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DGI Brief - Dec 23, 2016

Happy Friday to all. Today's top 3 global issues #news are about #Gambia #Brazil and a #GoodStoryFriday about #France:

- GAMBIA: President Jammeh, in power for 22 years, has lost the election to opposition leader Adama Barrow but refuses to step down due to his claims of voting irregularities. Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to send in military troops, to be led by Senegal, if President Jammeh does not hand over power by January 19. Why it matters: Jammeh has mobilized troops across the country & seems willing to authorize them to crush what are surely to be massive protests everywhere if he doesn’t step down. Gambia has a troubling record of human rights violations, arbitrary detentions, deaths in custody & torture of detainees as well as excessive use of forces against protesters. ECOWAS intervention to prevent bloodshed & help carry out the will of the people – a President Barrow regime – is a great step against eroding democracy as attempted by President Jammeh.

- BRAZIL: A new survey of literate women aged 18-38 (corresponding to 83% of female population in Brazil) shows that 56% are actively trying to avoid pregnancy for fears of birth defects caused by the Zika virus. Why it matters: The study showed that the numbers are high regardless of religious beliefs. 59% of Catholic, 55% of Evangelical women are avoiding pregnancy. In northeastern regions that were hardest hit by Zika, 66% of women are trying to avoid pregnancy. The figures are also higher for black (65%) & brown (56%) women, reflecting the disproportionate impact of the Zika epidemic on vulnerable communities lacking economic & healthcare opportunities. The study is fueling a movement to pressure the Brazilian government to address reproductive health concerns, improve access to wide range of contraceptive methods & education & review its stance on abortion. The data suggests a potentially significant drop for Brazil’s population growth & that is not good for the country’s future. Learn from the science, Brazil!

- #GoodStoryFriday FRANCE: Tourouvre-au-Perche, a small village in Normandy, inaugurated the Wattway: the first solar road in the world to test the concept as a part of series of solar projects throughout the region. Why it matters: A hefty pricetag of $522 million for 0.6 mile of road is the beginning in a series of solar projects by the Colas energy company to test the power & utility of Wattway – first in powering the village’s streetlights but later for other potentially wider uses. Across the ocean, the Missouri Department of Transportation is also working with Idaho’ Solar Roadways on similar projects including paving parts of Route 66 with interactive solar panels. Keep the innovation coming.

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