Plastic in the Oceans

A new study shows that each year, 8.8 million tons of plastic ends up in oceans. This is much higher than previous estimates. “And if the biggest polluters, mostly developing Asian countries, don’t clean up how they throw stuff away, Jambeck projects that by 2025 the total accumulated plastic trash in the oceans will reach around 170 million tons. That’s based on population trends and continued waste management disposal problems, although there may be some early signs of change, she said. More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20. The U.S. and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.” (AP

Aid for child labor? “Children as young as eight are working 15-hour days making bricks that have been used in major international development projects in Nepal…A Guardian investigation has revealed that “blood bricks”, tainted by human rights abuses such as child labour, have also been used in other major construction projects in Nepal, including a multimillion pound upgrade of Tribhuvan international airport funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a new Marriott hotel and a project to improve Kathmandu’s domestic air terminal.” (Guardian

Slogan of the Day: “Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms!”  The Story: North Korea unveiled Thursday an exclamation mark peppered list of 310 new political slogans covering every conceivable topic, from the glories of the ruling Kim dynasty and mushroom cultivation to the importance of dependable wives and “offensive” sports. (AFP

Quote of the Day: “Come on, Monrovia, you got this.” Context:  Buzzfeed writer Jina Moore referring to Montserrado county’s lingering new ebola cases when most of Liberia has been declared ebola-free.

Nigeria/Boko Haram

A suspected local leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist group was arrested and several weapons including rocket launchers seized from his home in the town of Diffa in southern Niger on Thursday, security sources said. (Reuters

A suspected female suicide bomber blew herself up in a market in the town of Biu in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state on Thursday, witnesses and a community leader said. (Reuters

Thousands of civilians fled their homes in the southeastern Niger town of Diffa this week, officials said on Thursday, following waves of cross-border raids and suicide bombings by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. (Reuters

Security forces in Niger have killed 260 Boko Haram militants since the group began cross-border attacks on Niger’s southeastern Diffa region on Feb. 6, a spokesman for the armed forces said on Thursday. (Reuters


Zambia’s chief prosecutor was arrested on Thursday over corruption accusations, police said, in the first high profile case since new President Edgar Lungu was elected promising to end graft. (Reuters

South Sudanese security forces have arrested a leading journalist for reportedly trying to cover a protest amid warnings of a growing press crackdown, colleagues and rights groups said Thursday. (AFP

International donors wishing to help Guinea fight Ebola should use their money to strengthen the West African country’s health system and help it tackle future epidemics instead of building more Ebola treatment centres, a government official said. (Reuters

Education chiefs apologised on Thursday for wrongly announcing a postponement of the reopening of Ebola-hit Liberia’s schools, blaming the mix-up on “problems at the ministry”. (AFP

Red Cross teams in Ebola-hit Guinea have been attacked on average 10 times a month over the past year, the charity said on Thursday, warning that the violence was hampering efforts to contain the disease. (Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission has set Nov. 27, 2016 for presidential and legislative elections, an official said in the capital on Thursday. (Reuters

Burundian troops executed at least 47 surrendered rebels last month, part of a “broader pattern” of violence coming ahead of key elections, Human Rights Watch said Thursday, claims rejected by government. (AFP

The United Nations and its partners have allocated $9.2 million in emergency funding to save lives and bring help to people in three districts hardest hit by floods in southern Malawi. (Reuters

Security guards entered South Africa’s parliament on Thursday to remove opposition lawmakers who disrupted an annual address by President Jacob Zuma to demand that he answer questions about a spending scandal. (AP


The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at choking off millions of dollars in earnings from oil smuggling, antiquities trafficking and ransom payments to the Islamic State group. (AFP

Ukraine is set to receive about $40 billion in funding over the next four years, nearly half of which will come from the International Monetary Fund, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in Brussels as talks on the Ukraine conflict resumed in Minsk. (Reuters

An Egyptian judge on Thursday ordered the release on bail of a pair of Al-Jazeera English journalists being retried on terror-related charges, bringing cheers from their families who have sought to get them out of detention for more than a year and are hoping for a resolution in the case. (AP

The European Union must establish a full search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean following the death this week of hundreds of migrants who were trying to reach Italy, the U.N. refugee chief said on Thursday. (Reuters

The United Nations warned on Thursday that Yemen is “collapsing before our eyes”, on the brink of civil war and prime for Al Qaeda militants to grow stronger in the country as talks on a political settlement continue. (Reuters

A Syrian opposition leader called Thursday on world leaders to take “immediate action” to end government attacks on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, amid reports that some 150 people have been killed in government airstrikes in the past 10 days. (AP


Sri Lanka’s new government that won a surprise election victory last month called for a postponement in the publication of a U.N. investigation into allegations of war crimes committed during the island nation’s civil war. (AP

A new law that enables Myanmar to hold a referendum on amending the constitution is unlikely to bring changes that would allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to become president after this year’s general election, a ruling party MP said on Thursday. (Reuters

Muslim rebels in the Philippines promised the government on Thursday they would help track down a wanted militant in a bid to save a peace process thrown into doubt by a clash in which 44 policemen were killed. (Reuters

Officials in Iran say methamphetamine production and abuse of hard drugs are skyrocketing in the country despite potentially lethal criminal penalties for users if they are caught. (AP

The Americas

Friends and foes of Venezuela’s socialist government braved pouring rain Thursday to stage dueling marches on the anniversary of the protest movement that wracked the country last year. (AP

As Carnival begins in Rio de Janeiro, the city is bracing for possible water shortages as a severe drought that has dried up reservoirs in Brazil’s southeast hits the country’s top tourist destination. (TRF

About 3,000 people from Brazil’s Homeless Workers Movement, which invades open lands and buildings in cities across the continent-sized nation, pitched their shelters a few days ago on six large tracts in and around the capital of Brasilia. (AP

..and the rest

The UK is spending billions of pounds on aid to fragile states but the program has been ramped up too quickly, without proper scrutiny, and is not yet making a real difference, a government watchdog has warned. (Guardian


Why South Sudan’s children are fighting again (IRIN

Analysis: Obama’s successor could inherit Mideast conflict (AP

‘Africa rising’ narrative takes a hit as foreign investors scale back investment (GlobalPost

Who pays? Who cuts emissions? 5 issues for UN climate deal (AP

Embedding with Aid Agencies: Editorial Integrity and Security Risks (Frontline Club London

With shift to local aid, corruption a rising challenge (Devex

The government wants ‘payment by results’ for aid – but they can’t have their cake and eat it too (The Guardian

Adapting development: Why it matters and 3 ways to do it (Devex