Oscar Pistorius: Sentenced to five years in prison

b_160_0_16777215_00_images_ZAF130225AA001.jpegJOHANNESBURG — South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to prison for five years Tuesday for the 2013 killing of his girlfriend, less than half the time he could have received following his manslaughter conviction last month.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said a long sentence would show a lack of mercy toward Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner" for racing on prosthetic legs. She suspended a separate three-year sentence for an unrelated firearms charge.

Read more at USA Today

Boko Haram: Agrees to cease-fire, may release schoolgirls

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141023aa001.jpegLAGOS, Nigeria — More than 200 missing schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram may be released as part of an immediate cease-fire agreement with Nigerian officials, the government said Friday.

"The insurgents have assured the government that all those in their captivity, including the missing Chibok girls, are well and alive," Mike Omeri, the government spokesman, said in a statement. "They have also promised to release them without attaching any condition."

Read more at USA Today

Orphans abandoned: Shunned in Africa's Ebola crisis

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MONROVIA, Liberia — Ever since Frank Mulbah's mother died of Ebola in August, no one will go near him.

"I went to my relatives after my mother died, but they chased me away, even after I told them that I didn't have Ebola," said Frank, 12, who tested negative for Ebola at the hospital where his mother died.

Read more at USA Today

Nigeria succeeds: In containing Ebola

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegLAGOS, Nigeria — People here are shaking hands again, kissing, hugging, touching. These days, shops are open, people are working, and children are finally going back to school.

That's because Nigeria — Africa's most populous country — is officially Ebola-free, the health ministry said, even as the deadly virus rages on in neighboring countries, where lockdowns and quarantines are common and death rates are rising.

Read more at USA Today

Ebola burial: Teams in Sierra Leone go back to work

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FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Burial teams responsible for collecting the corpses of Ebola victims in Sierra Leone returned to work Wednesday, one day after going on strike because of a delay in receiving hazard pay.

Members of the teams receive $100 a week on top of their regular salary for working under extremely dangerous conditions but say they had not been paid in weeks. The Ebola burial teams are comprised of 600 workers in groups of 12 per team.

Read more at USA Today

Ebola also: Killing West African commerce

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SSD130415AA003.jpegFREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Mabinty Suma sells fish, vegetables and cooking oil along the once-packed Lumley Beach here in Sierra Leone's capital. Business is usually brisk, but not lately.

"The Ebola situation has made things difficult for me," said Suma, 34, who supports her family selling food items. "I can't move as usual across the border. In fact, business is just static, as customers are few these days — some of my most reliable customers have left the country."

Read more at USA Today

West Africans: Welcome U.S. effort to fight Ebola

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegFREETOWN, Sierra Leone – West Africans expressed gratitude for President Obama's pledge to send U.S. troops to fight the Ebola outbreak, but some feared that countries on the periphery of the crisis would be overlooked.

When Ibrahim Moiwo heard of Obama's announcement that he will send troops and other aid to fight the disease, "I felt relieved that the disease will soon be a thing of the past," said the Freetown mechanic, 45. "No support is too small in the fight against Ebola, which is gradually destroying our country."

Read more at USA Today

Oscar Pistorius: Found guilty of 'culpable homicide'

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JOHANNESBURG — A South African judge on Friday convicted athlete Oscar Pistorius of "culpable homicide" in the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

A conviction of culpable homicide, the term for manslaughter in South Africa, carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. Pistorius had already been cleared of murdering Steenkamp.

Read more at USA Today

Somalis wary: Of attacks as new terror leader chosen

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — A year ago, Somalis dared to hope this troubled east African country had turned a corner, leaving behind the chaos and violence of a past marred by terrorism.

Now, residents are bracing for fresh attacks as extremists seek revenge following the death of Ahmed Abdi Godane — leader of the militant group al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked organization in Africa — this week by a U.S. airstrike.

Read more at USA Today

Nigeria scrambles: To contain Ebola

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LAGOS, Nigeria — Africa's most populous country is scrambling to avoid the fate of nearby nations that have failed to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

An epidemic could devastate Nigeria's economy and overrun its meager health facilities. That's why the country has taken drastic measures to contain the spread of Ebola since Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer brought the virus to Lagos on a flight from Liberia on July 20.

Read more at USA Today

Ory Okolloh: 'Transparency advocates must learn from gay rights movement

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_KEN140814aa001.jpegThe U.S. wants transparency.  It says governments that post all their data online are more prosperous and stable than their opaque, Kafkaesque counterparts. But after the stage lights in Washington DC's Foggy Bottom district are dimmed on the US-Africa summit this week, and African leaders have jetted back to their respective capitals, the question on everyone's mind might be: will African leaders really sit around a table with NGOs and heed their calls? 

One of Africa's thought-leaders says she isn't so sure and thinks African open‑government activists might need to adopt a new strategy. "We need to learn from the gay rights movement," Ory Okolloh told me when we met on the sidelines of the Open Knowledge festival in Berlin last month.

Read more at The Guardian

Ebola: May expand its deadly reach beyond Africa

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DAKAR, Senegal — The deadly Ebola virus outbreak sweeping West Africa would likely expand farther because it's killing key medical professionals who are treating patients sick with the disease, health experts say.

"This outbreak is not showing any signs of slowing down," said Unni Krishnan, a doctor with the British relief agency Plan International, which is active throughout West Africa. "It is gaining more speed in some locations and killing even more people and now is affecting even more countries. It is all quite worrying."

Read more at USA Toay

Nigerian schools: Remain closed amid Boko Haram threats

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ABUJA, Nigeria — Three months ago, Nigeria closed schools in the northern state of Borno to protect students from bombings by Islamic terrorists who later abducted 300 girls. Amina Gambo attends class behind closed doors in a friend's house.

ill try and cover the remaining syllabus at home with the help of my teacher," the 15-year-old says. "I have not gone to school for the last two years."

Read more at USA Today

South Sudan: Refugees flood into Kenya only to face starvation

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TURKANA, Kenya - The refugees stream over Kenya's border by the hundreds, desperate to escape the horrific violence plaguing South Sudan.

But their safe haven is stalked by another killer, with drought and famine contributing to a hunger crisis that has forced the living to eat stray dogs roaming northwestern Kenya's region of Turkana in order to survive.

Read more at NBC News

Ebola outbreak: Now most deadly ever in West Africa

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegDAKAR, Senegal — West Africa's first-ever Ebola outbreak in humans is now the most deadly and geographically widespread outbreak on record and is threatening to spread, health officials say.

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been more than 635 cases of Ebola across three countries in the region since the outbreak was first declared in southeastern Guinea in March. It has since spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. At least 399 people have died.

Read more at USA Today

Kenya fights: Custom of female mutilation

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegKISII, Kenya — Thirteen-year-old Mercy Kemunto had a choice: Obey her parents and undergo the ritual female cutting as custom dictates or shame them by refusing the procedure.

" 'Don't worry, my daughter, you'll get a better husband,' " Mercy said her parents told her, hoping she would take what's considered a fundamental step in becoming an adult in her ultratraditional Kisii tribe in southern Kenya.

Read more at USA Today

U.N. sanctions: Boko Haram over girls

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegAJUBA, Nigeria — The U.N. Security Council has approved sanctions against Boko Haram, the Qaeda-linked terror organization that has killed hundreds in Nigeria and abducted more than 300 school girls last month.

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, welcomed the council's action, calling it "an important step in support of the government of Nigeria's efforts to defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable for atrocities."

Read more at USA Today

Congolese struggle: To start their own businesses

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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo — A man walks alongside a busy street, past cars stuck in traffic and the packed sidewalk. He pulls a heavy cart laden with garbage, his progress slow as he avoids pedestrians stepping out in front of him.

The man is one of many who pull these carts — called pousse-pousse — for a living in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. And it's backbreaking work.

Read more at USA Today

A morning: No one can forget in Nigeria

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ABUJA, Nigeria — It was the middle of an April night and the girls at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School were exhausted, asleep after a long day of prepping for physics exams.

It was quiet around the dormitory, deep in the heart of Borno in northern Nigeria, where the landscape is barren and life hard.

Read more at USA Today

New video: Shows missing Nigeria schoolgirls

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ABUJA, Nigeria — More than 100 of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped a month ago are shown dressed in full-length, black veils in a video released Monday by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

The authenticity of the 17-minute video, released to French newswire Agence France Presse and the Associated Press, has not been confirmed, and it is not clear when the footage was taken. It shows the girls – about half the number of students still missing – praying in hijabs at an undisclosed location.

Read more at USA Today

Nigerians beg: For help for kidnapped girls

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ABUJA, Nigeria – World pressure on Nigeria is mounting over its slow reaction and failure to rescue hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by terrorists in a remote part of the country.

Tuesday, President Obama called the abductions "outrageous" and "heartbreaking'' and said Nigeria has agreed to accept U.S. law enforcement and military assistance.

Read more at USA Today

'Born frees': Don't care about South Africa election

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa - South Africans headed to the polls Wednesday in the country's first general elections since the death of Nelson Mandela last year, and the first in which voters born after the fall of apartheid are old enough to take part.

Many of these young voters say they won't participate in the ballot.

Read more at USA Today

Terrorist attacks: Somalis living in Kenya face violence

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NAIROBI, Kenya - Crowds weave their way through street stands selling fruit, DVDs and textbooks. Shop owners raise rusty shutters and hip-hop music blares from motorcycles zigzagging through the pothole-ridden roads.

Six people died in this neighborhood last Monday, when three explosions tore through two restaurants and a clinic at rush hour. More than 600 people were arrested the following day. But that's business as usual in Eastleigh, a Somali-dominated suburb of the Kenyan capital.

Read more at Global Post

Sobbing Pistorius: Describes shooting his girlfriend

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SA140306aa001.jpegJOHANNESBURG - An emotional Oscar Pistorius broke down in court Tuesday as he struggled to recount his side of what led him to kill girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria how he had felt vulnerable without his prosthetic legs after hearing a noise coming from the bathroom.

Read more at USA Today

Ebola outbreak: Spreads in West Africa

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DAKAR, Senegal - The rising death toll in West Africa's Ebola outbreak has sparked fear across the region with at least 80 already having died from the nearly always fatal virus.

"Every day we're reading about it in the newspaper, hearing about it on the radio, and wondering when it's going to come here," said 32-year-old Mossa Bau, who lives in Dakar, Senegal. "Everyone is very scared because, really, it's a dangerous disease and no one has the means to stop it."

Read more at USA Today

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