Author Archive for Tadias

Kenenisa vs. World Record Holder in Historic London Marathon

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.

Read more »


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

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

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

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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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.

Slideshow (2 Images)
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:

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

Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia? (TADIAS)

Trump gaffe as Ethiopia turns to South Africa as Nile mediator (The Africa Report)

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 Honors 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:
___

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?”

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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:

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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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:

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.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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 »


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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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

Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’

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.

Read more »


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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)

Read more »


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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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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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Ethiopia Election 2020: Plan to Dissolve Ruling Party Prompts Internal Criticism

VOA reports that the latest expression of disapproval to PM Abiy Ahmed's efforts to reorganize and rebrand the ruling coalition in advance of next year's election is coming from senior government officials including Defense Minister Lemma Megerssa, who is "currently visiting the U.S. with a delegation aiming to strengthen the two countries’ defense partnerships." (Reuters photo)

VOA News

By Salem Solomon

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

WASHINGTON – A decision by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to dissolve the ruling party months ahead of the 2020 national election has prompted criticism from the upper echelons of his own government.

In an interview with VOA’s Afaan Oromo Service, Minister of Defense Lemma Megerssa said unrest in the country means it is the wrong time to create a new political party.

“Merging this party is not timely as there are many dangers. We are in a transition,” he said, speaking in Afaan Oromo. “This is borrowed time; it is not ours. We are facing several problems from different places during this borrowed time.”

Lemma is currently visiting the U.S. with a delegation aiming to strengthen the two countries’ defense partnerships.

In November, Abiy announced that the country’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF, would dissolve and become one unified party called the Prosperity Party.

Tagesse Chafo Speaker of House of Representative, left, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, right, leaving the parliament…

The decision came after a vote by coalition members in support of the change. On December 1, the prime minister held a ceremony in the capital celebrating the new party and saying it “has also prepared a clear program and bylaws as well as a 10-year plan that leads Ethiopia to prosperity,” state-media reported. Previously the EPRDF had been a coalition of four ethnically based parties.

VOA Report

But the decision has prompted a backlash. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) refused to take part in the vote to form the new party. Debretsion Gebremichael, the TPLF chairman and acting regional president, told reporters in a press briefing that the move “weakens the federal system and takes away the rights of people to self-administration. The drive to form a united party does not consider the existing situations in the country.”

And though the Oromo Democratic Party, formerly the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, voted in favor of the change, prominent Oromo leaders have voiced displeasure. Lemma, who is from the Oromo ethnic group, said the party has not yet delivered on its promises to its people and therefore should continue to exist. “The [Oromo Party] leaders have promised to answer some of the big questions the Oromo people have entrusted us with,” he said. “Doing this without answering questions is not right, and it’s failing to deliver on the promises we made.”

Over the last three to four years, Oromo people have protested what they view as unfair treatment over a host of issues, including land rights in and around the capital city, Addis Ababa. Protests in late October over an alleged threat to the safety of Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed led to the deaths of 86 people.

Lemma and others argue that a change now will do little to quell the ethnic violence spreading in Ethiopia. “It’s not the time to come up with something new, but a time to solve problems that we should be focused on,” he said. “We should focus on maintaining peace and stability and focus on macroeconomics, especially people’s struggle with the rising cost of living.”

But Fekadu Tessema, a spokesman for Abiy’s governing coalition, said the change was not a hasty decision. “We don’t think that the process has been sped up. It has been in the works for a year and a half, and the change has to be led with a clear flow chart and vision,” he said.

He also said the unified party is in line with Abiy’s guiding philosophy known as “medemer,” or “addition.” The philosophy seeks to erase the division between people and create a nation that is greater than the sum of its parts.

“What ‘medemer’ means is to highlight our knowledge, our thinking, and putting all the good attributes in one place,” Fekadu said. “And things like hate, violation of human rights, the question of injustice, and the issues of lack of democracy and lack of freedom and other issues that people have been pointing out, and issues that were seen during the time of EPRDF, have to be corrected.”

This story is based on interviews that originated in the Horn of Africa Service. VOA Afaan Oromo service’s Jalene Gemeda conducted the interview with Minister of Defense Lemma Megerssa in Afaan Oromo, and Tizita Belachew translated the interview in Amharic. Muktar Jemal interviewed Fekadu Tessema, a spokesman for Abiy’s governing coalition, in Amharic.


Related:

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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NYT: Addis Fine Art Gallery Enriches a Global Art Conversation

Mesai Haileleul, left, and Rakeb Sile in front of works by Merikokeb Berhanu.Credit...Addis Fine Art

The New York Times

With a trip to the Untitled fair in Miami, Addis Fine Art adds to the connections it’s building between Ethiopian artists and the rest of the world.

LONDON — How Addis Fine Art got off the ground is a tale of happenstance built on the back of good timing.

Rakeb Sile, 39, who was born in Philadelphia and raised in London, had always been interested in the arts, having even flirted with the idea of working in the music industry before settling on a career in management consulting.

But whenever she traveled back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she had lived for most of her early childhood until her family moved to Britain because of political unrest in the early 1990s, she spent time investigating the city’s growing but globally undiscovered contemporary art scene. She started collecting paintings and sometimes bought works directly from the artists because there was no professional gallery scene in terms of artist development and infrastructure.

Art became her passion, and in 2012 she took a six-month sabbatical in part because she was not sure if she wanted to stay in her career. “And I wanted to make sense of what I had collected,” she said, “to see where is the narrative.”

One of the people she was keen to meet was Mesai Haileleul, an Ethiopian art historian and a Los-Angeles-based gallery owner who had fled Ethiopia during the early days of the military junta in 1974. A mutual friend connected them when Ms. Sile was in Los Angeles, and over the span of a week, they talked about Ethiopia’s rich art history, the growing international conversations around African contemporary art and the idea of working together to promote what was happening on the ground artistically in Addis Ababa.

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: Addis Ababa Among Six Dynamic Emerging Art Capitals in Africa
Summer Previews of Ethiopian Art in the Diaspora – Media Roundup
Addis Fine Art Exhibit Puts Focus on New Generation of Ethiopian Photographers
Addis Fine Art Opens New Gallery With Inaugural Exhibition

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In DC, as Impeachment Heats Up Legal Experts Explain High Crimes (WATCH)

In a sweeping and historic impeachment report released Tuesday the U.S. House Committee on Intelligence accused Donald Trump of abusing his presidential powers and U.S. foreign policy for personal domestic political gain, as well as obstructing the panel's investigation. Below is an excerpt and a link to the full report. (Photo: For only the fourth time in American history, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is currently conducting historic public impeachment hearings setting the stage for Donald Trump's possible removal from office for bribery, obstruction and abuse of power/AP )

Law professor said Trump’s actions toward Ukraine meet constitutional definition of bribery

Public impeachment hearings moved on Wednesday to the House judiciary committee, where four constitutional law experts testified about whether alleged misconduct by Donald Trump investigated in previous impeachment hearings rises to the level of impeachable offenses.

The Guardian

Updated: December 4th, 2019

Here are five key takeaways from this next step of the process:

Trump provides extreme example of impeachable conduct – witnesses

Three witnesses called by Democrats said that the president’s use of official acts for personal gain in defiance of US national security interests was clearly an impeachable offense.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” said witness Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor. “If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning and, along with that, our constitution’s carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on American soil.”

Democrats lay out impeachment road map

The Democrats outlined three alleged offenses that could form the basis for formal articles of impeachment that the full House would vote on. The three offenses were: abuse of power and bribery; obstruction of Congress; and obstruction of justice.

“Never before has a president engaged in a course of conduct that included all the acts that most concerned the framers,” said the committee’s chairman, Jerry Nadler.

The road ahead

While the judiciary committee has not announced additional hearings, the White House has until Friday 6 December to notify the committee whether lawyers for Trump wish to participate in the proceedings. The White House declined to participate in the hearing on Wednesday.

If the judiciary committee forges ahead with drafting formal articles of impeachment, Democratic party leaders expect a committee vote on them as soon as next week. By this timeline, the full House could vote on impeaching Trump near the end of the year, although there is no set calendar. If he is impeached, Trump’s trial would be held in the Republican-controlled Senate early next year.

Read more »


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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Spotlight: Movie from Ethiopia ‘Enchained’ to Make U.S. Premier in NYC & DC

The film entitled ‘Enchained', which is is set to make its U.S. debut in New York City during NY African Diaspora International Film Festival on December 11th and December 15th, will also be screened at Landmark Theatres in Washington, D.C. on December 12th. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 2nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This month, the award-winning new film from Ethiopia, Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) is coming to the United States. The U.S. screenings follow the film’s successful international premier in London this past October.

The film will make its U.S. debut in New York City during the NY African Diaspora International Film Festival on December 11th and December 15th, and will also be screened in Washington, D.C. on December 12th.

A review by Filmuforia notes: “Combining breath-taking landscapes with superb performances piqued by humour and irony,” Enchained “takes the audience by storm in a tense and moving ethnological drama suffused with passion, jealousy and bitter anger of the traditional Ethiopian establishment.”

Set in 1916 Enchained reflects on the age-old human behavior when it comes to love, sex, violence and the desire for vigilante justice, while also contemplating on Ethiopia’s judicial system of the day informed by local customs, values and traditions adjudicating conflict situations.

One of the film’s main characters “Gobeze is a timid, peace-loving, young man of 25; a brilliant student who dedicates his whole life to Sem Ina Werq (riddles with dual meaning),” explains the synopsis. “He spends seven years searching for his young love, Aleme, kidnapped from his arms. Finally finding her, two young lovers are caught by Gonite, her husband and a wealthy old landlord. Following the old Ethiopian tradition, both men’s clothes are bind together and the rivals set off on a long journey to the royal court to stand trial.”


Written and directed by Moges Tafesse, the film’s cast include Zerihun Mulatu as Gobeze, Yimisirach Girma as Aleme and Frehiwot Kelkilew as Queen Zewditu. (Screen shot)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

The film’s director, Moges Tafesse, will be present for a Q & A session on December 15th during the New York screening that will be held at Columbia University’s Teachers College, as well as at the D.C. event at Landmark Theatres on December 12th.

If You Go
‘Enchained’ NY African Diaspora International Film Festival.
Teachers College, Columbia University
Wed Dec 11, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Sun Dec 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm
525 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027
Click here for more info and to buy tickets
Habesha View TV in collaboration with African Diaspora Film Festival’ is offering a 15% discount for the NYC screenings. Use this promo code: ‘habesha view.’ ‘Habesha View, which provides an IPTV service with contents focused on the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities worldwide, is the international distributor for Enchained film.

Washington D.C.
‘Enchained’ at Landmark Theatres / E Street Cinema
Thu Dec 12, 2019 at 6:30 pm
555 11th Street NW,
Entrance on E Street between 10th & 11th Streets
NW, Washington D.C., 20004
Click here for more info and to buy tickets

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Germany Grants Ethiopia $388 Million for Reforms / Ethiopia to Keep Control of Banks as Sectors Open Up (Bloomberg)

Market sellers in Harar. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Germany granted Ethiopia 352.5 million euros ($388 million) to support reforms that will promote private investment and sustainable economic development, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

The agreement was signed with Germany’s ministers for economic cooperation and labor and social affairs, who are in Ethiopia on a state visit. Ethiopia initiated economic reforms when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018, which are opening the Horn of Africa nation to more foreign capital.

Read more »

Related:
Ethiopia to Keep Control of Its Banks as Other Sectors Open Up

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60 Minutes Features Historic Lalibela

CBS News' 60 Minutes explores Ethiopia's historic Lalibela churches. (CBS)

CBS

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church says the churches were made by angels, but no one knows exactly who made them or why. The 11 churches rose out of a plateau in Ethiopia 800 years ago. They were excavated, meticulously carved out of one huge piece of rock, by people called the Zagwe around 1,200 AD. The King of the Zagwe, Lalibela, from whom the site gets its name, is said to have ordered its construction to replace Jerusalem after the city was conquered by Islam. And pilgrims today continue to make their way there on foot for Christmas as they have for centuries. All of which makes for a fascinating and fitting 60 Minutes report for the holiday season. Scott Pelley made the trip in time for the Christmas vigil and tells the story Sunday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS.

Fasil Giorghis, an Ethiopian architect and historian, knows the stories and the churches as well as anyone. He tells Pelley the legend of King Lalibela, who is supposed to have traveled 1,600 miles to Jerusalem. “And [Lalibela] came back with an ambitious idea, a vision of creating an African Jerusalem, a black Jerusalem here in the highlands of Ethiopia.”

60 Minutes cameras capture the spectacle of nearly 200,000 Christians massing on the 62-acre site, many holding candles, on Christmas Eve. “This is considered to be a holy place,” says Giorghis. “Coming here as a devout Christian is a very strong sign of their belief… some people travel hundreds of kilometers here on foot and they have been doing it for several centuries,” he tells Pelley.

Watch: Lalibela: A place where faith, mystery and miracles coexist


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In U.S., Waiting for Obama as 2020 Nears

In the following timely article, Politico magazine reflects on the upcoming 2020 U.S. election and the influential and behind-the-scenes role of former President Barack Obama, who has emerged during the tumultuous Trump era as one of the most beloved and globally admired American presidents in history. (POLITICO Illustration/AP, Getty Images)

POLITICO

The Democratic establishment is counting on him to stop Trump and, perhaps, stave off Bernie as well. But can his cerebral politics still galvanize voters in an age of extremes?

Today, almost every Democratic presidential campaign starts with what one close adviser to Barack Obama calls “The Pilgrimage”: the journey to the West End to meet the former president.

The West End of Washington, D.C., sandwiched between the better-known districts of Georgetown and Dupont Circle, is known as a neighborhood that people travel through, not to. For elite Democrats, that changed four years ago when Obama set up his personal office here. You wouldn’t know from outside that one of its bland concrete and glass building houses the man whom polls rank as the most popular Democrat in America, and who, according to one global survey, is the second-most admired man in the world.

The first presidential pilgrims started in early 2018, and they continued to trickle through this summer. Not every declared candidate has met with Obama—Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard were notable no-shows—but he let it be known he was available to anyone seeking advice. As a rule of thumb, the closer one is to Obama personally, the less important the West End summit is. Joe Biden, one of only two candidates who Obama knows at a familial, rather than strictly professional level, was an “exception,” said an Obama adviser, who had a rolling series of conversations about 2020, the most recent of which was backstage at the funeral for Elijah Cummings in Baltimore on October 25. Deval Patrick, a close Obama pal and board member at the Obama Foundation who parachuted into the race last week, checked in with a phone call before announcing.

For the others—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, and more—the meeting was as important as planning their kickoff rally or first campaign ad…

Ostensibly the meetings are for the aspiring candidates to gain some wisdom from the last Democrat to win an open presidential primary and the presidency, but they also allow Obama to collect his own intelligence about what he and his closest advisers have made clear is all that matters to him: who can beat Donald Trump.

Read the full article at politico.com »


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Ethiopia to Launch Satellite for Agro, Mining & Environmental Protection

Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister Getahun Mekuria on Friday told reporters the satellite will be used for agricultural, mining, environmental protection and earth observatory purposes. (Image: Satellite composite courtesy of The Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute )

The Associated Press

Ethiopia says its 1st satellite will launch next month

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian officials say the country will launch its first ever satellite next month.

It is the latest example of space ambitions by several African nations.

The satellite was built in China and will be launched from a site there.

Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister Getahun Mekuria on Friday told reporters the satellite will be used for agricultural, mining, environmental protection and earth observatory purposes.

The minister said Ethiopian engineers took part in the satellite’s construction.

A control center has been set up on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.


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Your Ethiopian Professionals Network (YEP) Celebrates its 9th Anniversary

YEP’s nine year anniversary celebration will be held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday, November 23, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

November 22nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend in Alexandria, Virginia Your Ethiopian Professionals Network (YEP) celebrates its 9th year anniversary on Saturday, November 23rd.

“The black-tie event will be held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and will feature notable community figures, influencers, traditional Ethiopian food and music, and an award ceremony,” YEP announced noting that the theme this year is Leading with Purpose. More than 300 professionals from a wide range of industries and sectors will be in attendance.”

Founded in 2010 YEP’s mission is “to inspire, educate and empower the Ethiopian professional community to make a positive impact in the world and envisions a strong community that shares ideas, skills and resources to enrich lives.” Through the years YEP has hosted educational and networking sessions as well as various inspirational speakers.

The announcement adds that YEP’s award ceremony will honor individuals and organizations “who are doing a great job in their sector and our community.”


If You Go:
YEP Nine Year Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, November 23, 2019 from 6:00 PM to midnight
US Patent and Trademark Office
600 Dulany Street
Madison Auditorium
Alexandria, VA 22304
Click here to buy tickets
More info at www.yepnetwork.org

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. ‘

Sidama People Vote to Create State

The National Election Board on Saturday said 98.5% of people voted for regional statehood while just 1.48% voted to remain within the Southern regional state. Official results show voter turnout was 99.8%. The Sidama make up about 4% of Ethiopia’s population. (Photo: Voting has been peaceful in Sidama's main city, Hawassa/Getty Images)

AP

By ELIAS MESERET

Updated: November 23, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian authorities say the Sidama people in the south have voted overwhelmingly in favor of regional statehood. The vote could inspire others and cause further fragmentation of ethnic groups in Africa’s second most populous country while its Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader urges national unity.

The National Election Board on Saturday said 98.5% of people voted for regional statehood while just 1.48% voted to remain within the Southern regional state. Official results show voter turnout was 99.8%.

The Sidama make up about 4% of Ethiopia’s population.

A consortium of civil society organizations described Wednesday’s referendum as peaceful, but it alleged some polling stations weren’t transparent.

Some voters told The Associated Press those in the “remain” camp were intimidated. They spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety.


Related:

Referendum Tests Ethiopia’s Ability for Peaceful Elections (Bloomberg)

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Ethiopian Human Rights Boss Battles Scant Resources (Reuters)

Daniel Bekele, former political prisoner and Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, now heading the government's human rights commission, speaks during a Reuters interview in Addis Ababa, November 15, 2019. (REUTERS)

REUTERS

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a former political prisoner in July as head of the state-funded human rights commission, supporters hailed it as a sign the country might finally tackle abuses by security forces and move to break a cycle of bloody ethnic feuds.

Daniel Bekele, former political prisoner and Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, now heading the government’s human rights commission, speaks during a Reuters interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini
Daniel Bekele left a high-ranking position at watchdog Human Rights Watch in New York to come home and take up the post.

Now reality has hit. He has one investigator for every million Ethiopians, and low salaries make it impossible to attract and retain talent, he told Reuters in an interview on Friday. His own salary after tax is equivalent to $270 per month, common for civil servants.

Parliament, which he reports to, approves the commission’s budget, equivalent to $3 million annually, but the finance ministry approves all spending, curbing the commission’s autonomy.

Even if funds were adequate, he said, bureaucracy prevents the quick deployment of researchers to investigate ethnic clashes around the country that have killed hundreds of people in the past few months alone.

The commission was established 15 years ago but was largely ineffective. Security forces committed widespread abuses against civilians but the commission rarely documented them.

After three years of protests, the ruling coalition bowed to pressure and appointed Abiy in April 2018 to drive reforms. His peacemaking efforts with longtime foe and neighbor Eritrea won him the Nobel Peace Prize last month. He has appointed former dissidents like Bekele to senior roles in the justice sector, raising hopes that abuses will not go unpunished.

Ethiopia must push harder if it wants to break the cycle of violence, Bekele said.


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

Time magazine has released its list of the top books of 2019 that includes 'The Shadow King,' the new novel by Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste. (Image: Time.com)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: November 17th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Maaza Mengiste’s acclaimed new novel The Shadow King has been selected by the editors of Time magazine as one of their 2019 list of 100 must read books.

Maaza’s book narrates the rarely explored and heroic participation of female warriors in Ethiopia’s legendary victory against fascist occupation forces during World War II. The movie rights to the novel was also recently acquired by the film production company Atlas Entertainment.

Time notes: “Ethiopian-American novelist 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.”

Buy now: The Shadow King


Related:
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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Ethiopia Election 2020: Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition took a step closer to the creation of a national unity party as Africa’s second most-populous nation prepares for elections.

The executive committee of the alliance voted for the merger of the four parties, Fikadu Tessema, a committee member, said in an interview with the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp.

The move will include a fair representation of the ethnic groups in the alliance, Tessema told the national broadcaster. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front or EPRDF, a former rebel movement that’s made up of four regional parties, will wait for the final confirmation from the coalition’s 180-member council. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) faction of the party opposed the merger.


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

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Ethiopia Election 2020: Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Election (AFP)

Mired in controversy, Jawar Mohammed says he is running for office (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

AFP

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election

Addis Ababa (AFP) – Jawar Mohammed, a former ally turned foe of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, told AFP on Saturday he would join the race for a 2020 election to ensure that it is “free and fair”.

Jawar, a media mogul and activist who was at the centre of last month’s deadly protests in Addis Ababa, is credited with helping to sweep Abiy to power but has recently criticised some of the premier’s policies.

Jawar told an audience in the US state of Minnesota that he would run in next year’s vote, a decision he confirmed to AFP by phone.

“I’ve not decided which position or which party. What I’ve decided is to run,” he said.

“The purpose is to help to ensure the election is free and fair. I want to add my voice and my influence to ensure the election is free and fair. And I want to make sure the federalist voices are given enough space in the debate.”

Both Abiy, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Jawar are from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, and their feud highlights divisions within the Oromo support base that could complicate the prime minister’s bid for a five-year term.

Ethiopian-born Jawar said he would have to give up his current US citizenship and reclaim Ethiopian citizenship to be able to enter the contest, in which he said he could run for the Oromia regional parliament or the national assembly.

Jawar, who has 1.7 million followers on Facebook, said he would return to Ethiopia within 10 days to start the paperwork needed for his candidacy.

Ethiopia’s general election is scheduled for May 2020, but many observers expect the vote to be delayed as preparations are already running behind schedule.


Related:

Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: November 15th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Marcus Samuelsson’s popular TV show, No Passport Required, is scheduled to return for a second season in January 2020 highlighting diverse American cities such as Los Angeles, California — home to Little Ethiopia, which is the only neignhrhood in the United States officially named after an African country.

In the upcoming episodes Marcus will travel to six major cities exploring international flavors, sounds and tastes. The featured cities include “Houston, home to one of the highest numbers of West African expatriates of any U.S. city; the Filipino American community in Seattle, who are part of the city’s longstanding Asian Pacific American heritage; Los Angeles, where the world’s second-largest Armenian community resides; and Boston, where Marcus explores Portuguese-speaking cultures and cuisines from three different locales: Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal. Other episodes focus on the Chinese American community in Las Vegas, which has grown tremendously over the last 20 years, and Philadelphia, where Italian Americans have thrived for generations. In each city, he’ll visit local restaurants, markets and family homes, learning about each community’s cuisine and heritage.”

PBS added: “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. Each episode shows how important food can be in bringing Americans — old and new — together around the table.”

For Marcus, a new season of No Passport Required means that “we have only begun to scratch the surface of the amazing range of immigrant cultures and cuisines found in the U.S.” He adds: “It’s exciting to go on this journey once again and bring attention to these diverse communities that contribute so much to our nation.”

The finale segment of the previous season was brodcast this past August 14th and featured Ethiopian food and culture in Washington D.C. The episode highlighted the inspiring stories of Ethiopian entrepreneurs, eskista dancing, as well as how to make traditional dishes such as kitfo and ful.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), one of the largest television program distributors in the United States, premiered No Passport Required, which was produced in collaboration with Vox Media, on July 10th, 2018.

“NO PASSPORT REQUIRED was one of our freshest and most popular new shows last year,” says Pamela A. Aguilar, Senior Director, PBS Programming. “It included new perspectives and provided a unique lens that brought younger audiences to PBS, who connected with Marcus and the culture and cuisine of these diverse communities. We’re delighted to present a new season of this inclusive series that is part of the PBS commitment to provide programming that is reflective of all Americans.”

“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, Vox Media. “Serving both the PBS and Eater audiences with premium nonfiction television inspired by great journalism, next generation talent and a collective deep curiosity about the world is a priority for Vox Entertainment.”


Related:

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’:

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

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After Ethiopia Trip, Bowser Touts Renewed Bond with Homeland of Many DC Residents

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), center, in Ethi­o­pia. Bowser led a 70-member delegation that toured Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital, where officials renewed a sister-city agreement. (Executive Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser)

The Washington Post

She met with the president and the prime minister, talked transportation and health care with local officials, visited an orphanage and an ancient church, and smiled broadly as a street was christened for her more than 7,000 miles from her hometown.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), back from a five-day diplomatic and trade mission to Ethiopia, described the trip on Thursday as a way to solidify ties with a country where an estimated 30,000 Ethiopians have relocated to the District.

“We are promoting our D.C. values of inclusivity around the world,” the mayor said when asked about the trip’s benefits for District residents. “Letting the world know that we are Washingtonians, not just who you see in the White House, and that has been increasingly important in the last two and a half years.”

On her visit to Ethi­o­pia, her fifth international trip since her 2014 election, Bowser led a 70-member delegation that toured Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital, where they renewed a sister-city agreement, met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde, and sampled lamb stew, enjera and other local delicacies.

After a one-hour flight to the town of Lalibela, they toured underground cathedrals and a school that was modernized by a Bowser donor who was on the trip. Before returning home, the mayor also accepted congratulations when Addis Ababa’s mayor, Takele Uma Banti, dedicated Mayor Muriel Bowser Street. The mayor’s office announced the designation in a press release that also reported that another location in Addis Ababa had been renamed Washington D.C. Square.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


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UPDATE: Addis Ababa Unveils DC Square in Honor of Mayor Bowser’s Visit

DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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World Needs More Ethiopia & Less Exxon

Ethiopia's Nobel Peace Prize winning Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, planting a tree in Addis Ababa. (Image: Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia)

Corporate Knights

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali won the Nobel Peace Prize this year for ending a multi-decade war with Eritrea. Equally notable, he made one of the boldest moves of any world leader yet to end the war on nature. On a single day on July 29, he led a blitz to plant 353 million trees (part of a larger program to plant 4 billion), for an estimated cost of US$548 million, representing almost 1% of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product.

To put that number in perspective, if a rich country like Canada were to invest 1% of its GDP planting new trees over a period of just eight years, it could remove up to half of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) that have been deposited by humankind in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

Former ExxonMobil scientist Dr. M. Stanley Whittingham also won a Nobel prize this year for his pioneering work in the development of the lithium-ion battery for the company in the 1970s. In its citation for the prize, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said: “This light-weight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles. It can also store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a fossil fuel-free society.”

For whatever reason, after Whittingham’s initial breakthrough, Exxon put the rechargeable battery project on ice, citing high manufacturing costs and safety concerns.

That wasn’t the only time Exxon scientists developed potential breakthrough technologies to decarbonize the global economy. Exxon holds more low-carbon patents than any company on the planet, according to a Chatham House report.

Exxon’s annual sales are more than triple Ethiopia’s GDP. One wonders how different the world would be had the company invested its vast resources in a better future rather than holding it back. Exxon’s shareholders should be asking this question too. Over the past 10 years, Exxon’s stock has been a dog, returning just one dollar for every six generated by an equivalent investment in the broader U.S. stock market.

The reason for this is the best news possible: economics. The low-carbon way is now the better, cheaper way. This is true across a host of critical technologies from electric vehicles to renewable power and storage.

To wit: A recent report by BNP Paribas Asset Management (which has US$469 billion in assets under management) found that oil needs a long-term breakeven price of $10–$20 per barrel to remain competitive in mobility, which accounts for more than a third of demand for crude oil. The report concludes the “economics of oil for gasoline and diesel vehicles versus wind- and solar-powered electric vehicles are now in relentless and irreversible decline, with far-reaching implications for both policymakers and the oil majors.”

It’s good news that investors are waking up to the greatest threat to humanity, and even better news that it is for economic reasons, as that suggests the possibility of a massive scale-down of financing of climate problems in favour of climate solutions. But it’s not happening fast enough.

It’s as if our house is on fire and we are waiting for the boxing day sale on sprinklers.

We need to turn the firehose on. For decades, dealing with climate change (now a climate emergency) has been a massive collective action problem with little incentive to be a first mover, because it has been viewed as an environmental problem. Any single actor (with the exception of China or the U.S.) could not hope to make more than a dent on their own, and the benefits would not be reaped for decades into the future.

But when viewed through the lens of economics, the first mover disadvantage becomes an advantage. Those who lead the race to the rising low carbon economy stand to reap the biggest gains.

Which brings us to Canada, eh. With our energy industry on the ropes and struggling to remain relevant in what Shell CEO Ben van Beurden describes as a “lower forever” oil price world, the sooner we change our mindset to see the low-carbon economy as something to fight for rather than against the better.

Ditto for the rest of our economy — from the beleaguered internal combustion auto sector and energy-inefficient heavy industry to buildings and the balkanized electrical grid — embracing the opportunities of a low-carbon economy could bring our country together instead of driving it apart.

But it will take a serious chunk of change: about $300 billion over the next six years, according to The Capital Plan for Clean Prosperity, a Corporate Knights report for the Council for Clean Capitalism.

The simplest most effective way to move Canada to the front of the global low-carbon economic expansion would be for the federal government to initiate a large clean stimulus package backed by an annual $50 billion green bond program that would provide grants for businesses to deploy climate solutions.

As the global economy enters a period of contraction, the timing for such a stimulus could not be better.

Using the best models available, such a bold move could add as many as 900,000 jobs and $700 billion of GDP growth over six years.

Unlike Ethiopia we have abundant means to do this. A $300 billion pot of free money would focus the imagination of Canadian businesses. We should not underestimate our ability to capitalize on the awesome low-carbon growth opportunity.


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U.S. Invests in Ethiopia Health System

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Ethiopia)

Press Release

U.S. Invests in Digital Solutions to Modernize Ethiopia Health System

November 14, 2019

Addis Ababa – The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Ministry of Health, announced the launch of the new USAID Digital Health Activity to continue investments in digital information solutions to further strengthen the country’s health system and improve the quality of services. USAID Mission Director Sean Jones and Minister of Health Dr. Amir Aman inaugurated the new activity, which builds on U.S.-Ethiopian efforts to create a modernized health information system that ensures the entire sector has the data, analytics, and skills necessary to improve the health and well-being of all Ethiopians.

The five-year USD $63 million USAID Digital Health Activity will train end-users including doctors, nurses, health extension workers, and policy-makers at all levels of the health system to utilize technology more effectively and enable them to better serve patients and families across the country. USAID will also partner with local universities to introduce courses that develop competencies in health innovations and electronic solutions, and establish career paths that empower young Ethiopians to drive digital solutions across the sector. The Digital Health Activity will also create opportunities for entrepreneurs and youth-led tech organizations to utilize their expertise in providing support to health centers.

“In addition to simply expanding digital health systems and strengthening the skills of today’s medical professionals, we are also increasing our focus on developing the leaders of tomorrow to drive health innovations far into the future,” said USAID Mission Director Sean Jones.

USAID’s Digital Health Activity is implemented by JSI and a consortium of partners. The United States is the largest bilateral provider of support to Ethiopia’s health sector, with approximately $150 million per year in funding for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS; malaria; maternal, neonatal and child health; nutrition; and water, sanitation and hygiene. Overall, the United States has provided approximately $4 billion in development and humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia over the past five years.


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Clashes on Ethiopian Campuses Kill 3 (AP)

Two students at Woldia University in the Amhara region and one student at Dembi Dollo University in the Oromia region died in days of unrest largely along ethnic lines, AP reports. (Photo Dambi Dollo University Facebook)

The Associated Press

Clashes on Ethiopian Campuses Kill 3 University Students

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian authorities say three university students have died in days of unrest largely along ethnic lines, and students say security forces have entered campuses to restore order.

Clashes in the Amhara region began Saturday and in the Oromia region Monday and some students have been evacuated.

Education ministry official Samuel Kifle said Wednesday some people behind the unrest had fake student IDs and arrests were underway.

Two students at Woldia University in the Amhara region and one student at Dembi Dollo University in the Oromia region died.

Ethnic conflicts have posed a major challenge to Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Also Wednesday, the attorney general said 68 people who took part in a June attack that killed Ethiopia’s army chief and others will be charged this week.


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UPDATE: Addis Ababa Unveils DC Square in Honor of Mayor Bowser’s Visit

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s trip to Ethiopia comes a year after Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to D.C. gave a talk to members of the Ethiopian community at the convention center in July 2018. Bowser joined Abiy on stage and announced July 28 as “Ethiopia Day in D.C.” (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Press Release

Office of the DC Mayor

City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Honors Mayor Bowser and Washington, DC with Street Naming

Celebration Part of Renewal of Sister City Agreement that Establishes Cooperative Relationship in Areas of Economic Development, Public Health, Sustainability, Education, and Government Collaboration

(ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA) – Today, representing the 704,000 residents of Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated the renaming of an Addis Ababa street in honor of the collaborative relationship between the two capital cities. The Mayor of Addis Ababa, Takele Uma Banti, unveiled a newly-named street, “Mayor Muriel Bowser Street,” and announced the renaming of Gazebo Roundabout to “Washington DC Square” as part of the signing ceremony for the renewal of the Sister City agreement between the District and Addis Ababa. The agreement establishes a cooperative relationship to further the areas of economic development, public health, sustainability, culture, education, and government collaboration in both cities.

“I am delighted to accept this historic honor on behalf of all of the residents of Washington, DC,” said Mayor Bowser. “The DC region is proud to boast one of the largest populations of Ethiopians in the US, and this Sister City agreement is an effort to ensure we continue to collaborate and develop solutions that support the residents in both of our communities. Addis Ababa holds a special place in the hearts of Washingtonians, and now all Washingtonians have a place to call home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”

Home to more than 30,000 Ethiopians, the DC region has a multitude of Ethiopian business owners, families, entrepreneurs, community leaders, artists, and more. The Sister City agreement signing ceremony was part of a five-day mission led by Mayor Bowser.

“Today, we renewed our Sister City Agreement with Washington, DC to create lasting partnerships and cooperation on economic development, public health, culture, tourism and education. We are the capital to two great nations and there is so much we can learn from each other,” said Addis Ababa Mayor Takele Uma Banti. “To Ethiopians in DC, we need your passion, knowledge, expertise, creativity and the values that allowed you to be outstanding citizens and entrepreneurs in DC. As we lay down the cornerstone for this new road in honor of our partnership, I’ve no doubt that we’re cementing a moment in history to highlight the place of DC and its residents in Addis.”

The agreement confirms the two cities will, in short:

    Promote collaboration, information exchange, and joint ventures, with a special focus on the growth and development of business investment, trade and tourism and public-private partnerships
    Share information on best practices in the areas of government operation; including public works, transportation, technology, infrastructure and housing
    Share information on health polices and best practices to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of prevention and treatment programs
    Promote the development of programs in the areas of culture, arts and education
    Share information and best practices the support a sustainable environment, including energy conservation and the green economy.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Mike Raynor attended the re-signing ceremony, as well as the inauguration of the Washington DC Roundabout and Muriel Bowser Street. At a reception held earlier in the day at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ambassador Raynor welcomed Mayor Bowser and her delegation saying, “…your visit embodies so many of the attributes that mark the long and rich relationship between the United States and Ethiopia: friendship, dynamism, good will, and the pursuit of partnerships that serve the best interests of both our countries and our peoples.”

Mayor Bowser also met Ethiopian leaders, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who recently received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, and President H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde, the first woman to be elected president.


DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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The Young Ethiopians Working for Peace

The group call themselves “peace ambassadors”, and they are leading the way in putting a fractured and traumatised society back together again. (Photo: Imnet Irba, a 25 year old recent school graduate, leads monthly peace trainings in Gedeo zone/ Tom Gardner/TNH)

The New Humanitarian

BULE HORA, ETHIOPIA

In a hotel dining room in the southern Ethiopian town of Bule Hora, a group of young Ethiopians pin drawings of trees to the wall. Each tree, they explain, represents one of them – some of them ethnic Gedeos, the rest Guji Oromos – and together they make up a forest, symbolising their multi-ethnic society.

The group call themselves “peace ambassadors”, and they are leading the way in putting a fractured and traumatised society back together again.

“The forest represents our unity,” says one, a murmur of assent rippling through the room.

But fostering reconciliation and rebuilding peace, when memories of violence remain so fresh, will take more than well-meaning workshops.

It is now more than a year since, according to official estimates, up to one million Gujis and Gedeos were left homeless after ethnic violence broke out. Reconciliation, despite the deep blood and cultural ties between the two communities, is proving a long and fraught process.

Whole families, the majority of them Gedeo, were chased from their lands by armed gangs who torched farms, looted properties, and beat, raped, and murdered civilians.

It was the largest single displacement in a year in which nearly three million people nationwide were forced from their homes, as ethnic and land-fuelled conflicts exploded across the country following the softening of the ruling party’s authoritarianism when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last April.

Six months ago, the Ethiopian government sent almost all of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their old villages, despite fears for their safety, as part of a massive campaign to reduce the IDP caseload. Today, it claims that less than 100,000 remain throughout Ethiopia – though aid workers have questioned those figures.

In Kercha, the West Guji district where the bulk of the violence occurred, the conflict’s scars are still visible. Makeshift shelters with tarpaulin roofs mark the spots where, according to the government, at least 21,000 houses were burnt or torn down.

A heavy presence of local militia and special police patrol the streets, and many locals, as well as returnees, still rely on food handouts as much of last year’s harvest was abandoned or destroyed.

‘Everyone is regretting what they did’

But there are welcome signs of progress, too.

About 130 peace ambassadors are now dotted across 13 districts along the border between Gedeo and Oromia’s West Guji. These young men and women, all volunteers, hold meetings and workshops in their villages, hoping to restore trust between the two communities.

“I teach them the values of living together, values which were degraded or lost during the conflict,” said Dubi Lema, who works at the Environment, Climate Change, and Forest Authority in Kercha Town, and in his free time helps reconcile his neighbours.

“Now relations are so good – everyone is regretting what they did,” she told The New Humanitarian. “It’s very peaceful.”


Gelgelo Genee, Teremaj Belachew, Ibsa Ware, left to right, are “peace ambassadors” in Kercha, West Guji. (Tom Gardner/TNH)

Ambassadors like Dubi and Imnet are helping to support the work of local officials, who for the last few months have been organising regular peace meetings between the two ethnic groups.

They are supported and trained by the Catholic Relief Services, an international NGO, which, like other aid groups, was prohibited from engaging in reconciliation work until after Abiy took office last year.

“In our zone, there is no peace problem now,” said Abera Buno, the top official in West Guji. “The IDPs have come home, and they are rebuilding their lives.”

He told TNH that the local government is planning to build a “peace training centre” on land at the border between Gedeo and West Guji.

Meanwhile, local elders known as Abba Gadas are setting up “peace committees” in each kebele or village district. Some of the young ambassadors are organising football teams or church choirs of mixed ethnicities, and Dembela Muleta, head of the disaster risk management office in Bule Hore, said the government is introducing “peace clubs” in schools.

Almost all those interviewed by TNH on both sides of the Gedeo-Guji border, in districts which have long been multiethnic, said children were back to attending the same schools and people were once again socialising with neighbours from the other ethnic group, drinking coffee and eating meals together as they had done in the past.

The approach to peace and reconciliation is notable for its emphasis on traditional institutions common to both groups, such as the Abba Gadas, and on forgiveness before accountability.

“Now we have peace, there is no need to revisit the past – we advise people to move forward and to forgive whatever happened before,” said Takele Sereka, an Abba Gada in Kercha Town.


Takele Sereka (left) an Gedecha Wako (right), two Tom Gardner/TNH

Limits to reconciliation

Publicly, the government says it is holding people to account for the violence. In April, Abiy said 300 people had been arrested for their suspected involvement. Around the same time, the West Guji police chief said 89 people had been given prison sentences for instigating killings and evictions.

But, on the ground, the reality seems different.

Buno, the top West Guji official, said those arrested had not yet been sentenced.

The head of the local militia in Magala village, Ebisa Elema, said nobody in his badly affected district had been arrested for involvement in ethnic violence, and none of the returnees interviewed by TNH said they were aware of any arrests or prosecutions in their neighborhoods, either.

“The government advised us to excuse everybody and to forget about the past,” said Atnafu Bali, a Gedeo returnee near Kercha town.

Some believe this approach is sensible in a society where formal state institutions are not widely trusted, and where violence is often politically motivated as well as simply criminal.

“Court litigation is a kind of win-lose approach,” said Gelchu Jarso of Bule Hora University, who is helping lead the peace process. “Reconciliation through indigenous institutions is much better.”

But relying on traditional institutions, such as the Abbas Gadas, has not always proven effective.

In the months after the conflict first broke out in 2018, the government organised several high-level peace meetings led by Abbas Gadas. Violence resumed shortly afterwards.

“These days, the youth do not listen to the elderly people,” said Dagne Shibru, an expert on Gedeo-Guji relations at nearby Hawassa University.

He also noted that reconciliation customs shared by the two communities in times of conflict have been weakened in recent years by the rapid spread of Pentecostal churches, and that the Gada system had itself been undermined by perceptions that it was “politicised”.

“Abba Gadas are often members of the ruling party,” Dagne noted.

Takele, the Abba Gada in Kercha, admitted that once the conflict started the Guji youth simply stopped obeying their elders. “They said to us: ‘No, we cannot tolerate this again’.”

A fragile peace

There are other signs that, beneath the surface, the peace here is a fragile one.

One is ongoing land disputes, the root cause of the conflict.

“It is known that the Gedeos are claiming land,” said Gedecha Wako, another Abba Gada in Kercha, before his colleague Takele asked him to drop the subject. “The issue started with Gedeos claiming the area – they said the land belongs to their region.”

As violence escalated, many land certificates were either lost or destroyed as houses were burnt. And, for some returnees, proving ownership can be difficult since many lacked documentation in the first place, including personal identification cards.

The local government has set up legal aid clinics and a working group to support people who do not have documentation, which it said had dealt with roughly 10 percent of more than 500 cases so far.

But in some villages officials demanded high fees for reissuance of documents. In one it was reported by returnees that their land had been sold by local authorities without their knowledge.

Daniel Robe in Magala village told TNH privately over the phone – after first being interviewed in front of some neighbours – that he had returned to find his land occupied. He took his neighbour to court but still not all of it has been returned to him.

Italem Demsew, a 25-year-old peace ambassador from Gedeo zone, said that when some of her relatives returned to West Guji they were told they had to pay their neighbours, who had been living in their home, a “protection” fee to have it back again.

Incidents like these were relatively common, according to humanitarian organisations working in the area.

“I don’t think anything has changed in terms of how the two perceive each other,” said an aid worker with international NGO, who asked to remain anonymous. “Remember: they lived together for decades and then this happened overnight.”

Another concern among aid workers is that in most districts on the West Guji side, Gedeos are no longer represented in local kebele governments or militias.

But Gelgelo Genene, a peace ambassador, was – like all his colleagues – guardedly optimistic about prospects for lasting peace between the two communities.

He pointed out that his father has three wives – two Gedeos and one Guji – and 30 children.

“We can’t separate even if we wanted to,” he said.


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Even in Times of Social Discord, Ethiopian-Israelis Proudly Celebrate

Members of Fendika band from Ethiopia performing at Sigdyada Festival, an annual celebration of Ethiopian and Ethiopian-Israeli culture, in Tel Aviv on November 7th, 2019. (Tara Kavaler)

The Media Line

Following the police killings of young men, the community hopes national exposure to the colorful Sigdyada Festival can improve their integration

The shooting of Solomon Tokah by an Israeli police officer last July led to several days and nights of rioting by mostly young Ethiopian Israelis feeling an increasing sense of alienation. Yet one member of the community believes that things can improve with the help of cultural bridges.

“I believe we live in a very dangerous time,” Shai Ferdo tells The Media Line. “I want to be that guy who builds those bridges.”

Ferdo is the creator of the two-day Sigdyada Festival, an annual celebration of Ethiopian and Ethiopian-Israeli culture. It is held just before the Sigd, a day of prayer, fasting and introspection aimed at recalling the yearning for Zion by previous generations.

The Sigdyada’s explosion of music, dance, comedy and, of course, food, attracts people like Mina Fiat, an Israeli who divides her time between Tel Aviv and Chicago.

“I am interested in every culture I do not know about, especially because it’s a Jewish culture,” she said, adding that Ethiopian Israelis are an authentic part of Israel. “They go to the army and do everything” that other Israelis do.

This year’s Sigdyada, the eighth, got under way on November 7 at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv with speeches that hinted at the overriding issues facing Israel’s Ethiopian immigrants.

“As a society, we haven’t always listened to people who speak a different language, who have different customs or a different color,” President Reuven Rivlin told festival-goers. “Today, we’re a giving a place of honor to the tradition of Ethiopian Jewry as part of the present [and] of the future of Israeli culture overall.”

Joey Low, founder of Israel at Heart, an NGO that seeks to foster better awareness of Israel by the rest of the world, said: “The government specifically, but in general the country, does not appreciate and understand what the [Ethiopian-Israeli] community can give…. Israel will be a better society when it includes everyone.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Ethiopian Israelis are more likely to be low-wage earners than other demographic groups in the country, and less likely to pursue a post-high school education. The disparity is heightened even more by police treatment, with the death of Tokah following that of Yehuda Biadga in January, and longtime claims that authorities tend to use more profiling with members of the community, and exhibit less patience.

“There is a lot of anger… about the killings, and I’m also very angry,” Messeret Woldemichael, a 2014 finalist in MasterChef Israel, told The Media Line. “However, we still need to push ourselves and our culture for better exposure. The struggle will always be better if people know who they have in front of them.”

The sense conflict and discord felt by Ethiopian-Israelis has clearly reached a level that politicians and other prominent members of society could not ignore at the community’s first major gathering since the July killing and resulting rioting.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, an ex-fighter pilot and the son of kibbutz founders, urged patience.

“There were always tensions with new immigrants in Israel,” he told The Media Line. “It takes time.”

Yet Ethiopia-born Shula Mola, an educator who chairs the Association of Ethiopian Jews, has heard this before.

“Veteran Israelis repeatedly told us: Be patient; every wave of immigration to Israel has had to struggle for its place in Israeli society,” she told The Media Line. “And yet, unlike previous waves of immigration, this simple truth remains: Our skin color sets us apart.”

Mehereta Baruch-Ron, a former Tel Aviv city councilor who, like Mola, was born in Ethiopia, lauds Israel for having brought Ethiopian Jews to the country.

“There is no other country in the world that voluntarily brought Africans to be part of its society. In many ways, Israel did a wonderful thing,” she told The Media Line. “Having said that, there’s a lot more to do to integrate Ethiopian Israelis into Israeli society.”

Baruch-Ron argues that the government should take a stand against discrimination by penalizing offenders. She also says it should provide Ethiopian Israelis the tools they need to succeed, particularly by earmarking more funds to their neighborhoods.

“In many ways, some of the schools and some of the neighborhoods in which these young Ethiopians live are disadvantaged. There is a gap between an Ethiopian family that came… from a Third World country and Israelis who were born here or came from Europe,” she said. “We have to put more [resources] into these communities.”

She recommends that Ethiopian-Israeli history and culture should be more widely included in the school curriculum, starting in kindergarten, something that has been stymied in part by costs.

“The government should decide it’s very important regarding our Jewish history, that we cannot be a country that discriminates against other communities just because they are different,” she said.

With the Sigdyada being a pre-Sigd celebration – the holiday will be marked this year on November 27 – Baruch-Ron was also reflective.

“Back in Ethiopia, I remember we expressed our longing for Jerusalem during this holiday,” she said. “Now, when we are here, we can say that the physical journey is over, but we still have some ways to go.”

Not to be forgotten in the midst of the tensions is that the heart of the festival is a celebration of the heritage of Ethiopian-Israeli society.

“The festival is to ensure the continuity of the Ethiopian culture and show people that Ethiopians have… a lot to contribute, and that they’re very talented,” Howard Rypp, co-producer of the Sigdyada, told The Media Line.

According to the organizers, festival-goers throughout the years have been almost evenly split, indicating it is indeed a place for non-Ethiopian Israelis to absorb the sights, sounds and aromas of the community, perhaps leading to its more thorough integration.

Woldemichael, the chef, agrees.

“I am very persistent,” she proclaims, “in my display of my beautiful culture.”


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DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

Bowser’s trip to Ethiopia comes a year after Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to D.C. gave a talk to members of the Ethiopian community at the convention center in July 2018. Bowser joined Abiy on stage and announced July 28 as “Ethiopia Day in D.C.” (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

DCist

By Selam Berhea

On Friday morning, Mayor Muriel Bowser left for a five-day diplomatic and trade mission to Ethiopia.

Bowser has a delegation of 70 people in tow, including Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, and city government representatives.

The idea behind the trip is to establish trade relations with different industries in Ethiopia. Bowser will meet with local leaders and government officials in Addis Ababa, the capital city, and Lalibela, a northern city about 531 miles away.

Bowser will also visit with President H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia’s first female president, and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, who recently won a Nobel Peace Prize.

“We are continuing our efforts to reach beyond the borders of Washington, D.C. and establish relationships around the world,” said Bowser in a press release on Friday. “We particularly value our special relationship with Ethiopia, which has been strengthened by the substantial Ethiopian population in our city and region.”

The D.C. metropolitan region has the largest Ethiopian-born community in the U.S.—more than 30,000 Ethiopians have settled in parts of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Their influence is apparent at coffee shops in Silver Spring, Ethiopian restaurants on 18th St. or along U St, and in the many Ethiopian churches in the area.

According to WAMU, Ethiopians started coming to D.C. in the 1950s and 1960s as students and visitors. After a military takeover over in 1974, more Ethiopians came to the U.S. Laws like the Refugee Act of 1980 and Diversity Visa Act of 1990 immigration made it easier for those wanting to leave Ethiopia to move stateside. Many people decided to go where there was already a blossoming Ethiopian community established—the D.C. region.

Bowser’s trip to Ethiopia comes a year after Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to D.C. gave a talk to members of the Ethiopian community at the convention center in July 2018. Bowser joined Abiy on stage and announced July 28 as “Ethiopia Day in D.C.”

During this trip, Bowser will renew D.C.’s Sister City Agreement with Addis Ababa. The sister city agreement is a promise of friendship and an opportunity for different cities to learn about each other, per Bowser’s office. Including Addis Ababa, D.C. currently has 15 sister cities, according to the D.C. Office of the Secretary website. Then-Mayor Vincent Gray signed the first Sister City Agreement with Addis Ababa in 2013.

“Our Sister City agreements with capital cities around the world play a key role in breaking down barriers and building international relationships that allow us to improve the lives of people in D.C. and abroad.” Bowser wrote in her newsletter.

Bowser has traveled internationally throughout her mayoral tenure, including to El Salvador, Israel, and multiple trips to China. The trips to China each had budgets in the range of tens of thousands of dollars, according to the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.


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FP on Tragic & Volatile Nature of Ethnic Politics in Ethiopia

In the following article published Friday by Foreign Policy magazine Addisu Lashitew, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues that Ethiopia "must find a way to avoid repeating the perilous history of previous experiments in ethnic federalism in countries such as Yugoslavia... The root causes of the current political crisis come from a system that awkwardly weds ethnicity to electoral politics." (GETTY IMAGES)

Foreign Policy

BY ADDISU LASHITEW | NOVEMBER 8, 2019

Ethiopia Will Explode if It Doesn’t Move Beyond Ethnic-Based Politics

In Oct. 11, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the long stalemate with neighboring Eritrea. Paradoxically, Abiy enjoys only fragmented and diminishing popular support in his own country. Even in his home region of Oromia, his leadership is seriously contested by the ethnonationalist forces represented by the social media activist Jawar Mohammed.

This became painfully evident on Oct. 23, when the Oromia region was shaken by a deadly wave of violence following a series of Facebook posts from Jawar. The activist, who also heads a TV channel called Oromia Media Network, announced that the police were about to detain him, an allegation that was later denied by the government. Around 70 civilians were killed when his angry supporters took to the streets, setting off an intercommunal conflict that took on an ethnic and religious dimension.

This tragic incident is emblematic of the volatile nature of ethnic politics in Ethiopia, which has started to crack the foundations of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. The EPRDF, which has ruled the country since 1991, is a coalition of four parties that represented the country’s major ethnic groups (Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan, and southern groups) of which the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front was the most dominant party until recently.

Read more »


Related:
PM Abiy Says Death Toll Rises to 86
Ethiopia Update: Nobel Prize, Deadly Protests, Calls for Calm & Talk of Election

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Reflection on Legacy of Ethiopian Activist Dr. Bogaletch Gebre

Bogaletch Gebre passed away in Los Angeles, California on November 2nd, 2019. Her organization KMG announced that her family plans to take her body to Ethiopia for burial. (Photo: KMG Ethiopia)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

November 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — “What is good for women is good for the community,” Ethiopian social entrepreneur and community activist Dr. Bogaletch Gebre had declared in a profile interview with Tadias Magazine published sixteen years ago this Fall highlighting her non-profit organization, KMG (The Kembatti Mentti Gezzima). “What I discovered in our work,” she told us, “is not changing the whole society at once, but to change one person at a time. And it works.”

Dr. Bogaletch passed away this week at the age of 59 here in the U.S.

“The former scientist and marathon runner’s quiet revolution saved tens of thousands of girls from potential injury or death in Ethiopia, which has the second highest number of women living with FGM globally, data from anti-FGM charity 28TooMany shows,” Reuters points out, adding that “Bogaletch was determined to stop female cutting in Ethiopia after it killed her sister and nearly claimed her own life.”

In 2013 after being awarded the King Baudouin Prize in Belgium for confronting “culturally entrenched taboo subjects,” Dr. Bogaletch explained her simple message to the community elders in Ethiopia who defend the harmful tradition: “Daddy, you lived your time. This is our period, our children’s period. We don’t want to kill our children. I hope you are wise enough to accept that.”

BBC noted: “She helped reduce cases of FGM from 100% of newborn girls to less than 3% in parts of Ethiopia,” and described FGM in Africa and the Middle East as being “seen as a traditional rite of passage and is used culturally to ensure virginity and to make a woman marriageable. It typically involves removing the clitoris, and can lead to bleeding, infections and childbirth problems.”

Dr. Bogaletch ran marathon races in Los Angeles, California to raise funds for her projects in Ethiopia, which included efforts to create awareness on a wide ranging issues — in addition to FGM — that are detrimental to women’s health, livelihood, education and environment informed by her upbringing in rural Ethiopia. The literal translation of her non-profit, The Kembatti Mentti Gezzima, means “Women of Kembatta pooling their efforts to work together.”

Per the Tadias profile:

Daughter of a farmer, Bogaletch was taught how to read and write by a relative; she would study by the campfire at night after completing her daily house chores and responsibilities. In a village where the education of girls was rarely encouraged, Bogaletch’s father was reluctant to allow his daughter to continue with her primary school education. Occasionally, she was given permission and she would willingly make the six-mile run to and from school. “I would never dream of complaining,” she says, “I felt fortunate; one of the chosen few.” “Demands at home kept me away from school for weeks, sometimes months,” she continues, “but still I skipped grades, completing four levels in three years.” She became the first girl in her village to be educated beyond the fourth grade. By the time she was nine she was reading and translating court documents for her father, a task he had previously paid others to do for him. She helped people in her community write their court applications free of charge. “As a sign of respect in Kambatta tradition, a father is called after his first-born son, and a mother after her first-born daughter,” she explains, “Imagine his surprise when my father’s peers started calling him Father of Bogaletch.” With her father now won over by her diligence and perseverance Bogaletch was allowed to attend the one and only women’s boarding school in Addis Ababa on a government scholarship. She then went on to attend Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a full scholarship. Saving her stipend money with great effort she demonstrated her appreciation to her father by building him a new house with a corrugated tin roof‚ the only one of its kind in Zato. “People came from miles to see what a woman could do. Now I wanted to do more,” she confessed. Once people in her village saw what women could achieve with education they were willing to let their daughters become educated too and a ripple-effect ensued. Bogaletch continued her education securing a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Massachusetts and later completing a PhD program in Epidemiology at UCLA. Returning to Ethiopia after 13 years she realized the disparities in education opportunities in her hometown and began to conceive of a way to give back to her community.


Dr. Bogaletch Gebre. (From Tadias Magazine print issue 2003)

Speaking about the legacy of Dr. Bogaletch, the Africa director of the advocacy group Equality Now, Faiza Mohamed, told Reuters: “It was most impressive how she empowered the youth to reject the practice; it is a wave of hope and change into the community. It’s critical to involve the youth, have a dynamic partnership and engage with them.”


Related:
‘Wave of hope’ to end FGM in Ethiopia as activist pioneer dies (Reuters)
Bogaletch Gebre: Talking Female Circumcision Out of Existence (NYT)
Women’s Rights Activists Bogaletch Gebre wins King Baudouin Prize (BBC News)
Fulbright Scholar & Community Activist Uplifting Women (TADIAS)

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The New York Society Library Presents Maaza Mengiste, The Shadow King: A Novel

The New York Society Library Presents: Maaza Mengiste, The Shadow King: A Novel on Thursday, November 7, 2019. The event is open to the public. (Photo by Nina Subin)

Press Release

Maaza Mengiste, The Shadow King: A Novel

A gripping novel set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.

With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid in Kidane and his wife Aster’s household. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilize his strongest men before the Italians invade. His initial kindness to Hirut shifts into a flinty cruelty when she resists his advances, and Hirut finds herself tumbling into a new world of thefts and violations, of betrayals and overwhelming rage. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s technologically advanced army prepares for an easy victory. Hundreds of thousands of Italians – Jewish photographer Ettore among them – march on Ethiopia seeking adventure.

As the war begins in earnest, Hirut, Aster, and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians. But how could she have predicted her own personal war as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers, who will force her to pose before Ettore’s camera?

What follows is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation program at Queens College, she is also the author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, named one of the Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times, among other publications.


If You Go:
Thursday, November 7, 2019 – 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM | Members’ Room | open to the public | $15 per person | advance registration required
THE NEW YORK
SOCIETY LIBRARY
53 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075
212.288.6900
reference@nysoclib.org
www.nysoclib.org

Related:
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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Tightrope, The First Major Traveling Museum Exhibition of Elias Sime

Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, and comprising of work from the last decade, is being presented by the Wellin Museum of Art through December 8, 2O19. (Photo credit: Brett Moen. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York)

Tadias Magazine

By Hasabie Kidanu

Monday, November 4th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – “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.” Elias Sime.

Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, and comprising of work from the last decade, is being presented by the Wellin Museum of Art.

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 travelled from around the globe to his hometown. Through a meticulous hand, the salvaged materials are cut, layered, collaged, 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.

As the director of the Wellin Museum and curator of the exhibition Tracy L. Adler notes, “Elias Sime is one of the most significant artists working today. He is both critical and embracing of the world we live in, and brings a truly global sensibility to his work without losing any of its authenticity and authorship. While technology has in many ways changed our lives for the better and facilitated international communication and partnership, it has resulted in detrimental byproducts both materially in terms of its refuse, and socially and culturally, in that we look more to our devices than to each other.”

The notion of revival is a pillar of Sime’s work in Addis as well. This year, the city celebrated the public opening of ZOMA, a 25-year in the making institution. This ever-evolving project houses exhibition spaces, vegetable gardens, animal quarters, library, children’s center, elementary school, and has become an oasis for locals. Along with ZOMA co-founder and curator Meskerem Assegued, Sime has been appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to design and build a public garden for the Menelik Palace, expanding the project of innovative architecture and art into a different part of the city. Elias Sime is also a recent recipient of the African Art Awards from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.

On view from September 7 through December 8, 2019 at the Wellin Museum of Art, the exhibition will travel 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).

About the Author:
Hasabie Kidanu received her MFA at Yale School of Art in 2017. Her film Mal-Fekata was most recently screened at the 48th Rotterdam International Film Festival as part of the Bright Future program. She has been a member of the Blackburn Printmaking Studio in New York since 2013. She was most recently a guest lecturer at Addis Ababa University. Since 2014, she is an Arts and Culture writer for TADIAS Magazine.

Related:
Elias Sime Set for Major U.S. Museum Shows in NY, Ohio and Kansas
Noiseless: Elias Sime’s New Exhibition Opens in NYC

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PM Abiy Says Death Toll Rises to 86

PM Abiy says death toll from recent protests rises to 86. “We have to stop those forces who are trying to pull us two steps back while we are going one step forward,” Abiy told a news conference. Most were from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups and victims included both Muslims and Christians, he said. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday the death toll from protests last month had risen to 86 and urged citizens to resist forces threatening to impede the country’s progress.

“We have to stop those forces who are trying pull us two steps back while we are going one step forward,” Abiy told a news conference with local news organizations broadcast by state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting.

Supporters of activist Jawar Mohammed took to the streets on Oct. 23 and 24 to protest after he said police had surrounded his home in the capital Addis Ababa and tried to withdraw his government security detail.

The latest death toll, which the government late last week had put at 78, included 82 men and four women, Abiy said. Most were from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups and victims included both Muslims and Christians, he said.

There were also protests last month in several cities in Oromiya, Ethiopia’s most populous province, underscoring the specter of ethnic violence which the United Nations  says has already left more than 2 million people internally displaced.

“I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land,” Pope Francis said during his weekly Sunday address at the Vatican.

Ahead of elections in 2020, Abiy must walk a delicate line between increasing political freedoms and reigning in strongmen building ethnic powerbases by demanding more access to land, power and resources for their groups.

Since his appointment in 2018, he has initiated political reforms which have won him international praise but also lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions among the many ethnic groups in Africa’s second most populous nation with a population of more than 100 million.

Abiy won the Nobel peace prize last month for his peacemaking efforts which ended two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.


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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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 31st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend the highly anticipated traveling exhibition — featuring a mid-career survey of Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu’s work dating back to 1996 to the present — will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California.

“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. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth,” LACMA stated in its announcement, noting that the show brings together 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, which is co-organized by the LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art, will subsequently come to New York for a display at the Whitney from June 26th to September 20, 2020, before moving to Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, and finally the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021.

Julie lives and works in New York. She was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. As LACMA notes: “Mehretu received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and, among many awards and honors, is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” (2005) and a U.S. State Department National Medal of Arts (2015).”


Julie Mehretu, Untitled 2, 2001, ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 × 84 in., private collection, courtesy of Salon 94, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Black City, 2007, ink and acrylic on canvas, 120 × 192 in., Pinault Collection, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tim Thayer. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Haka (and Riot), 2019, ink and acrylic on canvas, 144 × 180 in., courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging.


Related:
Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

More info at lacma.org.

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Al Jazeera on Ethiopia’s Confused Scene of Activism & Media

"The problem now is that so many individuals are mixing up the roles of activist and media when they shouldn't go together - media is meant to have its own ethics and rules," Abel Wabella, managing editor of the Addis Ababa-based newspaper Addis Zebye, said during an October 19 media forum in the capital to discuss the challenges faced by the media, and its role, in the country. "You have people running media who are calling for protests - it's totally absurd." (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

The challenges of navigating Ethiopia’s new media landscape

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel committee earlier this month praised his “discontinuing media censorship” among a series of achievements during his first 100 days in power in 2018.

These included the lifting of the country’s state of emergency, the release of thousands of political prisoners, the legalisation of outlawed opposition groups, the tackling of corruption and the promotion of women in politics.

The freeing of detained journalists and bloggers, along with an end to the blocking of more than 260 websites and the restoration of access to media outlets forced to work in exile, resulted in Ethiopia jumping 40 places in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders – from 150 out of 180 countries to 110, the largest leap by any country.

But the outbreak in Ethiopia of violent protests last week – more than 60 are estimated killed in clashes across the Oromia region, and in the cities of Dire Dawa and Harar in eastern Ethiopia – is fuelling ongoing questions about whether such new media freedoms are being abused to stoke ethnic tensions.

Read more »


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U.S. House Confronts Boeing CEO with New Documents on 737 Max (UPDATE)

Those documents included an email in which a Boeing engineer questioned in 2015 whether the Max was vulnerable to the failure of a single sensor — the scenario that led to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. (Photo: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testifies before a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

The Washington Post

Oct. 30, 2019

House Committee Confronts Boeing CEO with New Documents on 737 Max Safety

House Democrats on Wednesday revealed key documents from their investigation into the deadly crashes of two 737 Max jets, pressing Boeing’s chief executive for more answers as he returned to Capitol Hill for a second day of hearings.

Those documents included an email in which a Boeing engineer questioned in 2015 whether the Max was vulnerable to the failure of a single sensor — the scenario that led to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

“This was raised by one of your engineers,” Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) said to Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, and John Hamilton, chief engineer of the company’s commercial airplanes division.

DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was reading from a December 2015 email sent while the Max was in the middle of its safety certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The critical sensors, known as angle of attack (AOA) indicators, are supposed to give pilots, and airplane systems, reliable information to help understand how the aircraft’s nose is pointed in relation to oncoming wind.

But in both crashes, faulty data from a single sensor caused an automated feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, to fire by mistake, repeatedly forcing the planes’ noses down as pilots struggled to regain control. Boeing’s decision to have MCAS rely on just one sensor, and not both of them, has been a key question in the crash investigations.

Read more »


Boeing CEO grilled at U.S. hearing: ‘We’ve made mistakes’

REUTERS

Oct. 29, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg was pressed by U.S. lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday over what the company knew about its MCAS stall-prevention system linked to two deadly crashes, and about delays in turning over internal 2016 messages that described erratic behavior of the software in a simulator.

Muilenburg acknowledged errors in failing to give pilots more information on MCAS before the crashes, as well as for taking months to disclose that it had made optional an alarm that alerts pilots to a mismatch of flight data on the 737 MAX.

“We’ve made mistakes and we got some things wrong. We’re improving and we’re learning,” he said.

The hearing, the highest-profile congressional scrutiny of commercial aviation safety in years, heaps pressure on a newly rejigged Boeing senior management team fighting to repair trust with airline customers and passengers shaken by an eight-month safety ban on its 737 MAX following the crashes, which killed 346 people.

Taking turns to grill Muilenburg during his first appearance at a hearing on Capitol Hill in the year since the first crash in Indonesia, senators suggested Boeing had not been completely honest and expressed dismay that the 2016 instant messages did not prompt an immediate reaction from the company.

“You have told this committee and you have told me half-truths over and over again,” Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, where Boeing is headquartered, said at one point.

Later in the hearing, Senator Jon Tester of Montana said: “I would walk before I would get on a 737 MAX … You shouldn’t be cutting corners.”

For months, Boeing had largely failed to acknowledge blame, instead vowing to make a “safe plane safer.” Tuesday’s hearing represents Boeing’s broadest acceptance of responsibility that it made mistakes, though Muilenburg and senior engineering executive John Hamilton stopped short of a game-changing display of contrition.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, questioned Muilenburg over the company’s delay in releasing internal messages. In those messages, a former test pilot described erratic behavior of a simulator version of the same software now linked to the crashes, and also mentioned “Jedi-mind tricking” regulators over training requirements.

Wicker said those messages revealed a “disturbing level of casualness and flippancy.”

Muilenburg said he apologized to the FAA administrator for the delay in turning over the messages, and said additional documents would likely be provided over time.

“We will cooperate fully,” he added.

In his opening remarks, Muilenburg walked the committee through software upgrades to limit the authority of the stall-prevention system that has been linked to both crashes. He also listed changes at the company and its board of directors to improve safety oversight and transparency.

During one particularly tense exchange, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington grilled Muilenburg and Hamilton over the extent of testing on the MCAS system. Cantwell asked Hamilton whether it was a mistake for Boeing not to test a failure mode similar to the scenarios faced by pilots in the crashes.

“In hindsight, senator, yes”, Hamilton said. Both he and Muilenburg, however, pointed to extensive testing by engineers and pilots during the certification process that lasted years.

Muilenburg also acknowledged a “mistake on that implementation” for failing to tell the FAA for 13 months that it inadvertently made a so-called angle of attack disagree alert optional on the 737 MAX, instead of standard as on earlier 737s. The company insisted the missing display represented no safety risk.

“We got the implementation wrong,” Muilenburg said, referring to the angle of attack disagree alert.

He added: “One of the things we’ve learned … is we need to provide additional information on MCAS to pilots.”

At one point, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut referred to the 737 MAX as “flying coffins.”

Asked ahead of the hearing if he would resign, Muilenburg said that was “not where my focus is.” He also declined to say if he or the board were considering his resignation after the plane returns to service.

Boeing on Tuesday ran full-page advertisements in major newspapers expressing condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in the crashes.

“These two accidents occurred on my watch and I have a keen sense of responsibility,” Muilenburg, who was stripped of his title as Boeing chairman by the board earlier this month, told reporters.

Family members, holding photos of victims of the crash, were seated just three rows behind Muilenburg during his testimony.

Wicker addressed the families, saying: “I promise to their loved ones that we will find out what went wrong and work to prevent future tragedies.”

Indonesian investigators reported on Friday that Boeing, acting without adequate oversight from U.S. regulators, failed to grasp risks in the design of cockpit software on the 737 MAX, sowing the seeds for the Oct. 29, 2018, crash of Lion Air Flight 610.

On Tuesday, Muilenburg denied that Boeing’s initial statements about the investigative findings from the Lion Air crash sought to shift blame onto pilots.

Muilenburg also rejected a characterization of Boeing’s “coziness with the FAA,” though he said the certification process “can be improved.”

Muilenburg was then asked why Boeing had not grounded the plane in the wake of Lion Air Crash. “If we could go back, we would make a different decision,” he said.


Related:
2 Years Before Deadly Ethiopia Crash, Boeing Staff Knew of 737 Max Problems
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Spotlight: Antu Yacob Promotes New Short Film ‘Love in Submission’

Actor and writer Antu Yacob is one of the producers of an upcoming short film entitled 'Love in Submission.' (Photo: Antu Yacob pictured here with producer Tara Gadomski/Facebook).

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 28th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — “I grew up watching television and film in a time when no one really looked like me on the screen,” says Antu Yacob who is one of the producers of an upcoming short film entitled Love in Submission. “That’s starting to change now, which is a wonderful thing. We are acknowledging that representation really does matter.”

Antu, who teaches Acting at Rutgers University and Baruch College, has been at the forefront of taking on characters both in film and theatre that highlight her immigrant roots as well as her upbringing in the United States. Her works include her memorable 2016 performance in her one person Ethio-American play In the Gray that was staged in New York City, as part of the Women in Theatre Festival. In the play Antu plays several engaging characters including herself, her son, as well as her Oromo Muslim mother who lives in Minnesota. Antu was also invited to perform the play at the 2017 United Solo, which is the world’s largest solo theatre festival held annually in New York City.

“I also feel that we need to expand the lens in which we present women of African descent as well as women who practice Islam,” Antu says in a video announcement regarding her latest movie project. “And that’s what our short film is tackling.” She adds: “The two main characters are strong female characters who practice the same faith, but they are very different from one another, they have nuances and they are multi-dimensional, which is very important to me as a storyteller, and important to our production team.”

The announcement states that Love in Submission “is an intimate and compelling short film following two Muslim women meeting each other for the first time.” (Screenplay by Munirah Bishop & Antu Yacob; Directed by Lande Yoosuf, Starring Kianne Muschett & Antu Yacob; Producers: Tara Gadomski, Cirenia Reyes, Adrian Luke Sinclair, Antu Yacob).


You can learn more and support the film at https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/love-in-submission.

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Spotlight: US Premiere of Critically Acclaimed Ethiopian Film ‘Fig Tree’ in DC

Director Alamork Davidian's new film 'Fig Tree' will make its US Theatrical Premiere during the Washington Jewish film Festival in DC from November 1st to 14th, 2019. (Credit: Palm Springs Film Festival)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 25th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — When a country is at war with itself, like Ethiopia was for most of the past century, the impact on the generation of youth who grow up in the middle of a civil war is tremendous, and often the scars last a lifetime. So it’s significant that the critically acclaimed new Ethiopian film entitled ‘Fig Tree’ — which is scheduled to make its U.S. theatrical premiere during the Washington Jewish Film Festival next week — explores this subject as told by the Ethiopian-Israeli filmmaker Alamork Davidian, who herself grew up during the tumultuous 1980s in Ethiopia.

“In her loosely autobiographical feature debut, a teenager facing similar circumstances — an escape to safety amid the nation’s civl war — becomes frantic with worry over loved ones who may not have the option of flight,” Variety magazine noted in a review earlier this year. “Like the deceptive calm before a gathering storm, and with elements of lyricism and typical adolescent coming-of-age intrigue, “Fig Tree” is a fine drama whose seemingly casual progress only heightens its ultimate impact. The universal appeal of this Israeli and European co-production figures to earn it the kind of arthouse exposure too seldom enjoyed by African features.”

The film’s synopsis adds: “Sixteen-year-old Mina is poised to flee Ethiopia with her grandmother to be reunited with her mother in Israel; however, she is reluctant to leave her Christian boyfriend Eli, who lives in the woods in order to avoid forcible conscription by the military. Grounded by remarkable performances, “Fig Tree” is a moving coming-of-age story and an auspicious feature film debut.”

The filmmaker Alamork was recently awarded the prestigious Audentia Award at the Toronto International Film Festival for Best Female Filmmaker.

Organizers of the Washington Jewish Film Festival note that Alamork will be present for a Q&A during the first three days of its U.S. premiere. The screening will take place in the brand new, state-of-the-art Cafritz Hall within the DC Jewish Community Center in Dupont Circle from November 1st to 14th.


If You Go:
Friday, November 1 1:00 PM Q&A
Saturday, November 2 6:00 PM Q&A and 8:35 PM Q&A
Sunday, November 3 12:00 PM Q&A and 6:50 PM Q&A
Tuesday, November 5 7:00 PM
Wednesday, November 6 7:00 PM
Friday, November 8 1:00 PM
Saturday, November 9 6:00 PM and 8:10 PM
Sunday, November 10 12:45 PM
Tuesday, November 12 7:00 PM
Wednesday, November 13 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 14 7:00 PM
Tickets $13 | The Cafritz Hall, EDCJCC
1529 16th St. NW Washington DC 20036
Tickets available online or at the EDCJCC Arts Ticket Office 202-777-3210 | for group sale discounts contact carolynh@edcjcc.org 202-777-3241

Watch: Fig Tree – Official Trailer

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Ethiopia Update: Nobel Prize, Deadly Protests, Calls for Calm & Talk of Election

Amid the ongoing deadly confrontation between his supporters and police in Addis Ababa and other cities, Jawar Mohammed, founder of OMN, suggests in an interview with The Associated Press that he might enter next year’s election race to challenge Abiy to become Prime Minister. (AP photo Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Deadly Ethiopia Unrest Poses Fresh Challenge to Nobel Winner

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faced the most serious political challenge of his short rule Thursday as officials said dozens of people might be dead in two days of unrest caused by tensions between security forces and the country’s most prominent activist.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Jawar Mohammed hinted he might raise the stakes by entering next year’s election, but he warned that holding the vote amid current conditions “is the most dangerous thing Ethiopia can do.”

Not two weeks have passed since Abiy was named the Nobel winner for his sweeping reforms that included welcoming home from exile Mohammed and other critics and opposition figures who had been considered terrorists by the previous government. Abiy called it opening up the political space after he took office last year, and Ethiopians were surprised but jubilant.

Now Ethiopia’s largest regional state is engulfed in protests sparked by apparent friction between security forces and Jawar, a media entrepreneur who many say played a key role from afar in mobilizing months of widespread protests that led the previous prime minister to resign.

Some Ethiopians fear protests could emerge again as long-held grievances are aired after the loosening of repressive controls in a country with scores of ethnic groups. Officials recently expressed disgust with some media outlets that they called unprofessional and too ethnic-centered.

Last year, Abiy welcomed Jawar home. On Tuesday, however, in remarks to parliament Abiy warned unnamed people “who don’t even have an Ethiopian passport” that “if you threaten our peace and security, we will take measures.”

Many Ethiopians saw it as a warning to Jawar, a U.S. passport holder, who said he woke up the next morning to find attempts being made to remove his government-provided security detail in the capital, Addis Ababa.

“The order to remove my security was a strange one. It was attempted in the middle of the night,” Jawar said. “Later on I found out the plot was to remove the security and then unleash a mob attack on my house and accuse some other rival groups.”

He alerted the public on social media, and hundreds of his supporters began to arrive. Some camped outside and chanted slogans against the prime minister: “Down, down, Abiy!” Some remained on Thursday, while Jawar appealed for calm.

The unrest ignited in cities across the Oromia region that is home to many of Jawar’s supporters.

At least six people were killed on Wednesday, regional officials in Oromia told local media outlets.

But the real death toll could be in the “dozens,” a local official in the regional capital, Adama, told the AP on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Several Oromia residents told the AP that non-Oromos had been attacked, with their properties looted and burned.


Related:

Prominent activist won’t rule out election challenge to Ethiopia PM (Reuters)

Ethiopian activist calls for calm after 16 die in Ethiopia during clashes (Reuters)

Ethiopian Police Deny Claims of Plot to Harm Leading Activist (Bloomberg)

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WATCH: Obama, Clintons Eulogize Elijah Cummings in Final Farewell (UPDATE)

“Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart,” said former president Barack Obama, who sat in the front row of New Psalmist Baptist Church with Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow; Bill and Hillary Clinton; and former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate. “And it now falls on us to continue his work.” (Photo: Reuters)

The Washington Post

Obama, Clintons hail Cummings as an inspiration and a friend at funeral

BALTIMORE — In a vast church sanctuary filled with powerful people, Elijah Eugene Cummings was remembered Friday as a man who strove to protect American democracy but still made time to cherish his daughters, attend 7:15 a.m. Sunday worship each week and stop on the side of the road to help a motorist change a tire.

For nearly four hours, 4,000 people, including two former U.S. presidents, mourned the longtime Democratic lawmaker, the son of sharecroppers who rose from South Baltimore to Congress.

“Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart,” said former president Barack Obama, who sat in the front row of New Psalmist Baptist Church with Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow; Bill and Hillary Clinton; and former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate. “And it now falls on us to continue his work.”

The service — sometimes joyous, sometimes solemn and sometimes funny — offered up a noble vision of public service, in which elected officials collaborate and compromise to serve the public good. With political figures of both parties in attendance…

Obama, the last politician to speak, pointed out the massive video screens flanking the stage, which heralded “The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings.”

“This is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office,” Obama said, drawing out some laughter. “But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to Congress. . . . As president, I could always count on Elijah being honorable and doing the right thing.”

Mourners began lining up at New Psalmist hours before the funeral and a viewing that preceded it. By 7 a.m., traffic was backed up a half-mile.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


Related:

Elijah Cummings Was Our North Star: By Nancy Pelosi

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Ethiopia’s Young People Launch SEWF 2019 With Music and Dancing

The 2019 Social Enterprise World Forum is being held in Addis Ababa this week with over 1,200 delegates representing 70 countries attending the gathering at the UN Conference Centre. (Pioneers Post)

Pioneers Post

Young people launched the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019 in Ethiopia with an energetic blast of music, food and dancing as the SEWF Youth Week began on Sunday afternoon.

Youth Week is just one of the many events running alongside the main programme of the Social Enterprise World Forum which kicks off this afternoon at Addis Ababa’s UN Conference Centre.

The focus of Youth Week is on “creating opportunities and enabling young people to fulfil their potential, resilience and networks”, said Tigist Zerihum, the British Council in Ethiopia’s youth project manager.


Pioneers Post


Pioneers Post

During Monday and Tuesday dozens of SEWF delegates also took the opportunity to visit social enterprises around Addis Ababa, including Tebita Ambulance, Selam Children’s Village, textile enterprise Sabahar and Shega Crafts.

Read the full article at pioneerspost.com »


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In Ethiopia PM Abiy Pushes Back Against Divisive Ethnic Politics Sparking Protests

Jawar Mohammed, who is a U.S. citizen and founder of the media network OMN, returned to Ethiopia from the United States last year after Abiy came to power and the two have been photographed repeatedly together since. On Tuesday Abiy issued a warning in a speech before parliament: “Those media owners who don’t have Ethiopian passports are playing both ways,” he said. “When there is peace you are playing here, and when we are in trouble you're not here." (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

Protests spread after stand-off at Ethiopian activist’s home

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Police fired gunshots and teargas as thousands protested in Ethiopia on Wednesday over the treatment of a prominent activist, residents said, in a sign that the country’s Nobel Prize-winning prime minister might be losing support among his powerbase.

More than a thousand supporters gathered in Addis Ababa outside the house of Jawar Mohammed, a media entrepreneur who organized protests that brought Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power last year, after police surrounded the building.

Protests quickly spread to the cities of Adama, Ambo and Jimma, residents said. Four people were reported to have been shot in Ambo.

On Tuesday, Abiy had warned against media owners “fomenting unrest”. That night, security forces surrounded Jawar’s house and the government attempted to withdraw his security detail, Jawar told Reuters.

The next morning, a Reuters witness saw at least 400 young men from the Oromo ethnic group chanting support for Jawar and against Abiy, the winner of this year’s Nobel peace prize. Around two dozen police officers stood nearby.

Abiy has won international praise for his sweeping political reforms but greater freedoms have lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian Police Deny Claims of Plot to Harm Leading Activist (Bloomberg)

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

Atlas Entertainment, an American film financing and production company, has acquired Maaza Mengiste's new book ‘The Shadow King’, Deadline Hollywood reports. The book narrates the "untold story of WWII resistance by Ethiopian female warriors against Mussolini." (Images: Atlas logo and cover of the Shadow King’)

Deadline Hollywood

EXCLUSIVE: Atlas Entertainment has acquired rights to Maaza Mengiste’s historical novel The Shadow King. Set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King revolves around the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who’ve been left out of the historical record.

Published on September 24 by W.W. Norton & Company, The Shadow King is set in 1935. Mussolini’s army invades Ethiopia and moves towards an easy victory. Aster, the wife of a commander in Haile Selassie’s overwhelmed army, and her household servant Hirut long to do more than only care for the wounded and bury the dead. Together, they offer a plan to maintain morale among Ethiopians, eventually becoming warriors and inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians.

“Maaza Mengiste has written a brilliantly crafted character study in an epic, sprawling, cinematic time and place,” Roven and Suckle said. “She breathes life into complicated characters and offers the reader an indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman against the backdrop of war. It’s a compelling storytelling that Atlas is thrilled to bring to the screen.”

Read the full article at deadline.com »


Related:
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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A Night of Inspiration at Wegene Ethiopian Foundation Annual Event in Springfield, VA

The Wegene Ethiopian Foundation will hold its 19th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Waterford Reception Center in Springfield, Virginia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 21st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — “A night filled with philanthropy; music by the legendary Selamino of SELAMINO TRIO and a Chase The Dream’s Star Awardee; and the electrifying DJ Mess,” the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation announced highlighting its 19th Year Anniversary Gala and happy hour scheduled on October 26th at the Waterford in Springfield, Virginia. “There will be delicious food, art, an auction, dance, unique craft items, and much more.”

The Ethiopian American nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2000 by a group of like-minded individuals in the Washington, D.C. area, provides financial assistance to youth and focuses on education-related projects in various parts of Ethiopia. Nini Legesse, President of Wegene Foundation, is one of fourteen civil society leaders from the East African Diaspora who was selected as a “Champions of Change” by the Obama administration in 2012. A statement from the White House at the time noted that the work of Wegene and other honorees helped “to mobilize networks across borders to address global challenges.” Nini’s organization provided, among other services, financial support to build an elementary school in Jimma, Ethiopia.

“Our mission is to improve the daily lives of the less fortunate and disadvantaged children and their families in Ethiopia by overcoming three critical barriers in the seemingly unbreakable poverty cycle,” the organization states on its website. “Rebuilding families, one child at a time.”

“The word ‘Wegene’ in Amharic means “empowering my community or my people.” Wegene is a grassroots, community-based organization designed to sponsor and support Ethiopian families in their home setting,” notes the organization’s website. “Wegene is unique in that it supports impoverished families via collaborations with local residents – possibly neighbors, friends, and others who are a part of the community.”


If You Go:
Wegene Ethiopian Foundation’s 19th Year Anniversary
Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 6pm – 1am.
Networking/happy hour is from 6-7 pm and dinner will be served at 7pm.
The Waterford Reception Center
6715 Commerce Street
Springfield, VA 22150
www.wegene.org

WEF 19th Anniversary Gala Promotion Video (Amharic)

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Stanford Students Take STEM to Ethiopia

This past summer, engineering graduate students Loza Tadesse and Tim Abate returned to their home country of Ethiopia to teach local college students about science research and educational opportunities. (Photo: Abate, professor Manu Prakash of the Stanford Bioengineering Department, and Tadesse with a foldscope, a $1 microscope developed by Prakash and other Stanford scientists/Image credit: Trever Tachis)

Stanford News

Loza Tadesse and Iwnetim “Tim” Abate may have left their home country of Ethiopia to pursue engineering studies, but they haven’t forgotten their roots. The Stanford engineering PhD students returned home this past summer to share their expertise with college students and expose them to science research and education.

Tadesse and Abate convened a team of 13 scientists and graduate students from Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, Pepperdine University, the University of Chicago, the University of Akron and the University of Toronto. Together, they traveled to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to lead a five-day summer school for some of Ethiopia’s most promising undergraduates in STEM fields. The program was organized in partnership with the Ethiopian Physical Society in North America, where Tadesse and Abate are executive committee members.

“Our goal was to motivate college students back home to pursue higher education – Master of Science degrees and PhDs – and research,” Abate said. “Our summer program was focused on teaching them about the current trends in different fields, how to apply to graduate school, how to apply to internships and find research opportunities.”

Abate and Tadesse reached out to local universities to recruit their best students in STEM fields for the summer school, which was hosted at Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University and the University of Gondar. They sought 40 students for the program, but due to the amount of interest, they ended up with 50.

Science as accessible

Each day of the program, students attended classes in science and engineering disciplines – physics; computer science; materials; biological, mechanical and chemical engineering – that were related to the research conducted by the instructors. For instance, Tadesse, a PhD candidate in bioengineering, taught classes related to her Stanford research on improving medical devices for infection diagnostics and bio-inspired engineering design, while Abate, a PhD candidate in materials science and engineering, taught classes about his research on improving lithium ion batteries.

Read more »


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Dr. Abiy Releases New Book ‘Medemer’

A man reads a new book by Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed on MEDEMER (synergy) after it was launched Saturday Oct. 19, 2019, at the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopia’s Nobel-winning leader launches million-copy book

ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister is launching a book of his ideology, with one million copies already printed.

Saturday’s launch again raised concerns among some in the East African nation that a cult of personality could spring up around Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who announced sweeping political reforms after taking office last year.

The book called “Medemer” aims at inclusivity and consensus in a country with scores of ethnic groups and a rising problem of ethnic unrest.

The book comes as the country faces a national election next year that Abiy has pledged will be free and fair.

Exhibitors in the capital, Addis Ababa, told The Associated Press they were forced out of a conference hall for the launch. “We were told to evacuate,” said Bethlehem Bahran, a communications director for the event.

Abiy’s book is launching both in Ethiopia and the United States, which has a large diaspora community.

The press secretary for the prime minister’s office, Nigussu Tilahun, told the AP no state money was involved in promoting the book.

“And all proceeds from the book will be used to build schools across Ethiopia,” he said.

The Nobel committee awarded the 43-year-old Abiy the prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea and ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts, and for his political reforms.

“No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early,” the Nobel committee said. But “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.”

Human rights groups and others have urged the prime minister to continue with reforms and resist the urge to return to repressive controls of the past such as widespread arrests and internet shutdowns.


Related:

Watch: Dr Abiy Ahmed Book launching speech (Amharic)

Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize is deserved, but he still has work to do (WaPo Editorial)

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