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Sad About Cecil? These African Animals Are Slaughtered by the Thousands – The Daily Beast

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Sad About Cecil? These African Animals Are Slaughtered by the Thousands – The Daily Beast.

JUBA, South Sudan — A hopeful myth persists in this region that “wildlife refugees”—fauna in flight from war-ravaged habitats—will return one day when the conflict is over. Would that it were so. But in South Sudan, no end of the conflict appears in sight, and amid vast human suffering, nature is being ravaged as well.

The great icons of the wild—the elephants, the rhinos, the leopards and lions (so beloved of trophy hunting dentists and the heedless offspring of the outrageously rich) are gone or going fast. Conservationists say the “charismatic megafauna” are nearly wiped out here. No northern white rhino has been spotted in the region since 1981; only 2,500 elephant remain in all of South Sudan…”

New vaccine may end the biggest Ebola outbreak in history | Daily Maverick

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New vaccine may end the biggest Ebola outbreak in history | Daily Maverick.

Over a year – and 11,279 reported deaths – since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak, the first effective ‘armour’ against the virus has been developed. The VSV-ZEBOV vaccine showed 100% efficacy in offering protection from Ebola virus, according to preliminary results published in the Lancet on Friday. The vaccine is the result of a massive collaborative effort between the Guinean Government, World Health Organization (WHO), Doctors without Borders and others.

Beginning in March, the trial involved over 4,000 volunteers, all of whom had come into contact with Ebola patients. The participants were randomly divided into two groups. The first – the intervention group – immediately received the vaccine. To test the protection conferred by the vaccine, those in the second, or control, group were given the vaccine three weeks later. (Usually the control group is only given a placebo; however, this was decided against for ethical reasons).

Within 10 days of receiving the vaccine, both groups developed protection against Ebola…

Is ‘China in Africa’ something to fear? – The Washington Post

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Is ‘China in Africa’ something to fear? – The Washington Post.

Should the West fear China’s growing influence on the African continent? While there is no question that China and Chinese companies are changing the way African politicians seek aid and investment, the relationship between the two sides is far more complicated than simple narratives about “democracy or dictatorship” or “trade not aid” suggest. Veteran journalist Howard W. French explores this complexity in his book, “China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa.” He graciously took the time to answer my questions about the book and China’s role in Africa.

LS: Much of the discourse in American politics is that the U.S. should be afraid of China’s role in Africa because China is undemocratic or “trying to take over.” Is this a fair approach? Why or why not?

HF: I’m afraid the American discourse on China and Africa is very confused and generally not very insightful. Part of that is driven by the recent, still startled realization in this society of just how serious a competitor China is becoming, and part of that reflects the baggage of very old and nearly immutable American attitudes toward Africa, which are bound up in paternalism and in using Africa as a kind of vanity mirror to help us brighten our own self-image and feel better about ourselves…

Billion dollar ivory and gold trade fuelling DR Congo war: UN – Times LIVE

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Billion dollar ivory and gold trade fuelling DR Congo war: UN – Times LIVE.

“Militarised criminal groups with transnational links are involved in large-scale smuggling” of “gold, minerals, timber, charcoal and wildlife products such as ivory” of up to $1.3 billion each year from eastern DR Congo, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said.

The revenues finance at least 25 armed groups — but up to 49 according to some estimates — that “increasingly fuel the conflict” in the war-torn region, the report read.

Control over the mineral-rich areas is a key factor in the conflicts that have raged in eastern DR Congo for decades.

“These resources lost to criminal gangs and fuelling the conflict could have been used to build schools, roads, hospitals and a future for the Congolese people,” said Martin Kobler, UN chief in DR Congo, and head of the 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, MONUSCO….

How to Make the Sustainable Development Goals Work | Foreign Policy

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How to Make the Sustainable Development Goals Work | Foreign Policy.

“The two of us met for the first time more than a decade ago, in 2003, in the small rural village of Momemo, an hour’s drive and a world away from the urban bustle of Maputo, Mozambique’s capital and largest city. We were there to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of malaria on the lives of villagers in areas particularly hard hit by the disease.

But as we sat outdoors talking with a small group of villagers, the conversation covered a range of issues about the health and well-being of women and children in the village. How early did women marry here? How many children did they have? How many children had they lost to illness? Could they work and care for children severely sick with malaria?

Although the two of us came to that conversation with very different life experiences, we were drawn together by a common mission: enabling a healthier and more productive life for women and children in the poorest countries. Now we’re coming together again — this time to carry the voices of women like those we met in Momemo to a different conversation, one that will affect women everywhere for a generation to come.

As you read this, world leaders are engaged in discussions about a new global development plan that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire at the end of 2015…”

Hezbollah’s operations in west Africa – Blogs – Jerusalem Post

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Hezbollah’s operations in west Africa – Blogs – Jerusalem Post.

Last Thursday, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three Lebanese individuals – Mustapha Fawaz, Fouzi Fawaz and Abdallah Tahini –accusing them of running a significant Hezbollah supply network in west Africa. The trio, all Lebanese-born but now residing in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, have a history of alleged links to Hezbollah.

According to the Treasury Department, Mustapha Fawaz has had ties with the group since the 1990s, organizing a network of hidden cameras to monitor the movement of Israelis. Fawaz is also rumored to have provided Hezbollah with a report of his visit to the US Embassy in Abuja. In May 2013, the Nigerian authorities detained him, whereupon he gave up crucial intelligence on Hezbollah’s activities throughout the country. Fawaz’s confession led the Nigerian security services to an unremarkable property in the Nigerian city of Kano, where they uncovered a veritable armory  housing weapons to be used against Israeli targets across West Africa. Following this discovery, Mustapha’s brother – Fouzi Fawaz – along with Abdallah Tahini were apprehended by the Nigerian security forces and charged with supporting Hezbollah operations in the country. All three men have since been released.

Thursday’s sanctions were not the first time the Treasury Department has targeted individuals connected to Hezbollah in west Africa. In June of 2013, the United States blacklisted four Lebanese men – Ali Ibrahim al-Wafta, Abbas Loutfe Fawaz, Ali Ahmad Chehade and Hicham Nmer Khanafer – after they were accused of masterminding Hezbollah’s fundraising campaigns in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and the Gambia…

Is this the beginning of the end for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? | GlobalPost

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Is this the beginning of the end for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? | GlobalPost.

Schools reopened in Guinea this week, just as Mali became the region’s latest country to be declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization, following Nigeria and Senegal.

The two developments are signs that life is slowly returning to normal as West Africa recovers from the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic.

It is far from over yet. But there is, at last, hope that the end of the outbreak may be within sight.

There have been 21,614 cases of Ebola in this epidemic, and 8,594 deaths, according to the latest WHO figures. But crucially, the number of new cases is declining in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries worst affected.

Last week Sierra Leone and Guinea both recorded their lowest weekly totals of confirmed cases since August, while Liberia had its lowest weekly total since June.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has said he is “confident” the outbreak can be ended, provided “nothing unexpected happens.”…

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