaria, diarrhea and other waterborne diseases were reported at refuge centers. Some cholera cases are also suspected. (OCHA http://bit.ly/1nAYvq0)

Men, women and children are being kidnapped and held for months as slaves by militias in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, says MSF. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1nB7uY4)

MENA

The increasing scale of the crisis in Gaza and the urgent needs of a growing number of civilians require greater assistance from UNRWA. The estimated number who will soon require support rises to 150,000 – three times the 50,000 originally projected – the Agency is now doubling its appealing for a total of $115 million. (UNRWA http://bit.ly/1pakRtW)

Egypt’s new president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has made a head start on tackling the country’s economic problems, managing to introduce long-awaited subsidy reform without stirring popular unrest. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1pam0l9)

Palestinians asked the UN to investigate into “all violations” of human rights and humanitarian law that they say have been committed by Israel during its military offensive in Gaza. (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/1nB2AKT)

Israel may have committed war crimes by killing civilians and shelling houses and hospitals during its two-week-old offensive in the Gaza Strip, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1parDQl)

Asia

Monsoon rains over the past week have caused floods in eastern India, killing three people and forcing thousands of families from their homes, officials and witnesses said. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/1nAY3YX)

Thailand’s military junta has unveiled an interim constitution that allows the army to retain sweeping powers. (VOA http://bit.ly/1pap1lz)

Parts of a northern Chinese city have been quarantined after state media said a man there died of bubonic plague. (AP http://yhoo.it/1paqOHj)

The Americas 

Harvest of the world’s biggest coffee and sugar cane crops may be stalled by the four to five days of rain that are in store for southeast Brazil starting today, forecasters said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1papOTq)

Hosing down a driveway in drought-stricken California could soon mean a visit from the “water cops,” as agencies throughout the state begin beefing up staff to enforce strict new conservation rules set to take effect next month. (AP http://yhoo.it/1nB3qXP)

Opinion/Blogs

We cannot give a woman a cow and expect her to change the world (Guardian http://bit.ly/1nAZQNn)

BRICS – The End of Western Dominance of the Global Financial and Economic Order (IPS http://bit.ly/1palCD7)

How Much Are Developing Countries Losing from Commodity Mispricing Really? (CGD http://bit.ly/1pao1xF)

A Summer of Innocent Deaths (VOA http://bit.ly/1nB1tee)

BRICS Bank Can Free Africa From the West (The Star http://bit.ly/1pat2Gw)

Goodluck Jonathan and a Billion Dollars of Bad Judgment (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1patip8)

‘African gay movement won’t go back into the closet’ (Beacon http://bit.ly/1nBPmgJ)

Conflict dynamics on Kenya’s coast (IRIN http://bit.ly/1mESMtc)

Research/Reports

A new study shows that newborn babies can reap the health benefits of a delay in cutting their umbilical cord – whilst they’re safe in their mothers’ arms. (BBC http://bbc.in/1nB0Cdr)

The World Food Program reports increasing conflicts in the first half of this year have created a huge surge in emergency airlifts and airdrops of food to people caught in hard-to-reach areas. (VOA http://bit.ly/1nB1yi2)

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