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Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google

Timnit Gebru, an internationally respected Google researcher, took to Twitter last week to air her mistreatment in the hands of Google officials who sought to silence her concerning her latest research that discovered racial bias in current Artificial Intelligence technology. (Photo via @GoogleWalkout/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 8th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Ethiopian American Timnit Gebru– whom we have featured several time in Tadias including when she was a graduate student at Stanford University and was named by Forbes magazine among 21 incredible women behind artificial intelligence research that’s fueling new discoveries in the field — took to Twitter to air her mistreatment in the hands of Google officials who sought to silence her concerning her latest research that discovered racial bias in current Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) technology.

Judging by the widely circulated media coverage of the unfortunate episode and the manner in which Google handled the rushed dismissal of one of its top scientists and an internationally renown Ethical A.I. researchers in the world, to say that the corporation made a historical mistake and long-lasting damage to its well cultivated image as a forward-looking technology company is an understatement.

As The New York Times reported, Timnit, “a well-respected Google researcher said she was fired by the company after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today’s artificial intelligence systems. Timnit Gebru, who was a co-leader of Google’s Ethical A.I. team, said in a tweet on Wednesday evening that she was fired because of an email she had sent a day earlier to a group that included company employees. In the email, reviewed by The New York Times, she expressed exasperation over Google’s response to efforts by her and other employees to increase minority hiring and draw attention to bias in artificial intelligence.”


Timnit Gebru, a respected researcher at Google, questioned biases built into artificial intelligence systems. (The New York Times)

Wired magazine added: “Timnit Gebru’s tweets about the incident Wednesday night triggered an outpouring of support from AI researchers at Google and elsewhere, including top universities and companies such as Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia. Many said Google had tarnished its reputation in the crucial field, which CEO Sundar Pichai says underpins the company’s business. Late Thursday, more than 200 Google employees signed an open letter calling on the company to release details of its handling of Gebru’s paper and to commit to “research integrity and academic freedom.”


“We have been pleading for representation but there are barely any Black people in Google Research,” says Timnit Gebru, who says she was fired Wednesday. (GETTY IMAGES)

In a scathing email to her colleagues at Google that was later published in full on the Silicon Valley news website Platformer, Timnit pointed out how top management at the company has not honored its commitment to employ more minority and woman professionals. “Your life starts getting worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people. You start making the other leaders upset,” her email stated. “There is no way more documents or more conversations will achieve anything.” She concluded: “So if you would like to change things, I suggest focusing on leadership accountability and thinking through what types of pressures can also be applied from the outside. For instance, I believe that the Congressional Black Caucus is the entity that started forcing tech companies to report their diversity numbers. Writing more documents and saying things over and over again will tire you out but no one will listen.”


Timnit Gebru, speaking at TechCrunch disrupt in 2018. (Getty Images)

As of today nearly 4,000 people including 1534 Google employees and 2196 academic, industry, and civil society supporters have signed an online petition titled “We stand with Timnit Gebru” and calling “on Google Research to strengthen its commitment to research integrity and to unequivocally commit to supporting research that honors the commitments made in Google’s AI Principles.”

Below are links to the stories from The New York Times, Wired magazine, Timnit’s email as published on the Platformer website as well as the support letter signed by thousands of her professional colleagues from around the world:

Google Researcher Says She Was Fired Over Paper Highlighting Bias in A.I. (NYT)

A Prominent AI Ethics Researcher Says Google Fired Her (Wired)

The withering email that got an ethical AI researcher fired at Google (Platformer)

We stand with Timnit Gebru (Google Walkout For Real Change)

Related:

Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

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Biden Running Mate Search Zeroes in on Four Black Women (U.S. Election Update)

Senator Kamala Harris, former U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance are all under serious consideration to become the next U.S. Vice Presidential Nominee. The candidates reflect the growing prominence of African American women amid a national uproar over police violence and racism that has sparked protests around the country. - TWP (AP photos)

The Washington Post

Biden running mate search zeroes in on group that includes at least four black women

Joe Biden’s search for a running mate has advanced to the next phase as his campaign conducts more extensive reviews of some prospects, including at least several African American women, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Among the candidates who have progressed to the point of more comprehensive vetting or have the potential to do so are Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), former national security adviser Susan E. Rice and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, all of whom are black. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is white, is also in that group, as is New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is Latina.

The pool of prospects remains fluid, and some close Biden allies suggested other contenders could also face the more intensive vetting process. The people describing the situation spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive private conversations and an evolving search process.

The Biden campaign declined to comment. Biden has vowed to choose a woman, and Biden has repeatedly stressed that he wants a running mate who is “simpatico” with him.

The candidates who continue to be under consideration by the campaign reflect in part the growing prominence of African American women amid a national uproar over police violence and racism that has sparked protests around the country. These developments have added pressure on Biden to select a black woman as his ticket mate.

“I think that a ticket that is not reflective of the diversity of this country is a ticket that is doomed to fail,” said Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), who said she has long felt Biden should pick a black woman and feels “even more so now.”

Biden’s search is attracting even more attention than that of most candidates because at 77, he would be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Beyond potential health issues, some Democrats believe that if elected, Biden might not seek a second term, giving his vice president an early advantage in the race to become the next chief executive.

Read more »


Related:

Obama Steps Out as America Confronts Confluence of Crises

Joe Biden Officially Announces He is Running for U.S President in 2020

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CREW Announces 2018 MSF Research Grant on Topics Affecting Ethiopian Women

The academic fellowship is dedicated to Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw (right), the former President of Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women. (Photo by Matt Andrea: Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw speaking at a Tadias roundtable event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on December 14, 2013)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

February 19th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Maigenet Shifferraw Fellowship (MSF) announced that it’s now accepting research proposals from around the world on topics affecting Ethiopia women internationally.

The annual academic fellowship, which is managed by the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), “provides short-term financial compensation for those conducting research on girls or women [as well as] community organizations striving to empower or improve the situation of Ethiopian girls and women in Ethiopia,” the announcement said.”

The fellowship was established two years ago to honor the late Ethiopian researcher and activist Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, who was the founding President of CREW. Describing its guiding principles, MSF’s media statement reads: “First, the experience of Ethiopian women and girls, like in other parts of the world, needs to be researched and documented so that we all can gain some knowledge and serve humanity better. Second, those who strive to protect women and girls’ rights and improve their situation need to be recognized and encouraged.”

CREW states that it encourages applicants to submit their proposal by March 10, 2018.


Learn more about the fellowship at centerforethiopianwomen.org.

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Gebisa Ejeta Receives $5M Grant for Grain Research

Gebisa Ejeta is an Ethiopian American plant breeder, geneticist and Professor at Purdue University. In 2009, he won the World Food Prize for his major contributions in the production of sorghum. (Photo: Purdue)

AP

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University professor has received a $5 million grant to help develop hybrid grain seeds that will resist parasite weeds.

Gebisa Ejeta received the four-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Journal and Courier reported. It is the second foundation that has donated to the cause.

“It’s very helpful a grant such as this for the kind of programs that they support in developing countries because it allows us to engage beyond the normal boundaries we operate,” Ejeta said.

Ejeta and his researchers are hoping to expand the knowledge between the parasite weed gene that attacks sorghum. He also hopes young entrepreneurs in developing countries will be mass producing the seeds at the end of the four years.

Ejeta grew up in a one-room thatched hut in Ethiopia and eventually became a professor at Purdue. He developed a hybrid sorghum seed that’s drought-tolerant and resistant to striga, which strips food sources from its nutrients.

Ejeta is credited with helping feed hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa with his work developments.

He also received the 2009 World Food Prize for his work after spending 15 years designing the hybrid seed. The prize is considered the top global honor for scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food.


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Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

Timnit Gebru, a Computer Science PhD Candidate at Stanford University emphasizes inclusion and diversity in the artificial intelligence field. (Photo: Stanford)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: May 22nd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Forbes Magazine featured Ethiopian-born Timnit Gebru among 21 incredible women behind artificial intelligence research that’s fueling new discoveries in the field. “You already know that artificial intelligence is transforming virtually every industry and function,” the business publication wrote. “But you might not have met the brilliant AI researchers and technologists driving the edge of innovation.”

Timnit Gebru, who came to the United States when she was 16 years old and is currently a PhD candidate at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, states “my main research interest lies in data mining large scale publicly available images to gain sociological insight, and working on computer vision problems that arise as a result,” adding that her “research is supported by the NSF foundation GRFP fellowship and currently the Stanford DARE fellowship.”

Forbes highlights that Timnit also “actively works to boost diversity and inclusion in the field of AI.” After noticing that she was the only black woman at a major AI conference, she co-founded the social community Black In AI to drive connection and participation in AI research. In addition Timnit returned to Ethiopia to co-teach AddisCoder, a programming bootcamp, to a diverse range of young students and to help them gain admissions into top U.S. colleges.

“This is the most diverse/inclusive classroom I have ever been in,” says Timnit regarding her Ethiopia experience. “All regions of Ethiopia were represented with many religions and at least 10 languages (there were 85 students). There were different income levels ranging from students working as shoe shiners to put themselves through school to kids who went to private middle schools. Some kids had never touched a computer before while others have programmed in Java. But all of them currently understand the basics of recursion, dynamic programming, graphs etc. And they only took this class for one month. I hope to one day see a computer science classroom in the U.S. that is this diverse.”

Forbes notes that “since AI affects all aspects of society, even being used to manipulate elections and identify criminals, Gebru cautions that “AI researchers should not be silent regarding the repercussions of their work. Only when technology creators tend to inclusion will the exponential benefits of artificial intelligence positively impact all.”


Related:

The Economist appluads Timnit Gebru’s recent work: A machine-learning census of America’s cities

Spotlight: TADIAS Interview With Solomon Kassa, Host of TechTalk on EBS

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UC Davis Researcher Killed in Ethiopia Remembered Fondly

Sharon Gray, a UC Davis postdoctoral researcher was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia when the vehicle she was riding in was stoned by protesters, university official said. (Photo: The Sacramento Bee)

The Sacramento Bee

The UC Davis postdoctoral researcher who was killed in Ethiopia on Tuesday was described by as a “bright light” who was a hard worker with an appetite for travel, according to a woman identifying herself on Facebook as the victim’s sister.

UC Davis officials said Wednesday that Sharon Gray, 30, died while riding in a vehicle that was stoned by protesters in the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Gray, who worked in the university’s plant biology department, was in the East African nation to attend a meeting related to her research, according to the university.

“My sister was the most exceptional human being anyone of us has ever known. She touched every life she encountered in a positive and beautiful way,” wrote Ruth Gray Wilke in a Facebook post. She added that Gray enjoyed camping and traveling. “My sister took in as much of this world as she could,” she wrote in the Facebook post.

Watch: UC Davis researcher killed in Ethiopia remembered fondly


American Killed in Ethiopia Identified as UC Davis Researcher Sharon Gray

The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis officials said Wednesday that a postdoctoral researcher in the university’s plant biology department was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia when the vehicle she was riding in was stoned by protesters.

Sharon Gray was in the East African nation to attend a meeting related to her research, according to the university.

A UC Davis news release said the circumstances of Gray’s death were unclear. But Andy Fell, a university spokesman, confirmed that Gray was the American woman who was reported killed when stones were hurled at her vehicle on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.

According to news reports, crowds have attacked other vehicles since a stampede at a weekend protest killed at least 55 people. The protests have centered on land and political rights in Ethiopia.

Another member of the plant biology department who was traveling with Gray was not injured and is headed home, officials said.

University officials said Gray, 31, was attending a meeting to discuss the next steps in a project she was involved in with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and other charitable organizations.

She had been at UC Davis since 2013, Fell said. He said Gray’s husband is also a university employee.

The U.S. State Department is assisting in returning Gray’s body to her family.

Read more »


Related:
Amid Civil Unrest, Ethiopian Immigration to Israel Resume After 3-year Freeze
U.S. citizen killed, foreign factories attacked in Ethiopia
US Says Female American Citizen Killed in Ethiopia Amid Protest
After Ethiopia Irrecha Tragedy, Renewed Calls on U.S to Take Stronger Measure
Ethiopia Protests Continue Over Fatal Bishoftu Stampede at Irrecha Festival

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Online Hate Speech & Elections in Ethiopia: Oxford Researchers Call for Experts

How does internet hate speech in the Ethiopian cyberspace affect discourse among Ethiopians worldwide? Researchers at Oxford University are conducting a study to find the answer. (Image: Nerve.com)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press release – Oxford University Consulting

Oxford University Consulting is seeking 4 Researcher Consultants and 2 Senior Researcher Consultants for the Project “Online Hate Speech and Elections in Ethiopia.” The study will develop an empirically grounded understanding of the nature of online debates before and after elections, with a specific focus on how different actors engage or fail to engage online in a polarized political environment. The researchers will be responsible for supporting the study and analyzing media content.

The positions will be on a self-employed basis for approximately 15-20 hours per week and initially for 6 months, which may be renewable for a further 6 months. Additional hours may be available depending on experience and the needs of the project.

Junior Researchers will be paid at a rate of £9/hour, Senior Researchers will be paid at a rate of £14/hour.

The candidates should have:

  • Perfect command of Amharic and English and preferably of another language spoken in Ethiopia (Oromiffa, Tigrigna, Somali);
  • Familiarity with social science research, with a particular emphasis on content analysis and interview techniques;
  • Familiarity with the social and political history of Ethiopia;
  • Proven ability to work independently;
  • Strong research ethics;
  • Ability to achieve results timely and under pressure;
  • A BA degree with a graduate degree strongly preferred;

    Senior Researchers are also expected to:

  • Hold a graduate degree in a social science subject;
  • Have experience with software for quantitative research;
  • Prove their ability to supervise a team of researchers and ensure results are provided in a timely matter.

    Applications should be sent to Dr. Matti Pohjonen (mp41@soas.ac.uk) and should include:

  • A curriculum vitae;
  • A cover letter, indicating the reasons for applying, and whether and to which extent the candidate fulfills the requirements for the position;
  • The name and the contact details of 2 references (for the position of Researcher) or 3 references (for the position of Senior Researcher);
  • A writing sample (Up to 2000 words for junior researchers and up to 5000 words for senior researchers. Writing samples can include university papers, sections of master thesis, academic papers, newspapers articles, blog posts).

    Applications will be collected on a rolling basis until 24 November 2014 (5 pm GMT), and we strongly encourage applicants to apply before the deadline. Interviews will take place on 27 and 28 November either via Skype or phone or in person in London or Oxford.

    Informal queries can be sent to Matti Pohjonen (mp41@soas.ac.uk). Please include either “Researcher” or “Senior Researcher” in the subject line of the email with both the informal queries and the job application.

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  • Texas Police Searching for Missing Mother of Two Almaz Gebremedhin

    Almaz Gebremedhin, 42, hasn't been seen since she left her home in Wylie, Texas on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014. (Family photo: WFAA)

    WFAA

    Jobin Panicker, WFAA

    WYLIE — Almaz Gebremedhin has been missing now for five days. The 42-year-old mother of two of Ethiopian descent was last seen leaving for work last Thursday.

    Sisay Zelelew is hoping for any news that points to where his wife is.

    “Every minute, every second, every hour… it’s just like being in the dark,” Zelelew said.

    Gebremedhin left for work Thursday morning, but her employer told Zelelew that she didn’t show up there. She also didn’t pick up her two kids from school later that day.

    “I don’t how I’m going to handle it without her. I don’t know…I don’t know,” the forlorn father said, standing next to his two young children.

    Gebremedhin is a nurse’s assistant, and she works three miles from her home. Zelelew and the Ethiopian community have looked everywhere along that route.

    “We don’t get reports like this often,” said Wylie Police Department spokesperson Nuria Arroyo. The department was notified about the disappearance on Thursday afternoon.

    “We’ve been looking for her or her vehicle everywhere we can think of, and we have not located either,” Arroyo said. Police are hoping for more tips from the public.

    Read more »



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    Ethiopia Becomes China’s China in Search for Cheap Labor

    Ethiopian employees work inside the Huajian Shoes' factory outside Addis Ababa. (Photographer: Ilya Gridneff/Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg News

    By Kevin Hamlin, Ilya Gridneff and William Davison

    July 22, 2014

    Ethiopian workers strolling through the parking lot of Huajian Shoes’ factory outside Addis Ababa last month chose the wrong day to leave their shirts untucked.

    Company President Zhang Huarong, just arrived on a visit from China, spotted them through the window, sprang up and ran outside. The former People’s Liberation Army soldier harangued them loudly in Chinese, tugging at one man’s aqua polo shirt and forcing another’s shirt into his pants. Nonplussed, the workers stood silently until the eruption subsided.

    Shaping up a handful of employees is one small part of Zhang’s quest to profit from Huajian’s factory wages of about $40 a month -– less than 10 percent the level in China.

    Read more at Businessweek.com »

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    Dr. Segenet Kelemu’s Research Aims to Ensure Food Security

    Dr. Segenet Kelemu, head of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya, is winner of the 2014 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. (Women's Daily Wear/UNESCO)

    Discov-Her

    Ethiopian scientist Segenet Kelemu is working to improve the resistance and productivity of forage grasses, which are used to feed the animals (and so to produce milk and meat). Born in a rural village and defying strong cultural norms, she managed to have an international career and return to Africa where she shared her much needed knowledge.

    The main food source for much of the world’s livestock, forage grasses are vitally important to meeting the increasing demand for meat and milk. Dr. Segenet Kelemu has been recognized for her research on how microbes living in symbiosis with these grasses influence their health, their capacity to adapt to environmental stress and their ability to resist disease.

    Read more.



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    Yared Tekabe’s Research Shows Promising Results in Treatment of Diabetes

    Dr. Yared Tekabe in his office at Columbia University's William Black building in New York. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

    New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Yared Tekabe, a research scientist at Columbia University, has been working on groundbreaking non-invasive detection of heart diseases such as atherosclerosis — the building up of plaque in your arteries — which can lead to heart attack or stroke. After developing a tracer that could show the presence of a receptor called RAGE in areas where tissues were inflamed, Tekabe and his colleagues have now moved from detection and diagnostics to applying anti-RAGE antibodies for therapeutic purposes.

    “Until now we were focusing on early diagnosis of heart diseases using our anti-RAGE antibody to detect diseases such as atherosclerosis and cardiomyopathy — a condition where muscle tissue of the heart becomes enlarged or rigid leading to irregular heartbeat or heart failure,” says Tekabe in a recent interview with Tadias. “At the time we didn’t realize the therapeutic potential for the antibody.”

    Now anti-RAGE antibodies have become a game-changer as RAGE has been implicated in up to 12 diseases including diabetes, cancer, metabolic disorders and chronic inflammation.

    Tekabe initially sent anti-RAGE antibody to his former advisor at Northeastern University who conducts research on human cancer cells and asked him to study the effect of the antibody on human tissue culture. His advisor had used three cell lines including those for human prostate cancer, sensitive ovarian cancer, and multi-drug resistant ovarian cancer.

    “One of the problems in cancer treatment is that there is drug resistance, and we wanted to use the antibody on these cells. We found that 70% of the multi-drug resistant ovarian cancer cells died!” Yared exclaims. “So the antibody has brought really good results. If you ask what is the next step, I would say that we would like to study its therapeutic possibility on animal models.”

    Another primary study conducted by Tekabe using anti-RAGE antibody focuses on complications of late stage diabetes such as ischemia. “In individuals that have diabetes they often undergo hand and leg amputations due to poor blood circulation,” Tekabe explains. “So what I did was to make mice have high blood glucose and induce diabetes and ligated or bound their femoral artery to restrict circulation.” The mice were then treated with anti-RAGE antibody and compared to a control group that didn’t receive the antibody treatment. Tekabe and his colleagues were surprised to find that the treated mice showed new blood vessels were forming in their hindlimb. In effect the ischemia caused by late stage diabetes was being reversed.

    “We looked to see if this antibody treatment also reversed the high blood glucose level or affected body weight of the diabetic mice, but we didn’t find any significant changes in these two factors,” Tekabe adds. However, the formation of new blood vessels is a significant finding that points to the possible therapeutic use of the antibody for human diabetic patients, a promising therapy for those who may otherwise have to undergo amputations.

    Tekabe’s research was recently published in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. “Moving forward we hope to continue the research and advance to human diabetic treatment, after humanizing the antibody first” he says. “We are also looking at possible therapeutic uses of the antibody for other conditions including kidney failure and heart failure, which are also often diagnosed in late stage diabetic patients.”

    Tekabe and his colleagues are currently securing additional funds to get a second patent for this research and focus on using the antibody for theranostics — both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

    Related:
    Yared Tekabe Uses Molecular Imaging for Early Detection of Heart Disease
    Yared Tekabe’s Groundbreaking Research in Heart Disease

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    In Search of Family Ties’ By Laura Kebede

    Laura Kebede met many members of her family for the first time when she traveled to her father's homeland in Ethiopia in January. (RTD)

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

    BY LAURA KEBEDE

    I once convinced a Tunisian guard I was Tunisian to avoid a foreigner’s fee at a museum. All it took was sunglasses to hide my hazel eyes and a Tunisian friend to, eh, explain that I was deaf.

    In Cambodia, I put my brown arm up to a dark-skinned girl’s arm when she obsessed over my friends’ lighter skin because she believed white American skin was ideal. When she noticed our similar skin tones, it put her more at ease — that is until she discovered my unusual poufy hair.

    So going to Ethiopia, my father’s home, should be easy, I told myself in January before I embarked on a three-week father-daughter trip. I’m quick to find common ground no matter where I am, and these people are half my heritage.

    Accordingly, half of everyone I interacted with assumed I spoke Amharic, the official language, or Tigrinya, my father’s language. The other half could tell a mile away that I was American. It must have been my marvel-glazed eyes.

    All I had imagined about Ethiopia was coming to life, and I’d been imagining for a long time: the mountains, the food, the ancient rock-hewn churches and, of course, the coffee — Ethiopia’s gift to the world.

    I also often wondered about my father’s only sister and her nine children. I had only overheard her and my father talk in the familiar tones of Tigrinya some nights when she happened to travel from their rural birthplace of Adeba to somewhere with a phone.

    Read more.

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    Play About Adoption: Let’s Say They Did Their Research

    From left, the playwright Tanya Barfield, the actress Kerry Butler and the Primary Stages artistic director, Andrew Leynse. (NYT)

    The New York Times

    By FELICIA R. LEE

    They didn’t see eye to eye on everything, but on one pivotal moment the playwright, Tanya Barfield, and her lead actress, Kerry Butler, agreed: When Ms. Butler’s character finally receives the photo of the child she hopes to adopt, the scene needed to be extended for a beat, or two, or three.

    “It’s weird how you can even fall in love with a photograph and start showing it around or just start looking at it dozens of times in a day,” Ms. Butler said. Both women were intimately familiar with the issues — race and parenthood — raised by Ms. Barfield’s new drama, “The Call,” which depicts a white couple mulling whether to adopt a child from Africa. Ms. Barfield’s son and daughter were adopted from Ethiopia, as were Ms. Butler’s two daughters, the youngest of whom arrived last summer.

    Read more at NYT.

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    Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

    Lemma W. Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park has been appointed Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC).

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012

    New York (TADIAS) – Professor Lemma W. Senbet, an internationally recognized leader in finance studies, has been appointed as the new head of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) – a Kenya-based non-profit organization that conducts independent research concerning the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Lemma currently teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park where he also chaired the Finance Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

    Dr. Lemma was selected for the AERC position after a worldwide search. Speaking to Tadias about the agency Dr. Lemma stated, “This is an organization which has already achieved immense success in building capacity for research and training to inform economic policies in Africa,” noting that his appointment as the Executive Director of AERC comes at a time when a number of countries in the region are enjoying strong economic growth.

    “My goal is to lead it to move to the next level of excellence, and I will be embarking on strategies for full global integration of the AERC and its visibility beyond Africa as an organization that is at the cutting edge of best policy research practices,” Professor Lemma said. “It is also my purpose to aggressively work on enhancing diversity of global partnership beyond the current generous partners, including the UK development agency, World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, Gates Foundation, Nordic countries, etc.” He added: “It is important that we scale up the partnership of African institutions as well as the private sector engaged at the interface of private and public policy issues, such as governance, risk management, and financial regulation.”

    Professor Lemma noted that he hopes to emphasize research and finding ways of delivering measurable and credible results for those managing the content’s financial system. “In the ultimate, the purpose is to build capacity to do rigorous research and provide training to impact economic policies which help sustain, and even accelerate, the current economic growth momentum in Africa,” he said.

    On a personal level Dr. Lemma said he feels honored that after an extensive international search, the AERC board has chosen him to serve as Executive Director. “I feel privileged that I am invited to head this premier policy research organization with global reach at this important juncture in the continent,” he said. “I cannot ask for better timing.”

    Professor Lemma will take a leave from his academic position and relocate to Nairobi in Summer 2013.

    In a profile highlight that appeared in this magazine in 2004, the Ethiopian native had shared with us then that as a young man he gave up his aspirations of becoming an engineer after hearing news of the opening of a new business school at Addis Ababa University. He enrolled at the business school and graduated with top honors. He went on to acquire a Masters in Business Administration from University of California, Los Angeles, and a PhD in International Finance from State University of New York in Buffalo.

    Prior to joining the University of Maryland, he taught at University of Wisconsin, Madison, and was a visiting professor at Northwestern University, University of California, Berkeley, and New York University.

    Since then, Professor Lemma has advised the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and several other agencies in areas relating to corporate finance, capital market development, financial sector reforms and banking regulation. He has also served as Director of the American Finance Association as well as President of the Western Finance Association. Over the years, Dr. Lemma has sat on the editorial boards of prestigious peer-reviewed publications, including the Journal of Finance, Financial Management, and the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis.

    More recently, he was recognized by the Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) as a distinguished scholar, teacher and role-model. And he is also a recipient of an honorary doctor of letters from Addis Ababa University, his alma mater.

    Regarding his new job, Professor Lemma said he feels positive returning to Africa at this time in history. “Yes, Sub-Saharan African countries have been in what amounts to growth renaissance over the last five to six years,” he said. “The growth momentum has been in the same proportion of the Asian Tigers in the 1990s. Just today (August 9), The New York Times reported that seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are now domiciled in Africa.” He continued: “This just reinforces other recent stories, including the highly acclaimed cover story “The Hopeful Continent: Africa Rising” in the Economist (December 2011).”

    “Is it sustainable?” we asked.

    “That is the big question, “Professor Lemma answered. “On the optimistic side, it should be recognized that the recent dramatic gains are not accidental. They are payoffs to two decades of genuine economic and financial sector reforms, including large scale privatization programs and empowerment of private initiative, as well as improved economic governance.” He added: “Moreover, advances in technology and Africa’s increased integration into the global economy have fueled the development. Of course, at the center of that is human capital development which is an outcome of capacity building. Thus, on the positive, there are powerful forces that help sustain, and even accelerate the recent gains, and I am pleased that AERC will play a central role in the capacity building front. However, there are threats, particularly the ongoing Euro crisis, given that Europe remains a major trading partner to Africa. The Euro crisis could also affect Africa indirectly through the adverse impact on other trading partners, particularly China which is now the key player in Africa.”

    Speaking of the “the Euro crisis”, what are Professor Lemma’s thoughts on the overall global financial crisis and how it may continue to affect African countries?

    “Africa surprisingly weathered global crisis better than most regions of the globe in part because most countries have not been fully integrated into the global financial economy,” he said. “Those which were experienced immediate declines in stock market performance as well as trade flows, South Africa being among them.”

    Professor Lemma, however, cautioned that things have stabilized and African economies are back in a growth trajectory. “It should be recognized that Africa is not monolithic but a continent of 55 countries with substantial variation in policies, governance, and reform pace, etc., and the global effects are not uniform,” he said. “The resilience to the global crisis is now overshadowed by the current crisis in Europe, and it is in the best interest of Africa (also the world at large) that the crisis be resolved soon.”
    —-
    Related:
    Senbet to Head Top African Economic Development Research Organization

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    New Research Finds Evidence that Supports Queen of Sheba Legend

    Ethiopians long-ago genetic mixing with populations from Israel and Egypt is a legacy of the Queen of Sheba and her companions, say researchers. (Photo: Painting of the Queen of Sheba - The National Museum, Addis Ababa)

    By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience

    The Queen of Sheba’s genetic legacy may live on in Ethiopia, according to new research that finds evidence of long-ago genetic mixing between Ethiopian populations and Syrian and Israeli people.

    The Queen of Sheba, known in Ethiopia as Makeda, is mentioned in both the Bible and the Quran. The Bible discusses diplomatic relations between this monarch and King Solomon of Israel, but Ethiopian tradition holds that their relationship went deeper: Makeda’s son, Menelik I, the first emperor of Ethiopia, is said to be Solomon’s offspring.

    Read more.

    Search On for Driver Who Rammed Into Seattle Church

    "No one was injured, but the crash displaced several church elders who live above the church. The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents while investigators determine whether the building sustained any structural damage." (KOMO News)

    By KOMO Staff

    SEATTLE — The search is on for the driver who crashed into a church, then fled the scene.

    The crash, which occurred just before 2 a.m., [Tuesday, October 25th] destroyed the stage inside Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church, and left a large gaping hole on the side of the building.

    Firefighters said the driver abandoned his car and ran from the scene in the 2100 block of 14th Ave. S. before police arrived.

    A description of the sought driver was not available.

    Watch:

    Miss Africa USA Making Progress in Its Search for Miss Ethiopia

    Leila Lopes of Angola was crowned Miss Universe 2011 at the Pageant's 60th anniversary ceremony in Sao Paolo, Brazil, on Monday, September 12th. (fashiontrendsstore.com)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    New York (TADIAS) – In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine Lady Kate Njeuma, CEO and Founder of Miss Africa USA, said her organization is making progress in its search for Miss Ethiopia to particpate in the upcoming annual competition.

    The Miss Africa USA Pageant had reached out to Tadias last month saying that Ethiopian-Americans remained unrepresented as the group prepares to crown the 2011 Queen in November.

    Ms. Njeuma said that has now changed: “We have been overwhelmed with responses from the community,” she said. “We are now at the point of finalizing our search to endorse one candidate to represent Ethiopia this year. We hope that after the interviews and selection process, our choice will be a good representative for Ethiopia.”

    Regarding her reflections on the 25-year-old Leila Lopes of Angola, winner of the coveted Miss Universe prize, Ms. Njeuma said: It is very encouraging indeed for an African woman to win the Miss Universe Pageant. The first African woman to win was Miss Botswana in 1999, so Leila is the second in the pageant’s 60 year history. I think Africa has got to the point where people are not only seeing the negative things but they are realizing that Africa is very gifted.”

    Leila Lopes, was among contestants hailing from 89 nations at the 60th anniversary of the beauty contest held in São Paulo, Brazil on September 12, 2011. Lopes dazzled the judges with her sharp replies to their questions. Asked what she would change to improve her appearance, Leila replied, “Nothing, I’m satisfied with what God has given me,” adding that “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family, and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”

    “Leila is such a beauty and she has the heart of an angel,” Ms. Njeuma said. “she has been involved in humanitarian work even before she won Miss Universe and has promised that with her crown she will do even more. She has made Africa proud and we are very proud of her too.”

    Below is Lady Kate Njeuma’s recent interview with Voice of America on the same subject:

    Watch: Voice of America’s Ndimyake Mwakalyelye spoke with Lady Kate Njeuma

    Watch: Leila Lopes is crowned Miss Universe 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil – September 12th

    Miss Africa USA Searching for Miss Ethiopia

    Fifi Soumah of the Republic of Guinea was the winner of last year's Miss Africa USA crown. (H Greaves Photography)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    New York (TADIAS) – Organizers of the Miss Africa USA pageant say that Ethiopia remains unrepresented as they prepare to crown the 2011 Queen at their annual event in Silver Spring, Maryland in November.

    “Right now we are still searching for a candidate to represent Ethiopia,” Constance Nkwantah, Communications Director of the pageant, told Tadias Magazine.

    According to Ms. Nkwantah the scholarship pageant is open to delegates from all 54 countries. Past winners have gone on to join forces with Habitat for Humanity, Concern USA, as well as Russell Simmons’s Diamond Empowerment Fund, to help raise money for various causes benefiting communities in Africa and the United States.

    Below is our recent interview with Constance Nkwantah:

    Tadias: Please tell us a bit about the Miss Africa USA Pageant. When was it launched and what is the objective?

    Constance Nkwantah: Miss Africa USA Pageant is a Scholarship and Beauty Pageant and our mission is to empower young girls as Goodwill Ambassadors promoting positive causes in their home countries and the world. It showcases African cultures and diversity, bringing together all African nations in a grand celebration.

    Tadias: How many African countries are represented at the upcoming contest?

    CN: Our closing date is Sept 30th and the competition is open to all 54 countries. We are looking at up to 25 countries for the 2011 Pageant.

    Tadias: Is Ethiopia one of them?

    CN: Right now we are still searching for a candidate to represent Ethiopia. Ethiopia has very beautiful and intelligent women and it will be great to have a representation. Last year Ethiopia was well represented and we hope this year will not be different. We encourage all ambitious and dynamic young women aged between 18 and 30 to participate. We are still accepting applicants up until Sept 30th.

    Tadias: How do you select the girls? What is the criteria to participate?

    CN: Our selection is done via an application process, then we audition the girls and carry out interviews for each country in order to make a final selection.

    Tadias: How do you answer critics who say that beauty pageants are demeaning to women?

    CN: Miss Africa USA Pageant has never received such a criticism because we focus on the substance of a woman rather than the physical appearance of a woman or her sexuality. The Miss Africa USA Pageant preserves the African culture and therefore we do not have bathing suits as a segment of the competition which is what draws criticism. Rather, we focus on leadership skills and talent. Our Queen has huge responsibilities.


    Finalists at the 2010 Miss Africa USA Pageant. (Photo credit: H Greaves Photography)


    Some of the contestants at the 2010 Miss Africa USA Pageant. (By H Greaves Photography)


    Sofia Bushen (L) was a finalist representing Ethiopia at the 2010 Miss Africa USA contest, held July 24, 2010 in Silver Spring, MD. (Photo: H Greaves Photography)

    Tadias: What are the challenges you face as a pageant organization?

    CN: Over the last couple of years, it has been difficult to get new sponsorships so a lot of the financial commitments are met by personal sacrifice. We appeal each year for sponsors to keep the pageant going and will continue to do so. We are grateful to Western Union and our presenting sponsors who have been there over the years. We hope to win back MoneyGram this year and other corporate sponsors. The pageant is very costly to produce and we need the support of the community.

    Tadias: Could you share with us some success stories of pass winners of Miss Africa USA Pageant or other participants?

    CN: Our focus is on promoting goodwill. The current Queen Fifi Soumah from the Republic of Guinea is right now in Guinea to launch her Foundation called TEARS AWAY. She is focused on promoting education of young girls. The United Nations statistics show that 81% of girls in Guinea cannot read and write. Miss Africa USA Fifi Soumah has established a scholarship program to help these young girls go back to school and get an education. She herself is a student at Montgomery College in Maryland. And In 2008 Miss Mfonobong Essiet of Nigeria completed her medical project where she donated a 40ft container of medical equipment and supplies to five different hospitals in her country. It was a very successful project. She is currently a medical student studying to be a Cardiac Surgeon.

    Tadias: What should people expect at 2011 MISS Africa USA Pageant?

    CN: The 2011 pageant is full of excitement. On the 12th of November we are having the African Banquet at the Hilton Hotel in Silver Spring Maryland. We have invited members of the African Diplomatic Core, community leaders and our sponsors and VIPs to be our guests at the official opening of the pageant. Finalists will be presenting their platform projects. The following day at the same loaction, we will host the final competition and a coronation ceremony. It’s a red carpet affair showcasing the culture, beauty and diversity of Africa. The entire family can attend.

    Tadias: Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

    CN: We are asking the community to come out and support the 2011 finalists who are representing Africa. We thank Tadias for the opportunity to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    Tadias: One more thing, we understand that you’ve partnered with Nollywood Critics to present The 2011 NAFCA: “The African Oscar.” Can you tell us more about it?

    CN: The awards is open to African Film Makers and the executive producer Dr. Victor Adeyemi is very open to collaborate with film makers from all over the continent. I would encouarage all film makers and actors who are interested in participating to contact us for more information.

    Tadias: Thank you.

    If You Go:
    The 2011 Pageant is slated for Sunday November 13th from 5pm – 11pm. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Tickets start selling on Friday, September 9th via the website www.missafricaunitedstates.com. The African Banquet takes place on Sat Nov 12 and tickets are $100 each. Both events will take place at the Hilton Hotel 8272 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD. Free parking is available.

    Watch: Miss Africa USA 2010 Introduction Dance (Video courtesy of Miss Africa USA)

    NPR: Soul Searching Led To Meklit Hadero’s Debut Album

    Above: Singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero at Tsehai Poetry Jam,
    May 31, 2009 @ Messob Restaurant in L.A.’s Little Ethiopia.

    NPR
    Ethiopian Singer: Soul Searching Led To Debut Album
    March 24, 2010
    Once you hear her smooth and silky voice it will be hard to forget it. Yet, years passed before she realized she wanted to become a singer. Ethiopian native Meklit Hadero went to college to major in political science, but after moving to San Francisco she found her true love: music. Now, only five years after her first public performance, she is out with the new album “On A Day Like This.” Guest host Allison Keyes talks with singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero about her life and finding herself through music.

    Listen to the Story Here:

    You can read the transcript of this interview at NPR.ORG.

    Meklit Hadero “Leaving Soon” music video from Salvatore Fullmore on Vimeo.

    Related from Tadias: Meklit Hadero at Tsehai Poetry Jam in L.A.

    Research Discovery By Ethiopian Scientist At IBM

    Above: Solomon Assefa (r) is among the IBM scientists who unveiled a significant step towards replacing electrical signals that communicate via copper wires between computer chips.

    Source: IBM

    Yorktown Heights, NY IBM (NYSE: IBM) scientists today unveiled a significant step towards replacing electrical signals that communicate via copper wires between computer chips with tiny silicon circuits that communicate using pulses of light. As reported in the recent issue of the scientific journal Nature, this is an important advancement in changing the way computer chips talk to each other.

    The device, called a nanophotonic avalanche photodetector, is the fastest of its kind and could enable breakthroughs in energy-efficient computing that can have significant implications for the future of electronics.

    The IBM device explores the “avalanche effect” in Germanium, a material currently used in production of microprocessor chips. Analogous to a snow avalanche on a steep mountain slope, an incoming light pulse initially frees just a few charge carriers which in turn free others until the original signal is amplified many times. Conventional avalanche photodetectors are not able to detect fast optical signals because the avalanche builds slowly.

    “This invention brings the vision of on-chip optical interconnections much closer to reality,” said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president, Science and Technology, IBM Research. “With optical communications embedded into the processor chips, the prospect of building power-efficient computer systems with performance at the Exaflop level might not be a very distant future.”

    Video: View Animation

    The avalanche photodetector demonstrated by IBM is the world’s fastest device of its kind. It can receive optical information signals at 40Gbps (billion bits per second) and simultaneously multiply them tenfold. Moreover, the device operates with just a 1.5V voltage supply, 20 times smaller than previous demonstrations. Thus many of these tiny communication devices could potentially be powered by just a small AA-size battery, while traditional avalanche photodetectors require 20-30V power supplies.

    “This dramatic improvement in performance is the result of manipulating the optical and electrical properties at the scale of just a few tens of atoms to achieve performance well beyond accepted boundaries,” said Dr. Assefa, the lead author on the paper. “These tiny devices are capable of detecting very weak pulses of light and amplifying them with unprecedented bandwidth and minimal addition of unwanted noise.”

    In IBM’s device, the avalanche multiplication takes place within just a few tens of nanometers (one-thousandths of a millimeter) and that happens very fast. The tiny size also means that multiplication noise is suppressed by 50% – 70% with respect to conventional avalanche photodetectors. The IBM device is made of Silicon and Germanium, the materials already widely used in production of microprocessor chips. Moreover it is made with standard processes used in chip manufacturing. Thus, thousands of these devices can be built side-by-side with silicon transistors for high-bandwidth on-chip optical communications.

    The Avalanche Photodetector achievement, which is the last in a series of prior reports from IBM Research, is the last piece of the puzzle that completes the development of the “nanophotonics toolbox” of devices necessary to build the on-chip interconnects.
    In December 2006, IBM scientists demonstrated silicon nanophotonic delay line that was used to buffer over a byte of information encoded in optical pulses – a requirement for building optical buffers for on-chip optical communications.

    In December 2007, IBM scientists announced the development of an ultra-compact silicon electro-optic modulator, which converts electrical signals into the light pulses, a prerequisite for enabling on-chip optical communications.

    In March 2008, IBM scientists announced the world’s tiniest nanophotonic switch for “directing traffic” in on-chip optical communications, ensuring that optical messages can be efficiently routed.

    The report of this work, entitled “Reinventing Germanium Avalanche Photodetector for Nanophotonic On-chip Optical Interconnects,” by Solomon Assefa, Fengnian Xia, and Yurii Vlasov of IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. is published in the March 2010 issue of the scientific journal Nature.

    IBM has a long history of pioneering advanced silicon technologies to help enhance performance, while reducing size and power consumption. Such advances include the development of the world’s first copper-based microprocessor; silicon-on-insulator (SOI), a technology that reduces power consumption and increases performance by helping insulate the millions of transistors on a chip; and strained silicon, a technology that “stretches” material inside the silicon decreasing the resistance and speeding the flow of electrons through transistors.

    Further information can be found at the following link: http://www.research.ibm.com/photonics

    Search for survivors amid despair

    Latest: A woman cares for an injured toddler at a destroyed
    orphanage in Fontamara. A stream of food, water and U.S.
    troops flowed toward Haiti on Saturday as donors squabbled
    over how to reach hungry, haggard earthquake survivors.

    Video: ‘Little miracle’ amid desperation in Haiti

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    How You Can Help In Haiti
    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Saturday, January 16, 2009

    New York – Although help is beginning to arrive in Haiti, the devastating earthquake has so far claimed 45,000-50,000 people, according to the Red Cross. Disaster relief organizations still need your assistance. Funds are needed to provide food, water, shelter, clothing and medical supplies.

    Below are few ways you can help:

    To assist with relief efforts, text “HAITI” to “90999″ and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill. Or visit InterAction to contribute. (State Department)

    To find information about friends and family in Haiti:
    For missing U.S. citizen family members, call 1-888-407-4747. To help with relief efforts, text “HAITI” to “90999″ and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill. Or visit InterAction to contribute.

    The American Red Cross
    “As with most earthquakes, we expect to see immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support,” said Tracy Reines, director of international disaster response for the American Red Cross, in a report posted on its Web site. The American Red Cross offers several ways to donate to various funds, including international relief to Haiti. (ABC)

    Yele.org
    Text Yele. Wyclef Jean is urging donors to text ‘Yele’ to 501501 and make a $5 contribution to the relief effort over cell phone. Click here to get more information via Wyclef’s Twitter page. (NY Daily News)

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Bush, Clinton to lead Haiti fundraising effort

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    William J. Clinton Foundation
    Former president Bill Clinton is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti. “My UN office and the rest of the UN system are monitoring the situation,” Clinton said in a statement today. “While we don’t yet know the full impact of this 7.0-magnitude earthquake, we do know that the survivors need immediate help.” (ABC)

    UNICEF
    Shortly following the quake’s eruption, the U.S. division of UNICEF issued a statement on its blog calling attention to some of the smallest victims of the emergency. “Children are always the most vulnerable population in any natural disaster, and UNICEF is there for them,” the statement said. (ABC)

    Save the Children
    Donate at savethechildren.org or make checks out to “Save the Children” and mail to: Save the Children Income Processing Department, 54 Wilton Road, Westport, Conn. 06880

    Mercy Corp
    Go online to mercycorps.org or mail checks to Haiti Earthquake Fund, Dept. NR, PO Box 2669, Portland, Ore. 97208 or call (888) 256-1900

    Direct Relief International

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Obama orders relief effort of historic proportions

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Quake Victims Plucked From Rubble

    UNTV: raw footage of rescue efforts in Haiti:

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Ethiopian-American Researcher Studies Solar Cell Efficiency

    Above: Ethiopian-American Researcher Mesfin Tsige, Ph.D.,
    an assitant professor in the College of Science at Southern
    Illinois University has earned a prestigious grant from the
    federal government to study solar cell efficiency. (Read More).

    Police Search for Suspects in Killing of Ethiopian Businessman

    Above: Ethiopian store owner Hagos Admasu Gebreagziabher
    was killed in front of his wife in Jacksonville, Florida.

    JACKSONVILLE, FL –Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers are looking
    for two men they believe shot a man to death. The victim was
    found late Monday night in front of a neighborhood store on
    W. 13th Street near Canal. He’s been identified as 41-year-old
    Hagos Admasu Gebreagziabher. Read more.

    Yared Tekabe’s Groundbreaking Research in Heart Disease

    Dr. Yared Tekabe runs studies in cardiovascular disease detection and prevention at Columbia University. (Photo by Kidane Mariam for Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tseday Alehegn

    Published: Tuesday, March 17, 2009.

    New York (TADIAS) – Dr. Yared Tekabe enjoys doing most of his reflections while sitting anonymously with his laptop at cafés in Harlem. When he’s not there, Tekabe is busy running studies in cardiovascular disease detection and prevention at his lab in Columbia University’s William Black building in upper Manhattan. Last November, Tekabe’s groundbreaking work on non-invasive atherosclerosis detection and molecular imaging was published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, along with an editorial citing its clinical implications.

    Dr Tekabe’s success has helped his laboratory, headed by Dr Lynne Johnson, to receive another $1.6 million four-year grant from the National Institute of Health to continue his research, and Tekabe hopes that in a few years time his work can help heart disease prevention efforts and early detection of atherosclerosis in humans.

    “What is atherosclerosis in layman terms?” I ask him, trying hard to correctly pronounce this tongue twister. He breaks it down to its linguistic roots. “Atherosclerosis comes from the Greek roots athere which means gruel, and skleros which means hardness or hardening,” he explains. Further research in Wiki reveals that atherosclerosis is a condition affecting our arterial blood vessels, which transport blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Atherosclerosis is the chronic condition in which inflammation of the walls of our blood vessels lead to hardening of the arteries.

    “Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD),” Tekabe says. “The result is progressive closing of the blood vessels by fat and plaque deposits, which block and further restrict blood flow. In more serious cases it may also lead to clots in the aorta (main artery coming out of the heart) or carotids (arteries supplying blood to the brain) that may dislodge and travel to other parts of the body such as the brain, causing stroke. If the clot is in the leg, for example, it can lead to gangrene. Deposits of fat and inflammatory cells that build up in the walls of the coronary arteries (supplying blood to the heart muscle) can rupture leading to blood clots. Such clots in an artery that supplies blood to the heart muscle will suddenly close the artery and deprive the heart muscle of oxygen causing a heart attack. In the case of very sudden closure of an artery a clot can cause sudden cardiac death.”

    “It’s the Tim Russert story,” Tekabe says, providing a recent example of what undetected levels of plaque formation in our bodies can lead to. EverydayHealth.com, an online consumer health portal, had described the famed former MSNBC ‘Meet the Press’ host’s sudden heart attack as being caused by a plaque rupture in a coronary artery. Russert had previously been diagnosed with heart disease, but his atherosclerosis was asymptomatic. He had not experienced the common signs of chest pain and other heart attack symptoms to warn him or his doctors of his true condition. The undetected inflammation in his vessels and the subsequent rupture of plaque led to his sudden heart attack and untimely death. This is not uncommon, however. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease “is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, and women account for 51% of the total heart disease deaths.” There is even more grim news: United States data for 2004 has revealed that the first physical symptom of heart disease was heart attack and sudden death for about 65% of men and 47% of women with CVD.

    The risk factors for atherosclerosis are well known and Tekabe runs through the list with me: “diabetes, obesity, stress, smoking, high blood pressure, family history of CVD, and diet” he says. “But of all the factors that I have mentioned, I would say diet is the most important one to change,” he adds. Food items such as red meat, butter, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, egg yolk, and those containing trans fat all put us at higher risk for plaque formation. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish such as salmon, herring and trout instead of red meat, as well as eating food that is steamed, boiled or baked instead of fried. It is better to use corn, canola, or olive oil instead of butter, and to eat more fiber (fruit, vegetables, and whole grain). Notwithstanding that March is deemed National Nutrition Month by the American Heart Association, changing our diet is largely emphasized in CVD prevention. We should also be exercising at least 30 minutes each day.

    “Early non-invasive detection of the presence of inflammation and plaque could save lives,” Tekabe points out. “But the problem is two-fold: those who suffer from atherosclerosis do not display warning signs until it’s too late, and for doctors, a non-invasive method of detecting atherosclerosis is by and large not a possibility.” Research by Tekabe and others may soon change the way doctors can detect atherosclerosis.

    Using molecular imaging techniques that were previously popular in cancer biology research, Tekabe and his colleagues have discovered non-invasive methods of detecting RAGE, a receptor first discovered in 1992 and thought to have causative implications in a host of chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to arthritis. Tekabe, collaborating with Dr Ann Marie Schmidt who has shown that RAGE receptors play a key role in atherosclerotic inflammatory response, notes that these receptors can be detected non-invasively in mice that have been fed a high-fat, high cholesterol diet.

    “In the past, although we knew about the RAGE receptor, especially in the study of diabetes, we were not able to detect it without performing an autopsy of the lab mice. Clearly, in the case of humans it would be pointless if we said that we detected atherosclerosis in the patient after the patient had died,” Tekabe explains. “Therefore, it was imperative that our research showed a more non-invasive method, detecting RAGE receptors and locations of inflammation while the subject was still alive. The first step would be to test it on mice, which we have, and then perhaps on larger animals such as pigs, so that this research could be successfully translated to help non-invasively detect atherosclerosis in its early stages in human beings.”

    Left Image: Atherosclerotic aorta: The image is from a mouse fed a Western type of fat diet (high-fat, high cholesterol diet) for 34 weeks. It shows complete blockage of the aorta and the branches that supply the brain. The plaque is made up of fat and inflammatory cells.
    Right Image: Relatively normal aorta: This is from 6 weeks old mouse fed a normal diet.

    Tekabe’s recently published research showing detection of RAGE receptors responsible for arterial inflammation was funded by a grant from the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology as well as from an American Heart Association Heritage Foundation award.

    The November Circulation editorial entitled “Feeling the RAGE in the Atherosclerotic Vessel Wall” highlights the significance of Tekabe et al’s findings and the necessity for early detection of atherosclerosis. “This is an exciting development that adds an important marker of atherosclerotic disease that can now be assessed non-invasively,” write Drs. Zahi Fayad and Esad Vucic. “Tekabe et al demonstrate, for the first time, the noninvasive specific detection of RAGE in the vessel wall.” They concur with Tekabe that “noninvasive detection of RAGE in the vessel wall could help define its role in plaque rupture, which has potentially important clinical implications.”

    Tekabe came to Boston in 1990 and subsequently completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and his Masters and PhD in Biomedical Sciences with a focus on CVD and drug development. His academic choices have inevitably led him to his career as a scientist, but he has personal reasons for choosing this path as well.

    “I was born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. I have 1 brother and 8 sisters, and my parents had no formal education. But my father always encouraged me to seek higher education. While I was completing my studies I witnessed my beloved father suffer from Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and he underwent triple bypass surgery. He passed away in 2004, and I promised myself that I would step up to the challenge of finding a way to prevent heart disease” Tekabe says in a somber and determined tone. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world, and I am motivated by that challenge, but this research is also deeply personal.”

    Tekabe hopes that his research will be applicable to other areas where RAGE receptors have been hypothesized to play a central role. Circulation editors who follow Tekabe’s work have noted that “in addition to its role in atherosclerosis and the development of vascular complications in diabetes, RAGE possesses wider implications in a variety of diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, liver disease, neurodegenerative disease, and sepsis, which underscores the importance of the ability of its noninvasive detection.” Tekabe, as part of Dr Ann Marie Schmidt’s team, has already filed U.S. and international patents and has plans to jump-start a drug development arm of the pharmaceutical industry in Ethiopia. “I’m looking for interested sponsors in Ethiopia who can see the potential of this research and its global implications,” he states.

    Now that Forbes has apprised us of the billionaire status of an Ethiopian-born businessman, we hope this news may peak his interest in helping to start scientific research initiatives in Ethiopia.
    —-
    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Leo Hansberry, Founder of Ethiopian Research Council

    Historian and anthropologist William Leo Hansberry's research was posthumously edited by Joseph E. Harris and printed in two volumes by Howard University Press: "Pillars in Ethiopian History" (1974), and "Africa and Africans as Seen by Classical Writers" (1977).

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ayele Bekerie

    Published: Monday, February 23, 2009

    New York (TADIAS) – William Leo Hansberry (1894-1965) was the first academician to introduce a course on African history in a university setting in the United States in 1922. He taught a History of Africa, both ancient and contemporary, for 42 years at Howard University. He gave lectures on African history both in the classrooms and in public squares here at home and in Africa. Thousands of students and ordinary people took his history lessons and some followed his footsteps to study and write extensively about historical issues. Among the seminal contribution of Hansberry is the academic reconstruction and teaching of Ancient African History. His proposal to develop an Africana Studies as an interdisciplinary field not only visualized the centrality of African History, but also laid down the groundwork for eventual establishment of Africana Studies institutions in the United States and Africa.

    Hansberry, who studied at Harvard, Oxford and University of Chicago, was an exemplary scholar-activist. He firmly and persistently engaged in disseminating historical knowledge on Africa beyond the classroom. Even though he was not able to complete his PhD dissertation, he evidently demonstrated a remarkable research and writing skills. It is time for Howard University to recognize the immense contributions of Hansberry by organizing a major conference and by naming the Department of African Studies, William Leo Hansberry Department of African Studies. He served as a research associate to the great African American scholar, W.E.B. DuBois. Among his former students were Chancellor Williams (The Destruction of Black Civilization (1987) , and John Henrik Clarke (the author of several books, author of the blueprint for Africana Studies at Cornell University, the distinguished professor of African History at Hunter College, a leading theorist and the founder of the African Heritage Studies Association).

    This great man of antiquity, founder of the Ethiopian Research Council, the forerunner of Ethiopian Studies, and genuine friends of African students, died without getting his due recognition from Howard or elsewhere. In fact, it was close to his time of death that he got a few recognitions in his country. His great accomplishments were duly recognized in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and Nigeria. To this date, no building or sections of building has been named after him at Howard. This is in contrast to former prominent professors of Howard, such as Alain Locke.

    Conceptualizing, writing and teaching what Leo Hansberry calls pre-European History of Africa and Africana Studies at a time of open denial and advancement of notion of African inferiority will always remain as his great legacy. In fact, I like to argue that William Leo Hansberry might have been the person who coined the word Africana. One of the most comprehensive outlines he prepared is entitled “Africana and Africa’s Past” and published by John Doe and Company of New York in 1960.

    (Photo of William Leo Hansberry)

    The term eventually became a useful conceptual word for interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies in the field of Africana Studies, that is, the study of the peoples and experiences of Africa, African America, the Caribbean as well as the Black Atlantic by gathering and interpreting data obtained from a range of disciplines, such as History, Political Science, Archaeology, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Literature and Biology. My department is named Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University with interdisciplinary focus on Africa, African America and the Caribbean. Until very recently, Africana Center was the only center that has used the term Africana. Now institutions like Harvard and others have adopted the conceptual word. The purpose of this paper is to revisit the approaches and writings of William Leo Hansberry on History of Africa as well as Africana Studies in light of the findings of the last forty years.

    Claims made by Leo Hansberry, such as the African origin of human beings, the migrations of human beings out of Africa to populate the world, the link between the peoples and civilizations of Egypt, Nubia and Alpine Ethiopia, the civilizations of Western Sudan in medieval times, are no longer in dispute. Several archaeological and archival findings have confirmed his claims. Lucy or Dinqnesh, the 3.1 million years old human-like species, currently touring the major cities of the United States, is major evidence affirming Africa’s place as a cradle of human beings.

    The intervention of enslavement and massive economic activities associated with it suppressed, distorted or destroyed much of the facts and histories of Africa. Hansberry and his associates argued tirelessly and fearlessly, in spite of academic ostracism and harassment, to research, construct and teach African history. The publication of UNESCO History of Africa in 8 volumes and the establishment of Departments of History and Africana Studies in the United States, Europe and Africa, particularly in the 1960s, are clear evidence of the correctness and rightness of Hansberry’s approach to history. Hansberry’s diligent and determined search for Africana Antiqua is rooted in his now famous proposition: “It was, in the main, the ruin which followed in the wake of Arab and Berber slave trade in the late Middle Ages and the havoc was wrought by the European slave trade in more recent times that brought about the decline and fall of civilization in most of these early African states.”

    He then framed his argument for persuasion in the following manner: “On the strength of the now available information about ancient and medieval Africa, together with the published reports relating to the continent in Stone Age times, it is now certain that Africa has been, throughout the ages, the seat of a great succession of cultures and civilizations which were comparable in most respects and superior in some aspects to the cultures and civilizations in other parts of the world during the same period.” In fact, it is time for Oxford, Harvard and University of Chicago to posthumously award him an honorary doctorate degree.

    Leo Hansberry did graduate work at Oxford, Harvard and Chicago Universities and yet none of them were prepared to award him with a PhD degree. His intellectual strategy to dismantle the lingering impact of enslavement by researching and teaching about ancient African civilizations was challenged aggressively, both from within and from without throughout his academic career at Howard University. He taught for over forty years at Howard University in the history department. Thousands of students took his African history courses, and yet his title did not go beyond an instructor.

    In the absence of promotion and grants, he persisted in teaching and researching Africa in antiquity. He was denied a grant from the Rosenwald Fund and his Rockefeller grant was terminated while he was studying at Oxford University. He did manage to get a Fulbright scholarship that allowed him to visit sites of antiquities in Africa. Throughout his ordeals, his source of great strength was his wife, Myrtle Kalso Hansberry, who not only supported him, but she also collaborated in his research by serving as “his research assistant, translator, grammarian, and counselor.” In addition, she taught for many years in the Public School System of the District of Columbia. At present, his two daughters are the custodians of his writings and manuscripts. It is my hope that they will be able to find an appropriate institution to house his works.

    Leo Hansberry was born in 1894 in Mississippi. His father taught history at Alcorn College, a historically Black Institution of Higher Learning. No information is provided on his mother. His early years (1894-1916) coincided with era of Jim Crow, Negrophobia, and constitutional disenfranchisement of the vast majority of African Americans. He was also exposed at the same time to a tradition of resistance and Black Nationalism. Leo Hansberry, however, came from a family with rich intellectual tradition, including his niece, Loraine Hansberry, the great playwright and author of a Broadway play A Raising in the Sun. His parents, both educators, nurtured him with self-pride and self-worth so as to instill in him a desire to pursue a pioneering academic field with a persistent focus on Africana Studies and history of Africa, particularly ancient Africa.

    (Photo of Playwright and author Loraine Hansberry, Leo Hansberry’s niece)

    Leo Hansberry inherited his father’s library, for his father died while he was young. Home schooling (long before it became a common practice in the United States) might have been the reason behind his confidence and determination to pursue “Africana Antiqua” in his own terms. His father’s library served him as a source what John Henrik Clarke, his former student, calls ‘more and more information’ on Africa. According to Kwame Wes Alford, a major breakthrough in his search for Africa took place after he read W.E.B.DuBois’s book The Negro (1915). The book provided him with ‘more information’ on African long history, cultures and civilizations. The book freed him from a state of psychological bondage. Later in his academic career, he became an important source of information on African history to W.E.B. Dubois.

    Leo Hansberry studied at Harvard University from 1916 to 1920. It was during this period that he read all the books suggested by DuBois’s reading list. He got his masters at Harvard, but left Harvard before earning a PhD degree.

    By 1920, Hansberry recognized the conceptual importance of interdisciplinarity, the cross-discipline approach to a field of study, and, in fact, became the first African American scholar to establish African Studies in the United States. In 1922, he actually became the first scholar to develop and teach courses in African history at Howard University. African history was not offered in any of the American universities at that time.

    Hansberry had meaningful relationships with WEB DuBois, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the founder of the United Negro Improvement Association, James Weldon Johnson, the author of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ Carter G. Woodson, the author of The Miseducation of the Negro and Frank Snowden, the author of Blacks in Antiquity.

    “Hansberry led the African American and Diaspora contingent in support of Ethiopia as president of the Ethiopian Research Council (ERC) during the Italo-Ethiopian War.” ERC is a forerunner of Ethiopian Studies. His vision of broader conception of the field, however, was not pursued when the field is established in Ethiopia. The field is defined by focusing on not only alpine Ethiopia, but also on the history and cultures of northern Ethiopia. Southern Ethiopia and the histories and cultures of the vast majority of the people of Ethiopia did not get immediate attention. Furthermore, the idea of Ethiopia is a global idea informed by histories and mythologies of ancient Africa. In other words, the idea and practice of Ethiopia should be broadened in order to integrate the multiple dimensions of Ethiopia in time and place.

    Leo Hansberry writes with such simplicity and clarity, it is indeed a treat to read his treatises. The renowned Egyptologist W.F. Albright of Johns Hopkins University noted the considerable writing skill of Hansberry. He acknowledged the “vivid style and clearness and cogency” of Hansberry’s writing.

    Leo Hansberry counseled and assisted African students for 13 years at Howard University. Among the students who took his class was Nnamide Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria. He was also a good friend of Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister of Ghana. Hansberry was instrumental “in founding the All African Students Union of the Americas in the mid-1950s.” “With William Steen and the late Henrietta Van Noy, he co-founded in 1953 the Institute of African-American Relations, now the African-American Institute” with its headquarter in New York City. According to Smyke, Hansberry was also the “prime mover in the establishment of an Africa House for students in Washington.”

    (Photo: Nnamide Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, was one of Leo Hansberry’s African students)

    In 1960 his former student Dr. Azikiwe, the first elected president of Nigeria, conferred on him the University of Nigeria’s second honorary degree, and at the same time inaugurated the Hansberry School of Africana Studies at the University. In 1964 Hansberry was selected by the Emperor Haile Selassie Trust to receive their first prize for original work in African History, Archaeology, and Anthropology in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    In 1963, Hansberry gave a series of lectures in the University of Nigeria at Hansberry College of African Studies, Nsukka Campus. His main topic was “Ancient Kush and Old Ethiopia.” He described it as “a synoptic and pictorial survey of some notable peoples, cultures, kingdom and empires which flourished in the tropical areas of Nilotic Africa in historical antiquity.”

    With regard to his sources, he used the English translations of Egyptian, Assyrian, Nubian and Ethiopian manuscript documents and inscriptions. He cited Breasted’s Records of Ancient Egypt; Luckenbill’s Assyrian Records; Budge’s Annals of Nubian Kings; and Budge’s History of Nubia, Ethiopia and Abyssinia. The Classical references are to be found in various modern editions of the authors mentioned. Access to archaeological reports may be found in the great national and larger university libraries. For the introduction to the history of ancient Nubia, A.J. Arkell’s History of the Ancient Sudan may be read with considerable profit.

    His subtopics were Cultural and Political Entities (The peoples and cultures of Lower Nubia, 3000 -1600 BCE ; Kerma Kushites of Middle Nubia, 2500 – 1500 BCE; Kushite kingdoms of Napata and Meroe in Lower Middle and Upper Nubia, 1400 BCE – 350 CE; Peoples and cultures of the Land of Punt (Eritrea and the Somalilands), 3000 BCE – 350 CE; The Ethiopian (‘Abyssinian’) kingdom of Sheba (according to the Kebra Nagast), 1400 to 100 BCE; and the Ethiopian Empire of Aksum, 100 BCE to 600 CE. These geographical and historical designations have been conformed by a series of archeological studies in the last fifty years. It is also clear from this important chronology that Ethiopia is a term used by both Nubia and present-day Ethiopia.

    In his sub-topic II, he outlined, in greater detail, some notable primary sources of information.

    1. Egyptian traditions concerning Punt or Ethiopia as the original homeland of Egypt’s most ancient peoples and their culture.

    2. Kushite traditions (as recorded by Diodorus Siculus) to the effect that Egypt was ‘at the beginning of the world’ nothing but a vast swamp and remained such until it was transformed into dry land by alluvium brought down from the land of Kush by the River Nile.

    3. Kushite traditions (as recorded by Diodorus Siculus) to the effect that earliest ‘civilized’ inhabitants of Egypt and the basic elements of their civilization were derived from a common ancestral stock.

    4. Genesaical traditions (Genesis X) to the effect that the Ancient Kushites and the Ancient Egyptians were derived from a common ancestral stock.

    5. Egyptian historical records detailing numerous peaceful commercial missions from Egypt to Kushite countries and the Land of Punt for the purpose of procuring many valuable and useful products which were lacking in Egypt but abundant in ‘the good lands of the south.’

    6. Egyptian inscriptions on stone and other types of written records commemorating defensive and offensive efforts of various pharaohs to the safeguard Egypt from military attacks and invasions by Kushites pushing up from the South.

    7. Biblical and Rabbinical traditions, and the testimony of Flavius Josephus concerning the relationships of Moses, the great Hebrew lawgiver, with the Ancient Kushites.

    8. The surviving annals of Nubian kings on the Kushite conquest of and relationships with, Egypt in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE; notably: -

    a. Piankhy’s Conquest Stele
    b. The inscriptions of king Taharka
    c. The Memphite stele of King Shabaka
    d. Tanutamen’s reconquest stele

    9. Biblical, Assyrian and Classical (Greek and Roman) historical references and traditions concerning the national and international activities of Kushites kings of the 8th and 7th centuries BCE.

    10. Surviving Nubian Annals on the careers of Kushite kings who flourished between the 7th century BCE and the 6th century CE, notably: -

    a. Inscriptions of Aspalta – 6th century BCE
    b. Stele of Harsiotef – 4th century BCE
    c. Stele of Nastasen – 4th century BCE
    d. Inscriptions of Netekaman and Amantere – 1st century BCE
    e. Stele of Amenrenas – 1st century BCE
    f. Stele of Teqerizemani – 2nd century CE
    g. Stele of Silko – 6th century CE

    11. Myths, legends, traditions and historical reference relating to peoples and cultures of Ancient Kush and Old Ethiopia which are preserved in the surviving writings of Classical (Greek and Roman) poets, geographers and historians; notably: -

    a. Homeric and Hesiodic traditions concerning the ‘blameless Ethiopians.’
    b. Arctinus of Miletus and Quintus of Smyrna on the exploits of ‘Memnon Prince of Ethiopia’ in the Trojan War.
    c. Classical traditions (as preserved in Ovid’s Metamorphoses) concerning the unusual misfortunes of Cephus, the king, and Cassiopeia, the queen, of Old Ethiopia, and the extraordinary experiences of their daughter, the princes Andromeda.
    d. Herodotus, ‘the father of history’, on the ill-fated attempt of Cambyses, king of Persia, to invade the homeland of the Ancient Kushites.
    e. Stories of Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus concerning the mutiny of the mercenaries in the Egyptian army and their enrollment in the military service of the King of Kush.
    f. Heliodorous’s Aethiopica on the disastrous attempt of a Persian governor of Egypt to seize emerald mines belonging to the Kushite domain.
    g. The alleged visit of Alexander of Macedon to ‘Candace, Queen of Kush’ according to the remarkable (but no doubt apocryphal) story preserved in the Romance of Alexander the Great, which is attributed, perhaps without foundation, to Callisthenes of Olynthus.
    h. Diodorus Siculus’ account of the attempted religious and political reforms of Ergamenes, king of Kush in circa 225 BCE.
    i. Plutarch and Dion Cassius on the friendly relationships between Cleopatra and the Queen of Kush.
    j. Strabo, Pliny the Elder, etc., on a. the invasion and defeat of the Romans in Upper Egypt by the queen of Kush; and b. the subsequent defeat of the Kushite queen and the invasion of her country by a Roman Army.
    k. Numerous Greek and Latin references to the unstable political and military relationships between the Kushites and the Roman and Byzantine overlords of Egypt during the period between the 1st and 6th century CE.
    l. John of Ephesus on the circumstances under which Christianity became the State religion of Nubia towards the middle of the 6th century CE.

    12. The Kebra Nagast and the Book of Aksum on the traditional history of Ethiopia from the 14th century BCE until the 4th century CE.

    13. Ethiopian traditions concerning Queen Makeda (c. 1005 – c.955 BCE) who is generally believed by the Ethiopians, and by many others, to have been ‘the Queen of Sheba’ of Biblical renown.

    14. The text of a long historical inscription – commemorating the military exploits of a powerful, but unnamed Ethiopian warrior king – which was anciently inscribed on a great stele set up in the Ethiopian seaport –city of Adulis where it was seen and copied by Cosmas Indicopleustes in c. 530 CE but which has since disappeared, and is now known to us only through Cosmas’ copy.

    15. Four long inscriptions on stone set up by the Aksumite king Ezana (c. 319 – c. 345 CE); the texts of three of these commemorate Ezana’s achievements while he was still a devotee of the ancestral religion, while the text of the fourth and last is an account of events which occurred after his acceptance of Christianity as the State religion of his empire.

    Here are some excerpts taken from Hansberry’s article on a history of Aksumite Ethiopia:

    “The ancient kingdom of Aksum, according to its own annals and other reliable testimony, transformed itself into a Christian state about the year A.D. 333, which was, it will be remembered, only about a decade after Christianity had been made the state religion of the Roman Empire.” (p. 3-4)

    “The present kingdom of Ethiopia is history’s second oldest Christian state. For several centuries after it became a Christian nation, the kingdom of Axum shared with the Byzantine Empire universal renown as one of the two most powerful Christian states of the age; and, of the Christian sovereigns of that period, none deserved and enjoyed more than certain Axumite kings, a wider reputation as Defenders of the Faith.” (p. 4)

    Although relationships between the Byzantine Empire and the Christian kingdoms of Ethiopian lands were rather close during the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries, the continued decline of European Civilization, as an aftermath of the barbarian invasions and the rise and expansion of Islam, put an end to such relationships for several hundred years.” (p. 4)

    “In the time of the Crusades, relationships between the Ethiopian Christians and the European brothers of the same faith were, however, revived, and considering the great distance which separated them – remained exceptionally close until well down into early modern times.” (p. 4)

    “During these centuries, the old kingdom of Aksum was more commonly known in European lands as the Empire of Prester John; and mutual intercourse between those widely separated parts of Christendom exercised a profoundly significant influence upon the course of world affairs that period. For it was out of European efforts, first, to re-establish, and then, to maintain, relationships with the Empire of Prester John, that arose those international developments which ultimately resulted in the discovery of America and the establishment of the ocean-route to Indies.” (p.4-5)

    “Toward the end of the 18th Century, Edward Gibbon declared that Ethiopia in the Middle Ages was ‘a hermit empire’ which ‘slept for a thousand years, forgetful of the world by which it was forgot.’ As the proceeding review indicates, it is now known that this point of view is widely at variance with the historical facts; but is it quite true that, despite the significant part that Ethiopia long has played in mankind’s stirring and storied past, the world at large, at least in our own times, is singularly unfamiliar with the history of that ancient land.” (p. 5)

    William Leo Hansberry’s life is a reflection of the struggle of African Americans to recover and reclaim their past. It is also an integral part of the rich intellectual tradition of the African Diaspora. It is a persistent attempt, in spite of the enormous difficulties, to construct and own one’s own historical memory. It is after all history that guides the present and the future. Hansberry charted a great tradition of intellectual discourse and community activism, which are still important attributes for the 21st century.

    —–
    Publisher’s Note: This article is well-referenced and those who seek the references should contact Professor Ayele Bekerie directly at: ab67@cornell.edu

    About the Author:
    Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor at the Department of History and Cultural Studies at Mekelle University. He was an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. Bekerie is a contributing author in the highly acclaimed book, “One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years.” He is also the author of the award-winning book “Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles” — among many other published works.

    U.S. marshals still searching for Beruk Ayalneh in bank robbery plot

    Above: Yosef Tadale (left) and Yohannes Surafel (right) were
    arrested and charged with kidnapping, assault, and conspiracy
    to commit armed robbery after police say they held a family
    hostage.

    DC Examiner
    By Scott McCabe
    Examiner Staff Writer
    1/7/09

    U.S. marshals continue to hunt for a college student accused of abducting a Prince George’s County family in a failed bank robbery scheme last month.

    Authorities are asking for the public’s help in capturing Beruk Ayalneh, 24. Ayalneh was one of three men who allegedly broke into the home of an assistant bank manager last month and held the woman, her husband and two boys at gunpoint overnight. The other two suspects, Yosef Tadele, 23, of Silver Spring and Yohannes T. Surafel, 24, of the District remain behind bars on kidnapping, armed robbery and assault charges.

    Beruk Ayalneh

    Police say the trio’s plan was to keep the children, ages 8 and 11, as hostages and force the woman to take money from the SunTrust branch where she worked in Silver Spring. The father convinced the robbers to allow them to bring the children with them to the bank.

    But on the way, the father, James Spruill, foiled the plot after he saw a Maryland state trooper. Spruill began driving erratically until the trooper flashed on his cruiser’s emergency lights. Only one of the kidnappers, Surafel, was in the vehicle, but his gun was trained on the 11-year-old boy.

    When the trooper asked Spruill for his license, the father jumped at the gunman and pinned him down.

    U.S. marshals hope Ayalneh, who is a student at Howard University and has no criminal history, will surrender. Surafel has already tried to kill himself in a holding cell in the College Park barracks, police said.

    “[Ayalneh] is not a sophisticated criminal mastermind who’s well-schooled in running and hiding,” said Matthew Burke, supervisory inspector with the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force. “We hope his inexperience will help us.”

    Ayalneh, who is a U.S. citizen of Ethiopian descent, is from the Northern Virginia area and has ties to D.C. and the Maryland suburbs. He is 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds.

    Anyone with information on Ayalneh’s whereabouts can call the U.S. Marshals Service at 301-489-1717 or 800-336-0102. Law enforcement authorities are offering a reward for information leading to Lee’s arrest.

    The Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, run by the U.S. Marshals Service, is composed of 28 federal, state and local agencies from Baltimore to Norfolk. The unit has captured 19,000 wanted fugitives since its creation in 2004.

    CNN VIDEO
    A bank robbery scheme was cut short by a quick-thinking family man. WJLA reports.


    Ethiopian American Researcher hopes to put fuel cells on the fast track

    Above: Left: Fuel cell pioneer Sossina Haile. Right: A stack
    of fuel cells created in Haile’s lab. (Photo courtesy
    Superprotonic, Inc.)

    NASA

    Written by Joshua Rodriguez/Global Climate Change

    The slow evolution of clean-energy solutions is about to kick into high gear, if Sossina M. Haile has anything to say about it. As a fuel cell researcher at the California Institute of Technology and a founding member of the company Superprotonic Inc., she hopes to make this “technology of the future” practical for today’s applications.

    Current fuel cell technology is hamstrung by impracticality. The most efficient and powerful fuel cells need large amounts of heat and space, whereas those suitable for smaller scale operation require lots of precious, expensive platinum. “If we converted every car in the U.S. to fuel cells, we’d need more platinum than there is in the proven reserves,” Haile says.

    Haile’s research, which initially began several years ago with fuel cell researchers at JPL, has led to breakthroughs in more “consumer-ready” fuel cell technology. She’s developed fuel cell systems that strike a balance between power and manageability –- perfect, she says, for standalone residential generators. Her team has worked hard to reduce the amount of platinum needed for each system.

    Haile’s team has also taken on one of the biggest roadblocks to widespread fuel cell use — their reliance on hydrogen as a primary fuel. Hydrogen requires lots of energy to extract and it’s difficult to store and distribute.


    Size comparison of a dime and a single fuel cell – the device pictured at
    the top of the page is a stack of these individual cells.

    In fact, Haile thinks that the verdict is still out on whether hydrogen “makes sense” as the fuel of the future. “When most people hear ‘fuel cells,’ they think hydrogen,” says Haile. “That’s a common misperception — fuel cells aren’t necessarily restricted to hydrogen.”

    Haile’s team has focused on developing fuel cells that can run on more traditional fuels, like ethanol or biomass, while also solving many of the problems of conventional hydrogen fuel cells.


    Zongping Shao, who is now a professor at
    Nanjing College of Chemistry in China,
    listens to an MP3 player being powered
    by two fuel cells.

    Fuel cells that use carbon-based fuels still produce carbon emissions, but at a much lower rate than their internal-combustion counterparts. Because fuel cells extract energy from electrochemical reactions instead of burning their fuel, they are much more efficient and environmentally friendly. “It’s a unique middle ground,” explains Haile — one she believes will speed the integration of these new technologies into the current energy infrastructure.

    For Haile, the incentive to design practical, unconventional fuel cells is simple: “Science should be in the service of society.” She thinks that fuel cells that can use renewable energy resources like biomass will help end what she calls she calls “drawing from the bank” — using fossil fuels as a source of energy.

    “There’s scientific proof that CO2 concentrations have been rising for decades to levels not felt on the Earth in millenia,” Haile says. “We need to have a diverse approach to solving the problem before it’s too late.”

    Obama Beginning Search for VP Mate

    Above Photo: Senator Barack Obama with his wife, Michelle,
    on Tuesday at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. See story below.
    (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

    Obama beginning search for VP mate (MSNBC)

    WASHINGTON – Democratic officials say Barack Obama has begun a top-secret search for a running mate.

    Democratic officials said Thursday the party’s likely nominee has asked former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson to begin vetting potential vice presidential picks. Johnson did the same job for Democratic nominees John Kerry in 2004 and Walter Mondale in 1984. Read More.

    ——
    Obama Says Nomination ‘Within Reach’ (NYT)

    By ADAM NAGOURNEY and JEFF ZELENY

    Published: May 21, 2008

    DES MOINES — Senator Barack Obama took a big step toward becoming the Democratic presidential nominee on Tuesday, amassing enough additional delegates to claim an all but insurmountable advantage in his race against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    While Mrs. Clinton’s campaign continued to make a case that she could prevail, Mr. Obama used the results from Democratic contests in Kentucky and Oregon to move into a new phase of the campaign in which he will face different challenges. Those include bringing Mrs. Clinton’s supporters into his camp; winning over elements of the Democratic coalition like working-class whites, Hispanics and Jews; and fending off attacks from Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, especially on national security. Read More.

    Q&A With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir: ‘Faya Dayi’ Screens at AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland

    Next month on October 01, 2021 Jessica Beshir will participate in a Q&A session with the audience following the screening of her documentary 'Faya Dayi' by the American Film Institute at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo via Linkedin)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — One of the marks of a successful movie is the lively conversations and reactions it generates among its audience as Filmmaker Jessica Beshir’s Sundance-premiered Ethiopian film Faya Dayi continues to do on social media and other forums.

    Next month Jessica Beshir will participate in a Q&A with the public following the screening of her documentary by the American Film Institute at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

    “A film ten years in the making, Faya Dayi was conceived by director Jessica Beshir as an act of reconnecting with the Ethiopian homeland she left at the age of sixteen, when her family fled to Mexico to escape the chaos and oppression of the Mengistu and Derg political regimes,” the announcement notes. “Later, in 2011, during one of her return trips to Ethiopia, Beshir began collecting observations and impressions of the country by shooting footage that told the stories of several Ethiopians and the social, religious, and economic forces influencing their lives.”

    The press release adds: “Among those forces was the ascendency of khat [ጫት ch'at] as a national cash crop. A plant with hallucinatory properties that has been traditionally harvested and chewed for ritualistic purposes, khat was, in Beshir’s youth, one of many lucrative crops bolstering the Ethiopian economy. But in the intervening years, climate change, along with other factors, had forced farmers to grow khat to the near exclusion of all other plants, and its excessive presence in the country increased recreational khat usage among the younger generations. Climate change had also dried up lakes, while economic necessity and political tumult had forced people living in rural areas to look for new prospects overseas or in the capital city of Addis Ababa.”

    In explaining her experience of cinema while growing up in Ethiopia and what led her to become a filmmaker Jessica recalls that she was raised in a military camp located adjacent to a Russian military base in Harar. “In the Russian camp, there was an open-air movie theater,” she rememberers. “Us kids dug a hole under the barbed wire and snuck through it to the movie theater.”

    She continues: “We’d go there every night to watch Russian films—mostly war films that were meant to elevate the morale of the Russian soldiers stationed in Ethiopia. One of our friends was trained by the Russians to project the films. He would change the reels of the films in the back of a Land Rover, and his leverage with the other kids was that if you were nice, he would show you how he changed the reels. Before that, it never occurred to me that movies were actually made by people. Seeing something of the magic of how movies are constructed, and experiencing the communal aspect of moviegoing, made me feel less alone and transported me during a time of war and trauma. I gravitated to filmmaking in large part because of that.”

    Jessica shares that after returning to Ethiopia from many years in exile it was not her original intention to make a film about ጫት ch’at. “I returned to reconnect to my family, especially my grandmother, who was getting very old. And in reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed that everything in the country now revolved around khat, which had always been around but not in such an all-encompassing way. What had changed was that all of the country’s social and economic life centered on this drug, and I wanted to ask why this was and why so many people were medicating themselves.”

    Blow is the rest of the interview with Jessica Beshir courtesy of the American Film Institute and AFI Silver Theatre. Faya Dayi will open at AFI on Friday, October 01, 2021. Organizes note that proof of vaccination –or– negative Covid PCR test is required for entry. You can learn more and purchase tickets here


    Faya Dayi. (Courtesy photo)

    Interview With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir about ‘Faya Dayi’

    What do you remember about your childhood and early adolescence in Ethiopia, and how did those memories inform the conception of Faya dayi?

    I remember everything that happened up to the time I was sixteen and my family left Ethiopia. My generation reached adulthood a lot sooner than we otherwise would have because we grew up during a cold war. My father was director of a military hospital—war was ever-present, and that couldn’t help but shape our outlook.

    In returning to the country many years later, I didn’t set out to make a documentary on khat. I returned to reconnect to my family, especially my grandmother, who was getting very old. And in reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed that everything in the country now revolved around khat, which had always been around but not in such an all-encompassing way. What had changed was that all of the country’s social and economic life centered on this drug, and I wanted to ask why this was and why so many people were medicating themselves.

    What was clear was that the country was in a state of decay. There was new infrastructure in Harar and other cities, but mostly the country was falling apart due to the misrule of an oppressive governmental regime. And that regime had also limited freedom of speech, which led to people’s retreat into private worlds. Even after this regime faced protests and was ultimately unseated from power, there was a huge disillusionment when substantial change did not come about.

    So, there was a desire for khat, due to its ability to foster a state of insularity, but then many factors influenced the rise of khat as a cash crop. Climate change altered which crops the farmers were able to cultivate, and inflation made it impossible for the farmers to cultivate coffee and other crops. Before, khat was relegated to the Harar region, but now its development had spread to the rest of the country, so my filming concentrated on the farms and land in Harar, around the area where I had grown up. I felt it was important to be very specific—there are more than eighty ethnic groups and languages in Ethiopia. The specific Oromo identity in Harar—I’d never seen that reflected on film, and I wanted to transmit the people’s intonation of language, their cadences. This was crucial to the overall tapestry of the film.

    To what extent did you predetermine or spontaneously arrive at the film’s sounds and images?

    When I began shooting, I had a specific intention for what I wanted—one that would allow for multiple possibilities that could reveal themselves in the editing room. And I was excited to discover those possibilities, those forms. For example, I knew I wanted to convey a sense of interiority, but through evocation rather than through a direct telling. I also wanted the locations I shot to speak through images. One was the labyrinthine space of this close walled city, Jugol; another was comprised of the vast farms. I wanted the vastness of the farms to correspond to the vastness among the experiences I shot, with different people having different experiences within the same geographical space. I thought, If voices were to emerge from these farms, what would these voices say?

    In conversations with my editors, I conveyed that the film’s form should be alive, that it should have its own mode of expression. At times this form didn’t always make rational sense, but it was transmitting something—something more elliptical, perhaps. This elliptical mode was probably influenced by the oral tradition of storytelling with which I grew up. Oral tradition is about the journey and all the things you see and experience before you arrive at a narrative destination. I wanted the structure of the film to be like an octopus, where one story strand was like a tentacle, and if something occurred in that strand it would reverberate throughout the entire body of the film.

    Faya dayi took ten years to make. How did that decade-long process start, and what were some of the major milestones along the road toward completing the project?

    The first thing I wanted to do upon my return to Ethiopia was to spend time on the farms. My grandmother is not a farmer—she lives far away from where I filmed—but there was a certain kinship there because I was listening to her language, the Oromo language. I met most of the farmers by spending time with them at a café that was owned by a friend. That’s how I started talking with them and learning about the khat farms. I also befriended the children of these farmers, and over the years of shooting I saw and recorded the way these children became political and participated in the peaceful protests, in 2014–15, against the government. That was an invigorating leap in the filming process, in seeing these kids come of age and getting involved in what was occurring throughout the country. A major moment in the shoot was seeing the drying up of the lakes. The first time I saw this, I couldn’t take it. I was heading down in a van to Haramaya, and I asked the driver if we could stop to take a picture of this sacred lake, and when we did, it wasn’t there—grass had grown over it, cows were herding there, it was gone. There was always new information I was obtaining and through which I learned about the changes that were unfolding throughout the country.

    Another one was interviewing a university professor who did his PhD on khat studies, who had spent his whole life with and around this plant. He doesn’t appear in the film, but one thing he said stuck with me, that once in a while a visiting professor from the West would teach at the university for a few months and then a while later would publish a study on khat. All of a sudden, he had to read about khat from out there. What I picked up from that was: Where’s our voice in this? I wanted to do justice to the story of the people who live here, their stories and their dignity. Khat came from a religious, ritualistic practice of imams, just like peyote for the shamans. It’s not just a plant for kids who want to get high.

    What research in the areas of politics, sociology, religion, and myth informed the production of Faya dayi?

    A lot of the time I spent during my return to Ethiopia involved research. My friend’s grandfather, who lived in the labyrinthine city, was the one who first spoke with me about khat’s roots in the Sufi tradition. And not just in a religious sense but also in a social sense—it was what united people coming back home from work to have lunch, since they would chew khat and then go on with their day. It provided a boost of energy for people like farmers, who performed physical labor. It was a means to an end, but now it’s become the end itself, especially for the youth.

    From my friend and her grandfather, I met several Sufi imams. These imams who you see in the film, I spent a lot of time learning from them about Azurkherlaini, about whom Ethiopians have their own individual perceptions. That myth is so alive in the people’s imagination and thought process, it’s alive in the recitation and prayer of the imams. I wanted to somehow visualize the various conceptions of Azurkherlaini, and, to get to that interiority, I wanted to represent the people’s reality on the ground as opposed to casting some weird guy who looks like Azurkherlaini.

    How did you achieve the film’s distinctive black-and-white cinematography?

    I knew I was going to shoot in black and white, but at times I questioned myself about that, because khat is a green leaf and obviously that wouldn’t come through in black and white. But in the end, I decided to go with black and white because so many elements of the film refer to light and darkness. For example, the fable of Azurkherlaini talks about “the black” and the darkness of night—there were all of these dichotomies in that myth that could be evoked through black and white. Plus, the nature of khat and the trade of it, and many of the film’s stories, contain the sides that black-and-white photography evokes. I wanted to focus on the interiority of the people in the film instead of the potential sensationalism of the subject of khat, and so the dreaminess of the cinematography evokes the people’s frustration, dread, loneliness, impotence, resignation, and so on. •

    If You Go:

    For showtime and dates please visit AFI Silver Theatre.

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    Spotlight: In Florida Mekdelawit Messay, Ph.D. Student, is on a Mission to Study Equitable Water Sharing on the Nile

    “Like every kid in Ethiopia, I grew up hearing in songs, stories, folklore and school how the Nile — Abay is its name back home — is our greatest resource—the beauty, the grace of Ethiopia, but also how we have not been able to use it," says Mekdelawit Messay, a Ph.D. Student at Florida International University, who is studying "Equitable Water Sharing" on the Nile. "I feel like I have found my niche in life." (FIU)

    FIU News

    Ph.D. student is on a mission to study equitable water sharing on the Nile

    FIU Ph.D. student Mekdelawit Messay Deribe grew up in Ethiopia hearing about the Nile River and how it is such a crucial yet underutilized water resource.

    When life on the Nile was poised to forever change with the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in 2011, it became the source of Deribe’s inspiration to immerse herself in the water issues surrounding the river.

    “Like every kid in Ethiopia, I grew up hearing in songs, stories, folklore and school how the Nile — Abay is its name back home — is our greatest resource—the beauty, the grace of Ethiopia, but also how we have not been able to use it, how it does not have a home at its source,” Deribe says. “So, there was always this dichotomous feeling of love and adoration for the Nile, as well as anger at not using our resource.”

    Six years after the construction of the GERD began, Deribe found herself seriously researching Nile water issues and transboundary water use. She completed her master’s thesis on the subject and searched for Ph.D. programs that aligned with her passion. This is when she discovered FIU Institute of Environment and Department of Earth and Environment professor Assefa Melesse’s work on the Nile. It was a perfect fit.

    Today, Deribe studies the long-term, sustainable and equitable use of transboundary waters specifically focused on the Nile Basin.

    The Nile Basin is expected to be one of the most water-scarce areas in the world in the near future, she explains, so it is especially important to study transboundary water sharing in this area. The current situation in the basin is complex. Deribe explains further that, although the Nile is shared by 11 countries, historical water-sharing arrangements between Sudan and Egypt completely allocate the Nile water between these two countries, complicating the issue even more.

    “The way we deal with utilization of the Nile drastically needs to change in the basin if we are collectively to have a sustainable future,” Deribe says. “My research is focused on finding ways to ensure that collective better future for the Basin.”

    Deribe has been instrumental in supporting monthly, virtual Nile Talk Forums hosted by the Institute of Environment. She recently spoke on a panel at one of these forums, where she discussed the importance of transboundary collaboration in order to identify solutions for the equitable utilization of the Nile. She also presented her research at the annual FIU graduate symposium, earning third place for Outstanding Oral Presentation by a doctoral student.

    “I feel like I have found my niche area—my calling in life—with researching and working on the Nile,” she says. “The Nile Basin has a long way to go in terms of ensuring equitable, long term, sustainable and climate-proof use of the shared water for all the Nile Basin countries and citizens.

    “I believe there is a lot to be done in that avenue and I hope to contribute to that cause through my academic research and social advocacy. I love teaching, so I also hope to teach and give back to my country and people in a small way,” Deribe adds.

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    From Ethiopia to MIT: How Aspirations Become Actions for Mussie Demisse

    From Ethiopia to community college to MIT, Mussie Demisse ’21 is on a mission to use his love of learning to solve big problems. Demisse grew up in Ethiopia, where he’d been involved in the Ethiopian Space Science Society, and when he arrived in Boston after high school, that childhood passion brought him to the MIT Astrophysics Colloquia. (MIT News)

    MIT News

    Minutes before finding out he’d been accepted to MIT, Mussie Demisse ’21 was shaking Governor Charlie Baker’s hand. Demisse was at an awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House, being honored as one of the 2018 “29 Who Shine,” a select group of graduates from the Commonwealth’s higher education system who’d made an impact at their institution and in the community. For Demisse, Bunker Hill Community College, where he’d spent the previous two years studying computer science, represented both. “I really matured there,” he says, explaining that, at one point, he’d held three jobs at the college while also serving on student government and participating in various academic clubs.

    Bunker Hill was also where Demisse got his first peek at the rigorous yet vibrant nature of an MIT classroom and began picturing himself in such an environment. In a linear algebra course, Demisse’s professor, Jie Frye, would regularly give out challenging quizzes that piqued his curiosity. “As kind of a motivator she would tell us this is the same quiz that MIT students take,” he recalls. “They’re learning the same material, so don’t beat yourself up, be proud of what you’re able to accomplish.” Demisse asked where his professor had gotten the MIT quizzes.

    The answer wasn’t a secret connection, it turned out, but something called MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). “She was one of my favorite professors at Bunker Hill,” Demisse says. “She emphasized that it’s possible for us to pursue our dreams — which isn’t as much of a thing, I think, in community college. There’s a lot of stigma, and I feel like that sometimes keeps people from applying to things. She was very intentional about making sure that we knew we could, and we should try.”

    Demisse says OCW wasn’t the first time his interests had led him to MIT. But it was the final push he needed to apply to the school that he’d long set his heart on. Demisse grew up in Ethiopia, where he’d been involved in the Ethiopian Space Science Society, and when he arrived in Boston after high school, that childhood passion brought him to the MIT Astrophysics Colloquia. Learning that the colloquia welcomed members of the public to their weekly events, Demisse attended for a few months. Though he admits that he could understand only the first 10 minutes or so of every talk, he says, “I saw a part of MIT that was very much about advancing knowledge — done in such a supportive and cooperative way that I thought to myself, ‘Wow, it would be really cool if I could be a part of this community.’”

    After the materials on OCW showed him he had not only the drive but the aptitude to turn this dream into a reality, Demisse began researching initiatives like MIT D-Lab, the lab dedicated to designing solutions for tackling poverty, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). “That’s when I said, it must be MIT,” he recalls.

    Demisse graduated from MIT this spring with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science. But before coming to Bunker Hill and embarking on the path that would lead him to MIT, Demisse longed for opportunities to apply himself in the ways that his linear algebra professor described — to turn his aspirations into actions.

    Growing up, Demisse had witnessed the devastating effects of global inequalities like poverty. But Ethiopia was also, he explains, where he’d learned that, when you recognize a problem, it falls upon you to do something about it. When it came time to choose his major at Bunker Hill, Demisse had no shortage of motivation. He knew it’d have to be something that would allow him to serve not only the Ethiopian community but underprivileged communities around the world that share similar challenges. Computer science struck Demisse as the perfect intersection of his goals, interests, and abilities. “It’s kind of a claim of responsibility for the issues that I’ve lived through or seen people that I care about go through,” he says.

    Through OCW, Demisse found another outlet to channel this desire to help others. “I became somewhat of an evangelist for OCW,” he says, remembering reaching out to friends in Ethiopia who were also looking for resources to make a difference in their communities.

    “I especially targeted the ones that felt like they wanted more, but couldn’t get it,” Demisse says. “And it really made me happy to do that because this is the same complaint I had when I was back home — you acknowledge the problems you know you want to invest yourself in, and you know you can build the discipline, but sometimes you feel like there’s nowhere to exert that discipline, that motivation. And I think OCW and similar platforms really allow you to build your capabilities to do what you can to solve the problem that you think is most important.”

    Demisse also credits OCW with preparing him for life as an MIT student. “I think professors at MIT have this way of highlighting how hundreds of years of knowledge was built out — this focus on intuition — in order for students to project into the future, for students to be the next discoverers,” he observes. “And in OCW I saw this. I began to grasp the importance of knowing more than just the facts. Coming to MIT, this was fostered so much more.”

    At MIT, Demisse joined the African Students Association, where he found another community to inspire him. He participated in UROP, completing a project with MIT D-Lab, the lab that Demisse had dreamed of joining years before. He’s taken an entrepreneurship class that has given him the tools to think about building social ventures in Ethiopia. Demisse also joined the MIT OpenCourseWare Faculty Advisory Committee as an undergraduate representative.

    Bringing insights from his own experiences to the committee, Demisse advocates for more student involvement in the future of OCW. If the goal of OCW is to capture and share with the world as much of MIT as possible, he explains, then engaging the student community is paramount. Demisse also emphasizes the need for OCW, and MIT more broadly, to continue pioneering the open education resources movement. Now that he’s graduated he plans to continue working with OCW, focusing on increasing collaboration with community colleges and increasing access to universities in Africa.

    Ultimately, Demisse sees open education resources as a way to bring people hope — the same hope he felt when he opened the email from MIT Admissions offstage at the State House and saw the word “congratulations.”

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    A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe

    For centuries, a Eurocentric worldview disregarded the knowledge and strength of the African empire. (Photo: St. George, late-15th or early-16th century, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, (Courtesy of the DEEDS Project)

    Smithsonian Magazine

    In early 2020, just as the scope and scale of the coronavirus pandemic was revealing itself, historian Verena Krebs went to spend a few months at her parents’ house in the German countryside. There, “next to fields of rapeseed and barley and dense old woods,” in her words, the Ruhr-University Bochum professor would wait out Germany’s lockdown. She wasn’t terribly worried about not having things to do though, since she had her book on the history of late medieval Ethiopia to finish up.

    The good news was that she had already completed the full manuscript and had secured a contract with a major academic publisher. The bad news was more existential: She didn’t like the book she had written. Krebs knew her sources ran against the dominant narrative that placed Europe as aiding a needy Ethiopia, the African kingdom desperately in search of military technology from its more sophisticated counterparts to the north. But her writing didn’t fully match her research; it still followed the prevailing scholarship. Krebs worried that her interpretation of the original medieval sources was, in her own words, too “out there’” So, she hedged, and she struggled, and she doubted, and wrote the book she thought she was supposed to write.

    And then, she told us, she did something radical. Instead of tweaking what was already written, she decided to do what good historians do and follow the sources. “I basically deleted the manuscript that I had submitted. And I just wrote the whole thing anew. I started writing in April, and I finished the whole thing by, I think, August.”

    What emerged, published earlier this year as Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe, is a story that flips the script. Traditionally, the story centered Europe and placed Ethiopia as periphery, a technologically backwards Christian kingdom that, in the later Middle Ages, looked to Europe for help. But by following the sources, Krebs showcases the agency and power of Ethiopia and Ethiopians at the time and renders Europe as it was seen from East Africa, as a kind of homogenous (if interesting) mass of foreigners.

    It’s not that modern historians of the medieval Mediterranean, Europe and Africa have been ignorant about contacts between Ethiopia and Europe; the issue was that they had the power dynamic reversed. The traditional narrative stressed Ethiopia as weak and in trouble in the face of aggression from external forces, especially the Mamluks in Egypt, so Ethiopia sought military assistance from their fellow Christians to the north—the expanding kingdoms of Aragon (in modern Spain), and France. But the real story, buried in plain sight in medieval diplomatic texts, simply had not yet been put together by modern scholars. Krebs’ research not only transforms our understanding of the specific relationship between Ethiopia and other kingdoms, but joins a welcome chorus of medieval African scholarship pushing scholars of medieval Europe to broaden their scope and imagine a much more richly connected medieval world.

    The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia, in Krebs’ retelling, forged trans-regional connections. They “discovered” the kingdoms of late medieval Europe, not the other way around. It was the Africans who, in the early-15th century, sent ambassadors out into strange and distant lands. They sought curiosities and sacred relics from foreign leaders that could serve as symbols of prestige and greatness. Their emissaries descended onto a territory that they saw as more or less a uniform “other,” even if locals knew it to be a diverse land of many peoples. At the beginning of the so-called Age of Exploration, a narrative that paints European rulers as heroes for sending out their ships to foreign lands, Krebs has found evidence that the kings of Ethiopia were sponsoring their own missions of diplomacy, faith and commerce.

    But the history of medieval Ethiopia extends much farther back than the 15th and 16th centuries and has been intertwined with the better-known history of the Mediterranean since the very beginning of Christianity’s expansion. “[The kingdom of Ethiopia] is one of the most ancient Christian realms in the world,” she says. Aksum, a predecessor kingdom to what we now know as Ethiopia, “[converts] to Christianity in the very early fourth century,” much earlier than the mass of the Roman empire, which only converted to Christianity by the sixth or seventh century. The Solomonic dynasty specifically arose around 1270 A.D. in the highlands of the Horn of Africa and by the 15th century had firmly consolidated power. Their name arose out of their claim of direct descent from King Solomon of ancient Israel, via his purported relationship with the Queen of Sheba. Although they faced several external threats, they consistently beat those threats back and expanded their kingdom across the period, establishing uneasy (though generally peaceful) relations with Mamluk Egypt and inspiring wonder across Christian Europe.

    It’s at this time, Krebs says, that the Ethopian rulers looked back to Aksum with nostalgia, “It’s its own little Renaissance, if you will, where Ethiopian Christian kings are actively going back to Late Antiquity and even reviving Late Antique models in art and literature, to make it their own.” So, in addition to investing in a shared culture of art and literature, they followed a well-worn model used by rulers across the Mediterranean, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, by turning to religion. They build churches.They reach out to the Coptic Christians living in Egypt under the Islamic Mamluks to present themselves as a kind of (theoretical) protector. The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia consolidated a huge “multilingual, multi-ethnic, multi-faith kingdom” under their rule, really a kind of empire.

    And that empire needed to be adorned. Europe, Krebs says, was for the Ethiopians a mysterious and perhaps even slightly barbaric land with an interesting history and, importantly, sacred stuff that Ethiopian kings could obtain. They knew about the Pope, she says, “But other than that, it’s Frankland. [Medieval Ethiopians] had much more precise terms for Greek Christianity, Syriac Christianity, Armenian Christianity, the Copts, of course. All of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. But everything Latin Christian [to the Ethiopians] is Frankland.”

    Detail from a manuscript made for King Lebna Dengel, circa 1520, Tädbabä Maryam Monastery Ethiopia. (Photograph by Diana Spencer courtesy of the DEEDS Project.)

    Krebs is attuned to the challenges of being an outsider, a European rewriting Ethiopian history. Felege-Selam Yirga, a medieval historian at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, told us over email that Krebs has recognized that “Ethiopian diplomatic contacts with and perception of Europe [were] far more complex [than has been traditionally understood].” Yirga says that much of the study of late medieval Ethiopia and Europe “was informed by the colonial and [20th-century] fascist setting in which many … scholars of East Africa worked. While Ethiopian studies is awash in new discoveries and excellent philological and historical work, certain older works and authors remain popular and influential.” Indeed, these were points that Krebs herself emphasized—that following the footnotes back in time often led to dead-ends in scholarship produced in 1930s and 1940s Italy, under the thrall of fascism and entertaining new colonial ambitions that culminated in the country’s successful invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.

    Read more »

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    A Mother’s Hope: Ethiopian Woman Returns to San Francisco to Seek her Lost Son

    Photos of Maereg Tafesse and his mother Legawork Assefa. (Photo of Tafesse courtesy of Assefa / Photo of Assefa by David Mamaril Horowitz)

    Mission Local

    The 57-year-old mother from Ethiopia sat across from me on a recent June day. She was in San Francisco, she said, to again search for the son she last heard from in March, 2018.

    This is her second visit to the Mission District, one of the last places, she explains, that someone remembered seeing him. One of the last places that gave her some hope.

    “I lost all the meanings that I have for life,” said Legawork Assefa, a thin woman who shares her son’s photos. “You can’t imagine what it feels like, looking for your son in the streets of the U.S., where you don’t even know which street takes you where and how to come back to where you have started.”

    But she refuses to give up, using savings from her job at an NGO in Ethiopia to cover the costs of three trips to the United States, hire private detectives and slowly piece together the story of her son, Maereg Tafesse. He was 24 when he went missing in early 2018.

    An engineering degree and a desire to work with the homeless

    Less than two years before disappearing, the 6-foot-2 young man pictured on the flyer in Assefa’s hand graduated from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

    His mother is accustomed to describing him, and the photo confirms her memory: He is skinny with a receding hairline. He has tattoos of flying birds on his left wrist and a tattoo of some sort of box on his right.

    His family and friends describe him as intelligent and kind-hearted — precisely the sort of young man who would earn a B.A. in mechanical engineering and then volunteer to serve homeless residents in Los Angeles.

    “He’s always been consistent, in the sense that he didn’t just want to get a job and do the whole capitalism thing,” said Zuhair Sras, his close friend from college. “He said he’d want to join the Christian anarchists group in Los Angeles.”

    He joined a group of volunteers at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, which operates hospice care for the dying, a hospitality house for the homeless, publishes a bi-monthly newspaper and generally opposes war-making and systemic injustice.

    Members live together in a commune setting, with volunteer work covering room and board and bringing in a stipend of $15 to $25 a week. Tafeesse worked in the soup kitchen.

    Jed Poole, an associate director who lived in the room next to Tafesse, said the young volunteer was like others who graduate and aren’t ready to jump into traditional work.

    He stayed from September, 2016, to September, 2017, his mother said. Poole said that timeframe sounded about right.

    Next, in October, 2017, Tafesse moved to the Seattle area, where he volunteered at Left Bank Books, which “specialize(s) in anti-authoritarian, anarchist, independent, radical and small-press titles,” according to its website. At one point he also volunteered at the Green Tortoise Hostel in return for shelter, Assefa said.

    When he last emailed with his mother in March, 2018, Tafesse wrote about leaving the country, but five months later, Assefa confirmed that he had never left.

    So, in September 2018, she flew to Seattle to find him. But instead, she only found small clues: that her son had checked out of the the Green Tortoise Hostel in February, 2018, and that he had texted Adrian Lambert, a worker at the bookstore, the day before he went missing to say that he was going to Sacramento and might return to Seattle again in the summer.

    Assefa reported her son missing to the police department in Seattle, and detectives there said that they found Tafesse had been in Sacramento in 2018, a fact confirmed by Seattle Police Detective Patrick Michaud. Tafesse’s case as a missing person remains open, Michaud said.

    Unable to locate her son, Assefa returned home to Ethiopia, but traveled back to the United States a year later, in October, 2019, to visit Sacramento and to canvas its homeless shelters. At a Salvation Army homeless shelter, she met Lee, who is homeless. He recognized Tafesse’s photo and reported seeing him at the nearby light rail station around a month before Assefa arrived.

    The man wore clothes of Ethiopian style, Lee said. Like Tafesse, the man also also had a tattoo on his wrist.

    Assefa’s search in 2019 next took her to San Francisco because a private detective told her that Tafesse bought a bus ticket from Sacramento to San Francisco on March 8, 2018. Sras, Tafesse’s college friend, also reported that Tafesse had talked about the possibility of moving to San Francisco.

    In San Francisco, Assefa visited homeless shelters — flyers and photos in hand. One of the nonprofits she visited was Dolores Street Community Services.

    Three workers there recognized her son, including then-receptionist Barbara Torres. She told Assefa in 2019 that, a week prior, someone who looked “similar” had made a landline call, asked for a shower and was later seen down the street.

    Torres, the receptionist, confirmed this month that she and two others at the nonprofit had also remembered seeing Tafesse in the area in 2019. She added, however, that the man she saw looked “rougher” and “more rugged” than the one in the photos Assefa showed them, as if he had been homeless.

    In March and April this year, two workers in Sacramento shelters also reported seeing a man who resembled Tafesse, according to Brittany Stevens, an investigator with Sacramento’s Gumshoe Detective Agency.

    Why does someone disappear?

    Tafesse’s mother, family members and friends are unclear why the young college graduate dropped out of sight. There was no history of mental instability earlier in his life, they said.

    Allison McGillivray and her husband Sam Yergler met Tafesse when they were working at Los Angeles Catholic Worker. They said that, a month before he went missing, Tafesse visited them in Eugene, Ore., where they now live.

    He took the bus and stayed for several nights to reconnect, McGillivray said. They parted on good terms, and have no idea why he would have gone missing.

    Tafesse also regularly spoke to his uncle, Atlabachew Assefa, who lives in Dallas, and is the family member closest to him in the United States. A week or perhaps only days before he disappeared, they talked for 10 minutes and spoke of meeting in April or May of that year.

    “I’ll call you next week,” Tafesse promised.

    Shortly after, on March 3, 2018, Tafesse stopped communicating with everyone.

    “I just don’t have anything. Really. I really don’t,” his uncle said. “I just want to say that anybody who’s seen him, anybody who has any information about this … the family is suffering.”

    “We don’t have any clue, even if he’s alive or dead,” Atlabachew Assefa added. “We just need to know what happened to Maerag. That’s all. So, we beg everybody, ask everybody.”

    June 2021

    When she visits the city her son might have been in, Assefa always finds herself walking.

    She tries to get a good view of people’s faces, especially those who are homeless.

    Assefa suspects her son could be volunteering again or living on the streets, so she often visits and distributes his information at homeless shelters and community nonprofits wherever he’s lived or been reported in.

    “Every time I see someone, I see him in them,” she said.

    The San Francisco Police Department found no reports of Tafesse in its system. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing declined to confirm the presence of Tafesse in its system due to privacy concerns. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said it has no reports of Tafesse in its system.

    Assefa asks that anyone who may have information relating to the whereabouts of her son contact her at legaworka@gmail.com or on Whatsapp at +251911231194.

    The Seattle Police Department said that information on missing people should be reported to (206) 625-5011.

    You can alternatively contact the San Francisco Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit at (415) 734-3070 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or (415) 553-0123 outside of those hours.

    You can also contact the reporter, who will forward your message to Assefa, at david@missionlocal.com.

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    In Pictures: Update on US Military School Graduate Bishane Whitmore

    This month Bishane Whitmore who is currently a Speechwriter for the United States Air Force in Arlington, Virginia, received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Monday, June 15th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This is graduation season and you may remember our interview with Lieutenant Colonel Bishane Whitmore when he graduated with a Masters of Military Art and Science (MMAS) from the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, five years ago. Among those who attended the ceremony was his then 96-year-old grandfather, retired Ethiopian General Tilahun Bishane, who had graduated from the same military school 46 years earlier as one of the institution’s first international students from Ethiopia.

    This month Bishane, who is currently a Speechwriter for the United States Air Force in Arlington, Virginia, received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama.

    According to its Linkedin page: “The Air Forces Advanced Studies Group develops strategists for the United States and its allies. SAASS is a degree granting institution, with qualified graduates receiving an MPhil in Military Strategy. Select graduates can receive the AU PhD in Military Strategy by completing additional training and research requirements, which is also administered through SAASS. SAASS is a school at Air University on Maxwell AFB, in Montgomery, AL.”

    In addition to pursuing his doctorate degree since his graduation from CGSC in 2016 Bishane had served as the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron Commander as well as the Director Of Operations/ RQ-4 Pilot at Beale U.S. Air Force Base in California.

    Below are photos from his recent graduation that took place on June 9th, 2021 courtesy of his family, which note that his Doctoral Regalia was presented to him by his sister.


    Bishane Whitmore’s graduation ceremony at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama, June 9th, 2021. (Courtesy photo)


    Bishane Whitmore received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama, on June 9th, 2021. (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)

    Related:

    Harris Leadership award goes to grandson of Ethiopian General

    Bishane Whitmore Follows in Footsteps of Grandfather at US Military School

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    In Louisville, Kentucky Family of Slain Ethiopian Store Owner Devastated His American Dream Came to Tragic End

    The shooting happened around noon Monday...when police arrived, they found a man, now identified as Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, of Louisville, shot to death inside the store. His niece Hilena Haileselassie and nephew Amanuel Abay said they didn't know who would do this to their uncle. (WLKY)

    WLKY

    Family of slain Louisville liquor store owner devastated his American dream came to tragic end

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The family of a Taylor Berry liquor store owner shot to death inside the store is asking for the public’s help in identifying his killer.

    The shooting happened around noon Monday at a store in the 3200 block of Taylor Boulevard, which is just blocks away from Churchill Downs.

    When police arrived, they found a man, now identified as Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, of Louisville, shot to death inside the store.

    His niece Hilena Haileselassie and nephew Amanuel Abay said they didn’t know who would do this to their uncle.

    “What am I going to say to the person who took our everything?” Haileselassie asked. “Someone chose on a Monday morning to come and take his life and it’s devastating. His wife found him. His nephew [Abay] found him.”

    The store was a venture by Haileselassie and his wife to start a new chapter when they moved from Louisville to Atlanta. Haileselassie owned the store for two years before tragedy struck a family already experiencing loss in their home country.

    “I feel like I lost a thousand people,” Abay said. “We’re already losing a lot of people in Tigray, Ethiopia. Our family are dying there. Again, here, to happen, this to us. It’s unreal, another death.”

    Abay recalled the conversations he had with his uncle about staying safe in a city now plagued by violence.

    “He kept saying as long as you’re nice to people, they will never kill you,” Abay said. “He never thought somebody would come and kill him.”

    Part of the shock for the family is knowing how much Haileselassie himself survived as a young man. The family said he fled his home country of Ethiopia through Sudan and arrived in America in search of a better life.

    “To say Dimtsu Haileselassie was the epitome of the American Dream is not an understatement,” niece Hilena Haileselassie said. “Pulling himself up, pulling his family up with him, pulling the community up with him. Even having gone through all of that, he was the brightest face in the room. That’s his legacy. The kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness. My stomach was sick just to know his blood was spilled here.”

    A communal room next door to the store where he was killed is being used to celebrate his life. As the family begins their Ethiopian mourning tradition, they’re calling out to the community Dimtsu Haileselassie had so much faith in to honor him and help bring his killer to justice.

    “We need some form of closure,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “It’s not going to bring Dimtsu back. But it can’t end like this so please, please call the anonymous tip line.”

    LMPD has not yet made an arrest in his shooting, but released photos Tuesday of a suspect:

    Suspect in liquor store homicideWANTED: LMPD releases photos of suspect in fatal shooting of liquor store employee
    Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 502-574-LMPD.

    Read the full story and watch video at wlky.com »

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    Ethni & Serene Amsale: 17 Year-old Ethiopian American Twin Sisters Reflect on Their Culture

    In the following essay twin sisters Ethni & Serene Amsale reflect on their Ethiopian culture. Born and raised in the U.S. the college bound sisters -- who live in Middletown, Delaware -- are set to graduate from high school this month. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ethni Amsale

    Updated: June 7th, 2021

    Middletown, Delaware — My name is Ethni Amsale. I am 17 and a first generation, Ethiopian American. My twin sister, Serene and I were raised by our beautiful single mother. Our lives have been nothing short of full and bright. Throughout my lifetime, I have been blessed to have been exposed to my Ethiopian culture and background. I believe all should be judged by their character and how they treat others rather than their ethnic or economic background. This is most important.


    Ethni and Serene Amsale at their home in Middletown, Delaware. (Courtesy photo)

    However, I often remember feeling proud of my ethnic background when I went on car rides with my family listening to Ethiopian music. My mother would explain the lyrics to my sister and I, unveiling the message behind each tune. One song stands out to me Tikur Sew or “Black Man” by Teddy Afro was its title. The song is a tribute to Emperor Melenik II’s victory of a united Ethiopia against an Italian invasion specifically in the Battle of Adwa. It highlighted the role women played in the Ethiopian military, celebrating our success in resisting European colonialism. My mom tells us to listen for the lyrics ourselves and that this is one of the many reasons we feel honored to be Ethiopian. As I get older, I become increasingly exposed to a variety of literature, music, art, food, and dance representative of Ethiopia and I fall more in love with it. As a student in the American school system, I learn about history and become increasingly aware of the racial divide that exists. Although I do not fully understand it, I make an effort to research and analyze the reasons behind the socioeconomic disparity between African Americans and Whites that we witness today. The majority of African Americans who arrived in America hundreds of years ago through the transatlantic slave trade have been systematically disconnected from their roots. Many generations were born without the cognizance of their ethnic language, customs, social institutions, and achievements. They were forced to carry the name and surname given to them by their slave masters with nothing else to hold on to but the color of their skin and folktales. Unfortunately, this disconnect has caused an understandable frustration and a version of identity crisis in the Black community.


    Ethni and Serene Amsale with their mother, Meseret Tamirie, at their home in Middletown, Delaware. Ethni is also pictured on the right. (Courtesy photo)


    Ethni & Serene Amsale attending church in New York City with their mother and grandmother. (Courtesy photo)

    I am grateful for the connection I have to my ancestors birthplace and its rich history. I accredit this to my upbringing and my eagerness to continue to learn in a system that would otherwise see me fail. Currently, I am a high school senior planning on studying Animal Science and Biology on a Pre-Veterinary Track. I have been accepted to several accredited colleges and am in the process of making a decision. I am also an aspiring model and hope to one day have the platform to advocate for environmental policies that would positively impact the ecosystem and animal rights. I am appreciative of the opportunities I have and look forward to serving Ethiopia and the global community. Ethiopia enate tinur le zelalem.

    ‘Ethiopian music as the soundtrack to my life’ By Serene Amsale


    Serene Amsale. (Courtesy photo)

    By Serene Amsale

    I can imagine myself opening and closing my eyes, the light of the sun, or the highway flooding my pupils and then disappearing as my eyelids met each other. I was on a car ride, when my mother, Meseret or “Mimi” and my twin sister, Ethni would go on family trips. My Ethiopian, specifically, gurage mother would put on music, with a wide variety of Ethiopian artists. From Mohamood Ahmed to Gigi, to Teddy Afro. Ever since our first days on Earth, even if I couldn’t recall, I can hear Ethiopian music in the background of old home movies with us as babies.

    Staring out of the window, looking at landscapes, cities, and eventually crossing states, with Ethiopian music as the soundtrack to these road trips, and essentially my life. I was able to pick up on words and use my mother as a human dictionary. “Ehe mindinew?”, I would say, pointing to a lamb or cow on a local farm. It is important to note that I am passionate about animals. Ever since I was little, I aspired to be a veterinarian or wildlife biologist.

    At the age of 6, my sister and I decided in unison to become vegetarian, which my lovely, single mother fully supported. I would love learning what animals would translate to in the Amharic language. Soon after, I noticed myself understanding the language more, and the conversations my mom would have with relatives on the phone. I was able to articulate myself, which was very apparent to me on our most recent trip to Ethiopia in the summer of 2018. While I enjoyed reconnecting with family and friends, I also got a glimpse into the experience of animals in Ethiopia, particularly cattle and domesticated animals.


    Serene and Ethni Amsale with their mother, Meseret Tamirie, pictured before their Prom night at their home in Middletown, Delaware. (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)

    I noticed some were used in the prime of their lives and then deemed no longer valuable. They were left emaciated and lifeless on the streets of Addis Ababa and Hawassa, and everywhere in between, where we traveled. I am pursuing a higher education in biology and environmental policy. I will be majoring in those fields in the beginning of this fall semester. I will focus on veterinary medicine. I am confident I can rely on my knowledge thus far, and solid upbringing in my 17 years of life that being a human being is extraordinary but being Ethiopian is a true privilege.

    I take great pride in being able to call Ethiopia my country of origin. It is a strong and determined lion, “anbessa” in a pride of lost ones, remaining independent through two Italian invasions, thus becoming the only uncolonized African country in history. Accordingly, the only African country with its own indigenous alphabet, “fidel” and diverse subcultures, breaking into over 80 dialects. The land is home to impressive geographic locations, from the Danakil Depression, the hottest point on planet Earth to the Great Rift Valley and Simien Mountains- by the way I loved doing a report on them in 5th grade- The mountains helped coin the phrase “The roof of Africa” for the nation. Retrospectively, notice our flag colors, green, yellow, and red, and countries across the continent, subsequently adopt them throughout history. The first, Ghana, in 1957, then, Mali, Cameroon, Benin, and Senegal, consecutively after that. These are not simply colors, but a symbol of indepence, peace, and a real possibility of freedom, not just hope. I aspire to emulate my mother’s principles, her open-heartedness, and ability to lead with the heart, and to be present, and accessible, non-judgement towards others, belief in herself, and strong-willed, graceful, and magnetic nature. Similarly, these are all elements of the wonderful nation where our roots lie, and leading with any one of those traits will surely lead one to a bright future. I am excited to embark on my life’s adventure, and eager to affect change in a meaningful way.

    If you would like to share a similar story please send your submssion to info@tadias.com.

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    Profile: At Harvard Yoseph Boku is Geared Up to Fight for Social Justice From A Biomedical Perspective

    This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates. “I really believe that public service can be therapeutic, that you can learn just as much from a volunteer opportunity as you can learn from a classroom or a section discussion,” said Yoseph Boku, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immigrated with his family to Alexandria, Va., when he was 6 years old. (The Harvard Gazette)

    The Harvard Gazette

    Yoseph Boku constantly asks himself: How can I have an impact?

    The question-slash-mindset helped define his experience at Harvard College through his research on rare genetic diseases and in his volunteer work with the homeless. It will undoubtedly continue to frame his next steps as he starts Harvard Medical School this fall.

    “I hope to dedicate my future to fighting for justice from a biomedical perspective,” he said.

    Boku’s drive to make a difference started his first year, when he realized he could do something to help local disadvantaged teenagers and young adults.

    “I saw that a lot of youth my age were sleeping outside,” said Boku, who concentrated in molecular and cellular biology and is living in Kirkland House. “I really saw great inequity where on one side of Mass. Ave., you have one of the wealthiest schools and right on the other side, you have youth who didn’t have any homes.”

    Boku began volunteering at Y2Y, a youth homeless shelter in Harvard Square. He stayed on campus during the winter break of his first year to be able to continue volunteering while interning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In his sophomore year, Boku became volunteer director at Y2Y and oversaw all Harvard student volunteers, about 150 each week. In that job Boku worked doggedly to recruit peers at Harvard, not only for the benefit of the youth the shelter served but also to give his student conscripts the opportunity to get involved with public service.

    “I really believe that public service can be therapeutic, that you can learn just as much from a volunteer opportunity as you can learn from a classroom or a section discussion,” said Boku, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immigrated with his family to Alexandria, Va., when he was 6 years old. “Even doing a single shift can leave an impact. It was my hope that, from their shift at Y2Y, it would give Harvard students a yearning for social justice so that these Harvard students, wherever they go on to — whether it’s consulting or medicine or law — that volunteer experience with Y2Y would impact them so that they continue for the rest of their lives to advocate for those who don’t have.”

    That type of effort was why Boku was recognized in 2020 with the Spirit of Harvard College award. It is given to students who have shown a commitment to the ideals articulated in Harvard’s mission.

    When the pandemic struck, Boku switched to working remotely as a case manager. During the fall semester, Boku helped a local high school student find a place to take his online classes when the Y2Y building was closed. He worked with the student, the administrators at his school, and the Cambridge mayor’s office to find him a shared working space in Cambridge.

    “It showed me the importance and real-life impact that advocacy can have,” Boku said.

    The 21-year-old made his impact felt outside of Y2Y as well. Just before the pandemic hit last February, Boku helped organize the third annual student-run Black Health Matters Conference. It focused on racial disparities in health care for African Americans, an issue that a few months later was in the national spotlight.

    Over the years Boku has developed a special interest in sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to become misshapen and break down, and disproportionally affects Black and brown communities. He got involved in mentoring young adults diagnosed with it through STRIVE, the Harvard mentoring program for teenagers with the disease.

    While he is concerned about sickle cell disease, Boku hasn’t done much research on it just yet. Most of his efforts thus far have been geared toward rare genetic diseases with no cure, such as progeria and tuberous sclerosis complex. Because they don’t affect a large number of people, they tend to have trouble drawing major funding from sources like big pharmaceutical companies.

    Boku’s passion for looking into rare diseases was cultivated in a neurobiology class he took his junior year. A father of two girls with a rare sleeping disorder spoke to the class about the difficulties of finding physicians who specialized in treating his daughters’ condition.

    “There wasn’t really enough research being done so he broke the fourth wall and asked us to go into rare disease research,” Boku said. “That is what strengthened my resolve to do research on these diseases that are neglected by the broader research community. In a way, I see that as no different from my work with Y2Y, mentoring students with sickle cell, or my work with the Black Health Matters Conference. All of it is fighting for justice, whether I’m pipetting in the lab or whether I’m making a grilled cheese sandwich at Y2Y or whether I am introducing speakers for a panel at the conference. All of it was fighting for justice.”

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    ART TALK: Helina Metaferia’s Solo Debut with Addis Fine Art at 2021 Frieze NYC

    Ethiopian American artist Helina Metaferia is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance, and social engagement. As a research based artist, Helina's work is informed by written and oral archives, dialogical art, and somatic practices. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow / Assistant Professor at Brown University. (Addis Fine Art)

    Press Release

    Addis Fine Art is delighted to announce its representation of artist Helina Metaferia in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Helina will make her solo debut with Addis Fine Art at this year’s Frieze NYC Online Viewing Rooms from 7 – 14 May 2021.

    For Frieze NYC Online Viewing Rooms, Addis Fine Art will be showcasing a series of collage works and an accompanying film by Helina Metaferia. The works are a continuation of the series titled, By Way of Revolution, a celebration of the overlooked histories of BIPOC women’s labor within activism, and the generational impact of civil rights eras of the past on today’s social justice movements.

    Her mixed media works are made with images sourced from archival research of historical activism, including Black Panther newspapers and civil rights era photographs. She then amalgamates these images into crowns of adornment upon portraits she has photographed of women who are involved in contemporary liberation movements. Previous collages include portraits of participants of her performance-as-protest workshops that she conducts nationally. Her most recent works draw upon the activities of the Black Lives Matter movement during the pandemic and showcase Black women activists in LA and NYC, including BLM founders and chapter leaders such as Opal Tometi and Melina Abdullah, and recently formed artist-activist groups, such as The Wide Awakes, Revival Resistance Chorus, and Blacksmiths.


    HELINA METAFERIA, HEADDRESS VIII, 2020, Mixed media, collage, 88.9 x 88.9 cm (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

    HELINA METAFERIA

    Helina Metaferia is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance, and social engagement. Through a hybrid of media, Helina’s practise is concerned with exploring overlooked stories relating to the Black experience, mainly in the context of the West. She approaches this by centring Black bodies, mostly women, in positions of power and vulnerability to interrogate complex histories of systemic oppression, questioning how it informs personal experiences and interpersonal relationships. She is also influenced by her Ethiopian heritage, often drawing upon traditional African art sensibilities in her work, specifically the intersection of visual art and ritual.

    As a research based artist, Helina’s work is informed by written and oral archives, dialogical art, and somatic practices. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow / Assistant Professor at Brown University.

    Helina’s work has appeared in numerous institutional solo and group exhibitions including Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit; Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, among many others. Her solo exhibition, Generations will open at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in Autumn 2021. Helina’s work has also been supported by several artist residencies including MacDowell, Yaddo, Bemis, MASS MoCA, and Triangle Arts Association. She is also a participant of the 2021 Drawing Center’s Viewing Program. Helina received her MFA from Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Art and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

    Learn more at addisfineart.com.

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    Spotlight: Zeresenay Alemseged Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Ethiopian American Scientist, Anthropologist and Professor Zeresenay Alemseged (pictured with President Obama in Ethiopia in 2015) is one of eight University of Chicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the United States. (Photo: @Zeray_Alemseged/Twitter)

    UChicago News

    Eight UChicago faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Eight members of the University of Chicago faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. They include Profs. Zeresenay Alemseged, Benson Farb, Jeffrey Hubbell, Karin Knorr Cetina, Anup Malani, Angela Olinto, Eric Santner and Amie Wilkinson.

    These scholars have made breakthroughs in fields ranging from human evolution and cancer immunotherapy to cosmic rays and geometric group theory. They join the 2021 class of more than 250 individuals, announced April 22, which includes artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

    Zeresenay Alemseged

    Zeresenay “Zeray” Alemseged is the Donald N. Pritzker Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy. His research in human evolution focuses on the origins and evolution of early human ancestors and how they were shaped by underlying environmental and ecological factors—thus he also studies the fauna at the time our ancestors were evolving. His objective is to unearth and analyze evidence for shifts through time and space in their biology, behavior and ecology aiming at identifying milestone evolutionary events that ultimately led to the emergence of modern Homo sapiens.

    While leading the Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia, Alemseged discovered and analyzed the fossilized remains of a 3.3-million-year-old child of the species Australopithecus afarensis—the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor discovered to date. In addition, his team unearthed the earliest evidence for stone tool use in the human lineage dating back to 3.5 million years ago. These discoveries represent a major advancement in the understanding of how we became human and have changed the textbooks on human evolution.

    Read more »

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    COVID-19: US CDC Awards 5 Million to Ohio State’s Global One Health to Bolster Ethiopia’s Public Health Systems

    The Ohio State University Global One Health initiative has partnered with the CDC on a number of initiatives in Ethiopia. (OSU News)

    Ohio State News

    Global One Health initiative awarded CDC Cooperative Agreement

    Funding supports work to expand capacity and strengthen public health systems in Ethiopia

    The Ohio State University Global One Health initiative (GOHi) has been awarded $5.61 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster Ethiopia’s public health system capacity for small- and large-scale disease outbreaks and emergencies.

    Since 2009, GOHi has been on the front lines in Ethiopia working with in-country partners to strengthen capacity using a One Health approach — one that brings together multiple disciplines working globally to address the spread of disease, promote health and emphasize the connection among humans, animals, plants and the environment.

    As new diseases emerge, the need for health system preparedness across the globe is vital for nations to prevent spread of pathogens, detect and report epidemics, and respond to and mitigate the spread of those epidemics. The current COVID-19 pandemic urgently underscored these needs. Under-preparedness in one country is a global risk to all.

    “This award exemplifies the critical importance of focusing on public health, which is a global issue and very timely,” said Grace Wang, executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. “By harnessing the capability of Ohio State’s world-class research faculty, we are working to find innovative solutions to global challenges and are pleased to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ethiopia’s public health system.”

    With this award, GOHi aims to address three specific focus areas in order to achieve International Health Regulation standards and benchmarks; strengthen surveillance, laboratory and workforce capacity; improve data management; and develop a well-linked response network for disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.

    “Right now, the world needs a major effort to strengthen surveillance, laboratory and workforce capabilities,” said Wondwossen Gebreyes, GOHi executive director. “The GOHi consortium on campus along with global partners are committed to tackling the world’s toughest health challenges at the interface of humans, animals, plants and the environment, including COVID-19. The impact of this work will save lives while we continue to fight this pandemic. It will also have a lasting impact on prevention and control of future zoonotic viral and drug resistant bacterial infections among others.”

    GOHi, with participation from Ohio State’s College of Medicine, College of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine and additional faculty support from the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, will partner with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute and in-country Regional Health Bureaus to accomplish the project.

    “It is very exciting to receive this award, which has come at the right time, when we need it the most,” said Getnet Yimer, regional director, Global One Health Eastern Africa Office. “We are committed to continue working with all partners and the government agencies to sustain our gains and achieve beyond the planned milestones.”

    Over the next five years, the project will expand the number of laboratories with the ability to test and report Influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19; train health professionals and laboratory staff on better specimen collection and transportation techniques; improve data collection and reporting and implementation of appropriate mitigation measures for severe respiratory illnesses based on that data; support equipment procurement; and improve quality management throughout the laboratory network to ensure consistent, reliable quality testing.

    The ultimate goal will be to enhance and expand the Ethiopian public health system to more comprehensively and efficiently manage the multiple elements that contribute to epidemics of global (national and international) concern.

    This project serves as an example of institutional teamwork that advances the university’s commitment as a global institution, engaging in meaningful and beneficial partnerships to gain and share knowledge and find sustainable solutions to the world’s most complex issues.

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    In Virginia No Bail for Accused Ethiopian Man in 70-pound Marijuana Plot

    Samson Desalegne Alemu, 31, of Springfield, was one of four people arrested April 14 as Christiansburg police ended weeks of surveillance and swooped in on an operation that investigators said connected a Northern Virginia supply chain to drug sales in two town neighborhoods. The trigger was Alemu’s arrival in a red 2019 Ford Escape that officers secretly equipped with a tracer. (Photo: Christiansburg Police Dept.)

    The Roanoke Times

    No bail for accused driver in 70-pound marijuana plot in Montgomery County

    HRISTIANSBURG — An Ethiopian man accused of delivering 70 pounds of marijuana to a suspected dealer in Christiansburg will not be allowed free on bond, a Montgomery County judge said Thursday.

    Samson Desalegne Alemu, 31, of Springfield, was one of four people arrested April 14 as Christiansburg police ended weeks of surveillance and swooped in on an operation that investigators said connected a Northern Virginia supply chain to drug sales in two town neighborhoods. The trigger was Alemu’s arrival in a red 2019 Ford Escape that officers secretly equipped with a tracer – Alemu was tracked electronically as he drove south, with officers falling in behind him as he passed Roanoke, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Wolz said at Thursday’s bond hearing.

    Police seized 66 pounds of suspected marijuana from the vehicle Alemu drove and another four pounds from the townhouse in the 300 block of Oak Tree Boulevard where his trip ended, Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said.

    Another pound of suspected marijuana was found at an apartment in the Christiansburg Bluff complex in the 500 block of Republic Road that allegedly also was used by accused drug seller Tomas [Alemayehu] Keno, 29, of Radford, a search warrant said.

    Alemu and Keno each were charged with conspiring to distribute or to possess with the intent to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana, and with distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana.

    Also arrested was Kayla Lynn Raines, 28, of Christiansburg, on the same two charges, and Natnael Kifle Yilma, 20, of Herndon, who was charged with the same conspiracy count and with having a firearm while involved in selling a pound of marijuana.

    Keno and Yilma had already been denied bail at earlier hearings, and Raines released on a $25,000 secured bond, when Alemu appeared by a video link from the county jail Thursday in Montgomery County General District Court.

    Attorney Chris Anderson of Roanoke, who represented Alemu, said his client, an Ethiopian citizen, was needed at home in Springfield, where the youngest of his two children was undergoing cancer treatment and his fianceé was recovering from her own cancer care.

    “There is a substantial need for Mr. Alemu’s presence there,” Anderson said.

    Alemu also has a more local community tie, with a sister living in Christiansburg, Anderson added.

    Wolz countered that the scale and alleged ongoing nature of the marijuana operation argued against setting a bond, as did a 2014 conviction that Alemu had for failing to appear for a Radford court hearing.

    Judge Gerald Mabe agreed with Wolz’ argument, saying that Alemu’s earlier failure to appear concerned him and the nature of the case left him unsure if Alemu would not commit other offenses if set free. Mabe said Alemu would have to remain in jail at least until his preliminary hearing, now set for Sept. 13, or he could appeal to Circuit Court and try to convince a judge there to set bail.

    According to Wolz, investigators had been looking at Keno as a regional marijuana seller since March and thought that Alemu was his source. Raines is Keno’s girlfriend, and she told investigators that she stayed at the Oak Tree Boulevard townhouse and Keno helped her with expenses, Wolz said.

    When officers raided the townhouse, they found more than $30,000 in cash. Much of the money was in a nightstand and Raines said it had not been there that morning, Wolz said. Among the money was $200 in marked bills that had been used in an earlier police undercover drug buy from Keno, Wolz said.

    A tipster had told police that several times per week, someone was bringing 10 to 20 pounds of marijuana from Keno’s address, Wolz said.

    Alemu told officers that the contraband found in the Ford Escape and in the townhouse was all his, Wolz said.

    When Alemu drove to Christiansburg, he was followed by a white 2014 Ford Fusion driven by Yilma, Wolz said. Among the items in the Fusion were five bags of spice, or synthetic marijuana, Wolz said.

    In an email after the hearing, Pettitt drew a sharp distinction between the alleged marijuana operation in Christiansburg and the legalization that Virginia is about to enact.

    “Beginning July 1st, adults 21 years of age or older may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use and may grow up to four plants per household,” Pettitt wrote. “However, it will be illegal to use marijuana in public or while driving. In addition distribution or sharing of marijuana in any amount over 1 ounce will continue to be illegal and a felony. We will continue to pursue distribution of marijuana cases when the amounts involved exceeds the 1 ounce authorized by the Legislature.

    “In this case, the quantity involved is over 1,100 ounces and the street value is approaching $200,000.”

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    UPDATE: Biden Nominates Asmeret Berhe as Next Director of Office of Science

    Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, who was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea, is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the University of California, Merced. (Photo courtesy of TED)

    Press Release

    The White House

    President Biden Announces 12 Key Climate and Infrastructure Administration Nominations

    WASHINGTON – Today, on Earth Day, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve and further the Biden Administration’s commitment to a modern sustainable infrastructure and clean energy future.

  • Carlos Monje, Nominee for Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Department of Transportation
  • Amit Bose, Nominee for Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Department of Transportation
  • Shalanda Baker, Nominee for Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact, Department of Energy
  • Asmeret Berhe, Nominee for Director of the Office of Science, Department of Energy
  • Robert Hampshire, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, Department of Transportation
  • Monica Medina, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau and Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs, Department of State
  • Bryan Newland, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior
  • Annie Petsonk, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, Department of Transportation
  • Frank Rose, Nominee for Principal Deputy Administrator for National Nuclear Security, Department of Energy
  • Margaret Schaus, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Rick Spinrad, Nominee for Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce
  • Tracy Stone-Manning, Nominee for Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior

    Asmeret Berhe, Nominee for Director of the Office of Science, Department of Energy

    Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the University of California, Merced. Her research is at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human communities. She previously served as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; was a Leadership board member for the Earth Science Women’s Network; and is currently a co-principal investigator in the ADVANCEGeo Partnership – a National Science Foundation funded effort to empower (geo)scientists to respond to and prevent harassment, discrimination, bullying and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments. Her scholarship on how physical processes such as erosion, fire, and changes in climate affect the biogeochemical cycling of essential elements in the earth system and her efforts to ensure equity and inclusion of people from all walks of life in the scientific enterprise have received numerous awards and honors. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and a member of the inaugural class of the US National Academies New Voices in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

    Berhe was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea. She received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from the University of Asmara, an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2020 she was named a Great Immigrant, Great American by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

    Click here to read the full press release »

    Related:

    UPDATE: Biden Nominates Mary Catherine Phee as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

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  • SCIENCE: NASA Mars Helicopter Makes History as First to Fly on Another Planet

    NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this image of its shadow as it hovered over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. It used its navigation camera, which autonomously tracks the ground during flight. (Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    National Geographic

    Ingenuity has lifted off the Martian surface and launched a new era of planetary exploration

    A small helicopter opened a new chapter of space exploration this morning when it lifted off the surface of Mars, marking humankind’s first powered flight on another planet. The 19-inch-tall chopper called Ingenuity kicked up a little rusty red dust as it lifted about 10 feet off the ground, hovered in place, turned slightly, and slowly touched back down. The flight lasted only about 40 seconds, but it represents one of history’s most audacious engineering feats.

    “A lot of people thought it was not possible to fly at Mars,” says MiMi Aung, the project manager of Ingenuity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “There is so little air.”


    In this video captured by NASA’s Perseverance rover, the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took the first powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021. (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

    The wispy atmosphere at Mars’s surface is equivalent to an altitude of about 100,000 feet on Earth—much higher than even the most capable helicopters can fly. The highest helicopter flight in history occurred in 1972, when French aviator Jean Boulet flew to 40,820 feet at an airbase northwest of Marseille.

    The Martian helicopter experienced a setback on April 9, when the craft’s onboard computer shut down early during a test to spin the two rotors at high speed. After reviewing the data, the team at JPL adjusted the command sequence that is sent to the spacecraft to start the rotors, allowing them to complete the high-speed spin test on April 16. And at 3:34 a.m. ET on April 19—in the midafternoon local time on Mars—the helicopter successfully completed its first flight.

    In the future, similar flying machines could scout new areas for rovers and astronauts, collect samples from hard-to-reach places, and traverse dozens of miles over the span of days to provide a new perspective of the Martian landscape.

    Only four pounds on Earth, which is 1.5 pounds on Mars, Ingenuity has been operating on its own since April 3, when the car-size Perseverance rover deposited it in a flat area clear of debris. A small solar panel tuned for the relatively low levels of sunlight charges the helicopter’s batteries during the day, and electric heaters keep the vehicle warm during nights that can plunge to -130°F.


    NASA’s Perseverance rover took a selfie on Mars with the Ingenuity helicopter on April 6. Perseverance then drove off to an overlook about 200 feet away to watch Ingenuity’s flight attempt. (PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS)

    To achieve its short foray into the Martian atmosphere, the little rotorcraft relied on a tiny processor like those in cellphones, autonomous navigation technologies from self-driving cars, eight lithium-ion batteries, and lightweight composite materials. Its two carbon-fiber rotors, which span four feet from tip to tip, had to spin up to about 2,500 rotations per minute—roughly five times the speed of a normal helicopter rotor—to lift off the ground.

    Now that Ingenuity has taken its first flight, the team can plan a second, which will likely perform the same hovering maneuver but a bit higher and for a bit longer. They are about halfway through a 31-day window to test the helicopter, using Perseverance as a communication relay to Earth before the rover drives off to begin its search for past life on Mars. Up to five flights are planned, building up to a trip down a 50-foot-long flight zone and back.

    “It boggles your mind,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, “flying for the first time in history a helicopter on Mars.”

    “Don’t tell me anymore it’s not possible”

    Read more »

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    Diplomacy: Request for Proposals that Strengthen Ties Between U.S. & Ethiopia

    The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia invites proposals for programs that strengthen cultural ties between the U.S. and Ethiopia through cultural, media and exchange programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation. (Photo: Courtesy U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa Facebook page)

    Press Release

    PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

    The U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce that funding is available through its Public Diplomacy small grants program. This Annual Program Statement outlines our funding priorities, strategic themes, and the procedures for submitting requests for funding. Please carefully follow all instructions below.

    Purpose of Small Grants: PAS Addis invites proposals for programs that strengthen cultural ties between the U.S. and Ethiopia through cultural, media and exchange programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation. All programs must include an American cultural element, or connection with American expert/s, organization/s, or institution/s in a specific field that will promote increased understanding of U.S. policies, values, and perspectives.

    Examples of PAS small grants programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic and professional lectures, seminars and speaker programs;
  • Artistic and cultural workshops, joint performances and exhibitions;
  • Cultural heritage conservation and preservation programs;
  • Programs developed by an alumnus/a of a U.S. sponsored or supported educational or professional exchange program;
  • Programs that strengthen U.S. college and university relationships with local higher education institutions, businesses, and/or regional organizations;
  • Media trainings.

    The APS is intended to inform individuals, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions about opportunities from the Public Affairs Section to support projects in at least one of the following thematic areas:

  • Efforts to support Ethiopia’s economic and political reforms, including support for elections, civil society, democracy and governance, and/or entrepreneurship;
  • Strengthening independent and state media through media literacy, training and other engagement;
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM);
  • Engaging emerging and under-represented populations, including youth, women and persons with disabilities through education, art, sports, culture and other programs;
  • Promoting tolerance and peace through dialogue;
  • Promoting economic growth, especially via entrepreneurship;
  • Promoting sustainable policies to protect the environment.

    Priority Program Areas:

    Proposals must identify how it fulfills a broad U.S. Embassy priority:

  • Strengthen Democratic Institutions and Expand Human Rights: improve internal stability and strengthen rule of law through active engagement with stakeholders; improve learning outcomes by increasing achievement in education; and improve workforce skills development.
  • Spur Broad-based Economic Growth and Promote Development: strengthen role of women and youth in economic activity; improve trade and investment climate; increase development and growth of the domestic private sector; and increase livelihood transition opportunities.
  • Advance Regional Peace and Security: promote regional peace and security.

    Participants and Audiences:

    The Public Affairs Section encourages applications from U.S. and Ethiopian organizations and individuals including:

  • Registered not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/nongovernmental organizations with programming experience;
  • Non-profit or governmental educational institutions;
  • Individuals will be considered, but priority is given to registered organizations and educational institutions with a proven track record of success.

    For-profit or commercial entities are not eligible to apply.

    The following types of programs are not eligible for funding:

  • Programs relating to partisan political activity;
  • Charitable or development activities;
  • Construction programs;
  • Programs that support specific religious activities;
  • Fund-raising campaigns;
  • Lobbying for specific legislation or programs
  • Scientific research;
  • Programs intended primarily for the growth or institutional development of the organization; or
  • Programs that duplicate existing U.S. government programs.

    Read more »

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  • Science: Meet the Newly Discovered Chameleon in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains

    The newly discovered Ethiopian chameleon "lives in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot that’s also home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf as well as lions, leopards and warthogs," according to the U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform Mongabay. (Photo from Koppetsch et al 2021)

    Mongabay

    Spiny new chameleon species described from Bale Mountains of Ethiopia

    Researchers have described a new chameleon species from the Bale Mountains of south-central Ethiopia and say it’s likely that more will emerge.

    Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleon is around 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and has a distinct crest of large spiny scales along its back and tail.

    It lives in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot that’s also home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf as well as lions, leopards and warthogs.

    The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened.

    Named Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleon (Trioceros wolfgangboehmei), in honor of the senior herpetologist at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZMFK) in Bonn, Germany, the chameleon is around 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and has a distinctive crest of large spiny scales along its back and tail. The species has been described in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

    Researchers uncovered the new reptile while examining variations in Ethiopian chameleons (Trioceros affinis). After careful study of the internal and external features of both preserved and wild chameleons, researchers decided there were enough differences to warrant a new species.

    The researchers suggest that the Ethiopian chameleon be considered a species complex, a group with an unknown number of species, rather than a single species. They expect more species to be described from the group.

    “Given the variation in colour patterns and morphology between different populations of these chameleons in Ethiopia, it is likely that these groups still bear a higher hidden diversity than expected, which might be revealed by further ongoing investigations,” said Thore Koppetsch, a zoologist from the ZMFK who was part of the team that described the species.


    The new Ethiopian chameleon, Trioceros wolfgangboehmei, in muted tone. Chameleons can change the arrangement of specialized skin cell to blend in with their surroundings. (Photo from Koppetsch et al. CC-BY 4.0)

    Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleons live in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. Many of Ethiopia’s endemic animals are found in the Bale Mountains, including the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis). The area is also home to lions, leopards, warthogs, and many other endemic reptiles.

    “Although the region from which the new chameleon is known from, the Bale Mountains, can be considered as a hotspot of species diversity and a center of endemism,” Koppetsch said, “it is quite astonishing to find an unknown chameleon in this region since two chameleon species endemic to this area are already known.”

    The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, Koppetsch says, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened with extinction.


    Head details of Trioceros wolfgangboehmei. (Photo from Koppetsch et al 2021. CC-BY 4.0)

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    Spotlight: Scientist Sossina Haile Focuses on Social Good on a Global Scale

    Fuel cell pioneer Sossina Haile focuses on social good on a global scale. Born in Ethiopia, [Sossina’s] family fled the country in the ’70s after a military coup. They settled in Minnesota, and Haile went on to earn academic degrees in materials science and engineering on both coasts, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.(Northwestern Magazine)

    Northwestern Magazine

    Basic Science Leads to Sustainable Solutions

    Materials scientist and engineer Sossina Haile couldn’t have predicted that the cost of solar and wind energy would plummet in recent years, or that places like California would start paying customers to take electricity because their supply outstripped demand. But once those things happened, she had a solution.

    Haile’s team developed a way to convert electricity into hydrogen, store it and convert it back to electricity when more is needed. This breakthrough offers a way to rebalance, and even stabilize, the U.S. energy grid.

    “That’s the benefit of doing work on fundamental materials,” says Haile, a professor in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. “You can switch gears because you understand the properties of your materials and their potential applications.”

    Equipped with this technology, a storage company could take excess electricity from ComEd or PG&E, for example, and store it as hydrogen, Haile says. And when ComEd needs more electricity to power its customers’ air conditioners in the middle of summer, it would pay that storage company to convert hydrogen back to electricity. “That firm will make a killing,” Haile says.

    “I had to learn that quiet persistence only got you so far.”

    BACK TO BASICS

    In 2001 Haile created the first solid acid fuel cell, which converts hydrogen, or a fuel like natural gas, into electricity. In recognition of this breakthrough, Newsweek magazine named Haile one of 12 people to watch. She was also featured, along with 11 other women in science and technology, on the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City.

    Haile made a subsequent world-first discovery in 2010, when she converted solar energy into hydrogen more efficiently than photosynthesis, the process by which living plants build their organic matter. This work, which she described in a 2012 TEDx talk and for which she was awarded the 2012 International Prize in Ceramics, opened the door to larger-scale efforts to use sunlight to directly make renewable fuels.

    And then the cost of solar and wind energy plummeted, and Haile’s basic science background proved invaluable, enabling her to switch her research focus back and forth between electricity and hydrogen.

    Now, Haile’s lab is reconfiguring their solid acid fuel cells so the devices can convert ammonia into high-purity hydrogen. “This would make it possible to use ammonia as a hydrogen carrier,” Haile says, “avoiding the cost of building a new delivery infrastructure to supply hydrogen to fuel cell vehicles.”


    Sossina Haile works with a student in her lab before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Northwestern Magazine)

    ENERGY INNOVATOR

    Born in Ethiopia, Haile’s family fled the country in the ’70s after a military coup. They settled in Minnesota, and Haile went on to earn academic degrees in materials science and engineering on both coasts, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

    Haile’s work in sustainable energy was recognized early on, with a National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Fulbright Fellowship, among other honors. But just a few years into teaching, she found herself “in a very big ocean with lots of very big fish.”

    “I had to learn that quiet persistence only got you so far,” Haile says. “Success required focusing on the most important problems in my field, finding the right questions to ask and convincing the world, with just a bit of fanfare, that I could solve those problems.”

    Read more at magazine.northwestern.edu »

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    ART TALK: Tadesse Mesfin, Tsedaye Makonnen, Addis Gezehagn & Tizta Berhanu at Dubai 2021

    Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life: My Sisters Keeper II, 2021, Oil on canvas, 165 x 170 cm; Tizta Berhanu, Rest in the arms of trust, 2020, Oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm; Addis Gezehagn, Floating City XXII, 2021, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 122 x 122 cm; Tsedaye Makonnen, Astral Sea II, 2019, Acrylic mirror and fabric, 457.2 x 91.44 cm. (Photos courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: April 9th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This month the 14th edition of Art Dubai took place at Dubai International Financial Centre featuring several artists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora including Tadesse Mesfin, Addis Gezehagn, Tsedaye Makonnen and Tizta Berhanu.

    The Ethiopian artists were represented by Addis Fine Art — marking the fourth year in a row that the Addis Ababa and London-based gallery had participated in the global art fair, which was also the first major in-person group exhibition of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Below are bios of the Ethiopian artists courtesy of Addis Fine Art:

    TADESSE MESFIN B. 1953

    Tadesse Mesfin (1953) is a giant of the Ethiopian art scene. He holds a unique position as both a figurehead of the Ethiopian modernist movement, and as a long-time educator through his role as a professor at the influential Alle School of Fine Art and Design in Addis Ababa. Among the generations of painters he has taught are Addis Gezehagn, Ermias Kifleyesus, Merikokeb Berhanu and Tesfaye Urgessa.

    Mesfin’s latest work is a continuation of his ongoing series celebrating the women who work as small-holder vendors in markets scattered across Ethiopian cities, who can typically be found standing or crouched down with their agricultural produce scattered in front of them, hoping to entice the eye of potential customers. As a visual paean to them, Tadesse places their occupations and personae front and centre, and the viewer is encouraged to appreciate their importance to the communities they serve.

    The paintings, at times, resist the limitations of perspective, with the distant figures appearing to float in space between those in the foreground, their forms often abstracted through loosely defined brush strokes. Only their regal, statuesque poses and facial expressions are clearly discernible. Mesfin has stated that his previous fascination with the West-African tradition of mask-making prompted him to create his own “Ethiopian masks” from the expressions found in the faces of the women occupying his canvases. Their pointed chins and captivating stares are a nod to West-African masks; however, the distinctly Ethiopian features give them their own unique appearance. Each figure is carefully weighted in these paintings with a methodical precision born of decades of practise. There is often a central protagonist who is the focal point, slightly off-centre in accordance with the golden section rules of proportion, counter-balancing the figures in the background.

    Tadesse Mesfin’s artistic career spans more than five decades. His painterly style has been greatly influenced by his early education under Gebre Kiristos Desta, the pioneer of Ethiopian Modernism and from his seven-year stint in the USSR during the 1980s, where he studied architecture and sculpture in St. Petersburg.

    TSEDAYE MAKONNEN ETHIOPIAN-AMERICAN, B. 1984


    Tsedaye Makonnen. (Photo: The Artist and Addis Fine Art)

    Tsedaye Makonnen is a multidisciplinary artist whose studio, curatorial, and research-based practice threads together her identity as a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, a Black American woman, doula and a mother. Makonnen invests in the transhistorical forced migration of Black communities across the globe and Feminism. Her work is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for Black lives. She is the recent recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, DC Public Library Maker Residency and Art on the Vine’s Savage-Lewis Artist Residency (Martha’s Vineyard).

    She has performed at the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, Chale Wote (Ghana), El Museo del Barrio, Fendika (Ethiopia), FIAP (Martinique), Queens Museum, the Smithsonian’s and more. Her light monuments memorializing Black womxn exhibited at the August Wilson Center and National Gallery of Art. In 2019 she was on the front cover of the Washington City Paper’s People Issue. She recently curated a group show with Washington Project for the Arts in DC titled Black Women as/and the Living Archive and is publishing an exhibition book. This August she is exhibiting for Park Avenue Armory’s ’100 Years | 100 Women’ with NYU Tisch & Deb Willis, which was recently featured in Vogue Magazine.

    ADDIS GEZEHAGN B. 1978

    Addis Gezehagn (b.1978), a long-time artistic presence in Addis Ababa, is known for portraying the multifaceted characteristics of the city’s residents by detailing the external facades of their homes. In his “Floating Cities/ Floating Towers” series, Gezehagn depicts dreamlike deconstructed and layered renderings of the urban landscapes rising above the ground. These compositions made by layering magazine cut outs with acrylic paint, blend the boundaries of fantasy and reality of urban life, blurring the lines between the past, present and future.

    Flattened and reductive, Gezehagn’s works imagine cityscapes as towers, or patchworks of colourful doors and gates, the architectural structures seeming to signify a natural, organic network of living spaces. The rootless and ephemeral nature of the layered towers call into question the lives of the inhabitants. Examining the personal and public spaces, the works archive walls and towers destined to crumble, tracing a pattern of classism and social injustice. Gezehagn’s works urge us to think beyond homes as functional entities and offer commentary on the socio-economic context of urban life.

    Gezehagn currently lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design with a Diploma and BFA in 2011. His first international exhibtion was in 2017 at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London which was received with great acclaim. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, garnering more international interest after having his first sold out solo show at Addis Fine Art’s main gallery in Addis Ababa in 2018 followed by 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair London (2018) and Art Dubai (2019).

    TIZTA BERHANU ETHIOPIAN, B. 1991


    Tizta Berhanu, Different Life in a Setting, 2019. (Addis Fine Art)

    Tizta Berhanu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1991 where she has lived and worked her entire life. She graduated in 2013 from the Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design where she studied under the influential modernist painter Tadesse Mesfin.

    Trained as a figurative painter, Tizta uses the medium to introspectively delve into human emotions. The figures in her work often express an array of sentiments, some comfort and embrace one another, whilst others are found isolated and searching in the backdrop of the enigmatic canvases. Her paintings are awash with lucid colours which flow across the canvases through the use of heavy undefined brush strokes. By portraying her subjects expressing love, hate, sadness, and loneliness, the observer is invited into moments of vulnerability and intimacy.

    Learn more at addisfineart.com.

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    Spotlight: Rediet Abebe Tackles Social Problems With Computer Science

    Rediet Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to understand pressing social problems — and try to fix them. Rediet, who holds a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University, is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI. (Photo: Quanta Magazine)

    Quanta Magazine

    A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms

    When Rediet Abebe arrived at Harvard University as an undergraduate in 2009, she planned to study mathematics. But her experiences with the Cambridge public schools soon changed her plans.

    Abebe, 29, is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city. When residents there didn’t have the resources they needed, she attributed it to community-level scarcity. But she found that argument unconvincing when she learned about educational inequality in Cambridge’s public schools, which she observed struggling in an environment of abundance.

    To learn more, Abebe started attending Cambridge school board meetings. The more she discovered about the schools, the more eager she became to help. But she wasn’t sure how that desire aligned with her goal of becoming a research mathematician.

    “I thought of these interests as different,” said Abebe, a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “At some point, I actually thought I had to choose, and I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’ll choose math and the other stuff will be my hobby.’”

    After college Abebe was accepted into a doctoral program in mathematics, but she ended up deferring to attend an intensive one-year math program at the University of Cambridge. While there, she decided to switch her focus to computer science, which allowed her to combine her talent for mathematical thinking with her strong desire to address social problems related to discrimination, inequity and access to opportunity. She ended up getting a

    Today, Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to help design algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that address real-world problems. She has modeled the role played by income shocks, like losing a job or government benefits, in leading people into poverty, and she’s looked at ways of optimizing the allocation of government financial assistance. She’s also working with the Ethiopian government to better account for the needs of a diverse population by improving the algorithm the country uses to match high school students with colleges.

    Abebe is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI — a community of Black researchers working in artificial intelligence — and Mechanism Design for Social Good, which brings together researchers from different disciplines to address social problems.

    Quanta Magazine spoke with Abebe recently about her childhood fear that she’d be forced to become a medical doctor, the social costs of bad algorithmic design, and how her background in math sharpens her work. This interview is based on multiple phone interviews and has been condensed and edited for clarity.

    You’re currently involved in a project to reform the Ethiopian national educational system. The work was born in part from your own negative experiences with it. What happened?

    In the Ethiopian national system, when you finished 12th grade, you’d take this big national exam and submit your preferences for the 40-plus public universities across the country. There was a centralized assignment process that determined what university you were going to and what major you would have. I was so panicked about this.

    Why?

    I realized I was a high-scoring student when I was in middle school. And the highest-scoring students tended to be assigned to medicine. I was like 12 and super panicked that I might have to be a medical doctor instead of studying math, which is what I really wanted to do.

    What did you end up doing?

    I thought, “I may have to go abroad.” I learned that in the U.S., you can get full financial aid if you do really well and get into the top schools.

    So you went to Harvard as an undergraduate and planned to become a research mathematician. But then you had an experience that changed your plans. What happened?

    I was excited to study math at Harvard. At the same time, I was interested in what was going on in the city of Cambridge. There was a massive achievement gap in elementary schools in Cambridge. A lot of students who were Black, Latinx, low-income or students with disabilities, or immigrant students, were performing two to four grades below their peers in the same classroom. I was really interested in why this was happening.

    Read the full Q & A at quantamagazine.org »

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    Profile: Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

    “Yohannes Haile-Selassie is one of the leading paleoanthropologists today,” says Donald Johanson of Arizona State University (ASU), who was working for the Cleveland museum in 1974 while finding the famous Lucy in Ethiopia. “He and his team have made some very important discoveries.” (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

    Fresh Water Cleveland

    The bone hunter: Anthropologist searches the globe to understand the human family tree

    Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History has become perhaps the world’s top hunter of ancient hominins today, boosting Northeast Ohio’s long-time prominence in that field.

    Not bad for a guy who started out in history instead of prehistory. In his native Ethiopia, Haile-Selassie became a historian at the national museum, which had many fossils. “It’s opportunity, mostly,” he says of his success. “Seeing the fossils and going to the field and finding them triggered my interest in human origins.”

    Haile-Selassie (no relation to his homeland’s long-time emperor) has helped discover three new species of ancient hominins, the tribe that includes our own species, Homo sapiens. He has also found important fossils from our species and from Homo erectus. What’s more, he has shaken beliefs about our evolution.

    John Gurche developed this possible face to fit the cranium discovered for a human ancestor called MRD.

    “Yohannes is one of the leading paleoanthropologists today,” says Donald Johanson of Arizona State University (ASU), who was working for the Cleveland museum in 1974 while finding the famous Lucy in Ethiopia. “He and his team have made some very important discoveries.”


    Yohannes Haile-Selassie in Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

    “Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie is one of the world’s foremost experts in paleoanthropology,” according to a Wikipedia entry. “His continued contributions to this scientific discipline are helping to reshape understanding of humanity’s ancient family tree and change conventional thinking about human evolution.”

    The prestigious journal Nature named Haile-Selassie one of the world’s “ten people who mattered in science in 2019.” That’s when he and his team announced finding one of the most complete hominin craniums ever.

    When asked to evaluate himself, Haile-Selassie is confident, but not smug. “I could be considered one of the leading anthropologists in our field,” he says. “I made a lot of contributions with our finds, particularly in making some paradigm shifts. How people judge me, it’s up to them.”

    Besides Haile-Selassie and ASU’s Johanson, leading hominin explorers based in Northeast Ohio have included former museum head Bruce Latimer and Kent State University professor C. Owen Lovejoy.

    Haile-Selassie studied history at Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa University and began in 1990 to dig up fossils. Two years later, he began working toward master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Starting in 1997 as a graduate student, he found fossils from a previously unknown species, now called Ardipithecus kadabba. That species lived an estimated 5.8 million to 5.5 million years ago—dating nearly back to when humans and chimps apparently diverged.

    Yohannes Haile-Selassie examines a hominin fossil in his office at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
    In 2002, Haile-Selassie joined the Cleveland museum as curator and head of physical anthropology. Three years later, he began leading a team that scoured some 500 square miles of exclusive territory each year in Ethiopia’s Woranso-Mille area.

    By 2019, the team had found about 230 hominin fossils as well as more than 12,600 fossils from about 85 other species of mammals, including monkeys, pigs, and antelopes.

    That year, the team announced perhaps its greatest find so far—nearly all the pieces of a male hominin cranium from the species Australopithecus anamensis.
    They called the creature MRD-VP-1/1, or MRD for short. The name isn’t nearly as catchy as Lucy’s, inspired by the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with? Diamonds.” It stands for Miro Dora, the part of Haile-Selassie’s territory where the cranium was found.

    After the discovery, team member Beverly Saylor, professor of stratigraphy and sedimentology at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), led the analysis of plant and volcanic material found with the cranium. Others designed a face for that cranium—considered the likeliest hominin face yet proposed.

    Scientists used to think that hominins descended from anamensis through Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, to Homo sapiens. without much overlap. But MRD appears to be about 3.8 million years old—some 100,000 years younger than the oldest known members of afarensis. So Haile-Selassie says anamensis might turn out to be our more direct ancestor…

    “That’s how science goes, a lot of hypothesizing and testing. The more sample size you have, the better.”

    Read the full article at freshwatercleveland.com »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Ethiopia Rates Spiking

    Health Minister Dr. Lia Tadesse announcing that Ethiopia this week received a donation of 300,000 doses of COVID19 sinopharm vaccine from China. According to a "Health Alert" by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa: "Community transmission of the coronavirus in Ethiopia is widespread and accelerating rapidly. Public and private hospitals in Addis Ababa are reporting that their COVID bedspace is full." (Photo: Image via Twitter)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: March 30th, 2021

  • Health Alert: COVID-19 Rates Spiking; Hospital Beds for COVID Patients Full
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 204, 521
  • Ethiopia reports 1,724 new COVID-19 cases
  • Ethiopia begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • Ethiopian Airlines Delivers First Batches Of Vaccine In Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 limits activities of “Timket” celebration in Ethiopia
  • COVID-19: New Study on Preventive Practice Among Pregnant Women in Northwest Ethiopia
  • Aid Groups Warn of COVID-19 Outbreak at Ethiopian Refugee Camp in Sudan
  • Ethiopia to launch 6-month COVID-19 prevention campaign
  • Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia
  • US shifts to speed vaccinations; won’t hold back 2nd doses
  • MAP: Covid-19 vaccination tracker across the U.S.
  • ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine
  • FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in pandemic
  • US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • In U.S. every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here.
  • Only half in US want shots as vaccine nears
  • US regulators post positive review of Pfizer vaccine data
  • Britain launches the West’s first mass coronavirus vaccination
  • Cases and deaths in the U.S. | Cases and deaths worldwide
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 117,242
  • Ethiopia’s month-long conflict hampers efforts in fighting COVID-19 outbreaks
  • How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response
  • Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pfizer CEO confident of getting U.S. advisory panel nod for COVID-19 vaccine
  • Demand for COVID-19 tests to outstrip supply for months, says Roche CEO
  • A year into COVID-19, U.N. declares a day of ‘epidemic preparedness’
  • WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021
  • 2nd virus vaccine shows overwhelming success in U.S. tests
  • Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine: 11 Things You Need to Know
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 100,327
  • Virus cases surpass 90K as schools reopen in Ethiopia
  • Refusing to wear a mask in Ethiopia could cost you two years in jail
  • Ethiopia: Schools to Start Regular Face to Face Classes With Covid-19 Precautions
  • 5 Ethiopian footballers contract coronavirus
  • WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus
  • Global coronavirus death toll tops 1 million as U.N. chief warns that ‘misinformation kills’
  • ‘I feel sorry for Americans’: Baffled world watches USA
  • U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpasses 200,000
  • China’s BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia Braces for Election Amid COVID19
  • The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why
  • Ethiopia opens facility to make coronavirus test kits
  • Ethiopia to make and export COVID-19 test kits
  • IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay
  • Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of potential safety issue
  • In Canada, EthioCare Volunteers Help Calgary Church Members After COVID-19 Outbreak
  • How Ethiopian Airlines’ Agility Saw It Through COVID With No Bailout
  • COVID-19: US Retailer Cancels Millions of Dollars of Garment Orders from Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 reveals risky life on the buses for Ethiopia’s child conductors
  • Ethiopians fight pandemic by early morning exercises
  • One of Ethiopia’s main coronavirus centres ‘nearly full’
  • A vision for post-pandemic mobility in African cities
  • COVID-19 Spreads Inside Ethiopian Detention Centers
  • Turkish factory in Ethiopia plans output amid COVID-19
  • Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia resist camp closure amid COVID-19 fears
  • COVID-19 is crushing Ethiopian entertainers, just when we need them the most
  • Chinese first lady donates medical supplies to Ethiopia
  • Over 25500 migrant Ethiopians return home in four months amid COVID-19 pandemic: IOM
  • In Jamaica Ethiopian Consulate Donates 1,000 Care Packages
  • Global coronavirus cases top 20M as Russia approves vaccine
  • In Ethiopia extreme Poverty Rises due to the coronavirus
  • U.S. infections surpass 5 million
  • Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million
  • Ethiopians struggle to cope with COVID-19 fears
  • 15,000 Ethiopian returnees receive emergency Covid-19 assistance at quarantine sites
  • The United States Provides Ventilators to Ethiopia to Respond to COVID-19
  • In Ethiopia, Health Ministry To Conduct 17 Million COVID-19 Tests Via Month-Long Campaign
  • Ethiopia Starts Covid Test Campaign; Cases Spike After Protests
  • As COVID starts to surge, Ethiopia battles complacency
  • Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 Response Overview
  • Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some With Coronavirus
  • Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 750,000
  • Coronavirus Deaths on the Rise in Almost Every Region of the U.S.
  • Ethiopian farmers slaughter thousands of chicks as COVID hits demand
  • Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Update Affected By Internet Cut
  • Amid Pandemic Ethiopia Launches Policy to Encourage Walking and Cycling
  • African Development Fund approves $165 m grant for Ethiopia’s national COVID-19 emergency response
  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • Ethiopia among Forbes’ post-Covid ‘Rising Stars in Travel’
  • COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • COVID-19 Cases Pass 10 Million Worldwide
  • U.S. tops 3.2 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 134,000 and Growing
  • Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    Ethiopia begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout


    A healthcare personnel receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the EKA Kottebe hospital as vaccination process begins in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 13, 2021. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu – Anadolu Agency)

    By Addis Getachew | Anadolu Agency

    ADDIS ABABA — Hoping to curb a recent spike in infections, Ethiopia kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday. Jabs were administered in several major cities, including the capital Addis Ababa, where top government officials and UN representatives attended a ceremony at the Eka General Hospital. Doctors, nurses, and support staff at the hospital, one of Ethiopia’s main COVID-19 treatment centers, were given shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Ethiopia received its first batch of 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week under the COVAX initiative, a project co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world. Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Getahun Mekuria said Ethiopia has been experiencing an alarming increase in infections over recent days. “Negligence is costing the nation dearly,” he warned.

    Read more »

    Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia

    In urban areas, delivery rates in lower-level health facilities increased and hospital deliveries decreased after social distancing restrictions were put in place

    By Johns Hopkins Magazine

    A new study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and researchers at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia has found that as of June, the proportion of women in urban areas—where COVID-19 rates were highest—who delivered in lower-level health facilities significantly increased while deliveries in hospitals declined. A pregnant woman’s place of delivery is a key maternal health service component that has a direct impact on pregnancy and newborn outcomes, and researchers have been monitoring how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting women’s delivery patterns. The analysis was conducted using data from the Performance Monitoring for Action Ethiopia survey, led by Linnea Zimmerman, assistant professor in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, and Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme at Addis Ababa University. The project is managed by Johns Hopkins global health affiliate Jhpiego and the Gates Institute. Results from the analysis also showed that at the national level, there was no difference in the proportion of women who delivered in a hospital and home delivery rates remained unchanged. Looking within urban areas, women who delivered during May and June, after COVID-19 restrictions started, were significantly less likely to deliver in a hospital relative to women who delivered prior to the pandemic.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 204, 521

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of March 30th, 2021, there have been 204, 521 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

    Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic

    By World Bank

    The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has devastating health and economic impacts globally and has disproportionately affected vulnerable groups. As highlighted in a blog published at the onset of the pandemic, the coronavirus is not gender-blind and pre-existing gender gaps may intensify during and after the pandemic due to worsening human capital, economic, and women’s agency outcomes.

    What can high-frequency phone survey data tell us about the gendered effects of the pandemic in Ethiopia?

    The short answer: A lot!

    Read more »

    How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response


    Photo via the World Health Organization

    By The World Health Organization

    In a busy intensive care unit in Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Dr Samuel Getnet, 28, a newly-recruited young and energetic physician anxiously monitors the mechanical ventilators, an indispensable form of life support for COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress.

    “I never thought my professional journey would bring me to the place where I’m today—at the center of COVID-19 pandemic management team—treating and caring for the most severely ill patients who critically need my support and care. Despite the challenges and risks, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my people at this critical time,” he said.

    Dr Getnet is a general practitioner who came on board as part of the surge capacity planning for human resources announced by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in February 2020. Before starting his duty in the intensive care unit, he received in-person training from the World Health Organization (WHO), with practical sessions taking place in the hospital. The topics he covered include case management, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), infection prevention and control (IPC), and the application and use of mechanical ventilation. He also benefited from online WHO resources such as Open WHO.org.

    Read more »

    ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine


    Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo)

    By The Associated Press

    The biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off Monday as health workers rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll closed in on 300,000.

    “I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

    With a countdown of “3-2-1,” workers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center gave the first injections to applause.

    And in New Orleans, Steven Lee, an intensive care unit pharmacist at Ochsner Medical Center, summed up the moment as he got his own vaccination: “We can finally prevent the disease as opposed to treating it.”

    Other hospitals around the country, from Rhode Island to Texas, unloaded precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech, with staggered deliveries set throughout the day and Tuesday. A few other countries have authorized the vaccine, including Britain, which started vaccinating people last week, and Canada, which began doing so on Monday.

    For health care workers, who along with nursing home residents will be first in line for vaccination, hope is tempered by grief and the sheer exhaustion of months spent battling a coronavirus that still is surging in the U.S. and around the world.

    Read more »

    IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay


    Frontline workers at the Eka Kotebe hospital. (Photo by Yonas Tadesse)

    By Yonas Tadesse

    The first case of Covid-19 in Ethiopia was reported on 13 March, when a team of first responders took in a 48-year-old Japanese man. Having never seen anything like his condition, they did not know what to prepare for, and thus started their new normal of battling the coronavirus in Ethiopia.

    Doctors, nurses, janitors, security guards and drivers donned hats they had never dreamed of wearing as they worked to develop systems and techniques to minimise the damage from the virus – often at the cost of their health, their home lives, their reputations, and sometimes their lives.

    Read more and see the photos at theguardian.com »

    FACTBOX- Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 67.72 million, death toll at 1,548,575

    By Reuters

    More than 67.72 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,548,575​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

    Read more »

    Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million

    By Reuters

    Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 1 million, a Reuters tally showed on Thursday, as the disease began to spread rapidly through a continent whose relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic. The continent recorded 1,003,056 cases, of which 21,983 have died and 676,395 recovered. South Africa – which is the world’s fifth worst-hit nation and makes up more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s case load – has recorded 538,184 cases since its first case on March 5, the health ministry said on Thursday. Low levels of testing in several countries, apart from South Africa, mean Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say. Read more »

    COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running

    Someone — let’s call her Person A — catches the coronavirus. It’s a Monday. She goes about life, unaware her body is incubating a killer. By perhaps Thursday, she’s contagious. Only that weekend does she come down with a fever and get tested. What happens next is critical. Public health workers have a small window of time to track down everyone Person A had close contact with over the past few days. Because by the coming Monday or Tuesday, some of those people — though they don’t yet have symptoms — could also be spreading the virus. Welcome to the sprint known as contact tracing, the process of reaching potentially exposed people as fast as possible and persuading them to quarantine. The race is key to controlling the pandemic ahead of a vaccine, experts say. But most places across the United States aren’t making public how fast or well they’re running it, leaving Americans in the dark about how their governments are mitigating the risk. An exception is the District of Columbia, which recently added metrics on contact tracing to its online dashboard. A few weeks ago, the District was still too overwhelmed to try to ask all of those who tested positive about their contacts. Now, after building a staff of several hundred contact tracers, D.C. officials say they’re making that attempt within 24 hours of a positive test report in about 98 percent of cases. For months, every U.S. state has posted daily numbers on coronavirus testing — along with charts of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. So far, only one state, Oregon, posts similar data about contact tracing. Officials in New York say they plan to begin publishing such metrics in the coming weeks.

    Read more »

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

    Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday morning as a devastating new wave of infections continued to bear down throughout the country’s South and West. Florida, Texas and Arizona are fast emerging as the country’s latest epicenters after reporting record numbers of new infections for weeks in a row. Positivity rates and hospitalizations have also spiked. Global cases of covid-19 exceeded 10 million, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a measure of the power and spread of a pandemic that has caused vast human suffering, devastated the world’s economy and still threatens vulnerable populations in rich and poor nations alike.
    Read more »

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    By The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization warned Friday that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the global pandemic accelerates. The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. More than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 454,000 deaths have been reported worldwide. As confirmed cases and hospitalizations climb in the U.S., new mask requirements are prompting faceoffs between officials who seek to require face coverings and those, particularly conservatives, who oppose such measures. Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend their use as a protective measure. Read more »

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    JUNE 18, 2020

    The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $250 million ($125 million grant and $125 million credit) in supplemental financing for the ongoing Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Programmatic Development Policy Financing. This funding is geared towards helping Ethiopia to revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

    “The COVID 19 pandemic is expected to severely impact Ethiopia’s economy. The austerity of the required containment measures, along with disruptions to air travel and the collapse in international demand for goods exported by Ethiopia are already taking a toll on the economy,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. “Additionally, an estimated 1.8 million jobs are at risk, and the incomes and livelihoods of several million informal workers, self-employed individuals and farmers are expected to be affected.”

    The supplemental financing will help to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the Government’s reform agenda. Specifically, the program is intended to help address some of the unanticipated financing needs the Government of Ethiopia is facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional financing needs are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion, as revenue collection is expected to weaken, and additional expenditure is needed to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the crisis.

    Read more »

    Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen


    After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

    100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed there, the city that was once the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic began to reopen. The number of cases in New York has plunged, but health officials fear that a week of protests on the streets could bring a new wave.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 workers returned to work throughout the city’s five boroughs.

    “All New Yorkers should be proud you got us to this day,” de Blasio said at a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub.

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths. That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it. Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

    Report #111 የኢትዮጵያ የኮሮና ቫይረስ ሁኔታ መግለጫ. Status update on #COVID19Ethiopia. Total confirmed cases [as of June 29th, 2020]: 5,846 Read more »

    New York Times Memorializes Coronavirus Victims as U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000

    America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. Read more »

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Twelve year ago when Kibret Abebe quit his job as a nurse anesthetist at Black Lion Hospital and sold his house to launch Tebita Ambulance — Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System — his friends and family were understandably concerned about his decisions. But today Tebita operates over 20 advanced life support ambulances with approval from the Ministry of Health and stands as the country’s premier Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Tebita has since partnered with East Africa Emergency Services, an Ethiopian and American joint venture that Kibret also owns, with the aim “to establish the first trauma center and air ambulance system in Ethiopia.” This past month Tebita announced their launch of new services in Addis Abeba to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraging Ethiopians residing in the U.S. to utilize Tebita for regular home check-ins on elderly family members as well as vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions. The following is an audio of the interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis of Tebita Ambulance and East Africa Emergency Services: Read more »

    WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million

    By Reuters

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown. The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.” Read more »

    WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday. “Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

    Solving the mystery of how the coronavirus impacts children has gained sudden steam, as doctors try to determine if there’s a link between COVID-19 and kids with a severe inflammatory illness, and researchers try to pin down their contagiousness before schools reopen. New York hospitals have reported 73 suspected cases with two possible deaths from the inflammatory illness as of Friday evening. Read more »

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet


    Prof. Lemma Senbet. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA/Twitter)

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Last week Professor Lemma Senbet, an Ethiopian-American financial economist and the William E. Mayer Chair Professor at University of Maryland, moderated a timely webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and African Economies: Global Implications and Actions.’ The well-attended online conference — hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business on Friday, April 24th — featured guest speakers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the World Bank who addressed “the global implications of the COVID-19 economic impact on developing and low-income countries, with Africa as an anchor.” In the following Q&A with Tadias Prof. Lemma, who is also the immediate former Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains the worldwide economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the African continent, including Ethiopia. Read more »

    US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

    By The Associated Press

    The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself…The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.” Read more »

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the number of people newly diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to decrease. “Overall the numbers are coming down,” he said. But he said 335 people died from the virus yesterday. “That’s 335 families,” Cuomo said. “You see this number is basically reducing, but not at a tremendous rate. The only thing that’s tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who’ve still passed away.” Read more »

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

    All residents of Los Angeles County can access free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said on Wednesday. Previously, the city had only offered testing to residents with symptoms as well as essential workers and people who lived or worked in nursing homes and other kinds of institutional facilities. In an announcement on Twitter, Garcetti said that priority would still be given to front-line workers and anyone experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or shortness of breath. But the move, which makes Los Angeles the first major city in the country to offer such widespread testing, allows individuals without symptoms to be tested. Health experts have repeatedly said that mass testing is necessary to determine how many people have contracted the virus — and in particular, those who may not have experienced symptoms — and then begin to reopen the economy. Testing is by appointment only and can be arranged at one of the city’s 35 sites. Read more »

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

    A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday. The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said. Read more »

    Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine

    By NBC News

    The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to John Hopkins University data. The grim total was reached a day after presidents and prime ministers agreed to work together to develop new vaccines, tests and treatments at a virtual meeting with both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody. As the U.S. coronavirus death tollpassed 51,000 people, according to an NBC News tally, President Donald Trump took no questions at his White House briefing on Friday, after widespread mockery for floating the idea that light, heat and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients.”

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech. In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.

    Read more »

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health. Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide. Read more »

    Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes

    By The Washington Post

    Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Read more »

    CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating

    By The Washington Post

    Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

    Read more »

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration

    By The Washington Post

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

    The case count as of April 20 had reached 111 according to health minister Lia Tadesse’s update for today. Ethiopia crossed the 100 mark over the weekend. All three cases recorded over the last 24-hours were recorded in the chartered city of Dire Dawa with patients between the ages of 11 – 18. Two of them had travel history from Djibouti. Till date, Ethiopia has 90 patients in treatment centers. The death toll is still at three with 16 recoveries. A patient is in intensive care. Read more »

    COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC


    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    By Liben Eabisa

    In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago. Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.” At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.” Listen to the interview »

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

    Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus. The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic. An initial shipment of 3 000 cubic metres of supplies – most of it personal protective equipment for health workers – will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). “This is a really important platform in the response to Covid-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight Covid-19, according to WFP.

    Read more »

    Covid-19: Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    The Ethiopian government is due to buy life insurance for health professionals in direct contact with Covid-19 patients. Health minister Lia Tadesse said on Tuesday that the government last week reached an agreement with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation but did not disclose the value of the cover. The two sides are expected to sign an agreement this week to effect the insurance grant. According to the ministry, the life insurance grant is aimed at encouraging health experts who are the most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus. Members of the Rapid Response Team will also benefit.

    Read more »

    U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus

    By Reuters

    The United Nations said on Monday that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is due to begin a door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening across the city, Addis Ababa city administration has announced. City deputy Mayor, Takele Uma, on Saturday told local journalists that the mass screening and testing programme will be started Monday (April 13) first in districts which are identified as potentially most vulnerable to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The aggressive city-wide screening measure intends to identify Covid-19 infected patients and thereby to arrest a potential virus spread within communities. He said, the mass screening will eventually be carried out in all 117 districts, locally known as woredas, of the city, which is home to an estimated 7 million inhabitants. According to the Mayor, the door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening will be conducted by more than 1,200 retired health professionals, who responded to government’s call on the retired to join the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

    The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies. Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    A network of technology professionals from the Ethiopian Diaspora — known as the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team – has been assisting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health since the nation’s first Coronavirus case was confirmed on March 13th. The COVID-19 Response Team has since grown into an army of more than a thousand volunteers. Mike Endale, a software developer based in Washington, D.C., is the main person behind the launch of this project. Read more »

    Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19

    By CGTN Africa

    The Ethiopian government on Thursday expressed its keen interest to replicate China’s positive experience in terms of effectively applying traditional Chinese medicine to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

    This came after high-level officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) held a video conference with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and researchers on ways of applying the TCM therapy towards controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the MoIT disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “China, in particular, has agreed to provide to Ethiopia the two types of Chinese traditional medicines that the country applied to successfully treat the first two stages of the novel coronavirus,” a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology read.

    Read more »

    WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing


    The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has angrily condemned recent comments made by scientists suggesting that a vaccine for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality”. (Photo: WHO)

    By BBC

    The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as “racist” the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.

    “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    The doctors’ remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like “human guinea pigs”.

    One of them later issued an apology.

    When asked about the doctors’ suggestion during the WHO’s coronavirus briefing, Dr Tedros became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.

    “It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter. “Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

    Ethiopia virus cases hit 52, 9-month-old baby infected

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia on Tuesday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, the highest number recorded so far in one day since the country confirmed its first virus case on March 12. Among the new patients that tested positive for the virus were a 9-month-old infant and his mother who had travelled to Dubai recently. “During the past 24 hours, we have done laboratory tests for a total of 264 people and eight out of them have been diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the total confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia to 52,” said Health Minister Dr Lia Tadese. According to the Minister, seven of the newly confirmed patients had travel histories to various countries. They have been under forced-quarantine in different designated hotels in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Five of the new patients including the 9-month-old baby and the mother came from Dubai while the two others came from Thailand and the United Kingdom,” she said

    Read more »

    The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

    By The Washington Post

    As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States. A Post analysis of what data is available and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

    Read more »

    In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks

    After 11 weeks — or 76 days — Wuhan’s lockdown is officially over. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities allowed residents to travel in and out of the besieged city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December. Many remnants of the months-long lockdown, however, remain. Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person.

    Read more »

    U.S. hospitals facing ‘severe shortages’ of equipment and staff, watchdog says

    By The Washington Post

    As the official U.S. death toll approached 10,000, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that this will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    By Tadias Staff

    PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time. In a recent letter to the DC government as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in the U.S. the Ethiopian-American owned business, which was launched in 2007, explained that over the past few days, they have redesigned their application to be “a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application.” The letter to the Ethiopian Embassy, shared with Tadias, noted that PhantomALERT’s technology “will enable the Ethiopian government (and all other countries across the world) to locate symptomatic patients, provide medical assistance and alert communities of hotspots for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.”

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse (Minister, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia)

    It is with great sadness that I announce the second death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia. The patient was admitted on April 2nd and was under strict medical follow up in the Intensive Care Unit. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones.

    Read more »

    The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.


    People line up in their cars at the COVID-19 testing area at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3, 2020, in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

    By Chicago Tribune

    A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say. The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

    Read more »

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    By Tadias Staff

    Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

    Ethiopia’s government — like others in Africa — is confronting a stark ventilator shortage that could hobble its COVID-19 response. In a country of more than 100 million people, just 54 ventilators — out of around 450 total — had been set aside for COVID-19 patients as of this week, said Yakob Seman, director general of medical services at the health ministry.

    Read more »

    New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military.

    Speaking on CNN’s New Day, he lamented that there has been no effort to mobilize doctors and nurses across the country and bring them to “the front” — first New York City and then other areas that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “If there’s not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization,” de Blasio said, “then you’re going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.”

    He said he expects his city to be stretched for medical personnel starting Sunday, which he called “D-Day.” Many workers are out sick with the disease, he added, while others are “just stretched to the limit.”

    The mayor said he has told national leaders that they need to get on “wartime footing.”

    “The nation is in a peacetime stance while were actually in the middle of a war,” de Blasio said. “And if they don’t do something different in the next few days, they’re going to lose the window.”

    Read more »

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    By The Washington Post

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is. In March alone, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

    Read more »

    U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II

    By The Washington Post

    The coronavirus outbreak sickening hundreds of thousands around the world and devastating the global economy is creating a challenge for the world not seen since World War II, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said late Tuesday. Speaking in a virtual news conference, Guterres said the world needs to show more solidarity and cooperation in fighting not only the medical aspects of the crisis but the economic fallout. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an economic recession worse than in 2008.

    Read more »

    US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.

    Read more »

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in the New York tri-state area has shared timely resources including COVID-19 safety information as well as national sources of financial support for families and small business owners.

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

    The highly anticipated 2020 national election in Ethiopia has been canceled for now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has shelved its plans to hold the upcoming nationwide parliamentary polls on August 29th after an internal evaluation of the possible negative effect of the virus pandemic on its official activities.

    Read more »

    Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia on lockdown as coronavirus cases grow

    By The Washington Post

    Maryland, Virginia and the District issued “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, joining a growing list of states and cities mandating broad, enforceable restrictions on where residents can go in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

    The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the progression of the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


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  • COVID-19 New Cases Rising in Ethiopia

    According to the Ministry of Health the number of coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 188,902 as of March 22nd, 2021. (Photo: Image via Twitter @lia_tadesse)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: March 22nd, 2021

  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 188, 902
  • Ethiopia reports 1,724 new COVID-19 cases
  • Ethiopia begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • Ethiopian Airlines Delivers First Batches Of Vaccine In Ethiopia
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  • In U.S. every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here.
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  • Cases and deaths in the U.S. | Cases and deaths worldwide
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  • How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response
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    Ethiopia begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout


    A healthcare personnel receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the EKA Kottebe hospital as vaccination process begins in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 13, 2021. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu – Anadolu Agency)

    By Addis Getachew | Anadolu Agency

    ADDIS ABABA — Hoping to curb a recent spike in infections, Ethiopia kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday. Jabs were administered in several major cities, including the capital Addis Ababa, where top government officials and UN representatives attended a ceremony at the Eka General Hospital. Doctors, nurses, and support staff at the hospital, one of Ethiopia’s main COVID-19 treatment centers, were given shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Ethiopia received its first batch of 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week under the COVAX initiative, a project co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world. Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Getahun Mekuria said Ethiopia has been experiencing an alarming increase in infections over recent days. “Negligence is costing the nation dearly,” he warned.

    Read more »

    Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia

    In urban areas, delivery rates in lower-level health facilities increased and hospital deliveries decreased after social distancing restrictions were put in place

    By Johns Hopkins Magazine

    A new study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and researchers at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia has found that as of June, the proportion of women in urban areas—where COVID-19 rates were highest—who delivered in lower-level health facilities significantly increased while deliveries in hospitals declined. A pregnant woman’s place of delivery is a key maternal health service component that has a direct impact on pregnancy and newborn outcomes, and researchers have been monitoring how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting women’s delivery patterns. The analysis was conducted using data from the Performance Monitoring for Action Ethiopia survey, led by Linnea Zimmerman, assistant professor in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, and Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme at Addis Ababa University. The project is managed by Johns Hopkins global health affiliate Jhpiego and the Gates Institute. Results from the analysis also showed that at the national level, there was no difference in the proportion of women who delivered in a hospital and home delivery rates remained unchanged. Looking within urban areas, women who delivered during May and June, after COVID-19 restrictions started, were significantly less likely to deliver in a hospital relative to women who delivered prior to the pandemic.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 188,902

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of March 22nd, 2021, there have been 188,902 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

    Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic

    By World Bank

    The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has devastating health and economic impacts globally and has disproportionately affected vulnerable groups. As highlighted in a blog published at the onset of the pandemic, the coronavirus is not gender-blind and pre-existing gender gaps may intensify during and after the pandemic due to worsening human capital, economic, and women’s agency outcomes.

    What can high-frequency phone survey data tell us about the gendered effects of the pandemic in Ethiopia?

    The short answer: A lot!

    Read more »

    How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response


    Photo via the World Health Organization

    By The World Health Organization

    In a busy intensive care unit in Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Dr Samuel Getnet, 28, a newly-recruited young and energetic physician anxiously monitors the mechanical ventilators, an indispensable form of life support for COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress.

    “I never thought my professional journey would bring me to the place where I’m today—at the center of COVID-19 pandemic management team—treating and caring for the most severely ill patients who critically need my support and care. Despite the challenges and risks, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my people at this critical time,” he said.

    Dr Getnet is a general practitioner who came on board as part of the surge capacity planning for human resources announced by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in February 2020. Before starting his duty in the intensive care unit, he received in-person training from the World Health Organization (WHO), with practical sessions taking place in the hospital. The topics he covered include case management, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), infection prevention and control (IPC), and the application and use of mechanical ventilation. He also benefited from online WHO resources such as Open WHO.org.

    Read more »

    ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine


    Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo)

    By The Associated Press

    The biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off Monday as health workers rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll closed in on 300,000.

    “I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

    With a countdown of “3-2-1,” workers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center gave the first injections to applause.

    And in New Orleans, Steven Lee, an intensive care unit pharmacist at Ochsner Medical Center, summed up the moment as he got his own vaccination: “We can finally prevent the disease as opposed to treating it.”

    Other hospitals around the country, from Rhode Island to Texas, unloaded precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech, with staggered deliveries set throughout the day and Tuesday. A few other countries have authorized the vaccine, including Britain, which started vaccinating people last week, and Canada, which began doing so on Monday.

    For health care workers, who along with nursing home residents will be first in line for vaccination, hope is tempered by grief and the sheer exhaustion of months spent battling a coronavirus that still is surging in the U.S. and around the world.

    Read more »

    IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay


    Frontline workers at the Eka Kotebe hospital. (Photo by Yonas Tadesse)

    By Yonas Tadesse

    The first case of Covid-19 in Ethiopia was reported on 13 March, when a team of first responders took in a 48-year-old Japanese man. Having never seen anything like his condition, they did not know what to prepare for, and thus started their new normal of battling the coronavirus in Ethiopia.

    Doctors, nurses, janitors, security guards and drivers donned hats they had never dreamed of wearing as they worked to develop systems and techniques to minimise the damage from the virus – often at the cost of their health, their home lives, their reputations, and sometimes their lives.

    Read more and see the photos at theguardian.com »

    FACTBOX- Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 67.72 million, death toll at 1,548,575

    By Reuters

    More than 67.72 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,548,575​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

    Read more »

    Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million

    By Reuters

    Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 1 million, a Reuters tally showed on Thursday, as the disease began to spread rapidly through a continent whose relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic. The continent recorded 1,003,056 cases, of which 21,983 have died and 676,395 recovered. South Africa – which is the world’s fifth worst-hit nation and makes up more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s case load – has recorded 538,184 cases since its first case on March 5, the health ministry said on Thursday. Low levels of testing in several countries, apart from South Africa, mean Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say. Read more »

    COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running

    Someone — let’s call her Person A — catches the coronavirus. It’s a Monday. She goes about life, unaware her body is incubating a killer. By perhaps Thursday, she’s contagious. Only that weekend does she come down with a fever and get tested. What happens next is critical. Public health workers have a small window of time to track down everyone Person A had close contact with over the past few days. Because by the coming Monday or Tuesday, some of those people — though they don’t yet have symptoms — could also be spreading the virus. Welcome to the sprint known as contact tracing, the process of reaching potentially exposed people as fast as possible and persuading them to quarantine. The race is key to controlling the pandemic ahead of a vaccine, experts say. But most places across the United States aren’t making public how fast or well they’re running it, leaving Americans in the dark about how their governments are mitigating the risk. An exception is the District of Columbia, which recently added metrics on contact tracing to its online dashboard. A few weeks ago, the District was still too overwhelmed to try to ask all of those who tested positive about their contacts. Now, after building a staff of several hundred contact tracers, D.C. officials say they’re making that attempt within 24 hours of a positive test report in about 98 percent of cases. For months, every U.S. state has posted daily numbers on coronavirus testing — along with charts of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. So far, only one state, Oregon, posts similar data about contact tracing. Officials in New York say they plan to begin publishing such metrics in the coming weeks.

    Read more »

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

    Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday morning as a devastating new wave of infections continued to bear down throughout the country’s South and West. Florida, Texas and Arizona are fast emerging as the country’s latest epicenters after reporting record numbers of new infections for weeks in a row. Positivity rates and hospitalizations have also spiked. Global cases of covid-19 exceeded 10 million, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a measure of the power and spread of a pandemic that has caused vast human suffering, devastated the world’s economy and still threatens vulnerable populations in rich and poor nations alike.
    Read more »

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    By The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization warned Friday that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the global pandemic accelerates. The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. More than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 454,000 deaths have been reported worldwide. As confirmed cases and hospitalizations climb in the U.S., new mask requirements are prompting faceoffs between officials who seek to require face coverings and those, particularly conservatives, who oppose such measures. Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend their use as a protective measure. Read more »

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    JUNE 18, 2020

    The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $250 million ($125 million grant and $125 million credit) in supplemental financing for the ongoing Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Programmatic Development Policy Financing. This funding is geared towards helping Ethiopia to revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

    “The COVID 19 pandemic is expected to severely impact Ethiopia’s economy. The austerity of the required containment measures, along with disruptions to air travel and the collapse in international demand for goods exported by Ethiopia are already taking a toll on the economy,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. “Additionally, an estimated 1.8 million jobs are at risk, and the incomes and livelihoods of several million informal workers, self-employed individuals and farmers are expected to be affected.”

    The supplemental financing will help to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the Government’s reform agenda. Specifically, the program is intended to help address some of the unanticipated financing needs the Government of Ethiopia is facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional financing needs are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion, as revenue collection is expected to weaken, and additional expenditure is needed to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the crisis.

    Read more »

    Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen


    After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

    100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed there, the city that was once the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic began to reopen. The number of cases in New York has plunged, but health officials fear that a week of protests on the streets could bring a new wave.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 workers returned to work throughout the city’s five boroughs.

    “All New Yorkers should be proud you got us to this day,” de Blasio said at a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub.

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths. That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it. Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

    Report #111 የኢትዮጵያ የኮሮና ቫይረስ ሁኔታ መግለጫ. Status update on #COVID19Ethiopia. Total confirmed cases [as of June 29th, 2020]: 5,846 Read more »

    New York Times Memorializes Coronavirus Victims as U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000

    America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. Read more »

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Twelve year ago when Kibret Abebe quit his job as a nurse anesthetist at Black Lion Hospital and sold his house to launch Tebita Ambulance — Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System — his friends and family were understandably concerned about his decisions. But today Tebita operates over 20 advanced life support ambulances with approval from the Ministry of Health and stands as the country’s premier Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Tebita has since partnered with East Africa Emergency Services, an Ethiopian and American joint venture that Kibret also owns, with the aim “to establish the first trauma center and air ambulance system in Ethiopia.” This past month Tebita announced their launch of new services in Addis Abeba to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraging Ethiopians residing in the U.S. to utilize Tebita for regular home check-ins on elderly family members as well as vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions. The following is an audio of the interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis of Tebita Ambulance and East Africa Emergency Services: Read more »

    WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million

    By Reuters

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown. The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.” Read more »

    WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday. “Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

    Solving the mystery of how the coronavirus impacts children has gained sudden steam, as doctors try to determine if there’s a link between COVID-19 and kids with a severe inflammatory illness, and researchers try to pin down their contagiousness before schools reopen. New York hospitals have reported 73 suspected cases with two possible deaths from the inflammatory illness as of Friday evening. Read more »

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet


    Prof. Lemma Senbet. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA/Twitter)

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Last week Professor Lemma Senbet, an Ethiopian-American financial economist and the William E. Mayer Chair Professor at University of Maryland, moderated a timely webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and African Economies: Global Implications and Actions.’ The well-attended online conference — hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business on Friday, April 24th — featured guest speakers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the World Bank who addressed “the global implications of the COVID-19 economic impact on developing and low-income countries, with Africa as an anchor.” In the following Q&A with Tadias Prof. Lemma, who is also the immediate former Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains the worldwide economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the African continent, including Ethiopia. Read more »

    US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

    By The Associated Press

    The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself…The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.” Read more »

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the number of people newly diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to decrease. “Overall the numbers are coming down,” he said. But he said 335 people died from the virus yesterday. “That’s 335 families,” Cuomo said. “You see this number is basically reducing, but not at a tremendous rate. The only thing that’s tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who’ve still passed away.” Read more »

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

    All residents of Los Angeles County can access free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said on Wednesday. Previously, the city had only offered testing to residents with symptoms as well as essential workers and people who lived or worked in nursing homes and other kinds of institutional facilities. In an announcement on Twitter, Garcetti said that priority would still be given to front-line workers and anyone experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or shortness of breath. But the move, which makes Los Angeles the first major city in the country to offer such widespread testing, allows individuals without symptoms to be tested. Health experts have repeatedly said that mass testing is necessary to determine how many people have contracted the virus — and in particular, those who may not have experienced symptoms — and then begin to reopen the economy. Testing is by appointment only and can be arranged at one of the city’s 35 sites. Read more »

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

    A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday. The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said. Read more »

    Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine

    By NBC News

    The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to John Hopkins University data. The grim total was reached a day after presidents and prime ministers agreed to work together to develop new vaccines, tests and treatments at a virtual meeting with both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody. As the U.S. coronavirus death tollpassed 51,000 people, according to an NBC News tally, President Donald Trump took no questions at his White House briefing on Friday, after widespread mockery for floating the idea that light, heat and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients.”

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech. In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.

    Read more »

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health. Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide. Read more »

    Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes

    By The Washington Post

    Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Read more »

    CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating

    By The Washington Post

    Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

    Read more »

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration

    By The Washington Post

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

    The case count as of April 20 had reached 111 according to health minister Lia Tadesse’s update for today. Ethiopia crossed the 100 mark over the weekend. All three cases recorded over the last 24-hours were recorded in the chartered city of Dire Dawa with patients between the ages of 11 – 18. Two of them had travel history from Djibouti. Till date, Ethiopia has 90 patients in treatment centers. The death toll is still at three with 16 recoveries. A patient is in intensive care. Read more »

    COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC


    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    By Liben Eabisa

    In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago. Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.” At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.” Listen to the interview »

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

    Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus. The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic. An initial shipment of 3 000 cubic metres of supplies – most of it personal protective equipment for health workers – will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). “This is a really important platform in the response to Covid-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight Covid-19, according to WFP.

    Read more »

    Covid-19: Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    The Ethiopian government is due to buy life insurance for health professionals in direct contact with Covid-19 patients. Health minister Lia Tadesse said on Tuesday that the government last week reached an agreement with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation but did not disclose the value of the cover. The two sides are expected to sign an agreement this week to effect the insurance grant. According to the ministry, the life insurance grant is aimed at encouraging health experts who are the most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus. Members of the Rapid Response Team will also benefit.

    Read more »

    U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus

    By Reuters

    The United Nations said on Monday that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is due to begin a door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening across the city, Addis Ababa city administration has announced. City deputy Mayor, Takele Uma, on Saturday told local journalists that the mass screening and testing programme will be started Monday (April 13) first in districts which are identified as potentially most vulnerable to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The aggressive city-wide screening measure intends to identify Covid-19 infected patients and thereby to arrest a potential virus spread within communities. He said, the mass screening will eventually be carried out in all 117 districts, locally known as woredas, of the city, which is home to an estimated 7 million inhabitants. According to the Mayor, the door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening will be conducted by more than 1,200 retired health professionals, who responded to government’s call on the retired to join the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

    The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies. Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    A network of technology professionals from the Ethiopian Diaspora — known as the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team – has been assisting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health since the nation’s first Coronavirus case was confirmed on March 13th. The COVID-19 Response Team has since grown into an army of more than a thousand volunteers. Mike Endale, a software developer based in Washington, D.C., is the main person behind the launch of this project. Read more »

    Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19

    By CGTN Africa

    The Ethiopian government on Thursday expressed its keen interest to replicate China’s positive experience in terms of effectively applying traditional Chinese medicine to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

    This came after high-level officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) held a video conference with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and researchers on ways of applying the TCM therapy towards controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the MoIT disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “China, in particular, has agreed to provide to Ethiopia the two types of Chinese traditional medicines that the country applied to successfully treat the first two stages of the novel coronavirus,” a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology read.

    Read more »

    WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing


    The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has angrily condemned recent comments made by scientists suggesting that a vaccine for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality”. (Photo: WHO)

    By BBC

    The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as “racist” the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.

    “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    The doctors’ remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like “human guinea pigs”.

    One of them later issued an apology.

    When asked about the doctors’ suggestion during the WHO’s coronavirus briefing, Dr Tedros became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.

    “It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter. “Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

    Ethiopia virus cases hit 52, 9-month-old baby infected

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia on Tuesday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, the highest number recorded so far in one day since the country confirmed its first virus case on March 12. Among the new patients that tested positive for the virus were a 9-month-old infant and his mother who had travelled to Dubai recently. “During the past 24 hours, we have done laboratory tests for a total of 264 people and eight out of them have been diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the total confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia to 52,” said Health Minister Dr Lia Tadese. According to the Minister, seven of the newly confirmed patients had travel histories to various countries. They have been under forced-quarantine in different designated hotels in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Five of the new patients including the 9-month-old baby and the mother came from Dubai while the two others came from Thailand and the United Kingdom,” she said

    Read more »

    The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

    By The Washington Post

    As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States. A Post analysis of what data is available and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

    Read more »

    In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks

    After 11 weeks — or 76 days — Wuhan’s lockdown is officially over. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities allowed residents to travel in and out of the besieged city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December. Many remnants of the months-long lockdown, however, remain. Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person.

    Read more »

    U.S. hospitals facing ‘severe shortages’ of equipment and staff, watchdog says

    By The Washington Post

    As the official U.S. death toll approached 10,000, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that this will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    By Tadias Staff

    PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time. In a recent letter to the DC government as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in the U.S. the Ethiopian-American owned business, which was launched in 2007, explained that over the past few days, they have redesigned their application to be “a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application.” The letter to the Ethiopian Embassy, shared with Tadias, noted that PhantomALERT’s technology “will enable the Ethiopian government (and all other countries across the world) to locate symptomatic patients, provide medical assistance and alert communities of hotspots for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.”

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse (Minister, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia)

    It is with great sadness that I announce the second death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia. The patient was admitted on April 2nd and was under strict medical follow up in the Intensive Care Unit. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones.

    Read more »

    The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.


    People line up in their cars at the COVID-19 testing area at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3, 2020, in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

    By Chicago Tribune

    A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say. The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

    Read more »

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    By Tadias Staff

    Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

    Ethiopia’s government — like others in Africa — is confronting a stark ventilator shortage that could hobble its COVID-19 response. In a country of more than 100 million people, just 54 ventilators — out of around 450 total — had been set aside for COVID-19 patients as of this week, said Yakob Seman, director general of medical services at the health ministry.

    Read more »

    New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military.

    Speaking on CNN’s New Day, he lamented that there has been no effort to mobilize doctors and nurses across the country and bring them to “the front” — first New York City and then other areas that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “If there’s not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization,” de Blasio said, “then you’re going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.”

    He said he expects his city to be stretched for medical personnel starting Sunday, which he called “D-Day.” Many workers are out sick with the disease, he added, while others are “just stretched to the limit.”

    The mayor said he has told national leaders that they need to get on “wartime footing.”

    “The nation is in a peacetime stance while were actually in the middle of a war,” de Blasio said. “And if they don’t do something different in the next few days, they’re going to lose the window.”

    Read more »

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    By The Washington Post

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is. In March alone, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

    Read more »

    U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II

    By The Washington Post

    The coronavirus outbreak sickening hundreds of thousands around the world and devastating the global economy is creating a challenge for the world not seen since World War II, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said late Tuesday. Speaking in a virtual news conference, Guterres said the world needs to show more solidarity and cooperation in fighting not only the medical aspects of the crisis but the economic fallout. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an economic recession worse than in 2008.

    Read more »

    US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.

    Read more »

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in the New York tri-state area has shared timely resources including COVID-19 safety information as well as national sources of financial support for families and small business owners.

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

    The highly anticipated 2020 national election in Ethiopia has been canceled for now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has shelved its plans to hold the upcoming nationwide parliamentary polls on August 29th after an internal evaluation of the possible negative effect of the virus pandemic on its official activities.

    Read more »

    Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia on lockdown as coronavirus cases grow

    By The Washington Post

    Maryland, Virginia and the District issued “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, joining a growing list of states and cities mandating broad, enforceable restrictions on where residents can go in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

    The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the progression of the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Spotlight: College Friends Ephrem Abebe & Steve Chu, Co-founders of Ekiben in Baltimore

    College friends Ephrem Abebe & Steve Chu are Co-founders of Ekiben, an up-and-coming Asian fusion restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Their business "has become known, not only for its legendary steamed buns, but also for uniting the community." (Baltimore Magazine)

    Baltimore Magazine

    How Ekiben Went From a Modest Start-Up to the Toast of the Town

    As the pounding beat from a hip-hop heavy playlist fills the room, the Ekiben team gets to work: Chicken gets dropped in the deep fryer, broccoli is battered, and the kitchen staff hustles at the line, piling pork shoulder and mango-papaya slaw into cardboard containers scrawled with a handdrawn heart and the words, “Thank you! Ekiben Fam.” The pulsing music sets the tone, and the air is electric with energy, as the mostly young staff steadily works to fill orders for steamed bun sandwiches and rice bowls brimming with Thai chicken meatballs or tofu in spicy peanut sauce.

    By nightfall, beneath the black-and-white awning at the Hampden eatery’s entrance, the line continues to grow, and not just because COVID-19 has forced the spot to allow only one customer inside at a time. Beginning at 11 a.m., when the lunch shift starts, the joint is jumping. And by night’s end, some hundreds of Neighborhood Bird sandwiches—that is, Ekiben’s legendary Taiwanese curried chicken on a steamed bun—will fly past the vestibule plastered with manga and out the double glass doors. Of course, an equivalent scene is also unfolding at the Ekiben in Fells Point, the first brick-and-mortar location of this Asian-fusion street food spot that opened on Eastern Avenue in 2016.

    This second location of Ekiben opened in February 2020, on a scrappy, off-the-beaten-path alley in Hampden just weeks before the pandemic hit, though that hasn’t stopped patrons from finding it. And while the past year has led to a major loss of revenue from their sizeable events business—some 172 catering gigs were canceled in 2020 alone—the nightly takeout grind at both locations has largely stayed steady, in part because Ekiben was already geared toward grab-and-go.

    “It took eight months to build in Hampden what took us five years to build in Fells Point,” says Steve Chu, who co-owns Ekiben with his college friend Ephrem Abebe. “It’s kind of crazy.”

    Since the opening of the original space, the restaurant has earned praise from Travel & Leisure, Vogue, and Eater, in addition to landing a spot on Yelp’s coveted list of top 100 restaurants in the United States and being named a Rising Star by StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake. And while Chu says the national recognition is great, it’s the locals who keep the place going. “I’ve come here once a week since it opened,” says Hampden resident Jeff Crumb. “Every time we get it, the food is consistently great.”

    “This all comes from the support of the city and the people who live here,” says Abebe, 31, who oversees operations, while Chu serves as chef/CFO/marketing maven—“basically, everything else,” says Chu. “Baltimore is a true blue-collar city and likes seeing the success of small-time businesses and people growing and grinding it out. We get tourists coming in, but it’s the people two doors down who are sustaining us. The community has allowed us to get to this point.”

    Case in point: Baltimore resident Tony Trapp was a customer long before he started working at the Ekiben in Fells Point three years ago. “I loved the food,” says Trapp, who is now a manager at the Hampden location. “But I also love working here—everyone here is like family.”

    In fact, the culturally diverse staff, hailing from all over the world—the Philippines, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, China, Korea, Taiwan—refers to Chu and Abebe as “mom” and “dad,” respectively. “I guess I’m dad because my jokes are like dad jokes,” says Abebe, who is a dad to a toddler boy. “And Steve is super nurturing and helpful. He’s always there for you and gives good advice.”

    Chu’s own dad, who immigrated from Taiwan in the ’70s and opened Pikesville’s Jumbo Seafood in 1993, practically raised his only son in the Chinese food restaurant, though, Chu, whose parents were divorced by the time he was 2, hated hanging out there.

    “When you’re an immigrant running a restaurant, you definitely can’t afford childcare,” says Chu, whose uncle also owns a restaurant, Sonny Lee’s in Reisterstown. “I hated going to the restaurant because I didn’t have anything to do. I would roll glasses off the table until a busser told me to stop or my dad would stick me in his office, which is smaller than Harry Potter’s closet. During dinner service, my dad would tell me to lay down and go to sleep and I’d have a tablecloth as blankets, which were starched and very cold. And, once in a while, he’d open the door and all of this light would come rushing in and he’d drop this big plate of food that no 4-year-old could ever finish, and I’d eat in the dark because I couldn’t reach the light switch.”

    But reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential at the ripe old age of 13 gave him a new perspective. “I was like, ‘I think I can do this, minus the hard drugs,’” cracks the 30-year-old Chu. “That book convinced me that it was going to be a fun ride.”

    In the meantime, Chu’s dad put his growing son to work at Jumbo Seafood, running paper ticket orders to the kitchen, working the register, and answering the phones throughout his teen years. “At 14, I was awkward and chubby, and shy,” says Chu. “I didn’t want to be talking to people. I hated it, because I wasn’t learning anything. I was like, ‘I don’t f**king want to be here.’ It was awful.”

    When Chu reminisces about his past, it’s clear that those years spent at Jumbo were formative. And though he tells it with a sense of humor, and peppers his stories with expletives, the pain is still palpable, as he recounts facing an age-old issue—the tug between putting family first versus the desire to chase one’s own dreams.

    By the time he attended University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2008, he was majoring in economics and contemplating a career in law or teaching economics. Instead, he had an epiphany. “I realized that I loved restaurants,” he says. “I love going to them. That’s kind of like my theater. Running a restaurant is like putting on a show for your clientele. This business is so labor-intensive, I figured I’d do it while I still had the energy.”

    It was also at UMBC where he met Abebe and Nick Yesupriya, a third Ekiben founder who has since left the business, while working for Habitat for Humanity. The trio shared a dream about opening a restaurant together, though it was Chu who really put himself on the path to pursue a career in hospitality.

    “It pissed my family off so much,” says Chu, who landed a job as a line cook at Chipotle Mexican Grill his junior year. “The whole idea behind going to college is you are learning skills to take you to a higher-paying job. In our family, if you’re studying economics, you’d better go into banking or doing something white collar, not graduating with college debt and making nine dollars an hour at Chipotle, which is what I did—they were so mad.”

    While still at UMBC, he became obsessed with not only working at Chipotle, but reflecting on why it was such a success story. “It was just all the flavor profiles. The rice was delicious, the smokiness of the chicken, how the sour cream balances out all the heaviness but still adds fat to it, having that romaine lettuce in there instead of iceberg—all the things they did there was pretty life-changing,” says Chu. “What Chipotle showed me was that Americans are ready for this food culture revolution. I don’t have to go get prime rib if I want a good meal.”

    By his senior year, Chu had landed a job at ShopHouse, a Southeast Asian spinoff concept by Chipotle founder Steve Ells. At ShopHouse, he worked alongside luminary chefs such as the Michelin-starred Kyle Connaughton and James Beard Award-winning Nate Appleman. “I was head toilet-scrubber and mop lord,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually, they brought me up to management.” But the killer commute from his dad’s home in Reisterstown to D.C. led him to quit after a year.

    In 2013, Chu was working as a server at Petit Louis, which he says was one of the most formative restaurant experiences he’s ever had. From the maître d’ Patrick Del Valle, he learned “intense attention to detail and taking care of every guest who walks in the door,” he says. “Patrick and [then] sommelier John Kelley also taught me how to taste.”


    Photography by Matt Roth

    At Louis, Chu also learned that not every chef communicated by screaming. “Every chef I ever worked for prior to going to Louis was fire and brimstone,” he says. “My dad was fiery—if the delivery guys were late, he’d shout obscene things. But Ben Lefenfeld [the chef at the time, who is now the owner of La Cuchara] was the calmest chef I’ve ever met. I never saw him yell at anyone, and if he got really mad, he’d get really quiet and you could see it on his face. I had a lot of respect for that.”

    After only a few months, Chu reluctantly quit when his father’s manager fell ill and he was needed back at Jumbo. Once the crisis was resolved, he applied for restaurant jobs in New York and got a coveted gig as a line cook at Kin Shop, a Greenwich Village restaurant owned by Harold Dieterle, a Top Chef winner from season one. It was his dream job, but once again, family duty beckoned when his grandparents both got sick and he came back to Maryland to help his father with the business. When things settled down, he had the itch to pursue his own dreams.

    “I wanted to have a creative outlet, but Jumbo wasn’t the right place for that.” He reached out to Abebe and Yesupriya to see if they were still interested in opening a restaurant. “I was like, ‘I know that we talk about this all the time. Are you guys in?’ And they were like, ‘Let’s do it.’”

    Abebe, an Ethiopian immigrant who had studied IT at UMBC, was eager to join forces with his friend whose early lessons of watching his father work at Jumbo served him well. “Steve is a hard worker,” says Abebe. “He will outwork anyone, and I appreciate that in people. Going into business with him was a no-brainer for me.”

    Initially, they set out to get a food truck. “But a food truck is like $80,000,” says Chu. “I did some research and found a hot-dog cart. That was $3,000 and we didn’t have the money. Still, we had to work and save up for it and asked our friends for micro loans. We’d be like, ‘Can we borrow 50 bucks?’ and they’re like, ‘What the f**k? Just take it.’”

    The concept for steamed buns came about organically because Chu says he’s always loved steamed bun sandwiches. “The buns themselves are a staple of my childhood,” he says. “My grandparents ate them every morning. I just felt like they were underutilized in America. You have a lot of really bad steamed bun sandwiches here. I thought that it was a disservice to our culture. I was like, ‘I’m going to make this a lot better.’”

    In the early days at the Fells Point Farmers Market, using the kitchen at Jumbo Seafood to test recipes during off hours and a hot-dog cart they ended up building themselves, business got off to a slow start.

    “Day one was awful,” recalls Chu, who continued to work at Jumbo six days a week while running the cart on the weekends. “On paper, we had the best spot right by the Inner Harbor water taxis where 16,000 tourists a day would walk by. And we were like, ‘Hey, would you like some of our Asian steamed bun sandwiches filled with chicken meatballs, mango-papaya slaw, and roasted garlic aromatics?’ And they’d be like, ‘Do you have crabcakes?’”

    But over time, thanks to exposure at local events like Artscape and the Emporiyum, word traveled locally that their buns were a must-try.

    By March 2016, close to a year after the Baltimore Uprising, they opened Ekiben in Fells Point, a speck of a spot with a counter, a closet-sized kitchen, and a bunch of barstools on the site of a former Mexican restaurant.

    “We realized that the city was super divided at that time,” says Chu. “But when you travel a lot, you realize that people are just people. We all want the same thing. We all want to be happy. We all want to be taken care of and be heard. In America, you can have a very divided culture, and if you just sat down and talked to someone for five minutes, you’d realize we are not very different. We built this space around the idea that everyone listens to the same music and everyone eats the same food.”

    One look at the community board in Hampden plastered with photos, picture everything from catering gigs for the Ravens to photos of Ekiben staff members feeding the health care heroes at area hospitals, and it’s clear that the eatery has, in fact, been a unifier.

    “It’s been amazing to see the growth,” says Ekiben Hampden’s general manager, Mary Ann Delano, who is also a friend from the UMBC days. “I remember when this was just an idea. I was an environmental science major in college, and I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with this, but they’ve put so much trust in me and we’re like family here in our own little world.”

    “Steve is just one of the most genuine people I’ve ever worked with,” says Lefenfeld. “He’s always trying to bring the people up around him, which is really important in this industry and at this time. He’s a great representation of the cooking scene in Baltimore.”

    Though he’s finally broken out on his own, for Chu, who still works the dinner shift at Jumbo Seafood on Christmas—the restaurant’s busiest day of the year—all roads lead back to family.

    “As a kid, riding around in the backseat of my dad’s car, one of the first lessons he ever taught me was ‘whatever you do, you have to be the best,’” recounts Chu. “At the time, I was like, ‘Okay, whatever, I’m like 3 years old.’”

    Decades later, the throngs outside the restaurant’s doors are living proof that he’s done just that.

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    Science: Gigantic Stone Stripes Etched Across Ethiopia Pose an Ancient Mystery

    What created the gigantic stone stripes across the central Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains? As part of the research, scientists looked at moraine boulder samples in the Bale and Arsi Mountains, rocks that would once have been carried along by glaciers. (Image: Groos et al., Earth Surface Dynamics, 2021)

    Science Alert

    ENVIRONMENT

    Gigantic Stone ‘Tiger Stripes’ Etched Across Ethiopia Pose an Ancient Mystery

    If we want to predict our planet’s future under climate change, we must better understand what has happened on Earth before, even hundreds of thousands of years in the past.

    New research into the Ethiopian Highlands during the Last Glacial Period helps do just that. As well as answering some geological questions, it has also raised up a new one: What created the gigantic stone stripes across the central Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains?

    As part of the research, scientists looked at moraine boulder samples in the Bale and Arsi Mountains, rocks that would once have been carried along by glaciers.

    By studying their physical arrangement and measuring the extent of decay in an isotope of chlorine, they determined that past glaciations would not have been in sync with other similar stretches of mountains.


    (Groos et al., Earth Surface Dynamics, 2021)

    “Our results show that glaciers in the southern Ethiopian Highlands reached their maximum extent between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, several thousand years earlier than in other mountainous regions in Eastern Africa and worldwide,” says glaciologist Alexander Groos from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

    While these highlands aren’t packed with ice today, between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago – thousands of years before the most recent period in which ice sheets stretched far from the poles – they would have been topped by glaciers that covered as much as 350 square kilometres (about 135 square miles). The relatively early cooling and glacier onset is likely caused by variations in rainfall and mountain features, the researchers say.

    In other words, temperature wasn’t the only driver of glacier movement across Eastern Africa during this time. Such insights can help us understand what might happen next, and what the impact on biodiversity and ecosystems is likely to be.

    As for the massive stone stripes formed by boulders and basalt columns, they were discovered during the course of the research, just outside the area of the former ice cap. The stripes measure up to 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) long, 15 meters (49 feet) wide, and 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep, and haven’t been seen before in the tropics.


    (Groos et al., Earth Surface Dynamics, 2021)

    “The existence of these stone stripes on a tropical plateau surprised us, as so-called periglacial landforms of this magnitude were previously only known from the temperate zone and polar regions and are associated with ground temperatures around freezing point,” says Groos.

    Another way in which the Ethiopian Highlands are different to their immediate neighbors then, in terms of what went down during the last ice age. The scientists think these stripes are the natural result of periodic freezing and thawing of the ground near the ice cap, which would have drawn similar rocks together.


    (Alexander R. Groos/Digital Globe Foundation)

    That would have required substantial drops in the ground and air temperature, however – and what’s less clear is whether this is typical of the way tropical high mountains cooled at the time, or whether it was a regional phenomenon.

    We’ll need to wait for future studies of other regions to find out, but the research gives plenty for scientists to go on. Understanding climate shifts in the tropics is crucial – it’s where much of the circulation of the world’s atmosphere and oceans is driven from – and it would seem these mountainous regions might have experienced the Last Glacial Period in a variety of different ways.

    “Our findings highlight the importance of understanding the local climatic setting when attempting to draw wider climatic interpretations from glacial chronologies,” conclude the researchers in one of their newly published papers.

    The research has been published in Science Advances and Earth Surface Dynamics.

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    Chef Shumu Adem’s Journey From Ethiopia to America’s Heartland

    Shimelis "Shumu" Adem is the executive chef at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center. CENTERPLATE

    Forbes

    Chef Shumu Adem’s Journey From Ethiopia To The Final Four

    Ethiopia was in chaos. In 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown and the Ethiopian monarchy was abolished. Military leaders responsible for the coup not only sought to consolidate power, but also to eliminate any and all opposition.

    From 1976-78, the Red Terror reigned throughout the African nation, particularly in major cities including the capital of Addis Ababa, targeting members and supporters of the Ethopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP). Homes were searched and people, many of whom were students, were detained, tortured and executed without trial or cause.

    One of the most systematic uses of mass murder by the state ever witnessed in Africa resulted in at least 10,000 deaths, though the total death toll is still unknown to this day.

    “When I saw my friends starting to get arrested, I decided to flee Ethiopia to try to forge a future for myself,” said Shimelis “Shumu” Adem, executive chef at Lucas Oil Stadium and Indiana Convention Center.

    In 1977, at the height of the Red Terror, Adem sought refuge at a convent in neighboring Djibouti. For the next three years Adem, who was equally as intrigued with taste and texture as he was bucking the cultural trend that only Ethiopian women were permitted in the kitchen, honed his culinary craft by cooking for a dozen nuns as well as other workers and residents of the convent, including fellow Ethiopian refugees.

    Despite not speaking French, Adem communicated with two British nuns and one from Ethiopia during this time there, where he was taught French and Italian cuisine.

    “The experience was great,” Adem said. “It made me decide to continue my future career in the culinary arts. I look back at this time fondly, and value it as a foundational pillar to making me the chef I am today.

    “At its core, I am still doing the same thing now as I was then—helping make the time people spend together more memorable.”

    Adem came to the United States in 1980 to create his own American Dream. Over the next 25 years, he worked in a variety of roles up and down the East Coast including in Baltimore and Philadelphia, serving as executive sous chef at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He received his Pro Chef Certification Level III from the Culinary Institute of America in February 2004, and three years later moved to Indianapolis for a new opportunity.

    Today, Adem is the executive chef at Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Indiana Convention Center. Through the venues’ food and beverage provider Centerplate, Adem has developed, led and executed the culinary programs for major sporting events including Super Bowl XLVI, Big Ten Championship Game, NCAA Final Four (2010, 2015) and NFL Combine.


    Chef Shumu CENTERPLATE

    His two venues will serve as focal points for the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, with the First Four to be played March 17. Lucas Oil Stadium will host the Elite Eight (March 29-30), Final Four (April 3) and Championship Game (April 5), while the one-million-square-foot Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility with 12 courts set up inside the venue.

    “No matter the event, the approach stays the same—paying attention to detail, tapping into our local suppliers and delivering creative menus that delight the guests who come to eat with us,” Adem said. “To borrow a basketball term, that’s the game plan for success.”

    Adem said he and his team have utilized the learnings over the past year during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to safely provide food and beverage offerings for players, staff and fans; the NCAA in February confirmed venues will operate at 25% capacity and all attendees are required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

    For the NCAA Tournament, all points of sale will be cashless to reduce contact, while condiment stands in the concourse and vendors walking up and down aisles are eliminated. Pre-packaged items will be available in all-inclusive clubs in lieu of buffets. All food service employees are required to wear gloves and masks, while social distance markings will promote distancing guidelines in common areas.


    The half-pound bracket burger is a double cheeseburger topped with house-made applewood smoked bacon … [+] CENTERPLATE

    Not only will Adem and Co. be whipping up fan favorites including Indiana whiskey sour pork wings and the Heartland beer cheese steak sandwich, the chef is compiling digital recipe cards featuring the house-made whiskey and orange marmalade, mango habanero madness sauce and applewood smoked bacon jam for fans watching at home.

    “From my experience, my advice for young chefs is to set your future goal now,” Adem said. “Connect with chefs that can help you achieve your goal and always have a positive attitude. Understand you are learning not only from the chefs in your field, but also from everyone around you. Do not ever think you’re above learning. Do not be afraid to try new skills or cuisines. Develop and hone your own personal style.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: How Timnit Gebru’s Exit Shook Google and the AI Industry

    Timnit Gebru’s exit from Google's ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant's AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company's historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. (Getty Images)

    CNN Business

    How one employee’s exit shook Google and the AI industry

    In September, Timnit Gebru, then co-leader of the ethical AI team at Google, sent a private message on Twitter to Emily Bender, a computational linguistics professor at the University of Washington.

    “Hi Emily, I’m wondering if you’ve written something regarding ethical considerations of large language models or something you could recommend from others?” she asked, referring to a buzzy kind of artificial intelligence software trained on text from an enormous number of webpages.

    The question may sound unassuming but it touched on something central to the future of Google’s foundational product: search. This kind of AI has become increasingly capable and popular in the last couple years, driven largely by language models from Google and research lab OpenAI. Such AI can generate text, mimicking everything from news articles and recipes to poetry, and it has quickly become key to Google Search, which the company said responds to trillions of queries each year. In late 2019, the company started relying on such AI to help answer one in 10 English-language queries from US users; nearly a year later, the company said it was handling nearly all English queries and is also being used to answer queries in dozens of other languages.

    “Sorry, I haven’t!” Bender quickly replied to Gebru, according to messages viewed by CNN Business. But Bender, who at the time mostly knew Gebru from her presence on Twitter, was intrigued by the question. Within minutes she fired back several ideas about the ethical implications of such state-of-the-art AI models, including the “Carbon cost of creating the damn things” and “AI hype/people claiming it’s understanding when it isn’t,” and cited some relevant academic papers.

    Gebru, a prominent Black woman in AI — a field that’s largely White and male — is known for her research into bias and inequality in AI. It’s a relatively new area of study that explores how the technology, which is made by humans, soaks up our biases. The research scientist is also cofounder of Black in AI, a group focused on getting more Black people into the field. She responded to Bender that she was trying to get Google to consider the ethical implications of large language models.

    Bender suggested co-authoring an academic paper looking at these AI models and related ethical pitfalls. Within two days, Bender sent Gebru an outline for a paper. A month later, the women had written that paper (helped by other coauthors, including Gebru’s co-team leader at Google, Margaret Mitchell) and submitted it to the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, or FAccT. The paper’s title was “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?” and it included a tiny parrot emoji after the question mark. (The phrase “stochastic parrots” refers to the idea that these enormous AI models are pulling together words without truly understanding what they mean, similar to how a parrot learns to repeat things it hears.)

    The paper considers the risks of building ever-larger AI language models trained on huge swaths of the internet, such as the environmental costs and the perpetuation of biases, as well as what can be done to diminish those risks. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than Gebru or Bender could have anticipated.
    Timnit Gebru said she was fired by Google after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today's artificial intelligence systems.

    Before they were even notified in December about whether it had been accepted by the conference, Gebru abruptly left Google. On Wednesday, December 2, she tweeted that she had been “immediately fired” for an email she sent to an internal mailing list. In the email she expressed dismay over the ongoing lack of diversity at the company and frustration over an internal process related to the review of that not-yet-public research paper. (Google said it had accepted Gebru’s resignation over a list of demands she had sent via email that needed to be met for her to continue working at the company.)

    Gebru’s exit from Google’s ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant’s AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company’s historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. The conflict quickly escalated to the top of Google’s leadership, forcing CEO Sundar Pichai to announce the company would investigate what happened and to apologize for how the circumstances of Gebru’s departure caused some employees to question their place at the company. The company finished its months-long review in February.

    Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion.

    —TIMNIT GEBRU, FORMER CO-LEADER OF GOOGLE’S ETHICAL AI TEAM

    But her ousting, and the fallout from it, reignites concerns about an issue with implications beyond Google: how tech companies attempt to police themselves. With very few laws regulating AI in the United States, companies and academic institutions often make their own rules about what is and isn’t okay when developing increasingly powerful software. Ethical AI teams, such as the one Gebru co-led at Google, can help with that accountability. But the crisis at Google shows the tensions that can arise when academic research is conducted within a company whose future depends on the same technology that’s under examination.

    “Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion,” Gebru told CNN Business.
    Google declined to make anyone available to interview for this piece. In a statement, Google said it has hundreds of people working on responsible AI, and has produced more than 200 publications related to building responsible AI in the past year. “This research is incredibly important and we’re continuing to expand our work in this area in keeping with our AI Principles,” a company spokesperson said.
    “A constant battle from day one”

    Gebru joined Google in September 2018, at Mitchell’s urging, as the co-leader of the Ethical AI team. According to those who have worked on it, the team was a small, diverse group of about a dozen employees including research and social scientists and software engineers — and it was initially brought together by Mitchell about three years ago. It researches the ethical repercussions of AI and advises the company on AI policies and products.

    Gebru, who earned her doctorate degree in computer vision at Stanford and held a postdoctoral position at Microsoft Research, said she was initially unsure about joining the company.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google

    Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

    Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Profile: Ethiopia’s Segenet Kelemu Among Breakthrough Scientists You Need to Know

    After watching a near-biblical swarm of locusts destroy the crops in her Ethiopian village, Segenet Kelemu turned to science and changed the world. Segenet, who studied plant pathology and genetics at Montana State, Kansas State and Cornell University in the U.S. now leads the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which is at the forefront of global efforts to defeat food insecurity. (OZY Media)

    OZY

    BREAKTHROUGH SCIENTISTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

    Because great science is about more than fighting COVID-19.

    Scientists have rarely played such a pivotal and public role in society, and certainly never before in the digital age. But the centrality of science is about much more than the pandemic. Today’s Daily Dose explores scientists who do more than just keep us alive, from the climatologist who could become a president to researchers rectifying racial disparities and discovering the tunes that make sharks shout “That’s my jam!” OK, so sharks don’t really shout; they communicate with body language. We know this because, well, science.

    Segenet Kelemu. You know you’re doing something right when Bill Gates calls you one of his heroes. After watching a near-biblical swarm of locusts destroy the crops in her Ethiopian village, Kelemu turned to science and changed the world. First as the first woman from her region to get a college degree, which she earned from Addis Ababa University, then, while studying plant pathology and genetics at Montana State, Kansas State and Cornell University in the U.S. She returned to Africa in 2007, determined to keep farmers from devastating losses by better understanding the symbiotic relationship between plants and insects. The 63-year-old now leads the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which is at the forefront of global efforts to defeat food insecurity.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Scientific American: You Should Know: Segenet Kelemu, Plant Pathologist


    Dr. Segenet Kelemu. (Courtesy photo)

    INTRODUCING… DR. SEGENET KELEMU

    Dr. Segenet Kelemu has a very impressive CV that includes many well deserved accolades from colleagues from around the world. In 2014 was named Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi and was also awarded L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in 2014.

    She studies the microorganisms that live inside of plains plants. This research helps us understand how these plants endure so many challenges – drought, herbivores, pests, and climate change. With this information we can understand how to use biotechnology to aid the region – East Africa to feed its people and perserve its ecosystems.

    I especially love how Dr. Kelemu embraces her entire experience and her affinity for her home region to inspire her research. It is something I write about often — who we are and our relationships with places and events shapes our scientific interests and missions.

    In her own words:

    “I’d observed how the people around me spent their time concerned with how to feed themselves. So I felt a calling to do something to help. I saw how two university students had made a direct difference in a village they had been sent to teach by helping the people improve their farming practices, and I decided to study agriculture.” from an interview with her published in The East African, May 30, 2014, Dr Kelemu’s rise: From climbing trees in rural Ethiopia to excelling in science

    She earned her graduate degrees in the United States and also completed a post doctoral research assignment at Cornell University (I’m convinced that everyone has a Cornell connection). From there, Dr. Kelemu has been on a stellar trajectory. She has served as Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for Green Revolution African, Director of Biosciences at the International Livestock Research Instirture. She was a Senior Scientist, then later named Leader of Cropr and Agroecosystem Health Management the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

    Learn more about the Amazing Dr. Kelemu by visiting her wiki page.

    Director General, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)


    After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development. (Photo: Wikimedia)

    Dr. Segenet Kelemu is the Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Nairobi, Kenya. She is the fourth Chief Executive Officer, and the first woman to lead ICIPE.

    Dr. Kelemu (a native of Ethiopia) is a molecular plant pathologist with emphasis on elucidation of molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions, development of novel plant disease control strategies including biopesticides, pathogen population genetics and dynamics, endophytic microbes and their role in plant development. She has experienced the challenges and successes associated with African agriculture first-hand, from tending the field to directing a world-class laboratories.

    Following her post-doctoral work at Cornell University, USA, Segenet joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a Senior Scientist in 1992. She was later appointed Leader of Crop and Agroecosystem Health Management at CIAT until her departure in August, 2007, to become Director of BecA. CIAT recognized her numerous contributions to the centre and its mission with the Outstanding Senior Scientist Award.

    After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development. In 2007, she became the Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. Under her leadership, the BecA initiative has transformed from a contentious idea into a driving force that is changing the face of African biosciences. BecA’s research capacity, staff, facilities, funding, partners and training programs have expanded at an ever accelerating pace. She has assembled and inspired a scientific and technical team bound by a common passion for using science to enhance Africa’s biosciences development.

    Prior to becoming the Director General of icipe, she has been the Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) for about a year.

    She is one of the five Laureates of the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards. She is also one of the 2013 elected Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences. She has also received other awards, including the prestigious Friendship Award granted by the People’s Republic of China. The award is granted to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China’s economic and social development. The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) is awarding the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences. She is the first African to win the prize for Agricultural Sciences since its inception. TWAS Prizes are awarded to individual scientists in developing countries in recognition of an outstanding contribution to knowledge in eight fields of science: agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, medical sciences and physics.

    Segenet has published widely in refereed journals, book chapters, manuals, conference/workshop papers, working documents, and others. Segenet has served on a number of Governing Boards, Technical Advisory Panels and Steering Committees of key organizations and major science and technology initiatives. Segenet is also an innate teacher and has supervised and mentored a number of BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. students.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Economist Review: Jessica Beshir’s Mesmerising Ethiopia Film “Faya Dayi”

    NYC-based Ethiopian-American filmmaker Jessica Beshir's new movie “Faya Dayi” about life in Ethiopia’s eastern highlands "is less a documentary than a poem," the Economist observes in a review published this week. "The experience is as intoxicating as qat, but beneath the surface is a sombre evocation of the boredom, frustration and anger which afflict a generation of Ethiopian youth." (Photo courtesy Jessica Beshir)

    The Economist

    Qat and conflict: “Faya Dayi” evokes what it means to be young in Ethiopia

    CHILDREN BATHING in a shrinking lake. Incense wafting through an open door. The wet slap of mud against a wall. Two boys lying on the ground, staring wistfully at the sky. Like snatches of memory, the images are displayed one after the other.

    “Faya Dayi”, a hypnotic new film about life in Ethiopia’s eastern highlands, is less a documentary than a poem, its lyrics set against a sequence of monochrome pictures which languidly unfurl across the screen. The experience is as intoxicating as the leaves of qat, a mild stimulant native to this part of Africa, which is a recurring motif. But beneath the luscious surface is a sombre evocation of the boredom, frustration and anger which afflict a generation of Ethiopian youth.

    Read more »

    Related:

    IndieWire Review: ‘Faya Dayi,’ Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Docu-Drama About Legend of Khat

    IndieWire

    ‘Faya Dayi’ Review: A Hallucinatory Documentary About Ethiopia’s Most Lucrative Cash Crop

    Updated: Jan 30, 2021

    Ethiopian legend has it that khat, a stimulant leaf, was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. Inspired by this myth, Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi” is a spiritual journey into the highlands of the walled city of Harar, a place immersed in the rituals surrounding this plant, Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, the film weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between government repression, khat-induced reverie, and treacherous journeys across the Red Sea, and offers a window into the dreams of the youth who long for better lives elsewhere.

    For centuries in Ethiopia, the Sufi Muslims of Harar have chewed the khat leaf for the purposes of religious meditation. Over the past three decades, khat consumption has broken out of Sufi circles and entered the mainstream to become a daily ritual among people of all ages, religions and ethnicities, for whom chewing khat is a means to achieve Merkhana — a term that describes the high one gets from what is effectively a psychoactive drug not all that different from Cannabis. It has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria and altered states of mind. For many, Merkhana is provides an escape from everyday realities, and the only place where their hopes, and dreams can actually exist.

    Khat, for most unemployed youth, has become a way to overcome the sense of hopelessness, a way to tune out reality. They are all searching for a seemingly elusive sense of agency, as well as living with the contradictions of loving a land that makes it difficult for them to live in peace.

    In the last decade, the crops that Ethiopia primarily exported — teff, sorghum, and coffee — have been replaced by the leafy green. With social significance, it has sustained so many who have worked in the fields for generations. However familiar the work is, some young people who have grown up in its shadow want more for themselves — life away from the fields; life without khat; life entirely elsewhere. They consider leaving home and all they have ever known for something new, far away, and, while perhaps more economically beneficial, lonelier and more isolating.

    Shot entirely in stunning black and white, “Faya Dayi” opens with a long shot of a somewhat amorphous, barren landscape, nighttime, dark, crickets providing the only soundtrack, and in the distance a lone figure running playfully, starts to come into view. We see that it’s a child, as he or she runs past the camera. Cut to bewitching shots of elders indoors, some faceless, some not, chanting, giving thanks to God, separating khat leaves from their stems, and, in some cases, pounding them, as incense burns in a pot, the smoke it emits, thick and intense.

    And then a lengthy shot of an open doorway, on the other side, an ambiguous view — smoky, cavernous, vast, dark depths — a haunting score providing an exclamation mark. It’s interrupted by a meek female voiceover, almost like that of a child, beginning a story about the Harari legend of a man named Azuekherlaini, who was tasked by God to find the Maoul Hayat (water of eternal life). The fable stretches the length of the film, as the voiceover interrupts intermittently to continue where she previously ended.

    But that’s just the dressing on this striking, if enigmatic, transgenerational journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, weaving a tapestry of hallucinatory stories that offer a window into the dreams of youth.

    Unfolding more like a hybrid scripted narrative and documentary, the central story of “Faya Dayi” doesn’t follow a straight line, as it occasionally checks in on Mohammed, a 14-year-old, and the film’s presumed primary character, who works as an errand boy for the khat users in Harar. He lives with his father who, like so many in town, chews khat daily and often fights with Mohammed due to the mood swings caused by his addiction. Mohammed becomes anxious for a better life, but to have it, he must make a treacherous journey across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Professor Lemma Senbet Explains Africa’s New Free Trade Area

    Dr. Lemma W. Senbet is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. In this video, which is part of the University's 'Global Pulse' series released this week, Professor Lemma explains the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area. (Photo: Smith Business School)

    Smith Business School

    The Global Pulse is a short, 2-3 minute video series released on Wednesdays featuring Maryland Smith faculty who break down a trending global topic and why it matters to you.

    In the following video Lemma Senbet, William E. Mayer Chair professor of finance, outlines the details of the AfCFTA, or the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and what it means for both the present and future of the continent.

    Watch: Global Pulse: Africa’s New Free Trade Area

    Related:

    Profile: Professor Lemma Senbet’s Uncharted Journey


    Dr. Lemma W. Senbet is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. Beyond his academic career, Professor Lemma has been an influential member of the global finance community. He has advised the World Bank, IMF, the UN and other international institutions on issues of financial sector reform and capital market development. (Photo: UMD)

    University at Buffalo

    As the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance, Lemma Senbet, PhD ’76, has helped transform the finance program at the University of Maryland into one of the best in the world.

    He’s made such an impact that the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland recently named an undergraduate finance program after him—The Lemma Senbet Fund, which gives undergrads hands-on experience in portfolio management and equity analysis.

    But Senbet never planned to earn a PhD. He came to the U.S. from Ethiopia to earn an MBA at UCLA, which he selected because they offered a fast-track program he could complete in a year and keep his expenses down.

    Senbet had planned to go home after completing his MBA, but didn’t want to leave after just one year in the U.S. Determined to find a way to earn an income so he could stay another year, Senbet turned to a trusted professor at UCLA who encouraged him to pursue a PhD.

    “I got accepted to the PhD program at UCLA, but there wasn’t much money for students,” says Senbet. “So, I went back to my professor and he told me that Governor Rockefeller was handing out tuition waivers to foreign students, and encouraged me to apply to a finance program in New York—particularly UB.”

    He got accepted into Columbia University and the University at Buffalo, but decided UB was the better fit. Still, he wasn’t fully committed to spending three or four years in a doctoral program, since he had passion to go back home. But civil unrest in Ethiopia forced him to stay longer in the program.

    “This path turned out to be the correct one,” he says. “I didn’t know it then, but UB had one of the best finance programs—better than the Big Ten schools at the time. But since the program was so small, we got very close mentorship. We were like colleagues with faculty.”

    After earning his doctorate, Senbet joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison as an assistant professor of finance. There, he progressed rapidly along the tenure track, earning the rank of full professor after just seven years, followed by the Charles Albright Chaired Professorship, before joining the University of Maryland.

    Beyond his academic career, Senbet has been an influential member of the global finance community. He has advised the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and other international institutions on issues of financial sector reform and capital market development. He is a past president of the Western Finance Association and a two-time director of the American Finance Association.

    He also took a five-year leave from the University of Maryland to serve as executive director and CEO of the African Economic Research Consortium, the largest and oldest economic research and training network in Africa. He is succeeded by the former governor of the Central Bank of Kenya.

    Senbet has received numerous recognitions for his impact on the profession. In 2000 he was inducted into the Financial Economists Roundtable, was named a Fellow of the Financial Management Association International in 2006 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Addis Ababa University in 2005. In 2012, he was awarded the Ethiopian Diaspora (SEED) award for exemplary lifetime achievements and community service.

    Throughout his career, Senbet has mentored a generation of doctoral students who have become distinguished professors around the country, including at Carnegie Mellon University and Vanderbilt University.

    “So, UB has PhD ‘grandchildren’ so to speak,” he says.

    When his students come to him seeking advice about what to do in their life, Senbet offers a simple response: Do your best.

    “You don’t know where an opportunity will lead or who is watching you,” he says. “This uncharted journey has defined my life—from my college major to Wisconsin to Maryland to Africa. No matter what path is given to you—whether by luck or by plan—give it your all.”

    Related:

    COVID-19 & Its Impact on Africa: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet

    Brookings Institution Appoints Lemma Senbet to Africa Board

    Professor Lemma Senbet Focuses on Ethiopian Diaspora After Successfully Leading AERC

    Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking

    Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: New U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Ms. Geeta Pasi Visits Tigray

    Ambassador Pasi, who replaced the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, arrived in Ethiopia last week presenting her credentials to President Sahle-Work Zewde on March 5th, 2021. (Photo: @USEmbassyAddis/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 10th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – This week the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa announced that new U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Ms. Geeta Pasi is visiting Tigray to assess the situation on the ground.

    “Ambassador Pasi and members of the U.S. Embassy will travel to Tigray today,” the Embassy said in a social media post on Wednesday. “This is her first official trip, and it underscores America’s partnership with the people of Ethiopia.”

    Ambassador Pasi, who replaced the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, arrived in Ethiopia last week presenting her credentials to President Sahle-Work Zewde on March 5th.

    Ms. Pasi, an Indian American from New York, is a career Foreign Service Officer and most recently served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the Department of State.

    Related:

    Ethiopia frees workers with foreign media detained in Tigray, official says

    Reuters

    By Reuters Staff

    Updated: March 3rd, 2021

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four Ethiopians working with foreign journalists in the northern Tigray region have been released without charges, an official and media outlets said on Wednesday.

    A reporter for the BBC’s Tigrinya language service, Girmay Gebru, two translators with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, and a journalist working with the New York Times were detained in recent days, their outlets said.

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters.

    The BBC confirmed Girmay’s release in a tweet, while AFP and the New York Times also confirmed in emails to Reuters that those working with them had been freed.

    “We are pleased that the local journalist we had worked with was released and that no charges were filed,” said the New York Times’ communications vice-president Danielle Rhoades Ha.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and release of dozens of journalists.

    However, rights groups say press freedom has suffered during outbreaks of violence including in Tigray, where thousands have died in fighting since last year between federal troops and the former local ruling party.

    Watchdogs reported the arrests of at least 13 journalists in Ethiopia last year, including Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu who was held without charge for 12 days.

    Abiy’s government declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its forces withdrew from major cities and towns at the end of November.

    However, low-level fighting has continued in parts.

    UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Urges End of Hostilities


    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: “The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.” The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    NASA Set to Launch a Space Mission Named After ‘Lucy’ (Dinkinesh)

    Lucy is named for the famous two-million-year-old fossil found in Ethiopia in the 1970s that, as a relative of modern humans, helped illuminate the evolution of our species. It is hoped that the spacecraft Lucy will similarly elucidate our solar system's earliest days. (Photo: An artist's concept of NASA's Lucy mission, which will study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids/Image credit: Southwest Research Institute)

    Space.com

    Lucy mission: NASA’s visit to the Trojan asteroids

    The Lucy mission is a NASA probe scheduled to launch in October 2021 that will explore a set of asteroids near Jupiter known as the Trojans. These ancient space rocks hold important clues to the creation of our solar system and, potentially, the origin of life on Earth.

    Along with a mission called Psyche, Lucy was approved in January 2017 as part of NASA’s Discovery program, which supports focused and relatively cheap planetary missions whose development costs are capped at around $450 million. A year after approval, the mission was officially given a schedule and a set of eight asteroid targets.

    Lucy is named for a famous female Australopithecus afarensis fossil found in Ethiopia that, as a relative of modern humans, helped illuminate the evolution of our species. It is hoped that the spacecraft Lucy will similarly elucidate our solar system’s earliest days.

    LUCY SPACECRAFT SIZE AND INSTRUMENTS

    Lucy spans more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, larger than a 4-story building, though much of that width will be the enormous solar panels used to power the spacecraft, according to NASA. The spacecraft will carry an instrument that can measure the surface temperatures of its target asteroids, providing information about their composition, two high-resolution cameras, and a device that uses infrared light to inspect and identify ice, organic material, and different minerals in each asteroid.

    NASA is scheduled to launch Lucy on its 12-year mission in October 2021 on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, according to the agency. The total cost to launch the spacecraft is approximately $148.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.


    An artist’s depiction of the Lucy spacecraft with extended solar panels, studying asteroids. (Image credit: SwRI)

    LUCY MISSION TARGETS: THE TROJAN ASTEROIDS

    The probe’s main objects of study are the Trojan asteroids. These objects are thought to be remnants from the primordial disk that formed the sun and planets, which were captured by Jupiter’s gravity sometime near the beginning of the solar system.

    Lucy will be the first mission to visit the Trojans, which are each named for famous figures from the Trojan war in Greek mythology.

    According to NASA, the Trojans share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun in two loose groups, with one set slightly ahead of the gas giant and another behind it. “The Trojans are stabilized by the sun and its largest planet in a gravitational balancing act,” the agency wrote.

    After being launched from Earth, the spacecraft will first make a quick flyby of a main belt asteroid in 2025. The small space rock is named 52246 Donaldjohanson after the paleontologist who discovered the fossil Lucy. Situated between Mars and Jupiter, the fly-by will serve primarily as a test for the spacecraft’s instruments, according to the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), which helps oversee the craft.


    A diagram of Lucy’s itinerary among the Trojan asteroids that trail and lead Jupiter. (Image credit: Southwest Research Institute)

    If all goes according to plan, between 2027 and 2033, Lucy will then fly past six Trojan asteroids, including three different asteroid subclasses and two objects that rotate around each other. NASA has said that “no other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun.”

    The mission’s targets include C-type, D-type, and P-type asteroids, each of which will help scientists better understand the solar system’s genesis, according to SwRI.

    WHAT ARE C-TYPE ASTEROIDS?

    Lucy will fly by two C-type asteroids: the previously mentioned main asteroid belt object Donaldjohanson and a Trojan named Eurybates.

    C-type asteroids are rich in carbon and are where most meteorites on Earth originated. The OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa 2 missions have previously collected samples from C-type asteroids to bring back to our planet for study.

    WHAT ARE D-TYPE AND P-TYPE ASTEROIDS?

    It will also inspect two D-type asteroids, which are named Leucus and Orus, and three P-type asteroids, one named Polymele and a binary asteroid pair orbiting one another called Patroclus and Menoetius.

    D-type and P-type asteroids are much redder than C-type asteroids and are hypothesized to be rich in organic and volatile elements. No mission has ever flown past a D- or P-type asteroid before.

    The asteroids are expected to provide a wealth of information, especially about the organic material that would have rained down on our planet in its earliest days and potentially helped trigger the creation of living organisms. Each target is also thought to contain water ice underneath its rocky surface.

    The final encounter with Patroclus and Menoetius is considered particularly special because the pair spend most of their time orbiting high above the main ecliptic plane of the solar system and are therefore hard to reach. The elusive asteroid pair will be passing through a region that is accessible to Lucy in March of 2033, when the spacecraft is scheduled to reach them.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: IOM Releases 1st Survey on Internally Displaced Persons in Tigray

    In a statement Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey is the first official data of this type on the crisis in Northern Ethiopia. (Photo: IOM)

    Anadolu Agency

    Over 131,000 people are displaced in 39 accessible locations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and neighbouring Afar and Amhara, UN Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey finds.

    @IOMEthiopia

    Over 131,000 displaced in northern Ethiopia crisis: IOM

    More than 131,000 people are displaced in 39 accessible locations of Ethiopia’s Tigray region and neighboring Afar and Amhara, according to a survey.

    In a statement Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey is the first official data of this type on the crisis in Northern Ethiopia, which began in November 2020.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the country launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters either neutralized or captured.

    Although Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared that the military operation was over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between government forces and fighters loyal to the TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan, while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    “The data are not indicators of the total number of persons displaced due to the crisis but rather represent only the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in sites accessible to DTM surveyors,” according to the IOM.

    “Almost 70% (91,046) are in Tigray, 26% (34,091) are in Afar and 5% (6,453) are in Amhara. Many displaced persons – including women and children – reportedly are in need of emergency shelter, food and access to clean and safe drinking water,” it added.

    The IOM said its Displacement Tracking Matrix will continue to expand its assessment coverage in the northern part of the country so that the needs of more internally displaced persons can be assessed.

    “The assessment was conducted in Western, Northwestern, Southeastern and Southern zones of Tigray region, as Central and Eastern zones were not accessible during the time of data collection,” it added.

    Ethiopia frees workers with foreign media detained in Tigray, official says

    Reuters

    By Reuters Staff

    Updated: March 3rd, 2021

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four Ethiopians working with foreign journalists in the northern Tigray region have been released without charges, an official and media outlets said on Wednesday.

    A reporter for the BBC’s Tigrinya language service, Girmay Gebru, two translators with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, and a journalist working with the New York Times were detained in recent days, their outlets said.

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters.

    The BBC confirmed Girmay’s release in a tweet, while AFP and the New York Times also confirmed in emails to Reuters that those working with them had been freed.

    “We are pleased that the local journalist we had worked with was released and that no charges were filed,” said the New York Times’ communications vice-president Danielle Rhoades Ha.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and release of dozens of journalists.

    However, rights groups say press freedom has suffered during outbreaks of violence including in Tigray, where thousands have died in fighting since last year between federal troops and the former local ruling party.

    Watchdogs reported the arrests of at least 13 journalists in Ethiopia last year, including Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu who was held without charge for 12 days.

    Abiy’s government declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its forces withdrew from major cities and towns at the end of November.

    However, low-level fighting has continued in parts.

    UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Urges End of Hostilities


    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: “The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.” The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Theater: Weyni Mengesha Directs New Play Inspired by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

    Weyni Mengesha is the director of the show “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” which is produced by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The play starts streaming online this week at steppenwolf.org/now. According to Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the project's lead producer: "Scripts as short as [this] aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now [their newly launched digital platform], a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness." (WaPo)

    The Washington Post

    Images of two duchesses linger in playwright Vivian J.O. Barnes’s mind: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, standing at a lectern, with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II looming behind her. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, looking glamorous soon after giving birth. The appearances by Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton — as the titled women are better known — intrigued Barnes all the more because, at least in memory, they were voiceless.

    “I can remember how they looked, but I can never remember anything I’ve heard them say,” she says.

    Reflecting on those missing words — and on Meghan’s experience as a biracial woman joining a hidebound, traditionally White institution — Barnes wrote “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” a short play that imagines a private conversation between a Black royal and a Black royal-to-be. The play, which was filmed in a no-contact shoot by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, begins streaming Wednesday at steppenwolf.org/now, the Steppenwolf Now virtual stage.

    Its paparazzi-lens inspirations notwithstanding, “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” is no piece of gossipy fluff. For one thing, the characters are not Kate and Meghan, but fictional figures. For another, the play speaks to deep issues around inclusion, equity and society’s resistance to change.

    Prince Harry and Meghan lose their patronages, won’t return as ‘working royals’

    “It’s a relatable investigation into how many women feel high up in institutions, specifically if you are in a historically White institution as a Black woman,” says Weyni Mengesha, the show’s director and artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company.

    Awareness of Meghan’s significance for the British monarchy infused the play, Barnes says. “To see this person — who looks like no one else who’s been in that institution so far — enter it, that to me is a fascinating story and entry point,” the playwright says.

    Barnes, 26, caught the performing-arts bug during the lively, dance-infused evangelical church services she attended as a child in Stafford, Va. Later, while enrolled at the University of Richmond, she would study in London, where she binged on theater — a revelation.

    A few years ago, the duchess of Cambridge’s soigné appearance right after childbirth — hinting at stringent expectations for her looks and behavior — inspired Barnes to write a monologue for a fictional duchess. Later, Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry spurred further thought. What if a future Meghan-like figure, after adjusting to oppressive palace norms, were to welcome another woman who looked like her into the royal clan? How would that conversation go? For an assignment at University of California at San Diego, where she is now a third-year MFA student, Barnes turned her monologue into a two-hander.

    For research, she delved into scandal-sheet journalism about Britain’s royal women, not so much to fact-find as to understand the reporting’s tone and approach. She was struck by a shift after Harry’s engagement. With Meghan, says Barnes, “the coverage is very different and very racist and invasive in a very different kind of way.”

    “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” arrives in a culture much besotted with the House of Windsor, as evidenced by Netflix series “The Crown,” as well as the Broadway musical “Diana,” shut down by the pandemic last March. (A Netflix version of “Diana” has been announced.) But Barnes stresses that her characters are merely inspired by the wives of Princes William and Harry. The idea of writing about the real clickbait fixtures, she says, “wasn’t very interesting.”

    Instead, Barnes dreamed up the unsettling encounter between her Duchess and Soon-to-Be-Duchess, who spar and commune over the merciless rules, scrutiny and conformism that their rank requires.

    Scripts as short as “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” (about 35 minutes) aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now, a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness, says Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the initiative’s lead producer. Already premiered, for example, and still available to stream with a Steppenwolf Now membership, is “Red Folder,” a 10-minute animated monologue written, directed and illustrated by Rajiv Joseph (“Guards at the Taj”) and voiced by Carrie Coon (FX series ­“Fargo”).

    Succinct as it was, Barnes’s one-act appealed to Mengesha, who admired its imaginative vision and felt a personal connection. Mengesha, of Ethiopian heritage, is among the leaders of color who have added diversity to the top ranks of North American theater in recent years. The director says she identifies with Barnes’s characters, who are “trying to bring themselves to their new position, but also fit into the mold that has been around for centuries but that never looked like them.”

    Performers Sydney Charles (the Duchess) and Celeste M. Cooper (the Soon-to-Be-Duchess) also say they understand the pressures the characters feel — to fit in, to toe the line, to self-censor as necessary and even to establish automatic mutual camaraderie.

    “Theater spaces, most of them are run by non-Black individuals. How comfortable can I be — how Black can I be — in this space? If there is another Black person, are they going to be like me?” Charles asks. “Vivian did a great job in touching on the emotions wrapped up in that specific experience, which translates across the board for any Black American, and Black women specifically.”

    “As I came up in this career, there was a lot of silence,” Cooper recalls. “There was a lot of not wanting to ruffle feathers.” Barnes’s play, she adds, asks really hard questions about that kind of quandary.

    Read more »

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    Film & Culture: Is Hollywood Ready to Stop Stereotyping Africa?

    “Coming 2 America,” the sequel was released this week on Amazon Prime. "Coming To America set the tone [within mainstream Western cinema] for Black Panther with the African garments and the culture," says Gabrielle Tesfaye, a US director of Ethiopian and Jamaican heritage whose 2019 film Yene Fikir, Ethiopia (My Love, Ethiopia) was nominated for a Film Africa award. [People] want to see themselves within an imagined state of being that is also connected to truth, like Black Panther was. BBC (Paramount Pictures)

    BBC

    However, more broadly, Tesfaye believes that “Africa” is still constantly misunderstood and generalised about, in film and otherwise, because it remains such an unknown location to most Westerners. “Never seeing it for themselves,” she says, “they really don’t know how diverse it is. In the US it’s not as travelled [to] as Asia, South America or even Europe.”…The real answer, of course, is to look to African cinema itself. As Tesfaye says, “there’s a lot of films set in Africa by actual African filmmakers who are portraying their people in their country in such an amazing imaginative, empowering light.”

    — Ethiopian American director Gabrielle Tesfaye,

    The Eddie Murphy film Coming to America busted some clichés about the continent. But, as a sequel comes out, David Jesudason asks if Western cinema will more fully change its attitude.

    Released in 1988, Coming to America was a brash romantic comedy; a box-office juggernaut for Hollywood comic actor Eddie Murphy. But, despite its contrived plot and fairy-tale schmaltz, it was, in its own way, revolutionary.

    Still one of Murphy’s biggest successes, it told the story of Akeem Joffer, the prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, as he headed to the US to find a wife and avoid an arranged marriage. In the late 1980s, it was remarkable among mainstream Western films for its depiction of Zamunda: a wealthy African country that was entirely self-reliant, worlds away from the kind of downtrodden stereotypes found elsewhere. Now, as a sequel to the film, Coming 2 America, is released, 33 years on, it is astonishing to consider how little has changed. In the intervening years, only one other widely-watched US film has depicted an empowered African society in such a manner: Marvel’s Black Panther (2018), which again featured a fictional kingdom, Wakanda.


    Comedy sequel Coming 2 America sees Eddie Murphy’s King Akeem of Zamunda returning to the US in search of his heir (Jermaine Fowler) (Credit: Amazon Prime)

    Coming to America was only commissioned because of the star power Eddie Murphy commanded after a string of hits, including Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and 48 Hours (1982). He hired director John Landis through his own production company and fought with Paramount over the casting as the studio remained sceptical that a mainstream audience would accept a film with African characters. Only this week, Murphy revealed on the US chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live that he was told that “there has to be a white person in the movie”, resulting in the comedian Louie Anderson joining the black cast.

    How Coming to America changed the game

    After all, Western cinema has a long and continuing history of relegating Africans to the sidelines in films about Africa, using the continent as a backdrop for white characters’ journeys of self-discovery or moral reckoning, from The African Queen (1951) to Out of Africa (1985) to more modern thrillers like Blood Diamond (2006) and The Constant Gardener (2005). Or, if films have centred on African characters, they have done so predominantly in stories of distress and suffering, such as genocide dramas like Hotel Rwanda (2004) and Beasts of No Nation (2015).

    Coming to America set the tone [within mainstream Western cinema] for Black Panther – Gabrielle Tesfaye
    But Murphy was determined to depict Africans as rich, equal to white people and proud of their roots. He assembled a stellar, though wholly African-American, cast around him that included fledging black talent such as Arsenio Hall and Eriq La Salle alongside trailblazers James Earl Jones and John Amos.

    The film was so successful that, with a $288 million (£224 million) worldwide gross, it remains one of the most commercially successful movies ever to have a predominantly black cast (a record now held by Black Panther) and is still cherished today by many people of colour for its humour and its empowered characters. It certainly showed that global audiences wanted to see more stories about a different sort of Africa from that they were used to watching on screen.

    “Coming To America set the tone [within mainstream Western cinema] for Black Panther with the African garments and the culture,” says Gabrielle Tesfaye, a US director of Ethiopian and Jamaican heritage whose 2019 film Yene Fikir, Ethiopia (My Love, Ethiopia) was nominated for a Film Africa award. “It [was] the highest grossing [black] film because black people are craving that representation. They want to see themselves more than just working on a plantation. And they also want to see themselves within an imagined state of being that is also connected to truth, like Black Panther was. It was exciting for us and we deserve to have that type of content.”


    Black Panther subverted stereotypes by depicting a progressive African kingdom with strong roles for women (Alamy)

    Now, Coming 2 America’s plot centres not around the search for a wife, but instead for a new heir to Zamunda – Murphy’s Akeem, having returned to Zamunda and married New York love interest Lisa (Shari Headley) at the end of the first film, is now king, but tradition states that the crown should be passed to a son and he only has daughters. However, he discovers that he does have a male successor, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), who was the result of a one-night stand that took place when Akeem and his best friend Semmi (Hall) visited New York in the first film. (Facial de-aging technology is used to depict this time in flashbacks). The contrived plot enables more back and forth between continents than in the first film, which was mostly set in the US, with Akeem visiting the Big Apple before returning with his newfound son back to the royal court in Zamunda.

    The persistent problem of generalisation

    Part of the fun of the New York section of the sequel, set as before in the borough of Queens, is to see the effect gentrification has on proceedings. But fans of the original can breathe a sigh of relief as the Queens’ My-T-Sharp barbershop has somehow withstood market forces and barber Clarence (one of the many characters played by Murphy) is still in situ arguing about boxing with Jewish customer Saul (also Murphy). What also hasn’t changed in the intervening decades, however, is the Queens’ contingent of characters retrograde attitudes to “Africa”: they still refer to it as a homogeneous entity and again a lot of humour is derived from their assumptions about the continent. For example, when the Zamundan court servants are commanded to clean and bathe the US visitors, it is accepted as an “African” custom by them.

    It’s open to debate how to interpret these jokes: on one hand, they may seem to exploit cheap stereotypes, but says Tesfaye, the perception of Africa as a monolith arguably accurately reflects part of the African-American psyche when it comes to the continent. “For the black diaspora,” Tesfaye says, “Africa becomes just one word for an entire continent. It’s important to understand that people who are a part of the history of the transatlantic slave trade don’t know where in Africa they are from. And that’s why the word Africa is a vague thing for them, because they don’t know.”

    Africa is often depicted as monolithic. And I do not think there is any excuse for any filmmaker to treat the African continent in this way – Lindiwe Dovey
    However, more broadly, Tesfaye believes that “Africa” is still constantly misunderstood and generalised about, in film and otherwise, because it remains such an unknown location to most Westerners. “Never seeing it for themselves,” she says, “they really don’t know how diverse it is. In the US it’s not as travelled [to] as Asia, South America or even Europe.” This ignorance is evidently what the two films in the Coming to America franchise are playing on, lampooning people’s prejudices about this “mysterious” continent.

    And yet are they simply indulging in such “othering” themselves? It is perhaps telling that, unlike Black Panther, Coming 2 America, like its prequel, was entirely shot in the US, with Zamunda’s palace actually being rapper Rick Ross’s mansion in Georgia. Lindiwe Dovey, professor of film at SOAS University of London, where she runs the African Screen Worlds project, believes that such inauthentic, generalised depictions are indefensible in 2021. “Africa is often depicted as monolithic,” she says. “And I do not think there is any excuse for any filmmaker to treat the African continent in this way.”


    Beyoncé’s recent film Black is King is an epic visual and musical celebration of African cultures (Alamy)

    As well as spending more time in “Africa” than in the first film, Coming 2 America also boasts stronger female roles and actors native to the continent, such as Nomzamo Mbatha and Trevor Noah, who were both born in South Africa. Meanwhile the writing team (which this time includes an African-American writer, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, alongside the original white screenwriters, Barry W Blaustein, and David Sheffield) have obviously tried to give Zamunda more depth by including more details of the African society and how it’s governed. Unfortunately, these details paint the kingdom as a regressive one, in which women can’t own businesses and male-only royalty is obligatory. “It sounds as though Zamunda could come to stand in for ‘Africa’ as a homogenous entity,” says Dovey, “And I worry that such ideas will simply translate into the re-confirmation of stereotypes about the African continent that aren’t true.”

    More progressive portrayals

    By contrast, Black Panther did deal with these kinds of stereotypes head on, and subvert them, by depicting Wakanda as a progressive kingdom that had strong roles for women in its hierarchy. Wakanda could also not be construed as standing-in for the whole of Africa. Rather, it is a nation whose rulers have cut it off from the rest of the continent, while also pretending to the outside world that it is poor to prevent other countries stealing its stocks of the precious mineral vibranium – another comment on Western expectations. At the same time, unlike Zamunda’s Akeem, its ruler king T’Challa, aka the titular superhero, understands Western countries and views himself as a global player.

    Another notable recent attempt to buck stereotypes about Africa was Beyoncé’s film Black is King (2020) a visual companion to her soundtrack for the 2019 reboot of The Lion King. The film slickly employs the best talent from many different countries in Africa – including Ghanaian director Blitz Bazawule – to weave together an epic musical celebrating black identity and female empowerment, specifically, and serves as a manifesto for black Americans to recover their heritage.

    However, Black Panther and Black is King are both allegorical fantasies, leading to the question: where can you find inspiring representations of Africa in a real-life setting?

    It’s worth mentioning Queen of Katwe (2016), about the real-life Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, that featured an all-black cast including Lupita Nyong’o and was directed by Indian-American film-maker Mira Nair. Sadly, unlike Black Panther and Black is King, this feelgood movie did not gain much global traction.

    The real answer, of course, is to look to African cinema itself. As Tesfaye says, “there’s a lot of films set in Africa by actual African filmmakers who are portraying their people in their country in such an amazing imaginative, empowering light.”

    And if the profile given to African cinema on an international platform is still paltry compared to what it deserves, then things might be changing with the advent of streaming services that allow for the wider distribution of great new films from the continent such as Ghanaian works The Burial of Kojo (directed by Bazawule) and Azali, Nigeria’s The Delivery Boy and Senegal’s Atlantique, all on Netflix. Also positive is the broadening of Oscar voting membership to include more African members, including last year, Nigerian-born actor, film director and writer Akin Omotoso and Atlantique’s French-Senegalese director Mati Diop. With such steps taking place to amplify African filmmakers’ voices, the hope is that broad-brush misrepresentations of the continent can become a relic of the past.

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    UPDATE: Ethiopian Employees of International Media Held in Tigray Released

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters. (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    By Reuters Staff

    Ethiopia frees workers with foreign media detained in Tigray, official says

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four Ethiopians working with foreign journalists in the northern Tigray region have been released without charges, an official and media outlets said on Wednesday.

    A reporter for the BBC’s Tigrinya language service, Girmay Gebru, two translators with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, and a journalist working with the New York Times were detained in recent days, their outlets said.

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters.

    The BBC confirmed Girmay’s release in a tweet, while AFP and the New York Times also confirmed in emails to Reuters that those working with them had been freed.

    “We are pleased that the local journalist we had worked with was released and that no charges were filed,” said the New York Times’ communications vice-president Danielle Rhoades Ha.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and release of dozens of journalists.

    However, rights groups say press freedom has suffered during outbreaks of violence including in Tigray, where thousands have died in fighting since last year between federal troops and the former local ruling party.

    Watchdogs reported the arrests of at least 13 journalists in Ethiopia last year, including Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu who was held without charge for 12 days.

    Abiy’s government declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its forces withdrew from major cities and towns at the end of November.

    However, low-level fighting has continued in parts.

    UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Urges End of Hostilities


    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: “The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.” The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Zion Taddese Introduces Teff to California’s Famous Farm Industry

    Zion Taddese, owner of the Queen Sheeba Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento, California, is introducing Teff to California's internationally renowned agriculture industry. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Zion Taddese. (Photo: ABC10)

    ABC10

    This Ethiopian grain could be California’s new superfood

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Zion Taddese.

    California is the Nation’s leader in food production, a third of the fruits and two-thirds of all vegetables are grown here, but there is one plant that golden state grows very little of until now. It’s called Teff and it’s a Gluten-free gain, high in iron and fiber. It’s also the main ingredient that Zion Taddese uses at her restaurant, Queen Sheeba Ethiopian Food in Sacramento.

    “We use it in our injera, all gluten-free made from Teff,” said Taddese. “This is Teff growing in California for the first time.”

    Teff is an African grain that Taddese grew up eating in Ethiopia, but after migrating to Sacramento and starting her restaurant she found that Teff was difficult to buy in the US.

    “There is a high demand for Teff, but there is not enough supply,” explained Taddese.

    To remedy her supply problem, Zion enlisted the help of UC Davis to find a strain of Teff that would grow in California.

    “I am working with UC Davis to create the knowledge, the training, the technology to share with farmers,” said Zion.

    The technology is well on its way. UC Davis researchers had a successful crop last year and now farmers William and John Gilbert are preparing to plant Teff in their vacant Walnut orchard in Wheatland.

    “We are interested in Healthy food. The incentive to grow it is the healthier the food the more people buy it,” says William Gilbert.

    Taddese is on a mission to make Teff California’s new Super Grain. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Taddese

    Through Teff, Taddese wants to make her community Northern California strong and someday share that strength with her homeland of Ethiopia.

    “I hope to feed the world through Sheba Farms because no child should be left behind when it comes to food and nutrition.”

    Helping to diversify California agriculture and create new jobs, Zion Taddese is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text (916) 321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: US Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Ethiopia Answers Criticism

    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: "The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict." The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray

    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Virginia Furniture with Ethiopian Roots: Garden & Gun Magazine on Jomo Tariku

    Raised in Ethiopia, Jomo Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. (Garden & Gun Magazine)

    Garden & Gun Magazine

    Two and a half hours south of Washington, D.C., outside of Columbia, Virginia, in a former three-car garage on the north side of the James River, the designer Jomo Tariku and the woodworker David Bohnhoff are redefining contemporary African furniture. In the studio, African mahogany shavings cover a section of the floor as they collaborate on museum-worthy chairs and stools, and the smell the wood casts off as the day heats up permeates the space.

    Born in Kenya and raised in Ethiopia, Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. All of his pieces tie back to the African diaspora in some way, and many center on his East African upbringing. “When people define African art,” he says, “they think of masks and handcrafts, and old things. There is no space for people like me.”

    Tariku bucks against the modern definition of African furniture, usually relegated to pieces with a Eurocentric aesthetic with a twist, such as colorful batik upholstery. Instead, the large spiral horns of the male mountain antelope found in Ethiopia’s Bale region, for instance, inspired his Nyala chair. Highly sculptural in nature, the curving wooden back of the chair seems to defy gravity, serving as a functional marvel. And his MeQuamya chair riffs on the T-shaped prayer staffs used in Ethiopian Orthodox ceremonies, found in rock-hewn churches in the region that date back to the sixteenth century. “I love history,” Tariku explains. “Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized. So, my perspective is a little different. Our religious art is still there. So are our old manuscripts in our language, in our handwriting. All of that informs my ideas.”

    Tariku had all of these designs in his mind but could not find someone with the skills to build them—he had trouble bringing them to fruition with his own hands. For several years, he sent out emails, hundreds of them, to woodworkers up and down the East Coast, searching for someone to collaborate with who had the talent to build the graceful, elegant minimalist designs that have become his signature. In 2017, Bohnhoff, a regionally renowned furniture maker and woodworker based in Columbia, received Tariku’s email, and the pair decided to meet at a furniture show in Richmond.

    When Bohnhoff saw Tariku’s sketch of the Nyala chair, he knew he had to try to build it. Quickly, Tariku saw that Bohnhoff understood the intentions behind his designs, and could take them from two-dimensional renderings to pieces that fine furniture lovers would be proud to have in their living rooms. “I saw the challenge in it,” Bohnhoff says. “I saw the beauty in it. I’m always pulling from nautical culture in my work, and every region has its own seafaring aesthetic. I appreciate learning the details of Jomo’s culture and how it helps him generate ideas.”

    Bohnhoff’s own creative journey began at a potter’s wheel in middle school. Struggling with academics, he found solace in using his hands to create beautiful and unusual shapes. When he finished high school, he took to boatbuilding, eventually earning a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and started a career as a boatbuilder, working in shipyards along the way from Maine to North Carolina, studying the art of the curve. Eventually he returned to Virginia, intent on transferring his skills to furniture, freeing complicated pieces from cherry, mahogany, and ash. In his workshop, maple burl logs become masterpieces. The draketail hull of a boat inspired a chair. The interior framework of a canoe transformed into a steam-bent throne.

    Designers like Tariku need highly skilled craftsmen like Bohnhoff. The designer works with a few others on certain furniture pieces, but boatbuilding gave Bohnhoff an intimate knowledge of a variety of wood species, and how to bend them to his will without breaking. That technical skill serves him well as his artisanship dovetails with Tariku’s more intricate, curving chair designs, and as they go back and forth on prototypes to refine until form and function perfectly align. While COVID-19 has halted Tariku’s access to furniture shows and showrooms, the duo is currently making each chair to order for interested clients and interior designers—who can inquire at jomofurniture.com—and Tariku is preparing new designs for 2021.

    A change in the tide—what they see as the younger generation’s lack of access to apprenticeships and opportunities—has both men worried that relationships like theirs, forged out of mutual admiration for art and a respect for technical skills, are fading. For now, they find solace in creating heirlooms that tell a global story—of Ethiopia, of the Atlantic, and of Virginia. —

    Related:

    Spotlight: New York Times Features Jomo Tariku

    Opening the Doors of Design (The New York Times)

    Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: IMF Backs Ethiopia’s Plan to Rework Debt Under G-20 Framework

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    The International Monetary Fund backed Ethiopia’s plan to rework its debt under the Group of 20 common framework as it reached a staff-level agreement with the government on credit facilities.

    To strengthen debt sustainability, the authorities aim to lower the risk of debt distress rating to moderate by re-profiling debt service obligations,” the lender said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. “In this context, the fund welcomes Ethiopia’s request for debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

    Ethiopia announced plans last month to rework its liabilities under the G-20 program that seeks to include private creditors into an agreement on debt relief for countries that need it following the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record following the revelation, and then partly recovered after the government said it would only approach private creditors as a last resort.

    Ethiopia Eurobonds Plunge as Nation Seeks G-20 Debt Review The IMF reached a staff-level agreement with Ethiopia on policy measures for the completion of the first and second reviews under the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility arrangements, according to the statement. “Risks to the economic outlook are tilted to the downside,” the IMF said, projecting economic growth of 2% in 2020-21 and 8.7% in the following fiscal year.

    Several economic and political uncertainties have hit the Horn of Africa nation from the pandemic to war in the northern Tigray region and a desert locust invasion. “A modest fiscal expansion is envisaged this fiscal year to accommodate the humanitarian assistance and reconstruction needs,” Sonali Jain-Chandra. who led the IMF staff team, said in the statement. “At the same time, the authorities are now moving to enhance domestic revenue mobilization.”

    Related:

    IMF, Ethiopia agree framework for loan deal reviews


    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. (REUTERS Photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 24th, 2021

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it had agreed a blueprint for the completion of reviews of Ethiopia’s loan programme, taking account of the impact of the coronavirus and the country’s “domestic security situation”.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
    Agreed in December 2019, the three-year programme is worth $2.9 billion. Performance under it has been strong, the IMF said.

    The reviews, whose timetable the fund did not outline, were “focused on balancing the need to address ongoing challenges created by the pandemic and domestic security” while laying the foundation for growth, IMF Deputy Division Chief Sonali Jain-Chandra said in a statement

    The security situation “has created humanitarian and reconstruction needs that require an adjustment of policies and support from the international community,” she added.

    The statement made no direct reference to the war that began in November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the former ruling party in the northern region, after regional forces attacked federal army bases there.

    Abiy declared victory less than a month later but low-level fighting continues.

    Tuesday’s agreement is subject to approval by the IMF executive board.

    Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

    The Fund also said it welcomed Ethiopia’s request for “debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

    Last month, Ethiopia said it planned to restructure its sovereign debt under the framework, designed to help with economic pressures induced by COVID-19, and was examining all options.

    The IMF said that economic growth is projected to be 2% in 2020/21, largely the effects of the pandemic, but it is expected to rebound to 8.7% in 2021/22 in line with a global recovery.

    Related:

    S&P joins Fitch in downgrade of Ethiopia on potential debt restructuring


    S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024. The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors. (Photo: Addis ababa skyline/Wiki Media)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 13th, 2021

    S&P Global Ratings on Friday downgraded Ethiopia’s long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘B-’ from ‘B’ on potential debt restructuring, announcing the move days after Fitch Ratings downgraded the country.

    “Exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia’s structurally weak external balance sheet has deteriorated further, in our view”, S&P Global Ratings said.

    On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents as Fitch chopped Ethiopia’s credit score by two notches after Addis Ababa signaled it could be the first with an international government bond to use a new G20 ‘Common Framework’ plan.

    The scheme, which is open to over 70 of the world’s poorest countries, encourages their governments to defer or negotiate down their external debt as part of a wider debt relief program.

    S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024.

    The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors, including retail trade, hospitality, transportation, and construction.

    S&P described the Tigray conflict in November 2020 that followed increased tensions between the federal and local authorities as “the most significant (conflict) since Prime Minister Abby Ahmed took office in 2018.”

    “Another outbreak of armed conflict could spur wider ethnic tensions, weakening Ethiopia’s political and institutional framework and threatening the government’s transformative reform agenda”, it added.

    Ethiopia Dollar Bonds Drop After Fitch Downgrade

    Reuters

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    LONDON – Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents after Fitch downgraded the country toCCC, citing the government’s plan to make use of the new G20common framework to overhaul its debt burden.

    The country’s outstanding 2024 bond dropped to as low as 92.06 cents in the dollar, according to Tradeweb data, trading close to record lows hit in late January when Ethiopia surprised markets with its announcement to seek debt relief.

    “(This is) the first negative spillover from last week’s decision to go for the G20 Common Framework, a process that no euro bond issuer has been though yet, and one that could take some time, especially as private sector creditors have to be included,” said Simon Quijano-Evans, chief economist at Gemcorp Capital.

    Fitch said earlier that the downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of theG20 framework, “which although still an untested mechanism,explicitly raises the risk of a default event.”

    Related:

    Update: Ethiopia Will Approach Private Creditors Only as a Last Resort

    Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia Due to Debt Restructuring


    The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event. (Fitch Ratings)

    Fitch Ratings

    Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia to ‘CCC’

    Fitch Ratings – Hong Kong – 09 Feb 2021: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Ethiopia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘CCC’ from ‘B’.

    Fitch typically does not assign Outlooks or apply modifiers to sovereigns with a rating of ‘CCC’ or below.

    KEY RATING DRIVERS

    The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event.

    The G20 CF, agreed in November 2020 by the G20 and Paris Club, goes beyond the DSSI that took effect in May 2020, in that it requires countries to seek debt treatment by private creditors and that this should be comparable with the debt treatment provided by official bilateral creditors. This could mean that Ethiopia’s one outstanding Eurobond and other commercial debt would need to be restructured, potentially representing a distressed debt exchange under Fitch’s sovereign rating criteria. There remains uncertainty over how the G20 CF will be implemented in practice, including the requirement for private sector participation and comparable treatment. Fitch’s sovereign ratings apply to borrowing from the private sector, so official bilateral debt relief does not constitute a default, although it can point to increasing credit stress.

    Within the context of Paris Club agreements, comparable treatment requirements are not always enforced and the scope of debt included can vary. The Paris Club states that the requirement for comparable treatment by other creditors can be waived in some circumstances, including when the debt represents only a small proportion of the country’s debt burden.

    The focus of Ethiopia’s engagement with the G20 CF will be on official bilateral debt, as reprofiling of this will have the biggest impact on overall debt sustainability. Nonetheless, the terms of the framework clearly create risk that private sector creditors will also be negatively affected. The G20 statement on the G20 CF indicates that debt treatments will not typically involve debt write-offs or cancellation unless deemed necessary. The focus will instead be on some combination of lowering coupons and lengthening grace periods and maturities. The extent of debt treatment required will be based upon the outcome of the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis for Ethiopia, which is currently being updated. However, any material change of terms for private creditors, including the lowering of coupons or the extension of maturities, would be consistent with the definition of default in Fitch’s criteria.

    The bulk of Ethiopia’s public external debt is official multilateral and bilateral debt. Government and government-guaranteed external debt was USD25 billion in fiscal year 2020 (FY20, which ended in June 2020). Of this, USD3.3 billion was owed to private creditors. This includes Ethiopia’s outstanding USD1 billion Eurobond (1% of GDP) due in December 2024, with minimal annual debt service of USD66 million until the maturity; and USD2.3 billion government-guaranteed debt owed to foreign commercial banks and suppliers. Other SOE debt to private creditors which relates to Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines is a further USD3.3 billion. While this is not guaranteed by the government, it represents a potential contingent liability.

    Ethiopia’s external finances are a rating weakness and this is the main factor behind the intention of using the G20 CF. Persistent current account deficits (CAD), low FX reserves and rising external debt repayments present risks to external debt sustainability. Ethiopia’s external financing requirements, at more than USD5 billion on average in FY21-FY22 including federal government and SOE amortisation, are high relative to FX reserves, which we forecast to remain at around USD3 billion. Reserves cover only around two months of current external payments.

    The CAD narrowed to 4.1% of GDP in FY20 as imports declined, maintaining the trend since FY15 when the CAD was 12.5% of GDP. We forecast the CAD to hover around 4% of GDP, although this does not incorporate potential import costs associated with vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller CADs have not eased pressure on FX reserves because net FDI has been lacklustre (averaging 2.7% of GDP in FY19-FY20) and net external borrowing has moderated with negative net borrowing by SOEs. The central bank has allowed sharper exchange rate depreciation, but the currency nonetheless remains overvalued, with a weaker rate in the parallel market. Proposed sales of mobile licenses and a stake in Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecoms company, are an upside risk to FDI inflows and reserves in FY21-FY22.

    The IMF assessed Ethiopia at high risk of external debt distress in its latest assessment in 2020, with Ethiopia breaching thresholds on external debt service/exports and the present value of external debt/exports. An improvement from high to moderate risk is a central aim of the three-year arrangement with the IMF agreed in late 2019 under the Extended Credit Facility and the Extended Fund Facility. Given the difficulty of substantially boosting exports in the near term, the main route to achieve this is via reducing debt service costs. Within the IMF programme, the authorities planned by the first review to undertake additional reprofiling of bilateral loans but this has not yet happened. The pandemic has placed further emphasis on debt reprofiling.

    Ethiopia and the IMF reached staff-level agreement on the first review of the programme in August 2020, but this awaits board approval. The Fund’s press release recognised that performance had mostly been good, but also emphasised the need for financial support from Ethiopia’s international partners including through debt reprofiling.

    Ethiopia’s ‘CCC’ IDRs also reflect the following key rating drivers:

    Strong economic growth potential and an improving policy framework support the rating, while double-digit inflation, low development and governance indicators and elevated political risks weigh on the rating.

    The coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant risks to Ethiopia, but the negative economic impacts since the onset have been somewhat contained so far. Given that the fiscal year ends in June, we do expect more of a hit to growth in FY21 than FY20, but forecast a return to growth rates in the 6%-7% range over the medium term. The government has maintained considerable budgetary discipline, with moderate increases in the general government budget deficit, to 2.8% of GDP, and government debt/GDP (31.5%), while total SOE debt/GDP (25.6%) has fallen. However, the pandemic presents risks of upward pressure on spending. Government financing has continued its transition towards market-based T-bill auctions and away from the long-standing system of direct advances from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE, the central bank). This is a core part of the IMF programme, which seeks to promote monetary policy reforms to help gradually tackle inflation that has remained extremely high at close to 20%.

    The military conflict in the Tigray region from November 2020 has underlined ongoing political risks in Ethiopia as well as for Ethiopia’s international relations. Considerable domestic political uncertainty, related to the delayed 2020 parliamentary election (now planned for June) and ongoing ethnic and regional tensions within the country, remains a risk to Ethiopia’s credit metrics, in Fitch’s view. Greater political unrest could, for example, act as a drag on FDI and tax collection and exert further upward pressure on inflation. It could also lead to worsening relations with some bilateral partners and hold up donor flows, as illustrated by the suspension of some flows from the EU in December.

    ESG – Governance: Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of 5 for both Political Stability and Rights and for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption, as is the case for all sovereigns. Theses scores reflect the high weight that the World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) have in our proprietary Sovereign Rating Model. Ethiopia has a low WBGI ranking in the 25th percentile, reflecting in particular political instability, as well as low scores for voice and accountability and regulatory quality.

    RATING SENSITIVITIES

    The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action/downgrade:

    - Structural Features: Stronger evidence that Ethiopia’s engagement in the G20 CF will lead to comparable treatment for private sector creditors consistent with a default event under Fitch’s criteria.

    - External Finances: Increased external vulnerability that heightens the risk of default irrespective of the G20 CF, such as the emergence of external financing gaps and downward pressure on already low foreign-exchange reserves.

    The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating action/upgrade are:

    - Structural Features: Clarity that the G20 CF will not lead to a default event.

    - External Finances: Stronger external finances with acceleration in exports, for example, leading to smaller CADs and higher foreign-currency reserves.

    SOVEREIGN RATING MODEL (SRM) AND QUALITATIVE OVERLAY (QO)

    In accordance with the rating criteria for ratings in the ‘CCC’ range and below, Fitch’s sovereign rating committee has not used the SRM and QO to explain the ratings, which are instead guided by the rating definitions.

    Fitch’s SRM is the agency’s proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a LT FC IDR. Fitch’s QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

    BEST/WORST CASE RATING SCENARIO

    International scale credit ratings of Sovereigns, Public Finance and Infrastructure issuers have a best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) of three notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from ‘AAA’ to ‘D’. Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit [https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579].

    KEY ASSUMPTIONS

    We assume that Ethiopia pursues involvement in the G20 CF.

    We expect global economic trends and commodity prices to develop as outlined in Fitch’s Global Economic Outlook.

    REFERENCES FOR SUBSTANTIALLY MATERIAL SOURCE CITED AS KEY DRIVER OF RATING
    The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the Applicable Criteria.

    ESG CONSIDERATIONS

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Political Stability and Rights as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and a key rating driver with a high weight.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Rule of Law, Institutional & Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and are a key rating driver with a high weight.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Human Rights and Political Freedoms as the Voice and Accountability pillar of the World Bank Governance Indicators is relevant to the rating and a rating driver.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Creditor Rights as willingness to service and repay debt is relevant to the rating and is a rating driver, as for all sovereigns.

    Except for the matters discussed above, the highest level of ESG credit relevance, if present, is a score of 3. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity(ies), either due to their nature or to the way in which they are being managed by the entity(ies). For more information on Fitch’s ESG Relevance Scores, visit www.fitchratings.com/esg.

    Africa Report: Ethiopia Debt Restructuring Plan Faces Hurdles of Transparency


    (Reuters photo)

    The Africa Report

    Ethiopia’s plan to seek debt restructuring under a G20 common framework agreed in November triggered a sell-off in African debt at the end of January on fears of a contagion effect.

    The framework enables debtor countries to seek an IMF programme to strengthen their economies and renegotiate their debts with public and private creditors. But such a debt restructuring for Ethiopia would face barriers due a lack of transparency, analysts say.

    Any attempt to reconcile balance of payments and published public external debt figures with underlying debt-creating flows shows information gaps and supports “a narrative of opaque lending”, argues Irmgard Erasmus, senior financial economist at NKC African Economics in Cape Town.

    Along with Djibouti and Zambia, Ethiopia’s dealings with China “raise the probability of higher-than-estimated debt contracted by extra-budgetary units (EBUs) as well as potentially large contingent liabilities,” she writes in a research note.

    China does not publish official or non-official bilateral debt agreements with central governments or state-owned enterprises, she notes.

    The channel through which private-sector participation in the framework can be forced is not clear, Erasmus says.

    “The agreement of the principles of the G20 Common Framework is positive but negotiations in actual restructurings are likely to be challenging,” says Mark Bohlund, senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence in London. Lack of clarity on what is owed to China is one obstacle. While he hasn’t seen any firm evidence of Chinese loans to Ethiopia being understated, there is “less transparency” on Chinese lending, he says.

    The fact that India and Turkey, which are non-Paris club G20 lenders, are the largest bilateral creditors after China, may complicate an Ethiopian restructuring, Bohlund says.

    A further stumbling block is reluctance from debtor nations to participate in fear of adverse credit rating actions. African countries intending to tap international debt markets this year, such as Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya, may be reluctant to join the initiative, Erasmus says.

    Unrealistic growth outlook

    For Africa, recent sharp declines in external borrowing costs for many countries amid global optimism on emerging markets provides a “silver lining” to the cloud of debt woes, according to Jacques Nel, head of Africa macro at NKC. “Markets are now open to lending to many sub-Saharan African sovereigns, which could provide the necessary fiscal breathing room in 2021.”

    But official Ethiopian projections for annual economic growth of 8.4% are dismissed by Erasmus. NKC predicts growth of 2.2% given the “dire fiscal position and balance of payments risks.”

    “The near-term outlook is clouded by political tensions ahead of the June election, reputational risks related to armed conflict in Tigray, an upsurge in desert locust infestation and forex shortages,” Erasmus writes.

    That means the long-awaited liberalisation of Ethiopia’s high-potential sectors such as telecommunications and banking is now urgent. This would be the “crucial first step in addressing structural vulnerability and lowering government debt dependence,” Erasmus argues.

    Read more »

    UPDATE: Ethiopia May Engage Private Creditors After Debt Review


    Ethiopia is looking to offset the impact of the pandemic on its economy. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: February 2nd, 2021

    Ethiopia may approach private creditors for debt talks after it reviews liabilities with official lenders amid security risks that are adding to investors’ worries.

    The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record last week after State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign said the government will seek to restructure its external debt under a Group of 20 debt-suspension program. With no details on how the decision would affect holders of Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds, many investors responded by selling the securities.

    Only after talks involving official creditors, which the International Monetary Fund is assisting with, will the government be able to inform other creditors on the “need for broader debt treatment discussions,” the finance ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

    Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds climbed 26 basis points to 8.85% by 1:50 p.m. in London after jumping 207 points on Friday to the highest since May. The premium investors demand to hold the nation’s dollar bonds rather than U.S. Treasuries widened 31 basis points to 807, compared with the 538 average for African sovereign issuers, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

    “In theory, a common framework should speed up the debt restructuring process, but it remains to be tested,” Morgan Stanley & Co. analysts Jaiparan Khurana and Simon Waever said in a note. “Questions around enforceability of the MoU terms to the private sector still persist, especially considering that the private sector is not a signatory.”

    Ethiopia is the second African country after Chad to announce plans to review debt under the G-20 common framework, which aims to include China and private lenders into a global debt-relief push.

    Ethiopia, like other African nations, is looking to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy. Ethiopia’s position is, however, exacerbated by fighting in the northern Tigray region and a border dispute with Sudan that’s threating to further destabilize the region.

    “Possible implementation of the debt treatment under the Common Framework will address the debt vulnerabilities of the country, while preserving long-term access to international financial markets,” the finance ministry said in the statement. That will help in “unlocking more growth potential,” it said.

    As with earlier bilateral debt relief, including via the Paris Club, Eurobond holders can choose not to participate in the program, according to the Morgan Stanley analysts. “The key issue would be how insistent bilateral creditors would be on the private sector participating,” they said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia to Seek Debt Relief Under G20 Debt Framework – Ministry


    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.(Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: January 30th, 2021

    Exclusive: Ethiopia to seek debt relief under G20 debt framework – ministry

    Ethiopia plans to seek a restructuring of its sovereign debt under a new G20 common framework and is looking at all the available options, the country’s finance ministry told Reuters on Friday.

    G20 countries agreed in November for the first time to a common approach for restructuring government debt to help ease the financial strain of some developing countries pushed towards the risk of default by costs of the coronavirus crisis.

    Chad became on Wednesday the first country to officially request a debt restructuring under the new framework and a French finance ministry told Reuters on Thursday that Zambia and Ethiopia were most likely to follow suit.

    Asked if Ethiopia was looking to seek a debt restructuring under the G20 framework, Finance Ministry spokesman Semereta Sewasew said: “Yes, Ethiopia will look at all available debt treatment options under the G20 communique issued in November.”

    Ethiopia’s government bond due for repayment in 2024 which it issued back in late 2014 saw its biggest ever daily fall. It plunged 8.4 cents on the dollar from roughly par to just under 92 cents.

    Ethiopia is already benefiting from a suspension of interest payments to its official sector creditors through the end of June under an initiative between the G20 and the Paris Club of creditor nations.

    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Profile: Dr. Rahel Nardos, Meet the Voice of University of Minnesota’s New Global Focus on Women’s Health

    Dr. Rahel Nardos is connecting the University of Minnesota with low-resource locations to improve healthcare access. (Courtesy photo)

    Minnesota Monthly Magazine

    What do Minnesota’s Indigenous, immigrant, African American, and refugee communities have in common with women in low-resource countries around the world? They’re all chronically underserved by healthcare providers. So says Rahel Nardos, MD, the new director of global women’s health at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility (CGHSR). And she aims to change that.

    Nardos was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She came to the U.S. for college on a scholarship, then attended Yale Medical School, where she met her husband, Damien Fair, who was pursuing his PhD in neuroscience. They moved to Addis Ababa after completing their studies, where Nardos cared for women with obstetric fistulas, a devastating condition in which a hole forms in the birth canal following childbirth.

    “Having grown up there and seen the scarce situation, where the quality of medical care and education was compromised, that planted the seed for me to want to figure out ways we can create better health systems and build capacities in low-resource settings,” says Nardos.

    In Ethiopia, Nardos worked with victims of some of the world’s worst health inequities—including women ostracized from their communities due to a medical condition that was itself a result of inadequate obstetric and gynecological care. “That got me interested in specializing in urogynecology,” says Nardos, who pursued fellowship training and a master’s degree in clinical research at the same time. “I’m very interested in improving care through research.”

    She went on to work with Kaiser Permanente and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where she founded Footsteps to Healing, a program that supports surgical care for women with injuries after childbirth.

    In 2020, amid a global pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Nardos and Fair were jointly recruited by the University of Minnesota and made a new home in the Twin Cities. While Fair leads the U’s Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, Nardos is bringing her trusted global partnerships to the table to help CGHSR form stronger and more effective relationships with healthcare programs and providers around the world.

    “I’m also looking at how we can leverage our collective passion and experience in underserved care right here in our communities,” she adds. “We have people right here who don’t have access to quality care, such as immigrants and people with cultural practices that may compromise their health. We want to create programs that tap into our collective experiences, talents, passions, and partnership models to do meaningful work both globally and locally.”

    Nardos is drawing on the U’s resources and expertise in areas spanning preventive care, health policy, leadership building, clinical capacity building, and advances in telehealth to improve care for women in low-resource settings. The goal? “To help support our partners and train our residents and fellows so they become providers who care about health equity and disparities, and are actively working to address it in their own communities,” says Nardos.

    She’s even taking a mindfulness course at the U’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, and thinking about how to translate what she’s learning into cognitive strategies to help manage pain and irritative bladder symptoms in patients with urogynecological conditions.

    Though she’s mining and connecting resources across a wide range of university programs, Nardos is crystal clear on her mission: to have a tangible impact in the lives of real, underserved women, far from the halls of academia. “How do we define success? We have to be careful not to define it academically—how many papers you publish or grants you get,” she notes. “How is it translating into improving health outcomes on the ground?”

    Learn more about Dr. Nardos and the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility at globalhealthcenter.umn.edu

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopian Startup Gebeya Launches New Mobile App To Connect Freelancers To Employers

    Ethiopia's tech startup Gebeya Inc., an online marketplace for jobs, has announced the launch of its latest mobile App called Gebeya Talent, a new platform through which it is expanding access to its network across Africa and around the globe. (Photo: Gebeya Inc)

    Digital Times Africa

    Gebeya, an Ethiopian startup has launched its new app, Gebeya Talent, a portal through which it is expanding access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    Gebeya is an online talent marketplace focused on cultivating the potentials of African youth, training them with technical skills, and helping them find jobs.

    The app bridges the gap between African talents and employers through its easy application process, automatic matching, and a no-bidding process where they get paid.

    “We strive to be the most-referenced freelance African talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a must,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

    “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    Founded in 2016, the startup formerly leveraged on manual processes but has now scaled to automation and improved processes. Gebeya says it would be adding new features to the platform and further optimize the process throughout the year.

    Ethiopia’s Gebeya launches app to help freelancers access work opportunities


    (Image courtesy of Gebeya Talent)

    Disrupt Africa

    Ethiopian startup Gebeya, a pan-African online talent marketplace, has launched Gebeya Talent, a new app through which it is expanding access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    Gebeya focuses on cultivating the untapped tech potential of African youth to prepare them for the demands of the global market, training young people with technical skills and helping them find jobs.

    Its new app, Gebeya Talent, provides African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity with access to a quick and easy application process, automatic matching, and a no-bidding process where they get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience.

    Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join Gebeya’s talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement. Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved, and Gebeya said it will be adding additional features to streamline and further optimise the process throughout the year.

    “We strive to be the most-referenced freelance African talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a must,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

    “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    Below is the full press release from Gebeya Inc. shared on linkedin by Becky Tsadik, Director of Marketing at Gebeya Inc: “I’m so excited to share that Gebeya Inc. has just launched a mobile app that will transform the landscape for freelance talent in Africa. Our development team has been hard at work building a sleek, sophisticated app to connect talent with opportunities on the continent and beyond.”

    Gebeya Inc. Launches Gebeya Talent App to Transform African Talent Acquisition

    Gebeya Inc. announced today the launch of its new app: Gebeya Talent. With this, the Pan-African online talent marketplace will expand access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity will now have access to these features:

  • A quick and easy application process
  • Save time with automatic matching with exciting projects inline with their skill sets
  • No bidding; get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience level; get paid in multiple currencies
  • Being part of an engaging, growing community with exclusive professional networking, events, free upskilling, and mentorship
  • Showcase their best work via custom portfolio and profile


    Gebeya team members. (Photo: Gebeya Inc.)

    Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join our talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement.

    Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved. Throughout the year, additional features will be added to streamline and further optimize the process, and leverage the full power of artificial intelligence and automation. From application, to testing, from interview to onboarding, potential candidates can expect to enjoy a seamless experience.

    “We strive to be THE most-referenced freelance African Talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a MUST,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya. “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. “Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    The year 2020 was abuzz with phrases like “future of work,” “gig economy,” and “remote work.” The release of the Gebeya Talent app proves that this bold, new future predicted has arrived. Access to opportunities for talent has expanded, as they are no longer restricted to their immediate geographic location; we follow a remote-first work model. And: anyone can download the app.

    “This is only the beginning,” said Thierno Niang, Chief Platform Officer at Gebeya. “We launched a mobile app before a web application, because all of our talent have access to a phone. As we add features to the product, we will also expand to include a web app.”

    The most in-demand talent for startups and corporations include: software development, graphics & design, project management, digital marketing, product management, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. But, as market needs evolve, so will the Gebeya Talent pool.

    The Gebeya Talent app grants access for talented professionals in Africa and its diaspora to join a community built with them in mind. Rather than bid against millions of freelancers in an anonymous pool of talent, they can be assured that every opportunity caters to their skill set and agreed-upon rate. No more underbidding, missed payments, or ghosted clients. Because Gebeya manages the entire process of matching, plus administrative and finance processes, talents are ensured timely and fair delivery of payment in exchange for their work.

    Within the next three-to-five years, we anticipate identifying and vetting the top 100,000 talent. From that, we expect to onboard the top 20,000 best. If you’re a talent from Africa or of African descent, seeking to join a community that will care about you, download the Gebeya Talent app and apply today.

    A web-based application to connect clients of all sizes, including individual entrepreneurs, startups, and large enterprises with talent, will launch later this month. This will be for clients that are seeking to: diversify their workforce, augment their existing team, or expand into new markets without the hassle of opening a physical office. Our goal is that clients will be matched with talent within seconds, and within 24-to-48 hours of contract-signing, begin the work.

  • Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Debo Engineering, A Jimma Based Agritech Startup


    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering, part of a burgeoning technology startup scene in Ethiopia that’s blazing a trail in various fields. Debo Engineering has announced that it has developed an app that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. (Courtesy photo)

    Tech in Africa

    Ethiopia Agritech startup develops an App that detects plant disease

    Debo Engineering, a startup based in Jimma has developed an app that automatically detects then classifies plant diseases through image detection once it runs the image through an algorithm.

    Debo engineering designs and develops smart engineering solutions for the agricultural sector. The startup banks on applied engineering centering on newly evolved technologies such as ML, artificial intelligence, IoT, image processing, mobile computing, and big data.

    Debo has a desktop application connecting commercial farms and research institutes in making farm analysis and drone rental services in the case of large rental farms. Most of the startup’s customers are urban farmers operating in Jimma city. Debo served over 300 customers in the last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds and have received several recognitions to date. The team clinched the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 Business Competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition. This has helped them raise initial funding to begin the implementation of their business ideas.

    Meet This Jimma Based Agritech Startup That Developed An App That Detects Plant Disease

    Shega

    Debo Engineering, A Jimma based agritech startup, developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection.

    Debo engineering is a startup that design and develop smart business applications solution in the agriculture sector. The startup uses applied engineering discipline centered on newly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, ML, IOT, image processing, big data, and mobile computing.

    Debo developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. The solution is available via a monthly subscription on the web and mobile application. It provides a recommendation to be taken for the user after detect plant disease.

    Debo also provides a desktop application that helps commercials farms and research institutes to make farm analysis as well as drone renting services for large commercial farms.

    Even though most of their customers are urban farmers that operate in Jimma city and nearby, Debo has been able to serve more than 300 customers last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds. The startup has received many recognitions so far. The team was the winner of the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 business competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition.

    These recognitions have helped them in raising the initial fund to start implementing their business idea.

    Debo plans to add more features and use wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be easily deployed in farm fields and continuously send data.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games


    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Interview: Meklit Hadero on Role of Music & Culture Amid Conflict in Ethiopia

    As part of "Movement,” an ongoing series from The World [a US public radio news magazine] about the lives and work of immigrant musicians, Ethiopian American musician Meklit Hadero recounts conversations with fellow musicians in Ethiopia about the unifying role of music and culture amid the conflict in Tigray. (Photo: Ethiopian-born singer Meklit Hadero shows off her guitar chops/via WAMU)

    PRI

    Ethiopian American musician Meklit Hadero: ‘We use music to talk about the things that are hard to talk about’

    As the conflict unfolds, some in the Ethiopian diaspora around the world try to make sense of it and their personal stories of migration and belonging to the country. Among them, Ethiopian American musician and cultural activist Meklit Hadero.

    “It’s a time of heartbreak for many Ethiopians,” Hadero told The World. “Hearing these stories of suffering is just absolutely tragic.”

    Hadero, who left Ethiopia for the US with her family when she was just under 2 years old, last visited Ethiopia in 2019 — before the conflict in Tigray broke out.

    She spoke with Ethiopian saxophonist Jorga Mesfin about the sense of optimism and desire for political and economic reform with the government and yet, palpable risk of ethnic violence.

    As part of “Movement,” an ongoing series from The World about the lives and work of immigrant musicians, Hadero recounts her conversations with Mesfin and other fellow artists during that 2019 trip — and discusses the role of music and culture in the country amid the Tigray conflict.

    “Calls for unity can feel impossible when history has not been reconciled, but the cost of not looking each other in the eye also feels too heavy to bear. How do we move through this? Like George [Mesfin], I often find it easier to face these impossible questions as an artist with music rather than with words,” Meklit said. “We use music to talk about the things that are hard to talk about.”

    Audio: Meklit Hadero on the Role of Music & Culture Amid the Conflict in Ethiopia

    Related:

    Review: ‘Meklit Hadero’s Nourishing Music & Lecture’ at University of Washington


    The following is a review of Meklit Hadero’s recent on screen performance and lecture at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall courtesy of the University’s student newspaper, The Daily. (Photo by Tessa Shimizu)

    The Daily

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    Meklit nourishes us through her music in Meany Center performance and lecture

    Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s joy is infectious. Listeners are enveloped in her warmth, even with the barrier of an electronic screen, and can’t help but feel a sense of peace while she talks and sings. Meklit invites us into her culture, and we never feel like an outsider. She is a natural storyteller who shared intimate cultural traditions in her Meany on Screen performance and lecture: “How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage.”

    Meklit’s art synthesizes jazz, folk, and East African inspirations. She is the co-founder of the Nile Project, which is described as an “initiative bringing together musicians from all 11 Nile Basin countries to create music together, to tour the river and source lakes, and tour the world.” “When the People Move, The Music Moves Too,” her most recent album, was at the top of the iTunes World Music Chart.

    The multitalented artist and activist is also a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Fellow, and the chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she works to uplift BIPoC artists who in turn support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

    Meklit is often placed in the category of “world music,” however, she explained in her lecture that this term can contribute to division and othering. She prefers to view the phrase as relating to “open-armed sense of curiosity,” listening, and learning. Meklit thinks of music as a “gift of life” and global connector.

    “Every single culture in the world has music,” Meklit said during the lecture. “All music is world music.”

    Meklit hoped to nourish listeners with “kitchen table songs” in her Meany on Screen performance, recorded from San Francisco at the vibrant Studio 124. The show began with “Abbay Mado,” an Amharic praise song that describes a farmer, his life on the Blue Nile River, and the nourishing food he brings to tables. When singing this folk song, Meklit said she is reminded of the millions of people who have sung it in the past. For her, the power of folk music comes from the many voices that are contained in one piece.


    (The Daily University of Washington)

    In her performance, Meklit serenaded listeners with “Yesterday is a Tizita,” an Ethiopian song form meaning “songs of nostalgia.” The tizita holds two meanings — yesterday is a memory, and the popular Beatles song “Yesterday,” which fits into the tizita genre. According to Meklit, double entendres are an important part of the poetry and traditions of Ethiopia.

    “Kemekem (I Like your Afro)” is a traditional song from Northern Ethiopia. The phrase means freshly cut grass, but is also considered an idiom for the perfect afro, which Meklit described as the “stand tall” pride and swagger that comes from this hairstyle. In a piece from the performance, she sings: “Future is a woman // with her head held high // and an afro on her shoulders // reaching up for the sky // and the knowledge of her people // is filling up her mind // She understand manipulation // won’t fall for it this time.”

    The musician also gushed about the story behind her krar (Ethiopian harp), given to her by Dawit Seyoum, who toured with Meklit for the Nile Project.

    “It feels like a living being,” Meklit said. “It reacts to the temperature, and the air quality, and the room, and it tells me its moods, and it tells me how it’s feeling, and how exactly it needs to be played that day.”

    Traditional instruments, which are handmade, are magical. There is a specificity in which instrument you choose — each krar has its own personality. Meklit said she sees this as a metaphor for having to become connected with a specific soul in order to touch something universal.

    Meklit noted that researchers are finding out how music brings us together. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Science found that after people listened to rhythmic music together, they performed coordinated tasks better than control groups did. With the help of music, the participants improved at sensing what was happening with their peers.

    Meklit also cited a Swedish study that shows that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize, in part because they are all breathing together as one entity. Music is “who we are,” Meklit said. She then discussed an MIT study which had participants listen to 150 sounds of all kinds. Per the study, there are six sets of neural clusters that process sound, but one set of neural clusters responds only to music. Meklit interprets these findings as people being “hardwired” for music.

    Meklit expressed in her lecture that she would love to see applications of these findings in our everyday lives.

    “Why can’t we play songs at the start of Zoom meetings that everyone in the call knows … imagine if everyone was singing from their respective computer screens before a meeting starts,” Meklit said. “What if we could attune better to each other?”

    Currently, Meklit is working on a new project in her capacity as a Mellon Creative Research Fellow. In collaboration with the Meany Center, “Movement” is designed as a live concert experience, with storytelling and multimedia aspects “creating a meditation on what it means to be American,” according to the Meany Center website.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: New York Tristate GERD Support Virtual Launch Event February 20th

    The New York Tristate Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Support is launching its first community virtual meeting Saturday February 20, 2021 at 2:00 PM." Guest speakers include Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Seleshi Bekele and Ethiopia's Ambassador to the United Nations Taye Atske, as well as Lemlem Fiseha, member of GERD Negotiating Team from New York. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 19th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — If there is one thing that the vast majority of Ethiopians around the world agree on — across the diverse political spectrum — it’s that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a national pride and a homegrown solution to transform Ethiopia into an economic regional superpower, leaving behind its long-lingering image of poverty once and for all.

    This weekend a diverse group of Ethiopians here in the New York area are launching a public relations initiative to help educate the international community including U.S. elected officials and American scholars about Ethiopia’s Nile river dam project, which when completed will become the largest hydropower plant in Africa.

    According to the announcement “the NY Tristate Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Support is launching its first community virtual meeting Saturday, February 20th at 2:00 PM.”

    Guest speakers include Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Seleshi Bekele and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Taye Atske, as well as Lemlem Fiseha, member of GERD Negotiating Team (New York).

    “We Ethiopians and American-Ethiopians in the New York-TriState area formed the GERD Support group in September 2020 to advocate the completion of the GERD’s construction to realize its peaceful and equitable agenda by mobilizing the public and financial support needed,” Wondmagegne Masresha, Chair of the New York Tristate GERD support group, said in a statement. “As part of our advocacy, we have sent GERD fact sheets and advocacy letters to US Senators, House Representatives, research institutes and think thank groups.”

    Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, a member of the GERD Support Group, added that the local initiative is “keen to join forces and work together with similar Ethiopian and American GERD supporters and advocates in other US states.”

    If You Attend:

    NY Tristate GERD Support Virtual Launch Event
    Feb 20, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
    Zoom Link:
    Click register and receive your meeting ID and passcode
    More info at www.NYtristate4GERD.org

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Debo Engineering, A Jimma Based Agritech Startup

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering, part of a burgeoning technology startup scene in Ethiopia that's blazing a trail in various fields. Debo Engineering has announced that it has developed an app that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. (Courtesy photo)

    Tech in Africa

    Ethiopia Agritech startup develops an App that detects plant disease

    Debo Engineering, a startup based in Jimma has developed an app that automatically detects then classifies plant diseases through image detection once it runs the image through an algorithm.

    Debo engineering designs and develops smart engineering solutions for the agricultural sector. The startup banks on applied engineering centering on newly evolved technologies such as ML, artificial intelligence, IoT, image processing, mobile computing, and big data.

    Debo has a desktop application connecting commercial farms and research institutes in making farm analysis and drone rental services in the case of large rental farms. Most of the startup’s customers are urban farmers operating in Jimma city. Debo served over 300 customers in the last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds and have received several recognitions to date. The team clinched the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 Business Competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition. This has helped them raise initial funding to begin the implementation of their business ideas.

    Meet This Jimma Based Agritech Startup That Developed An App That Detects Plant Disease

    Shega

    Debo Engineering, A Jimma based agritech startup, developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection.

    Debo engineering is a startup that design and develop smart business applications solution in the agriculture sector. The startup uses applied engineering discipline centered on newly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, ML, IOT, image processing, big data, and mobile computing.

    Debo developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. The solution is available via a monthly subscription on the web and mobile application. It provides a recommendation to be taken for the user after detect plant disease.

    Debo also provides a desktop application that helps commercials farms and research institutes to make farm analysis as well as drone renting services for large commercial farms.

    Even though most of their customers are urban farmers that operate in Jimma city and nearby, Debo has been able to serve more than 300 customers last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds. The startup has received many recognitions so far. The team was the winner of the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 business competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition.

    These recognitions have helped them in raising the initial fund to start implementing their business idea.

    Debo plans to add more features and use wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be easily deployed in farm fields and continuously send data.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games


    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Review: ‘Meklit Hadero’s Nourishing Music & Lecture’ at University of Washington

    The following is a review of Meklit Hadero’s recent on screen performance and lecture at the University of Washington's Meany Hall courtesy of the University's student newspaper, The Daily. (Photo by Tessa Shimizu)

    The Daily

    Meklit nourishes us through her music in Meany Center performance and lecture

    Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s joy is infectious. Listeners are enveloped in her warmth, even with the barrier of an electronic screen, and can’t help but feel a sense of peace while she talks and sings. Meklit invites us into her culture, and we never feel like an outsider. She is a natural storyteller who shared intimate cultural traditions in her Meany on Screen performance and lecture: “How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage.”

    Meklit’s art synthesizes jazz, folk, and East African inspirations. She is the co-founder of the Nile Project, which is described as an “initiative bringing together musicians from all 11 Nile Basin countries to create music together, to tour the river and source lakes, and tour the world.” “When the People Move, The Music Moves Too,” her most recent album, was at the top of the iTunes World Music Chart.

    The multitalented artist and activist is also a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Fellow, and the chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she works to uplift BIPoC artists who in turn support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

    Meklit is often placed in the category of “world music,” however, she explained in her lecture that this term can contribute to division and othering. She prefers to view the phrase as relating to “open-armed sense of curiosity,” listening, and learning. Meklit thinks of music as a “gift of life” and global connector.

    “Every single culture in the world has music,” Meklit said during the lecture. “All music is world music.”

    Meklit hoped to nourish listeners with “kitchen table songs” in her Meany on Screen performance, recorded from San Francisco at the vibrant Studio 124. The show began with “Abbay Mado,” an Amharic praise song that describes a farmer, his life on the Blue Nile River, and the nourishing food he brings to tables. When singing this folk song, Meklit said she is reminded of the millions of people who have sung it in the past. For her, the power of folk music comes from the many voices that are contained in one piece.


    (The Daily University of Washington)

    In her performance, Meklit serenaded listeners with “Yesterday is a Tizita,” an Ethiopian song form meaning “songs of nostalgia.” The tizita holds two meanings — yesterday is a memory, and the popular Beatles song “Yesterday,” which fits into the tizita genre. According to Meklit, double entendres are an important part of the poetry and traditions of Ethiopia.

    “Kemekem (I Like your Afro)” is a traditional song from Northern Ethiopia. The phrase means freshly cut grass, but is also considered an idiom for the perfect afro, which Meklit described as the “stand tall” pride and swagger that comes from this hairstyle. In a piece from the performance, she sings: “Future is a woman // with her head held high // and an afro on her shoulders // reaching up for the sky // and the knowledge of her people // is filling up her mind // She understand manipulation // won’t fall for it this time.”

    The musician also gushed about the story behind her krar (Ethiopian harp), given to her by Dawit Seyoum, who toured with Meklit for the Nile Project.

    “It feels like a living being,” Meklit said. “It reacts to the temperature, and the air quality, and the room, and it tells me its moods, and it tells me how it’s feeling, and how exactly it needs to be played that day.”

    Traditional instruments, which are handmade, are magical. There is a specificity in which instrument you choose — each krar has its own personality. Meklit said she sees this as a metaphor for having to become connected with a specific soul in order to touch something universal.

    Meklit noted that researchers are finding out how music brings us together. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Science found that after people listened to rhythmic music together, they performed coordinated tasks better than control groups did. With the help of music, the participants improved at sensing what was happening with their peers.

    Meklit also cited a Swedish study that shows that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize, in part because they are all breathing together as one entity. Music is “who we are,” Meklit said. She then discussed an MIT study which had participants listen to 150 sounds of all kinds. Per the study, there are six sets of neural clusters that process sound, but one set of neural clusters responds only to music. Meklit interprets these findings as people being “hardwired” for music.

    Meklit expressed in her lecture that she would love to see applications of these findings in our everyday lives.

    “Why can’t we play songs at the start of Zoom meetings that everyone in the call knows … imagine if everyone was singing from their respective computer screens before a meeting starts,” Meklit said. “What if we could attune better to each other?”

    Currently, Meklit is working on a new project in her capacity as a Mellon Creative Research Fellow. In collaboration with the Meany Center, “Movement” is designed as a live concert experience, with storytelling and multimedia aspects “creating a meditation on what it means to be American,” according to the Meany Center website.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: End of Trump’s Impeachment Trial Opens a New Chapter for Biden

    President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Camp David, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    Biden White House seeks to turn page on Trump

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The end of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial opens a new chapter for his successor in the White House.

    But while President Joe Biden and his team are eager to move past the impeachment, the bitterly partisan tone of the proceedings underscores the deep challenges ahead as the president and his party try to push forward their agenda and address historic crises.

    Biden, who was at the Camp David presidential retreat when the Senate voted Saturday to acquit Trump, had acknowledged that Democrats needed to hold the former president responsible for the siege of the U.S. Capitol but did not welcome the way it distracted from his agenda.

    The trial ended with every Democrat and seven Republicans voting to convict Trump, but the 57-43 vote was far from the two-third threshold required for conviction. Whether the seven GOP votes against Trump offered Biden any new hope for bipartisan cooperation within Congress remained an open question.

    In a statement, Biden referenced those GOP votes in favor of convicting the former president — and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s own indictment of Trump’s actions — as evidence that “the substance of the charge,” that Trump was responsible for inciting violence at the Capitol, is “not in dispute.”

    But he quickly moved on to the work ahead, sounding a note of unity and declaring that “this sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile” and that “each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

    “It’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America,” Biden said.


    President Joe Biden walks on the Colonnade to Marine One for departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Washington. Biden is en route to Camp David. (AP Photo)

    Biden made a point of not watching the trial live, choosing to comment only briefly on the searing images of the riot that gripped the nation. Though his White House publicly argued that the trial did not hinder their plans, aides privately worried that a lengthy proceeding could bog down the Senate and slow the passage of his massive COVID-19 relief bill. That $1.9 trillion proposal is just the first part of a sweeping legislative agenda Biden hopes to pass as he battles the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 480,000 Americans and rattled the nation’s economy.

    “The No. 1 priority for Democrats and the Biden administration is going to be to deliver on the promises that have been made on the pandemic, both on the vaccine front and the economic front,” said Democratic strategist Josh Schwerin.

    The end of the impeachment trial frees the party to focus on less divisive and more broadly popular issues and policies, like the coronavirus relief package, which polls show has significant support among Americans.

    Throughout his campaign, Biden worked to avoid being defined by Trump and his controversies and instead sought to draw a contrast on policy and competence, a guiding principle that he and his aides have carried over into the White House.

    His team kept up a steady drumbeat of events during the trial, including an update on vaccine development and Biden’s first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief. With the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue now over, the White House plans to increase its efforts to spotlight the fight against the pandemic and push past Trump’s chaos.

    Former Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota predicted that in a state like hers, where Trump won 65% of the vote, focusing on those urgent issues would make more headway with average voters now.

    “What we have to be talking about is the economy — getting the economy back working, and turning the page” on the last administration, she said. “Good policy is good politics. We need to get back to that.”

    Democrats have a decision to make in how to deal with Trump going forward. While the end of the impeachment trial offers a clear opportunity for the party to focus squarely on its own agenda, Trump can also be a potent political weapon for Democrats, not to mention a big driver of campaign cash.

    After Saturday’s vote, American Bridge 21st Century, the Democratic Party’s opposition research arm, issued a statement calling out senators from Ohio and Florida, two states that Democrats are targeting in the 2022 election, for voting against convicting Trump.

    “Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, and nearly every other Senate Republican put their loyalty to Donald Trump ahead of the rule of law, the Capitol police officers who protect them every day, and the oaths they swore to uphold the Constitution,” said Bradley Beychock, the group’s president, calling the senators “spineless sycophants.”

    Still, Schwerin cautioned that Trump can’t be Democrats’ “primary focus.”

    “We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a lot of the problems that the country is dealing with are because of Trump’s failures, but he shouldn’t be the focus of every fundraising email and press release. We should be looking forward,” he said.

    Biden plans to keep up a busy schedule focused on the coronavirus pandemic in the coming week.

    The president will make his first official domestic trips this week: a TV town hall in Wisconsin on Tuesday to talk to Americans impacted by the coronavirus and a visit to a Pfizer vaccine facility in Michigan on Thursday.

    White House legislative affairs staffers were poised to work with House committees on crafting details of the COVID-19 relief bill, which Democrats hope to vote on next month.

    Still, some within the party aren’t finished with Trump. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a leading progressive advocacy group, issued a petition Saturday night encouraging supporters to call on attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to “investigate and prosecute Trump and his entire criminal network for law breaking.”

    Biden is likely to continue to face questions about how his Justice Department will handle a number of ongoing federal and criminal probes into Trump’s businesses and his conduct as president.

    And his aides will be watching for Trump’s next moves, particularly if he claims exoneration and heats up his political activity and even points toward a 2024 campaign. The plan, for now, is to try to ignore the former president.

    Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile warned that Trump won’t make it easy but Democrats need to avoid getting sucked back into his orbit.

    “I don’t think Donald Trump is going to disappear from anyone’s lips any day soon, and that’s because Donald Trump will always seek to find ways to inject himself and serve himself,” she said.

    “While Donald Trump is figuring out who he is going to go after next, Democrats are going to figure out how they’re going to lift people up and how they’re going to protect and help the American people.”

    Watch: What Is Trump’s Future After Acquittal? | NBC Nightly News

    2 Impeachment Trials, 2 Escape Hatches for Donald Trump

    The Associated Press

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    The Senate acquitted Trump on a 57-43 vote Saturday, well short of the 67 needed to convict him. (AP)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial centered on a phone call Americans never heard with the leader of a country very far away. The trial went on for two weeks of he-said-she-said. There was a mountain of evidence to pore over but not one drop of blood to see.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial was a steroidal sequel centered on the rage, violence and anguish of one day in Washington. There was nothing foreign or far away about it. There was blood.

    Together these trials a year apart spoke to one president’s singular capacity to get into, and out of, trouble — the story of Trump’s life. The only president to be impeached twice has once again evaded consequences, though this time as an election loser shunted off the field of play to the jeering section, at least for now.

    In a broadside against Trump every bit as brutal as that leveled by Democrats, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declared the ex-president “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day” with his “unconscionable behavior” and “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

    “The leader of the free world cannot spend two weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe them and do reckless things,” McConnell said.

    But this was after he gave Trump an escape hatch for the ages, voting to acquit him on the grounds that the Senate, in his view, cannot legitimately try a president out of office.

    Until the conclusion of the five-day trial, the noisiest man in America stayed silent, down in Florida. But the panic, terrified whispers of officials hiding from their attackers and the crack of a fatal gunshot played out on a big screen in the Senate chamber penetrated less than six weeks earlier by the Trump-flag-waving insurrectionists.

    This time the case did not hang on a whistleblower in the bowels of the national security bureaucracy.

    This was an impeachment driven by what people saw happen and by Trump’s voluminous public rhetoric, heard that day, for weeks before, and after — until Twitter exiled him and he let his lawyers and supporters do the talking while the trial played out.

    “We saw it, we heard it, we lived it,” said the Democratic majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer. “This was the first presidential impeachment trial in history in which all senators were not only jurors and judges but were witnesses to the constitutional crime that was committed.”

    Trump’s fanciful boast five years ago that he could shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue and still be loved by his followers was never, of course, put to the test in his presidency. But something like it was, on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    On Jan. 6, he sent his followers down that street to the Capitol, where they committed their mayhem. And in the end, that did not cost him the loyalty of enough supporters in Congress to convict him on the charge of inciting an insurrection.

    The Senate acquitted Trump on a 57-43 vote Saturday, well short of the 67 needed to convict him.

    ___

    2020

    “Sorry haters, I’m not going anywhere,” Trump declared after his Senate acquittal Feb. 5, 2020, on charges of abusing power and obstructing justice. The Senate, then under narrow Republican control, voted 52-48 to clear him of abuse of power and 53-47 to clear him of obstruction.

    It had taken Democrats some four months to get to that point, grinding through congressional inquiries into Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings there. The goal was to tarnish Joe Biden, the father, as he sought the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid needed by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia were hanging in the balance. The power and resources of the U.S. government had been put in service of Trump’s personal political benefit, said the Democrats.

    To many Republicans in Congress, Democrats were merely impeaching Trump for being Trump. For others, Trump’s behavior, while troubling, didn’t rise to the extraordinary level they said was required to try to remove a president between elections.

    “I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump told Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, uttering the sentence that emerged from a rough transcript of their phone call and came to symbolize the heavy-handed lobbying by the president and his aides.

    Trump unleashed over 270 tweets when his fate was in the Senate’s hands, many attacking the process and the participants. “Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today,” said one.

    The verdict came strictly along partisan lines, with one exception. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah voted with Democrats to convict Trump of abusing power.

    McConnell, fully with the president on this one, was ready to move on. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the rearview mirror,” he said in response to Trump’s acquittal.

    So it was for nearly everyone, quite suddenly. In the trial’s final days, the U.S. declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, already spreading, and the first COVID-19 death was recorded in the country by the end of the month.

    ___

    2021

    Trump went tweetless during impeachment No. 2, blocked from his main social media platforms for his history of false statements and conspiracy theories about the election. He stayed low, no longer popping up for his once-frequent interviews with conservatives on TV, either.

    As in the first impeachment, no witnesses were called.

    The House Democratic impeachment managers came forward with new and graphic video from the assault and a clearer picture of how close the lawmakers trapped at the Capitol had been to the attackers hunting for them. The peril to Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, who was presiding in the Senate during the day’s election certification, also came into sharper relief.

    If there was anything like a smoking gun, it had been fired in plain sight.

    But there was little more suspense about the outcome than there had been for the Ukraine affair. Democrats never expected to win the necessary two-thirds of the vote. Seven Republicans voted with the Democrats in the end, more than anticipated but not enough. Romney was among them.

    It was known on the final day that McConnell would vote to acquit.

    It was not known that he would denounce Trump with such scorching words even while passing the hot potato to the Biden Justice Department or state attorneys general, with the observation that Trump the private citizen now is exposed to criminal and civil laws.

    “He didn’t get away with anything,” McConnell said. “Yet.”

    WATCH LIVE | Fourth day of Trump’s impeachment trial

    The Washington post

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    Impeachment managers rest case against Trump, implore Senate to convict to prevent future violence

    House managers on Thursday wrapped up their case against former president Donald Trump, imploring the Senate to convict him while warning that he could stoke violence again.

    “We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of. Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said.

    Trump’s legal team is poised to respond on Friday, arguing that he should be acquitted. They are expected to use only one of two allotted days. A verdict could come as early as the weekend.

    The developments came on the third day of an impeachment trial in which Democrats have charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 violent takeover of the Capitol.

    Video: House managers rest case against Trump, argue for conviction

    Rioters acted on Trump’s ‘orders,’ Democrats say in trial

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment said Thursday the Capitol invaders believed they were acting on “the president’s orders” and reflected his violent rhetoric when they set out to storm the building and stop the joint session of Congress that was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

    The prosecutors were wrapping up their opening presentation, describing in stark, personal terms the horror they faced that day and unearthing the many public and explicit instructions Trump gave his supporters — both in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack and at his midday rally that unleashed the mob on the Capitol. Videos of rioters, some posted to social medial by themselves, talked about how they were doing it all for Trump.

    “We were invited here,” said one. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.” Five people died.

    “They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders,” said Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado. “The president told them to be there.”

    Trump trial video unveils scope of US Capitol riot

    Trump’s lawyers will launch their defense on Friday, and the trial could wrap by weekend.

    At the White House, President Joe Biden said he believed “some minds may be changed” after senators saw chilling security video Wednesday of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, including of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.

    Biden said he didn’t watch any of the previous day’s proceedings live but later saw news coverage.

    This second impeachment trial, on the charge of incitement of insurrection, has echoes of last year’s impeachment over the Ukraine matter, as prosecutors warn senators that left unchecked Trump poses a danger to the civic order. Even out of office, the former president holds influence over large swaths of voters.

    The prosecutors on Thursday drew a direct line from his repeated comments condoning and even celebrating violence — praising “both sides” after the 2017 outbreak at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and urging his rally crowd last month to go to the Capitol and fight for his presidency.

    “There’s a pattern staring us in the face,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead prosecutor.

    “When Donald Trump tells the crowd as he did on January 6 to fight like hell, or you won’t have a country anymore. He meant for them to fight like hell.”

    Trump lawyers will argue later this week that his words were protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment and just a figure of speech.

    Though most of the Senate jurors seem to have made up their minds, making Trump’s acquittal likely, the never-before-seen audio and video released Wednesday is now a key exhibit in Trump’s impeachment trial as lawmakers prosecuting the case argue Trump should be convicted of inciting the siege.

    Senators sat riveted as the jarring video played in the chamber. Senators shook their heads, folded their arms and furrowed their brow. Screams from the audio and video filled the Senate chamber. Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma bent his head at one point, another GOP colleague putting his hand on his arm in comfort.

    Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, saw himself in the footage, dashing down a hallway to avoid the mob. Romney said he hadn’t realized that officer Eugene Goodman, who has been praised as a hero for luring rioters away from the Senate doors, had been the one to direct him to safety.

    “That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” he said.

    Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation shown to senators Wednesday amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation’s most alarming days. In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and cries of distress. And it underscored how dangerously close the rioters came to the nation’s leaders, shifting the focus of the trial from an academic debate about the Constitution to a raw retelling of the assault.

    The footage showed the mob smashing into the building, rioters engaging in hand-to-hand combat with police and audio of Capitol police officers pleading for back-up. Rioters were seen roaming the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” and eerily singing out “Where’s Nancy?” in search for Pelosi.

    Pence, who had been presiding over a session to certify Biden’s election victory over Trump — thus earning Trump’s censure — was shown being rushed to safety, where he sheltered in an office with his family just 100 feet from the rioters. Pelosi was seen being evacuated from the complex as her staff hid behind doors in her suite of offices.

    “President Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the Virgin Islands.

    The goal of the presentation was to cast Trump not as an innocent bystander but rather as the “inciter in chief” who spent months spreading falsehoods about the election.

    “This attack never would have happened, but for Donald Trump,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the impeachment managers, said as she choked back emotion. “And so they came, draped in Trump’s flag, and used our flag, the American flag, to batter and to bludgeon.”

    The Trump legal team takes the floor Friday and Saturday for up to 16 hours to lay out its defense. The difficulty facing Trump’s defense became apparent at the start as his lawyers leaned on the process of the trial, unlike any other, rather than the substance of the case against the former president.

    Trump’s lawyers are likely to blame the rioters themselves for the violence.

    The first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office, Trump is also the first to be twice impeached.

    His lawyers also say he cannot be convicted because he is already gone from the White House. Even though the Senate rejected that argument in Tuesday’s vote to proceed to the trial, the legal issue could resonate with Senate Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    While six Republicans joined with Democrats to vote to proceed with the trial on Tuesday, the 56-44 vote was far from the two-thirds threshold of 67 votes needed for conviction.

    Minds did not seem to be changing Wednesday, even after senators watched the graphic video.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was among those leading the effort to challenge the Electoral College tally, said, “The president’s rhetoric is at times overheated, but this is not a referendum on whether you agree with everything the president says or tweets.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, and Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack.

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse’s Powerful Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Trial

    Watch: Trump’s Historic Second Impeachment Trial Underway | NBC Nightly News

    Trump’s historic 2nd trial opens with jarring video of siege

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday by showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat, followed by graphic video of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

    The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob siege of the Capitol to overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Senators sitting as jurors, many who themselves fled for safety that day, watched the jarring video of Trump supporters battling past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving.

    “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

    Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached . The Capitol siege stunned the world as hundreds of rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, a domestic attack on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history. Five people died.

    Acquittal is likely, but the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him, and the loyalty of Trump’s Republican allies defending him.

    Trump’s lawyers are insisting that he is not guilty of the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency. But prosecutors say he “has no good defense” and they promise new evidence.

    Security remained extremely tight at the Capitol on Tuesday, a changed place after the attack, fenced off with razor wire with armed National Guard troops on patrol. The nine House managers walked across the shuttered building to prosecute the case before the Senate.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial of his predecessor.

    With senators gathered as the court of impeachment, sworn to deliver “impartial justice,” the trial was starting with debate and a vote over whether it’s constitutionally permissible to prosecute Trump after he is no longer in the White House.

    Trump’s defense team has focused on the question of constitutionality, which could resonate with Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    Lead lawyer Bruce Castor said that no member of the former president’s defense team would do anything but condemn the violence of the “repugnant” attack, and “in the strongest possible way denounce the rioters.”

    Yet Trump’s attorney appealed to the senators as “patriots first,” and encouraged them to be “cool headed” as they assess the arguments.

    At one pivotal point, Raskin told the personal story of bringing his family to the Capitol the day of the riot, to witness the certification of the Electoral College vote, only to have his daughter and son-in-law hiding in an office, fearing for their lives.

    “Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”

    The House prosecutors argued there is no “January exception” for a president on his way out the door. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., referred to the corruption case of William Belknap, a war secretary in the Grant administration, who was impeached, tried and ultimately acquitted by the Senate after leaving office.

    “President Trump was not impeached for run of the mill corruption, misconduct. He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection – an insurrection where people died, in this building,” Neguse said. If Congress stands by, he said, “it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, in part because the senators were witnesses themselves. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s defense team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches. “We have some videos up our sleeve,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said on a podcast Monday.

    Presidential impeachment trials have been conducted only three times before, leading to acquittals for Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and then Trump last year.

    Full Coverage: Trump impeachment trial
    Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on impeachment, said in an interview, “This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection.”

    The first test Tuesday was to be on a vote on the constitutionality of the trial, signaling attitudes in the Senate. The chamber is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with a two-thirds vote, 67 senators, required for conviction.

    A similar question was posed late last month, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a vote to set aside the trial because Trump was no longer in office. At that time, 45 Republicans voted in favor of Paul’s measure. Just five Republicans joined with Democrats to pursue the trial: Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

    Because of the COVID-19 crisis, senators were allowed to spread out, including in the “marble room” just off the Senate floor, where proceedings are shown on TV, or even in the public galleries above the chamber. Most were at their desks on the opening day, however.

    Presiding was not the chief justice of the United States, as in previous presidential impeachment trials, but the chamber’s senior-most member of the majority party, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

    Under an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the substantive opening arguments will begin at noon Wednesday, with up to 16 hours per side for presentations. The trial is expected to continue into the weekend.

    In filings, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, suggesting Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and dismissing the trial as “political theater” on the same Senate floor invaded by the mob.

    House impeachment managers, in their own filings, assert that Trump “betrayed the American people” and has no valid excuse or defense.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack. Five people died, including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer who died the next day of his injuries.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Lucy Kassa: ‘I Reported on Ethiopia’s War. Then Came a Knock at My Door’ (LA Times)

    Lucy Kassa is a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. (Courtesy photo)

    Los Angeles Times

    By Lucy Kassa

    I Reported on Ethiopia’s Secretive War. Then Came a Knock at My Door

    Around 10:30 Monday morning, there was a knock at my door. When I answered, I saw three men I did not recognize. They barged in, knocking me to the floor.

    They did not introduce themselves; they didn’t produce any kind of ID or search warrant. They began to ransack my house.

    For nearly two years I have been reporting on Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where government forces last November launched an operation to oust the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF.

    As an ethnic Tigrayan, I have roots in the region. But as a freelance journalist based in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, my motivation is to uncover the truth of a war that has gone mostly unreported because the Ethiopian government has severed communication lines and blocked media and humanitarian access to much of Tigray since the start of its offensive in November.

    I had just filed a story to the Los Angeles Times about a Tigrayan woman who was gang-raped by soldiers from Eritrea, who are fighting alongside Ethiopian forces, and held captive for 15 days with almost nothing to eat. The story wasn’t published until today, but it quickly became clear that the men in my house knew about it.

    They were wearing civilian clothes but carried guns. They asked me if I had relationships with the TPLF. I told them I had nothing to do with them and don’t support any political group.

    In the shadow of the war, Addis Ababa is a tense place for ethnic Tigrayans these days. In Tigray itself, at least six journalists were arrested in the first week of the fighting, according to Reporters Without Borders.

    Last month, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a reporter from a state-run TV station in Mekele, the regional capital. The reporter, Dawit Kebede Araya, had previously been detained by police and questioned about his coverage of the war.

    The men in my home threatened to kill me if I kept digging into stories about the situation in Tigray. They also harassed me about my past coverage.

    They took my laptop and a flash drive that contained pictures I had obtained from a source in the Tigrayan town of Adigrat, which showed evidence of Eritrean soldiers in several villages. Ethiopia and Eritrea officially deny that the troops are inside the country, but my reporting and many other accounts indicate otherwise. The photos I received showed uniformed Eritrean soldiers in their makeshift camps in Tigray, including some in houses they’d seized.

    A few days earlier, a therapist who has been treating the rape survivor I wrote about told me that the woman had also received a threatening phone call, warning her not to identify Eritreans as her assailants. The therapist told me to take as much care as possible with the woman’s safety, and pleaded with me to reveal little of her identity in the article.

    Before the men left, they warned that things would be harder for me the next time. On Thursday the Ethiopian government issued a statement saying I was not a “legally registered” journalist, an attempt to discredit my work.

    I no longer feel safe here. I have only my Ethiopian passport, and leaving the country is difficult anyway because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I worry the men might return, searching for more evidence of a war Ethiopia has tried to keep quiet.

    Lucy Kassa is a special correspondent.

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    COVID-19: Ethiopia Says It Has Secured 9 Million Doses of Vaccines Till April

    Ethiopia has secured nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines up until April and hopes to inoculate at least a fifth of its 110 million people by the end of the year, the health minister said on Tuesday. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: February 12th, 2021

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  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethio