Author Archive for Tadias

Early Voting Begins in Nevada (U.S. Election Update)

LA Times reports: "Many voters said they were just making up their minds. Alem Seghit, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Steyer is her top choice because she saw him on TV every day. Antoniette Mcgrue, also an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Biden is her top choice and Sanders is her second, although she said she likes them equally." (Photo: Las Vegas Sun)

Los Angeles Times

LAS VEGAS — The Democratic presidential campaign turned west this weekend, with candidates barnstorming Nevada in the lead-up to the state’s caucuses on Saturday…

More than 18,500 Nevadans cast ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Nevada Democratic Party. Voters could rank up to five candidates on their ballot. There were reports of long lines that lasted hours, and Sanders led a march of hundreds of supporters to a polling place in East Las Vegas.

Some voters found the lines and wait time daunting, but the state Democratic party said no major problems were reported.

Though the presidential campaign has been underway for a year, many voters said they were just making up their minds.

Sisters Alem Seghit, 57, and Antoniette Mcgrue, 74, members of the influential Culinary Workers Union, were focused on one priority when they cast their ballots on Saturday — picking the candidate they think has the best chance of beating President Trump in November.

“I want a Democrat to win,” Mcgrue said when asked about what drove her to vote on the first day. “We want an honest candidate to win.”

Seghit, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Steyer is her top choice because she saw him on TV every day. Mcgrue, also an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Biden is her top choice and Sanders is her second, although she said she likes them equally.

But some voters remained undecided with just days to go before the caucuses.

Read the full article at www.latimes.com »


Related:

The presidential contest turns to African American and Latino voters

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary (Update)

Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

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Ethiopia Red Tape Is Barrier for Business as Country Opens Up (Bloomberg)

Getty Images

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Bureaucracy remains a stumbling block for businesses as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed strives to roll back decades of tight controls and maintain one of the fastest rates of economic growth in Africa.

The country’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking has been above 159 of 190 countries for the past five years, and the government wants to improve that to below 100 in 2021, according to the prime minister’s office. The government has introduced an online system to register businesses, a new import-export platform to simplify trade document processing and the state is amending policies and will introduce a new investment law.

“Ethiopia has already identified what needs to be done,” Charles Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s global chief economist, said in an emailed response to questions. However, one of the major challenges for companies is access to credit and this won’t suddenly “be miraculously better,” he said.

Ethiopia is among Africa’s fastest growing economies — the World Bank estimates 6.3% in the 2020 fiscal year — yet it remains one of the most state-controlled on the continent. Abiy, 43, is seeking to attract billions of dollars in foreign investment by selling state assets from the sugar industry, the phone system, railroads, and other infrastructure.

Decades of state bureaucracy in the Horn of Africa nation of more than 100 million people make it difficult to fully benefit from the reforms.

“Regulatory changes don’t mean ease of doing business,” said Getachew Alemu, an independent economist. “The bureaucrats are the same.”

While there have been improvements in key offices at the federal level, especially the Ethiopian Investment Commission, this isn’t the case at the lower administrative levels, where manual filing is still the norm.

“Launching a business in Ethiopia still requires considerable levels of courage and resilience,” said Addis Alemayehu, chief executive officer of Addis Ababa-based 251 Communications. The business reforms will trickle down and “contribute a fair share toward an investor confidence boost and slight decline in risk-aversion,” he said.

Read more »


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Spotlight: Several Ethiopian Artists Featured at UK Festival Directed by Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Poet, Author and Motivational Speaker Lemn Sissay who is the guest director for this year’s Brighton Festival — the biggest annual multi-arts festival in England — has announced the 2020 program that’s set to take place from May 2nd to 24th.

In addition to the British-Ethiopian poet as curator the festival program features several acclaimed Ethiopian and Ethiopian-American artists, musicians, and writers including Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam as well as founder of Ethio-jazz Mulatu Astatke and pianist & composer Samuel Yirga. The lineup also includes British–Eritrean writer and journalist Hannah Azieb Pool.

“With Lemn as this year’s guest director, the festival will feature more than 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across the region,” notes the Sussex Express newspaper. “At the heart of it all will be a focus on artists experimenting and creating new work. The Festival will feature 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions, alongside many Festival debuts from international artists.”

The paper adds: “Lemn’s personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry. Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events.”

The program also includes an art exhibition titled ‘The Young Americans’ highlighting a new generation of Indigenous American artists in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey. The show is produced in collaboration with the Phoenix, Arizona-based Gallery Rainmaker and “reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States.”

Lemn Sissay says the Festival is all encompassing. “There’s going to be something for you in this Festival,” he said. “Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”


Related:

Brighton Festival 2020 promises togetherness in an era of “crazy tribalism.”

Acclaimed writer kicks off Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival 2020 programme unveiled

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Ethiopia Vote Rescheduled for August 29

Birtukan Mideksa, Chairperson of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), speaking at a NEBE conference in Addis Ababa on February 14, 2020. (Photo via Fana)

Reuters

By Dawit Endeshaw

Ethiopia to hold parliamentary elections on Aug. 29

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s election board on Friday set a date of Aug. 29 for parliamentary elections that will be a first test of voter support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has eased political restrictions since he took office in 2018.

The date is two weeks later than the electoral board had previously indicated, on account of weather.

“Looking at parts of the country which will be affected by the rainy season, pushing the schedule a little further will ease our burden,” board chairwoman Birtukan Mideksa said at a conference on election preparations taking place in Addis Ababa.

Less areas will have rain compare at the end of the month, she said.

Ethiopia’s 109 million people are experiencing unprecedented political and economic change, but Abiy’s reforms have also unleashed ethnic rivalries that have spilled into violence.

Plans to hold the parliament and regional council elections in May were postponed as neither authorities nor parties would be ready, Mideksa said in January.

Ethiopia has had regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none were competitive.

Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts at reconciliation with Ethiopia’s neighbour and longtime foe Eritrea, has promised that this year’s vote will be free and fair.


Related:

Ethiopia Elections Postponed to August

2020 is Election Season Across Africa

Ethiopia Election 2020 Campaign Update

Ethiopia: Board commences election materials printing

Electoral Board Making Preparations For 2020 Elections

Efforts to End Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Draw Criticism from Within

Ethiopia braces for highly-anticipated parliamentary election in May 2020

Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election (AFP)

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In Minnesota, Artist Fayise Abrahim Mixes Ethiopian Music with Jazz and Soul

Fayise Abrahim says that her art and her work both draw inspiration from her southwest Minnesota upbringing. She plays the krar in her unique blend of traditional Ethiopian music with jazz and soul. (Photo credit: Hector E. Roberts)

The Globe

Worthington native honors culture with music

“Writing is so nurturing and life-giving that I can’t imagine not doing it,” Abrahim said.

MINNEAPOLIS — Worthington High School graduate Fayise Abrahim will debut as a music artist next weekend at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.

Abrahim describes her music style as “traditional Ethiopian mixed with jazz and soul.” She sings and plays the krar… and leads a band that includes guitar, drums, bass and vocals.

Abrahim didn’t enter the music scene formally until 2018, but she has been a poet for more than half her life. She began writing poetry in eighth grade.

“The poetry writing has been part of the music writing,” Abrahim said.

By college, Abrahim said, “My professors and friends told me I needed to start considering myself a writer.

“Writing is so nurturing and life-giving that I can’t imagine not doing it,” she added.

As a poet, Abrahim has completed a number of fellowships and been published in several places, including Yellow Medicine Review’s Spring 2019 issue and the Break Beat Poets Anthology Volume 2: Black Girl Magic. She is the first poet to have her work inscribed on a Minneapolis sidewalk; an Abrahim poem is found at the corner of 26th Street and East Franklin.

Abrahim is working to complete a poetry manuscript for publication.

A 2010 WHS graduate, Abrahim went to college for sociology and ethnic studies. Passion for her Ethiopian heritage brought Abrahim back to her parents’ native country, where she learned from village elders about music and traditions of her culture. She even visited Sisay Begena School of Music in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for instruction on the krar.

“Now that I’m back, I’m trying to find more ways to stay involved,” she said.

One of the ways she is involved with Ethiopian culture is by recording her parents’ memoirs of growing up in Ethiopia and immigrating to the United States as refugees.

Read more »


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Ethiopian Airlines Resists Pressure to Cancel Flights to China

An Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner Boeing 787 lands at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa. (AP Photo/Elias Asmare, File)

VOA News

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON – As international airlines have canceled flights to China amid fear over the coronavirus, Africa’s largest air carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has refused to do so.

Despite mounting pressure, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said there is no proof that canceling flights would help contain the virus. He stressed the need for screening and cooperation with Chinese authorities.

“We should not isolate China. We should not marginalize Chinese passengers. What we should do is screen passengers in accordance with the WHO guidelines,” he told the Ethiopian publication, The Reporter.

As of the beginning of the week, Ethiopian officials had screened 47,167 passengers for temperature, including 1,607 who had traveled from the region. A handful have exhibited symptoms and have been quarantined. The airline offers 35 weekly flights to five destinations in China.

Tewolde noted that the WHO has not recommended canceling flights and pointed out that cancellations would not preclude the airline from transporting people who may have been in the affected region.

“WHO clearly stated that suspending flights to China would not end the coronavirus outbreak, as victims of the virus are located in other countries,” Tewolde said. ‘‘If we stop flying to China we can still bring passengers from Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand and that originated from China.”


Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, poses for a photograph after speaking to The Associated Press at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 23, 2019. (AP photo)

Other African air carriers including Kenya Air, RwandAir and Air Tanzania have suspended flights to China as have other carriers including British Airways, Turkish Air, Delta Airlines and American Airlines.

The virus, which can cause a pneumonia-like illness, has killed more than 1,300 people in China since the outbreak began in December.

Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and president and chief executive officer of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global nonprofit organization Vital Strategies, said many airlines are simply responding to a drop in demand for the flights.

“They didn’t have any passengers, so canceling flights was probably more of an economic decision than an epidemiologic decision,” he told VOA. “But in terms of travel, we do think it’s sensible to avoid travel to areas where this is spreading widely.”

Frieden said as the days go by, researchers are learning more about the virus and how best to control it. He said it may spread widely, but it may not cause serious illness in many cases. A WHO study that looked at 17,000 cases found that 82 percent were mild, with most not requiring medical attention.

“There are lots of people with very mild infections that for perhaps the vast majority of people this is like a common cold, but that for some people, older people with underlying conditions, this could be severe,” Frieden said.

The key, said Frieden, is to keep collecting data. “The next few days are going to be very revealing,” he said. “We’re going to understand both whether it can be contained and a little more about the range of illness.”


Related:

UN Health Agency Tackles Misinformation Over Virus Outbreak (AP)

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Ethiopia Approves Controversial Law Curbing Hate Speech (AP)

Ethiopian lawmakers on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 approved a controversial law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation just months ahead of a major election but some worry the new law will restrict freedom of expression in a country that once jailed thousands of people, including journalists, over political views. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers on Thursday approved a controversial law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation, especially online, just months ahead of a major election.

The law’s approval, with 23 lawmakers opposing and two abstaining, came amid concerns over widespread online false information and hate speech that some observers blame for ethnic tensions in the East African nation.

Others worry the new law will restrict freedom of expression in a country that once jailed thousands of people, including journalists, over political views.

The new law “will not meet its goal but will discourage free expression and may eventually target people who make innocent mistakes,” Befekadu Hailu, director of the Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy, told The Associated Press. “But most importantly, legal actions are usually used by the state to stifle dissent in the country. To say something positive … it may have a deterrence effect for irresponsible social media users.”

Ethiopia has been experiencing sometimes deadly ethnic violence since June 2018, shortly after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced sweeping political reforms for which he later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The loosening of restrictions on political space also led some in the country of more than 80 ethnic groups to air long-held grievances.

Some government officials and observers have called for the need to regulate hate speech and disinformation online, citing the ethnic unrest.

Lawmakers said the law is needed because existing legal provisions didn’t properly address hate speech and disinformation and said it will not affect citizens’ rights beyond protecting them.

According to the new law, content with hate speech or disinformation that is broadcast, printed or disseminated on social media platforms with more than 5,000 followers is punishable with up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 birr ($3,000).

The law, however, says “dissemination” doesn’t include liking or tagging such content on social media.

Human Rights Watch said the law could “significantly curtail freedom of expression.”

“The Ethiopian government is under increasing pressure to respond to rising communal violence that has at times been exacerbated by speeches and statements shared online,” Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher with the rights group, said in December. “But an ill-construed law that opens the door for law enforcement officials to violate rights to free expression is no solution.”


Related:

Ethiopia passes law imposing jail terms for internet posts that stir unrest (Reuters)

Ethiopia’s Draft Proclamation: Comparative View on Hate Speech & Hate Crime (TADIAS)

Narrow hate speech law will not broaden minds: by Girmachew Alemu

Rights Group Calls New Law in Ethiopia a Threat to Freedom of Expression (VOA)

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Bernie Wins New Hampshire (Update)

Adding to his strong showing in Iowa last week, Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary vote on Tuesday solidifying his position as a front-runner in the Democratic nomination contest for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. (Photo: Cornel West meets with supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at a primary night election rally in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020/AP)

The Washington Post

Sanders wins New Hampshire primary

Sanders is the winner of the New Hampshire primary, with Buttigieg coming in second and Klobuchar in third.

With more than 85 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders had 26 percent of the vote, Buttigieg had 24.4 percent and Klobuchar had 19.8 percent. Warren and Biden had 9.4 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.

It’s a repeat victory for Sanders, who beat Hillary Clinton by 20 in the state’s Democratic primary in 2016.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

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NYC: DA Re-Examines Killing Of Malcolm X

Malcolm X was one of America's most famous activists of the civil rights era. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: February 11th, 2020

In New York, Prosecutors Re-Examine the Killing Of Malcolm X

New York (TADIAS) — More than five decades after the African-American civil rights activist Malcolm X was assassinated at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21st, 1965, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced this week that it is re-examining the case in light of new evidence brought forth through the new documentary film series on Netflix titled “Who Killed Malcolm X?”

In a statement provided to New York television station Pix 11, the Manhattan DA’s office stated: “District Attorney Vance has met with representatives from the Innocence Project and associated counsel regarding this matter. He has determined that the district attorney’s office will begin a preliminary review of the matter, which will inform the office regarding what further investigative steps may be undertaken. District Attorney Vance has assigned Senior Trial Counsel Peter Casolaro and Conviction Integrity Deputy Chief Charles King to lead this preliminary review.”

According to Essence magazine “the six-part docuseries, “Who Killed Malcolm X,” provides significant evidence to discredit the convictions of two men, Khalil Islam who died in 2009 and Muhammad Abdul Aziz. Both served more than two decades for the activist’s death. It also sheds light on four additional men from a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, who were named in the 1970’s as having been connected to the killing.”

In a follow-up article The Washington Post adds:

“Historians have long believed that police and prosecutors botched the investigation. Conspiracy theories about police misconduct and hidden evidence have festered. And some critics believe most of the assassins who fired at the civil rights leader managed to get away, leading to the wrongful convictions of two members of the Nation of Islam. “Who Killed Malcolm X?” largely follows the work of historian and Washington tour guide Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, who spent years piecing together declassified FBI documents, interviewing former members of Nation of Islam mosques in New Jersey and New York City, and tracking down four other potential assassins named by Hayer but never formally investigated by authorities.

Previously known as the Audubon Ballroom, the historic location where Malcolm X was killed is now re-named as The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Essence notes that “On Friday, Feb 21st, they will commemorate his life with a screening and discussion of the Netflix / Fusion TV docuseries.”

In his autobiography Malcolm X had highlighted the history of ancient Ethiopia as one of his earliest memories that inspired his intellectual curiosity. “I can remember accurately the very first set of books that really impressed me,” Malcolm enthused, “J.A. Rogers’ three volumes told about Aesop; about the great Coptic Christian Empires; about Ethiopia, the earth’s oldest continuous black civilization.”

Regarding the case’s reexamination, Barry Scheck, Co-Founder of the Innocence Project shared in a statement: “We are grateful that District Attorney Vance quickly agreed to conduct a review of the conviction.”


Related:

Manhattan DA Reexamining The Assassination Of Malcolm X (Essence)

Malcolm X assassination may be reinvestigated as Netflix documentary, lawyers cast doubt on convictions (The Washington Post)

Manhattan district attorney to review Malcolm X murder case (Pix 11)

Watch the Documentary Film: Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix)

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MoA Anbessa Hosts ADWA Dinner in D.C.

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie with his wife Princess Saba Kebede at last year’s Adwa Victory Awards Dinner in commemoration of the 123rd Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa at the Army & Navy Club in Washington DC. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: February 8th, 2020

MoA Anbessa Institute Hosts ADWA Dinner in Washington, D.C.

New York (TADIAS) — The 124th anniversary of Ethiopia’s legendary victory at the Battle of Adwa is around the corner on March 1st, and here in the U.S. the Diaspora community is preparing to commemorate the historical event at the annual Adwa dinner and award ceremony hosted by the Ethiopian Royal family in Washington D.C.

The MoA Anbessa Institute, a non-profit organization based in D.C. that is organizing the Adwa Dinner in partnership with the Crown Council of Ethiopia, announced that the 2020 event will be held on February 29th at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.

“HIH Prince Ermias, as the leader of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, will recognize and honor the contributions of key members of the community for their distinguished services,” the press release said. “The Crown Council of Ethiopia understands that many should be acknowledged during the commemorative Victory of ADWA dinner.” It added: “This year’s awardees are selected for their lifetime achievements and community service.”


If You Go:
Organizers note that “given the limited seating, family and friends of awardees are given priority. If you are interested to purchase tickets to attend, please send an email to moaanbessaorg@gmail.com with your request for an invitation.


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Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin’s Play ’Petros at the Hour’ to be Performed in NYC

Alemtsehay Wedajo is one of the actors featured in 'Petros at the Hour,' a play by Tsegaye Gebremedhin, which will be performed in New York City on Sunday, February 16th, 2020. (Image: Courtesy of ECMAA)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 8th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Petros at the Hour, an Amharic play by Ethiopia’s Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin, will be staged in New York City on Sunday, February 16th featuring actors Alemtsehay Wedajo, Tesfaye Sima and Abebayehu Tadesse.

The play is a tribute to Ethiopian hero Aboune Petros (አቡነ ጴጥሮስ) who was a bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and remembered in history as a martyr after he was executed by Italian forces in Addis Ababa for publicly refusing to accept the fascist occupation of his country.

The event announcement notes that the program is being held in commemoration of “those who died on Yekatit 12 during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935” and is being hosted by The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Global Alliance for Justice.

Organizers add: “The play is performed in Amharic by the talented cast from Tayitu Cultural and Education Center. Additionally, the Center will also present the comedy titled Yalteyaze. Join us for an afternoon filled with history and comedy.”


If You Go:
Petros at the Hour – by Tsegaye Gebremedhin and Yalteryaze – A Comedy Show
Sun, February 16, 2020
2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
National Black Theater
2031 5th Ave
New York, NY 10035
Click here for more info and tickets

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Book Review of Maaza Mengiste’s Novel by Adom Getachew

Maaza Mengiste’s novels reject grand narratives, instead offering uncommonly intimate glimpses of what it was like to live through the century of war and dictatorship that created today’s Ethiopian diaspora. - (Adom Getachew)

Boston Review

The Private History of Ethiopia’s Wars

Adom Getachew

The Shadow King
Maaza Mengiste
W.W. Norton, $26.95 (cloth)

“We are the children of failed revolutionaries,” a friend ruefully concluded about our families’ paths from Ethiopia to the United States. The Ethiopian revolution, which quickly devolved to civil war, began in 1974 with an unlikely coalition of radicalized students, intellectuals, populists, and a disaffected army. At the center of this ferment was the “land question” and the “nationalities question.” First, in the midst of a famine in northern Ethiopia, and under the slogan of “Land to the Tiller!” their revolution aimed to replace Ethiopia’s sclerotic monarchy with a socialist state. Second, it sought to displace imperial centralization with a form of democratic self-government that reflected Ethiopia’s ethnic and religious pluralism. That dream was, however, quickly hijacked as the military junta—the Derg—seized power. Claiming to be Marxist-Leninist, in reality its violent authoritarianism soon turned against the socialists who had demanded democratization and redistribution. At the height of state repression during the Red Terror of 1975–77, the Derg massacred between 30,000 and 75,000 dissidents accused of being reactionaries. By the time the Derg’s rule came to an end in 1991, an estimated 1.5 million Ethiopians had died and an Ethiopian diaspora was born for the first time.

Absent the neat divisions of ideology, Mengiste refuses moralization and captures the daily accrued trauma of living through war.

The revolution and its aftermath continue, in Marx’s words, to “weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living,” rendering it both ever-present and unspeakable. Within families, questions about the revolution and the Red Terror often illicit no more than elliptical memories and illusive fragments. One tries to reconstruct from these a narrative of what it was like to live through, but the plot slips away.

For many Ethiopian Americans like myself, born in the last years of the Derg, Maaza Mengiste’s debut novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010) provided a narrative of the experience of the revolution that we had been seeking and never finding. As such, it was, at least for us, a kind of instant classic.

Read more »


Related:

Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

Spotlight: The Shadow King is on Time’s 2019 List of 100 Must Read Books

Atlas Acquires Maaza Mengiste’s Novel ‘The Shadow King’

Spotlight: Three Great Reviews of Maaza Mengiste’s New Book by NYT, WSJ & NPR

Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees

Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste


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Model Ashley Graham Names Son Menelik

The popular American model and TV presenter Ashley Graham has named her new born son Isaac Menelik Giovanni Ervin. Per the entertainment and lifestyle website PopSugar: "As for Menelik, Ashley shared that the couple was inspired when they went to Ethiopia with a friend, and that Menelik was the name of the first emperor of Ethiopia — it means "son of the wise." (Photo: @ashleygraham/Instagram)

Popsugar

Ashley Graham Just Revealed the Name of Her Newborn Son, and You’ll Love Her Choice!

Ashley Graham is a mama! The new mom of one announced the Jan. 18 birth of her son with husband Justin Ervin on Instagram, and we love his name: Isaac Menelik Giovanni Ervin.

Although Ashley didn’t share Isaac’s name in her initial birth announcement, she dedicated the Feb. 4 episode of her podcast show, Pretty Big Deal, to recounting her pregnancy and birth experiences, along with introducing her son alongside her husband. Upon bringing their newborn onto the set, Justin revealed the the idea for the name Isaac is actually one that came to him in high school, and has clearly stuck with him since.

As for Menelik, Ashley shared that the couple was inspired when they went to Ethiopia with a friend, and that Menelik was the name of the first emperor of Ethiopia — it means “son of the wise.” And Giovanni, which is John in Italian, was suggested by a friend, but actually holds a lot of meaning for Ashley and Justin. “It kind of hit home for us because [Justin's] grandfather’s name is John, my grandfather’s name is John,” Ashley said. Justin added that John is also the name of a bishop at his parents’ church and that using Giovanni instead of John is a nod to his partial Italian roots.


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Eden Alene Represents Israel at Eurovision

Eden Alene will represent Israel at Eurovision. (photo credit: ORTAL DAHAN / COURTESY OF KESHET)

The Jerusalem Post

Eden Alene, of Ethiopian Descent, Will Represent Israel at Eurovision

Eden Alene became the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent chosen to represent the country at Eurovision when she won Hakokhav Haba (The Next Star) for Eurovision 2020 on Tuesday night.

“I’m so happy and incredibly emotional, I wanted this so much,” she said in an interview with Channel 12’s Nadav Bornstein following her victory. “It is a great honor for me. This is my country, and it is amazing that an Ethiopian will represent the country for the first time.”

Alene was raised in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood by a single mother who immigrated from Ethiopia, and later moved with her family to Kiryat Gat.

“My poor mother, she had a hard time taking it in. She collapsed in my arms,” Alene, 19, said on the Hadshot Haboker (The Morning News) show.

Following a particularly competitive final round, Alene defeated Orr Amrami-Brockman, Gaya Shaki and Ella Lee Lahav. Eurovision, the international singing competition where Israel has won four times, will be held in Rotterdam in May. Israel’s last win came in 2018, when Netta Barzilai won with the song “Toy.”

Read more »


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A Peek into the Process Behind the Popular Obama Portraits (WaPo Book Review)

The National Portrait Gallery welcomed more than 2 million visitors in 2018, nearly doubling its annual attendance record. (Paul Morigi)

The Washington Post

In the past two decades, it has become a rite of passage for soon-to-be-former presidents and first ladies to have their portraits commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Given the glamour of Barack and Michelle Obama and the historic nature of their tenure, gallery officials anticipated a healthy interest in their portraits. Little did they know. The two weeks after the paintings’ public unveiling in February 2018 saw more than 4,100 articles about them published in the domestic and international press. Annual attendance at the museum almost doubled over the next year.

With copious photos, the book “The Obama Portraits” details the creation of the paintings while delving into the significance of their unprecedented popularity.

The choice of artists, both African American, was leaked while the portraits were being executed. Kehinde Wiley, known for his large-scale depictions of African American men in poses and trappings inspired by famous paintings from art history, was painting the president. Amy Sherald had been commissioned to paint the first lady. Sherald had received attention for paintings of African Americans that included many she had met on the streets of her native Baltimore.

Any portrait painter can expect to enter into a struggle with the sitter, as the artist’s vision is unlikely to match exactly the sitter’s self-image. Wiley initially intended to pose the president in a royal manner. In Obama’s comments at the unveiling ceremony — reprinted in the book in full — he explained that the artist’s plan was to “elevate me and put me in these settings with partridges and scepters and thrones and shift robes and mounting me on horses. And I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon. We’ve gotta bring it down just a touch.”


Michelle Obama and Amy Sherald stand alongside the newly unveiled portrait of the former first lady at a ceremony on Feb. 12, 2018. (Pete Souza)

Sherald chose to paint the first lady in a dress designed by Michelle Smith. The choice was a nod both to art history and African American heritage. The geometric designs, Sherald said, call to mind the paintings of Piet Mondrian and the patchwork creations of the now-famous quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Ala. Sherald aroused comment with the gray tones of the first lady’s skin in the portrait. She explained that the skin tones were reminiscent of and paid homage to the humble black-and-white photographs of African American women a century ago, women who were not the subjects of large-scale painted portraits.

In an essay in the book, the Portrait Gallery’s director, Kim Sajet, writes that large crowds still make the trip specifically to see the Obama portraits.

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Related:

The wildly popular Obama portraits are going on a year-long tour to museums across the country

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World Athletics ‘Deeply Saddened’ by Death of Ethiopian Runner Abadi Hadis

Distance runner Abadi Hadis in action at the World Championships London 2017. According to reports the 22-year-old athlete died on Tuesday from unspecified illness while being treated at Ayder hospital in Mekelle. (Getty Images)

World Athletics

Ethiopian Runner Abadi Hadis Dies at 22

World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that Ethiopian distance runner Abadi Hadis died on Tuesday at the age of 22.

A regular competitor on the international track and road circuits, Hadis made his big breakthrough in 2016. Clocking PBs of 13:02.49 and 26:57.88, he was the fastest U20 athlete in the world that year at both 5000m and 10,000m. He also represented Ethiopia at the Olympic Games in Rio that year, finishing 15th in the 10,000m.

In 2017, while still a teenager, he finished third in the senior men’s race at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, leading Ethiopia to the team gold medal. He went on to finish seventh in the 10,000m at the World Championships in London later that year.

Hadis went on to record a 5000m PB of 12:56.27 in 2018 and followed it with a half marathon best of 58:44. He replicated that half marathon time at the start of 2019 and followed it with a 26:56.46 10,000m PB in Hengelo. His last competition was the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, where he exited in the heats of the 5000m.

He is one of just five men in history to have bettered 13 minutes for 5000m, 27 minutes for 10,000m and 59 minutes for the half marathon.


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Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

We have not yet endorsed a candidate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but as we continue our coverage of Ethiopian American civic participation in the democratic process here is a report from Ottumwa, Iowa on how Ethiopian pork plant workers are voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Photo: the intercept)

The Intercept

THE FIRST CAUCUS in Iowa was held at noon at a union hall in Ottumwa, about an hour and a half from Des Moines, where meatpackers and other workers unable to vote in the evening’s official caucuses were given the chance to cast ballots at a satellite caucus…

The caucus in Ottumwa, population 24,550, on the banks of the Des Moines River, will net Sanders four delegates for their congressional district, according to caucus chair Frank Flanders, the political director for the UFCW Local 230…

The turnout for Sanders among union members reflects the campaign’s strategy of mobilizing nontraditional voters. Many of the Ottumwa meatpackers are immigrants, largely of Ethiopian origin or descent — not the corn-fed farmers typically associated in the popular imagination with the Iowa caucuses.


Pork plant workers cast their votes for Sen. Bernie Sanders during a satellite caucus in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Feb. 3, 2020. Photo: Elise Swain/The Intercept

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Related:

First set of Iowa Democratic caucus results shows Bernie Sander leading

Iowa Democrats release some caucus results after long delay

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In Houston, the Opera ‘Aida’ Returns as Ethiopia-Egypt Tensions Dominate News

The timeless opera 'Aida' — the epic love story between an Egyptian General and an enslaved Ethiopian princess amid a conflict between their two countries over the Nile -- opened at the Houston Grand Opera last week bringing a modern take to the old fictional story. The show opens as current Ethiopia-Egypt negotiations over the use of the Nile river continues. Below is a review of the opera by Houstonia Magazine. (IMAGE: LYNN LANE)

Houstonia Magazine

Aida Returns to Houston Grand Opera Stage in Modernized Take on Verdi Classic

AMERICAN TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS MAKES A DOUBLE DEBUT in Houston Grand Opera’s production of ​Aida​, a sweeping tale of love and tragedy amid war written by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi in 1871. It’s the first time he’s sung the male lead of Radames, and the first time he’s appearing with Houston Grand Opera. The Atlanta-based Thomas admits he’s feeling some pressure but thinks he’s ready.

“The rehearsal process has been great so far, and I’m very familiar with Verdi,” says Thomas, who has performed the composer’s work around the world.

In Aida,​ Radames, an Egyptian army commander during the time of the pharaohs, is in love with an Ethiopian slave, Aida. However, he’s unaware that she is, in fact, a princess and the daughter of the Ethiopian king who’s marching on Egypt. Meanwhile, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, is in love with Radames, and, discovering his relationship with Aida, becomes enraged with jealousy. When Radames unwittingly reveals military plans to Aida, Amneris turns him in as a traitor.

Convicted and sentenced to death, Radames is buried alive in a tomb. He accepts his fate, hoping that Aida has escaped. Instead, she has hidden herself in the tomb to wait for him so they can die in each other’s arms. When she first appears, he’s unsure if she’s real. “In this production, we play it as if he’s hallucinating when he first sees her,” says Thomas. “The air is going out of the tomb, that’s affecting him. He doesn’t know if she’s real until they start singing together.”

HGO’s modernized version of the Verdi classic also features American soprano Tamara Wilson, an HGO Studio alumna, as Aida. It’s a role she’s sung before with companies including the Sydney’s Opera Australia, The Metropolitan Opera, and the Washington National Opera. Thomas and Wilson, who are set to reprise their roles in ​Aida in Toronto later this season, have previously worked together in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Il Trovatore and the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Verdi’s Othello. Thomas has also worked with American soprano Melody Moore, who alternates the role of Amneris with mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin.

The role of Radames has two big challenges for Thomas, who The New York Times previously called “a tenor of gorgeously burnished power.”

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Related:

US-Brokered Nile Dam Deal Still Deadlocked (VOA)

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan say final agreement on Blue Nile dam ready by next month (Reuters)

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10 Best Restaurants in LA’s Little Ethiopia

Little Ethiopia, the officially designated neighborhood in Los Angeles since 2002, is a hub of Ethiopian culture and food in Southern California. In the following feature the dining website Eater.com highlights ten restaurants from the neighborhood. (Photo: TADIAS)

Eater.com

10 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles’s Little Ethiopia

For nearly 30 years now, the stretch of Fairfax Avenue between Olympic and Whitworth has been home to Little Ethiopia, and the second-largest concentration of Ethiopian emigres in the United States after Washington, D.C. And though the neighborhood has gone through changes over the decades, it remains a vibrant cultural center with an annual street festival, a host of art galleries, antique shops, and a rich dining scene.

Naturally, most of the restaurants in this neighborhood serve traditional Ethiopian cuisine but even that is beginning to evolve. From a soulful take on Ethiopian home-cooking that received a nod from the Michelin Guide, to a completely vegan Ethiopian restaurant, to a modern take on old school Italian food, here are 10 must-visit restaurants in Little Ethiopia.

1. Awash

5990 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(323) 939-3233

While technically a few blocks from the official neighborhood borders, Awash is a heavy-hitter of Ethiopian cuisine. Beef is the specialty here, whether raw as kifto smothered in chile and butter, or sauteed with onion and garlic as tibs. The space is rather tight and nearly always busy, so grab a drink at the back bar and save room for some traditional honey wine with your meal.

2. Meals By Genet

1053 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 938-9304
Visit Website

A perennial favorite in Little Ethiopia, chef Genet Agonafer has had heaps of praise bestowed on her 20 year old restaurant: Michelin Bib Gourmand, James Beard Award semi-finalist, and a fixture on the LA Times’s 101 Best list. The crisp white table cloths put this dining room in stark relief to the surrounding restaurants, but Agonafer’s warmth and the depth of her flavors keep the space intimate. The spicy doro wat is a popular order here, while the vegetarian combination is a great way to sample Agonafer’s range.

3. Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

1041 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 938-8827
Visit Website

Named for the traditional Ethiopian bread basket that doubles as a table, Messob arguably created modern Little Ethiopia when the original owner, Rahel Woldmedhin, opened it in 1985. Today, Messob remains a staple of the neighborhood, and a classic date spot where couples engage in gushra — hand-feeding your partner in a loving gesture. For those looking to try a range of entrees, the super Messob exclusive offers nine samples of entrees including the split lentil Yemisir Wot and the sautéed beef Zelzel Tibs.

4. Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine

1047 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 937-8401
Visit Website

After opening Messob over three decades ago, Rahel Woldmedhin left in 2000 to open her namesake restaurant serving a fully vegan menu. Find a gluten-free version of injera, a fava bean ful, and various stews based on lentils, zucchini, and mixed vegetables. The full Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a special treat.

Read the full list at la.eater.com »


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Q&A with goTeff Founder Saron Mechale

Saron Mechale, a recent Brown University graduate who has launched a company called goTeff. (NORBESIDA BAGABILA)

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe has launched a weekly Q&A with Rhode Island innovators who are starting new businesses and nonprofits, conducting ground-breaking research, and reshaping the state’s economy.

This week’s Ocean State Innovators conversation is with Saron Mechale, a recent Brown University graduate who has launched a startup that makes a cereal/granola product.

Question: Your company, goTeff, makes cereal and granola that includes teff. What is teff?

Answer: Teff is an ancient super grain — 4,000 years old. It is our staple diet in Ethiopia. What rice is to Asian cuisine, teff is to Ethiopian cuisine. Ethiopian runners grew up on this grain. We decided to bring it to a typical American diet through this product — a cereal or granola — because we realize it has a lot of nutrients. Not only does a cup of teff offer 51 percent of the (recommended daily allowance of) protein, it offers 62 percent of the fiber and 82 percent of the iron. Our product has no added sugar and is oil-free and gluten-free. It can be used as a cereal, a topper for yogurt, or a nutritious crouton alternative. We started by targeting runners. We want to be able to give runners the nutrients they need, especially for endurance purposes — long-lasting energy. Most of the products out there for runners are super high in sugar. They just offer sort of a high and a crash of energy. Our slogan will be: Go long, go strong, goTeff.

Q: How and when did this company get started?

A: I just graduated from Brown in May 2019. I studied social analysis and research, and business. I just turned 25 but I took time off from college, so I’m older than the typical recent graduate. I was working on goTeff when I was a student as part of a class project. I wanted to use the resources at Brown to help me understand how to launch a business and do market research. Brown has the fantastic Nelson Center of Entrepreneurship where I worked with executive director Danny Warshay and the rest of the amazing team there who supported me in starting goTeff. We officially launched sales in October 2019. We currently sell online on our website and at Plant City Providence.

Q: Ethiopia has had some legendary runners. Are you drawing on that heritage?

A: Abebe Bikila is the historical figure who ran barefoot in the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and won — the first time a Black African ever won an Olympic gold medal. Since then, Ethiopian athletes have just been dominating in long-distance races. Teff is the staple diet of these amazing runners. Haile Gebrselassie, who is like a legend, works with us. He is a big advocate of teff and wants to tell the Ethiopian story of teff. As an Ethiopian, I felt it was important to shine light on runners to help change the brand for the country. Ethiopia is not perceived in a positive light, as most African countries are not, in the Western perspective at least — the Western media. To tell the story of victory and perseverance, of the success of these Ethiopian athletes, is a beautiful way to change that narrative.

Read more »


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UN Health Agency Tackles Misinformation Over Virus Outbreak

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Photo via AP)

The Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization chief has traveled a dozen times to monitor the Ebola response in violence-marred eastern Congo. But when he planned to visit China’s capital last week over a new viral outbreak emerging from central Hubei province, his daughter got worried.

“Before I left for Beijing, my daughter was saying, ‘Oh, you should not go,’” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confided to the U.N. health agency’s executive board in a public session on Monday.

The account exemplifies the fine line WHO officials are navigating between fear about the new coronavirus and hopes of increasing international preparedness about an outbreak that has taken more than 360 lives and infected at least 17,238 people in China since late December — and could become a pandemic. So far, growth has been exponential in China, but elsewhere cases remain under 150, scattered across nearly two dozen countries.

“Instead of spending time on fear and panic, we should say this is the time to prepare,” Tedros said. “Because 146 cases, by any standard, is very low.”

As governments clamp down on travel to China, airlines suspend flights and Chinese nationals fret about rising xenophobia and ostracism, WHO is calibrating a message of praise to Chinese officials and trying to focus on the epicenter — Wuhan city and surrounding Hubei province — to keep the virus from spiraling out of control. It also wants to help get weaker health systems ready.

Before he left for the meeting with President Xi Jinping last week, Tedros reassured his daughter: “It’s ok, it’s not all over China.”

“Even in China, the virus is not evenly spread everywhere, and the risk is not the same,” he recalled. “When I was in Beijing, what we had discussed with the authorities is that our concentrated effort should be in the epicenters, or the sources of the virus.”

Pausing on a couple of occasions to cough, clear his throat, and drink some water, Tedros quipped: “Don’t worry: It’s not corona,” prompting laughter.

WHO is also battling misinformation, working with Google to ensure that people get facts from the U.N. health agency first when they search for information about the virus. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tencent and TikTok have also taken steps to limit the spread of misinformation and rumors about the outbreak.

Chinese officials are increasingly speaking out. At the executive board meeting, Ambassador Li Song, deputy permanent representative for China in Geneva, lashed out at flight cancellations, visa denials and refusals by some countries to admit citizens of Hubei province — saying those moves went against WHO recommendations.

Li noted how President Xi, in his meeting with Tedros, had said the coronavirus epidemic “is a devil — we cannot let the devil hide.”

“At the same time, the international community needs to treat the new virus objectively, fairly, calmly, and rationally, and not over-interpret it negatively and pessimistically, or deliberately create panic,” Li said.

“We need facts, not fear. We need science, not rumors. We need solidarity, not stigma.”

Since the outbreak began, a number of misleading claims and hoaxes about the virus have circulated online. They include false conspiracy theories that the virus was created in a lab and that vaccines have already been manufactured, exaggerations about the number of sick and dead, and claims about bogus cures.

On Sunday, WHO lamented that the outbreak and response have been accompanied “by a massive ‘infodemic’ — an overabundance of information, some accurate and some not — that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.

The report said WHO, the U.N. health agency, was working “24 hours a day to identify the most prevalent rumors that can potentially harm the public’s health, such as false prevention measures or cures.”

Tedros also addressed his decision last week to classify the virus outbreak as a global emergency, saying the move was prompted by increased human-to-human spread of the virus to numerous countries and the fear it could have a significant impact on developing countries with weaker health systems.

Tedros said recent outbreaks such as the new virus and Ebola demonstrated the shortcomings of the “binary” emergency system, calling it “too restrictive, too simplistic, and not fit for purpose.”

“We have a green light, a red light, and nothing in-between,” he said, adding that WHO was considering options to allow for an “intermediate level of alert.”

In July, Tedros declared the Ebola outbreak in Congo a global emergency: There have been 3,421 cases and 2,242 deaths from it since the outbreak began 18 months ago.

The WHO executive board, which is starting a six-day meeting, plans to hold a special technical session on the virus Tuesday.


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The Making of Global Adwa: By Professor Ayele Bekerie

Below is a timely essay by Professor Ayele Bekerie dedicated to the 124th anniversary of Ethiopia's victory at the Battle of Adwa. It's published today in honor of Black History Month. (Image: The town of Adwa. Photo by Ayele Bekerie)

Tadias Magazine

By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

February 1st, 2020

The Making of Global Adwa: An Essay Dedicated to 124th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at the Battle of Adwa

Ethiopia (TADIAS) — At the beginning of March 1896, the Ethiopians, at the Battle of Adwa, startled the world. They decisively defeated the Italian/European army, an army trained and armed for a colonization mission. The victory not only put to a halt Italians’ colonial ambition in Ethiopia, but it also sent shockwaves throughout Europe. The victory undoubtedly marked the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa. The victory also marks the beginning of the end of the notion of nativism and European white supremacy.

As The New York Times of March 3, 1896 puts it, ‘Italy’s Terrible Defeat’ was the most astonishing news, in the world. At the end of the 19th century, a history was made with the victory at the Battle of Adwa. It was perhaps by far the most discussed about and newsworthy event of the time. When the victory was announced to the world, the world in return began to pay attention to Adwa, or for that matter, to Ethiopia. The more the deed is channeled through the media in various languages in Africa, Europe and the Americas, the more people began to admiringly and amusedly, depending which side you were on, sought to connect to the event by learning more about or identifying with Adwa. Europeans, who were already became comfortable with their vast colonial territories and subjects, were shaken to the core. The colonial rule they instituted, be it direct or indirect, was bound to fall apart. Adwa emerged with multiple meanings and interpretations encompassing almost the whole world.

The victory, in particular, became a relevant news to those whose freedom was snatched and subjected to colonial/nativist rule. It directly and intimately appealed to them. It offered them a lesson that they wanted to put into practice by intensifying their struggles against colonial domination and subjectivity. News released from London, New York and Paris reached all the other cities and the continents of the world. Adwa, according to news reports, was arguably the most widespread breaking news story at that time. It was a story that instantly made the words, such as Adwa, Menelik, Taitu, Alula, Balcha and Mekonnen household terms. The purpose of this paper is to find ways to return Adwa to its global status by constructing major cultural and educational centers near the site of the battlefield. There is an urgent need to make Adwa memorable beyond the ritual annual celebration. It seeks worldwide support to make Adwa a dynamic global center of excellence for Pan-African solidarity and learning.

With the victory, Adwa became a term of global significance. It is a term that people, throughout the world, instantly recognize. They recognize Adwa because Adwa set to inspire the colonized to rise up against their colonial oppressors. Adwa charts the immense possibilities to resist European hegemony and falsely fabricated supremacy. Adwa is the proof for rejecting the notion of supremacy. Adwa has to shine and shine forever, for freedom is a sacred attribute that everybody deserves, black or white. What can be done to turn what has become the global-scale event to permanency? How can we transform Adwa so that it becomes a global heritage and cultural center?

As we are celebrating the 124th anniversary of the victory, we must think of re-turning Adwa as a dynamic site of global significance. In fact, we need to make Adwa an enduring global site and world heritage by establishing, for instance, a Pan-African institution of higher learning and cultural center in Adwa. Adwa, as pointed out before, ought to be registered as tangible cultural heritage or as tangible cultural landscape. Moreover, Adwa should not only be qualified to become a federal city, but it should also achieve a status of globality where the citizens of the world engage in research and education beneficial to all humanity. Imagine, a Pan-African center of excellence where Africa’s history and culture are studied, published and disseminated in the context of world history and culture. Adwa and what happened there in 1896 should set the stage for the world community to engage in research and education with focus and emphasis on equality and dignity of fellow humans.

We need to systematically study the event of March 1896 in Adwa, because the tendency to become inattentive to persistent Italian colonial ambition made Ethiopia pay a heavy price. The Italians tried to colonize the country for the second time in 1935. This time the Italians came prepared, actually overprepared, for they used banned chemical weapons to annihilate the Ethiopian army. Adwa did not repeat itself at Maichew, the battleground in which the Fascist Italian forces used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands of poorly prepared and armed Ethiopian forces in 1935.

Despite the Italians invasion and occupation of Ethiopia from 1935 to 1941, our patriots never gave up and courageously resisted the occupation. Eventually, the Italians were pushed out of Ethiopia. The two events taught a lesson to Ethiopians to protect and defend their independence at all times.

In Adwa, the plan to construct a standalone and permanent cultural center and institution of higher learning is under review. Having divided the plan into phases, the Adwa Pan-African University’s (APAU) Coordinating Committee has convened local, regional and international conferences, rallied regional and federal governments, drafted the charter and concept paper, charted plan of action and selected a consortium of architects to design the University.

At the moment, phase 2 of the plan is proceeding. The architects are designing the University’s buildings and landscape. APAU commands a 135-hectare of hilly land at the north-east part of the City. The location has a spectacular view of the now famous and historic chains of Adwa mountains, such as Abune Gerima, Kidane Mehret, Gesseso, Semayata and Raeyo. Soloda mountain is an ever-present mountain with a dominant view from any part of the City. The hilltop of the University provides a great view of Soloda. It also presents a panoramic view of the City itself. Almost all the historic churches and monasteries as well as mosques not to mention the cityscapes provide a spectacular view from the hill.

It is a common knowledge that establishing a university has the capacity to transform a city. This has already been proven in places, like Mekelle, Bahrdar, and Hawassa. Mekelle almost literally changed from a modest city to an international and dynamic city with a population expanding into half a million. One of the main contributing factors for Mekelle’s development is the presence of Mekelle University.

Given the proximity of Adwa to Aksum, an ancient city, the two combined are capable of providing ample opportunities to further develop tourism, local and international. Aksum and Adwa, from the perspective of long Ethiopian history, should be developed jointly, thereby creating a platform to tell ancient and contemporary stories of the great land.


This is a picture taken in April 2018 in Adwa. The women are celebrating the decision to establish Adwa Pan African University in Adwa. (Photo by Ayele Bekerie)


The Site of an International Conference on the Establishment of Adwa Pan-African University. The historic mountains of Adwa served as a background. (Photo by Ayele Bekerie, April 2018)


Owning Adwa: The reenactment of the Battle of Adwa in Adwa by the Adwa Journey (YeAdwa Guzo) Team and members of the National Theatre, March 1, 2017. (Photo by Ayele Bekerie)

The Queen of Sheba, Menelik I and the Arc, St. Yared, the great chant composer, Ras Mekonnen Wolde Mikael, the Commander of the Victorious Ethiopian Army, Taitu Bitul, the co-leader and strategist, Fitawrari Gebeyehu, the brave and ferocious military leader, Liqe Meqwas Abate BwaYallew, the finest gunner, Dejach Balcha, army general and fearless fighter, Ras Alula, the finest military strategist and tactician, Ras Sebhat, the realist and the critical rejoinder of the Ethiopian cause, Teferi Hagos, the defector and the helper of the cause, and Awalom, the master spy and also the defender of the cause, are just few great names of the great ancient and contemporary land. These are names permanently inscribed, from heritage point of view, in the symbols and meanings of Ethiopia. They are indelible national landmarks.

Adwa, to further highlight its importance in Ethiopian history, was the final and an irreversible site of engagement. Italians were creeping along to expand their African colonial territory by first moving into Eritrea and later into Ethiopia by occupying places, such as Adigrat. They ventured up to Amba Alage where Major Tosseli’s battalion was crushed and he lost his life. Tosseli was dreaming to become the Italian Livingstone or Rhodes. A graduate of a military academy, he was one of the most ardent advocates of restoring the past Roman glory by extending Rome in north-east Africa. Tosseli preached empire and attempted to rally Italians to his passionate but wicked colonial mission. Fortunately, the Italians were not enthused. War in far away places and paying sacrifices to a colonial gamble was not attractive enough to them. Tosseli had to do the mission almost by himself, accompanied by 2000 Italians and ascaris or mercenaries.

Tosseli, the nativist or the theoretician and the military strategist par excellence, did not realize that the natives have gone far enough to constitute themselves as one people. They have already created and maintained a country that is striving to accommodate diversity. They have written treatises and voluminous works of religious living. And they had the state of mind to willingly resist and fight foreign enemies. If we have to state the facts, the Ethiopians embraced Christianity and welcomed the emergence of Islam long before Italy became a modern country. Tosseli’s theory of empire lacked several attributes. He failed to fully understand the people he wanted to diminish into colonial subjects.

Lt. Colonel Galliano, the other nativist, ordered the construction of a fortress 70 meters high, 16 feet deep at the ground level and 6 feet thick at the top in Mekelle. He built the fortress around the Endayesus Hill. He built bunkers and hidden windows to mount the guns and the artilleries. He also built three defensive perimeters using trenches, barbed wires, sharp pieces of woods and broken glasses. He also secured temporarily a source of water not far from the hill. And yet, he did not manage in this monster-like fortress to stay for few months and he was plucked out of it by gallant Ethiopian forces.

Ras Mekonnen, the commander of the Ethiopian army, fresh from a victory at Amba Alage, arrived in Mekelle and established a camp not far from the hill. The siege of the fortress was immediate. They asked Galliano to vacate the fortress and a series of negotiations were conducted to reverse the siege.

Galliano refused and the ensuing battle that lasted for about two weeks resulted in heavy casualities among Ethiopians. An estimated 500 Ethiopians lost their lives. It was then Empress Taitu who came up with the idea of blocking the water source of the Italians. She recruited about 500 soldiers to block the water. The blockade was very successful and Galliano was forced to surrender and vacate the fortress. The Ethiopians immediately dismantled the fort. The spring water source was renamed Mai Aneshte or woman’s water in honor of Empress Taitu Bitul.

Amba Alage was the place where Ethiopians showed for the first time that they would fight to keep the integrity and honor of the country, regardless of their ethnic background. For the first time, Shoans, Hararis and Tigrayans forces formed an organic alliance to confront the colonial Italian army and won.

Amba Alage, Mekelle, and Adwa taught us extremely valuable lessons in the context of national identity formation. In a complex multiethnic society, to think of self-determination as an end by itself is to invite an irreconcilable disaster. In all the three battlefields, the patriotic forces put to good use of what they have in common. They successfully pulled their forces and resources together to form and uphold air-tight unity which turned out to be a winner, a big winner.

The Tigrayans, the Shoans, the Hararis in Amba Alage and Mekelle and in Adwa, virtually all the ethnic groups affirmed their complex sense of identity and were able to execute a battle plan with irreversible and triumphal outcome. The patriots charted once and for all the critical significance of prioritizing country to ethnicity. The deeds of Adwa also solidified the Ethiopian sense of modernity. Issues can and ought to be resolved by upholding the cardinal value of unity. It was the united force of the country that defeated the Italian army. Our unity paves the way, even if we continue not to seize it, for just and democratic way of doing things. It is critical at this juncture to remind ethnonationalists that Adwa is not only a foundation of our contemporary state and nationhood, but it is also a global phenomenon serving as a symbol of freedom and independence, agency and personhood to all humankinds. In this spirit, APAU will be built and serve us all.

APAU is being established on the basis of Pan-African principles and practices. By systematically documenting, researching and narrating the stories of African people, we contribute to broaden the public square, the democratic space, global conversations and the equality of human beings. It is time for the citizens of the world to participate in the building of local and global Adwa. Placing African history on the stage of world history has paramount importance to peaceful human ventures in the 21st century.

Adwa then Adwa now provides an extremely useful lessons to the whole world. Adwa rhymes with freedom and independence. Adwa reinforces the dignity of all human beings. Adwa, therefore, needs to be remembered with permanent cultural center and an institution of higher learning. The project that started to globalize Adwa, some four years ago, has gone through phases and, at the moment, a consortium of architects is designing the buildings and the landscapes of APAU. Adwa is eternal.


About the author:
Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of PhD Program in Heritage Studies and Coordinator of International Affairs at Mekelle University’s Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in the United States. Ayele Bekerie is a contributing author in the 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.

Related:
The Concept Behind the Adwa Pan-African University: Interview with Dr. Ayele Bekerie
Ethiopia: The Victory of Adwa, An Exemplary Triumph to the Rest of Africa
Adwa: Genesis of Unscrambled Africa
119 Years Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896
Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa
The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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US-Brokered Nile Deal Still Deadlocked

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

VOA

US-Brokered Nile Dam Deal Still Deadlocked

WASHINGTON – The latest round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington has failed to reach a comprehensive agreement on the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive hydropower project on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River.

The White House released a statement saying President Trump spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday, and “expressed optimism” that a deal was close.

The tripartite meeting hosted by the U.S. Treasury is the parties’ last-ditch attempt to resolve the question of the operation of the dam, particularly the filling of its reservoir, an issue that has triggered concerns of a “water war” between Egypt and Ethiopia.

The meeting was scheduled to end Wednesday but continued until Friday without an agreement on filling the reservoir.

The U.S. Treasury released a statement Friday that the parties will continue to work on the legal and technical aspects of the agreement for a signing by the end of February. The agreement would include a schedule for a stage-based filling plan of the reservoir, and a mitigation mechanism for filling and operations during periods of drought and prolonged drought.

Ethiopia and Egypt have been negotiating for years, but several technical sticking points remain, including the duration and rate at which Ethiopia will draw water out of the Nile and the quantity of water that will be retained. Cairo fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten Egypt’s source of fresh water.

The technical details of how, when, and where the water will flow are a life-and-death matter for each party,” said Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Bruton added that the situation is complicated by “international organizations and mediating third party countries, which all come with their own interests and agendas.”

With the Trump administration’s urging, last November the parties agreed to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers with the World Bank and the United States attending as observers. They agreed to a deadline of January 15, 2020, for reaching an accord. When they failed to reach an agreement, the parties agreed to another round of talks this week.

The main issue has been a lack of consensus, said Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt Program at the Middle East Institute. “Ethiopia’s priority has been to complete the dam and Egypt’s priority has been to ensure that its near sole source of water is not decimated,” Mabrouk said.

A flexible treaty

In previous statements, the ministers have recognized that flexibility in trans-boundary water management is essential considering the constantly changing levels of the Nile.

They have agreed that guidelines for the filling and operation of the GERD “may be adjusted by the three countries, in accordance with the hydrological conditions in the given year.”

However, competing hydrological and political interests have hindered negotiations.

The director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, Aaron Salzberg said that parties are striving for an agreement that is “easily codified in terms of numbers” –how fast you can fill, how much water is released.” At the same time, he says, the agreement must establish a joint decision-making process that allows flexibility in responding to changing conditions, but not one that may be “too open to interpretation and set the stage for conflict down the line.”

This is not something that should be forced, Salzberg added. “The parties themselves must drive the process. This is an agreement that will need to last multiple lifetimes,” he said.


Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Energy, speaks to the media after the end of the fourth and final round of talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Ethiopia’s construction of a controversial dam on the Nile River, in Addis Ababa, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo)

Mediation?

On their first Washington meeting on November 6, the foreign ministers agreed that if a deal is not reached by January 15, 2020, Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.

Article 10 of the declaration, signed in Khartoum, addresses the peaceful settlement of disputes. It states that “if the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.”

Egypt has long-sought external mediation, while Ethiopia wants to keep the negotiations on a tripartite level. But earlier this month Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said he has asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene. Ramaphosa has accepted the task.

Under the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan, signed before Egypt began constructing the Aswan High Dam, Egypt can take up to 55.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Nile each year, and Sudan can take up to 18.5 billion. Ethiopia was not part of that agreement.

US involvement

U.S. involvement in the dam issue came about after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi last year requested that President Trump help mediate the conflict. A senior Trump administration official confirmed that the president had offered “the good offices of Mnuchin” to lead the effort and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has played the role of host and observer in negotiations since last November.

Trump appears to have sustained his interest on the negotiations and has even gone so far as inviting the ministers to impromptu meetings at the Oval Office on November 6 and January 14.

After the last meeting, the White House released a statement that Trump emphasized to the foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan that the United States “wants to see all of these countries thrive and expressed hope that each country will take this opportunity to work together so that future generations may succeed and benefit from critical water resources.”


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Kidnapping of Students Sparks Anti-government Protests in Ethiopia

Several thousand people took part in marches in a handful of cities during the week to demand their release and activists made #BringBackOurStudents trend online. (Image shared on Twitter @AndenetTadesse)

Reuters

By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Ethiopian cities this week, demanding Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed do more to tackle simmering ethnic violence following the kidnapping of a group of university students.

Armed men abducted the students from Dembi Dollo University in the Oromiya region in early December, according to survivors who escaped. The government said earlier this week that the army had rescued 21 of the students, but at least 12 others are still missing.

While the kidnappers’ identity or motive is not clear, the incident has revived widespread fears about ethnic violence ahead of this year’s election and intensified pressure on Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy, who comes from the Oromo ethnic group.

Many of the students were Amhara, a group that has clashed with Oromos in the past.

In the past six months, clashes on campus have killed 12 students and played a role in the decision of 35,000 to drop out of university, according to the higher education ministry.

Anger about the kidnapping has focused on Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for signing a peace deal with former enemy Eritrea and has overseen political reforms since coming to power in 2018.

He has been unable, however, to stamp out ethnic violence in Africa’s second-most populous nation, including among his Oromo group.

Families of the missing students met the prime minister and other senior government officials on Thursday, receiving assurances that their relatives were safe but no further information about their whereabouts or any plans to rescue them.

“We were just told by the officials that they are alive,” said Yeneneh Adugna, a local priest and a farmer from Gondar, whose 23-year-old daughter Germanesh Yeneneh, a third-year biotechnology student, is missing.

“The last phone call conversation I had with her was two weeks after her abduction,” Yeneneh said. “She told me not to worry.”

Several thousand people took part in marches in a handful of cities during the week to demand their release and activists made #BringBackOurStudents trend online.

Another protest is planned in Gondor, the capital of Amhara, on Sunday, the families said.

Belay Abebe, father to a second-year journalism student, said his daughter had also called him after she was abducted and said she was safe.

“We … demanded to talk to the students over the phone,” another relative of one of the students told Reuters, asking for anonymity for fear of possible reprisals. “There was no willingness from the officials to let us speak with the students.”

Endeshaw Tasew, general commissioner of the federal police, said on Wednesday that the government knows where the students are but declined to give further details.


Related:

Abduction of Ethiopian Students Fuels Anger at the Government (NYT)

Video: Tens of thousands take to streets in Ethiopia over abducted students (AFP)

Growing Outcry in Ethiopia Over Abducted University Students (AP)

Help us bring back abducted university students! (Petition at Change.org)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Sofia Kifle and the Jazz Experience: Go See the Music!

Painting by Sofia Kifle. (Courtesy of the artist)

Tadias Magazine

By Tseday Alehegn

Updated: January 30th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The Hill Center Galleries in Washington D.C. is currently showcasing a sensational exhibit titled ‘The Jazz Experience’ curated by visual artist Sofia Kifle in collaboration with her brother, Gediyon Kifle, who is a photographer. For Sofia, her latest exhibit fuses together her two lifelong passions – music and art.

Having arrived in America in the early 1980s to pursue a college degree, and encouraged by her mother to major in business, Sofia enrolled at Mary Baldwin University in Virginia. Sofia recalled struggling through her first two years in her technical studies until she chose to enroll in a theatre course, which re-ignited her interest in the creative arts.

“Growing up in Ethiopia I had been inspired by my uncle, Fasil Dawit, who is an artist. I was always keen on learning more from him. But with family members who stressed the importance of getting a practical education, I initially put aside my creative interests,” Sofia shares. Once she started focusing on her theatre studies and also taking elective courses in studio art Sofia became more certain that she wanted to work as a visual artist, and subsequently earning an MFA at Howard University while studying with the late Ethiopian artist Eskinder Bogosian after completing her undergraduate studies as a double-major in Theatre and Arts Management.

Sofia’s first exhibition in the 90s featured Jazz as an African American art form with her works including paintings inspired by Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” and Miles Davis’ “So What” musical compositions.

“I’m not a musician,” says Sofia, “I’m a listener. And I try to come close to the music whether it’s jazz or classical.”

So how does it feel now to come full circle and have a joint jazz-based art exhibit with her brother?

“I really admire Gediyon as a photographer. He has the emotional eye in photography and passion for jazz” she responds. “I started with a jazz exhibit and now re-focusing on my love of jazz. It’s a blessing to be able to delve so deeply into a culture other than my own and also be able to share how to ‘see’ the music and not just hear it.”

Emphasizing that she conducts extensive research on concepts prior to painting about it, Sofia also notes that her endeavors are not about “repeating the message of the composers” but rather “understanding the human connection and emotion.” That’s precisely the experience she has curated in her current exhibition, which she worked on through the whole of 2019 after reflecting solely on rhythm and movement in the year prior. She then compiled her jazz paintings alongside photographs taken by Gediyon Kifle over a broader period of time.

While Sofia has also immersed herself in developing an extensive series of artworks such as the 2014 Visual Narrative 100 — consisting of the artist completing one painting a day for a hundred days with the last piece of work in the series called ‘2017 Suspended Movement 100’ presented as a blank, untouched canvas — she has also worked on and presented art for a global human rights dialogue. The non-profit Vital Voices, focusing on women’s economic and political empowerment is one of several examples with Mimi Wolford, the Founder/Curator of the MBARI Institute for Contemporary African Art in Washington, DC, assisting in exhibited Sofia’s work in Cape Town, South Africa. Sofia’s paintings have been exhibited at various institutions including the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Westfield State College, as well as via programs such as Art in Embassies and the D.C. Commission of the Arts. Sofia has also participated in the Artists for Fistula initiative where donated artwork helped raise community-based funds to build fistula hospitals in Ethiopia. In addition, her paintings are part of the Art of Ethiopia Catalogue.


Paintings by Sofia Kifle. (Courtesy of the artist)

For Sofia painting consists of “infinite possibilities to create beauty” and in addition to music she considers dance, literature, and poetry as well as her hobby of reading in the field of behavioral sciences as muses for her work as a visual artist. Although she is inspired by a diverse range of poets, writers and artists including Gebrekristos Desta, Federico Garcia Lorca, Fernando Pessoa, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, and Haruki Murakami – who have all helped her in understanding human behavior – she shares that she never wanted to follow or repeat what somebody was doing. “I never even want to repeat myself,” she shares.

Her message is clear: “You have to have some kind of passion for yourself. Life can be repetitive – you wake up, eat, work and come home — but also remember that everything is constantly changing.” She adds: “Everybody thinks everything is permanent, but it’s not. We are creating movement and moments, and for me, music calls me in deeply to sense that feelings are not just sentiments but emotional understanding as well as knowledge. At the same time competition with myself on the canvas really helps me grow.”

Sofia’s next art series will continue her passion for studying jazz and delve into John Coltraine’s “Alabama” composition.

The Jazz Experience exhibit at The Hill Center Galleries in Washington D.C. ends on February 1st. Go see it before it closes. Go “see” the music!

‘The Music’ is her last painting series for 2019

Watch: The Jazz Experience show by Gediyon and Sofia Kifle


Tseday Alehegn is co-founder and editor of Tadias.

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Ethio-jazz Icon Hailu Mergia’s New Album

This is Hailu Mergia’s second brand-new studio album on Awesome Tapes from Africa. (#vinyloftheday)

Vinyl of the Day

Ethio-jazz musician Hailu Mergia has a new album on the way.

Titled Yene Mircha, which translates to “my choice” in Amheric, the six-track album is due for release on March 27 via Awesome Tapes from Africa.

The reissue label made its name for reissuing obscure albums from Ghana and the wider region of Africa. Yene Mircha is one of several original releases by the label, expanding their repertoire from the usual reissues.

This is Hailu Mergia’s second brand-new studio album on Awesome Tapes from Africa.

Hailu Mergia is a well-known figure from the label. His 1977 album Tche Belew — recorded with backing band The Walias — was rescued from obscurity by Awesome Tapes in 2014.

The label’s reissue campaign granted Mergia an important place in the narrative of Ethio-jazz and popular Ethiopian music. Previously, the multi-instrumentalist migrated to the United States in the 1980s and stopped performing not long after.

A growing interest in his music allowed Mergia to tour worldwide and record new music aside from his day job as a taxi driver in Washington D.C..

At 74 years old, Mergia appears to be creatively renewed than ever. He’s expanding his sound on Yene Mircha with the help of guest musicians, aside from his newly-established trio with drummer Kenneth Joseph and bassist Alemseged Kebede.

The album is now available for pre-order on vinyl here, and you can preview the album with ‘Abichu Nege Nege’ below.

Tracklist

1. ሰሜንና እና ደቡብ
Semen Ena Debub
North & South
(Hailu Mergia)

2. የኔ ምርጫ
Yene Mircha
My Choice
(Hailu Mergia)

3. ባይኔ ላይ ይሄዳል
Bayine Lay Yihedal
He Walks In My Vision
(Asnakech Worku)

4. አቢቹ ነጋ ነጋ
Abichu Nega Nega
How Are You, Abichu
(trad., arr. Hailu Mergia)

5. የኔ አበባ
Yene Abeba
My Flower
(Hailu Mergia)

6. ሼመንደፈር
Shemendefer
Chemin de Fer Railway
(Teddy Afro)


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The Africa Center in New York City Presents Project Junction, a New Installation by Ezra Wube

Image: Ezra Wube, "Project Junction," 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.

Press Release

THE AFRICA CENTER PRESENTS PROJECT JUNCTION, A NEWLY COMMISSIONED INSTALLATION BY EZRA WUBE

January 30 — August 23, 2020
Public Opening: Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 PM

Wube’s mixed media, site-specific installation explores the origins and cultural significance of ingredients in African cuisines, inspired by research conducted in Teranga and in Harlem’s African restaurants within walking distance of The Africa Center.

Stop motion animations, line drawings, and objects integrated into the installation reflect Wube’s discoveries about historical and cultural associations, global dispersion, and reference how African communities across America construct symbolic environments to emulate collective experiences of diaspora and home.

New York, January 22, 2020 — The Africa Center is pleased to present Project Junction, a newly commissioned installation by Brooklyn-based artist Ezra Wube. In this mixed media, site-specific project, Wube explores food as an expression of collective identity in its ever-evolving state. The installation incorporates animation, painting, prints and objects.

Wube’s creative process involved visiting Teranga at The Africa Center, as well as other African restaurants within walking distance of the Center including Cross Culture Kitchen, Le Baobab Gouygui, La Savane, Safari, and Zoma. Wube researched ingredients of dishes on the restaurant menus and took note of the décor and ambience of each location.

Wube’s stop motion animations use the ingredients of each dish to reflect his discoveries about their native origins, symbolism, historical and cultural associations, related folklore and beliefs. The line drawings unfurling throughout the space hint at these figurative connections, while tracing stories of the ingredients’ historical cultivation and global dispersion. The objects displayed within the installation recreate those found on the walls of the local restaurants, and reference how African cultures and communities across America construct symbolic universes to reflect on their experiences of diaspora and home.

The installation is accompanied by a futuristic takeout menu that viewers are invited to take with them. The menu is based on Wube’s conversations with restaurant proprietors about dishes they imagine will continue to exist in the year 3020 A.D.

For Wube, culinary tradition is a lens for exploring transformations in the relationship between Africa and America through the everyday lives of people and their food. Wube says: “Through these layers of connected time and space—the past, the present and the future, the local with the global—I aim to highlight the global assemblage and continuous rejustification of African identities.”

Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center, says: “The intersection between visual culture and food is a rich and underexplored area, particularly as it relates to African cuisines and culinary culture. We were thrilled when Ezra accepted this commission to delve into these themes through an immersive installation. Wube’s work invites us to trace the journeys of distinctively African ingredients and the local restaurants that serve them, transporting us through layers of time and space, into our contemporary dining experience and our imaginations.”

Wube began working in the space on January 13, 2020 and will create the installation over a period of approximately three weeks, until the opening on Thursday, January 30. The public is invited to watch the artist at work. For more information, visit www.theafricacenter.org.


Image: Ezra Wube, “Project Junction,” 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.


Image: Ezra Wube, “Project Junction,” 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.


Image: Ezra Wube, “Project Junction,” 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Ezra Wube (b. 1980, Ethiopia) is a mixed media artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work references the notion of past and present, the constant changing of place, and the dialogical tensions between “here” and “there”. His exhibitions include the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil, Brazil; The 2nd edition of the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, France; “Gwangju Biennale”, Gwangju, South Korea; Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; “Dak’Art Biennale”, Dakar, Senegal and Times Square Arts Midnight Moment, NY. His residencies and awards include Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY; Work Space, LMCC Residency Program, New York, NY; Open Sessions Program, The Drawing Center, New York, NY; Rema Hort Mann Foundation; the Triangle Arts Association Residency, Brooklyn, NY and The Substation Artist Residency Program, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Since 2015 Ezra organizes Addis Video Art Festival, a platform for innovative international video art in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. http://ezrawube.net/

ABOUT THE AFRICA CENTER

The Africa Center is transforming the world’s understanding of Africa, its Diaspora and the role of people of African descent in the world. Serving as the hub for the exchange of ideas around culture, business and policy, and in the spirit of collaboration and engagement with individuals and institutions who share the Center’s values, The Africa Center inspires enthusiasm, advances thought and action around Africa’s global influence and impact on our collective futures. The Africa Center’s physical presence on Fifth Avenue at the intersection of Harlem and the Museum Mile embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa and its Diaspora in the heart of New York City. Learn more by visiting www.theafricacenter.org.


If You Go:
Ezra Wube’s New Exhibition ‘Project Junction’ at The Africa Center in NYC
Thursday, January 30, 2020
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
The Africa Center
1280 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Ezra Wube: Project Junction is organized by Evelyn Owen, Associate Curator, and Henone Girma, Programs Coordinator. This exhibition is made possible with support generously provided by The Africa Center’s Board of Trustees.
More info at www.theafricacenter.org

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US Asst. Secretary for Africa Tibor Nagy Concludes Successful Visit to Ethiopia

Tibor Nagy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, speaking at the inauguration of the Mekelle American Corner (MAC) in Mekelle during his recent trip to Ethiopia. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Ethiopia)

Press Release

U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

Addis Ababa – U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy has concluded a successful visit to Ethiopia which involved the inauguration of the Mekelle American Corner (MAC), a modern space for learning, discovery and collaboration aimed at developing and empowering Ethiopian youth and emerging leaders. MAC is located at the newly opened Science Museum Building, Adi Haki Campus and houses a digital library with a collection of journals, American publications and thousands of books, a bank of computing devices from iPads to laptops, and a makerspace equipped with the latest science and technology kits that promote hands-on creativity and innovation.

In his remarks at the MAC opening event, Assistant Secretary Tibor Nagy said, “This American Corner will be a place for the free exchange of ideas, where all can discover new talents and develop them, and where connections with the United States and the rest of the world are as close as a click on a computer screen.”

The Assistant Secretary was joined by Mekelle University President Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot and U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor in opening the new American Corner in Mekelle.

The U.S. Embassy invested over 2,170,000 Birr in the MAC, the sixth space of its kind in Ethiopia with five others in Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa, Jimma and two in Addis Ababa at the U.S. Embassy and the Ethiopian National Archives and Library Agency (NALA). The MAC symbolizes the deepening U.S.-Ethiopian relationship and the U.S. commitment to investing in the capacity of Ethiopian people through education and training. The MAC will be open to the public Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Assistant Secretary Nagy also met with U.S. exchange alumni and American Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars in Mekelle to discuss how these programs have shaped their interests and work in Ethiopia. Alumni participants included those who participated in the Young African Leaders Initiative, the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Community Solutions Program, and the Study of the U.S. Institutes program. During the meeting, Assistant Secretary Nagy expressed the United States’ support of these alumni and the Ethiopian government’s ongoing efforts to capitalize on the potential of its people, particularly its youth.

In addition, Assistant Secretary Nagy met with key university partners and officials from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MoSHE). During the meeting, Assistant Secretary Nagy and the officials discussed challenges facing Ethiopian higher education institutions and opportunities for increased university partnerships and research collaboration between the United States and Ethiopia. The Assistant Secretary expressed his appreciation for the long history of partnership with Ethiopia on education, a relationship going back nearly 70 years. He also discussed the University Partnerships Initiative, a program that aims to expand partnerships between U.S. and African universities to strengthen Africa’s educational institutions and enhance their role as instruments of national development.


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AP on the Abducted Ethiopian Students

Below is an AP report on the growing social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls demanding answers and better government transparency regarding the abducted University Students in Ethiopia. (Image: change.org)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Growing Outcry in Ethiopia Over Abducted University Students

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopians are expressing anger and frustration over several university students, most of them female, who remain missing after their kidnapping two months ago.

A growing social media campaign echoes the #BringBackOurGirls activism in Nigeria over the mass kidnapping there of scores of schoolgirls in 2014. Ethiopians are pressuring the government for answers in the abduction in the Oromia region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been praised for appointing women to prominent positions “but with regard to the abducted girls, in its silence, it is violating a tremendous number of their human rights,” Yared Hailemariam, director of the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, said in a statement Monday. “Ethiopian authorities have failed to protect the victims of the abduction and to take necessary measures to bring them back.”

It is not clear how many of the students remain captive. The prime minister’s press secretary, Nigussu Tilahun, disclosed on Jan. 11 that 21 students from Dembi Dollo University were released while six remained captive.

But family members say they haven’t heard from their loved ones.

“The last time I heard from my daughter was a month ago. She said youths from the local area took them to the forest. I don’t know what happened to her since,” Yeneneh Adugna, who lives in Central Gondar in the Amhara region, told The Associated Press. “We are living in an anguish every day. We are crying every day. We want to know whether they are alive or dead. No one is giving us any information.”

The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia says 18 university students, 14 of them female, were seized while returning home from university.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Oromia regional officials have blamed the armed Oromo Liberation Army, which is clashing with government forces in the Western Oromia region. The armed group has denied the accusation and said the government itself was to blame for the kidnapping.


Related:

Abduction of Ethiopian Students Fuels Anger at the Government (NYT)

Video: Tens of thousands take to streets in Ethiopia over abducted students (AFP)

Help us bring back abducted university students! (Petition at Change.org)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Ezra Wube’s New Exhibition

Artist Ezra Wube. (Photo: Times Square Arts)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 27th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Ezra Wube’s Show titled Project Junction is set to open at The Africa Center in New York City this week.

“In this newly commissioned mixed media installation, Ezra Wube (b. 1980, Ethiopia) constructs a site-specific project that explores food as an expression of collective identity in its ever evolving state,” The Africa Center announced. “The installation incorporates animation, painting, prints, and objects.”

Ezra’s new show at The Africa Center — opening on January 30th and remaining on display through August 23rd, 2020 — is a continuation of the New York-based artist’s recent and well-received site-specific multi-media digital works in the city including his stop-motion animation produced for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that was displayed last Spring at the Fulton Center. The display had also inspired an interactive arts workshop held in June 2019 at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan.

Reflecting on his upcoming exhibition at the Africa Center Ezra says: “Through these layers of connected time and space — the past, the present and the future, the local with the global — I aim to highlight the global assemblage and continuous re-justification of African identities.”

The Africa Center adds:

Wube’s creative process involved visiting Teranga at The Africa Center, as well as other African restaurants within walking distance of the Center including Cross Culture Kitchen, Le Baobab Gouygui, La Savane, Safari, and Zoma. He researched the ingredients of the dishes on their menus, and took note of the décor and ambience of each location.

Wube’s stop motion animations use the ingredients of each dish to reflect his discoveries about their native origins, symbolism, historical and cultural associations, related folklore and beliefs. The line drawings unfurling throughout the space hint at these figurative connections, while tracing stories of the ingredients’ historical cultivation and global dispersion. The objects displayed within the installation recreate those found on the walls of the local restaurants, and reference how African cultures and communities in America construct symbolic universes to reflect on their experiences of diaspora and home. The installation is accompanied by a futuristic takeout menu that viewers are invited to take with them.

The menu is based on Wube’s conversations with the restaurant proprietors about dishes that they imagine will continue to exist in the year 3020 A.D.

Ezra commenced work on the Project Junction installation at The Africa Center in January 2020 and its completion will be celebrated with an opening reception on Thursday, January 30th. Visitors are welcome to visit The Africa Center during regular opening hours to view the artist at work on the installation.

About the Artist courtesy of The Africa Center:

Ezra Wube (b. 1980, Ethiopia) is a mixed media artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work references the notion of past and present, the constant changing of place, and the dialogical tensions between “here”and “there”. His exhibitions include the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil, Brazil; The 2nd edition of the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, France; “Gwangju Biennale”, Gwangju, South Korea; Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; “Dak’Art Biennale”, Dakar, Senegal and Times Square Arts Midnight Moment, NY. His residencies and awards include Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY; Work Space, LMCC Residency Program, New York, NY; Open Sessions Program, The Drawing Center, New York, NY; Rema Hort Mann Foundation; the Triangle Arts Association Residency, Brooklyn, NY and The Substation Artist Residency Program, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Since 2015 Ezra organizes Addis Video Art Festival, a platform for innovative international video art in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ezra Wube: Project Junction is organized by Evelyn Owen, Associate Curator, and Henone Girma, Programs Coordinator. This exhibition is made possible with support generously provided by The Africa Center’s Board of Trustees.


If You Go:
Ezra Wube’s New Exhibition ‘Project Junction’ at The Africa Center in NYC
Thursday, January 30, 2020
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
The Africa Center
1280 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Ezra Wube: Project Junction is organized by Evelyn Owen, Associate Curator, and Henone Girma, Programs Coordinator. This exhibition is made possible with support generously provided by The Africa Center’s Board of Trustees.
More info at www.theafricacenter.org

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethio-American Tecle Gebremichael: 1st African Refugee to Run for Office in Idaho

Ethiopian-American Tecle Gebremichael, who is the first refugee from Africa to run for local office in Boise, Idaho, speaks to students at Boise State University, where he studies political science, about his campaign platform for city council. (Photo: IRC)

International Rescue Committee

Refugees in America: Meet Tecle: Boise’s first refugee from Africa to run for local office

Tecle Gebremichael was surprised to find a handwritten letter in his mailbox. No one really sends handwritten notes anymore, he thought. It read:

“Dear Mr. Gebremichael, Following last week’s mayoral and city council forums, I wanted to write and commend you for your candidacy, for your decision to offer yourself as a candidate and for the exceptionally articulate way you are addressing public issues in Boise. I think you have raised the caliber of public discussion in this city. As such, you have already emerged as a winner. I am still aspiring to be a good American citizen. You have already achieved it.”

Tecle was left speechless, holding back his tears. Last year in November, he became the first Ethiopian refugee to run for city council in Boise, Idaho. His experience as a refugee coming to the United States inspired him to run for local office and bring a fresh perspective as an immigrant and new American.

“When I first came to America, I promised myself that I will do everything I can to give back to the country and community that welcomed me,” he says. “I want to show that when refugees come here, we try to integrate and contribute however we can…”

“I feel people are losing the respect of others, but I believe we respect stories,” says Tecle. “When they hear the story of a young person who spent eight years in a refugee camp, who came to the U.S at age 21 with only seven years of schooling, trying to do these things, it’s just inspiring for many. That’s the American story.”

Tecle’s family were farmers in northern Ethiopia. He was seven years old when the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea broke out in the late nineties. One night, Tecle was jolted awake by his mother.

“We need to leave,” she told him as she left a small pile of clothes for him to pack.

As soon as he heard the deafening gunshots outside, he knew why. “You realize it’s between life and death,” he recalls, describing that night. “You don’t really think about anything but just running away.”

It was dark, Tecle recalls, but the sky lit up with artillery fire. As he ran, Tecle realized his parents were not with him.

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Related:

Meet the Ethiopian-American Candidate Running for City Council in Idaho

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The wildly popular Obama portraits are going on a year-long tour to museums across the country

Former president Barack Obama unveils his portrait by Kehinde Wiley at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in February 2018. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

The wildly popular Obama portraits are going on a year-long tour to museums across the country

The incredibly popular Obamas will be leaving Washington next year for a five-city tour.

Their portraits, that is. The paintings of former president Barack Obama — by Kehinde Wiley — and first lady Michelle Obama — by Amy Sherald — have attracted record crowds to the National Portrait Gallery. Starting in June 2021, the portraits will travel to five cities, giving new audiences a chance to experience them.

“We’re a history museum and an art museum, and they are really great representations of both. This tour is an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, the museum that commissioned the works. “You can use these portraits as a portal to all sorts of conversations.”

The tour will begin at the Art Institute of Chicago (June 18-Aug. 15, 2021) before moving to the Brooklyn Museum (Aug. 27-Oct. 24, 2021), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Nov. 5-Jan. 2, 2022), the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (Jan. 14-March 13, 2022) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (March 25-May 30, 2022).

The cities were selected by the gallery for personal and geographical reasons. The Obamas have deep connections to Chicago, for example, and the works will be there when the former president celebrates his 60th birthday. Sherald grew up in Georgia, and Wiley was born in Los Angeles, so those stops made sense, Sajet said. Wiley’s studio is based in Brooklyn, and its museum has several of his works in its collection.

Thursday’s tour announcement coincides with the publication of “The Obama Portraits,” an illustrated book from the Smithsonian Institution and the Princeton University Press that celebrates the portraits and their influence. Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to be selected for the gallery’s portraits of a president or first lady, and their paintings have drawn millions to the gallery since their splashy unveiling in February 2018.

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Nigerian E-payment Startup Paga Acquires Ethiopia-based Apposit Software

Apposit partners (L-R) Adam Abate, Simon Solomon, Eric Chijioke, Gideon Abate. Apposit CEO Adam Abate moved back to Ethiopia 17 years ago for an assignment in the country’s Ministry of Finance, after studying at Brown University and working in fintech in New York. (TechCrunch)

TechCrunch

Nigerian digital payments startup Paga has acquired Apposit, a software development company based in Ethiopia, for an undisclosed amount.

That’s just part of Paga’s news. The Lagos based startup will also launch its payment products in Mexico this year and in Ethiopia imminently, CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch

The moves come a little over a year after Paga raised a $10 million Series B round and Oviosu announced the company’s intent to expand globally, while speaking at Disrupt San Francisco.

Paga will leverage Apposit — which is U.S. incorporated but operates in Addis Ababa — to support that expansion into East Africa and Latin America.

Repat founders

Behind the acquisition is a story threaded with serendipity, return, and collaboration.

Both Paga and Apposit were founded by repatriate entrepreneurs. Oviosu did his MBA at Stanford University and worked at Cisco Systems before returning to Nigeria.

Apposit CEO Adam Abate moved back to Ethiopia 17 years ago for an assignment in the country’s Ministry of Finance, after studying at Brown University and working in fintech in New York.

“I put together a team…to build…public financial management systems for the country. And during the process…brought in my best friend Eric Chijioke…to be a technical engineer,” said Abate.

The two teamed up with Simon Solomon in 2007 to co-found Apposit, with a focus on building large-scale enterprise software for Africa.

A year later, Oviosu met Chijioke when he crashed at his house while visiting Ethiopia for a wedding. It just so happened Chijioke’s brother was his roommate at Stanford.

That meeting began an extended conversation between the two on digital-finance innovation in Africa and eventually led to a Paga partnership with Apposit in 2010.

Apposit dedicated an engineering team to build Paga’s payment platform, Eric Chijioke became Paga’s CTO (while maintaining his Apposit role) and Apposit backed Paga.

“We aligned ourselves as African entrepreneurs…which then developed into a close relationship where we became…investors in Paga and strategically aligned,” said Abate.

African roots, global ambitions

Fast forward a decade, and the two companies have come pretty far. Apposit has grown its business into a team of 63 engineers and technicians and has racked up a list of client partnerships. The company helped digitize the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange and has contracted on IT and software solutions with banks non-profits and brick and mortar companies.

For a decade, Apposit has also supported Paga’s payment product development.

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Ethiopia, Nobel & Trump’s 81 False Claims

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is presented by the Chair of the Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen, left, during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)

CNN

Reverting to his usual level of dishonesty, Trump made 81 false claims last week

Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump made just 15 false claims two weeks ago, a holiday week during which he uttered few public remarks.

He gave fact checkers only a brief respite. Back to Washington and back to doing interviews and campaign rallies, Trump made 81 false claims last week. That is tied for the fifth-highest total in the 27 weeks we have counted at CNN.

It was an eclectic batch of dishonesty. Among other things, Trump took unearned credit for both the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace agreement and for the drop in the US cancer death rate, absurdly claimed that NATO “had no money” before his presidency, wrongly denied that his golf excursions cost taxpayers any money, and repeated his usual varied inaccuracies about impeachment, immigration and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Trump made 27 of the false claims at his campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio. He made 16 more in a Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham. He made six in his speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations, plus 10 in his exchange with reporters after the speech.

Trump’s total of 81 false claims last week was above his average of about 61 per week. Trump is now up to 1,636 false claims since July 8, an average of about nine per day.

The most revealing false claim: Ethiopia and the Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in large part for Ahmed’s successful effort to make a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea.

Trump is an incorrigible acclaim-seeker who has been open about his desire for a Nobel. At his January 9 rally, he claimed that he was a more deserving recipient than Ahmed — not for some other initiative of his own but because, he suggested, he was the one who actually made Ethiopia’s big deal. “I made a deal. I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country,” he complained.

This left Ethiopians baffled. Experts on Ethiopia say there is no sign Trump played an important role in the deal.

Read more »


Related:

Abiy to Trump: You can take your Nobel issue to Norway (BBC)

Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia? (TADIAS)

Ethiopia PM Reacts to Trump’s Head Scratching Nobel Prize Comments (Voice of America)

Trump tells Toledo rally he ‘saved’ Ethiopia, laments he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for it (The Week Magazine)

Puzzlement in Ethiopia as Trump claims hand in Nobel prize (The Associated Press)

Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed (BBC)

Trump takes partial credit for Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize. That’s news to Ethiopians. (The Washington Post)

A ‘confused’ Trump tried to take credit for the Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize (Business Insider)

TRUMP INSISTS HE WAS ROBBED OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT OHIO RALLY (Vanity Fair)

Foreign Affairs Democrats: ‘Trump is confused’ on Ethiopian claim (The Hill)

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for ‘saving’ Ethiopia (Independent)

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Ethiopia Aims $7.5B for Privatization

Ethiopia's privatization push aims to raise $7.5 billion - Bloomberg. (Photo: Sugar cane plantation. Photographer: John Bowker)

Bloomberg

Ethiopia Pushes Privatization to Give Its Economy a Sugar Rush

For decades, Irba Jana has scraped out a modest living from sugar cane, selling his harvest to mills run by Ethiopia’s state-owned sugar monopoly. But lately he’s been working as a security guard to supplement his income, as two of the three nearby processing facilities have closed because of a lack of upkeep and investment. “Sugar cane just isn’t profitable anymore,” says Irba, a grizzled, 50-year-old father of eight. “It may be time to start farming something else.”

Recently, though, he got news that could augur a return to better times: The government is planning to privatize Ethiopian Sugar Corp.’s assets, including a factory complex near Irba’s home on a high plateau a two-hour drive southeast of Addis Ababa. And a local investor aims to let farmers buy shares in the mills, with promises of investment in additional projects such as candy and ethanol factories. A voice at the factory would benefit farmers, says Beyene Bikila, a fellow grower and union member. “We know how to produce,” he says, “and we should get paid properly.”

Privatization of the sugar industry is part of a sweeping liberalization backed by Abiy Ahmed, the 43-year-old prime minister who in October won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end a two-decade conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Ethiopia is among Africa’s most dynamic economies, averaging annual growth of almost 10% for the past decade. Yet the country remains one of the most state-controlled on the continent, a legacy of the Marxist-Leninist Derg regime that ruled from the 1974 coup that deposed Emperor Haile Selassie until a return to democracy in 1991. “The private sector is not playing its natural role,” says Eyob Tekalign, a former diplomat and private equity executive hired by Abiy as state minister for finance. “Our growth had shortcomings in terms of quality, job creation, inclusivity, and benefiting the poor.”

The government aims to raise at least $7.5 billion from selling assets from the sugar industry, the phone system, railroads, and other infrastructure. Ethiopia needs foreign exchange: Exports have dwindled, and external debt has grown 26% since 2016, to $27 billion—more than a quarter of the country’s likely 2020 gross domestic product of roughly $100 billion. In December, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank pledged more than $5 billion to help narrow the budget deficit and support Abiy’s reform agenda. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also pledged cash, and China has pushed back the repayment of loans by a decade, to 2030.

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10 Killed in Ethiopia Platform Collapse

(AP photo)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Death toll up to 10 in Ethiopia platform collapse; 250 hurt

ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Regional officials in Ethiopia on Tuesday confirmed 10 deaths and 250 people injured after a wooden platform collapsed during a religious event the day before.

Thousands of people attended the colorful Epiphany celebration known as Timkat in the northern city of Gondar.

“Ten people have lost their lives,” the Ethiopian Press Agency quoted the city’s police chief, Ayalew Teklu, as saying. “Thirteen people have sustained serious injuries, including four members of the security services.”

Ashenafi Tazebew with Gondar University Hospital said more than 250 people had received medical care. Some 80 people remained at the hospital, Ashenafi said.

The collapse occurred inside the Emperor Fasilides Bath in the city where several thousand Ethiopians and tourists attended the celebration commemorating the baptism of Jesus.

The Ethiopian News Agency reported that more than 15,000 foreigners attended the event in Gondar.

UNESCO late last year added Ethiopia’s Epiphany festivities to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which attracted more attendees.


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Jerusalem Post: Chief Rabbinate Accepts Position Recognizing Beta Israel as Jewish

The step comes after several high-profile cases in which the Jewishness of Ethiopian Jews was challenged by rabbinic authorities. (Photo: Children attend Jewish studies class while awaiting immigration to Israel, in Gondar./REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post

The Chief Rabbinate has accepted the position of the revered, late ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that the Beta Israel Jewish community from Ethiopia is Jewish.

The Council of the Chief Rabbinate, the body’s executive arm, approved a policy to fully accept the Beta Israel as Jewish last November, but the decision has only been disclosed now.

The Chief Rabbinate has not issued a formal statement on the issue, although a spokesman for the body confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the decision has been officially approved.
Beta Israel (House of Israel) is the Ge’ez term for the Jewish community of Ethiopia, which is believed to date back to between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. It was isolated from the rest of the Jewish world for most of that period.

Yosef, who is considered to have been one of the preeminent arbiters of Jewish law of his generation, ruled in 1973 that the Beta Israel were Jewish and should be allowed to immigrate to Israel. But the Chief Rabbinate has refrained from fully recognizing them as such until now.

In the 1980s, when the Beta Israel began immigrating from Ethiopia to Israel, the Chief Rabbinate adopted a position that it believed the community was Jewish but required them to undergo pro forma conversion so that all rabbinic authorities would accept their Jewishness. This was, however, deeply insulting to the community, which has always insisted that they were fully Jewish, pointing to the decision of Yosef from the 1970s.

Yosef reiterated his view that they were fully Jewish. A solution was found whereby Netanya Chief Rabbi David Shloush, a student of Yosef who also maintains that the Beta Israel are fully Jewish, agreed to register anyone from the community for marriage, which would then be accepted by the central Chief Rabbinate. Marriage registration within the Chief Rabbinate is the most practical application of Jewish-status recognition.

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Ethiopian Duo Win Houston Marathon

Left: Kelkile Gezahegn celebrates his win in the 48th running of the Houston Marathon. Right: Askale Merachi breaks the tape to win the women's race. (Photo: Houston Chronicle)

Houston Chronicle

If it’s a Sunday morning in January and Houston’s streets are swarming with runners, it’s a safe bet Ethiopians will be leading the pack, then leaving town with brand-new cowboy hats. They went 2-for-2 this year for the 10th time in the last dozen years.

Kelkile Gezahegn reclaimed the men’s crown in the Chevron Houston Marathon on behalf of his East African homeland — which took a one-year hiatus from winning — with his 2:08:36, breaking away from his only challenger, countryman Bonsa Dida. Askale Merachi extended what’s now a 14-year run of Ethiopian dominance among the women with a 2:03:39, only 15 seconds shy of the course record.

The 23-year-old Gezahegn is the eighth different male champion from the East African nation since 2009, while Merachi, a decade older at 33, is the 10th different Ethiopian female to prevail since 2007.

Both made their respective Houston debuts memorable, winning $45,000 and those prized Stetsons. Note that Merachi admitted, speaking through a translator, that with all due respect to our proud Texas heritage, “the 45K was the most important goal.”

She did add that the hat was “very lovely.”

Such is the depth of talent in Ethiopia, however, that neither Gezahegn nor Merachi is assured of making their Olympic team for the Tokyo Games this summer. Gezahegn, who ran a personal-best 2:05:56 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2018, said “it’s up to my manager” as to whether he’s even in the conversation. Yet despite his youth, he has eight career marathon victories, winning at least once in each of the past three seasons with triumphs in Frankfurt, Germany, and Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Gezahegn followed Kenya’s Albert Korir atop the podium (another Kenyan, Dominic Ondoro, won in 2017) but didn’t come close to threatening Tariku Jufar’s course record 2:06:51, set in 2012.

Although also largely unknown to local crowds lining the streets from downtown to the Galleria area, Merachi showed herself to be the favorite early and, despite fading a little late as a cold, blustery wind picked up — everyone’s pace slowed markedly because of it — was able to easily block countrywoman Biryukayit Degefa’s bid to become the first runner, male or female, to collect a fourth championship.

However, by placing second with a 2:24:47 that was faster than two of her winning times, Degefa secured a podium finish for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year — after a fourth-place showing in 2014. She’s one of three Ethiopian women to win at least twice. It was Dire Tune who began Ethiopia’s reign with a back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.

“I finished like I started,” Merachi said. “My goal is always a single one: just winning.”

She admitted she was aware of what Degefa was hoping to accomplish — two Kenyan men, David Cheruiyot (2005-06, 2008) and Stephen Ndungu (1998-2000), are the only other three-time champions in Houston since the inaugural marathon in 1972 — but said, “I just did my part.”

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MLK Day 2020: Martin Luther King Jr Was More Than “I Have a Dream” Speech

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the United States marking what would have been the civil rights leader's 91st birthday celebration. (Photo: The MLK Memorial in Washington by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias archive)

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Forget the notion of MLK Jr. as ‘Dreamer,’ say activists.

The legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is often celebrated by conjuring his words spoken at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His “I Have a Dream” speech has come to be remembered as inspired, rousing, and optimistic about race relations in America.

“With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” he said on that August day in Washington, D.C.

Increasingly, though, black Americans are calling for new ways to analyze and celebrate his legacy — more accurately.

“America has been comfortable with Dr. King the dreamer as opposed to Dr. King who articulates the American nightmare,” said the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of the historic Mother Bethel AME Church.

The man who was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, at age 39, denounced racism, materialism, militarism. He predicted social ills would never be solved without fixing entrenched inequity. And he called out U.S. economic policy.

In fact, many activists who are asking today for reparations to repair the damages black Americans have suffered — a subject that last year rose to the level of presidential candidate debates — borrow rhetoric from King’s combative speeches…

In the next campaign on Washington, King said, “We’re coming to get our check.”

By 1967, King came to confess in an interview with NBC News correspondent Sander Vanocur: “That dream I had that day has, at many points, turned into a nightmare.”

Yet, said Solomon Jones, a host for Philadelphia radio station WURD and a columnist for the Inquirer, America has come to sanitize King’s ideas to prevent them from growing into a larger movement…

Philadelphia lawyer and activist Michael Coard, co-founder of the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition, said, “Anyone who reduces him to the 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech knows very little about him.”

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Related:

MLK’s Invitation from Haile Selassie in 1964 (TADIAS)

TADIAS Interview: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Photographer Gediyon Kifle

MLK’s Dream: An Ethiopian Perspective

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‘Clever’: Biden Plays the Obama Card

As Ethiopian Americans we're intimately following two important elections this year: the upcoming parliamentary polls in Ethiopia and the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Below is an update from politico.com highlighting former vice president Joe Biden's campaign. (AP photo)

Politico

‘Clever’: Biden plays the Obama card

Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed his former vice president, Joe Biden. But you wouldn’t know that from watching Biden’s newest campaign ad.

“We all know that on its own, his work does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden,” Obama says in the ad, piano music lightly rippling in the background as black and white images of the former vice president flash on the screen, before calling Biden “a resilient and loyal and humble servant.”

“The best part is,” Obama says in closing, “he’s nowhere close to finished.”

The ad, stitched together from Obama’s speech presenting Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom before they left office together in January 2017, is part of Biden’s closing argument in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3. It’s a way to convince Democratic voters that they should put him in the Oval Office because Obama — the most popular figure in the party — put him a heartbeat away from it.

“This a very effective ad … it is a clever way of signifying Obama’s feelings about Biden, implying an endorsement the president has not made,” said David Axelrod, a top Obama adviser.

“His testimonial from the Medal of Freedom speech goes to what are perhaps the most salient and appealing qualities of Biden: character, empathy, decency,” Axelrod continued. “Barack Obama is a highly esteemed figure in the Democratic Party and perhaps nowhere more than Iowa, which really embraced him and launched him to the presidency.”

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Related:

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

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Spotlight: Ruth Negga as ‘Hamlet’ American Premiere

Ruth Negga. (Photo: CNN)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Ruth Negga was dubbed “a star for our time” by Vogue Magazine following her acclaimed performance three years ago in the groundbreaking civil rights movie Loving, which highlighted the historic 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.

The Ethiopian-Irish actress is once again receiving a new round of much-deserved accolades for her mesmerizing current performance as the main character in Hamlet, one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays and significant contributions to the field of theatre and literature. In a review of her role The Guardian had declared: “Ruth Negga plays the Prince with priceless precision.” And the Irish version of The Times of London enthused: “Her decision to take on such a task has resulted in a stunning gift for Irish theatregoers.”

As The New York Times notes: “What stage actor wouldn’t jump at the chance to play Hamlet?” The Times added: “Over the years, the greatest actresses of every age have tackled the role, from Sarah Siddons in the 18th century to Charlotte Cushman in the 19th; in 1900, the legendary Sarah Bernhardt became the first actor, of any gender, to play Hamlet on film.”

Initially Ruth was hesitant to play Hamlet. “Her first impulse was to say thanks, but no,” says Robert Ito of The New York Times. “Too tough, too daunting, “too much,” she told NYT. “Nothing helps you play Hamlet.”

Next month Ruth will make her NYC stage debut at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, where Hamlet is scheduled for its American premiere on February 1st and set for a five-week run through March 8th, 2020.

Born in Addis Ababa in 1982 and raised in the Ethiopian capital until the age of four before moving with her family to Limerick, Ireland, Ruth Negga obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Acting Studies from Trinity College in Dublin and has been residing in London for the past decade. As an actress Negga was part of the AMC drama series Preacher prior to her lead role in the feature film Loving. She is currently filming in Los Angeles in the upcoming new Hollywood movie Passing.

If You Go:
St. Ann’s Warehouse presents HAMLET By William Shakespeare
Directed by Yaël Farber, Featuring Ruth Negga
AMERICAN PREMIERE
FEB 1 – MAR 8, 2020
Tickets start at $35
Run Time: 3 Hours and 15 Minutes, One Intermission
Tickets On Sale NOW

Related:

In Hamlet and in Life, Ruth Negga Does Not Hold Back (The New York Times)

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Kenenisa vs. World Record Holder in UK

The three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will take on the world record holder Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya at the 2020 London Marathon in April. (Photo: Kenenisa Bekele won the Berlin marathon last September in the second fastest offical time in history/Getty Images)

The Guardian

Kenenisa Bekele to face Eliud Kipchoge in London Marathon for the ages

Kenenisa Bekele has agreed to race Eliud Kipchoge in a London Marathon for the ages in April – and said he is not surprised Mo Farah is swerving the race in favour of returning to the track.

Bekele, a three-time Olympic gold medallist who has won 17 world titles over cross-country, track and road, roared with laughter when asked what he thought of Farah’s decision to leave the marathon and then added: “I am not surprised. Of course if you see Mo Farah’s races in marathons, he’s struggling – it’s not easy to get good results over a marathon. You need experience. It’s a different course, a different racing mentality.

“But it is really hard for all of us. You need to learn how to run it and also the training is different. I think it’s harder, not only for Mo, but for all of us – even I struggled.”

However the Ethiopian, who ran the second fastest marathon time in history in Berlin in September, two seconds shy of Kipchoge’s official world record of 2hr 01min 39sec, said Farah is still good enough to win a medal in the 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m sure we’ll see Mo doing better things on the track. If he focuses and concentrates like before I’m sure he will be in the medals in the 10,000. I’ve no doubt about that.”

Bekele still holds the 5,000m and 10,000m world records, which were set in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and insisted he was capable of claiming Kipchoge’s marathon best even at the age of 37.

“My training is going well and I feel well,” he said.“Before last year I was struggling with injury. Everyone knows I’m a strong athlete from 15 years on the track. When we came to the marathon I’ve struggled maybe to achieve good results but of course this is because of injury, not a lack of training or my personality. I was a bit behind but my health came back and now I’m doing a lot better in the marathon.”

Bekele also admitted the sight of his great Kenyan rival running a sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna in October, albeit in an event that was not recognised by World Athletics, has spurred him on.

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For Ethiopian-Style Honey Wine, Dock at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Owner Ayele Solomon describes his wines to guests during a tasting at Bee D'Vine Honey Wine Company's tasting bar in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California, Thursday, January 9th, 2020. (Photo: Michael Short / Special to The Chronicle)

The San Francisco Chronicle

Ayele Solomon grew up drinking homemade t’ej in Ethiopia. He incorporates some of that tradition in his California honey-wine production, but brings a more scientific approach.

Wine made with honey, often called mead, could be the world’s oldest fermented beverage, with evidence suggesting it was consumed 7,000 years ago. Today, however, honey wine is a difficult sell, eclipsed by grape wines, craft beers and, lately, hard seltzer.

Many drinkers mistakenly assume that all mead is invariably sweet. They’ve been disappointed with mediocre versions they’ve tasted at Renaissance fairs. But makers of honey wine believe that sales would be much easier if they could just persuade potential buyers to take a sip. That isn’t easy, given that production sites are few and not as gussied up and romantic as winery tasting rooms. And only occasionally does a restaurant wine list include a section devoted to mead.

Ayele Solomon recognizes those drawbacks, so he has done something unusual for Northern California’s small but persistently hopeful community of honey-wine producers — in December, he opened a free-standing tasting bar in a prime San Francisco setting, the Ferry Building.

There, he daily pours samples of his four honey wines, one each dry and sweet, one each still and sparkling, inspired by the honey-wine tradition of his native Ethiopia, all under the brand Bee D’Vine.

Honey wine is a more universal way to describe the beverage and to indicate its stylistic sweep, he says. It also is the term used in Ethiopia, where it traditionally is known as t’ej…

From Ethiopia, he and his family migrated to Kenya and then to the United States, settling in the Bay Area in the mid-1980s. After earning a degree in environmental economics at UC Berkeley, he returned to Africa. There, his work as a conservationist — fostering economic opportunities for indigenous residents of the mountainous rain forest of Kafa in southwestern Ethiopia — reintroduced him to honey wine.

Read the full article at sfchronicle.com »


Related:

Sheba Tej: America’s Favorite Ethiopian Honey Wine

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Ethiopia Plans $5 Billion Airport

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. (Image: Ralph Vinnie/YouTube)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Plans to Build Africa’s Largest Airport at $5 Billion

Ethiopia plans to start building Africa’s largest airport at $5 billion within six months and continue the ascendancy of its national carrier, the most profitable on the continent.

The new airport, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the existing Bole International Airport in the capital Addis Ababa, will be able to handle as many as 100 million passengers yearly, Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam told the state news agency. That would catapult Ethiopia into a global league, with capacity greater than London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, and Dubai International, currently the world’s No. 1 for international flights.

Ethiopian Airlines reported a 25% increase in profits to $260 million in 2018-19 as it carried more passengers and cargo, according to a report on the carrier’s website. Revenue of almost $4 billion, 18% higher than previously, could continue to climb as the airline nears its goal of 22 million passengers by 2025.

While Bole airport has just been expanded with additional capacity, it will be overwhelmed in three to four years if the airline grows as projected, GebreMariam told the Ethiopian News Agency.

The plans are part of a 15-year expansion strategy of Ethiopia’s aviation industry, that has also seen it either sign up joint ventures or start subsidiaries in other African countries including Malawi, Chad, Zambia and Mozambique. The carrier is also in talks to start airlines in Ghana and Nigeria.


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In DC Ethiopia & Egypt Made Progress, But No Comprehensive Deal Yet on Nile Dam

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

VOA

Despite Trump’s Urging, Egypt, Ethiopia Still Deadlocked on Nile Dam

WASHINGTON – The latest talks hosted by the U.S. Treasury produced some progress but failed to achieve a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egypt and Ethiopia are still deadlocked over the dam, despite urging from U.S. President Donald Trump that parties reach a “mutually beneficial agreement.”

The parties had agreed in November to a deadline of January 15, 2020, for reaching an accord on the dam. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are scheduled to reconvene in Washington on January 28-29 to finalize an agreement.

A joint statement released by U.S. Treasury noted the “progress achieved” and the joint “commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

Ethiopia and Egypt have been negotiating for years, but one sticking point remains the rate at which Ethiopia will draw water out of the Nile to fill the dam’s reservoir. Cairo fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten Egypt’s source of fresh water.

Reservoir filling in stages

The parties have agreed that the filling of the dam will be “executed in stages” during the wet season, in a manner that will take into account “the potential impact of the filling on downstream reservoirs,” according to the statement.

The parties have agreed to an initial filling stage of the GERD that will provide for the rapid achievement of a level of 595 meters above sea level and the early generation of electricity, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in case of severe droughts during this stage.

The parties have not appeared to agree on how these provisions will be implemented. However, observers note that there is political will to continue talks.

“This is progress,” said Aaron Salzberg, director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina and former director of the State Department agency that deals with international transboundary water issues.

“The countries are staying at the table and a vision for the cooperative and adaptive management of GERD — based on hydrology and downstream impacts — is coming together,” Salzberg added.

Prior to negotiations this week, a group of Egyptian academics and civil society circulated a petition calling for the United Nations, African Union and Pan African Parliament to exert pressure on Ethiopia and “avert potential conflict in the region” over the dam.

Ethiopia continues to insist that it is not going beyond a tripartite negotiation on this issue, with U.S. and the World Bank participating only as observers during the three Washington meetings.

“We came out of respect, but we will not accept negotiation. That is our stance,” Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister of water, irrigation and electricity, told VOA last week.

On Sunday, Ethiopia requested that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa help resolve the long-running dispute.

Still, the joint statement appears to represent a lowering in tensions. In October, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned that if the need arose to go to war over the dam, his country could ready millions of people.

White House meeting

On Tuesday, Trump met with the foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan at the White House to discuss progress on dam talks and reaffirm “United States support for a cooperative, sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement among the parties.”

The meeting was not on the president’s public schedule and was not announced until hours later. A White House meeting with the parties in November was also not announced on the president’s schedule.

Trump took interest in the dam in September, after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi asked him to mediate the conflict. He appointed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to be the point of contact in the matter.

The U.S. State Department has engaged with parties of the dam project since 2011 and repeatedly urged tripartite negotiations to resolve the matter.

Salem Solomon and Habtamu Seyoum contributed to this report.


Related:

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to finalise Blue Nile dam agreement this month (Reuters)

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Members of Ethiopian Diaspora Gather at British Home of Former Emperor (VOA)

Haile Selassie, the exiled emperor of Ethiopia, is shown around the garden at princes gate, London, on June 4, 1936. (AP photo)

VOA

BATH, ENGLAND – Traveling to the British town of Bath has become a pilgrimage of sorts for people of Ethiopian heritage. When Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie had to go into exile, he landed in Bath. The town, about 145 kilometers west of London, hosted the emperor from 1936 to 1940.

When the Italians under Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935, Haile Selassie, was forced to temporarily go in exile in Britain. He lived in Bath at Fairfield House, which also hosted his family, closest confidants and entourage.

Ezra Tsegay is part of the Ethiopian diaspora community and organizes Ethiopian-related events several times a year at Fairfield House.

“We feel privileged that we are continuing a historical tradition,” Ezra said. “And I think it’s a good thing that the emperor’s name is remembered and the place is in use. And we feel very attached to the place emotionally.”

The emperor renovated the two-story house after he bought the property. Rooms are still decorated with impressive carpets and Ethiopian art, as well as photos of Haile Selassie. The property sits on nearly one hectare of land.

An estimated 90,000 people of Ethiopian heritage live in Britain. Most are based in London. One of them — Abiyou Desta — was visiting the former residence of the Ethiopian emperor for the first time.


Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie at the White House in Washington on Oct. 25, 1970. (AP Photo)

“To be honest, as someone of Ethiopian heritage, I’m really feeling very proud about the place and about the king, what he was doing, Abiyou said. “The displays all over the walls from the first floor to the top floor are very informative. It tells you a lot of information about him, how he used to administer his country from here.”

The 25-room house is now a listed building, meaning changes cannot be made without prior approval. What once used to be the empresses’ office is now an office used by Fairfield project coordinators such as Pauline Swaby Wallace. She explains why the emperor gave Fairfield House to the city of Bath in 1958.

“He had come with money, he came with resources, but in time those resources had run out, so the people of Bath were kind enough to, you know, accept him in their community,” Pauline said. “Although they were told by our government that, you know, just leave him let him just live quietly at Fairfield House. So he was invited to events, and he invited people here. So I think the kindness that was shown to him, he showed it back by giving this gift.”

Besides the Ethiopian community, Rastafarians use the house as they revere Haile Selassie as God. But the house is mostly used as a day care center for the elderly.

After the Italians were driven out, Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia, and ruled the country until he was deposed in 1974. He died in 1975.


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Ethiopia Elections Postponed to August

Plans to hold the vote for parliament and regional councils in May had been postponed as neither authorities nor parties would be ready, electoral board head Birtukan Mideksa told a meeting of political parties and civil society groups. (Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia sets tentative August date for elections

By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia proposes to hold its national vote on Aug. 16, the electoral board said on Wednesday, the first poll under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who has eased political restrictions and taken steps to open the economy since taking office in 2018.

Ethiopia’s 100 million people are seeing unprecedented political change, but Abiy’s reforms have also uncorked ethnic rivalries that have spilled into violence.

Plans to hold the vote for parliament and regional councils in May had been postponed as neither authorities nor parties would be ready, electoral board head Birtukan Mideksa told a meeting of political parties and civil society groups.

The new Aug. 16 date is tentative, she told Reuters. Results would be due between Aug. 17-26.

One opposition political party said Aug. 16 was unsuitable because it is a fasting day for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and falls during the rainy season.

“There are concerns that need to be resolved and addressed specifically on the schedule,” Desalegn Chane, president of the opposition National Movement of Amhara, told Reuters.

Ethiopia has held regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none were competitive.

The EPRDF appointed Abiy, 43, in 2018 after three years of anti-government protests. Among the achievements of his first year in office was peace with longtime foe and neighbor Eritrea, for which Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His promised reforms include a credible multi-party poll in 2020.

In November, the ruling coalition approved a merger of three of its four ethnic-based parties into a single national party as part of Abiy’s efforts to unite the country.

Abiy has freed journalists and activists, lifted bans on political parties, appointed former dissidents to high-level posts and prosecuted officials for rights abuses.

But violence in the regions has forced 2.4 million people out of their homes, according to the United Nations, and delayed both a national census and local elections. Opposition politicians have repeatedly warned that election delays could fuel unrest and dent the democratic credentials of Abiy.

William Davison, Ethiopia analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank, said the opposition could pose a real challenge to the ruling party.

“An overall majority for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s party is by no means guaranteed, especially if the opposition is allowed to freely campaign,” Davison said.


Related:

2020 is Election Season Across Africa

Ethiopia Election 2020 Campaign Update

Ethiopia: Board commences election materials printing

Electoral Board Making Preparations For 2020 Elections

Efforts to End Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Draw Criticism from Within

Ethiopia braces for highly-anticipated parliamentary election in May 2020

Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election (AFP)

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2020 is Election Season Across Africa

Several African countries, including Ethiopia, are holding consequential elections in the coming few months. But so far here in the Diaspora the discussion has been limited to the usual rancor and empty rhetoric on social media and other platforms. Below is a more informative recent article by the United Nations Africa Renewal magazine highlighting the upcoming election season across the continent. (AP photo)

Africa Renewal – UN.org

Voters across the continent will be heading to the ballot box this year to choose their leaders in presidential, parliamentary and local elections starting with the Comoros in January and ending with Ghana in December.

Comorians will be electing a new 33-member national assembly following presidential elections in 2019 while Ghanaians will select their parliamentarians and president on 7 December.

In Chad and Mauritius, electoral commissions have yet to decide on exact dates, but absent unexpected delays, the polls should go ahead as legally mandated. In Seychelles, the electoral body will decide in August when the presidential election will be held later in the year.

Overall, the polls are expected to be peaceful and free. Yet, for different reasons, some countries like Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali and Somalia are ones to watch.

In Ethiopia, elections of members of the House of People’s Representatives and of regional State Councils will be held in a new political environment ushered in by the youthful Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reforms. Having won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a two-decade conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, observers will be eager to learn to what extent Mr Abiy’s changes are taking hold and how much domestic support he has earned since the award was announced.

Polls in Somalia will be the first in 50 years. Voters will elect the president and their representatives through direct ballots – the last universal suffrage polls having been held in 1969. Previous presidential elections held in 2009, 2012 and 2017 involved a system of thousands of clan delegates voting for parliamentary representatives, who in turn elected the president. Election preparations are currently underway, including the drafting of electoral laws, though security remains a concern throughout the country.

Togolese will go to the polls in April to cast their ballots for president with the possibility of a run-off should no candidate garner more than 50% of the votes. The polls will be the first to be held since presidential term limits were restored in 2019.

Since Ghana’s transition to multi-party democracy in 1992 elections have generally been peaceful, and their results generally considered fair. This trend is expected to continue, amid the government’s recent claims to have nipped in the bud attempts at a coup by a group of civilians, and former and current military personnel.

In Burkina Faso, Burundi and Tanzania, voters will be called to choose their presidents first, then their national assemblymen and women later in the year. Burundians will elect a new president, as the incumbent is retiring.

In Burkina Faso and Mali, recurring violence in some areas, some of it deadly, is likely to affect the polls. Over the last few months, terrorist activity has increasingly targeted civilians and security forces, including peacekeepers in Mali. Given the circumstances organising nationwide elections will be a challenge.

In Côte d’Ivoire things are not straightforward either. The country has remained stable since the hotly contested 2010 presidential poll that helped mark the end of a decade of armed conflict. Now Ivoirians look towards October polls, but the political coalition has progressively frayed, and old political fault lines have resurfaced.

Guineans are scheduled to choose a new assembly and president come October too. Parliamentary elections were postponed earlier this year given political tensions over plans to call a referendum on lifting constitutional term limits. Large demonstrations against the plan have been witnessed across the country, including in the capital Conakry. The heightening tension is likely to affect the upcoming polls.


Related:

Ethiopia sets tentative August date for elections

Ethiopia Election 2020 Campaign Update

Ethiopia: Board commences election materials printing

Electoral Board Making Preparations For 2020 Elections

Efforts to End Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Draw Criticism from Within

Ethiopia braces for highly-anticipated parliamentary election in May 2020

Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election (AFP)

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Spotlight: Meklit at Globalfest, NYC Showcase of World Music

Ethiopian-American Artist Meklit Hadero (photo credit: Nina Westervelt for the New York Times)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 15th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American singer and songwriter Meklit Hadero was one of the artists invited to perform at the 2020 Globalfest concert in New York City.

This past weekend, on Sunday January 12th, New York City’s annual Globalfest returned for its 17th edition at the legendary Manhattan nightclub Copacabana and the San Francisco-based artist Meklit Hadero was among the eclectic lineup of international performances.

“This year’s Globalfest was the most manic and clamorous of them all, a lineup of musicians demanding attention with speed, rhythm, passion, humor, costumes, dance moves and the determination to hold on to particular cultural heritages in a connected world,” writes Jon Pareles of The New York Times. ” With 12 acts in five hours on the three stages of the Copacabana in Manhattan, this year’s event brought musicians from Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Hungary, Algeria, Senegal and the Louisiana bayou, and elsewhere. Some were expatriates, mingling sounds from their birthplaces with influences from their newer homes; others sought to thrust a local heritage into a 21st-century context. Few shied away from making a ruckus.”

NYT adds: “The lineup included well-known performers: Yungchen Lhamo, a Tibetan singer whose meditative songs and Buddhist sentiments were Globalfest’s brief moment of serenity on a boisterous night. Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, who hooted and clattered through bayou rockers and two-steps. And Cheikh Lo from Senegal, who crooned smoothly while propelling his band with complex, skittering African funk drumbeats. Here are eight other performances that stood out.”

Meklit

Meklit, a songwriter who was born in Ethiopia but grew up in the United States, sang in English but reached back to modal Ethiopian funk for her songs. Her band included the snappy rhythms of a tupan, a large drum used in the Balkans and Turkey; her lyrics promise cosmic unity, insisting, “Everything that we are was made in a supernova.”

Read the full list at NYTimes.com »


Related:

Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz

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Ethiopia To Build Continental Satellite Data Receiver Station With China’s Help

Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) mission control, command and data receiving station at a glance. (Africa News)

Africa News

China is expected to help Ethiopia build a continental satellite data receiver station, a news report by China state media Xinhua quotes Dr Solomon Belay, Director General of Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), as saying.

Belay told Xinhua that Beijing and Addis Ababa are on a path to agreeing on a long-term partnership ranging from training programs for Ethiopian space engineers to assisting Ethiopia with launching space satellites and setting up a continental satellite data receiver station.

Beijing and Addis Ababa are still at the discussion table with regards to the continental satellite receiver station. However, Belay revealed that the plan is to realize the project in the next three years.

Belay added that the continental satellite data receiving station will be ideally placed to disseminate information to various African countries since Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is home to the African Union (AU) Headquarter.

China’s growing influence in Africa is witnessing a new facet as Beijing expands its diplomatic relations in Africa not only on Earth but also in space. Sino-African space cooperation is growing rapidly as with other Chinese advances on the continent.

Last December, China helped Ethiopia launch its first satellite into space by providing USD 6 million grant, trained 21 Ethiopian engineers on the project and helped blast the satellite into orbit.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopia Launches First Satellite into Space

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Abiy to Trump: Take Your Nobel Issue to Norway

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is presented by the Chair of the Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen, left, during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)

BBC

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed responds to Trump’s Nobel Prize complaint

US President Donald Trump should take his complaint about being overlooked for the Nobel Peace Prize to the award organisers, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 winner, has said.

Mr Abiy said he was not aware of the criteria used to select him.

He was credited for his move to make peace with neighbouring Eritrea.

Mr Trump said last week that he had “saved a country” from a big war, a possible reference to his work on another dispute involving Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, which killed tens of thousands of people.

Although a ceasefire was signed in 2000, the neighbours technically remained at war until July 2018, when Mr Abiy and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal.

Read more »


Related:

Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia? (TADIAS)

Ethiopia PM Reacts to Trump’s Head Scratching Nobel Prize Comments (Voice of America)

Trump tells Toledo rally he ‘saved’ Ethiopia, laments he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for it (The Week Magazine)

Puzzlement in Ethiopia as Trump claims hand in Nobel prize (The Associated Press)

Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed (BBC)

Trump takes partial credit for Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize. That’s news to Ethiopians. (The Washington Post)

A ‘confused’ Trump tried to take credit for the Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize (Business Insider)

TRUMP INSISTS HE WAS ROBBED OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT OHIO RALLY (Vanity Fair)

Foreign Affairs Democrats: ‘Trump is confused’ on Ethiopian claim (The Hill)

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for ‘saving’ Ethiopia (Independent)

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Black Enterprise Magazine Honors Ethiopian-American Fashion Icon the Late Amsale Aberra

Amsale Aberra. (Photo: Fashion Week Daily)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: January 13th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — While gearing up to celebrate their 15th annual Women of Power Summit the African-American-owned multimedia company, Black Enterprise, recognized the late fashion designer Amsale Aberra as a prior BE Legacy Award winner. Sharing 15 memorable moments from prior Women of Power Summits, which honors the achievements of phenomenal American women, Amsale was featured as a fashion designer and entrepreneur alongside a list of women including Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris.

Black Enterprise noted that Amsale Aberra was honored with its Women of Power Legacy award in 2012.

The media company announced that its 15th Anniversary of Women of Power Summit is set to take place in Las Vegas March 5-8th, 2020 and added: “In the 15th year of the summit, we are proud to pay homage to over 60 powerful women who have shaped and changed the world.”

Amsale, who passed away in 2018, was one of the leading bridal fashion designers in America. She was born and raised in Ethiopia and immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and subsequently launched her couture bridal brand in 1986. Ten years later, she opened her flagship salon on Madison Avenue here in NYC in 1996. Amsale was a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a Trustee and alum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and served on the international advisory board of the Ethiopian Children’s Fund.


Related:

Watch: Tadias Magazine’s Interview With Bridal-Fashion Designer Amsale Aberra

Watch: Tadias TV Exclusive – Inside Amsale Aberra’s Luxury Manhattan Boutique


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Ethiopia PM Asks South Africa Leader to Help in Dam Dispute (Associated Press)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gestures as they pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. (AP)

The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister has asked South Africa’s president to intervene in his country’s dispute with Egypt over a massive dam project on the Nile River, set to be Africa’s largest hydraulic dam.

During a visit to South Africa on Sunday, Abiy Ahmed said President Cyril Ramaphosa as the incoming chair of the African Union could play an important role in ensuring a peaceful resolution is found.

Talks last week among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan failed to reach agreement on technical issues including the filling of the $4.6 billion Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is around 70% complete.

Egypt has said filling the dam’s reservoir too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to its people and agriculture. Ethiopia says the dam is needed for development in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Last week Ethiopia said Egypt asked to extend the time it takes to fill the dam from 12 years to 21 years. Ethiopia called that “not acceptable” and plans to start filling the dam in July at the start of the rainy season.

Egypt later said Ethiopia’s government failed to prove it would take all necessary precautions to ensure that the dam will not affect Egypt’s water supply, especially in times of drought.

Water and energy ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are expected to meet again Monday in Washington to report on their progress. The U.S. and World Bank are observers to the talks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi last year pleaded to the U.S. and the international community to mediate a solution.

“Ethiopia always believes in a win-win approach with Egypt and Sudan. Our kind request is that Ramaphosa … as he is a good friend of Ethiopia and Egypt, also as the incoming African Union chair, he can make a discussion between both parties for us to solve the issue peacefully,” Abiy said Sunday.

He called it crucial that a peaceful solution be found and said he is sure Ramaphosa will “play a significant role” in negotiations.

The South African leader confirmed that he had already raised the matter with the Egyptian president.

“The Nile river is important to both countries and there must be a way in which both their interests can be addressed. There must be a way in which a solution can be found,” Ramaphosa said.

Ethiopia and South Africa signed several trade agreements in health, tourism and telecommunications during Abiy’s visit.

Ramaphosa also gave assurances to the Ethiopian prime minister that his country would protect Ethiopians living in South Africa from the xenophobic attacks that break out in South Africa. Last year, foreign businesses were targeted by locals in Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.


Related:

Ethiopians Have “Utmost Admiration” for Those Who Fought Against Apartheid, Says PM Abiy in South Africa

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Ethiopians Have “Utmost Admiration” for South Africa Heroes, Says PM Abiy

Ethiopians have the "utmost admiration" for those who fought against apartheid, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said while addressing ANC's 108th annual anniversary celebrations in South Africa on Saturday, January 11th 2020. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa/ANA)

African News Agency

Ethiopia has utmost admiration for SA liberation heroes, says prime minister Abiy Ahmed

Abiy Ahmed – the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner – was speaking at the African National Congress’s (ANC) 108th annual anniversary celebrations in Kimberley, the largest city in the Northern Cape.

“Ethiopians have always treated and looked with utmost admiration upon the great heroism of South African men and women in their successful struggle to end apartheid,” he told thousands of ANC supporters at the Tafel Lager Stadium in the city.

The ANC of today was the result of the unbroken chain of proud men and women who served their nation with honour, who fought the system of oppression, and suffered so that dignity and freedom might be known.

“South Africa will continue to be a more equitable”

He added that he salutes freedom fighters such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Ahmed Kathrada, and “many others who dedicated their lives to the struggle for a better South Africa and a better world”.

“We also salute the current leaders, and President Cyril Ramaphosa, for keeping strong the democratic and progressive vision that Madiba produced. I have no doubt that under the leadership of the ANC, South Africa will continue to be a more equitable, wealthier, healthier, and more tolerant and hopeful nation that inspires the rest of Africa,” he said.

Regardless of differing political orientations at home and abroad, all successive Ethiopian governments had firmly supported the “just cause” of the people of South Africa for freedom and equality, said Abiy.

Ethiopia remembers Mandela

He recalled Mandela travelling to Ethiopia for three months in 1962 to undergo military training, using an Ethiopian passport in the name of David Motsamayi.

“In his autobiography, Madiba speaks fondly about Ethiopia as a country that inspired him to continue his struggle against apartheid.”

Mandela was remembered in Ethiopia for his enduring values of peace and reconciliation, and the dedication to his long walk to freedom, justice, and moral leadership Abiy said.

He added that Ethiopians continued to be inspired by Madiba’s service to humanity., and said:


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressing the audience. Photo: ANA/Danie van der Lith

“His immense contribution and exemplary leadership fostered the promotion of peace, tolerance, inclusivity, and forgiveness, which was close to the hearts of Ethiopians.” – Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed

Mandela relinquishing the South African presidency after one term in office was “so rare” in Africa that it served as an example to the current crop of the continent’s leaders.

Abiy said his own party would continue to work closely with the ANC in the interests of Pan-Africanism to the benefit of the people in both countries, and through “our joint continental leadership to the benefit of Africa and beyond”.

He wished Ramaphosa success as he moved the ANC “into the next stage”.

Read more »


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Abiy’s Agenda and the Future of Ethiopia

A Vendor sales a newspaper with a picture of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on it's cover in Addis Ababa, December 10, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

The Council on Foreign Relations

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ambitious reform plans for Ethiopia will be tested in the year ahead. Since taking the helm of government in April 2018, Abiy has been a whirlwind of activity, opening up political space and economic possibilities in his country. But Ethiopia’s complexity, and the way the lessons of its history have been framed, present real challenges to Abiy’s audacious overhaul and his stated goals of bringing more unity to the state, more dynamism and opportunity to its economy, and more justice to its people.

Abiy has stressed the importance of unity to Ethiopian politics. His new Prosperity Party represents a fundamental change from the ethnic federalist model that has dictated how politics have been organized in recent decades and has been regularly presented as the solution to the restiveness that plagued the country in earlier eras. In practice, this change not only threatens the interests of those who benefited from the old system; it changes the nature of the Ethiopian national project. In turbulent times it may well be a tougher sell than ethno-nationalism, which can be stoked at will by the prime minister’s opponents.

Delivering on his economic promises will be critical to maintaining support, but this too is not an easy task. Opening up to more foreign investment and more competition makes sense, but it comes with risks and painful transitions. It may not be possible to maintain growth at the projected, optimistic levels in the year ahead, and while international support is on the table, it will take even more significant and clearheaded support from abroad to ease the way toward sustainable prosperity.

Finally there is the issue of security. For now, dismantling the machinery of repression has meant weakening the state’s ability to maintain order. While the internal displacement crisis of 2019 has abated in large measure, the perils of disorder loom over plans for some 50 million Ethiopians to cast their ballots in May’s general elections. Abiy is encouraging Ethiopians to revise their idea of what the state represents, but he has to ensure that providing security is a bedrock, dependable element of his work in progress.


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Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia?

(Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

January 10th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Politics aside, Donald Trump — who last month became only the third president in American history to be impeached – seems to be continuing his endless rant against Obama, and this time it also looks like he may be mad at Ethiopia’s PM for robbing him of the chance to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Eugene Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize winning Columnist and Associate Editor of The Washington Post, had asked in a poignant article this week: “Seriously? Does Obama take up that much space inside Trump’s head?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Eugene then proceeded to remind us that:

the vehicle Trump used to transform himself from a harmless New York character into a malevolent political force was birtherism — the absurd, fictional and racist claim that the nation’s first African American president was not actually born in the United States. I have met Trump supporters who still believe in this thoroughly debunked fairy tale. Obama’s election and reelection made a powerful statement about the nation and its growing diversity. Trump, however, portrayed that statement as a threat. Whether he genuinely felt a sense of racial panic or just pretended to do so is irrelevant. That’s how he played it, and he rode Obama-hatred to the White House.

But even more bemusing is that Trump, who has long coveted in matching Obama with the prestigious Nobel Prize, whined that the 2019 award has gone to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize,” Trump told a rally in Toledo, Ohio last night. “I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said, ‘what, did I have something do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters.”

Well, we are more than certain that PM Abiy will be the first to credit the youth protesters across Ethiopia who’ve paid with their lives for political reform in the country not any foreign leader or nation. Still, we all appreciate America’s continued engagement with Ethiopia and its support to assist the people’s desire to build a more peaceful, inclusive and democratic society, and maintaining the more-than-a-century-old relationship that began in 1903, making Ethiopia the first diplomatic partner of the United States on the African continent.

In the end, Trump is not mad at Ethiopia. As Peter Weber of The Week Magazine noted he is simply envious of his predecessor: “The last U.S. president to win a Nobel Peace Prize was Barack Obama.”


Related:

Trump tells Toledo rally he ‘saved’ Ethiopia, laments he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for it (The Week Magazine)

Puzzlement in Ethiopia as Trump claims hand in Nobel prize (The Associated Press)

Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed (BBC)

Trump takes partial credit for Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize. That’s news to Ethiopians. (The Washington Post)

A ‘confused’ Trump tried to take credit for the Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize (Business Insider)

TRUMP INSISTS HE WAS ROBBED OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT OHIO RALLY (Vanity Fair)

Foreign Affairs Democrats: ‘Trump is confused’ on Ethiopian claim (The Hill)

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for ‘saving’ Ethiopia (Independent)

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Man Convicted in Killing of Ethiopian Refugee Store Clerk

Sarah Pratcher (right) signs the memorial with her friend Mary Bledsoe outside the closed convenience store on July 8, 2014, where store clerk Abdulrauf Kadir, an Ethiopian refugee was shot and killed. "He was a good person," said Pratcher. (Photo St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

By The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — A man has been convicted in the shooting death of an Ethiopian refugee who was working at a convenience store to earn enough money to bring his wife and children from a refugee camp to St. Louis.

Antonio Muldrew, 41, of St. Louis, was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder and five other charges in the July 2014 death of convenience store clerk Abdulrauf Kadir. He faces a life sentence.

Muldrew shot Kadir three times in the chest and abdomen before going behind the counter himself to make change and sales for patrons as Kadir bled, the Missouri attorney general’s office said in a news release. Muldrew then grabbed cash and lottery tickets from the register and counter and fatally shot Kadir in the head twice when he sought help from customers.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who prosecuted the case, said Muldrew told police, “He was going to die anyway. I wanted to make sure he was dead. He said he had two kids but I didn’t care,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Muldrew didn’t testify this week. His public defender, Sharon Turlington, did not dispute that Muldrew killed Kadir but argued the evidence supported a second-degree murder conviction. She told the jury he was a regular customer of the store and was desperate to get money for his pregnant girlfriend.

Kadir had immigrated to the United States from Kenya after fleeing his home country of Ethiopia in the midst of a civil war. Schmitt said in the release that his life was “unnecessarily and brutally cut short.”


Related:

St. Louis man found guilty in 2014 deadly robbery of Ethiopian refugee


Abdulrauf Kadir, third from the right, was fatally shot in 2014 in St. Louis. He was an Ethiopian refugee working to bring his wife, Kuzeyma, daughter Samira and son, Omar, to the United States. Photo and names provided by the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — A jury has found a St. Louis man guilty of gunning down an Ethiopian refugee who was working to bring his wife and two young children here from Africa.

After deliberating for about 90 minutes Wednesday, jurors found Antonio Muldrew, 41, guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, assault and three counts of armed criminal action in the July 6, 2014, killing of Abdulrauf Kadir.

Muldrew fatally shot Kadir, 32, a convenience store clerk, about 3:25 p.m. and robbed the store of cash and lottery tickets.

Kadir had lived in St. Louis only eight months when he was shot to death while working as a clerk at his cousin’s corner market at 3404 Chippewa Street. At the time of his death, Kadir was working two jobs in St. Louis to send money to his wife and two young children waiting to come to St. Louis from a refugee camp in Kenya.

Surveillance video of the shooting showed Muldrew standing in the store for several minutes, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cellphone before shooting Kadir three times in the chest with a .25-caliber pistol.

Muldrew then looted the cash register and pretended to be the store’s clerk for other customers as Kadir lay bleeding on the floor. Kadir begged for his life, told Muldrew about his wife and two children and said he could take everything he wanted, including a 9 mm pistol behind the counter. Muldrew did so and shot Kadir twice in the head, killing him.

Muldrew then walked back to his apartment a couple of blocks south on Louisiana Avenue and hid the guns, cash and lottery tickets. Police arrested him a short time later when he returned to the shooting scene.

Muldrew initially denied involvement but later confessed, telling police, “He was going to die anyway. I wanted to make sure he was dead. He said he had two kids but I didn’t care.”

Evidence at trial included the cigarette butt Muldrew left in the store, which had his DNA on it, the two pistols and lottery tickets seized at his apartment, and Muldrew’s clothing and shoes with Kadir’s blood on it.

Muldrew did not testify this week. Muldrew’s public defender, Sharon Turlington, did not dispute that Muldrew killed Kadir but argued the evidence supported a conviction of second-degree murder. She told the jury he was a regular customer of the store and was desperate to get money for his pregnant girlfriend.

Prosecutors announced in 2015 that they would seek the death penalty but withdrew that option after several mental evaluations found Muldrew “intellectually disabled” but competent to stand trial. His public defender told the court Muldrew has an IQ between 65 and 70.

Muldrew’s sister, Aurtisha Volrie, 39, of Los Angeles, said in an interview that her brother, who she said suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, belongs in a mental hospital, not prison. She believes the criminal justice system failed him by not forcing him to continue prescribed medication after he was paroled from a Missouri prison in 2013, and by finding him mentally competent for trial.

“He’s not the monster they’re proclaiming him to be,” Volrie said, adding that their oldest brother was fatally shot in Los Angeles in 1992. “I hurt for Kadir’s family because I know what it’s like to lose a loved one to gun violence.

“The system just robbed me of my brother,” she continued.

Muldrew had fathered 13 children, Volrie said. His youngest was born weeks after his arrest for Kadir’s death.

The case was prosecuted by Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office instead of Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner because of a conflict of interest with a former top assistant.

When Muldrew is sentenced Feb. 21 by Circuit Judge Michael Mullen, Muldrew will receive the mandatory sentence of life without parole.


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World Bank Cuts Ethiopia Growth Forecast

“Growth is expected to slow due to tighter fiscal and monetary policy stances aimed at containing inflation,” the World Bank said in a report released Wednesday in Washington. The annual inflation rate in [Ethiopia] was 19.5% in December. (Photographer: Yannick Tylle/Corbis Documentary)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

The World Bank cut its forecast for Ethiopia’s economic growth in the 2020 fiscal year to 6.3%, well below the government’s projection.

The National Bank of Ethiopia has forecast that gross domestic product growth would accelerate to 10.8% for the fiscal year ending in July, up from a 9% pace in fiscal 2019 as the government implements a blueprint expected to boost investment.

Read more: Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Economic Growth (Bloomberg)

Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in financial support. However, the country is struggling with foreign currency shortages, shrinking exports and the highest inflation in half a decade.

“Growth is expected to slow due to tighter fiscal and monetary policy stances aimed at containing inflation,” the World Bank said in a report released Wednesday in Washington. The annual inflation rate in the Horn of Africa nation was 19.5% in December.

The lender reduced its fiscal 2020 growth forecast for Ethiopia by 1.9 percentage points from the prior estimate in June. Growth could increase slightly to 6.4% in fiscal 2021 and 7.1% in 2022, according to the World Bank.


Related:

World Bank cuts growth forecast for fourth time in a row (Axios)

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LA’s Little Armenia Kicks Off Season 2 of ‘No Passport Required’ with Marcus Samuelson January 20 on PBS

“I discovered how extremely diverse the community is, whether it’s Persian Armenian or Turkish Armenian,” the New York-based Samuelsson tells L.A. Weekly. “It has so many geographically different entry points and says a lot about the strength of the community and their commitment to holding on to these traditions. (Photo: Marcus Samuelson and Chef Ara Zada prepare an Armenian feast/ Wonho Frank Lee)

LA Weekly

L.A.’S LITTLE ARMENIA KICKS OFF SEASON 2 OF NO PASSPORT REQUIRED WITH MARCUS SAMUELSSON JANUARY 20 ON PBS

No Passport Required with Marcus Samuelsson, which explores the food and communities of America’s immigrant neighborhoods, kicks off season 2 on PBS January 20 with the premiere episode featuring L.A.’s Armenian community and cuisine.

The Ethiopian-born chef raised in Sweden journeys from East Hollywood to Glendale, visiting Phoenicia Restaurant, Mideast Tacos, Papillon International Bakery, Sahag’s Basturma among others meeting Armenians from Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Ethiopia and Egypt. From lule kabob to ghapama (pumpkin stuffed with apricots, rice and Aleppo peppers,) Samuelsson explores the rich Armenian history passed down from generations in L.A.’s foothills in the series co-produced with Eater.

“I discovered how extremely diverse the community is, whether it’s Persian Armenian or Turkish Armenian,” the New York-based Samuelsson tells L.A. Weekly. “It has so many geographically different entry points – which also means bringing a lot of different traditions together and says a lot about the strength of the community and their commitment to holding on to these traditions. I had some of the most delicious food and best conversations and saw how deeply proud these people are to be both Angelenos and Armenian.”

The premiere highlights the combination of younger chefs born in Los Angeles, blending new ingredients and techniques with traditional Armenian rituals passed down to them by their grandparents.

Read more at laweekly.com »


Related:

Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS Show ‘No Passport Required’ Returns for 2nd Season

Season 2 of NO PASSPORT REQUIRED with Marcus Samuelsson to Air Jan. 20 (Broadway World)

Watch a preview of the DC Ethiopian community episode of ‘No Passport Required’ Season 1:

PBS and VOX Media Announce New Series Hosted by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

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Preserving Cultural Heritage: The Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library

From the Life and Acts of St. Takla Haymanot. 18th century (Photo: Public Domain)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: January 7th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — In a timely article titled “These are the monks who still preserve ancient texts around the world,” America Magazine highlighted the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library (EMML) undertaking and what happens to cultural heritage during war and turmoil.

According to cambridge.org, EMML “is a joint project of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library (HMML) (formerly Monastic Manuscript Microfilm Library) of St. John’s Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota, U.S.A.” It was “established at the urging of His Holiness Abuna Tewoflos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who was much concerned about the dangers of irreparable damage and loss to the manuscript treasures of his Church. The purpose of the project is twofold: To preserve on microfilm the precious treasures of manuscripts and to make those source materials available for study by scholars both within and outside Ethiopia. Efforts are also being directed toward obtaining copies of Ethiopian manuscripts outside of Ethiopia.”

The recent piece in America Magazine, written by Columba Stewart — the Executive Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minnesota — focuses on the conservation efforts geared towards ancient texts, which initially started as a project to microfilm European Latin manuscripts in the 1960s.

“It was two decades after the devastation of the Second World War, three years after the Cuban missile crisis and during a very chilly phase of the Cold War,” Stewart writes. “We feared that the European Benedictine heritage would be vaporized if there were a World War III. Monte Cassino in Italy, the mother abbey of the Benedictines, had been totally destroyed in 1944. A nuclear war would be far more devastating.”

In Stewart’s highlight of the microfilming efforts conducted in Ethiopia he noted the following:

Along the way there came a serendipitous event that changed the course of the project. An American scholar of biblical texts approached us with the idea of microfilming manuscripts in the monasteries and churches of Ethiopia. This great African nation is the home of an ancient Christian community that had never undergone the narrowing of the biblical canon—the official list of writings constituting the Christian Bible—that occurred in other parts of the early Christian world. Consequently, Ethiopian Christians preserved a broad array of writings later excluded from the Bible of the Byzantine and Roman traditions. Microfilming began in 1971, with the work done by Ethiopians, the technical support from us and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other foundations.

The cameras kept going, working throughout the 1970s, 1980s and into the early 1990s. In the end, 9,000 manuscripts were microfilmed under often-harrowing circumstances.

The situation in Ethiopia worsened when a violent revolution deposed the emperor and installed a communist government hostile to the church. What had begun as a kind of archeological expedition to discover ancient texts became a rescue project to preserve manuscripts in a nation convulsed by political upheaval and then a civil war. The cameras kept going, working throughout the 1970s, 1980s and into the early 1990s. In the end, 9,000 manuscripts were microfilmed under often-harrowing circumstances.

The Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library also demonstrates what happens to manuscripts in times of turmoil. A few years back, a professor from Howard University approached one of our experts for help identifying an Ethiopian manuscript recently donated to the university. She showed him photographs of the manuscript, and he recognized it as one of the thousands microfilmed in our project. After it was photographed in 1976, the manuscript had been taken out of Ethiopia and found its way into a private collection in the United States.

Unlike most stories of this kind, this one had a happy ending: Howard University repatriated the manuscript to the monastery in Ethiopia from which it had been taken. Sadly more typical is the case of another, even more valuable, Ethiopian manuscript microfilmed in the 1970s. That one is now in a well-known private collection. In its online catalog, the provenance given for the manuscript is simply the name of the dealer from whom it was purchased.

By the time those manuscripts were taken out of Ethiopia, the colonial era was over. International protocols and national laws regulated the export of cultural heritage. Neither of these manuscripts should have adorned a private collection or enriched a dealer. This story illustrates two of the greatest threats to cultural heritage: the desperation that leads people to sell off their own heritage in order to feed their families and the profiteering by those who exploit that misfortune.

Read the full article at americamagazine.org »


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Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Growth

Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in financial support from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (Photo: Reuters)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Economic Growth

Ethiopia forecasts economic growth will accelerate to 10.8% for the fiscal year ending in July underpinned by its reforms, from 9% in the previous year, according to the National Bank of Ethiopia.

“The proper implementation of the recently launched Home Grown Economic Reform Program is expected to contribute toward developing a modern, vibrant, competitive and sound financial system,” according to the NBE annual report.

Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in financial support from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Abiy, last year’s Nobel laureate, has opened up Ethiopia’s once tightly controlled political and economic space since taking power in April 2018. Africa’s second-most populous nation is liberalizing state-owned telecommunications, sugar and energy companies.

Ethiopia’s current-account deficit narrowed to $4.5 billion in 2018-19 from $5.3 billion a year earlier, the central bank said. Exports were $2.77 billion, compared to $15.1 billion of imports in the same period.


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Portrait of a Young Woman From Ethiopia Among 10 of World’s Earliest Photographs

In the 1800s, French explorer Jules Borelli published a photo diary capturing his journey to Ethiopia including this portrait of a young woman (1885-1888) among images of people from the Amhara, Oromo and Sidama ethnic groups. (Photo by Jules Borelli. Credit: Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac / RMN Grand Palais)

CNN

The stories behind 10 of the world’s earliest known photographs

As early cameras began spreading out from Europe in the middle of the 19th century, photography became an increasingly powerful medium for obtaining and disseminating information about the wider world.
People and places that had previously only been captured through art or in written accounts could suddenly be depicted with unprecedented accuracy. With this new medium, local administrators and commercial photography studios, in cities from Hong Kong to Calcutta, helped build a richer visual history of life in the 1800s.

A recent exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi brought together 250 of the earliest known photographs from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas, the oldest of which dates back to 1842. CNN asked the show’s curator, Christine Barthe, to pick 10 images from the museum’s collection and explain what they reveal about the places — and times — they were taken in.

Portrait of a young woman, Ethiopia (1885-1888)


A photographic portrait by French explorer Jules Borelli. Credit: Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac / RMN Grand Palais

French explorer Jules Borelli produced detailed illustrated diaries of his travels in Ethiopia, where he often photographed people from the Amhara, Oromo and Sidama ethnic groups.

This albumen image stood out to Barthe because of the young woman’s “mysterious smile.” Unlike the more formal or ethnographic portraits of the era, the subject appears relaxed, changing the mood of the image.

“We can see some kind of relationship between the the photographer and the person being photographed,” said Barthe. “(Her smile suggests) that there is some kind of complicity with the photographer, or something funny happening, though we don’t know if it’s ironic or something else.”

See the full list at CNN.com »


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Art Talk: Prince Alämayyähu, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou & Julie Mehretu Featured in Yasiin Bey NYC Exhibit ‘Negus’

Prince Alämayyähu and yasiin bey (American, born 1973), 2015 THE THIRD LINE

Forbes

Experiencing Yasiin Bey: Negus

I went into yasiin bey: Negus with only the vaguest understanding of the exhibit, which opened in November at the Brooklyn Museum and runs through January 26th. I knew that I had to reserve a ticket in advance and arrive on time, and that I wouldn’t be able to use my phone, for anything, once inside the gallery.

I also knew it was the only way to hear bey’s latest record, Negus, which comprises eight new tracks and original music by the celebrated Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, a 96-year-old nun. I knew nothing of the visual art in the exhibit, which includes works by bey as well as Ala Ebtekar, Julie Mehretu and José Parlá, or how the listening portion would work.

Out of respect for the artist’s desire to keep the experience real-time, and the music exclusive to the exhibit itself — Negus has not been released in any format, either digital or analog — I thought I’d share only a few observations.

Upon entering the exhibit I was given a pair of headphones in exchange for locking my cellphone inside a small case that I was allowed to keep with me. Soon, gentle piano music filled my personal aural space, and I entered a foyer to the main gallery. On the wall were didactic texts about yasiin bey, the other artists in the exhibit and the word “negus,” which I learned comes from the ancient Semitic Ethiopian language Ge` ez, and means “king” or “ruler.”

For bey, the term applies to all those who have led “noble” lives, but he cites a few in particular: Alämayyähu Tewodros, an Ethiopian prince who committed suicide in 1879, at age 18, after his father was killed and he was sent to be raised in Britain, where he was among very few Ethiopians in the country at that time; Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who died of cervical cancer at age 31 and whose biopsies would provide the basis for major advances in cancer research in the mid-20th Century; and the rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle, who was shot to death outside his Marathon Clothing store in South Los Angeles earlier this year.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Changes Anti-Terror Law

The parliament building in Addis Ababa. (Reuters photo)

By Reuters

Ethiopia Relaxes Curbs on Political Gatherings With New Anti-Terror Law

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday passed an anti-terrorism law that relaxed restrictions on political gatherings, broadening reforms introduced under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The legislation repealed the 2009 anti-terrorism law that said staging gatherings that could cause “serious interference or disruption of any public services” was an act of terrorism.

The new legislation states: “If the disruption of public services was caused by a legally recognized protest, meetings or job strikes, the act will not be taken as a terrorist act.”

Since coming to power in 2018, Abiy has implemented a series of reforms that have reshaped public life in Ethiopia.

He made peace with Eritrea, freed political prisoners, and is opening up the economy to foreign investment by loosening state control.

The country is due to hold a general election this year, which will test the popularity of Abiy’s reforms.

Under the new law, Ethiopians who suffer abuses at the hands of law enforcement can receive compensation of up to 50,000 Ethiopian Birr ($1,500).

For anyone convicted of terrorism, though, the new law maintains sentences of death or jail terms of 15 years to life.

Although Abiy’s reforms have drawn plaudits and won him a Nobel prize, a freer environment has stirred violence in some areas as previously repressed ethnic groups assert their newly found freedom and demand a bigger share of the nation’s resources.


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Angelina Jolie Visits Ethiopia with Zahara & Shiloh — and Met Nation’s First Female President

Angelina Jolie, Zahara [who was born in Ethiopia] and Shiloh in a meeting with the President of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde. (OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT)

People

Angelina Jolie is returning to a place close to her heart.

The actress, 44, visited Ethiopia with four of her kids — Shiloh, 13, and Zahara, 14, who was born in the African country, as well as 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. The family will stay in the region for New Year’s Eve.

While there, Jolie brought Shiloh and Zahara to meet with Sahle-Work Zewde, the president of Ethiopia and the first woman to hold the office. It was a special treat for Zahara, who turns 15 on Jan. 8.

Their talks covered education, sanitary pad solutions to help girls continue their schooling (girls often stay home from class while menstruating due to lack of supplies), and Ethiopian culture and history. The group also discussed Jolie’s ongoing efforts to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The actress and activist has funded efforts for over a decade through the Zahara Program, named after her daughter. The Jolie Pitt Foundation partnered with the Global Health Committee and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health in 2009 to create an initiative to treat drug-resistant TB.

Their work has led to continuing success in treating people with TB in the region.

Read more »


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Cheers, Tears, Prayers for 2020

Confetti falls at midnight on the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Cheers, tears, prayers for 2020: A new decade is ushered in

Revelers around the globe are bidding farewell to a decade that will be remembered for the rise of social media, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement and, of course, President Donald Trump. A look at how the world is ushering in 2020:
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NEW YORK

Fireworks burst and confetti fell as throngs of revelers cheered the start of 2020 in New York City’s Times Square.

In one of the globe’s most-watched New Year’s Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole.

About 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The crowds packed into the heart of Manhattan mouthed lyrics and waved yellow and purple balloons in a frenzy as midnight approached.

“It was a dream, I wanted to do it so this year a lot of people helped me to get here so I’m here, and I’m thankful for that,” said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The fun was evident, but some important global issues were driven home as well.

Spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, high school science teachers and students pressed the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to the new year.
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RIO DE JANEIRO

About 3 million people welcomed 2020 at Brazil’s iconic Copacabana beach as almost 34,000 pounds (15,420 kilograms) of colorful fireworks went off for 14 minutes after midnight.

Rio de Janeiro holds one of the biggest New Year parties in the world, with music, drinks and religious rituals on the shores. Many dress in white in a traditional sign of their hope for peace. About 2,000 policemen are working to ensure party-goers are safe. Authorities say only minor incidents have been reported so far.

Many locals and tourists are expected to stick around Copacabana until Wednesday’s sunrise for their first dip of the year in the ocean, expecting to wash away their troubles from 2019. Summer in Rio often brings high temperatures early on.

The party in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s metropolis, took about 2 million people to Paulista Avenue, the city’s main road. Nearly all the 6,000 pounds (2,720 kilograms) of fireworks used there were silent so pets did not get too bothered by the noise.

___

PARIS

A joyful crowd of Parisians and tourists walked, biked and used scooters to reach the Champs-Elysees for the new year celebrations, in a city with almost no public transport amid massive strikes.

Revelers converged at the famous avenue to watch a light show at the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a fireworks display at midnight. Paris police set up a security perimeter around the Champs-Elysees area with a ban on alcohol and traffic restrictions.

All metro lines in the French capital were closed except for two automatic lines, and only a few night buses were running, as Tuesday marked the 27th consecutive day of transport strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the French pension system.

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ROME

Pope Francis delighted tourists and Romans in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday night when he took a stroll to admire the Nativity scene. Shouts of “Pope! Pope!” and “Happy New Year!” resounded as families rushed to catch a glimpse of him or thrust out their infant in hopes he would pat their heads or pinch their cheeks.

One woman grabbed the pope’s hand and pulled him toward her to shake it. Francis, 83, exclaimed and then struck the woman’s hand twice to free his hand.

At a New Year’s Eve Vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis urged people to practice more solidarity and to “build bridges, not walls.” Since becoming pontiff in 2013, Francis has preached openness — a reform-minded agenda that has irritated a small but vocal group of ultra-conservatives in the church.

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HONG KONG

Revelers as well as pro-democracy protesters flocked to sites across Hong Kong to usher in 2020.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city has toned down New Year’s celebrations amid the monthslong demonstrations. The protests have repeatedly sparked pitched battles with police and have taken their toll on Hong Kong’s nightlife and travel industries.

A fireworks display that traditionally lights up famed Victoria Harbor was canceled amid safety concerns, while some roads were closed and barriers set up in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district to control crowds.

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RUSSIA

Russians began the world’s longest continuous New Year’s Eve with fireworks and a message from President Vladimir Putin urging them to work together in the coming year.

Putin made the call in a short speech broadcast on television just before the stroke of midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones. The recorded message was followed by an image of the Kremlin Clock and the sound of its chimes. State TV showed footage of extensive festive fireworks in cities of the Far East.

But one holiday tradition was missing in Moscow this year — a picturesque layer of snow. The Russian capital has had an unusually warm December and temperatures in central Moscow as midnight approached were just above freezing.

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AUSTRALIA

More than a million people descended on a hazy Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas to ring in the new year despite the ongoing wildfire crisis ravaging New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

The 9 p.m. fireworks over Sydney’s iconic landmarks was briefly delayed due to strong winds, but revelers clearly enjoyed themselves in a desperately needed tonic for the state.

New South Wales has born the brunt of the wildfire damage, which has razed more than 1,000 homes nationwide and killed 12 people in the past few months.

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NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s major cities greeted the new year with fireworks as the nation appeared happy to be done with a year of challenges, both natural and man-made.

On March 15, a lone gunman identified killed 51 people and wounded dozens at two mosques in the South Island city of Christchurch. In December, an eruption of volcanic White Island off the east coast of the North Island killed at least 19 tourists and tour guides.

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SAMOA

Fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital, Apia. The end of the year celebration was a time of sadness and remembrance.

A measles epidemic in late 2019 claimed 81 lives, mostly children under 5.

More than 5,600 measles cases were recorded in the nation of just under 200,000. With the epidemic now contained, the Samoa Observer newspaper named as its Person of the Year health workers who fought the outbreak.

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LONDON

Londoners watched a spectacular fireworks display from the banks of the River Thames that was launched from the London Eye and barges near Parliament.

The familiar chimes of London’s Big Ben clock tower rung in the new year, even though they have been silent for most of 2019 because of extensive restoration work.

To the north, the multi-day Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations in Edinburgh began Monday night with a torchlight parade through the streets of the Scottish capital.

Security was tight in both cities and elsewhere in Britain following a recent extremist attack on London Bridge that claimed two lives. Police arrested five men on suspicion of terrorism offenses Monday but said the arrests were not related to the London Bridge attack or to celebrations.

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SOUTH AFRICA

Thousands of revelers gathered at Cape Town’s Waterfront area to ring in the new year with music, dancing and fireworks in front of the city’s iconic Table Mountain.

In past years, residents of Johannesburg’s poor Hillbrow neighborhood would celebrate the New Year by tossing furniture, appliances and even refrigerators from the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings. Police have issued stern warnings, and it appears the dangerous tradition has declined.

In a somber statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa said “while our economy created jobs, these have not been nearly enough to stop the rise in unemployment or the deepening of poverty.”

South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka was deported from Uganda, where she was to perform at a New Year’s Eve event. Ugandan police cited visa issues, but Ugandan media reported it was because she had voiced support for Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine, the most potent opposition challenger to President Yoweri Museveni.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

For nearly 10 minutes, fireworks lit the sky over Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands gathered downtown to watch the spectacular display.

The New Year’s Eve display at the 828-meter-tall (2,716-foot-tall) skyscraper was just one of seven different fireworks shows across the emirate. Tourists, especially from Europe and Russia, flocked to the sunny beaches of Dubai at this time of year to escape the cold, dark winter.

To keep the massive crowds safe, police created walkways around the Burj Khalifa tower for male-only groups to separate them from families and women.

Dubai this year will be hosting Expo 2020, a world fair that brings the most cutting-edge and futuristic technologies.

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JAPAN

People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the the first New Year’s of the Reiwa era.

Under Japan’s old-style calendar, linked to emperors’ rules, Reiwa started in May, after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son Naruhito became emperor. Although Reiwa is entering its second year with 2020, Jan. 1 still marks Reiwa’s first New Year’s, the most important holiday in Japan.

Stalls at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo sold sweet rice wine, fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little amulets in the shape of mice, the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it’s associated with starting anew.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, an event that is creating much anticipation for the entire nation.

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INDONESIA

Tens of thousands of revelers in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta were soaked by torrential rains as they waited for New Year’s Eve fireworks while others in the country were wary of an active volcano.

Festive events along coastal areas near the Sunda Strait were dampened by a possible larger eruption of Anak Krakatau, an island volcano that erupted last year just ahead of Christmas Day, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 430 people.

The country’s volcanology agency has warned locals and tourists to stay 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) from the volcano’s crater following an eruption Tuesday that blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air.

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SOUTH KOREA

Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off an exhausting 2019 highlighted by political scandals, decaying job markets and crumbling diplomacy with North Korea.

Dignitaries ringing the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo, a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.

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GERMANY

Hundreds of thousands of revelers were expected to ring in the New Year in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Several German cities including Munich and Hamburg have banned private fireworks amid concerns about the danger and environmental impacts from the increasingly powerful fireworks. A recent poll by the Forsa research institute found 59% of Germans would support a ban on private fireworks in city centers, while 37% were opposed.

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LAS VEGAS

Tourism officials expected more than 300,000 revelers for fireworks fired at midnight from atop seven casinos on the resort-lined Las Vegas Strip. Thousands more were expected for live music and an LED light and sound show at the downtown Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall.

“I tell people to expect one of the better fireworks they’re ever going to see,” said Michael Austin, a country music singer from Nashville, Tennessee, who was booked to perform in Las Vegas. “Swarms of people getting along, bringing in the new year.”

Juan and Isabel Tinajero, making their first family visit to Las Vegas, said they hoped 2020 brings less stress than 2019.

“I expect a great show,” Juan Tinajero said as Isabel pushed a stroller along the Las Vegas Strip sidewalk. “It’s Vegas, right?”

___

HONOLULU

Revelers packed beaches from Waikiki to the Big Island as Hawaii residents and visitors prepared to ring in the new decade.

A strong winter swell brought heavy waves to north- and west-facing shores of the islands Monday, nearly triggering the iconic Waimea Bay big wave contest named after Hawaiian surfing legend Eddie Aikau.

The waves weren’t quite big enough for the green light on the North Shore Oahu surfing competition, but waters across the archipelago saw above-average sets of rollers that some surfers took full advantage of.

On Oahu, people packed the streets of Waikiki, where a fireworks display would welcome 2020. But across the island at Ko Olina and Turtle Bay resorts, people gathered to the sounds of bumping music as tiki torches burned along walkways.

Comedian Bill Maher was spotted leaving one hotel as he prepared for his annual comedy show in Honolulu.

Fireworks displays both big and small were expected across the islands as the sanctioned shows competed with the less legal versions of the explosive festivities in neighborhoods on every island.

At Ko Olina Resort on Oahu’s west side, people watched sun dip below the horizon of the Pacific as the sky turned shades of orange and red before a deep blue sky took over. A traditional Hawaii luau was set for later in the evening, with fire and hula dancers set to entertain the crowds.


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Ethiopia Election 2020 Campaign Update: Prominent activist Joins Opposition Party

Jawar Mohammed joins opposition party. (Image: In this Thursday Oct. 24, 2019 file photo, Jawar Mohammed speaks during an interview with Associated Press at his house in Addis Ababa/AP photo / Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Prominent activist Joins Opposition Party

ADDIS ABABA (AP) — A prominent activist for Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group has announced that he’s joined an opposition party.

Jawar Mohammed’s membership in the Oromo Federalist Congress party comes five months before general elections that will test the popularity of reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the east African nation of more than 100 million people.

“I have been working with the party as a supporter for a long time,” Jawar told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I am attracted to the party because of their clear and strong stand on federalism.”

Jawar and the party are expected to call for greater autonomy for Ethiopia’s regional states, including Oromia, which is the largest and most populous.

Bitter ethnic rivalries resulting in violent clashes are one of the most serious challenges to Abiy’s government. More than 1,200 people were killed and more than 1.2 million others displaced in clashes in the country within the past year, Ethiopia’s Attorney General Office disclosed in September. The clashes, most of which took place along ethnic lines, threaten Abiy’s reforms.

Until recently, Jawar was seen as an ally of the prime minister. When he was living in the U.S. many say Jawar played a key role on social media in mobilizing widespread protests that led the previous prime minister to resign and saw Abiy rise to power in April, 2018.

Last year, Abiy relaxed restrictions on political activists which allowed Jawar and others to return to Ethiopia without fear of arrest.

But recently frictions emerged between Abiy and Jawar. In October Abiy criticized “media personalities with foreign passports” for causing troubles in Ethiopia, a comment widely seen as criticism of Jawar.

A day later, Jawar alleged there were attempts to remove his government-provided security guards and hundreds of his supporters flocked to his residence to offer him protection. Unrest that followed in some parts of the country, mainly Oromia, resulted in the deaths of several dozen people.

Jawar, owner of the Oromo Media Network which has a television station, website and magazine, has more than 1.7 million followers on Facebook and a large support base in the Oromia region.

“I will use my influence, network, and experience to help strengthen the party,” he said, adding that the party will decide what office he will run for in the upcoming elections in May, 2020.

One last hurdle remains before he can launch a political career, however. Jawar holds U.S. citizenship, which prevents him from being a candidate for office in Ethiopia. He said he has started the process of relinquishing his U.S. passport and regaining his Ethiopian citizenship. He said “it will be completed soon.”

Jawar is seen by many as a polarizing figure. While many in Oromia consider him a hero who pushed hard for change in Ethiopia, others call him an opportunist who is waiting for the right time to assume power.

“Jawar joining the opposition party’s leadership would convert the party into a major political force, as he is popular among Oromo and has considerable ability to influence and mobilize Oromo voters using his various media platforms,” William Davison, International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, told the AP.


Related:

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2020 is Election Season Across Africa

Ethiopia Election 2020 Campaign Update

Ethiopia: Board commences election materials printing

Electoral Board Making Preparations For 2020 Elections

Efforts to End Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Draw Criticism from Within

Ethiopia braces for highly-anticipated parliamentary election in May 2020

Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election (AFP)

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Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

Ethiopia Habtemariam is one of the producers behind the new documentary Hitsville: The Making of Motown. (@tadiasmag on Instagram)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Updated: January 2nd, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — As we close the year we wish our readers around the world a happy and prosperous new year!

Below is our annual list of the top 10 Arts & Culture stories featured on our website in 2019.

Maaza Mengiste’s New Novel ‘The Shadow King’


Maaza Mengiste’s latest novel, ‘The Shadow King.’ (Photo by Nina Subin)

Maaza Mengiste’s new novel The Shadow King was released this year to enthusiastic and well-deserved reviews by several national media organizations including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and NPR. As our readers know, Maaza is one of our favorite Ethiopian-American writers and her latest work brings to light the seldom-told role of heroic Ethiopian women during World War II and Ethiopia’s legendary victory against fascist occupation forces. We can’t agree more with NPR that “the star of the novel, however, is Maaza’s writing, which makes The Shadow King nearly impossible to put down.” As Time Magazine noted, naming The Shadow King on their list of 100 must read books of 2019: “Maaza Mengiste tells an unforgettable story steeped in the history of her home country. Hirut, an orphan, works as a maid subjected to the oppressive impulses of men — until she steps up to become a war hero, helping to defend Ethiopia against Mussolini’s invasion in 1935, a precursor to World War II. The Shadow King is a propulsive read that captures a historical moment from a fresh perspective, speaking to timeless themes about women’s power and oppression and the cost of war.”

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art


Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

It’s exciting to share the opening of Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey showcasing her work dating back to 1996. The traveling exhibition was launched at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California this past October. “The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration,” the Museum said in a statement. “Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, [is] explored in depth.” The show features about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.” The traveling exhibition – co-organized by LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art – is set for its next major opening in New York City, Julie’s hometown, in September 2020. Then the show is scheduled to travel to Atlanta to be displayed at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, before moving on to Minnesota for an exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021. This exhibition is a must-see.

Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s Film “Bereka” Goes to Sundance 2020 Festival


Nesanet Teshager Abegaze at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, August 2019. (Courtesy of the artist)

This past summer Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s debut film Bereka won the Best Experimental Film award at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia. In January 2020 the short film is set to be screened at Sundance , the biggest independent film festival in the United States, which takes place every year in Salt Lake City, Utah. The film’s title is a reference to the third round of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, but the heart of the story is personal as Nesanet chronicles a family’s unexpected flight out of Gondar and decades later the jubilant homecoming of the grandchildren back to Ethiopia. Nesanet recently told Tadias that “the whole film came together in a very organic way,” noting that she had been recording audio as part of a family archive project for several years. We congratulate Nesanet and wish her all the best at Sundance and beyond.

Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS Show ‘No Passport Required’ Returns for Second Season


Marcus Samuelsson’s popular PBS TV show ‘No Passport Required’ is set to return for a new season in January 2020. (Photo courtesy: Eater.com)

Marcus Samuelsson’s popular TV show, No Passport Required, is scheduled to return for a second season in January 2020 highlighting diverse immigrant food traditions in American cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, Boston, Las Vegas and Philadelphia. “An immigrant himself — born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, now a celebrated chef, restaurateur, author and resident of Harlem — Marcus Samuelsson is passionate about sharing and celebrating the food of America’s vibrant communities,” PBS stated. “Each episode shows how important food can be in bringing Americans — old and new — together around the table…In each city, he’ll visit local restaurants, markets and family homes, learning about each community’s cuisine and heritage.” The first season included highlight of Ethiopian food and culture in Washington D.C. via PBS, one of the largest television program distributors in the United States. No Passport Required is produced in collaboration with Vox Media. “We are thrilled to be working with PBS and Marcus to continue capturing these authentic stories focusing on the communities that make this nation so rich and dynamic,” said Marty Moe, President of Vox Media. Likewise, we are proud of Marcus and look forward to the next season in 2020!

Ethiopian Cultural Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York


Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019. (Photo: CMA)

On June 2nd, 2019 an interactive arts workshop inspired by artists from Ethiopia including Ezra Wube, Addis Gezehagn, Elias Sime, Afewerk Tekle as well as singer and songwriter Gigi was held at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City. The well-attended family-friendly event was organized by the CMA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee (ESAC) and included Ethiopian music, Eskista dance, and a coffee ceremony in addition to children’s game and art stations.

Tightrope, The First Major Traveling Museum Exhibition of Elias Sime


Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, comprising of work from the last decade, was presented by the Wellin Museum of Art through December 8, 2O19. (Photo credit: Brett Moen. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York)

Ethiopia-based Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling U.S. museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, and comprising of work from the last decade, was presented by the Wellin Museum of Art from September 7 to December 8, 2019. As Hasabie Kidanu reported for Tadias: “The prolific and multi-disciplinary artist works primarily within the language of architecture, sculpture, and collage. Sime’s works are created from repurposing objects often carefully sourced from Merkato — Addis’ sprawling open air market. Sime often collects discarded electrical components that have traveled from around the globe to his hometown. Through a meticulous hand, the salvaged materials are cut, layered, collaged, and woven. The end result renews refuse into a new form – large colorful and lyrical compositions, pointing to the universal human struggle as a ‘balancing act’ of our relationship to technological progress, waste, resourcefulness, and environmental sustainability.” Speaking about his work Elias shares: “My art is a reflection of who I am as a human being without borders, labels, and imposed identity. There is a sense of unity and cooperation that I reflect through my art. At the root of all of it is love and passion. With this exhibition, including many years of my work, I hope the students and other visitors will share my feelings expressed on the arts.” The traveling exhibition is also scheduled to go to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio (February 29 through May 24, 2020), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11 through September 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (December 12, 2020 through April 18, 2021).

Addis Ababa Among Six Dynamic Emerging Art Capitals in Africa


Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life: Market Day (2018). Courtesy Addis Fine Art.

In 2019 Addis Ababa was named among six dynamic emerging art capitals on the African continent by Artnet News website. Among the institutions featured in the article include “Alle School of Fine Art & Design (Ethiopia’s most important art school founded in 1958, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie); Addis Fine Art (The most notable commercial gallery in the capital will also be opening a new location in London’s Cromwell Place gallery hub in 2020); Guramane Art Center (A gallery dedicated to emerging Ethiopian artists); and Zoma (a museum founded by artist Elias Sime and curator Meskerem Assegued, which opened in April 2019 and shows contemporary art from East Africa and abroad).”

Ethiopia Habtemariam and Hitsville: The Making of Motown Documentary Celebrating its 60th Anniversary


Ethiopia Habtemariam is one of the producers behind the new documentary Hitsville: The Making of Motown.

Ethiopia Habtemariam is a first-generation Ethiopian-American who is currently the President of Motown Records and President of Urban Music at Universal Publishing Music Group. Earlier this year speaking about Motown’s 60th anniversary and a documentary film she was working on to celebrate the special occasion Ethiopia promised in an interview with InStyle magazine that she was “bringing back f—ing Motown.” And based on media reviews and audience reactions to Hitsville: The Making of Motown, it is clear that Ethiopia has delivered on her words. “Some of the archive clips trigger goosebumps, while Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson radiate charm in this affectionate anniversary tribute to Detroit’s influential record label,” enthused The Guardian. “Young, gifted and black – and so many of them. Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson: all under one roof in a suburban house in Detroit, a sign hanging above the porch: “Hitsville, USA”.

Watch: Hitsville: The Making of Motown (2019) Official Trailer | SHOWTIME Documentary Film

Hitsville: The Making of Motown was produced for SHOWTIME by executive producers Berry Gordy, Steve Barnett, Marty Bandier, David Blackman, Ethiopia Habtemariam and Michelle Jubelirer.

Tommy T’s newest Single ‘Anchin’ Featuring Mahmoud Ahmed


Cover of Tommy T’s recent single ‘Anchin’ featuring Mahmoud Ahmed. (Courtesy photo)

Tommy T (Thomas Gobena) released a new song in 2019 featuring his musical hero the legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed and it continues to receive rave reviews. Four years go Tommy T — the Ethiopian-born bass player for the American punk band, Gogol Bordello — met up with Mahmoud at a Stephen Marley concert in Washington D.C. where Mahmoud was performing a song for the opening. That same evening Tommy pitched a song idea to Mahmoud, which turned into the new single Anchin released online on July 2nd, 2019. “I had a chance to share with him a concept of a song that I had worked on a while back, and he eventually agreed to collaborate,” Tommy told Tadias. “Out of the collaboration on this song I also got a chance to direct my first music video for this single.”

Watch: Tommy T featuring Mahmoud Ahmed – ANCHIN አንቺን

Anchin (Amharic for ‘you’ in feminine pronoun), is a follow up to Tommy T’s first solo album entitled The Prestor John Sessions issued in 2009. As Tommy shared in a press release the self-released single launched on Tommy’s new platform, Afroxoid, “is a continuation of his work in exploring the vast world of afro-rhythms combined with an Ethiopian melody, and will guide the listener on a cross-cultural musical journey.”

Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week


The 2019 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa from October 9-12th. (Image: Fetel Design. Photo by Lenny White)

The annual Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week celebrated its ninth anniversary in 2019. This year’s runway show held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa from October 9-12th featured both local and international designers from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa. Past participants of Hub of Africa Fashion Week have gone on to participate in New York African Fashion Week as well as Berlin Fashion Week and received international media coverage including on CNN, Vogue Italia, Fashion TV, and BBC. According to Mahlet Teklemariam, Founder of the Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week, the British Council served as the facilitator of a “Made in Ethiopia” event this year, which featured producers of textile, leather, manufacturing and other sectors of the industry.” Organizers point out that “fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry of which Africa only has a minute share… and the annual fashion week in Ethiopia’s capital “seeks to remedy this and has worked diligently towards this growth.”


Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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Ethiopia’s Draft Proclamation: Comparative View on Hate Speech & Hate Crime

A taxi driver in Addis Ababa reading news on his mobile phone. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 28th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — As Ethiopia prepares to pass “Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation,” there has been very little meaningful public discussion regarding what exactly constitutes hate speech and hate crime.

In the short term, from the government’s perspective, the upcoming law is designed to fight the ongoing threat of misinformation — particularly on social media platforms, which often leads to deadly violence on the ground as well as destruction of property, usually on ethnocentric and religious lines. There could be no doubt that inciting violence and burning down places of business, residential houses, public buildings or sanctuaries of worship including churches and mosques, which has become a more common occurrence in Ethiopia, are pure criminal acts and not freedom of expression by any standard of the definition.

Here in the United States — another diverse country with its own issues of hate speech, racial or ethnic discrimination, and gun violence — the constitution unambiguously forbids that the government “shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech, or of the press,” yet hate crime and arson are clearly defined as illegal federal offenses resulting in stiff penalties under the national penal code including years of imprisonment.

Hate Crime

According to the American Library Association (ALA), in the U.S.:

Hate itself is not a crime. The FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate crimes, which can also encompass color, or national origin, are overt acts that can include violence against persons or property, violation of civil rights, conspiracy, or certain “true threats,” or acts of intimidation. The Supreme Court has upheld laws that either criminalize these acts or impose a harsher punishment when it can be proven that the defendant targeted the victim because of the victim’s race, ethnicity, identity, or beliefs.

Similarly, arson is against federal law as described in 18 U.S.C. § 844(i) that intentionally setting fire to both commercial and private spaces are punishable by a hefty prison term of up to 20 years behind bars. “If a violation resulted in personal injury to any person, the maximum sentence is 40 years in jail, with a minimum of 7 years.”

Hate Speech

On the other hand, “Hate speech doesn’t have a legal definition under U.S. law, just as there is no legal definition for rudeness, evil ideas, unpatriotic speech, or any other kind of speech that people might condemn,” explains ALA. “Generally, however, hate speech is any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons.” The U.S. Supreme Court empathizes that the nation “must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate ‘breathing space’ to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Tolerance of hate speech not only protects and upholds everyone’s right to express outrageous, unorthodox or unpopular speech; it also allows society and the targets of hate speech to know about and respond to racist or hateful speech and protect against its harms.”

The Problem with Ethiopia’s Proclamation

Given that Ethiopia’s history of oppression and suppression of free speech it is understandable that international human rights organizations are expressing skepticism and concern about this recent proclamation’s unintended long-term effects. For instance, what kind of guarantees are included in the legislation to prevent politicians from weaponizing the legal loophole to target their opponents and journalists? This loophole must be addressed through the judicial system and not left up to the goodwill of any current or future leader.

According to Human Rights Watch the draft bill, which has already been approved at a cabinet level, jeopardizes Ethiopia’s newly found freedom of expression. In a press release issued on December 19th the the New York-based rights group warned that if it becomes law in its current form, “the Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation could significantly curtail freedom of expression,” noting that “the use of hate speech laws around the world shows that authorities have often abused them for political purposes.”

“The government should instead adopt a comprehensive strategy to address incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility, and invoke non-punitive measures to address hate speech,” Human Rights Watch added. “This should include regular public messaging from the prime minister and other public figures about the dangers of hate speech, programs to improve digital literacy, and efforts to encourage self-regulation within and between communities.”

More importantly, Human Rights Watch cautions the following:

The draft proclamation’s definition of hate speech is not narrowly restricted to speech that is likely to incite imminent violence, discrimination or hostility, as is required under international law…Nor does the draft law set out an objective process to make this determination” adding that “the draft includes new, vaguely worded online, broadcast and print activities subject to criminal penalty. It criminalizes the “dissemination of disinformation” defined as speech that is knowingly “false,” without defining this concept. It also sets criminal penalties if speech is not “truthful.”

Given that Ethiopia is at the crossroads — in the process of easing prior restrictions on freedom of expression while grappling with increasing acts of ethnic and religion-based violence — it is critical that this draft proclamation uphold the spirit of freedom of speech while also properly defining which actions specifically constitutes as hate-crime rather than unleashing broad, sweeping measures that could be politically used to silence any unwanted opposition. Restricting hate crimes while upholding free speech is by no means an easy challenge, but it’s possible, and it begins with having an informed national dialogue.


Related:

Narrow hate speech law will not broaden minds: by Girmachew Alemu

Rights Group Calls New Law in Ethiopia a Threat to Freedom of Expression (VOA)

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Ethiopia Charges Former Head of State Electricity Firm, Others With Corruption

Zinabu Tunu, Spokesperson and Communication Affair Director of Attorney General of Ethiopia, takes questions from journalists during a news conference in Addis Ababa, on January 25, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia on Friday charged the former head of the state electricity company and the former deputy head of military-run industrial conglomerate METEC with corruption in relation to the giant hydroelectric dam the country is building.

Azeb Asnake and Mulu Woldegebriel were charged in relation to a 5.1 billion Ethiopian birr (about $159 million) contract awarded to METEC to clear a forest area where water from the dam on the Nile River is planned to flow, Attorney General office spokesman Zinabu Tunu told Reuters.

At least half of the money was wasted and the contract was never finalised, he said.

Azeb is the former CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power and Mulu is the former deputy head of METEC.

Azeb did not respond to phone calls seeking comment after Friday’s announcement by the attorney general’s office. Mulu, previously charged in a separate corruption case involving METEC, is in jail awaiting trial in that case.

Nearly 50 other people, some of them former METEC officials and others employees of private companies involved in the contract, were charged along with the two senior officials, the spokesman said.

The case is the latest probe into graft by the government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office last year vowing to clean up state-owned firms and the military.

He cancelled many METEC contracts, including one related to the nearly $5 billion Grand Renaissance Dam.

Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Editing by Maggie Fick and Mark Potter


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From kiosks to Concrete Jungle: Why Urban Growth Isn’t Always Good – Addis Ababa in Cartoon

Addis Ababa-based artist Yemsrach Yetneberk on how the radical spread of the Ethiopian capital is changing neighbourhoods. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

Originally trained as an architect, Yemsrach Yetneberk now runs an illustration based company, Laughing Gas Design, with her brother in Addis Ababa.

See the full story at theguardian.com »


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Washington Post on Tommy T’s New Song

Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena (standing) and Mahmoud Ahmed (seated). (Bereket Essayas and Nebiyou Elias)

The Washington Post

Tommy T wrote a great song. Then he convinced one of his heroes to sing it.

Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena had all the pieces of a terrific song. He had a fistful of intricate melodies, inspired by Ethiopian folk music and shimmering like rare jewels. There was a thick reggae pulse — a thump masquerading as a lilt. And, of course, there was that low, latent, guiding groove coming from Tommy’s own bass guitar. Now he just needed someone to sing it.

Jump ahead to a Stephen Marley concert at Washington’s 9:30 Club at which Tommy spotted one of his musical heroes dancing in the wings. It was the legendary vocalist Mahmoud Ahmed. Was this really happening? Here was one of the greatest Ethiopian singers alive moving his body to a reggae beat. “I heard his voice on the track in that moment,” Tommy says.

Read more »


Related:

Spotlight: Tommy T’s newest Single ‘Anchin’ Featuring Mahmoud Ahmed (TADIAS)

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In Praise of Barack Obama, Music Critic

President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, center, with performers at the White House in 2015. (Credit...Amanda Lucidon/White House)

The New York Times

The former president’s annual year-end playlist never fails to delight.

In recent years, one unlikely [music] critic has emerged whose year-end list I find myself coveting: Barack Obama, who every December issues deliriously geeky inventories that catalog his favorite pop songs, books and films from the year. (His 2019 list is due any day now. He also issues “summer playlists” that include older songs.) His erudite book choices fall under his professional purview, and his movie picks seem fine enough. But Mr. Obama’s music lists — unruly, spiked with surprises and a tad quirky — can truly sing.

As it turns out, the former president’s ears really do protrude outward, swooping up a generous hodgepodge of genres and styles: hip-hop, rock (“dad” and otherwise), R&B and more. My favorite entry comes in his 2017 list, delivered as a nerdy asterisked addendum: “Bonus,” he writes. “‘Born in the U.S.A.’ by Bruce Springsteen (not out yet, but the blues version in his Broadway show is the best!).”

Regardless of any feelings about the recent leader of the free world transitioning into a Nick Hornby protagonist, Mr. Obama makes a knockout music critic. Putting together these year-end lists is no picnic. When staff positions compelled me to assemble them, the task reliably bedeviled me. Year after year, I would cavalierly shun entire musical movements, turn my nose up at anything hinting of trendiness and punish personal favorites if they fell short of masterpieces.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


Related:

Spotlight: Dinaw Mengestu’s Novel on Obama’s 2019 Summer Reading List

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Abiy Meets Isaias For 1st Time Since Nobel

File Image: President Isaias Afwerki (L) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed talk during the inauguration of the Tibebe Ghion Specialized Hospital in Bahir Dar, northern Ethiopia, on November 10, 2018. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

AFP

Abiy Meets Eritrean Leader For First Time Since Winning Nobel

ADDIS ABABA – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki flew to Addis Ababa Wednesday for his first meeting with the Ethiopian prime minister since Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for initiating a thaw between the sparring neighbors.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a border war in 1998-2000 that left an estimated 80,000 dead before a prolonged stalemate took hold.

Shortly after he came to power last year, Abiy, 43, stunned observers at home and abroad by reaching out to Isaias and creating momentum for a peace deal.

Abiy welcomed Isaias at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said.

“During his stay in Ethiopia, the Eritrean president is expected to meet with Ethiopian officials to discuss bilateral issues,” Fana said.

Isaias was accompanied by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Yemane Gebreab, a presidential advisor, according to a post on Twitter by Eritrean Information Minister Yemane G. Meskel.

“The two leaders will discuss enhancement of important bilateral & regional matters,” Yemane wrote.

Abiy’s office and a spokesman for Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the two leaders first met and embraced on the tarmac in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, last year, they reopened embassies, resumed flights and held a series of meetings across the region.

But the initial optimism fueled by these gestures has faded, and citizens of both countries complain that they are still waiting for meaningful change.


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali receives medal and diploma from Chair of the Nobel Comitteee Berit Reiss-Andersen during Nobel Peace Prize awarding ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway.

During the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo earlier this month, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Anderson noted that the peace process “seems to be at a standstill,” with border crossings closed and little apparent progress on border demarcation efforts.

She said the committee hoped the Nobel would “spur the parties to further implementation of the peace treaties.”

Isaias and Abiy last met in Asmara in July.

Upon returning from Oslo to Ethiopia this month, Abiy expressed hope that the two leaders would be able to meet “soon”.

Abiy wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he was “happy to welcome again to his second home my comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki and his delegation.”


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Ethiopian Muslims Protest After Several Mosques Burned (AP)

Many communities across Ethiopia have seen demonstrations including the capital, Addis Ababa. (Map via CGTN Africa

The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Several thousand Muslims across Ethiopia in recent days have protested the burning of four mosques in the Amhara region. The Dec. 20 attacks in Motta town also targeted Muslim-owned businesses. Muslims have called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called the attacks “attempts by extremists to break down our rich history of religious tolerance and coexistence.” Recent ethnic-based unrest in some parts of the country has at times taken religious form.

Prominent Muslim scholar Kamil Shemsu on Tuesday told The Associated Press there are “political actors who want to pit one religious group against another” and blamed the negative role of activists and videos circulated online.

Amhara regional officials said they have arrested 15 suspects in connection with the attacks. Police commander Jemal Mekonnen told state media the attacks appeared to be triggered by news of a fire that broke out in an Orthodox church a few days earlier.

Regional officials were criticized for their slow response and their inability to stop similar attacks.

Many communities across Ethiopia have seen demonstrations including the capital, Addis Ababa.


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Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s Film “Bereka” Goes to Sundance 2020 Festival

Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s Film “Bereka” is set to be screened at the 2020 Sundance Festival in January. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 23rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Entrepreneur, Educator and Storyteller, Nesanet Teshager Abegaze, will be screening her short film entitled “Bereka” at the Sundance 2020 Festival in January. Held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sundance is considered America’s largest independent film festival and takes place this coming year from January 23rd to February 2nd, 2020.

This past August “Bereka” was screened at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia where it won the Best Experimental Film award.

Named after the third round of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, “Bereka” is a heart-stopping experimental film sharing a family’s sudden departure from Gondar, Ethiopia and the triumphant return of grandchildren to their ancestral home. Narrated in English and Amharic by matriarch Azla Mekonnen as well as her granddaughter Samira Hooks — and shot on Super 8 film in Los Angeles, CA and Gondar, Ethiopia — “Bereka” evokes searing memories related to forced migration, resettlement, growth, a deep yearning to discover heritage, and a return of the heart to what will always be “home.” Asked about how she developed the concept and narration of her short film, Nesanet shared that she had been recording audio as part of a family archive project through the years and had also begun to add footage when the idea for this short came to the forefront of her mind. “The whole film came together in a very organic way,” she said.


Nesanet Teshager Abegaze at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, August 2019. (Courtesy of the artist)

We first wrote about Nesanet six years ago when she launched Azla, a plant-based Ethiopian restaurant in South Central Los Angeles. Named after her mother and business partner, Azla, the restaurant has been featured on Food Network in 2016 as well as in numerous publications including Serious Eats, KCRW, and Complex.

Nesanet holds a Bachelors degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and a Master’s in Education from UCLA, and previously worked in the education, non-profit, and entertainment sectors before launching her own business and later joining Echo Park Film Center as a Fellow. As shared on her website, Nesanet “recognized the power of the moving image during her freshman year in high school when she saw “Imperfect Journey,” a documentary by the legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima, that changed her life trajectory.”

According Sundance’s press release the 2020 list of films to be screened at the festival were “selected from a record high of 15,100 submissions including 3,853 feature-length films.” Robert Redford, the President & Founder of Sundance Institute, noted that “this year’s festival is full of films that showcase myriad ways for stories to drive change, across hearts, minds and societies.” Executive Director of Sundance, Keri Putnam added that the institute believes that “diverse stories from independent artists around the world open us up to new perspectives and possibilities – at a time when fresh thinking and dialogue is urgently needed.”

Congratulations to Nesanet Teshager Abegaze for her film’s win this year at BlackStar Film Festival, and now heading to Sundance 2020 to be screened under “Shorts Program 4!”


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Susan Rice’s Memoir Prompts Nostalgia for the Obama Years

Then-President Barack Obama and his national security adviser, Susan Rice, at the Group of 20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, in 2015. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

By David Ignatius

Reading Susan Rice’s new memoir, “Tough Love,” is a reminder of two things: what a remarkably gifted, subtle but maddeningly distant man President Barack Obama was; and how people such as Rice who served him endured ceaseless public attacks in a country that was already on the ragged edge, though we didn’t yet know it.

Washington memoirs are most valuable for the parts that aren’t about what the author did at the office. That’s especially true of this account by the former national security adviser. The riveting passages are where Rice tells the private story that was hidden: her parents’ brutal divorce, her mother’s death, her children’s struggles with their mother’s public vilification.

Good memoirs always have a quality the Germans define as a bildungsroman, a novel of the principal character’s education in the world. That’s true with Rice’s tale: She was an African American who triumphed in the elite world of prep schools, Ivy League colleges and Rhodes scholarships. She embodied the intellect and ambition these institutions aspired to produce, even as she masked a shattered family where her parents “fought ugly and often,” she writes, and her home life was “like a civil war battlefield.”

Read more »


Related:

Susan Rice Has Spent Her Career Fighting off Detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’ (WaPo on Her Memoir)


Former national security adviser Susan Rice at her Washington home. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

October 8th, 2019

Susan Rice has spent her career fighting off detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’

She should have listened to her mother.

“Why do you have to go on the shows?” Lois Dickson Rice asked her daughter, Susan, in September 2012 “Where is Hillary?”

Susan Rice was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, equipped with a gold-standard Washington résumé — Stanford, Rhodes scholar, Oxford doctorate, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She explained that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “wiped after a brutal week.” The Obama White House asked Rice to appear “in her stead” on all five Sunday news programs.

It was days after attacks in Libya killed four U.S. officials.

“I smell a rat,” said her mother, a lauded education policy expert. “This is not a good idea. Can’t you get out of it?”

“Mom, don’t be ridiculous,” Rice said. “I’ve done the shows. It will be fine.”

Well, no, it was not.

Benghazi became the millstone in Rice’s stellar career. It stopped her from succeeding Clinton.

Criticism of Rice was relentless… The scrutiny lasted through multiple congressional investigations.

The aftermath took a punishing toll on Rice’s family and professional reputation, she reveals in her frank new memoir, “Tough Love.” The book also explores how, despite Rice’s many accomplishments during two administrations, she attracted criticism for her brusque manner. And Rice faces an extra challenge — she’s been forced to grapple with whether any of this adversity was somehow a result of her race and gender.

“The combination — being a confident black woman who is not seeking permission or affirmation from others — I now suspect accounts for why I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men,” she writes, “and perhaps also why I have long inspired motivated detractors who simply can’t deal with me.”

Read the full article at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

What My Father Thought Me About Race: By Susan Rice


Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” from which this essay is adapted. (Photo: Susan Rice with her father Emmett J. Rice, right, and the Federal Reserve chairman, William Miller, in 1979. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By Susan E. Rice

My father, Emmett Rice, was drafted into military service at the height of World War II and spent four and a half years in uniform, first as an enlisted man and ultimately as an officer with the rank of captain. Called up by the Army Air Force, he was sent to a two-part officer training program, which began in Miami and was completed at Harvard Business School — where he learned “statistical control” and “quantitative management,” a specialized form of accounting in an unusual program designed to build on his business background.

Emmett eventually was deployed to Tuskegee, Ala., where he joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black fighter pilot unit, which distinguished itself in combat in Europe. Though he learned to fly, my father was not a fighter pilot, but a staff officer who ran the newly created Statistics Office, which performed management analyses for commanding officers. He earlier served a stint at Godman Field adjacent to Fort Knox, Ky. There, he was denied access to the white officers’ club. To add insult to injury, he saw German prisoners of war being served at restaurants restricted to blacks. Both in the military and the confines of off-base life, his time in Kentucky was a searing reintroduction to the Southern segregation he had experienced as a child in South Carolina.


Susan and Emmett Rice in 1996. (Credit Ian Cameron)

Still, socially and intellectually, dad’s Tuskegee years were formative. He met an elite cadre of African-American men who would later be disproportionately represented in America’s postwar black professional class, among them my mother’s brothers, Leon and David Dickson. Dad’s Tuskegee friends and acquaintances formed a network he maintained throughout his life. What was it, I have often wondered, about those Tuskegee Airmen and support personnel that seemingly enabled them to become a vanguard of black achievement? Perhaps the military preselected unusually well-educated and capable men for Tuskegee, or some aspect of their service experience propelled them as a group to succeed. To my lasting regret, I failed to take the opportunity to study this topic in depth before almost all those heroes passed away.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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VOA on CNN Hero Freweini Mebrahtu

Girls attend school in Ethiopia. (Photo: Courtesy of Joni Kabana with Dignity Period)

An Ethiopian ‘Hero’ Works to Rebuild Girls’

by VOA

Freweini Mebrahtu remembers when she returned to her home village in northern Ethiopia. She saw women bending down and sitting over holes in the ground. Without any cotton padding to use during their monthly period, the women had to stay in this position.

“How is that possible? And they were telling me that they don’t even use underwear,” Freweini told VOA. “And that was the turning point for me… And that’s when I said, ‘You know, I’ve gotta do something. Why is this thing bothering me over and over again?’ So that was it.”

The more she thought about the problem, the bigger it appeared. Two out of every five girls have been forced to miss school during their periods, with many eventually leaving school. Older women were using old cloth or grass because they had no padding. Women and girls, she found, were being shamed by their community during their menstruation.

“We’re talking about …equality and all that stuff. But when the basic necessity of a young girl is not fulfilled, how is that possible?” she said.

In 2009, Freweini founded the Mariam Seba Products Factory in the city of Mekelle in northern Ethiopia. The factory makes reusable pads that can last up to 18 months. They cost 90 percent less than pads that are thrown away each month. Freweini joined up with an aid group called Dignity Period, and together they have given away more than 150,000 free menstrual kits made by the factory.

The work is having an effect. Dignity Period has recorded a 24 percent increase in attendance by girls in schools where they offer services.

This month, the American broadcaster CNN recognized Freweini as its Hero of the Year. The CNN award includes a prize of $100,000 to support her work. She said the award was an affirmation of a decision she made many years ago to move from the United States back to Ethiopia to make the pads.

“People thought that I was crying because of the whole event. But it’s the whole timing issue,” Freweini told VOA. “It must have been God’s willing it to happen, the way it happened.”

Her work, she says, is not done. She noted that there are 30 million women who menstruate in Ethiopia and most cannot get cotton pads. Additionally, there is a 15 percent value added tax on many menstrual health products.

“It’s not just Ethiopia…even in the U.S. there is a tax issue… we hope that everyone will make a sensible solution and a sensible change in making this a reality for all,” she said.


Related:

Meet 2019 CNN Hero of the Year: Freweini Mebrahtu

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Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay, a New Councilman in King County, Washington

Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay came to the U.S. at the age of three. He is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He interned at the White House during the Obama administration. He is now a newly elected Councilman in King County, Washington. Below is a recent profile of Girmay by the University of Washington Student Publications, The Daily.

Incoming council member Girmay Zahilay wants to hear and hire UW students

Girmay Zahilay has had quite the year.

The 32-year-old lawyer announced his candidacy for King County Council District 2 in February, challenging 27-year incumbent and civil rights activist Larry Gossett. In the August primary election, Zahilay bested Gossett by 19.4%. In November, Zahilay did it again, defeating Gossett in the general election 60.36% to 39.27% to become the newest face on the King County Council.

But come January 2020, the real work begins. And as the county council member whose job includes representing the UW, Zahilay is ready to be the voice for UW students.

Unlike his predecessor, however, Zahilay has limited existing ties to the UW.

The son of Ethiopian refugees, Zahilay moved from Sudan to South Seattle at the age of three. His family spent some time in a Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter before bouncing between a number of Seattle’s public housing projects.

He graduated from Stanford University and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Later on, he interned at the White House during the Obama administration, worked for the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington D.C. and at a corporate law firm in New York, and founded Rising Leaders, a nonprofit that partners with middle schools across the nation to give underserved students access to mentorship opportunities and leadership training.

Despite going to school out of state, Zahilay considers his first real college experience to have taken place at the UW. During the summer of his junior year at Franklin High School — his and Gossett’s alma mater — he completed a research internship with the UW department of biology.

“It was the university I looked up to growing up,” Zahilay said. “It really made me feel like college was something that I could aspire toward. It was this big, prestigious institution that was right in my backyard.”

To make sure his constituents can reach him at almost any time, Zahilay plans to set up three district offices in Skyway, Central District, and at UW. At least twice a month, Zahilay will host drop-in hours and appointment-only sessions for students and nearby residents to speak with him about the issues most pertinent to them.

Inspired in part by his two campaign interns, UW students Nura Abdi and Julian Cooper, Zahilay plans to establish community councils composed of high school and college students to discuss policies relevant to King County.

“Julian and Nura showed me the value of having diverse input at the student level,” Zahilay said. “One of the big things I want to do with this seat is make a more inclusive government and that means employing as many students as possible and giving them opportunities to be heard.”

Although the details for the councils and the exact location of his upcoming offices have yet to be determined, Zahilay says these details are his primary focus.

With his election, Zahilay hopes to bring a renewed energy to the King County Council. He recognizes most Seattle-dwelling residents consider Seattle City Council to be the more important governmental body in the area and hopes to alter public perception of the county council.

“The idea that the King County Council is a background government is the exact reason why we need somebody to get in there and make it a leading voice in the community,” he said. “In this new era of mass displacement, people need much stronger regional solutions to the problems they are facing. A Seattle-only focus is no longer going to cut it.”

The King County Council represents over 2.2 million residents and oversees the Metro Transit system, the King County Sheriff’s Office, public health and human services, wastewater treatment facilities, regional parks, and the county’s criminal justice system.

King County Council District 2 alone covers some 240,000 residents across the U-District, Ravenna, Laurelhurst, Capitol Hill, Fremont, Beacon Hill, the Central Area, Seward Park, Skyway, and the Rainier Valley.

To Zahilay, a majority of the city’s most pressing concerns can be best tackled through a regional approach. The housing crisis, climate action, transportation limits, and regressive taxation can all be addressed or influenced by the King County Council, he said.

As January 2020 approaches, Zahilay is feeling a flutter of emotions. He is thankful, excited, and feels an overpowering responsibility to make sure he delivers on the promises he made to his supporters during his campaign.


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U.S. Post-Impeachment: A New Nickname for Trump Goes Viral (LIVE UPDATE)

It's official: The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached Donald Trump making him only the third president in American history to receive the utmost Congressional reprimand for 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' In this case abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The process now moves to a Senate trial that will be presided over by the chief justice of the United States. In the latest development, the first national survey to measure public opinion on the impeachment vote shows that a majority of voters approve of the historic action taken by the House earlier this week. Meanwhile, a new nickname for Trump created by conservative attorney George Conway has gone viral on the internet: 'IMPOTUS' (IMpeached President Of The United States). Below are live updates and analysis of what comes next. (Getty Images)

TRUMP IMPEACHED: Donald Trump is the 3rd U.S. president to be Impeached; he faces a trial in the Senate

George Conway’s new nickname for Trump starts trend: ‘IMPOTUS’

The Hill

George Conway, a conservative attorney and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband, created a new nickname for President Trump that went viral Thursday after he lashed out online.

“An Update on IMPOTUS (IMpeached President Of The United States),” Conway, a frequent, and often fiery critic of the president tweeted Thursday night.

POTUS is a common acronym that stands for president of the United States. The new acronym sought to combine the two ideas of impeachment and the presidential office into one. The House voted to impeach Trump on two articles of impeachment earlier this week, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“Okay, you want a hashtag, you got it. #IMPOTUS,” Conway later added.

#IMPOTUS quickly went viral on Twitter, shooting to the top of the trending hashtags Friday. Several Twitter users used the trend to criticize the president.

Pam Keith, a former Democratic House candidate, tweeted, “100% on board with this. I came up with #Imp45 but #IMPOTUS is better.”

Rob Anderson, a Louisiana Democratic House candidate, tweeted “I think #IMPOTUS is apt.”

Others also used the hashtag to jab the president.

Conway shared his new nickname for the president as the top trending search Friday morning.

Read more »

Poll: Majority approves of Trump’s impeachment

POLITICO

A majority of voters approve of the House of Representatives’ impeachment of President Donald Trump earlier this week, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

The narrow majority who approve, 52 percent, is greater than the 43 percent who disapprove of the House voting to impeach Trump, the poll shows. Five percent of voters have no opinion on Trump’s impeachment.

Support for impeachment breaks sharply among party lines. Among Democrats, 85 percent approve of the House’s action, and only 12 percent disapprove. Approval among Republicans is only 16 percent, compared with 81 percent who disapprove.

Among independents, 48 percent approve of the House passing articles of impeachment and 41 percent disapprove.

After the House vote on Wednesday, the impeachment fight will move — eventually — to the GOP-controlled Senate, where Republicans are confident they can stop the charges in their tracks. But public opinion on whether to actually remove Trump from office is virtually identical: Fifty-two percent would approve of the Senate voting to convict Trump, while 42 percent would disapprove.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted Dec. 19-20, is the first national survey to measure public opinion on the impeachment vote. Prior to the vote, POLITICO/Morning Consult polls showed slightly greater support for impeaching Trump than other public surveys.

Read more »

Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, says Trump ‘should be removed from office’

The Washington Post

December 20th, 2019

The evangelical magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham published a surprising editorial Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal and describing him as “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

“Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment,” said the piece, written by editor in chief Mark Galli. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”

Galli, who will retire from the magazine Jan. 3, wrote that the facts leading to Wednesday’s impeachment of Trump are unambiguous.

“The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” Galli wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”

But the editorial didn’t just call out Trump. It called out his devout Christian supporters.

Trump’s hell suggestion outraged some faith leaders, but his evangelical advisers are still defending him

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve,” Galli wrote. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”

Trump lashed out at the magazine in a pair of early-morning tweets Friday, calling Christianity Today a “far left magazine … which has been doing poorly.”

He added that “no President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close.”

Galli told The Post Friday morning that Trump had mischaracterized the magazine, which considers itself centrist or possibly center-right.

“Nobody considers us as far-left,” Galli said. “We don’t comment on larger national issues except when they rise to a level of moral influence. … That’s not who we are.”

Read more »

AP Analysis: Impeachment forever changes Trump’s legacy

NEW YORK (AP) — The first line of President Donald Trump’s obituary has been written.

While Trump is all but certain to avoid removal from office, a portion of his legacy took shape Wednesday when he became just the third president in American history to be impeached by the U.S. House.

The two articles of impeachment approved along largely partisan lines on Wednesday stand as a constitutional rebuke that will stay with Trump even as he tries to trivialize their meaning and use them to power his reelection bid.

“It’ll be impossible to look back at this presidency and not discuss impeachment. It is permanently tied to his record,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. “Trump now always becomes part of the conversation about misusing presidential power. Ukraine will be his Watergate. Ukraine will be his Lewinsky.”

History books will add Trump to the section that features Bill Clinton, impeached 21 years ago for lying under oath about sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and Andrew Johnson, impeached 151 years ago for defying Congress on Reconstruction. Richard Nixon, who avoided impeachment by resigning during the Watergate investigation, is there, too.

Trump himself is keenly aware of the impact that impeachment may have on his legacy.

Read more »

TRUMP IMPEACHED: History in America


On Dec. 18, Donald Trump became one of only three presidents in American history to be impeached for criminal misconduct while in office. The full chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives voted resoundingly on Wednesday charging him with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On many levels, the historical vote was a vindication of the endurance of American democracy and the best constitution ever written in human history. The impeachment process now proceeds to a trial in the U.S. Senate, which has the ultimate authority on whether to keep him in office or not. This story is developing and will be updated. (Getty Images)

Day 1,063: The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached President Trump

What’s Next in the Historic U.S. Impeachment Process

The Associated Press

IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to name a handful of members to argue the Democrats’ case in the Senate trial. It’s still unclear who these impeachment managers will be, but they are likely to be members of the Judiciary and intelligence committees that took the lead on the case.

Pelosi has kept quiet on potential names. But the managers are expected to be from safe Democratic districts, diverse in race and gender and from all parts of the country. It is also likely that the number of impeachment managers will be fewer than 13, the number of GOP managers in President Bill Clinton’s 1998 trial.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are front-runners for two of the positions.

THE SENATE TRIAL

If the House approves the charges, as expected, impeachment would then move to a weekslong Senate trial, where senators are jurors and the impeachment managers act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the United States presides over the trial.

If the Senate approves an article of impeachment with a two-thirds vote of “guilty,” the president is convicted and removed from office. If all the articles are rejected – as expected – the president is acquitted.

It is unclear how long the trial will last or exactly how it will be structured…

If he were convicted by the Senate, Trump would be the first to be removed.


House Judiciary approves Trump impeachment charges


Related:

Panel vote sends Trump impeachment charges to full House (AP)

The Associated Press

December 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats propelled President Donald Trump’s impeachment toward a historic vote by the full U.S. House as the Judiciary Committee on Friday approved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s the latest major step in the constitutional and political storm that has divided Congress and the nation.

The House is expected to approve the two articles of impeachment next week, before lawmakers depart for the holidays.

Read more »


House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment (Nightly News December 13th)

House Democrats charge Trump with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment


Lawyer for Democrats calls Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he argues case for removal

The Washington Post

December 9th, 2019

A lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump “a clear and present danger” as he summarized the party’s case for impeaching him for having abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation into his conduct in Ukraine.

The testimony from Daniel S. Goldman came amid a contentious hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, called impeachment “baloney” and said Democrats had failed to make a compelling case.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Read more »


Related:

House impeachment report looks at abuse, bribery, corruption (AP)

The Associated Press

Updated: December 7th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Previewing potential articles of impeachment, the House Democrats on Saturday issued a lengthy report drawing on history and the Founding Fathers to lay out the legal argument over the case against President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

The findings from the House Judiciary Committee do not spell out the formal charges against the president, which are being drafted ahead of votes, possibly as soon as next week. Instead, the report refutes Trump’s criticism of the impeachment proceedings, arguing that the Constitution created impeachment as a “safety valve” so Americans would not have to wait for the next election to remove a president. It refers to the writings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others to link Trump’s actions in his July phone call with Ukraine’s president seeking political investigations of his rivals to the kind of behavior that would “horrify” the framers.

“Where the President uses his foreign affairs power in ways that betray the national interest for his own benefit, or harm national security for equally corrupt reasons, he is subject to impeachment by the House,” the Democrats wrote. “Indeed, foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our Nation and the Framers of our Constitution.”

Democrats are working through the weekend as articles are being drafted and committee members are preparing for a hearing Monday. Democrats say Trump abused his power in the July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor and engaged in bribery by withholding nearly $400 million in military aide that Ukraine depends on to counter Russian aggression.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it’s part of a troubling pattern of behavior from Trump that benefits Russia and not the U.S.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. “Witch Hunt!”the president tweeted Saturday morning.

The articles of impeachment are likely to encompass two major themes — abuse of office and obstruction — as Democrats strive to reach the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.″

In releasing his report Saturday, Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the president’s actions are the framers’ “worst nightmare.”

“President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment,” Nadler said in a statement. “The safety and security of our nation, our democracy, and future generations hang in the balance if we do not address this misconduct. In America, no one is above the law, not even the President.”

The report released Saturday is an update of similar reports issued during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachments and lays out the justification for articles under consideration, including abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.

It does not lay out the facts of the Ukraine case, but it hints at potential articles of impeachment and explains the thinking behind Democrats’ decision to draft them. Without frequently mentioning Trump, it alludes to his requests that Ukraine investigate Democrats, a move he believed would benefit him politically, by saying a president who “perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends” has unquestionably engaged in the high crimes and misdemeanors laid out in the Constitution. That is true “especially” if he invited rather than opposed foreign interference, the report says.

The report examines treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements and corruption of office and elections. Democrats have been focused on an overall abuse of power article, with the possibility of breaking out a separate, related article on bribery. They are also expected to draft at least one article on obstruction of Congress, or obstruction of justice.

In laying out the grounds for impeachable offenses, the report directly refutes several of the president’s claims in a section called “fallacies about impeachment,” including that the inquiry is based on secondhand evidence, that a president can do what he wants to do, and that Democrats’ motives are corrupt.

“The President’s honesty in an impeachment inquiry, or his lack thereof, can thus shed light on the underlying issue,” the report says.

In pushing ahead with the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are bringing the focus back to Russia.

Pelosi is connecting the dots — “all roads lead to Putin,” she says — and making the argument that Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was not an isolated incident but part of a troubling bond with the Russian president reaching back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on the 2016 election interference.

“This isn’t about Ukraine,” she explained a day earlier. ”’It’s about Russia. Who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance? Russia.”

It’s an attempt to explain why Americans should care that Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate rival Joe Biden while withholding the military aid that Congress had approved.

At the same time, by tracing the arc of Trump’s behavior from the 2016 campaign to the present, it stitches it all together. And that helps the speaker balance her left-flank liberals, who want more charges brought against Trump, including from Mueller’s report, and centrist Democrats who prefer to keep the argument more narrowly focused on Ukraine.

Pelosi and her team are trying to convey a message that impeachment is indeed about Ukraine, but also about a pattern of behavior that could stoke renewed concern about his attitude toward Russia ahead of the 2020 election.

Trump pushed back on the Democrats’ message. “The people see that it’s just a continuation of this three-year witch hunt,” he told reporters as he left the White House on a trip to Florida.

Late Friday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the Judiciary Committee that the administration would not be participating in upcoming hearings, decrying the proceedings as “completely baseless.”

And Trump’s campaign announced new rallies taking the case directly to voters — as well as a new email fundraising pitch that claims the Democrats have “gone absolutely insane.”

“The Democrats have NO impeachment case and are demeaning our great Country at YOUR expense,” Trump wrote in the email to supporters. “It’s US against THEM.”

Impeachment articles could include obstruction of Congress, as the White House ordered officials not to comply with House subpoenas for testimony or documents in the inquiry. They could also include obstruction of justice, based on Mueller’s report on the original Trump-Russia investigation.

There is still robust internal debate among House Democrats over how many articles to write and how much to include — and particularly whether there should be specific mention of Mueller’s findings from his two-year investigation into Trump’s possible role in Russia’s 2016 election interference.

The special counsel could not determine that Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia. However, Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice in the probe and left it for Congress to determine.


A historic day for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Updated: December 6th, 2019

The House is proceeding with articles of impeachment. Here’s what happens next.

CNN

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she’s asked the House to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Here’s what we know will happen next:

Monday: The House Judiciary Committee will hold its next impeachment hearing, where it will hear evidence from the staff counsels of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

After that timing, it gets a little unclear, but here’s a general sense of how the impeachment process will work:

Now: The House Judiciary Committee — which has authority to write articles of impeachment — will begin drafting them.

Committee vote: After articles are complete, the committee will vote on whether to refer them to the full House. We’re not sure when this will happen, but it could happen sometime next week.

House vote: If they’re approved, the articles will go to the House floor, where a simple majority is needed to formally impeach Trump. This vote could happen the week of Dec. 16.

More than 500 law professors say Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct’ (The Washington Post)

More than 500 legal scholars have signed an open letter asserting that Trump committed “impeachable conduct” and that lawmakers would be acting well within their rights if they ultimately voted to remove him from office.

The signers are law professors and other academics from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and many others. The open letter was published online Friday by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy.

“There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress,” the group of professors wrote. “His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”


Pelosi announces House moving forward with articles of impeachment

The Associated Press

December 5th, 2019

House will draft Trump impeachment articles, Pelosi says

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

’’Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.”

Pelosi delivered the historic announcement as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly before Christmas.

With somber tones, drawing on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, Pelosi stood at the speaker’s office at the Capitol and said she was authorizing the drafting of formal charges “sadly but with confidence and humility.”

“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she said.

At the heart of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats and political rival Joe Biden as Trump was withholding military aid to the country.

Trump tweeted that if Democrats “are going to impeach me, do it now, fast.” He said he wants to get on to a “fair trial” in the Senate. The president also said that Democrats have “gone crazy.”

At the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Pelosi and the Democrats “should be ashamed, then she, too, looked past the likely impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House to trial in the Republican-majority Senate.

The chairmen of the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry will begin drafting the articles, and some lawmakers are expecting to remain in Washington over the weekend.

On Wednesday, Pelosi met behind closed doors with her Democratic caucus, asking, ”Äre you ready?”

The answer was a resounding yes, according to those in the room.

Democrats are charging toward a vote on removing the 45th president, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but which now seems inevitable.

Three leading legal scholars testified Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee that Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats’ case.

A fourth expert called by Republicans warned against rushing the process, arguing this would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the “thinnest” record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine, and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the Judiciary panel, which would draw up the articles of impeachment, said Trump’s phone call seeking a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.

“We cannot wait for the election,” he said. “ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.”

Read more »


Related:

In DC, as Impeachment Heats Up Legal Experts Explain High Crimes (WATCH)

Law professor said Trump’s actions toward Ukraine meet constitutional definition of bribery


UPDATE: U.S. Impeachment Panel Finds Trump Abused His Office for Personal Gain

THE TRUMP-UKRAINE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY REPORT

Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Consultation with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

December 3, 2019

In his farewell address, President George Washington warned of a moment when “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

The Framers of the Constitution well understood that an individual could one day occupy the Office of the President who would place his personal or political interests above those of the nation. Having just won hard-fought independence from a King with unbridled authority, they were attuned to the dangers of an executive who lacked fealty to the law and the Constitution.

In response, the Framers adopted a tool used by the British Parliament for several hundred years to constrain the Crown—the power of impeachment. Unlike in Britain, where impeachment was typically reserved for inferior officers but not the King himself, impeachment in our untested democracy was specifically intended to serve as the ultimate form of accountability for a duly-elected President. Rather than a mechanism to overturn an election, impeachment was explicitly contemplated as a remedy of last resort for a president who fails to faithfully execute his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Accordingly, the Constitution confers the power to impeach the president on Congress, stating that the president shall be removed from office upon conviction for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While the Constitutional standard for removal from office is justly a high one, it is nonetheless an essential check and balance on the authority of the occupant of the Office of the President, particularly when that occupant represents a continuing threat to our fundamental democratic norms, values, and laws.

Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment was not designed to cover only criminal violations, but also crimes against the American people. “The subjects of its jurisdiction,” Hamilton wrote, “are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Similarly, future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, distinguished impeachable offenses from those that reside “within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence.” As he noted, “impeachments are confined to political characters, to political crimes and misdemeanors, and to political punishments.”

* * *
As this report details, the impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump conditioned official acts on a public announcement by the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, of politically-motivated investigations, including one into President Trump’s domestic political opponent. In pressuring President Zelensky to carry out his demand, President Trump withheld a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President, and critical U.S. military assistance to fight Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.

At the center of this investigation is the memorandum prepared following President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine’s President, which the White House declassified and released under significant public pressure. The call record alone is stark evidence of misconduct; a demonstration of the President’s prioritization of his personal political benefit over the national interest. In response to President Zelensky’s appreciation for vital U.S. military assistance, which President Trump froze without explanation, President Trump asked for “a favor though”: two specific investigations designed to assist his reelection efforts.

Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain. Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President.

The investigation revealed the nature and extent of the President’s misconduct, notwithstanding an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by the President and his Administration to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify. The White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy refused to produce a single document in response to our subpoenas.

Ultimately, this sweeping effort to stonewall the House of Representatives’ “sole Power of Impeachment” under the Constitution failed because witnesses courageously came forward and testified in response to lawful process. The report that follows was only possible because of their sense of duty and devotion to their country and its Constitution.

Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee. Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts. The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress. But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked. Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

* * *

The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry is not one we took lightly. Under the best of circumstances, impeachment is a wrenching process for the nation…The alarming events and actions detailed in this report, however, left us with no choice but to proceed.

In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized…

By doubling down on his misconduct and declaring that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect,” President Trump has shown a continued willingness to use the power of his office to seek foreign intervention in our next election. His Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the course of admitting that the President had linked security assistance to Ukraine to the announcement of one of his desired investigations, told the American people to “get over it.” In these statements and actions, the President became the author of his own impeachment inquiry. The question presented by the set of facts enumerated in this report may be as simple as that posed by the President and his chief of staff’s brazenness: is the remedy of impeachment warranted for a president who would use the power of his office to coerce foreign interference in a U.S. election, or is that now a mere perk of the office that Americans must simply “get over”?

* * *

Those watching the impeachment hearings might have been struck by how little discrepancy there was between the witnesses called by the Majority and Minority. Indeed, most of the facts presented in the pages that follow are uncontested. The broad outlines as well as many of the details of the President’s scheme have been presented by the witnesses with remarkable consistency. There will always be some variation in the testimony of multiple people witnessing the same events, but few of the differences here go to the heart of the matter. And so, it may have been all the more surprising to the public to see very disparate reactions to the testimony by the Members of Congress from each party.

If there was one ill the Founding Founders feared as much as that of an unfit president, it may have been that of excessive factionalism. Although the Framers viewed parties as necessary, they also endeavored to structure the new government in such a way as to minimize the “violence of faction.” As George Washington warned in his farewell address, “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Today, we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party. But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the President and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth. How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?

America remains the beacon of democracy and opportunity for freedom-loving people around the world. From their homes and their jail cells, from their public squares and their refugee camps, from their waking hours until their last breath, individuals fighting human rights abuses, journalists uncovering and exposing corruption, persecuted minorities struggling to survive and preserve their faith, and countless others around the globe just hoping for a better life look to America. What we do will determine what they see, and whether America remains a nation committed to the rule of law.

As Benjamin Franklin departed the Constitutional Convention, he was asked, “what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded simply: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Click here to read the full report »

For only the fourth time in American history, the U.S. House began historic public impeachment hearings last month setting the stage for Donald Trump’s possible removal from office for bribery, extortion and abuse of power

‘Tis a new season in the impeachment inquiry: Actual impeachment

The Washington Post

Dec. 2, 2019

House Democrats want to vote on whether to impeach President Trump by Christmas, which means they have about three weeks to write up articles of impeachment, debate them and vote on them.

This next phase comes after two months of an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached, which culminated in a blitz of public hearings before Thanksgiving…

There’s no standard timeline for impeachment; this is only the fourth time Congress has formally considered impeaching a president…

Once the House votes on whether to impeach Trump, we’re through only the first half of the process.

Here’s an outline of what we can expect next.

First week of December: The handover from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee

House impeachment investigators are expected to release a report Monday to members of the House Intelligence Committee about what wrongdoing was uncovered during their two-month impeachment inquiry. The Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to approve it by Tuesday evening, after which the report could get released publicly.

The Judiciary Committee…will have its first public hearing Wednesday. Constitutional experts will explain what impeachment is and what the Constitution says about impeachment.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


Related:

Updated: November 23, 2019

Highlights from Dramatic Final Day of This Week’s Landmark U.S. Impeachment Hearings (NBC News)

Impeachment hearings shine spotlight on stories of immigrants

The Washington Post

One surprising aspect of the impeachment hearings is that they have shone a spotlight on the stories of officials who were born elsewhere and immigrated to the United States in search of a better life.

Three of the officials who have testified so far — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine; former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and Hill — are naturalized U.S. citizens.

Vindman was born in Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the U.S. as a child. Yovanovitch is the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union.

And Hill came to the U.S. from northeast England, where her poor background and working-class accent were obstacles to her advancement. In her testimony Thursday morning, she described herself as “an American by choice.”

“I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent,” she said. “In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”

Read more »


The Latest: Former Trump adviser undercuts GOP impeachment defenses (Day 5)

The Associated Press

November 21st, 2019

A former White House official said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s top European envoy was sent on a “domestic political errand” seeking investigations of Democrats, stunning testimony that dismantled a main line of the president’s defense in the impeachment inquiry.

In a riveting appearance on Capitol Hill, Fiona Hill also implored Republican lawmakers — and implicitly Trump himself — to stop peddling a “fictional narrative” at the center of the impeachment probe. She said baseless suggestions that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election bolster Russia as it seeks to sow political divisions in the United States.

Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used his leverage over Ukraine, a young Eastern European democracy facing Russian aggression, to pursue political investigations. His alleged actions set off alarms across the U.S. national security and foreign policy apparatus.

Hill had a front row seat to some of Trump’s pursuits with Ukraine during her tenure at the White House. She testified in detail about her interactions with Gordon Sondland, saying she initially suspected the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was overstating his authority to push Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats. But she says she now understands he was acting on instructions Trump sent through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

“He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” she testified in a daylong encounter with lawmakers. “And those two things had just diverged.”

It was just one instance in which Hill, as well as Holmes, undercut the arguments being made by Republicans and the White House. Both told House investigators it was abundantly clear Giuliani was seeking political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine, knocking down assertions from earlier witnesses who said they didn’t realize the purpose of the lawyer’s pursuits. Trump has also said he was simply focused on rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

Giuliani “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact,” Hill testified. “I think that’s where we are today.”

Hill also defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified earlier and whom Trump’s allies tried to discredit. A previous witness said Hill raised concerns about Vindman, but she said those worries centered only on whether he had the “political antenna” for the situation at the White House.

The landmark House impeachment inquiry was sparked by a July 25 phone call, in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for investigations into Biden and the Democratic National Committee. A still-anonymous whistleblower’s official government complaint about that call led the House to launch the current probe.

After two weeks of public testimony, many Democrats believe they have enough evidence to begin writing articles of impeachment. Working under the assumption that Trump will be impeached by the House, White House officials and a small group of GOP senators met Thursday to discuss the possibility of a two week Senate trial.

There still remain questions about whether there will be additional House testimony, either in public session or behind closed doors, including from high-profile officials such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

In what was seen as a nudge to Bolton, her former boss, Hill said those with information have a “moral obligation to provide it.”

She recounted one vivid incident at the White House where Bolton told her he didn’t want to be involved in any “drug deal” that Sondland and Trump’s acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up over the Ukrainian investigations Trump wanted. Hill said she conveyed similar concerns directly to Sondland.

“And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,’” she said. “And here we are.”

Read more »

Impeachment Bombshell: US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’ (Day 4)

November 20th, 2019

US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Was there a “quid pro quo?”

The ambassador entangled in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is telling House lawmakers: “Yes.”

Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly.

Sondland says “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

He says he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.

Sondland said: “It was no secret.”

___

9:20 a.m.

A key witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says that Vice President Mike Pence was informed about concerns that military aid to Ukraine had been held up because of the investigations.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly. He already appeared behind closed doors.

The wealthy hotelier and Trump donor has emerged as a central figure in an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days. He has told lawmakers the White House has records of the July 26 call, despite the fact that Trump has said he doesn’t recall the conversation.

The ambassador’s account of the recently revealed call supports the testimony of multiple witnesses who have spoken to impeachment investigators over the past week.

Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he was withholding military aid to the East European nation is at the center of the impeachment probe that imperils his presidency.

—-
U.S. Impeachment Highlights From Day 3 (Video)

Top aides call Trump’s Ukraine call ‘unusual’ and ‘inappropriate’ in impeachment hearing

The Associated Press

Impeachment hearings takeaways: Firsthand witnesses appear

There were attacks on the credibility of a witness in uniform, and hand-wringing by another witness on all that he knows now that he says he didn’t know then. Vice President Mike Pence was name-dropped, and lawmakers heard expressions of concern about the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader.

The third day of impeachment hearings was the longest yet, bringing to the forefront four witnesses in two separate hearings. All were steeped in national security and foreign affairs.

Some takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony:

‘CONCERNED BY THE CALL’

Republicans consistently criticize the House impeachment inquiry by saying witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s role in trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival.

On Day 3 of the proceedings, that posture became more difficult to maintain.

The two witnesses in Tuesday morning’s hearing each listened to the July 25 phone call in which Trump prodded his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrat Joe Biden.

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Pence, said she considered the call “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who arrived for the hearing in military uniform adorned with medals, went even further. He considered it “improper,” and, acting out of “duty,” reported his alarm to a lawyer for the National Security Council.

“My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said. “I never thought that I’d be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions.”

For his part, Tim Morrison, who recently left his National Security Council post, said he did not believe that anything illegal occurred on the call but was worried about the political ramifications if the contents leaked.

Read more »


Related:

Democrats invite Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry

Updates from last week: Trump accused of witness intimidation

The Associated Press

Ousted ambassador says she felt intimidated by Trump attacks

Updated: November 15th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — In chilling detail, ousted U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to Trump impeachment investigators Friday how she felt threatened upon learning that President Donald Trump had promised Ukraine’s leader she was “going to go through some things.”

Trump was unwilling to stay silent during Yovanovitch’s testimony, focusing even greater national attention on the House hearing by becoming a participant. He tweeted fresh criticism of her, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she served before he fired her — a comment that quickly was displayed on a video screen in the hearing room.

Rather than distract from the career diplomat’s testimony, Trump’s interference could provide more evidence against him in the probe. Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s attacks were intimidation, “part of a pattern to obstruct justice.” Others said they could be part of an article of impeachment.

The former ambassador was testifying on the second day of public impeachment hearings, just the fourth time in American history that the House of Representatives has launched such proceedings. The investigation centers on whether Trump’s push for Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals amounted to an abuse of power, a charge he and Republicans vigorously deny.

Yovanovitch, asked about the potential effect of a presidential threat on other officials or witnesses, replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating.”

When she saw in print what the president had said about her, she said, a friend told her all the color drained from her face. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated” at what was happening after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Unabashed, Trump said when asked about it later, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech.”

But not all Republicans thought it was wise. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Trump’s live tweeting at the ambassador was wrong. She said, “I don’t think the president should have done that.”

More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.

Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, was pushed from her post in Kyiv earlier this year amid intense criticism from Trump allies.

During a long day of testimony, she relayed her striking story of being “kneecapped,” recalled from Kyiv by Trump in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about a White House shadow foreign policy.

She described a “smear campaign” against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., before her firing.

The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, her career included three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out last May.

In particular, Yovanovitch described Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, as leading what William Taylor, now the top diplomat in Ukraine who testified earlier in the inquiry, called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

“These events should concern everyone in this room,” Yovanovitch testified in opening remarks.

She said her sudden removal had played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States. They have learned, she said, “how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

After Trump’s tweets pulled attention away from her statement, Schiff read the president’s comments aloud, said that “as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” and asked if that was a tactic to intimidate.

“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidated,” she said.

Said Schiff, “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Later Friday, the panel in closed-door session heard from David Holmes, a political adviser in Kyiv, who overheard Trump asking about the investigations the day after the president’s July 25 phone conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, when Sondland called up Trump. The conversation was apparently loud enough to be overheard.

In Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, he asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

Democrats are relying on the testimony of officials close to the Ukraine matter to make their case as they consider whether the president’s behavior was impeachable.

Yovanovitch provides a key element, Schiff said, as someone whom Trump and Giuliani wanted out of the way for others more favorable to their interests in Ukraine, an energy-rich country that has long struggled with corruption.

It became clear, he said, “President Trump wanted her gone.”

The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, bemoaned the hearings as a “daylong TV spectacle.”

Republicans complained that the ambassador, like other witnesses, can offer only hearsay testimony and only knows of Trump’s actions secondhand. They note that Yovanovitch had left her position before the July phone call.

Nunes also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine that is in question. “These hearings should not be occurring at all,” he said.

Just as the hearing was opening, the White House released its rough transcript of a still-earlier Trump call with Zelenskiy that was largely congratulatory.

Nunes read that transcript aloud. In it, Trump mentioned his experience with the Miss Universe pageant in Ukraine and invited Zelenskiy to the White House. He closed with, “See you very soon.”

Under questioning from Republicans, Yovanovitch acknowledged that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, serving on the board of a gas company in Ukraine could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. But she testified the former vice president acted in accordance with official U.S. policy.

She denied allegations against her, including that she favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election, and she rejected the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere in the election, as Trump claims, counter to mainstream U.S. intelligence findings that it was Russia.

The White House has instructed officials not to comply with the probe, and most have been issued subpoenas to appear.

An administration budget official will meet privately with the panel privately Saturday. Part of the impeachment inquiry concerns the contention that military aid for Ukraine, which borders a hostile Russia, was being withheld through the White House budget office, pending Ukrainian agreement to investigate Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.

LIVE | Day 2 of public Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch testifies

Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the Democratic members of the House intelligence committee, said that witness intimidation “will be considered” for one of the articles of impeachment against Trump after the president sent a disparaging tweet about Maria Yovanovitch as the longtime diplomat testified.

One of Swalwell’s fellow Democrats on the panel, Andre Carson, similarly said the committee would “look into” whether Trump engaged in witness intimidation.

After Trump smears Yovanovitch, Schiff says witness intimidation is taken ‘very, very seriously’ – live

After reading Trump’s tweet attacking the reputation of Maria Yovanovitch, Adam Schiff asked the longtime diplomat whether she thought the tweet was meant to intimidate her as she testified at the impeachment hearing.

“It’s very intimidating.”

Schiff rejoined: “The president is attacking you in real time… Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris weighed in on Trump’s tweet smearing Maria Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified, accusing the president of witness intimidation.

Fox News anchors described the testimony of Maria Yovanovitch as a “turning point” in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Anchor Bret Baier predicted that Trump’s tweet smearing Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified would lead to a new article of impeachment against the president.

John Roberts

@johnrobertsFox
Wow….this is really unprecedented. @realDonaldTrump and Amb Yovanovitch are talking to each other in real time through @Twitter and Television… Something I never thought I would ever see.

Chris Wallace on Fox News: “If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, you don’t have a pulse.”

Read more at theguardian.com »


Ousted ambassador testifies ouster helped ‘shady interests’


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. At left is attorney Lawrence Robbins. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Associated Press

Updated: November 15th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch opened the second day of Trump impeachment hearings Friday declaring that her abrupt removal by President Donald Trump’s administration played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States.

Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee of a concerted “smear” campaign against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Her removal is one of several events at the center of the impeachment effort.

“These events should concern everyone in this room,” the career diplomat testified in opening remarks. “Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi German, she described a 33-year career, including three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out in April 2019.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the panel, opened day’s hearing praising Yovanovitch, saying she was “too tough on corruption for some, and her principled stance made her enemies.”

Pelosi calls Trump’s actions ‘bribery’ as Democrats sharpen case for impeachment

The Washington Post

Escalating her case for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Trump of committing bribery by seeking to use U.S. military aid as leverage to persuade the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could politically benefit Trump.

The shift toward bribery as an impeachable offense, one of only two crimes specifically cited in the Constitution, comes after nearly two months of debate over whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a “quid pro quo” — a lawyerly Latin term describing an exchange of things of value.

Wednesday’s public testimony from two senior diplomats, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.”

Bribery, she suggested, amounted to a translation of quid pro quo that would stand to be more accessible to Americans: “Talking Latin around here: E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings.”

Article II of the Constitution holds that the president and other civil federal officials “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in the Ukrainian capital, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Ukraine policy, told lawmakers in the House’s first public impeachment hearing since 1998 that they were deeply troubled by an apparent perversion of U.S. policy, done at what seemed to be the behest of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Trump himself.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


The Associated Press

Diplomats accuse Trump as impeachment hits Americans’ TVs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, the Democrats’ case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment streamed from Americans’ TVs Wednesday, including a new contention that he was overheard asking about political “investigations” that he demanded from Ukraine in trade for military aid.

On Day One of extraordinary public U.S. House hearings — only the fourth formal impeachment effort in U.S. history — career diplomats testified in the open after weeks of closed-door interviews aimed at removing the nation’s 45th president.

The account they delivered was a striking though complicated one that Democrats say reveals a president abusing his office, and the power of American foreign policy, for personal political gain.

“The matter is as simple and as terrible as that,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as he opened the daylong hearing. “Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself.”

Career diplomat William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Kyiv, offered new testimony that Trump was overheard asking on the phone about “the investigations” of Democrats that he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

Trump said he was too busy to watch on Wednesday and denied having the phone call. “First I’ve heard of it,” he said when asked.

All day, the diplomats testified about how an ambassador was fired, the new Ukraine government was confused and they discovered an “irregular channel” — a shadow U.S. foreign policy orchestrated by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that raised alarms in diplomatic and national security circles.

The hearing, playing out on live television and in the partisan silos of social media, provided the nation and the world a close-up look at the investigation.

At its core, the inquiry stems from Trump’s July 25 phone call when he asked Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for “a favor.”

Trump wanted the Ukraine government to investigate Democrats’ activities in the 2016 election and his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden — all while the administration was withholding military aid for the Eastern European ally that is confronting an aggressive neighbor, Russia.

Both sides tried to distill it into soundbites.

Democrats said Trump was engaged in “bribery” and “extortion.” Republicans said nothing really happened — the military aid was ultimately released after Congress complained.

Read more »


Related Videos:

New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure

LIVE UPDATES

A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier.

William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers that the phone conversation between the president and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in Kyiv was overheard by one of his aides. Afterward, Sondland told the aide that Trump cared more about investigations of former vice president Joe Biden than other issues in Ukraine, Taylor said.

The startling testimony revealed a new example of Trump’s personal involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign that touched off the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »

The Associated Press

Impeachment hearings go live on TV: Witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

For the first time a top diplomat testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump was overheard asking about “the investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, revealed the new information as the House Intelligence Committee opened extraordinary hearings on whether the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

Taylor said his staff recently told him they overheard Trump when they were meeting with another diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new leader of Ukraine that sparked the impeachment investigation.

The staff explained that Sondland had called the president and they could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” The ambassador told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor testified.

Not inappropriate, let alone impeachable, countered the intelligence panel’s top Republican, Devin Nunes of California.

Trump “would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened” if there were indications that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election, he said.

National security officials have told Congress they don’t believe Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

The hearing Wednesday was the first public session of the impeachment inquiry, a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.

It’s the first chance for America, and the rest of the world, to see and hear for themselves about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses.

An anonymous whistleblower’s complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general — including that Trump had pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden and Bidens’ son and was holding up U.S. military aid — ignited the rare inquiry now unfolding in Congress.

The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself. The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Read more »


Related:

Watch: U.S. Public impeachment hearings to begin this week

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Rights Group Calls New Law in Ethiopia a Threat to Freedom of Expression (VOA)

A man scrolls down his cell phone for social media newsfeed about Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Addis Ababa, Oct. 11, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA

By Salem Solomon

December 20, 2019

WASHINGTON – A new law being considered in Ethiopia is being called a threat to free speech and online expression.

Ethiopia’s “Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation” is in a draft stage, but if approved, it would criminalize online, broadcast or print speech that promotes hatred, said the London-based rights group Human Rights Watch in a press statement Friday. It defines this as anything inciting “hatred, discrimination or attack against a person or an identifiable group, based on ethnicity, religion, race, gender or disability.” It also outlaws “dissemination of disinformation” or falsehoods, the statement added.

The law has been approved by the prime minister’s Cabinet but must still be approved by parliament.

But critics believe this law could be used to silence critical voices or political opponents. This, they say, was the case with an anti-terrorism law passed in 2009 which was used to imprison protestors and journalists.

“These kinds of laws including, in the past, the anti-terrorism law, has been used to illegally stifle opposition,” said Befeqadu Hailu, the executive director of the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), speaking to VOA Amharic. “So there is a concern that there hasn’t been enough discussion over these laws.”

Supporters of the law believe it is necessary, particularly to stop people from inflaming ethnic hatred.

Ethiopia has endured a tumultuous year of ethnic tension. In June, an Army general from the Amhara ethnic group led a coup attempt. In October, 86 people were killed in the Oromia region, Harari region and the city of Dire Dawa in clashes with security forces. The violence began when Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed announced that security forces were plotting to assassinate him.

In announcing the law, Ethiopia’s council of ministers said it was needed to prevent further violence. “It is deemed necessary to enact the law because the nation cannot address problems arising from hate speeches and fake news with existing laws,” the council said.

Human Rights Watch agrees that the threat of ethnic violence is real, but says a law like this is not the answer.

“The Ethiopian government is under increasing pressure to respond to rising communal violence that has at times been exacerbated by speeches and statements shared online,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But an ill-construed law that opens the door for law enforcement officials to violate rights to free expression is no solution.”

The use of hate speech laws around the world shows that authorities have often abused them for political purposes, Human Rights Watch said.


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Ethiopia Launches First Satellite into Space

Ethiopians celebrate as they watch a live transmission of the Ethiopian ETRSS-1 Satellite launch into space at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, December 20, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia launched its first satellite into space on Friday, as more sub-Saharan African nations strive to develop space programs to advance their development goals and encourage scientific innovation.

Before dawn on Friday, senior officials and citizens gathered at the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre just north of the capital Addis Ababa to watch a live broadcast of the satellite’s launch from a space station in China.

“This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity,” deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen said in a speech at the launch event broadcast on state television.

The satellite was designed by Chinese and Ethiopian engineers and the Chinese government paid about $6 million of the more than $7 million manufacturing costs, Solomon Belay, director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, told Reuters.

“Space is food, space is job creation, a tool for technology…sovereignty, to reduce poverty, everything for Ethiopian to achieve universal and sustainable development,” he said.

The satellite will be used for weather forecast and crop monitoring, officials said.

The African Union adopted a policy on African space development in 2017 and declared that space science and technology could advance economic progress and natural resource management on the continent.

Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw and Tiksa Negeri; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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Prosperity Party is Good News for Ethiopia

"The new party is a positive step towards ending ethnic strife in the country," argues Yohannes Gedamu, a lecturer of Political Science at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, GA, US. (Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the creation of the Prosperity Party in November 2019/AP photo)

Al Jazeera

By Yohannes Gedamu

Why Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party is Good News for Ethiopia

In November, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed established a new pan-Ethiopian political party. It brings together three of the four ethnic-based parties that make up the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition and five other smaller parties that were previously condemned to the periphery of the country’s political scene.

The establishment of the Prosperity Party (PP) only a few months before the May 2020 general election caused much controversy across the country, with even some in the upper echelons of Abiy’s own government criticising the move.

Nevertheless, many Ethiopians appear to be pleased with the merger, seeing it as an opportunity to unite the country and resolve its many deep-rooted problems. Indeed, it is difficult to deny that a pan-Ethiopian party led by people who have ample experience and significant public support has the unprecedented potential to address major challenges like growing ethnic polarisation and violence.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopia Election 2020: Plan to Dissolve Ruling Party Prompts Internal Criticism

Ethiopia braces for highly-anticipated parliamentary election in May 2020

Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election (AFP)

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TRUMP IMPEACHED: History in America

On Dec. 18, Donald Trump became one of only three presidents in American history to be impeached for criminal misconduct while in office. The full chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives voted resoundingly on Wednesday charging him with 'high crimes and misdemeanors' in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On many levels, the historical vote was a vindication of the endurance of American democracy and the best constitution ever written in human history. The impeachment process now proceeds to a trial in the U.S. Senate, which has the ultimate authority on whether to keep him in office or not. This story is developing and will be updated. (Getty Images)

U.S. House votes to impeach Trump in historic vote

Trump is impeached by the House, creating an indelible mark on his presidency

The Washington Post

December 18th, 2019

The House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach President Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress, with Democrats declaring him a threat to the nation and branding an indelible mark on the most turbulent presidency of modern times.

After 11 hours of fierce argument on the House floor between Democrats and Republicans over Trump’s conduct with Ukraine, lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines to impeach him. Trump becomes the third president in U.S. history to face trial in the Senate — a proceeding that will determine whether he is removed from office less than one year before he stands for reelection.

On Trump’s 1,062nd day in office, Congress brought a momentous reckoning to an un­or­tho­dox president who has tested America’s institutions with an array of unrestrained actions, including some that a collection of his own appointees and other government witnesses testified were reckless and endangered national security.

Read more »


Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) speaks ahead of a vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday. (House Tv/Via Reuters)


Trump impeached by US House on charge of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

The Associated Press

December 18th, 2019

President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted by the Republican-led chamber, as expected, he still would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring stain of impeachment on his purposely disruptive presidency.

Democrats drew from history, the founders and their own experiences, as minorities, women and some immigrants to the U.S., seeking to honor their oath of office to uphold the constitution. Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., spoke in Spanish asking God to unite the nation. “In America,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., “no one is above the law.”

Republicans aired Trump-style grievances about what Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko called a “rigged” process.

The political fallout from the vote will reverberate across an already polarized country…

Related:

U.S House Judiciary Committee releases full impeachment report


In the latest development, the U.S. House Judiciary panel accused Donald Trump of criminal bribery, wire fraud and other federal crimes in a report released on Monday in advance of a historic final impeachment vote by the full house this week. The report comes on the heels of last Friday’s landmark vote officially charging the president with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. If the articles are approved by the full House Trump will become one of only three presidents in American history to be impeached. The process will then proceed to a trial in the U.S. Senate, which has the ultimate authority on whether to keep him in office or not. (Getty Images)

House Judiciary approves Trump impeachment charges

House vote, and on to the Senate: What’s next in impeachments

The Associated Press

Updated: December 16th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump this week after spending the past three months investigating the president’s dealings in Ukraine and deciding whether his behavior was grave enough to qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote came after a bitter two-day debate in which Democrats said it was their duty to impeach and furious Republicans defended the president and battled over process.

The articles charge that Trump abused his power and betrayed the nation as he urged Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and withheld military aid to that allied country, as well as a White House meeting for its president.

What’s next in impeachment:

HOUSE VOTE

House leaders are preparing for the final impeachment vote just as lawmakers are about to leave for the holiday break. Approval would set up a 2020 trial in the Senate.

Votes on the two articles could come as soon as Wednesday, with a meeting to set debate rules already scheduled for Tuesday. Floor consideration is expected to be much like that of a regular bill.

The House Judiciary Committee vote was strictly along party lines, and the floor vote is expected to be similar, with a few exceptions. No Republicans have so far signaled that they will support the articles of impeachment, but a small handful of Democrats who represent GOP-leaning districts have said they may join Republicans in voting against them.

IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to name, as soon as this week, a handful of members to argue the Democrats’ case in the Senate trial. It’s still unclear who these impeachment managers will be, but they are likely to be members of the Judiciary and intelligence committees that took the lead on the case.

Pelosi has kept quiet on potential names. But the managers are expected to be from safe Democratic districts, diverse in race and gender and from all parts of the country. It is also likely that the number of impeachment managers will be fewer than 13, the number of GOP managers in President Bill Clinton’s 1998 trial.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are front-runners for two of the positions.

THE SENATE TRIAL

If the House approves the charges, as expected, impeachment would then move to a weekslong Senate trial, where senators are jurors and the impeachment managers act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the United States presides over the trial.

If the Senate approves an article of impeachment with a two-thirds vote of “guilty,” the president is convicted and removed from office. If all the articles are rejected – as expected – the president is acquitted.

It is unclear how long the trial will last or exactly how it will be structured. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed that four witnesses be called, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton. Schumer proposed that the trial begin the week of Jan. 6 and allow for as many as 126 hours of statements, testimony, questions and deliberations, suggesting a trial that could run three weeks or more.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t comment Sunday night on the particulars of Schumer’s proposal, which came in a letter to McConnell. Recently he has indicated a preference for a speedy trial without references but has also suggested he would follow the will of the White House.

This is the fourth time in history Congress has moved to impeach a president. If he were convicted by the Senate, Trump would be the first to be removed.


Related:

Panel vote sends Trump impeachment charges to full House (AP)

The Associated Press

December 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats propelled President Donald Trump’s impeachment toward a historic vote by the full U.S. House as the Judiciary Committee on Friday approved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s the latest major step in the constitutional and political storm that has divided Congress and the nation.

The House is expected to approve the two articles of impeachment next week, before lawmakers depart for the holidays.

Read more »


House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment (Nightly News December 13th)

House Democrats charge Trump with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment


Lawyer for Democrats calls Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he argues case for removal

The Washington Post

December 9th, 2019

A lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump “a clear and present danger” as he summarized the party’s case for impeaching him for having abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation into his conduct in Ukraine.

The testimony from Daniel S. Goldman came amid a contentious hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, called impeachment “baloney” and said Democrats had failed to make a compelling case.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Read more »


Related:

House impeachment report looks at abuse, bribery, corruption (AP)

The Associated Press

Updated: December 7th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Previewing potential articles of impeachment, the House Democrats on Saturday issued a lengthy report drawing on history and the Founding Fathers to lay out the legal argument over the case against President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

The findings from the House Judiciary Committee do not spell out the formal charges against the president, which are being drafted ahead of votes, possibly as soon as next week. Instead, the report refutes Trump’s criticism of the impeachment proceedings, arguing that the Constitution created impeachment as a “safety valve” so Americans would not have to wait for the next election to remove a president. It refers to the writings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others to link Trump’s actions in his July phone call with Ukraine’s president seeking political investigations of his rivals to the kind of behavior that would “horrify” the framers.

“Where the President uses his foreign affairs power in ways that betray the national interest for his own benefit, or harm national security for equally corrupt reasons, he is subject to impeachment by the House,” the Democrats wrote. “Indeed, foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our Nation and the Framers of our Constitution.”

Democrats are working through the weekend as articles are being drafted and committee members are preparing for a hearing Monday. Democrats say Trump abused his power in the July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor and engaged in bribery by withholding nearly $400 million in military aide that Ukraine depends on to counter Russian aggression.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it’s part of a troubling pattern of behavior from Trump that benefits Russia and not the U.S.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. “Witch Hunt!”the president tweeted Saturday morning.

The articles of impeachment are likely to encompass two major themes — abuse of office and obstruction — as Democrats strive to reach the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.″

In releasing his report Saturday, Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the president’s actions are the framers’ “worst nightmare.”

“President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment,” Nadler said in a statement. “The safety and security of our nation, our democracy, and future generations hang in the balance if we do not address this misconduct. In America, no one is above the law, not even the President.”

The report released Saturday is an update of similar reports issued during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachments and lays out the justification for articles under consideration, including abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.

It does not lay out the facts of the Ukraine case, but it hints at potential articles of impeachment and explains the thinking behind Democrats’ decision to draft them. Without frequently mentioning Trump, it alludes to his requests that Ukraine investigate Democrats, a move he believed would benefit him politically, by saying a president who “perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends” has unquestionably engaged in the high crimes and misdemeanors laid out in the Constitution. That is true “especially” if he invited rather than opposed foreign interference, the report says.

The report examines treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements and corruption of office and elections. Democrats have been focused on an overall abuse of power article, with the possibility of breaking out a separate, related article on bribery. They are also expected to draft at least one article on obstruction of Congress, or obstruction of justice.

In laying out the grounds for impeachable offenses, the report directly refutes several of the president’s claims in a section called “fallacies about impeachment,” including that the inquiry is based on secondhand evidence, that a president can do what he wants to do, and that Democrats’ motives are corrupt.

“The President’s honesty in an impeachment inquiry, or his lack thereof, can thus shed light on the underlying issue,” the report says.

In pushing ahead with the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are bringing the focus back to Russia.

Pelosi is connecting the dots — “all roads lead to Putin,” she says — and making the argument that Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was not an isolated incident but part of a troubling bond with the Russian president reaching back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on the 2016 election interference.

“This isn’t about Ukraine,” she explained a day earlier. ”’It’s about Russia. Who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance? Russia.”

It’s an attempt to explain why Americans should care that Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate rival Joe Biden while withholding the military aid that Congress had approved.

At the same time, by tracing the arc of Trump’s behavior from the 2016 campaign to the present, it stitches it all together. And that helps the speaker balance her left-flank liberals, who want more charges brought against Trump, including from Mueller’s report, and centrist Democrats who prefer to keep the argument more narrowly focused on Ukraine.

Pelosi and her team are trying to convey a message that impeachment is indeed about Ukraine, but also about a pattern of behavior that could stoke renewed concern about his attitude toward Russia ahead of the 2020 election.

Trump pushed back on the Democrats’ message. “The people see that it’s just a continuation of this three-year witch hunt,” he told reporters as he left the White House on a trip to Florida.

Late Friday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the Judiciary Committee that the administration would not be participating in upcoming hearings, decrying the proceedings as “completely baseless.”

And Trump’s campaign announced new rallies taking the case directly to voters — as well as a new email fundraising pitch that claims the Democrats have “gone absolutely insane.”

“The Democrats have NO impeachment case and are demeaning our great Country at YOUR expense,” Trump wrote in the email to supporters. “It’s US against THEM.”

Impeachment articles could include obstruction of Congress, as the White House ordered officials not to comply with House subpoenas for testimony or documents in the inquiry. They could also include obstruction of justice, based on Mueller’s report on the original Trump-Russia investigation.

There is still robust internal debate among House Democrats over how many articles to write and how much to include — and particularly whether there should be specific mention of Mueller’s findings from his two-year investigation into Trump’s possible role in Russia’s 2016 election interference.

The special counsel could not determine that Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia. However, Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice in the probe and left it for Congress to determine.


A historic day for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Updated: December 6th, 2019

The House is proceeding with articles of impeachment. Here’s what happens next.

CNN

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she’s asked the House to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Here’s what we know will happen next:

Monday: The House Judiciary Committee will hold its next impeachment hearing, where it will hear evidence from the staff counsels of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

After that timing, it gets a little unclear, but here’s a general sense of how the impeachment process will work:

Now: The House Judiciary Committee — which has authority to write articles of impeachment — will begin drafting them.

Committee vote: After articles are complete, the committee will vote on whether to refer them to the full House. We’re not sure when this will happen, but it could happen sometime next week.

House vote: If they’re approved, the articles will go to the House floor, where a simple majority is needed to formally impeach Trump. This vote could happen the week of Dec. 16.

More than 500 law professors say Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct’ (The Washington Post)

More than 500 legal scholars have signed an open letter asserting that Trump committed “impeachable conduct” and that lawmakers would be acting well within their rights if they ultimately voted to remove him from office.

The signers are law professors and other academics from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and many others. The open letter was published online Friday by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy.

“There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress,” the group of professors wrote. “His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”


Pelosi announces House moving forward with articles of impeachment

The Associated Press

December 5th, 2019

House will draft Trump impeachment articles, Pelosi says

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

’’Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.”

Pelosi delivered the historic announcement as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly before Christmas.

With somber tones, drawing on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, Pelosi stood at the speaker’s office at the Capitol and said she was authorizing the drafting of formal charges “sadly but with confidence and humility.”

“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she said.

At the heart of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats and political rival Joe Biden as Trump was withholding military aid to the country.

Trump tweeted that if Democrats “are going to impeach me, do it now, fast.” He said he wants to get on to a “fair trial” in the Senate. The president also said that Democrats have “gone crazy.”

At the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Pelosi and the Democrats “should be ashamed, then she, too, looked past the likely impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House to trial in the Republican-majority Senate.

The chairmen of the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry will begin drafting the articles, and some lawmakers are expecting to remain in Washington over the weekend.

On Wednesday, Pelosi met behind closed doors with her Democratic caucus, asking, ”Äre you ready?”

The answer was a resounding yes, according to those in the room.

Democrats are charging toward a vote on removing the 45th president, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but which now seems inevitable.

Three leading legal scholars testified Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee that Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats’ case.

A fourth expert called by Republicans warned against rushing the process, arguing this would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the “thinnest” record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine, and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the Judiciary panel, which would draw up the articles of impeachment, said Trump’s phone call seeking a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.

“We cannot wait for the election,” he said. “ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.”

Read more »


Related:

In DC, as Impeachment Heats Up Legal Experts Explain High Crimes (WATCH)

Law professor said Trump’s actions toward Ukraine meet constitutional definition of bribery


UPDATE: U.S. Impeachment Panel Finds Trump Abused His Office for Personal Gain

THE TRUMP-UKRAINE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY REPORT

Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Consultation with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

December 3, 2019

In his farewell address, President George Washington warned of a moment when “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

The Framers of the Constitution well understood that an individual could one day occupy the Office of the President who would place his personal or political interests above those of the nation. Having just won hard-fought independence from a King with unbridled authority, they were attuned to the dangers of an executive who lacked fealty to the law and the Constitution.

In response, the Framers adopted a tool used by the British Parliament for several hundred years to constrain the Crown—the power of impeachment. Unlike in Britain, where impeachment was typically reserved for inferior officers but not the King himself, impeachment in our untested democracy was specifically intended to serve as the ultimate form of accountability for a duly-elected President. Rather than a mechanism to overturn an election, impeachment was explicitly contemplated as a remedy of last resort for a president who fails to faithfully execute his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Accordingly, the Constitution confers the power to impeach the president on Congress, stating that the president shall be removed from office upon conviction for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While the Constitutional standard for removal from office is justly a high one, it is nonetheless an essential check and balance on the authority of the occupant of the Office of the President, particularly when that occupant represents a continuing threat to our fundamental democratic norms, values, and laws.

Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment was not designed to cover only criminal violations, but also crimes against the American people. “The subjects of its jurisdiction,” Hamilton wrote, “are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Similarly, future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, distinguished impeachable offenses from those that reside “within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence.” As he noted, “impeachments are confined to political characters, to political crimes and misdemeanors, and to political punishments.”

* * *
As this report details, the impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump conditioned official acts on a public announcement by the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, of politically-motivated investigations, including one into President Trump’s domestic political opponent. In pressuring President Zelensky to carry out his demand, President Trump withheld a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President, and critical U.S. military assistance to fight Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.

At the center of this investigation is the memorandum prepared following President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine’s President, which the White House declassified and released under significant public pressure. The call record alone is stark evidence of misconduct; a demonstration of the President’s prioritization of his personal political benefit over the national interest. In response to President Zelensky’s appreciation for vital U.S. military assistance, which President Trump froze without explanation, President Trump asked for “a favor though”: two specific investigations designed to assist his reelection efforts.

Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain. Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President.

The investigation revealed the nature and extent of the President’s misconduct, notwithstanding an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by the President and his Administration to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify. The White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy refused to produce a single document in response to our subpoenas.

Ultimately, this sweeping effort to stonewall the House of Representatives’ “sole Power of Impeachment” under the Constitution failed because witnesses courageously came forward and testified in response to lawful process. The report that follows was only possible because of their sense of duty and devotion to their country and its Constitution.

Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee. Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts. The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress. But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked. Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

* * *

The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry is not one we took lightly. Under the best of circumstances, impeachment is a wrenching process for the nation…The alarming events and actions detailed in this report, however, left us with no choice but to proceed.

In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized…

By doubling down on his misconduct and declaring that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect,” President Trump has shown a continued willingness to use the power of his office to seek foreign intervention in our next election. His Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the course of admitting that the President had linked security assistance to Ukraine to the announcement of one of his desired investigations, told the American people to “get over it.” In these statements and actions, the President became the author of his own impeachment inquiry. The question presented by the set of facts enumerated in this report may be as simple as that posed by the President and his chief of staff’s brazenness: is the remedy of impeachment warranted for a president who would use the power of his office to coerce foreign interference in a U.S. election, or is that now a mere perk of the office that Americans must simply “get over”?

* * *

Those watching the impeachment hearings might have been struck by how little discrepancy there was between the witnesses called by the Majority and Minority. Indeed, most of the facts presented in the pages that follow are uncontested. The broad outlines as well as many of the details of the President’s scheme have been presented by the witnesses with remarkable consistency. There will always be some variation in the testimony of multiple people witnessing the same events, but few of the differences here go to the heart of the matter. And so, it may have been all the more surprising to the public to see very disparate reactions to the testimony by the Members of Congress from each party.

If there was one ill the Founding Founders feared as much as that of an unfit president, it may have been that of excessive factionalism. Although the Framers viewed parties as necessary, they also endeavored to structure the new government in such a way as to minimize the “violence of faction.” As George Washington warned in his farewell address, “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Today, we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party. But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the President and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth. How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?

America remains the beacon of democracy and opportunity for freedom-loving people around the world. From their homes and their jail cells, from their public squares and their refugee camps, from their waking hours until their last breath, individuals fighting human rights abuses, journalists uncovering and exposing corruption, persecuted minorities struggling to survive and preserve their faith, and countless others around the globe just hoping for a better life look to America. What we do will determine what they see, and whether America remains a nation committed to the rule of law.

As Benjamin Franklin departed the Constitutional Convention, he was asked, “what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded simply: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Click here to read the full report »

For only the fourth time in American history, the U.S. House began historic public impeachment hearings last month setting the stage for Donald Trump’s possible removal from office for bribery, extortion and abuse of power

‘Tis a new season in the impeachment inquiry: Actual impeachment

The Washington Post

Dec. 2, 2019

House Democrats want to vote on whether to impeach President Trump by Christmas, which means they have about three weeks to write up articles of impeachment, debate them and vote on them.

This next phase comes after two months of an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached, which culminated in a blitz of public hearings before Thanksgiving…

There’s no standard timeline for impeachment; this is only the fourth time Congress has formally considered impeaching a president…

Once the House votes on whether to impeach Trump, we’re through only the first half of the process.

Here’s an outline of what we can expect next.

First week of December: The handover from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee

House impeachment investigators are expected to release a report Monday to members of the House Intelligence Committee about what wrongdoing was uncovered during their two-month impeachment inquiry. The Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to approve it by Tuesday evening, after which the report could get released publicly.

The Judiciary Committee…will have its first public hearing Wednesday. Constitutional experts will explain what impeachment is and what the Constitution says about impeachment.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


Related:

Updated: November 23, 2019

Highlights from Dramatic Final Day of This Week’s Landmark U.S. Impeachment Hearings (NBC News)

Impeachment hearings shine spotlight on stories of immigrants

The Washington Post

One surprising aspect of the impeachment hearings is that they have shone a spotlight on the stories of officials who were born elsewhere and immigrated to the United States in search of a better life.

Three of the officials who have testified so far — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine; former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and Hill — are naturalized U.S. citizens.

Vindman was born in Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the U.S. as a child. Yovanovitch is the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union.

And Hill came to the U.S. from northeast England, where her poor background and working-class accent were obstacles to her advancement. In her testimony Thursday morning, she described herself as “an American by choice.”

“I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent,” she said. “In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”

Read more »


The Latest: Former Trump adviser undercuts GOP impeachment defenses (Day 5)

The Associated Press

November 21st, 2019

A former White House official said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s top European envoy was sent on a “domestic political errand” seeking investigations of Democrats, stunning testimony that dismantled a main line of the president’s defense in the impeachment inquiry.

In a riveting appearance on Capitol Hill, Fiona Hill also implored Republican lawmakers — and implicitly Trump himself — to stop peddling a “fictional narrative” at the center of the impeachment probe. She said baseless suggestions that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election bolster Russia as it seeks to sow political divisions in the United States.

Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used his leverage over Ukraine, a young Eastern European democracy facing Russian aggression, to pursue political investigations. His alleged actions set off alarms across the U.S. national security and foreign policy apparatus.

Hill had a front row seat to some of Trump’s pursuits with Ukraine during her tenure at the White House. She testified in detail about her interactions with Gordon Sondland, saying she initially suspected the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was overstating his authority to push Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats. But she says she now understands he was acting on instructions Trump sent through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

“He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” she testified in a daylong encounter with lawmakers. “And those two things had just diverged.”

It was just one instance in which Hill, as well as Holmes, undercut the arguments being made by Republicans and the White House. Both told House investigators it was abundantly clear Giuliani was seeking political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine, knocking down assertions from earlier witnesses who said they didn’t realize the purpose of the lawyer’s pursuits. Trump has also said he was simply focused on rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

Giuliani “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact,” Hill testified. “I think that’s where we are today.”

Hill also defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified earlier and whom Trump’s allies tried to discredit. A previous witness said Hill raised concerns about Vindman, but she said those worries centered only on whether he had the “political antenna” for the situation at the White House.

The landmark House impeachment inquiry was sparked by a July 25 phone call, in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for investigations into Biden and the Democratic National Committee. A still-anonymous whistleblower’s official government complaint about that call led the House to launch the current probe.

After two weeks of public testimony, many Democrats believe they have enough evidence to begin writing articles of impeachment. Working under the assumption that Trump will be impeached by the House, White House officials and a small group of GOP senators met Thursday to discuss the possibility of a two week Senate trial.

There still remain questions about whether there will be additional House testimony, either in public session or behind closed doors, including from high-profile officials such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

In what was seen as a nudge to Bolton, her former boss, Hill said those with information have a “moral obligation to provide it.”

She recounted one vivid incident at the White House where Bolton told her he didn’t want to be involved in any “drug deal” that Sondland and Trump’s acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up over the Ukrainian investigations Trump wanted. Hill said she conveyed similar concerns directly to Sondland.

“And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,’” she said. “And here we are.”

Read more »

Impeachment Bombshell: US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’ (Day 4)

November 20th, 2019

US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Was there a “quid pro quo?”

The ambassador entangled in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is telling House lawmakers: “Yes.”

Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly.

Sondland says “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

He says he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.

Sondland said: “It was no secret.”

___

9:20 a.m.

A key witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says that Vice President Mike Pence was informed about concerns that military aid to Ukraine had been held up because of the investigations.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly. He already appeared behind closed doors.

The wealthy hotelier and Trump donor has emerged as a central figure in an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days. He has told lawmakers the White House has records of the July 26 call, despite the fact that Trump has said he doesn’t recall the conversation.

The ambassador’s account of the recently revealed call supports the testimony of multiple witnesses who have spoken to impeachment investigators over the past week.

Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he was withholding military aid to the East European nation is at the center of the impeachment probe that imperils his presidency.

—-
U.S. Impeachment Highlights From Day 3 (Video)

Top aides call Trump’s Ukraine call ‘unusual’ and ‘inappropriate’ in impeachment hearing

The Associated Press

Impeachment hearings takeaways: Firsthand witnesses appear

There were attacks on the credibility of a witness in uniform, and hand-wringing by another witness on all that he knows now that he says he didn’t know then. Vice President Mike Pence was name-dropped, and lawmakers heard expressions of concern about the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader.

The third day of impeachment hearings was the longest yet, bringing to the forefront four witnesses in two separate hearings. All were steeped in national security and foreign affairs.

Some takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony:

‘CONCERNED BY THE CALL’

Republicans consistently criticize the House impeachment inquiry by saying witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s role in trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival.

On Day 3 of the proceedings, that posture became more difficult to maintain.

The two witnesses in Tuesday morning’s hearing each listened to the July 25 phone call in which Trump prodded his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrat Joe Biden.

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Pence, said she considered the call “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who arrived for the hearing in military uniform adorned with medals, went even further. He considered it “improper,” and, acting out of “duty,” reported his alarm to a lawyer for the National Security Council.

“My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said. “I never thought that I’d be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions.”

For his part, Tim Morrison, who recently left his National Security Council post, said he did not believe that anything illegal occurred on the call but was worried about the political ramifications if the contents leaked.

Read more »


Related:

Democrats invite Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry

Updates from last week: Trump accused of witness intimidation

The Associated Press

Ousted ambassador says she felt intimidated by Trump attacks

Updated: November 15th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — In chilling detail, ousted U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to Trump impeachment investigators Friday how she felt threatened upon learning that President Donald Trump had promised Ukraine’s leader she was “going to go through some things.”

Trump was unwilling to stay silent during Yovanovitch’s testimony, focusing even greater national attention on the House hearing by becoming a participant. He tweeted fresh criticism of her, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she served before he fired her — a comment that quickly was displayed on a video screen in the hearing room.

Rather than distract from the career diplomat’s testimony, Trump’s interference could provide more evidence against him in the probe. Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s attacks were intimidation, “part of a pattern to obstruct justice.” Others said they could be part of an article of impeachment.

The former ambassador was testifying on the second day of public impeachment hearings, just the fourth time in American history that the House of Representatives has launched such proceedings. The investigation centers on whether Trump’s push for Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals amounted to an abuse of power, a charge he and Republicans vigorously deny.

Yovanovitch, asked about the potential effect of a presidential threat on other officials or witnesses, replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating.”

When she saw in print what the president had said about her, she said, a friend told her all the color drained from her face. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated” at what was happening after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Unabashed, Trump said when asked about it later, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech.”

But not all Republicans thought it was wise. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Trump’s live tweeting at the ambassador was wrong. She said, “I don’t think the president should have done that.”

More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.

Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, was pushed from her post in Kyiv earlier this year amid intense criticism from Trump allies.

During a long day of testimony, she relayed her striking story of being “kneecapped,” recalled from Kyiv by Trump in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about a White House shadow foreign policy.

She described a “smear campaign” against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., before her firing.

The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, her career included three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out last May.

In particular, Yovanovitch described Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, as leading what William Taylor, now the top diplomat in Ukraine who testified earlier in the inquiry, called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

“These events should concern everyone in this room,” Yovanovitch testified in opening remarks.

She said her sudden removal had played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States. They have learned, she said, “how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

After Trump’s tweets pulled attention away from her statement, Schiff read the president’s comments aloud, said that “as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” and asked if that was a tactic to intimidate.

“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidated,” she said.

Said Schiff, “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Later Friday, the panel in closed-door session heard from David Holmes, a political adviser in Kyiv, who overheard Trump asking about the investigations the day after the president’s July 25 phone conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, when Sondland called up Trump. The conversation was apparently loud enough to be overheard.

In Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, he asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

Democrats are relying on the testimony of officials close to the Ukraine matter to make their case as they consider whether the president’s behavior was impeachable.

Yovanovitch provides a key element, Schiff said, as someone whom Trump and Giuliani wanted out of the way for others more favorable to their interests in Ukraine, an energy-rich country that has long struggled with corruption.

It became clear, he said, “President Trump wanted her gone.”

The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, bemoaned the hearings as a “daylong TV spectacle.”

Republicans complained that the ambassador, like other witnesses, can offer only hearsay testimony and only knows of Trump’s actions secondhand. They note that Yovanovitch had left her position before the July phone call.

Nunes also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine that is in question. “These hearings should not be occurring at all,” he said.

Just as the hearing was opening, the White House released its rough transcript of a still-earlier Trump call with Zelenskiy that was largely congratulatory.

Nunes read that transcript aloud. In it, Trump mentioned his experience with the Miss Universe pageant in Ukraine and invited Zelenskiy to the White House. He closed with, “See you very soon.”

Under questioning from Republicans, Yovanovitch acknowledged that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, serving on the board of a gas company in Ukraine could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. But she testified the former vice president acted in accordance with official U.S. policy.

She denied allegations against her, including that she favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election, and she rejected the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere in the election, as Trump claims, counter to mainstream U.S. intelligence findings that it was Russia.

The White House has instructed officials not to comply with the probe, and most have been issued subpoenas to appear.

An administration budget official will meet privately with the panel privately Saturday. Part of the impeachment inquiry concerns the contention that military aid for Ukraine, which borders a hostile Russia, was being withheld through the White House budget office, pending Ukrainian agreement to investigate Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.

LIVE | Day 2 of public Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch testifies

Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the Democratic members of the House intelligence committee, said that witness intimidation “will be considered” for one of the articles of impeachment against Trump after the president sent a disparaging tweet about Maria Yovanovitch as the longtime diplomat testified.

One of Swalwell’s fellow Democrats on the panel, Andre Carson, similarly said the committee would “look into” whether Trump engaged in witness intimidation.

After Trump smears Yovanovitch, Schiff says witness intimidation is taken ‘very, very seriously’ – live

After reading Trump’s tweet attacking the reputation of Maria Yovanovitch, Adam Schiff asked the longtime diplomat whether she thought the tweet was meant to intimidate her as she testified at the impeachment hearing.

“It’s very intimidating.”

Schiff rejoined: “The president is attacking you in real time… Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris weighed in on Trump’s tweet smearing Maria Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified, accusing the president of witness intimidation.

Fox News anchors described the testimony of Maria Yovanovitch as a “turning point” in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Anchor Bret Baier predicted that Trump’s tweet smearing Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified would lead to a new article of impeachment against the president.

John Roberts

@johnrobertsFox
Wow….this is really unprecedented. @realDonaldTrump and Amb Yovanovitch are talking to each other in real time through @Twitter and Television… Something I never thought I would ever see.

Chris Wallace on Fox News: “If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, you don’t have a pulse.”

Read more at theguardian.com »


Ousted ambassador testifies ouster helped ‘shady interests’


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. At left is attorney Lawrence Robbins. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Associated Press

Updated: November 15th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch opened the second day of Trump impeachment hearings Friday declaring that her abrupt removal by President Donald Trump’s administration played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States.

Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee of a concerted “smear” campaign against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Her removal is one of several events at the center of the impeachment effort.

“These events should concern everyone in this room,” the career diplomat testified in opening remarks. “Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi German, she described a 33-year career, including three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out in April 2019.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the panel, opened day’s hearing praising Yovanovitch, saying she was “too tough on corruption for some, and her principled stance made her enemies.”

Pelosi calls Trump’s actions ‘bribery’ as Democrats sharpen case for impeachment

The Washington Post

Escalating her case for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Trump of committing bribery by seeking to use U.S. military aid as leverage to persuade the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could politically benefit Trump.

The shift toward bribery as an impeachable offense, one of only two crimes specifically cited in the Constitution, comes after nearly two months of debate over whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a “quid pro quo” — a lawyerly Latin term describing an exchange of things of value.

Wednesday’s public testimony from two senior diplomats, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.”

Bribery, she suggested, amounted to a translation of quid pro quo that would stand to be more accessible to Americans: “Talking Latin around here: E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings.”

Article II of the Constitution holds that the president and other civil federal officials “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in the Ukrainian capital, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Ukraine policy, told lawmakers in the House’s first public impeachment hearing since 1998 that they were deeply troubled by an apparent perversion of U.S. policy, done at what seemed to be the behest of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Trump himself.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


The Associated Press

Diplomats accuse Trump as impeachment hits Americans’ TVs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, the Democrats’ case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment streamed from Americans’ TVs Wednesday, including a new contention that he was overheard asking about political “investigations” that he demanded from Ukraine in trade for military aid.

On Day One of extraordinary public U.S. House hearings — only the fourth formal impeachment effort in U.S. history — career diplomats testified in the open after weeks of closed-door interviews aimed at removing the nation’s 45th president.

The account they delivered was a striking though complicated one that Democrats say reveals a president abusing his office, and the power of American foreign policy, for personal political gain.

“The matter is as simple and as terrible as that,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as he opened the daylong hearing. “Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself.”

Career diplomat William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Kyiv, offered new testimony that Trump was overheard asking on the phone about “the investigations” of Democrats that he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

Trump said he was too busy to watch on Wednesday and denied having the phone call. “First I’ve heard of it,” he said when asked.

All day, the diplomats testified about how an ambassador was fired, the new Ukraine government was confused and they discovered an “irregular channel” — a shadow U.S. foreign policy orchestrated by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that raised alarms in diplomatic and national security circles.

The hearing, playing out on live television and in the partisan silos of social media, provided the nation and the world a close-up look at the investigation.

At its core, the inquiry stems from Trump’s July 25 phone call when he asked Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for “a favor.”

Trump wanted the Ukraine government to investigate Democrats’ activities in the 2016 election and his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden — all while the administration was withholding military aid for the Eastern European ally that is confronting an aggressive neighbor, Russia.

Both sides tried to distill it into soundbites.

Democrats said Trump was engaged in “bribery” and “extortion.” Republicans said nothing really happened — the military aid was ultimately released after Congress complained.

Read more »


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New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure

LIVE UPDATES

A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier.

William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers that the phone conversation between the president and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in Kyiv was overheard by one of his aides. Afterward, Sondland told the aide that Trump cared more about investigations of former vice president Joe Biden than other issues in Ukraine, Taylor said.

The startling testimony revealed a new example of Trump’s personal involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign that touched off the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »

The Associated Press

Impeachment hearings go live on TV: Witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

For the first time a top diplomat testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump was overheard asking about “the investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, revealed the new information as the House Intelligence Committee opened extraordinary hearings on whether the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

Taylor said his staff recently told him they overheard Trump when they were meeting with another diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new leader of Ukraine that sparked the impeachment investigation.

The staff explained that Sondland had called the president and they could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” The ambassador told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor testified.

Not inappropriate, let alone impeachable, countered the intelligence panel’s top Republican, Devin Nunes of California.

Trump “would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened” if there were indications that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election, he said.

National security officials have told Congress they don’t believe Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

The hearing Wednesday was the first public session of the impeachment inquiry, a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.

It’s the first chance for America, and the rest of the world, to see and hear for themselves about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses.

An anonymous whistleblower’s complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general — including that Trump had pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden and Bidens’ son and was holding up U.S. military aid — ignited the rare inquiry now unfolding in Congress.

The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself. The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Read more »


Related:

Watch: U.S. Public impeachment hearings to begin this week

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Little Ethiopia Coming to Las Vegas Area

Ethiopians first started immigrating to the Las Vegas Valley in numbers in the late 1970s. Today, 40,000 call Las Vegas home, with more than 40 small businesses in the area. (Photo: Co-owner Fitsumberhan Mehari poses in front of Lucy’s Ethiopian Restaurant, 4850 W. Flamingo Rd/Las Vegas Sun)

Las Vegas Sun

Little Ethiopia Seeks Recognition as Cultural District

An Ethiopian and Eritrean cluster of businesses in Spring Valley referred to as Little Ethiopia is on its way to becoming the first designated cultural district in Clark County.

Over the summer, members of the community and state Assemblyman Alexander Assefa reached out to the Clark County Commission to work toward creating the district. Commissioners have since approved a policy to streamline the process of designating cultural neighborhoods.

The designation is an acknowledgement only, but Assefa said it would give communities like Little Ethiopia the recognition of being part of the fabric of Las Vegas.

Similar cultural designations exist in cities like Los Angeles and New York City to help strengthen local economies and enhance a sense of place.

The Clark County policy could also help Asian businesses and neighborhoods like the one along Spring Mountain Road informally known as Chinatown obtain an official designation.

“The county is a very diverse place composed of a mosaic of cultures, making it beautiful, diverse community,” Assefa said. “These hardworking members of the community contribute to the economy, bring rich and diverse cultures that makes us an overall strong community.”

The proposed boundaries for Little Ethiopia are Twain Avenue on the north, Tropicana Avenue on the south, Glendale Avenue on the east and Arville Street on the west.

Aseffa said Ethiopians first started immigrating to the Las Vegas Valley in numbers in the late 1970s. Today, 40,000 call Las Vegas home, with more than 40 small businesses in the area.

The proposed designation will be heard by the Spring Valley and Paradise town advisory boards before going back to the commission for consideration next year.


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Lidya Gossa: Honors Neuroscience Student Thrives at Georgia State

Georgia State Neuroscience student triumphs through transition. When Lidya Gossa came to America at the age of 7, she didn’t speak English. This week, the honors student graduates from Georgia State with a new goal — to become a surgeon. (Georgia State University)

Georgia State University

Lidya Gossa: Ethiopian American Honors Neuroscience Student Thrives at Georgia State

When Lidya Gossa came to America at the age of 7 with her mother, the transition was difficult. Gossa had to learn English, make new friends and adjust to a culture that’s very different from that of her home country of Ethiopia.

As the first person in her family to go to college, Gossa said she struggled to fully understand the high-school-to-college process.


From left to right: Aynalem Abagojjam, Lidya Gossa, and Gossa Tefera.


From left to right: Lidya Gossa, Aynalem Abagojjam, Samueal Gossa, and Gossa Tefera.

“I had to figure things out on my own. Even in high school. I didn’t understand dual enrollment or [Advanced Placement] classes,” Gossa said. “I felt like if I had someone to guide me who came before me or understood the process, it would have made my journey a lot easier. I figured out everything late, and it was frustrating.”

Although frustrated and confused at times, Gossa persevered, and she is graduating from Georgia State University on Dec. 19 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.

Now, the Honors College student said she can be the one to help other Ethiopian American youth understand the college process.

“When I got older, I realized how hard life actually is. Growing up, I started to realize that I had to do my best in school in order to have a great future because my parents came from a different country, so they didn’t have anything,” Gossa said. “I wanted to work hard so I could have a future for myself and for my family.”

In 1997, Gossa’s father decided to leave everything behind and immigrate to the United States to provide a better future for his family. Gossa’s father, a teacher in Ethiopia, left for America the year she was born and worked odd jobs to help bring the family to join him in the United States. It took seven years for Gossa’s father to save up enough money to reunite them in the U.S.

“Leaving everything we had and moving to another country wasn’t the easiest thing,” Gossa said. “We didn’t have any money, but we managed to get by with what we had.”

Gossa said she didn’t want her education to financially burden her family, and she managed to land several scholarships and work her way through school, she said. She worked part-time jobs outside of school, also working as a chemistry tutor for Georgia State students, a coordinator for the annual Science Olympiad held at the university and an ambassador for the Atlantis fellowship program that gives students the opportunity to shadow doctors abroad. She even traveled with the fellowship program to Athens, Greece one year.

Gossa plans to attend medical school and hopes to become a surgeon.

“I want to become a surgeon because I want to help fix the problem. People trust surgeons to fix what’s wrong with them,” Gossa said.

Gossa said she’s thankful for her parents’ support and hopes to be an inspiration to her younger brother by showing him anything is possible with hard work.

“I’m so thankful because there are a lot of people who I grew up with in Ethiopia who haven’t been able to go to college or finish school,” Gossa said. “This degree is a blessing and a gift to my parents for their sacrifice. I’m excited to give it to them.”


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

Blacks in AI, co-founded by Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe, advocates for diversity and inclusion in the technology sector -- particularly in the field of Artificial Intelligence. (Photo: @timnitGebru and @red_abebe/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 16th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This past week Blacks in AI — a professional community that promotes diversity and inclusion in the Artificial Intelligence field — held its third Black in AI workshop in Vancouver Canada featuring “a panel discussion and invited talks from prominent researchers and practitioners.”

Blacks in AI is co-founded by Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe, who were both born and raised in Ethiopia.

Timnit, who earned her doctorate from Stanford University two years ago, is currently the Technical Co-Lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team at Google. In 2017 Forbes Magazine had featured her on its list of Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research.

And Rediet who this month became the first Black female Ph.D. alumni of Cornell University’s Computer Science department, is now a Fellow at Harvard. Her ongoing research focuses on algorithms and artificial intelligence. The title of her doctoral thesis presentation last month summed up her intellectual passion: “Designing Algorithms for Social Good.” As The Cornell Daily Sun pointed out Rediet’s “interest in social problems roots back to her upbringing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There, she recognized the income inequality and social issues that face her home country, noting that the “big mansions and plastic homes” are on the same block. “Addis Ababa is a very beautiful city,” she said. “It’s something that’s really shaped my identity as a person, as a researcher.”

Meanwhile, the positive feedback and discussions following the 2019 Black in AI workshop is continuing on social media:


You can learn more about Blacks in AI and get involved here.You can also like their Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter for additional info on their members and various activities.

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Boeing to Stop 737 Max Production (AP)

The Max has been grounded since March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed total of 346 people. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Boeing to halt production of 737 Max airliner in January

Boeing Co. said Monday that it will temporarily stop producing its grounded 737 Max jet starting in January as it struggles to get approval from regulators to put the plane back in the air.

The Chicago-based company said production would halt at its plant with 12,000 employees in Renton, Washington, near Seattle. But it said it didn’t expect to lay off any workers “at this time.”

The move amounts to an acknowledgement that it will take much longer than Boeing expected to win approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other global regulators to fly the planes again.

The Max is Boeing’s most important jet, but it has been grounded since March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed total of 346 people. The FAA told the company last week that it had unrealistic expectations for getting the plane back into service.

Read more »


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Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes

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Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report

Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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In DC, Ethiopian Jazz Supergroup Feedel Band Is Keeping Traditional Sounds Alive

Feedel Band has been playing in the District since 2010. (Abebe Tegegne)

DCist

Selam Berhea

Ethiopian Jazz Supergroup Feedel Band Is Keeping Traditional Sounds Alive In The District

Cutting through the chatter of passersby on 18th Street deciding where to eat or waiting in line at Songbyrd, the sound of a saxophone floats from Bossa Bistro + Lounge. It is the first Thursday of the month, and that means Feedel Band is playing.

Inside, about 20 people are gathered to see them, some of whom have been coming to Feedel’s shows since the band’s residency first started six years ago.

“It took two years to convince [the band members to do the residency], they were not used to playing Ethiopian jazz,” says Araya Woldemichael, Feedel’s founder. “We were just backing up popular singers for so many years.” Things changed after Feedel played its first show at the African Jazz Festival in 2011. “We got a very amazing response from the audience.”

Feedel Band is something of an Ethiopian jazz supergroup, made up of seven musicians with unique track records. Some have played for diplomats, for heads of state, and in music venues around the world. And for the past six or seven years at Bossa, their residency has been a chance to see top musicians of Ethiopian jazz and funk right in D.C.

Saxophonist Moges Habte, for example, was a former member of the popular Walias Band, whose 1977 album with vibraphonist Hailu Mergia, Tche Belew, remains one of the most well-known Ethiopian jazz records. Walias Band was also the first Ethiopian band to tour the United States in 1981. After the band split in 1983, Habte was one of the four members who chose to stay in the U.S. He spends his time with his six grandchildren, drives for Uber, and plays shows with Feedel.

Woldemichael, Feedel Band’s pianist and organist, has performed with the Black Eyed Peas, and was part of the band that backed up Beyonce when she performed in Ethiopia for the country’s millennium celebrations. He got his start playing music in church, and in the ’80s he studied music theory and composition in Moscow. He came to the U.S. in 1989, and has played music in D.C. ever since.

Feedel formed in 2010, and is named after the Ethiopian alphabet. The seven musicians had known each other for years from playing backup for the same singers in D.C. and around the world, including Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, and Tilahun Gessesse, as well as pop artists. After years of backing up singers, Woldemichael decided to form an instrumental act.

“We just thought, ‘Why are we waiting until they call us? Why don’t we do something ourselves?’” Habte says.

Read more »


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Meet Yetnebersh Nigussie: A Blind Lawyer Fighting for Global Disability Rights

Yetnebersh Nigussie, a lawyer and disability rights activist from Ethiopia, is the recipient of the 2017 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” (Photo: Democracy Now)

Democracy Now

December 3 [was] International Day of Persons With Disabilities. “Unfortunately, disability-based discrimination is still a global phenomenon,” says Yetnebersh Nigussie, a lawyer and disability rights activist from Ethiopia who in 2017 received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” Nigussie is the director for advocacy and rights at Light for the World and the former chair of the Ethiopian National Association of the Blind women’s wing. She has been blind since the age of five. Yetnebersh Nigussie speaks with us in Stockholm. She is one of many former Right Livelihood Award recipients from across the globe who have gathered to celebrate this year’s recipients: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Sahrawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar, Chinese women’s rights lawyer Guo Jianmei and indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa and the Yanomami Hutukara Association, who protect the Amazon’s biodiversity and indigenous people.


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Meet 2019 CNN Hero of the Year: Freweini Mebrahtu

Freweini Mebrahtu -- who is from Ethiopia and studied chemical engineering in the US -- designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad in 2005. She and her team produce 750,000 reusable pads a year at her factory in Ethiopia. (CNN)

CNN

This is the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year

Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa present the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year award to Freweini Mebrahtu, who designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad for girls in her native Ethiopia.

(CNN) It’s something that girls and young women in western countries can’t imagine: missing school, even dropping out, because of their periods. Yet as many as half the girls in rural parts of Ethiopia miss school for reasons related to their periods — and that can have a devastating effect on their education and the rest of their lives.

Freweini Mebrahtu has dedicated her life to keeping girls in school by designing a reusable menstrual pad and trying to end the cultural stigma around the issue — and because of her work, she has been named the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Mebrahtu said when receiving the award. “I am so humbled and grateful for CNN … this is for all the girls and women everywhere. Dignity for all.”
Online voters selected Mebrahtu as the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year award from among the Top 10 CNN Heroes finalists.

Mebrahtu — who is from Ethiopia and studied chemical engineering in the US — designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad in 2005. She and her team produce 750,000 reusable pads a year at her factory in Ethiopia. Nearly 800,000 girls and women have benefited from her work.

More than 80% of the pads she manufactures are sold to non-governmental organizations that distribute them for free.

She knows personally what it’s like to deal with the issue.

“I remembered (hearing) that it’s actually a curse to have a period … or that it meant I am ready to be married, or (that) I’m being bad,” Mebrahtu told CNN.

Mebrahtu has teamed up with the nonprofit, Dignity Period, to end the stigma around the issue by speaking at schools and teaching girls and boys that menstruation is natural, not shameful.

“The whole goal was not only making the pads, but also attacking the cultural baggage to it,” she said.

Dignity Period has distributed more than 150,000 free menstrual hygiene kits purchased from Mebrahtu’s factory. Data gathered by the group shows that schools visited by Dignity Period had a 24% increase in attendance among girls.

As the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year, Mebrahtu will receive $100,000 to expand her work. All of the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2019 were honored at Sunday’s gala and will receive a $10,000 cash award.

Mebrahtu was presented with the Hero of the Year award Sunday night by hosts Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.


Related:

A CNN Hero, A Midwife, MeTooEthiopia: 3 Great News Stories You May Have Missed

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IMF to Approve $3bn Loan for Ethiopia

PM Abiy Ahmed receiving the Nobel peace prize in Oslo this week © Scanpix/AP

Financial Times

IMF Poised to Approve Landmark $3bn Loan for Ethiopia

Programme will provide balance of payments support for cash-strapped economy

The IMF is poised to approve a loan of almost $3bn for Ethiopia as part of a programme to provide balance of payments support for the cash-strapped economy as well as technical assistance for the government’s liberalisation agenda.

The loan, which still needs IMF board approval, has been agreed by staff after the fund opened a representative office in Addis Ababa this year, according to Ethiopia’s state minister of finance, Eyob Tolina.

The east African country of 105m people has enjoyed more than a decade of high growth but recently ran into capacity constraints and chronic shortages of foreign exchange, a byproduct of its tightly state-controlled economy.

Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister, took office in 2018, promising to overhaul the economy. He has spoken frequently about the limits of Ethiopia’s Asian-style state-led development model, which has produced 15 years of near double-digit growth, and he has pledged to nudge Ethiopia towards a more open, market-oriented system.

In September, Mr Abiy, who received the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, announced a “homegrown economic reform” agenda, which he said would include opening various sectors to foreign investment for the first time. Two new telecoms licences are due to be auctioned next year.

Mr Tolina described the anticipated IMF programme as “a huge stamp of approval” for Mr Abiy’s agenda. “It’s excellent news,” he said. “They want to support our policy reform.”

The funds, which will be released in tranches, would be used to counter a looming balance of payments crisis and to fund specific reform initiatives, he said. He added that the IMF would also provide technical assistance on macroeconomic policy, but did not specify in which areas.

The IMF confirmed the agreement after the Financial Times published details of the loan. The fund added that the three-year $2.9bn finance package had been approved by staff following an IMF visit to Ethiopia in November. The programme would also strengthen the oversight of state-owned enterprises and support the reform of Ethiopia’s financial sector, it said in a statement.

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UNESCO Adds TIMKET to Its Heritage list

TIMKET added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. (ENA)

ENA

UNESCO Decides to Inscribe TIMKET on the List of Cultural Heritage

ENA,December 12/2019 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to inscribe TIMKET, which is Ethiopian Epiphany, on the List of Representatives of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
UNESCO’s intergovernmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritages made the decision in its meeting in Bogota, the capital of Colmbia.

According to UNESCO, inscription of Timiket festivity on the Representative List could enhance the visibility of intangible cultural heritage and promote inter-cultural dialogue among the multi-ethnic population of Ethiopia and other communities globally.

The festival of Timiket or Epiphany is celebrated across Ethiopia on January 19th or 20th in leap year, corresponding to the 10th day of Tirr in the Ethiopian calendar.

Timkat celebrates to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism.

The inscription of Timiket raised the number of Ethiopia’s world intangible cultural heritages to four after Meskel, the Geda System and Fichee-chambalaalla, New Year festival of the Sidama people.


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Church Unearthed in Ethiopia Rewrites the History of Christianity in Africa

At an archaeological site in Ethiopia, researchers are uncovering the oldest Christian basilica in sub-Saharan Africa. (Ioana Dumitru)

SMITHSONIAN.COM

Archaeologists now can more closely date when the religion spread to the Aksumite Empire

In the dusty highlands of northern Ethiopia, a team of archaeologists recently uncovered the oldest known Christian church in sub-Saharan Africa, a find that sheds new light on one of the Old World’s most enigmatic kingdoms—and its surprisingly early conversion to Christianity.

An international assemblage of scientists discovered the church 30 miles northeast of Aksum, the capital of the Aksumite kingdom, a trading empire that emerged in the first century A.D. and would go on to dominate much of eastern Africa and western Arabia. Through radiocarbon dating artifacts uncovered at the church, the researchers concluded that the structure was built in the fourth century A.D., about the same time when Roman Emperor Constantine I legalized Christianty in 313 CE and then converted on his deathbed in 337 CE. The team detailed their findings in a paper published today in Antiquity.

The discovery of the church and its contents confirm Ethiopian tradition that Christianity arrived at an early date in an area nearly 3,000 miles from Rome. The find suggests that the new religion spread quickly through long-distance trading networks that linked the Mediterranean via the Red Sea with Africa and South Asia, shedding fresh light on a significant era about which historians know little.

“The empire of Aksum was one of the world’s most influential ancient civilizations, but it remains one of the least widely known,” says Michael Harrower of Johns Hopkins University, the archaeologist leading the team. Helina Woldekiros, an archaeologist at St. Louis’ Washington University who was part of the team, adds that Aksum served as a “nexus point” linking the Roman Empire and, later, the Byzantine Empire with distant lands to the south. That trade, by camel, donkey and boat, channeled silver, olive oil and wine from the Mediterranean to cities along the Indian Ocean, which in turn brought back exported iron, glass beads and fruits.


A stone pendant with a cross and the term “venerable” in Ethiopia’s ancient Ge’ez script found outside the eastern basilica wall. (Ioana Dumitru)

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Full Text of PM Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Speech

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (Scanpix via AP)

PM Abiy Ahmed – Nobel Lecture

THE NOBEL FOUNDATION

Nobel Lecture given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2019 Abiy Ahmed Ali, Oslo, 10 December 2019.

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa”

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
Fellow Ethiopians, Fellow Africans, Citizens of the World
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here with you, and deeply grateful to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing and encouraging my contribution to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.

Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.

I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.

Today, I stand here in front of you talking about peace because of fate.

I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago.

I was a young soldier when war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles.

There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it.

They have not seen the fear,
They have not seen the fatigue,
They have not seen the destruction or heartbreak,
Nor have they felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage.

War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.

I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.

I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells.

You see, I was not only a combatant in war.

I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people.

War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.

Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badme.

The town was the flashpoint of the war between the two countries.

I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception.

It took only but a few minutes. Yet, upon my return, I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.

I still remember my young comrades-in-arms who died on that ill-fated day.

I think of their families too.

During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an estimated one hundred thousand soldiers and civilians lost their lives.

The aftermath of the war also left untold numbers of families broken. It also permanently shattered communities on both sides.

Massive destruction of infrastructure further amplified the post-war economic burden.

Socially, the war resulted in mass displacements, loss of livelihoods, deportation and denationalization of citizens.

Following the end of active armed conflict in June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea remained deadlocked in a stalemate of no-war, no-peace for two decades.

During this period, family units were split over borders, unable to see or talk to each other for years to come.

Tens of thousands of troops remained stationed along both sides of the border. They remained on edge, as did the rest of the country and region.

All were worried that any small border clash would flare into a full-blown war once again.

As it was, the war and the stalemate that followed were a threat for regional peace, with fears that a resumption of active combat between Ethiopia and Eritrea would destabilize the entire Horn region.

And so, when I became Prime Minister about 18 months ago, I felt in my heart that ending the uncertainty was necessary.

I believed peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was within reach.

I was convinced that the imaginary wall separating our two countries for much too long needed to be torn down.

And in its place, a bridge of friendship, collaboration and goodwill has to be built to last for ages.

That is how I approached the task of building a peace bridge with my partner President Isaias Afeworki.

We were both ready to allow peace to flourish and shine through.

We resolved to turn our “swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” for the progress and prosperity of our people.

We understood our nations are not the enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty.

We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.

We agreed we must work cooperatively for the prosperity of our people and our region.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are reaping our peace dividends.

Families separated for over two decades are now united.

Diplomatic relations are fully restored.

Air and telecommunication services have been reestablished.

And our focus has now shifted to developing joint infrastructure projects that will be a critical lever in our economic ambitions.

Our commitment to peace between our two countries is iron-clad.

One may wonder, how it is that a conflict extending over twenty years, can come to an amicable resolution.

Allow me to share with you a little about the beliefs that guide my actions for peace.

I believe that peace is an affair of the heart. Peace is a labor of love.
Sustaining peace is hard work.

Yet, we must cherish and nurture it.

It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace.

For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees.

Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends.

Peace requires good faith to blossom into prosperity, security, and opportunity.

In the same manner that trees absorb carbon dioxide to give us life and oxygen, peace has the capacity to absorb the suspicion and doubt that may cloud our relationships.
In return, it gives back hope for the future, confidence in ourselves, and faith in humanity.

This humanity I speak of, is within all of us.

We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance.

When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace.

Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny.

Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life.

I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility.

At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come from a small town called Beshasha, located in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia.

It is in Beshasha that the seeds of Medemer began to sprout.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me and my siblings, an abiding faith in humanity.

Medemer resonates with the proverb, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

In my little town, we had no running water, electricity, or paved roads. But we had a lot of love to light up our lives.

We were each other’s keepers.

Faith, humility, integrity, patience, gratitude, tenacity, and cooperation coursed like a mighty stream.

And we traveled together on three country roads called love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

In the Medemer idea, there is no “Us and Them.”

There is only “US” for “We” are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

For the people in the “Land of Origins” and “The 13 Months of Sunshine,” Medemer has always been second nature.

Ethiopians maintained peaceful coexistence between the followers of the two great religions because we always came together in faith and worship.

We, Ethiopians, remained independent for thousands of years because we came together to defend our homeland.

The beauty of our Ethiopia is its extraordinary diversity.

The inclusiveness of Medemer ensures no one is left behind in our big extended family.

It has also been said, “No man is an island.”

Just the same, no nation is an island. Ethiopia’s Medemer-inspired foreign policy pursues peace through multilateral cooperation and good neighborliness.

We have an old saying:
“በሰላም እንድታድር ጎረቤትህ ሰላም ይደር”
“yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.”

It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”

The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony.

The Horn of Africa today is a region of strategic significance.

The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold.

We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery.

We want the Horn of Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress.

Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a global community, we must invest in peace.

Over the past few months, Ethiopia has made historic investments in peace, the returns of which we will see in years to come.

We have released all political prisoners. We have shut down detention facilities where torture and vile human rights abuses took place.

Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more a “jailor of journalists”.

Opposition leaders of all political stripes are free to engage in peaceful political activity.

We are creating an Ethiopia that is second to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression.

We have laid the groundwork for genuine multiparty democracy, and we will soon hold a free and fair election.

I truly believe peace is a way of life. War, a form of death and destruction.

Peacemakers must teach peace breakers to choose the way of life.
To that end, we must help build a world culture of peace.

But before there is peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart and mind.

There must be peace in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, and the towns and cities. There must be peace in and among nations.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:
There is a big price for enduring peace.

A famous protest slogan that proclaims, “No justice, no peace,” calls to mind that peace thrives and bears fruit when planted in the soil of justice.

The disregard for human rights has been the source of much strife and conflict in the world. The same holds in our continent, Africa.

It is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.

Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption.

The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace.

Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens.

I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division, powered by politics of exclusion.

Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics.

The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media.

They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.

Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.

The art of building peace is a synergistic process to change hearts, minds, beliefs and attitudes, that never ceases.

It is like the work of struggling farmers in my beloved Ethiopia. Each season they prepare the soil, sow seeds, pull weeds, and control pests.

They work the fields from dawn to dusk in good and bad weather.

The seasons change, but their work never ends. In the end, they harvest the abundance of their fields.

Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.

We must pull out the weeds of discord, hate, and misunderstanding and toil every day during good and bad days too.

I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads:
“Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren.”

I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons.

I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too.

I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace.

As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.

ሰላም ለሁላችንም፤ ለሰላም አርበኖች እንዲሁም ለሰላም ወዳጆች።

I thank you!


Related:

PM Abiy Ahmed Becomes First Ethiopian to Receive Nobel Prize (In Pictures)

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PM Abiy Ahmed Becomes First Ethiopian to Receive Nobel Prize (In Pictures)

2019 Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia since April 2018, is the first Ethiopian to be awarded a Nobel Prize. This year's prize is also the 100th Nobel Peace Prize. (Image: Nobel Media)

The Associated Press

Nobel winner Abiy says ‘hell’ of war fueled desire for peace

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says his horrifying experiences as a young Ethiopian soldier informed his determination to seek the end of a long conflict with a neighboring country.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke at Oslo City Hall during the ceremony in Norway’s capital where he received his Nobel on Tuesday, saying: “War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I was there and back.”

Abiy won the prize, in part, for making peace with Eritrea after one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. Abiy served in the army during the war.

“Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badame,” he recalled. “I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception….It only took but a few minutes. Yet upon my return I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.”


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is presented by the Chair of the Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen, left, during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed makes a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (Scanpix via AP)


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed poses for the media after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during the award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)


Norway’s King Harald, Queen Sonja, left, Crown Prince Haakon, second right, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit poses for the media with 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed in the Royal Palace in Oslo, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019, ahead of the award ceremony. NTB Scanpix via AP)


Text: Abiy Ahmed Ali – Nobel Lecture

© THE NOBEL FOUNDATION

Nobel Lecture given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2019 Abiy Ahmed Ali, Oslo, 10 December 2019.

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa”

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
Fellow Ethiopians, Fellow Africans, Citizens of the World
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here with you, and deeply grateful to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing and encouraging my contribution to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.

Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.

I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.

Today, I stand here in front of you talking about peace because of fate.

I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago.

I was a young soldier when war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles.

There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it.

They have not seen the fear,
They have not seen the fatigue,
They have not seen the destruction or heartbreak,
Nor have they felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage.

War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.

I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.

I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells.

You see, I was not only a combatant in war.

I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people.

War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.

Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badme.

The town was the flashpoint of the war between the two countries.

I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception.

It took only but a few minutes. Yet, upon my return, I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.

I still remember my young comrades-in-arms who died on that ill-fated day.

I think of their families too.

During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an estimated one hundred thousand soldiers and civilians lost their lives.

The aftermath of the war also left untold numbers of families broken. It also permanently shattered communities on both sides.

Massive destruction of infrastructure further amplified the post-war economic burden.

Socially, the war resulted in mass displacements, loss of livelihoods, deportation and denationalization of citizens.

Following the end of active armed conflict in June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea remained deadlocked in a stalemate of no-war, no-peace for two decades.

During this period, family units were split over borders, unable to see or talk to each other for years to come.

Tens of thousands of troops remained stationed along both sides of the border. They remained on edge, as did the rest of the country and region.

All were worried that any small border clash would flare into a full-blown war once again.

As it was, the war and the stalemate that followed were a threat for regional peace, with fears that a resumption of active combat between Ethiopia and Eritrea would destabilize the entire Horn region.

And so, when I became Prime Minister about 18 months ago, I felt in my heart that ending the uncertainty was necessary.

I believed peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was within reach.

I was convinced that the imaginary wall separating our two countries for much too long needed to be torn down.

And in its place, a bridge of friendship, collaboration and goodwill has to be built to last for ages.

That is how I approached the task of building a peace bridge with my partner President Isaias Afeworki.

We were both ready to allow peace to flourish and shine through.

We resolved to turn our “swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” for the progress and prosperity of our people.

We understood our nations are not the enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty.

We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.

We agreed we must work cooperatively for the prosperity of our people and our region.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are reaping our peace dividends.

Families separated for over two decades are now united.

Diplomatic relations are fully restored.

Air and telecommunication services have been reestablished.

And our focus has now shifted to developing joint infrastructure projects that will be a critical lever in our economic ambitions.

Our commitment to peace between our two countries is iron-clad.

One may wonder, how it is that a conflict extending over twenty years, can come to an amicable resolution.

Allow me to share with you a little about the beliefs that guide my actions for peace.

I believe that peace is an affair of the heart. Peace is a labor of love.
Sustaining peace is hard work.

Yet, we must cherish and nurture it.

It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace.

For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees.

Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends.

Peace requires good faith to blossom into prosperity, security, and opportunity.

In the same manner that trees absorb carbon dioxide to give us life and oxygen, peace has the capacity to absorb the suspicion and doubt that may cloud our relationships.
In return, it gives back hope for the future, confidence in ourselves, and faith in humanity.

This humanity I speak of, is within all of us.

We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance.

When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace.

Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny.

Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life.

I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility.

At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come from a small town called Beshasha, located in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia.

It is in Beshasha that the seeds of Medemer began to sprout.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me and my siblings, an abiding faith in humanity.

Medemer resonates with the proverb, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

In my little town, we had no running water, electricity, or paved roads. But we had a lot of love to light up our lives.

We were each other’s keepers.

Faith, humility, integrity, patience, gratitude, tenacity, and cooperation coursed like a mighty stream.

And we traveled together on three country roads called love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

In the Medemer idea, there is no “Us and Them.”

There is only “US” for “We” are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

For the people in the “Land of Origins” and “The 13 Months of Sunshine,” Medemer has always been second nature.

Ethiopians maintained peaceful coexistence between the followers of the two great religions because we always came together in faith and worship.

We, Ethiopians, remained independent for thousands of years because we came together to defend our homeland.

The beauty of our Ethiopia is its extraordinary diversity.

The inclusiveness of Medemer ensures no one is left behind in our big extended family.

It has also been said, “No man is an island.”

Just the same, no nation is an island. Ethiopia’s Medemer-inspired foreign policy pursues peace through multilateral cooperation and good neighborliness.

We have an old saying:
“በሰላም እንድታድር ጎረቤትህ ሰላም ይደር”
“yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.”

It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”

The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony.

The Horn of Africa today is a region of strategic significance.

The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold.

We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery.

We want the Horn of Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress.

Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a global community, we must invest in peace.

Over the past few months, Ethiopia has made historic investments in peace, the returns of which we will see in years to come.

We have released all political prisoners. We have shut down detention facilities where torture and vile human rights abuses took place.

Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more a “jailor of journalists”.

Opposition leaders of all political stripes are free to engage in peaceful political activity.

We are creating an Ethiopia that is second to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression.

We have laid the groundwork for genuine multiparty democracy, and we will soon hold a free and fair election.

I truly believe peace is a way of life. War, a form of death and destruction.

Peacemakers must teach peace breakers to choose the way of life.
To that end, we must help build a world culture of peace.

But before there is peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart and mind.

There must be peace in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, and the towns and cities. There must be peace in and among nations.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:
There is a big price for enduring peace.

A famous protest slogan that proclaims, “No justice, no peace,” calls to mind that peace thrives and bears fruit when planted in the soil of justice.

The disregard for human rights has been the source of much strife and conflict in the world. The same holds in our continent, Africa.

It is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.

Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption.

The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace.

Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens.

I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division, powered by politics of exclusion.

Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics.

The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media.

They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.

Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.

The art of building peace is a synergistic process to change hearts, minds, beliefs and attitudes, that never ceases.

It is like the work of struggling farmers in my beloved Ethiopia. Each season they prepare the soil, sow seeds, pull weeds, and control pests.

They work the fields from dawn to dusk in good and bad weather.

The seasons change, but their work never ends. In the end, they harvest the abundance of their fields.

Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.

We must pull out the weeds of discord, hate, and misunderstanding and toil every day during good and bad days too.

I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads:
“Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren.”

I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons.

I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too.

I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace.

As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.

ሰላም ለሁላችንም፤ ለሰላም አርበኖች እንዲሁም ለሰላም ወዳጆች።

I thank you!


The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony is underway in Oslo, Norway. The main highlight of the event is the lecture by this year’s Nobel Laureate PM Abiy Ahmed, who is the first Ethiopian to receive the prestigious international award.

WATCH LIVE: 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2019

Announcement

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. The prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.

When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries. These principles are set out in the declarations that Prime Minister Abiy and President Afwerki signed in Asmara and Jeddah last July and September. An important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed’s unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002.

Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future. He spent his first 100 days as Prime Minister lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalising outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life. He has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.

In the wake of the peace process with Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy has engaged in other peace and reconciliation processes in East and Northeast Africa. In September 2018 he and his government contributed actively to the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after many years of political hostility. Additionally, Abiy Ahmed has sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area. There is now hope for a resolution to this conflict. In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition have returned to the negotiating table. On the 17th of August, they released a joint draft of a new constitution intended to secure a peaceful transition to civil rule in the country. Prime Minister Abiy played a key role in the process that led to the agreement.

Ethiopia is a country of many different languages and peoples. Lately, old ethnic rivalries have flared up. According to international observers, up to three million Ethiopians may be internally displaced. That is in addition to the million or so refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries. As Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. However, many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months. No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early. The Norwegian Nobel Committee believes it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work for peace and reconciliation. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has East Africa’s largest economy. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region. With the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will firmly in mind, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sees Abiy Ahmed as the person who in the preceding year has done the most to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019.


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As Abiy Prepares to Accept Peace Prize, A Look Back at Obama’s Nobel Lecture

Left: Abiy Ahmed, PM of Ethiopia, will accept the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 in Oslo, Norway. Right: Barack H. Obama delivered his Nobel Lecture on 10 December 2009 at the Oslo City Hall, Norway. (Photos: Tadias and Nobel Media)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 8th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Like PM Abiy Ahmed’s dilemma, as he gets ready to accept the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo this week, President Obama faced similar controversy ten years ago this month given that his award also came early in his presidency in recognition and encouragement of his vision for peace. The humility, elegance and confidence in which President Obama accepted the prize amid the swirling public debate including this media interview could be instructive to PM Abiy.

As we have noted before Abiy has more than earned the peace prize with what he accomplished when he brought to an end the border conflict with Eritrea. In announcing the award this past October the Nobel Institute praised the “important reforms” that Abiy has initiated and implemented in Ethiopia in the last year and half since he came to power. “The prize comes as Abiy faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping,” AP reported. “The Nobel committee said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement. The award reflects the committee’s taste for trying to encourage works in progress.”

As we speak Abiy is moving forward with the challenge of addressing the entrenched ethnic politics and federalism in Ethiopia as the country prepares for a major election in the new year.

Below is the video and text of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture by Barack Obama:

Text: Nobel Lecture by Barack H. Obama, Oslo, 10 December 2009.

A Just and Lasting Peace

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who’ve received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I’m responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

Now these questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease – the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it’s hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states – all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak – nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” A gradual evolution of human institutions.

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait – a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America – in fact, no nation – can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And this becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

America’s commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries, and other friends and allies, demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they’ve shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That’s why NATO continues to be indispensable. That’s why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That’s why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali – we honor them not as makers of war, but of wagers – but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor – we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken at some length to the question that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me now turn to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I’m working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma – there must be consequences. Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy – but there must be consequences when those things fail. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point – the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet too often, these words are ignored. For some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are somehow Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values around the world.

I reject these choices. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests – nor the world’s – are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements – these movements of hope and history – they have us on their side.

Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – condemnation without discussion – can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, Nixon’s meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable – and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul’s engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan’s efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There’s no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can’t aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that’s why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It’s also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement – all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action – it’s military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that’s the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there’s something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we’re all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we’re moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it’s incompatible with the very purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their fundamental faith in human progress – that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what’s best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

Let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.

Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he’s outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school – because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child’s dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that’s the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much.


Related:

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: Inside the mind of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner (BBC)

In Collecting Nobel Prize, Ethiopia’s Leader Plans to Sidestep Media (NYT)

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed won’t be answering any questions when he receives his Nobel Prize (WaPo)

Nobel peace prize winner Abiy Ahmed embroiled in media row (The Guardian)

PM Abiy Should Talk to Media When Collecting Peace Prize: Nobel Committee (Reuters)

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Update on Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund: Q&A with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu

Dr. Bisrat Aklilu is a member of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund's Advisory Council. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – It was a year ago this month that we had participated in a press conference held by the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. where the fund’s advisory council members briefed the media on their organization’s objectives, fundraising status as well as future plans to engage the larger Ethiopian Diaspora community.

We also published interviews with EDTF advisory council members including Dr. Bisrat Aklilu and Professor Lemma Senbet, and reported on major updates such as the naming of the EDTF Board of Directors who oversee the organization’s projects in Ethiopia.

More recently, we followed up with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu regarding the current status of EDTF’s fundraising efforts, challenges and their plans moving forward.

Below is our Q & A with Dr. Bisrat:

TADIAS: Can you tell us some of the main developments and milestones achieved by EDTF since our last last interview a year ago?

Dr. Bisrat: A lot has happened since our last Tadias interview in November 2018, which was one month after the start of the EDTF online donation. Since then, EDTF mobilized about 26,000 Ethiopian diaspora members in 93 countries and received about US$5.2 million.

In March 2019, a highly qualified small Secretariat team was engaged in Addis Ababa thanks to a generous two-year funding EDTF received from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). UNDP’s funding is a vote of confidence on the integrity of the EDTF mechanism.

In May 2019, EDTF appointed an eleven member Board of Directors, with five members representing the Ethiopian Diaspora (in North America, Europe, Africa and Middle East); three members representing the Ethiopian Civil Society (women, youth and the public at large); and three members from the Government.

By July 2019 we launched a rigorous ‘Call for Project Proposals” which resulted in the receipt of over 400 project proposals by the due date of 16 September covering the various EDTF eligible project areas.

In September 2019, EDTF received from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a 501c3 tax exempt status, as a public charity organization, making donations to EDTF tax exempt as of 27 September 2018.

TADIAS: What are some of your current challenges?

Dr. Bisrat: The first challenge we faced was, and still is to some extent, making our donors understand that EDTF is a completely independent non-governmental, non-profit organization governed by its own “Terms of Reference” totally outside of Ethiopian Government control. EDTF strives to promote dignity, freedom, equality and economic opportunity and national unity based on peaceful cooperation among Ethiopia’s diverse communities without regard to ethnicity, religion or other sectarian considerations.

The second challenge is to explain to our diaspora donors and the public why reasonable time is needed to mobilize funds and receive, vet and fund projects. Learning from the past, we are determined to maintain thoroughness in the project funding process to ensure proper use and accountability of the donated funds.

The third challenge is to satisfy the needs of the disadvantaged people and communities in Ethiopia that EDTF is established to address. The projects so far received will require at least 10 times more funds, i.e. $50 to $70 million, compared to the present $5 million available. We need significantly more donations than what we have received to-date. As part of such an effort, the Advisory Council will hold an EDTF Fundraising dinner on 12 December 2019 in Springfield, Virginia, in the suburb of Washington D.C.. We are encouraging all our 46 EDTF Chapters in the US and around the world to hold similar fundraising but combined with community engagement events in the coming months.

TADIAS: We understand that EDTF is now accepting project proposals for funding in Ethiopia. Please give us an update. How does the process work?

Dr. Bisrat: At the end of the ‘Call for Project Proposal’ period on 16 September 2019, EDTF received about 400 projects. Subsequently, about 300 were found eligible for further review having met the submission requirements. In line with the EDTF policy of transparency and accountability, these projects are currently being reviewed by 75 volunteer Ethiopian and Diaspora volunteer professionals organized in teams of three, with each project reviewed independently by three professionals. By 23 December, the shortlisted projects will be announced to the public. This will be followed by presentation to the Board in late January 2020 of projects that have been vetted for their proper institutional capacity. A summarized indicative timetable of the project review and approval process is posted on the EDTF website www.ethiopiatrustfund.org.

TADIAS: Can you tell us a bit more about your network of volunteers and their contributions?

Dr. Bisrat: Unlike other similar non-governmental organizations(NGOs), EDTF is a totally volunteer driven organization that utilizes 100% of its donations for projects it will finance. No other NGO does that. In fact during the EDTF legal incorporation and subsequent submission to IRS for our 501c3 tax exempt status, we were asked repeatedly how EDTF can operate without using part of its donations to cover operational and administrative costs. In the EDTF, starting from the Advisory Council to the Board and the countless diaspora volunteers organized in various functional teams such as Donors Support, Chapters Support, Website Management, Communications, Volunteers Engagement, Graphics Design and Finance and Audit and recently Project Review, all work on a pro bono basis sacrificing their time. EDTF volunteers are located in different cities and countries and yet work seamlessly as a team on different tasks.

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

Dr. Bisrat: I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 26,000 Ethiopian diaspora for responding to the call for assistance of our disadvantaged Ethiopian sisters and brothers. My deepest thanks goes to the EDTF unsung heroes, the EDTF Secretariat and the many EDTF volunteers, that work day and night to ensure the transparent and accountable operation of the EDTF. EDTF is a labor of love for many of us. There is nothing as gratifying as working together with so many committed volunteers on such a noble cause, with no sectarian consideration, for the sole purpose of ‘giving back a little’.


Related:
EDTF Ethiopia Board Announced
Ways to Boost Donor Participation for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC
Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on the Diaspora Trust Fund & Chapter Formation
Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

You can learn more about the fund at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

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9th Annual U.S.-Ethiopia Defense Meeting

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Pete Marocco and Ethiopian Defense Minister Lemma Megersa co-chaired the 9th annual U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Defense Committee meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2019. (DoD photo)

Press Release

U.S. Dept of Defense

U.S., Ethiopian Defense Officials Meet at Pentagon

During the visit, the defense leaders shared views on regional security, peacekeeping, intelligence and military relations, with the goal of strengthening their security partnership, a defense official said in a readout following the meeting.

Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral relationship and highlighted the significant increase in security cooperation between the two countries over the last 18 months, the official said.

The Ethiopian delegation also met at the Pentagon with James Anderson, who is performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan. Anderson thanked Ethiopia for their leadership and military contributions throughout the region and commended Lemma for the ongoing security sector reforms his nation is undertaking.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor said he was very grateful to Ethiopia’s civilian and military leaders for traveling to the U.S. for the event, and ”for the close partnership that exists between us; and for Ethiopia’s commitment to building our collaboration even further in the days ahead.”

The Bilateral Defense Committee enables the U.S. and Ethiopia to identify new opportunities for collaboration in areas such as counterterrorism and intelligence, which enhances an already robust partnership between the two countries, the defense official said, and helps bring peace and security to East Africa.

Ethiopia plays a critical and significant leadership role in East Africa, the official said. ”Its willingness and capability to develop security throughout the region furthers our mutual goals and shared security interests,” the defense official added.

Ethiopia has the third-largest military in Africa and is the world’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions, the official said.

The nation plays a vital role in the African Union Mission in Somalia, the defense official said, and in peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. ”The Department of Defense applauds these efforts and looks to help strengthen Ethiopia’s ability to further promote peace and stability in the region,” the official said.

Ethiopia was a top recipient of International Military Education and Training funds over the last year. More than 300 ENDF officers and noncommissioned officers took part in U.S. funded training last year.

In July, Ethiopia hosted U.S. Africa Command’s Justified Accord exercise — a regional multi-actor military exercise that allowed regional leaders to discuss common practices and challenges related to AMISOM. This exercise hosted the largest training contingent of U.S. military personnel in Ethiopia in the past 30 years, the defense official noted.


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Stand With Ethiopian Churches as They Are Attacked – WaPo Letter to the Editor

Father Assefa, 64, has climbed a 1,000-foot cliff to reach the Abuna Yemata Guh church every day for 50 years. (Max Bearak/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

By Letters to the Editor

The Dec. 2 article and photographs “Climbing to the church in the sky” [The World] gave a glimpse of Ethiopia’s long Christian history and its unique sites of worship. The 100-plus rock-hewn churches in the northern part of the country are truly fascinating for their style, spirituality, artworks and treasures. Century after century, and despite numerous challenges that included foreign military invasions, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has preserved the integrity of most of its historic holy sites.

Churches such as Abuna Yemata Guh and similar religious sites around the world are part of the global human heritage whose preservation and well-being should be the concern of all nations. Lately, however, there were shocking acts of violence against Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia that claimed many lives. Several churches were burned down along with their treasures. The unprovoked attacks, although confined to a few regions, should not be ignored. Those who instigated and carried out the attacks should face the law for their unspeakable acts of crime. Sadly, the prime minister of Ethiopia, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, and his government showed disturbing indifference toward the blatant violence and tragic losses.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has made significant contributions to Christianity, global history, knowledge and literature. Innocent civilians who were attacked only for being Christians deserve justice. I hope and trust that all fair-minded and peace-loving people will stand with the church and its followers during these challenging times.

Tewodros Abebe, Accokeek

Read more letters to the editor.


Related:

60 Minutes Features Historic Lalibela

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