Imagery revealed widespread destruction in the towns around Baga, Nigeria where Boko Haram militants are believed to have carried out their biggest massacre yet. The images prompted widespread condemnation and an unspecified pledge of action from John Kerry. “’What they have done … is a crime against humanity, nothing less,’ Kerry said as first images of what is feared to be the worst atrocity of the six-year Islamist insurgency emerged…Boko Haram was “evil” and a serious threat ‘not just in Nigeria and the region but to all of our values,’ Kerry said during a visit to Bulgaria. He said he had spoken earlier to his British counterpart Philip Hammond – who was also in Sofia – about the possibility of ‘a special initiative with respect to Nigeria and with respect to Boko Haram.’” (Daily Star http://bit.ly/1IPe5nu)

Humanity Affirming Stat of the Day: All three countries hit hardest by the Ebola epidemic have recorded their lowest weekly number of new cases for months. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sCzwWP)

 

More on Nigeria/Boko Haram

 

The Danish government is allocating $2 million to help the victims of the Boko Haram extremist group in Nigeria. (AP http://yhoo.it/1ygt6Px)

 

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has made a surprise visit to northeastern Borno state, the center of the Boko Haram insurgency. (VOA http://bit.ly/1IPePZT)

The International Committee of the Red Cross warned about the plight of tens of thousands of refugees who have fled to Niger to escape waves of deadly Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1zil8Fx)

 

Raids by the Boko Haram insurgents in Cameroon’s Far North Region have created a cycle of fear and uncertainty, making teachers posted here balk at their responsibility, and forcing those on the ground to bribe their way out of “the zone of death.” (IPS http://bit.ly/1u6KTaB)

 

A cholera outbreak in southern Nigeria’s Rivers State has killed 20 people and infected scores more, the state health commissioner, Sampson Parker, said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1G29YZa)

 

Chad said on Wednesday it was ready to actively help Cameroon fight Boko Haram militants attacking it from Nigeria, and called on other countries in the region to translate pledges of support into concrete action. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sCztKE)

 

Ebola

 

Two men were killed and their bodies burned by an angry mob in Guinea convinced that the victims infected a local with Ebola, in the latest violence spurred by the deadly disease, police said (AFP http://yhoo.it/1u6KNzK)

 

The international Red Cross says a local employee has died of Ebola in Sierra Leone, becoming the first Red Cross worker or volunteer to succumb to the disease there. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wdR5rw)

 

A woman suspected of having Ebola was being treated on Wednesday at a hospital in Northampton, central England, a spokeswoman for the hospital said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sCzuOF)

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced a new project that will help African doctors better diagnose the Ebola virus. The project is part of the agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative that was launched in May of 2010. (VOA http://bit.ly/1wdYWFj)

 

Africa

 

Filipe Nyusi was sworn in as Mozambique’s new president on Thursday following his contested election victory last October, promising to modernise the economy and maintain peace in the east African state. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sCyutI)

 

Madagascar’s president named air force commander and businessman Jean Ravelonarivo as the new prime minister on Thursday, handing him the task of dealing with the mounting public complaints about blackouts and other problems that led his predecessor to quit. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1AUai6x)

 

Malawi deployed military helicopters and boats Thursday in a bid to rescue desperate flood victims stranded on patches of high ground after raging waters killed at least 48 people and left 100,000 homeless. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1zisGbo)

 

South Africa’s power reserves are all but exhausted and rolling blackouts will be an inevitable part of life in the continent’s most advanced economy for up to three years, state-run power utility Eskom warned on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1AUaGSz)

 

Police in Equatorial Guinea have arrested an opposition politician and a human rights activist who called for a boycott of the Africa Cup of Nations, due to start Saturday, opposition sources said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1G2aN4k)

 

Amnesty International on Thursday demanded a full inquiry into a bloody military crackdown on protestors whose uprising toppled Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1u9Q9EM)

 

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court will need extra funding to revive a long-dormant case against a Lord’s Resistance Army commander who was arrested in Africa last week, sources said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1wdSXjZ)

 

Mozambique’s new President Filipe Nyusi was sworn into office on Thursday in a ceremony boycotted by the main opposition party, which has rejected the results of October’s elections. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ygtn4Z)

 

MENA

 

Iraq has told President Barack Obama’s envoy that the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State needs to do more to help Iraq defeat the jihadists controlling large areas of the north and west of the country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1zilagI)

 

A search team has discovered 16 corpses in an area of northern Iraq formerly controlled by Islamic State militants, a local official said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1G2a5E0)

 

Islamic State has executed a Syrian it accused of belonging to a militant cell that ambushed its fighters and blew up its vehicles in the town of al-Mayadin near the border with Iraq, a monitoring group that tracks the conflict said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1wdR4Un)

 

Asia

 

Bangladesh’s paramilitary troops will shoot protesters who throw fire bombs, the chief of the force said on Thursday, to rein in violence over last year’s disputed elections that has killed 24 people. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1G2aLJJ)

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to increase the share of solar and wind power in India’s energy mix, and for his vision in accelerating the development of solar energy when he was chief minister of Gujarat. (IPS http://bit.ly/1u6Jpgz)

 

Sugarcane grower Nilesh Kadam has abandoned plans to buy a tractor. He doesn’t have enough money, like many Indian farmers hit by erratic weather and sliding prices for the cotton, soybean and rubber they produce. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1G2a4A0)

 

China has met its 2014 targets for air and water pollution control, the official news agency Xinhua said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1wdR5aZ)

 

Thailand’s constitution will include the term “third gender” for the first time, a member of a panel drafting a new charter said on Thursday, in a move to empower transgender and gay communities and ensure them fairer legal treatment. (VOA http://bit.ly/1ziIKKf)

 

The Americas

 

New travel and trade rules between the US and Cuba are to take effect on today, US officials say. Measures include allowing US citizens to use credit cards in Cuba and for US businesses to export some technologies. (BBC http://bbc.in/1wdGgpb)

 

Cuba has met the United Nations goal of reducing hunger. But anemia caused by malnutrition is still a problem among infants, small children and pregnant women in this Caribbean island nation, which has been in the grip of an economic crisis for over two decades. (IPS http://bit.ly/1ynvuRA)

 

Brazil for the first time approved the use of a marijuana derivative to treat people suffering from severe seizures and other conditions. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wdONIG)

 

Haiti has a new prime minister as it enters a phase of political uncertainty, with its parliament dissolved, opposition activists promising intensified street protests and its president ruling by decree because of a bitter standoff with lawmakers. (AP http://yhoo.it/1G2a2Z0)

 

Opinion/Blogs

 

2015: It’s time activists unite to hold leaders accountable (Devex http://bit.ly/1IOawOm)

 

This graphic shows just how brutal Boko Haram really is (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1ynnLTF)

 

Nigerian lives matter – the Baga controversy (IRIN http://bit.ly/1zi2y0d)

 

Control, Eliminate, Eradicate A Disease: What’s The Difference? (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1wdGJrB)

 

What is at stake in the Colombian peace process? (BBC http://bbc.in/1G29FgQ)

 

Charlie Hebdo and the Murders in France – Islam Is Not the Problem (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1wdWOgT)

 

The IMF and Ebola – Why We Don’t Have Any Good Answers (African Arguments http://bit.ly/1ziE32Z)

 

Celebrities push to make 2015 year of action on poverty and climate change (The Guardian http://bit.ly/1ziFNcq)

 

Research/Reports

 

Following a year marked by the conflict in Ukraine and the rise of the Islamic State, geopolitical issues are considered to be the biggest threat to global stability over the coming decade, according to experts polled by the World Economic Forum. (AP http://yhoo.it/1G2aUwz)

 

Asking people what they think: Using perceptions data to monitor the post-2015 agenda (ODI http://bit.ly/1u9W3Wd

said (Reuters http://bit.ly/1sCzwWP)

Discussion

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